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November 2013 Archives

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HIV testing for all hospital patients in Prince George starts Monday

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Optional HIV testing will become a routine part of check-ins to the University Hospital of Northern B.C. (Northern Health)


 

 


 















December 1 marks World AIDS Day in Canada, and on December 2 Northern Health begins a new initiative aimed at reducing the spread of the infectious disease. Starting Monday, all patients over the age of 14 who are admitted to the hospital will be offered a HIV test.

According to Northern Health's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Susan MacDonald, this initiative is being based on success in the Lower Mainland. "Up to 94 per cent of Lower Mainland patients who are offered an HIV test as part of routine hospital care say 'Yes', because they appreciate knowing that they're not being singled out to take the test," MacDonald writes in a blog post explaining the changes

Vanessa West is the Executive Director at Positive Living North, an organization providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS in northern B.C. She says these changes are an important step in reducing the spread of the infectious disease. "The earlier you are aware if you are HIV positive, then you are able to access medications and supports rather than finding out later on," she says. "When you have a population of people living with HIV, 25 percent of them don't know they are HIV positive, and they are then causing 75 percent of the new infections... so really it's about everyone getting out there and getting an HIV test."


Listen to Vanessa West speak about the stigmas that still surround HIV/AIDS and the challenges facing people diagnosed with the disease in remote and rural communities:

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City of Prince George unions voting on final offer as strike mandate looms

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Unionized workers at the city of Prince George are voting on a new contract today and tomorrow. The city calls it a "final offer," following failed talks with a mediator at the beginning of November. The workers, represented by CUPE, rejected a previous offer and are in a position to strike with 72-hour notice.

Meanwhile, a Prince George city councillor is questioning the timing of a recent city budget survey. Brian Skakun says the survey asked people what they think about unionized workers' wages around the same time the city issued a news release comparing wages in Prince George to other B.C. cities. "I get a web update on my cell phone and it says CUPE members are the highest paid in the province, all in capital letters," Skakun says. "Then I'm contacted by people who were contacted as part of this survey, and they had a lot of concerns that these questions were going on and going out, especially during difficult negotiations."

Kathleen Soltis is the city's director of corporate services. She says it is appropriate for the survey to ask people about union wages, since they form more than a third of the city's budget.

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Central coast residents try to save ferry service

Say tourism essential to economic survival

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Residents of the central coast are hoping a petition can save ferry service to the region. BC Ferries "Route 40" will stop running next summer, and tourism operators are already experiencing the impact of the decision. Leonard Ellis owns and operates Bella Coola Grizzly Tours, and he says tourists are already cancelling their trips. "It's terrible news, we're basically in shock, we can't even wrap our heads around it," he told CBC. He says the region is dependent on tourism for its future.   "With this decision, it's just completely pulling the rug out from underneath us."

B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone has said that cancelling summer ferry service will save $700,000 a year and that the decision will not be reversed, but Ellis is not giving up. He says a committee is being formed and letters and a petition are being circulated to bring back Route 40. "We'll stop and nothing to turn this decision around."

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Northern B.C. mayors meet to reduce crime

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A police car on a northern B.C. road (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

Leaders from across northern B.C. are meeting in Prince George today to discuss crime. Mayors and police chiefs from Prince George, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Dawson Creek, Fort St John, Williams Lake, and Quesnel are meeting to discuss how they can work together to reduce crime across the region. A city of Prince George spokesperson has said there is no agenda for the meetings, opting for an open and wide-ranging discussion. Meetings begin at 10 am.

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Prince Rupert RCMP investigate alleged sexual assault & kidnapping

hi-852-rcmp-shoulder-patch.jpgPrince Rupert RCMP is investigating a disturbing case.  Officers say a man was picked up from the downtown, driven to the local cemetery, where an alleged sexual assault took place.  

"We take these types of complaints extremely seriously, and we are asking the community for information," says police spokesperson Constable Matthew Ericson. 

Investigators are looking for four suspects, believed to be driving a newer model pick-up truck on Saturday night.  If you have any information, you're asked to call Prince Rupert RCMP. 

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Prince George realtor heads to Puerto Vallarta dump

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People usually fly to Puerto Vallarta for its beaches. But a Prince George, B.C. woman is heading to Mexico for its dump.  Daybreak's Betsy Trumpener speaks with Barb Robbin, who is also a local realtor, about why. 

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Prince Rupert hockey referee hanging up whistle to avoid abuse

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In Saskatoon, minor hockey games are being cancelled as referees quit to avoid the abuse hurled at them by fans. However, bad behavior in the stands is not limited to Saskatchewan. Prince Ruperts's Patrick Witwicki has been officiating games for over 20 years, and he says he's been in plenty of bad situations. He recalls one game where he and the other game officials had to lock themselves in the locker room to avoid physical confrontation, and weren't able to go home until they received an RCMP escort. Witwicki is now quitting, and says that unless things change he doesn't expect there to be enough referees on amateur ice rinks. Daybreak's George Baker shares the story.

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Lower gas prices equal lower crime rates in B.C. gas fields

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A gas well near Fort Nelson.

A Northern B.C. RCMP officer says there is a link between crime and industry in gas towns. Tom Roy is the RCMP Detachment Commander in Fort Nelson, a northeastern community that services the oil and gas sector for B.C. 

"We noticed when things are busy, 2008, nine, ten, and eleven that our crime rate was kind of trending upwards," he says. "Now we've noticing here over the last couple of years that there's a lot less activity in the natural gas patch here in Fort Nelson that our crime statistics are now trending downwards... I guess we didn't have to be rocket scientists to figure out that our crime rate in the community is somewhat linked, or there's a nexus between gas patch activity and the crime rate."

Roy says that there's been a decline in crimes ranging from property damage to drug-related offences.

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New 24-hour clinic to serve expectant mothers in Fort St John

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Fort St John is getting a new care model for expectant mothers. Instead of visiting a family doctor, they will visit a 24-hour clinic that has a rotating staff of doctors and other care professionals.

Dr. Richard Moody is chair of the North Peace Division of Family Practice.  He says the model was born out of necessity as the Peace deals with a shortage of doctors. "It just isn't acceptable for ladies to be going from office to office to try to find a doctor to deliver their baby, so we had to create a new system." The recent relocation of Fort St John's hospital was also a factor, as it makes it more difficult for doctors to get from their offices to deliver a baby.

He notes there are downsides to the clinic model, but points out its benefits, as well. The clinic will have nurses, public health, specialists, ultrasound, and eventually nutritionists, mental health, and consultants. "It amounts to one-stop shopping for maternity care."

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Interviews, Joint Review Panel:

Joint Review Panel: Missing women, government spies and snow shovelling

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Sarah de Leeuw and Mary Teegee in our CBC studios.

On today's Daybreak Joint Review Panel, UNBC professor Sarah de Leeuw and Carrier Sekani  Family Services Executive Director Mary Teegee discuss whether women are any safer in northern B.C., racism, government spying, and who they'd like to shovel their driveway.

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Wally Oppal says Missing Women Commission was the most difficult thing he's ever done, hopes to see more action taken

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After a year, only three of the recommendations from Wally Oppal's report on missing and murdered women in B.C. have been implemented.
One year ago, Wally Oppal published "Forsaken: The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry." Oppal remembers the time collecting information for his report as one of the most difficult things he's ever done. "If you're a human, if you have any feelings... it leaves an impact on you," he told Daybreak's Betsy Trumpener.

He also commented on the lack of action taken since the report was published. Only three of his recommendations have been implemented. In one key area, things may even be going backwards as Greyhound cuts back on service along the so-called Highway of Tears in northwestern B.C.. "I'm hopeful saner minds will prevail," Oppal says, referring to the importance of making sure women get to and from their destinations safely.

Listen to Oppal's full interview with Daybreak's Betsy Trumpener: 


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Interviews, The Story Exchange:

The Story Exchange: Man vs Grizzly

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On this edition of the Story Exchange, Vanderhoof's Conrad Boyce shares the tale of the day he fought a grizzly bear- and survived.

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"Who's the government protecting: oil corporations or the people?": NDP responds to reports of spying on environmental groups

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Protesters outside Northern Gateway pipeline Joint Review Panel hearings in Prince George. New reports suggest opponents of the project have been targets of federal surveillance. (Marissa Harvey/CBC).

New reports suggest officials have been closely monitoring British Columbians and other Canadians opposed to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The Vancouver Observer has published what it says is proof that the National Energy Board coordinated spying on environmental groups before public hearings on the pipeline project, with help from the RCMP and CSIS. 

Jennifer Rice is the provincial NDP MLA for the North Coast, and is opposed to the Northern Gateway project.  "I feel almost violated," she says of the reports. "It's disturbing. I mean, who's the government protecting: oil corporations or the people?" 

The National Energy Board provided CBC with a statement following these reports. NEB Chair and CEO Gaétan Caron writes, 

"National Energy Board committed to safety at hearings The NEB's mandate is to regulate pipelines, energy development and trade in the Canadian public interest. As part of this mandate, we conduct public hearings to ensure a broad range of perspectives are incorporated into our decisions. 

"Our top priority is, and always will be, safety. This includes the safety of our staff, our Board Members and the public. In fact, we are required under the Canada Labour Code to provide a safe workplace, including the hearing room. 

"As part of our focus on safety, we may work with local officials and our federal colleagues, such as the RCMP, to conduct a security assessment before a hearing. We use this information to develop plans to protect the safety of everyone involved. It is our responsibility to ensure appropriate security provisions are in place based on our assessment of risks. These services are sometimes provided by our staff, sometimes supplemented by local police. 

"The National Energy Board agrees that healthy debate is an essential component of a vibrant, democratic society. To this end, we are committed to providing a safe and respectful environment where our hearings can occur." 

Rice understands the desire for safety, but thinks these actions cross the line from safety into intimidation.

"I remember when I first started becoming a little more verbally opposed to this project, my dad something to me that I thought was just so far-fetched. 'You know Jen, people who oppose oil in other countries get shot.' I was so upset that he said such a thing. But I don't know, it's just lingering in the back of my mind now. I feel like this is just a great intimidation tactic, you know?"

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After daughter's death, Prince George mother warns of concussion dangers

Growing up in Prince George, Andrea Cochrane was extremely active in athletics and academics. But later in life she experienced concentration problems and mood changes that led to her death. Now her mother is raising awareness about the dangers of concussions.

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As a child and teenager Andrea Cochrane took part in t-ball, soccer, dance, and skiing. Following graduation she volunteered overseas before heading to the University of Alberta to become a geophysicist. However, while she was in school she began experiencing problems.

"She was experiencing, while she was at university, some memory loss, concentration problems," says her mother Laurie Cochrane. Andrea still graduated top of her class, but her issues became worse and she experienced mood changes, including a hospitalization for depression.

It was only while watching a documentary about concussions that Laurie thought Andrea's problems might be linked to her past. As a teenage competitive skier, Andrea experienced three concussions over the course of eight months, followed by two more as an adult. Laurie believes this led to Andrea's problems, including a later hospitalization for depression and, eventually, suicide.

"I do think that looking back at everything and seeing all that she went through I do believe that absolutely concussions had a part to play in her illness and eventually her death."

Laurie hopes that Andrea's life and death can shed new light on the consequences of concussions. Listen to her full interview with Betsy Trumpener below:

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Human Library, Interviews:

Human library: Christian pastor

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Mark Wessner made a deliberate choice to live life as a Christian.

For the final "book" in our Human Library project, we speak to pastor Mark Wessner about his life of faith, and how it feels to be a religious man in an increasingly secular world.

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Listen to the other interviews in our Human Library series:

Prince George's "Human Library" project takes place at the Prince George Public Library Saturday, November 23. Click here for the full schedule.

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More Aboriginal students graduating in Prince George, numbers dropping in Fort St John and Nisga'a regions

Six-year completion rates released by Ministry of Education

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The Aboriginal Choice program in Prince George is called Nusdeh Yoh, which translates into "House of the Future."

School districts in Prince George are Fort Nelson are graduating more Aboriginal students than ever before, while Fort St John and the Nass Valley are falling behind. 

According to new numbers released by the Ministry of Education, there has been a rise in six-year-completion rates for Aboriginal students in B.C. In 2002-03, just 45.9 percent of Aboriginal students entering grade eight were graduating within six years. In 2012-13, that number rose to 59.4 per cent. The completion rate for all B.C. students was 83.6 per cent.

Not every school district is seeing success, however. District 60 serving Fort St John has seen a decline of thirty one percentage points with only 43.8 per cent of Aboriginal student graduating, while school district 92 in the Nass Valley has seen a decline from 52.1 per cent to 29.2.

"We've noticed that attendance has been down in the last two years," says school board chair Peter Leeson. "If you miss two or three days in one week, you are going to lag and fall behind." He says the district is speaking with parents and community members to try and solve the problem. "Most of our students travel by bus to the high school. In the wintertime, I'm thinking maybe parents are thinking about the safety of the students going up and down on these winter roads." Leeson also says the low number of students in the district- just over 500- makes it easier for percentages to fluctuate.

Meanwhile, other districts are seeing major success. In 20012-13, the Fort Nelson school district graduated 87.1 per cent of its Aboriginal students, up dramatically from 42.4 per cent a decade ago. Similarly, Prince George which used to graduate just 3 in 10 of its Aboriginal students has brought the numbers up to 56 per cent.

Victor Jim is the Aboriginal Education District Principal for Prince George, and he credits the success to a concerted effort and strategy over the past ten years. Prince George opened the province's first public Aboriginal choice school, and have been working with students who seem to be having trouble. "When students run into problems, we have Aboriginal [workers] in just about every school now, and we deal with the problems as quickly as we can, and put the students in a good space before the day's over so that they're able to return the next day." 

Jim acknowledges there is still work to be done,but remains optimistic. "I think, at least in our district, we would like to close the gap as quickly as we can. Hopefully we'll be about 60-65 per cent within four or five years."


Six-year completion rates for Aboriginal students in northern B.C. school districts
(source: B.C. Ministry of Education)

2003-2004


SD 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) - 32.6%

SD 28 (Quesnel) - 53.2%

SD 49 (Central Coast) - 43.7%

SD 50 (Haida Gwaii) -  46.2%

SD 52 (Prince Rupert) - 53.4%

SD 54 (Bulkley Valley) - 56.0%

SD 57 (Prince George) - 31.0%

SD 59 (Peace River South) - 42.4%

SD 60 (Peace River North) - 74.8%

SD 81 (Fort Nelson) - 40.7%

SD 87 (Stikine) - 40.1%

SD 91 (Nechako Lakes) - 51.1%

SD 92 (Nisga'a) - 52.1%


2012-2013


SD 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) - 44.2%

SD 28 (Quesnel) - 56.0%

SD 49 (Central Coast) - Msk*

SD 50 (Haida Gwaii) -  55.2%

SD 52 (Prince Rupert) - 56.0%

SD 54 (Bulkley Valley) - 56.4%

SD 57 (Prince George) - 56.0%

SD 59 (Peace River South) - 59.2%

SD 60 (Peace River North) - 43.8%

SD 81 (Fort Nelson) - 87.1%

SD 87 (Stikine) - 24.8%

SD 91 (Nechako Lakes) - 56.6%

SD 92 (Nisga'a) - 29.2%


*According to the Ministry, "when reporting data, the number or percentage must be suppressed (or "masked") if they are elements of a population that is one through nine."


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Human Library, Interviews:

Human library: Chinese immigrant

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Jane Liang came to Prince George from China to escape the one-child policy of that country.






Despite having a well-paid job at a prestigious company in China, Jane Liang wanted to leave in order to escape the one-child policy. Today she lives in Prince George and she shared her experience on our Human Library project.

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Prince George's "Human Library" project takes place at the Prince George Public Library Saturday, November 23. Click here for the full schedule.

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Prince Rupert sushi chef describes life in front of the cutting board

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Avi Sternberg is the first western-born sushi chef to be trained at the elite Tsuji Ecole Culinaire. Now the Prince Rupert man has written a book about his experience and his creations. He shares some of those with CBC's George Baker.

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External link: itamae-book.com

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Quesnel foster mother overwhelmed by community support

69-year-old has fostered over 50 children, now struggling with cancer

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One of many photos of Christa Eyford posted in the Quesnel Blood Donors Facebook group.
Over the course of seventeen years, Christa Eyford has fostered over fifty children and countless animals. Now the 69-year-old is struggling with a rare form of cancer that requires regular blood transfusions. "She's required over 50 to 60 blood transfusions these past two-and-a-half years," says Eyford's daughter Willow. Willow also says that because her mother is type 0-negative, they've run into obstacles getting the blood they need.

Another obstacle is the lack of a blood donation clinic in Quesnel. "The only place we can donate blood in northern B.C. is Prince George," Willow explains. "Two days a week, Wednesday and Thursday, and one Saturday a month. It's just enough to service the needs."



Listen: Willow Eyford talks about her mother
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But the people of Quesnel, including some of Christa's former foster children, have rallied to support. A Facebook group has organized car pools and even shuttle busses to transport donors to Prince George. Willow says she's not surprised that her mother has touched so many lives, but her mother is.

"She's very humble, and she always thinks there's someone worse than she is," says . "She's just totally overwhelmed by the people who have said 'Yes, we'll help.'"

 
A video created by Christa Eyeford's family in which they asked people do describe her in one word. "We got such a response we needed 2 songs and it still wasn't enough room," says daughter Willow.

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After sawmill in Houston announces shutdown, workers say they need help

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In October, West Fraser announced it will be shutting down its sawmill in Houston. This has left 225 employees with an uncertain future, and asking for help. Wayde Decooman is an electrician at the mill, and plant chairman for the United Steelworkers Union. "Nobody knows where they're going to go, what's going to be offered," he says. West Fraser says they have jobs for everybody. But nobody knows as to what's there yet."

Decooman also worries about older workers who may not be equipped for new jobs."They might be 40 to 50 years old. Some of them dropped out of school to start working at the mill." 

West Fraser says it will help employees relocate within the company, and Nechako Lake MLA John Rustad says a transition team is creating a training plan, but Decooman says they won't know what jobs available until the new year.

"It's all a wait and see, hope something good comes down the line for just about everybody, right?"

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Prince Rupert family hires private investigators to investigate son's death

RCMP say no evidence of foul play

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Justin Brooks' mother Cheryl Ryan (centre) is hoping to get answers for her son's death on Prince Rupert's waterfront. (photo: George Baker/CBC)


In March 2013, the body of Justin Brooks was found lying in Prince Rupert's harbour. RCMP say there is no evidence of foul play, but his family wants answers about what caused his death and has hired private investigators to find out.

Listen: CBC's George Baker shares the Brooks family story
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"We found out he was called names, he was pushed around," mother Cheryl Ryan says of the night Brooks died. There is also video from the Prince Rupert Port Authority the family believes would shed light on the case, but it has only been shared with RCMP. 

Despite the RCMP saying there is no evidence of foul play, a number of organizations have become involved rallying around the family including the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, BC Civil Liberties, and the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society.  "There's still a lot of questions as to what actually happened down there," says Christine Martin, executive director of the VATJSS. "The family just really felt they didn't have confidence RCMP are fully investigating this the way it should have been. And neither do I."

RCMP say the file on Brooks' death is still open but without any new information, they have nothing to follow up on.


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Human Library, Interviews:

Human library: Former convict

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For this edition of the Human Library, we checked out Alia Pierini. She's a former enforcer in Prince George gangs, convicted of violent crimes, who went on to national fame as an entrepreneur on the TV show "Redemption Inc."

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Listen to the other interviews in our Human Library series:

Prince George's "Human Library" project takes place at the Prince George Public Library Saturday, November 23. Click here for the full schedule.

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Advocate says alleged illegal weapons importer is "exemplary citizen"

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Some of the weapons seized by RCMP from a Prince George home
A local gun advocate says a Prince George man being charged with importing and owning illegal weapons in the city is being unfairly targeted.

On November 13, Prince George RCMP held a press conference displaying a number of weapons they say were illegally imported into Canada.

Karl Haus, who owns the Pastry Chef Bakery in Prince George, faces seventeen charges including two counts of importing a prohibited firearm, four counts of possession of a prohibited firearm, ammunition, or device and five counts of careless use of a firearm.

RCMP superintendent Derek Simmonds called the number of weapons possessed by Haus "disturbing" and Rod Booth of the North District RCMP said there was fear that the weapons could be used to commit criminal acts.

Sheldon Clare feels differently. As president of the National Firearms Association of Canada, the College of New Caledonia Instructor believes Haus is victim of gun laws that should not exist in this country.

"This is a typical example of a person who is not in any way, shape, or form a threat to any form of public safety, who is a good citizen of the community, his family and him have been excellent providers to charity, they make excellent bread, and they've been good citizens," Clare told CBC's Daybreak North. "What we have is a person who is part of Canada's gun culture unfairly disadvantaged by regime of firearms control that targets a Canadian culture."

Clare also says the prohibited weapons class shouldn't exist because he believes it's an "artificial construct based on political ideologies and emotion."

Listen to Sheldon Clare's full interview with Betsy Trumpener:
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The items seized from Haus's property include:

  • over 31,000 rounds of ammunition
  • two loaded and one unloaded hand gun
  • seven rifles
  • a fully automatic M16
  • a fully automatic AK 47
  • two morning stars
  • two shot guns
  • five 100 round capacity drum magazines
  • 50 assault rifle magazines
  • four bullet proof vests.

RCMP say this incident does not appear to be linked to any other crimes and that Haus does not have a "significant" history with police. His first court appearance is in January.

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Joint Review Panel: guns, unsolved crimes and Movember

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On today's joint review panel, Carrier Sekani tribal chief Terry Teegee and retired RCMP officer Gary Godwin discuss weapon ownership, unsolved crimes in northern B.C., and their facial hair.

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Human Library, Interviews:

Human library: Bride in an arranged marriage

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Sharon Pannu has been in an arranged marriage for over three decades.

When Sharon Pannu was growing up in the Punjab region of India, she always expected her parents would arrange her marriage. And sure enough, when they found a suitable husband she was soon married to a man she had never met, in a country she had never visited. over three decades later she's happily married, has raised two children, and is the program coordinator at Immigrant and Mulitcultural Services in Prince George. We checked her out of the human library.

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Listen to the other interviews in our Human Library series:

Prince George's "Human Library" project takes place at the Prince George Public Library Saturday, November 23. Click here for the full schedule.

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First Nation in Bella Bella says ferry cuts will leave them isolated

Heiltsuk First Nation chief says ferry is key for health, economy

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A First Nations leader is warning that cuts to BC Ferries routes will leave them isolated. 

Yesterday BC Ferries announced cuts to a number of routes, including canceling the summer service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.  Marilyn Slett is Chief Councilor of the Heiltsuk First Nation in Bella Bella, an island community accessible only by boat or plane. She says community members rely on the ferry for a number of important services including visiting doctors and other medical specialists.
Slett also points out Bella Bella is still struggling with the loss of its only grocery store to a fire this past summer, and that the ferry cuts will make it even more difficult to get goods. "It's really going to negatively impact our small businesses in our community. We also use it for freight services for groceries into our community grocery store."
Slett also says BC Ferries has done a poor job of consulting with the community about the cuts. The ferry corporation is holding a meeting in Bella Bella this weekend. 

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Human Library, Interviews:

Human library: Girl builder

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Sanna Denicola holds up a picture of the log home she built at age seventeen.

When Sanna Denicola was seventeen, she decided she wouldn't be able to buy a house, so she built a log cabin instead- a home she still lives in over a decade later. Betsy Trumpener "checks her out" of Prince George's human library.

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Sanna Denicola still lives in her log cabin.

Listen to the other interviews in our Human Library series:

Prince George's "Human Library" project takes place at the Prince George Public Library Saturday, November 23. Click here for the full schedule.

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The Story Exchange:

The Story Exchange: Bozo the Moose

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(Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press file photo)

Growing up, the Ewald family adopted all sorts of wild animals: robins, crows, mice, Canada geese, a beaver and even a flying squirrel. But their most memorable was Bozo the moose. Ted Ewald shares the story.

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Updated: Arrests made in Fribjon Bjornson homicide

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Fribjon Bjornson was 28 and a father of two. (RCMP)

The father of a young northern B.C. man who was tortured and decapitated says four arrests have been made nearly two years after his son's grisly murder.

The severed head of Fribjon Bjornson was found in a vacant house on the Nak'azdli reserve near Fort St. James on Feb. 3, 2012, three weeks after he was last seen about 60 kilometres away at a 7-Eleven in Vanderhoof, B.C.

Bjornson was 28 years old and a father of two. The rest of his body was never found.

Bjornson's father, Fred, told CBC News he got a call from authorities this weekend telling him four people are in custody.

I'm "relieved to know that they'll finally be off the street," he said.

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Fred Bjornson said residents told him they were afraid of going to authorities with information because of retaliation.

"Because I knew every name, every person, from the time that my son was murdered until now," he said. "And I'm just glad that they're off the street."

"There's so many things that happen in the north, where it's just forgotten about the next day and people's lives just carry on.  That wasn't the case with Fribjorn. We never let it rest." 

Fred Bjornson says the death of his son has taken a toll on him and his family. "There's never been a day with any happiness since. Every day, every morning, you wake up with it, you live with it all day long, it haunts you in the middle of the night. It's constant. It's hard."

Bjornson said police will issue a news release on Monday with more details of the arrests.

Update: RCMP lay charges against four

The RCMP's North District's Major Crime Unit has confirmed four people have been arrested in connection to Bjornson's murder.

According to an RCMP release the charges are as followed:

  • Wesley Dennis Duncan, 27, is charged with second degree murder;
  • Jesse Darren Bird, 31, is charged with accessory after the fact to murder and indignity to human remains;
  • James David Charlie, 23, is charged with indignity to human remains
  • Teresa Marie Charlie, 21, is charged with accessory after the fact to murder.

The arrests were made over the weekend. All four will be in court in Prince George on November 18. RCMP say more arrests could be made as the investigation continues.

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Prince George group says the time for a performing arts centre is now

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With a new RCMP detachment complete, the Wood Innovation and Design Centre under construction, and lots of upgrades to sports facilities for the 2015 Canada Winter Games under way, Prince George is in the middle of a building boom. But Ken Kilcullen thinks one major project is still missing.

Kilcullen is chair of the Prince George Regional Performing Arts Centre Society. He will be appearing before Prince George city council tonight asking the city to commit to building a downtown venue that can host performances for local and out-of-town artists. "It's an important piece of the puzzle for a well-balanced, well-rounded community," he said on CBC Daybreak North this morning.

When asked about the other venues that already exist for arts events, Kilcullen responded "There is a challenge of quality seats. We're missing out on performances... [people say] you have Vanier Hall, it's got 800 seats. Well, the reality is it's not been built as a performing arts centre. It's a school auditorium... it's not ideal conditions, it is not a performing arts centre that you would see in a city like Vernon or Nanaimo or in other cities our size across the country." He says the arts centre would be a flexible space, able to host a variety of different-sized events.

The estimated cost for the project is $42.5 million, but Kilcullen estimates after federal and provincial grants and private donations, the city will only have to pay for $10.6 million of the cost.

City council meets at 6 pm in city hall.

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Interviews:

Ethics of Canada's politicians questioned by UNBC ethics professor

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Alberto de Feo is a  local government administrator and political science prof at UNBC. Andrew Kurjata asks him about the shadow of Rob Ford, the senate spending scandal and Pat Pimm's rodeo advocacy; and whether any of these are ethical problems. 



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Beloved landmark kermode bear is missing in Terrace

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[That roundish space on the mountainside rockface? That is where the Kermode bear used to be. But not it's gone]

It's a real who-done-it: a cherished graffiti bear, painted two-decades ago on a rockface, has been covered up. Now residents in Terrace want to know who did it and when is it coming back? Betsy Trumpener speaks with Terrace Standard editor Rod Link. 

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Weapons and assaults keep Prince George RCMP busy

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RCMP display some of the items seized from a Prince George home. (RCMP)
Prince George RCMP have made a number of weapons-related arrests over the past week. 

Series of assaults in University Heights

The most recent occurred in the evening of Thursday November 14 when RCMP received a 9-1-1 call reporting a female had been assaulted in her car by a man with a hammer in the University Heights subdivision.

Within moments, another call was received that a man had broken into a house in the same area and punched a woman while trying to get her car keys. The suspect fled, and within minutes police received a third call of a man being assaulted by a suspect wielding a piece of drain pipe. Police cordoned off the area and brought in a dog team. A short time later a man flagged down police saying someone had broken into his home, and was stealing a car from his driveway. 

A 52-year-old man was arrested, and appears in court today.

Attempted firearms theft

On November 9 a man arrived at his home in the Hart Highway neighbourhood to find two men in the process of stealing his gun safe and the firearms inside it. The suspects assaulted the man, dropped the safe, and fled the scene.

RCMP later found the vehicle the men used to escape in the 200 block of Claxton Crescent. They arrested a 45-year-old man inside the home and arrested a 46-year-old male later. Both men are facing a number of charges, including break and enter to steal firearms.

Weapons cache seized

On November 13 RCMP held a press conference displaying a number of weapons that had been illegally imported into Prince George. 

A joint operation between RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime, Prince George RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit resulted in a search warrant that uncovered what RCMP call "a staggering collection of firearms and other weapons" in a home located on Prospect Point in the Hart neighbourhood.

The items seized include: 

  • over 31,000 rounds of ammunition
  • two loaded and one unloaded hand gun
  • seven rifles
  • a fully automatic M16
  • a fully automatic AK 47
  • two morning stars
  • two shot guns
  • five 100 round capacity drum magazines
  • 50 assault rifle magazines
  •  four bullet proof vests.
Karl Haus of Prince George has been charged with 17 offences. He make his first court appearance in January.

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Calls continue for MLA Pat Pimm to step down as commission investigates Fort St John rodeo

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Calls continue for B.C. Agricultural Minister Pat Pimm to step down. He's under fire for allegedly interfering with the independent Agriculture Land Commission. The Commission's job is to protect B.C. farmland, and commission officials say Pimm took actions that could be viewed as attempting to politically influence their decision-making. At stake was whether to turn farmland into a rodeo ground near Fort St John.

The commission says Pimm and his staff contacted them several times advocating for the rodeo, potentially overstepping his bounds as a cabinet minister. The government watchdog Integrity B.C. says Pimm should step down, while the B.C. NDP claim Pimm's actions are part of the B.C.'s Liberals ongoing plans to undermine the Agricultural Land Commission.

Premier Clark defends Pimm

Premier Christy Clark says she will not be asking Pimm to step aside because he was simply advocating on behalf of a constituent when he pledged his support for the rodeo proposal.

However Clark says in the interest of the rules being clearly stated, Pimm has asked B.C.'s Conflict of Interest Commissioner to rule on what's appropriate in such a situation for all MLAs.

"The ALC is absolutely an independent body. Its independence must be respected.  At the same time MLAs must be able to bring forward concerns and issues on behalf of their constituents as Mr Pimm did," Clark said.         . 

Rodeo grounds already built

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A rodeo ground in Fort St John is the center of a political controversy.
Meanwhile, at least part of the rodeo grounds have already have been built. This happened despite the fact the Agricultural Land Commission ruled against the idea, saying it doesn't make sense to use viable farmland for a rodeo when there are other areas near Fort St John that would be more appropriate for the project.

The man behind the rodeo project is Terry McLeod. He has told CBC that he doesn't believe he's broken any rules, saying it's his land and adding that the city of Fort St John needs a rodeo.

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The Agricultural Land Commission has confirmed it is investigating the creation of the rodeo grounds despite this ruling, though it isn't clear what action they might take.

Local politicians support rodeo

McLeod has the support of local government officials, as well. Fort St John mayor Lori Ackerman has advocated for the project, and in February 2013 directors of  the Peace River Regional District voted to support the idea of rezoning McLeod's land from agricultural to commercial to support his application to the ALC. This decision happened despite a recommendation from PRRD staff that the decision be postponed until after the Agricultural Land Commission made their decision.

PRRD chair Karen Goodings told CBC that there is a lot of support for the project, and that the regional district was simply helping McLeod make his case. "The only way it can go to the land commission is if we do support," she told CBC. "If we didn't support it, it would die right there." She notes the PRRD only put the application through the first two readings, and have not finalized the decision.

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Christy Clark says new LNG terminal proposed for Prince Rupert will be "pollution fighting machine"

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The Nexen oil sands facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., is now part of CNOOC's international holdings. CNOOC said Nexen properties helped boost its profit in the first half. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The Chinese-owned company Nexen is now an official participant in the liquefied natural gas race taking place in northwestern British Columbia. Yesterday, Nexen announced plans to build an LNG terminal at Prince Rupert's Grassy Point, and that it would pay the provincial government $24 million for the right to do so.

Premier Christy Clark welcomed the news, saying the announcement is all part of her government's job plan. She also called the province's proposed liquefied
natural-gas plants "pollution-fighting machines." She argues the province will be doing the world a favour if it can sell natural gas to Asia so China doesn't have to use coal and Japan. 

NDP leader Adrian Dix feels otherwise, citing greenhouse gas emissions, and NDP energy critic John Horgan says he feels too much cheerleading is going on. In response to critics, Clark said "We can either decide that we want to get to 'yes', or we are going to throw up barriers... that will ensure we don't have a natural gas industry in British Columbia."

Nexen's so-called Aurora project makes three proposed LNG terminals for the Prince Rupert area, and six for the northwest as a whole.

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Interviews:

Joint Review Panel takes on Rob Ford, drinking at Cougars games and Prince George's new police station


Host Betsy Trumpener asks panellists Mark Wessner and Mary Teegee about the hot issues of the day. 

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Story Exchange: a story of loss and survival off the coast of Haida Gwaii

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Elaine Campbell and the love of her life Fred Wydenes were waiting on their troller for a salmon run to open. What happened next is a heartbreaking story of loss, pain and survival. Elaine Campbell tells her story, produced by Robert Doane and introduced by Betsy Trumpener. 

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Quesnel multi-centre "dead" says regional district vice-chair

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An image from the Our Multi-Centre website.

Voters in the Cariboo Regional District have voted "no" in a referendum asking to borrow up to $15 million for the construction of a multi-centre in Quesnel. The proposed multi-centre would include an NHL-size hockey arena, theatre, and event space.

This vote was actually asking for an extension of authorization first given in 2008, to borrow $15 million towards the estimated cost of $30 million. The rest of the money is to come from government grants and private donations, but has yet to meet its funding target.

Ted Armstrong is vice-chair of the Cariboo Regional District, and he feels that this weekend's "no" vote means the multi-centre project as proposed is dead. He adds that he still thinks upgrading local facilities should be a priority. "It's very important in my view, the arena apparently is over 60 years old... it still has wooden benches." But he's not sure how his government will go forward with the project without the $15 million loan. "The public has spoken, and that's it."

Armstrong and other government officials on the multi-centre's joint planning committee meet tonight to discuss their options.

The question posed in the referendum was "Are you in favour of the Cariboo Regional District extending its authorization to borrow up to $15,000,000 to provide for the construction of a new arena, theatre and multi-purpose event space, for a further two year period, to allow fundraising efforts to continue?"

The preliminary results from the weekend's vote are 1,516 in favour and 2,070 opposed.


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Government watchdog says Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm should resign

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Some people are using a scathing report from B.C.'s Agricultural Land Commission to demand Agricultural Minister and Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm resign. 

The calls are over a proposed rodeo facility on reserved farmland near Fort St John. Pimm endorsed the Fort St. John project to the Agricultural Land Commission several times as an MLA. As a cabinet minister he also contacted the commission about it.

The ALC ultimately ruled against the project, and in its August decision, the ALC also calls out Pimm, saying his contact with commissioners was inappropriate.

Dermod Travis of Integrity B.C., a non-partisan government watchdog, says Pimm should resign. "We have to have judicial independence in Canada. Mr. Pimm crossed that line. The precedent is clear across Canada. When a minister crosses that line they have no choice but to resign.'

In a statement, Pimm says he was only advocating for his constituents as their MLA, and that he respects the ALC's decisions.

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The Playlist:

Playlist: It takes two

Two heads are better than one, so we're putting together a list of great duets. To kick things off, a suggestion from Deborah Leonard-- "Two of Us" by the Beatles (John and Paul shared a mic for this one, so it counts):



Our next pick comes from Joyce Brash who suggests "Crying" by Roy Orbinson and kd Lang. "You can feel the heartache & the tears." 




Track three is one of many Willie Nelson duets, this one with Canadian country legend Hank Snow: "A Fool Such As I." 


Track four was a popular request: "Islands In The Stream," written by the Bee Gees for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers: 


As a bonus, here's a Canadian version from Feist and the Constantines: 


For track five, we head to northern B.C., courtesy of Jennifer Ferries who points us to Smithers' very own Alex Cuba's duet with Nelly Furtado: "Mi Plan." 


Heather Ramsey gets track six with "In A Town This Size" by John Prine and Dolores Keane: 


Track seven comes from Thea Doyle in Vanderhoof. It's Paul Simon and Phoebe Snow with "Gone At Last."


For track eight, we head back in time to when Nat King Cole duetted with his daughter Natalie on a request from Howard Lyn: this is "Unforgettable."  

 Track nine comes from Mike Carter at the Chetwynd Echo- "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher.

 
For track ten, Rob Biller suggest Johnny and June Cash with "Jackson."

   
 
And the for track eleven we have Johnny Cash again, this time with Bob Dylan on "Girl of the North Country." 

 

Joyce Godfrey's track twelve pick features not just duetting voices, but duetting guitars, as well. It's "Poor Boy Blues" by Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkin.

  

 Track thirteen is not unlucky. It's a birthday request from Susan Brouwer for her eleven-year-old daughter Renya. 

Susan writes, "This is a special song because my husband Rick and I danced to it in the kitchen when we started dating almost 20 years ago. Renya's grandparents were dancing to Ella and Louis back in 1957 when they were first married. They are still "dancing cheek to cheek" 56 years later! Renya is an awesome dancer herself!" 

 The song is Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, "Cheek to Cheek."
 
Track fourteen is courtesy Robert Edge, and a Canadian classic. Ian and Sylvia and "Four Strong Winds."
   

 Track fifteen goes to Michelle Baker Lapointe: Prince with Rosie Gaines and "Nothing Compares 2 U".

Kurt Breuer wants to take it up a notch with Olivia Newton John and John Travlota with "You're the One That I Want" from the Grease soundtrack.
Dianne Graham asks for a classic mashup from the' 70s- Anne Murray and Glenn Campbell with "By the Time I Get to Pheonix/I Say A Little Prayer."
Kevin Sullivan in Terrace and Tanya Milner in Prince George both want the same song: Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford with "Close My Eyes Forever." Rebekah Leakey's favourite duet is Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and "Falling Slowly" from the movie "Once."
Moving back to Canadian tunes, Karen Kristensen of Denny Island requests Kate & Anna McGarrigle singing "The Work Song".
Another country duet: Hank Williams Jr and Waylon Jennings with "The Conversation."
And now Willie Nelson is back, courtesy Heather Brown of Endako. He's here with Dolly Parton singing "I Will Love You to the Moon and Back."
A couple of rock icons take on Motown in this suggestion from Mary Cenedese. Here's David Bowie and Mick Jagger with "Dancing in the Streets."
Kim Menounos brings it back to Smithers with Jim Cuddy and Alex Cuba dueting on a Spanish-language version of a Blue Rodeo song- "Bad Timing" translated into "Arrepentido."
Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics with Aretha Franklin and "Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves" is a pick for Allison Keymartin of Smithers.
Lynne Synotte of Burns Lake wants to hear Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock play "Picture."
And finally, courtesy Amanda Fraser-Doyle: David Bowie again, this time with Freddie Mercury and Queen with "Under Pressure."

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Council of Canadians call for nationwide fracking freeze

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Newfoundland has done it. Quebec has done it. So has Nova Scotia.  But the B.C. government says hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- is safe and won't put a moratorium on the natural gas mining practice. Betsy Trumpener speaks with the Council of Canadians national water campaigner Emma Lui. 


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B.C. government hoping to solve moose die-off with helicopters, nets and collars

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A moose crosses the street in Prince George. Photo by pgherbster in our Daybreak Flickr group.

For years, the moose population in B.C. has been declining. Now the provincial government is hoping to solve the mystery with some high-tech tracking and old-fashioned nets. Andrew Kurjata speaks with wildlife biologist Doug Heard.

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Heard says the plan is to place tracking collars on about 240 moose in all regions of the province. Officials will start by dropping nets from helicopters on top of the moose, placing collars on them, and then allowing them to leave. If the collars stop moving for more than 24 hours, Heard and his team will find them as soon as possible and attempt to determine the cause of death of the moose, so they have better information on what is causing the animals to die off.

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Police monitoring of First Nations protest cost nearly $170,000

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CBC has learned the cost of police monitoring a blockade in the Sacred Headwaters region of British Columbia this summer. Members of the Tahltan First Nation had set up a camp to protest exploration work for a proposed open pit coal mine through August and September, and RCMP set up a camp to monitor the protesters. Now documents obtained by CBC reveal this came at a cost of nearly $170,000. 

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Site C public hearing dates set to begin in December

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The Site C dam could be generating power by 2021, if BC Hydro gets the project approved. (BC Hydro)

The environmental review for a massive hydro project is set to move into public hearings next month. The Joint Review Panel announced yesterday it has enough information to proceed with hearings for the Site C dam. 

The eight billion dollar project in the Peace River region would flood thousands of hectares of agricultural land, and force some landowners off their properties. BC Hydro's Dave Conway says it's needed to meet growing energy demands. "We believe that this project is a good project for the province of British Columbia. It provides firm capacity at 11 hundred megawatts, and it provides energy and 51 hundred gigawatt hours. The need that we're looking at is actually long term."

The opening session for the public hearings will be held in Fort St. John on December 9. Hearings will also be held in Hudson's Hope, Prince George, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, and Peace River.

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Terrace RCMP investigating "sexting" incidents

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Terrace RCMP are investigating incidents involving multiple youth and "sexting". Constable Angela Rabut won't reveal details of the investigation, but warns the trading of explicit photos and text messages can involve possession and distribution of child pornography if the images are of underaged youth. 

Rabut saysRCMP concerns extend to how youth are using social media, and so police are working with community groups to tackle the problem. "Unfortunately I don't think that socially we've kept up in educating our youth in how to do that responsibly, and so that's what this whole focus is; to teach parents how to parent their kids in regards to this."

RCMP and the school district are holding a community forum on bullying, cyberbulling, sexting, and social media on November 12 at the REM Lee Theatre.

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Interviews:

Teens on Ford and Ford's friend speaks

Daybreak's George Baker is in a classroom in Prince Rupert asking students at Pacific Coast School what they make of the whole Rob Ford saga. 

Then, host Betsy Trumpenner speaks with Ann Marie McCullough. McCullough grew up with Ford, became addicted to alcohol and is now in recovery. She works for the Orchard Recovery Centre on Bowen Island.



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Writer Eden Robinson is connecting with readers of all sorts, including the blind

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Haisla writer Eden Robinson has lots of fans. But the UNBC writer in residence gets a special meeting with a blind reader, Shea Anker, who meets Robinson for the first time. Host Betsy Trumpener brings us this story. 


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Building one of the oldest churches in Prince George

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Sacred Heart Cathedral in Prince George. Photo courtesy of pgdiocese.bc.ca.





















Trelle Morrow designed Sacred Heart, one of the oldest churches in Prince George. He is giving a presentation on the design and its philosophy at the Prince George Public Libray at 7 pm on November 7, but first he spoke with Andrew Kurjata. 

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More layoffs come to light as contract talks between city of Prince George and unions break down

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More layoffs have come to light at the city of Prince George. In September, two managers in the city's communications department were let go. Now the union says three of its members were given layoff notices at the same time. All three are in the city's administration department.

News of these latest layoffs come as mediated contract talks between the city and its unions have been called off. On Tuesday, Prince George superintendent of Operations Bill Gaal said the problem areas are wages and benefits."The city faces financial challenges and a need to control costs. Increased taxpayer expectations for services and the high cost of fixing and maintaining aging facilities and infrastructure have placed heavy demands on the city budget."

A union spokesperson, however, says the sticking point is job security.

"The trust issue has been broken," says Janet Bigelow, president of CUPE Local 1048 representing inside workers. She cites nine layoffs and the elimination of the city's environment division in January 2012, followed by one more layoff later that year and now these latest cuts. She also says the city is trying to eliminate language focused on job security and hours of work in the collective agreement. "We're not willing to look at either of those without assurances that those would stay there."

In September, union members voted 93 percent in favour of striking. Next week, the city and the union will decide which city services are deemed essential services. Bigelow won't speculate on what, if any, job action will be taken now that talks have been called off.

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Interviews:

Kitimat entrepreneur wants to predict the future with your dreams



Jason Carvalho is a Kitimat born-and-raised entrepreneur whose been getting attention from everyone from Wired Magazine to the New Yorker. The reason is his new app, "Shadow", which wants to use dreams to predict the future. He speaks with Andrew Kurjata.

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Daybreak listeners can get early access to shadow at discovershadow.com/cbc.

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Terrace strange sound video is about to mark 2 million hits

It might sound like a UFO fighting a kermode bear in the forest, but the City of Terrace claims August's strange noise was the grinding of a grader blade. That isn't dampening world-wide interest. Daybreak's George Baker has more From the Coast. 

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Interviews:

Northern BC mayors are voicing their opinions on Rob Ford

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Toronto's mayor is facing calls for his resignation after admitting to having smoked crack cocaine. We dialled up three mayors in Northern BC to ask their opinion: should Ford resign?


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Fortis BC is digging up a really old pipeline

As pipelines age, companies like Fortis BC are digging them up and replacing them.  Betsy Trumpener thought she'd call up company spokesperson David Whylie and ask him how they are doing that under the Muskwa River. 


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Interviews:

Daybreak's Joint Review Panel discusses poppies, Halloween candy dangers and sister cities


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It's a busy week between Halloween and Remembrance Day.  Betsy Trumpeners asks our Joint Review Panellists, Emily Yao and Sarah de Leeuw, their thoughts on poppies, candy safety and who should be Prince George's sister city.  















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5 things you probably didn't know about Jiangmen, China

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"jiangmen days" by jaeming http://flic.kr/p/7KAnJn

Prince George mayor Shari Green is in JIangmen, China this week. She is hoping to develop a sister-city relationship with the Chinese community of nearly 4.5 million that is found 100 km northwest of Hong Kong. In fact, this is the mayor's second trip to Jiangmen in a year- she and members of council visited in November 2012. With all the emphasis on Prince George and Jiangmen learning more about each other, we decided to share five things you probably didn't know about Jiangmen, including:

  • Jiangmen is famous for sending people away
  • The name Jiangmen is the "butt" of many jokes
  • The people of Jiangmen aren't afraid to speak out- and even held a public protest this summer
  • It's tough to have a dog in Jiangmen
  • Prince George isn't the only city who wants to be on Jiangmen's good side

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The biggest drilling rig in North America is coming to Northern BC

Canada's largest drilling rig is currently under construction. And when it's done, it'll call the Liard Basin - in northeastern BC - home. For more, Lisa Ciulka vice president of Investor Relations with Trinidad Drilling speaks with Betsy Trumpener.


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The Story Exchange:

Story Exchange: the Sea monster of PEI

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Last week, you may have heard about Frank the Turtle. An exotic mexican sea turtle, that found its way to our northcoast shores. We bring you the tale of another sea creature, that landed on Canadian shores.

 
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Hockey players are taking their game underwater in Prince George


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By day, Stephen Rader is a cutting edge scientist, splicing DNA up at UNBC. By night, he's an cutting edge athlete playing hockey underwateStephen Rader shows us his underwater puck and stick.r down in the PG Aquatic Centre. Rader plays on an underwater hockey team in Prince George. And he speaks with Betsy

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What DOES the fox say? We found out


The viral song "The Fox (What Does It Say?)" has been buzzing around our office. Then we realized despite there being so many foxes in northern B.C., we don't actually know what they say. So we asked the Calgary Zoo's Axel Moehrenschlager.

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Listen to the interview above, and get an answer to the question:

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What you need to know about New Prosperity

A federal review panel has released its report on the New Prosperity Mine proposal.  But it highlights problems and suggests the billion dollar project could pose adverse environmental effects.  Marissa Harvey has been covering this story.  Daybreak's Betsy Trumpener speaks with her: 

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Federal Review Panel says New Prosperity mine would have 'adverse environmental effects'

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An image of the proposed site for the New Prosperity mine.


Stay tuned to Daybreak North on CBC Radio One for updates on this story as it develops.

The Federal Review Panel released its long-anticipated report on the proposed New Prosperity copper-gold mine on Thursday night, concluding the mine "would result in several significant adverse environmental effects."

The report specifically says that the mine would negatively impact water quality, fish and fish habitat in Fish Lake, land and resource use, and the cultural heritage of two First Nations directly impacted by the proposal.

Additionally, the panel found that the mine would have a "significant adverse cumulative effect" on the south Chilcotin grizzly bear population without considerable mitigation measures in place.

This is the second time the project has been reviewed by a federal panel. In 2010, the original proposal from Taseko Mines Ltd was found to have significant environmental shortfalls and was rejected by the Ministry of Environment.

Taseko then drafted a new environmental impact assessment, and re-submitted it to the Review Panel.

The most recent proposal is for a billion-dollar open pit mine about 50 kilometres south of  Williams Lake, that would represent the tenth largest undeveloped gold-copper deposit in the world.

For half a century since its discovery, the deposit has remained buried among the pristine lakes and mountains of B.C.'s remote Chilcotin region.

'This is about the environment -- it's not about cheerleading the benefits of the mining industry.'- Stewart Phillip, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs

Taseko Vice President Brian Battison said on Thursday that he was confident this time that the panel would not find any significant environmental issues.

"I suppose it would be fair to say everybody's a bit anxious, and by that I mean not only ourselves, but also people in the Cariboo that are looking forward to the project getting a green light," says Battison.

"It's a priority for the communities of Quesnel, and Williams Lake, and 100 Mile."

In the revamped proposal, Taseko has pledged to spend an additional $300 million to minimize the impacts on Fish Lake, but the federal panel's report found that Taseko underestimated the volume of tailings, water seepage and impacts of recirculation on the water quality in the lake.

"Even with expensive water treatment measures, the protection of Fish Lake water quality is unlikely to success in the long term," the report says.

Local First Nations have been vocal opponents of the project since its inception, claiming it would result in irreparable environmental damage.

"Nothing has changed, "says Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. "This is about the environment -- it's not about cheerleading the benefits of the mining industry."

While the Federal Review Panel report makes wide-ranging recommendations, it cannot approve or reject the mine. As in 2010, the Ministry of Environment will have final say if the project moves forward.

With files from Marissa Harvey and Stephen Smart