5 of the most interesting people we met in Hamilton in 2017

Five of the most interesting people we met this year in Hamilton.

A wrestler, the dad who reviews car washes for his autistic son and more

"I always miss it," says Ty Laframboise of wrestling, which he stopped when awkwardness around his gender identity made it too difficult to continue. “It’s always something I’m looking to get back into. It’s just a matter of how.” (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

It was a long road down to the end of 2017 in Hamilton. And we met many interesting people along the way. Here's a look at some people we met and the fascinating stories they told us.

Ty Laframboise

Ty Laframboise used to love wrestling. He wrestled in high school. When he entered McMaster University as a full-time student, he dreamed of wrestling there. He loved competing, and he found solace in bonding with his teammates.

Then that recurring issue — which washroom and change room a person who's transgender uses — took down his dreams.

It's always something I'm looking to get back into. It's just a matter of how.- Ty Laframboise 

"I always miss it," said the 25-year-old, who co-ordinates a support group for other trans youth.

"It's always something I'm looking to get back into. It's just a matter of how."

Laframboise told his story at a city committee meeting in March as he watched politicians debate a new protocol for how the city deals with people who are transgender and gender non-conforming. It passed unanimously.

As a wrestler at McMaster he quickly found he didn't fit in. Male wrestlers didn't want to wrestle him, he said. In the women's change room, he said, he'd try to slip in and out, eyes down, changing in a single stall and doing his best not to make anyone uncomfortable.

Clint Baker and his son Vince, 9, like going through car washes together. Clint started taking videos of his car washes on the road and turned them into a YouTube channel where he reviews car washes. He's done about 115 of them, and has hundreds of subscribers. (Clint Baker)

Clint Baker

Clint Baker reviews car washes on Youtube. His channel is called Reviews by Vince and it has hundreds of dedicated subscribers. He started the channel so he could show videos of his car washes to his son with autism.

'I will literally go through four or five car washes in a row. My car will be spotless, but I want the videos for my son.- Clint Baker

When CBC Hamilton's Samantha Craggs spoke with him in ​November Baker had reviewed 115 automatic car washes in the past year and built an unexpectedly popular YouTube car wash review channel. Reviews by Vince is named after his nine-year-old son, who has autism. The channel has 430 loyal subscribers. Ever since Vince was a baby he's loved car washes, as well as elevators, escalators and automatic doors.

Baker comments on the value ($17 is too expensive for this Ancaster one, he says), the gentleness of the brushes, and the merits of getting gas first, among other factors.

His commenters — many of whom are autistic — talk back. They chime in on the type of system, the tricolour foam coverage and the merits of a touch versus touchless wash.

Dwight Perry is a familiar face in downtown Hamilton. He has more than $20,000 in unpaid panhandling ticket fines. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Dwight Perry

In early August CBC Hamilton Kelly Bennett wrote a story about Dwight Perry, a homeless man who had hundreds of tickets written against hime given by Hamilton police over a decade or so. He owed more than $20,000 in fines before he could ever get a driver's licence or his own housing again. He's still in and out of court trying to fight the tickets.

In one hand I'm asking for change and in the other I'm getting a ticket- Dwight Perry

Perry says that in the last year police have started giving him a version of a panhandling ticket that requires him to go to court. If he didn't show, he could have a trial date set without his knowledge and be tried — and possibly convicted and sentenced — even without being there. 

His lawyer Peter Boushy said "There's something fundamentally offensive when the government spends an inordinate amount of money and resources on essentially picking on the poor. Surely there's got to be something else we can do as a society to help people like Dwight get back on their feet."

A group of volunteers from the Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton was denied entry to the U.S. on their way to spend March break rehabilitating neighbourhoods hit by Hurricane Sandy. (Rehoboth United Reformed Church)

Hamilton church volunteers

In March, CBC Hamilton reporter Mahnoor Yawar talked with a group of church volunteers from Hamilton heading to the United States to do relief work who were denied entry to the U.S. for fear they would take American construction jobs, said a spokesperson for the church.

If you can't get a church van with 12 white folks through (the border), how much worse is it for any person of colour?- - Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, New Jersey

The volunteers were from Hamilton's Rehoboth United Reformed Church and were on their way on Mar. 11, to New Jersey.

Erik Hoeksema, the church's outreach director said they were planning to spend March break cleaning up and rehabilitating neighbourhoods affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hoeksema says this was not the church's first relief work trip headed south of the border. Many individuals from the congregation have, in previous years, travelled to volunteer on their own or with a group down to other states such as Kentucky or Pennsylvania.

On this occasion, however, the group was told that, as foreigners, they would be taking American jobs, and that there was no pressing need for relief work anyway this long after Hurricane Sandy hit the region in 2012.

Ashor Sworesho shows an Assyrian greeting and response wishing the person peace. The Assyrian language is written from right to left. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Ashor Sworesho

There are very few people in Hamilton who can tell you three of the words in Assyrian for goat. Ashor Sworesho explained to CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs in October that there's one that describes a young adult goat, then a goat around age three, then a goat in its later years.

Once the language is lost, then slowly the culture will be lost too, and then everything is gone.- Ashor Sworesho

Sworesho, 29, is an instructor in weekly Assyrian classes offered through the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. He's doing what he can to keep the language alive. Some Assyrian words date back to Akkadian, a language that was spoken for 2,500 years, and has been dead for 2,000 years.

Sworesho left Iraq when he was three. A member of his brother-in-law's family was executed in Iraq for being Assyrian, and establishing a magazine in the language, he said.

So, why does it matter that there are many words for goat in Assyrian? "People can say, 'Who cares if you don't have the name for a four-year-old goat versus a five-year-old goat?" he said. But "once the language is lost, then slowly the culture will be lost too, and then everything is gone."

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