HM: The over office. After the revelation that U.S. President Trump tried to stop the FBI's investigation into Michael Flynn's ties to Russia, many are talking impeachment and Watergate. Subjects our guest, former Nixon aide John Dean, knows a lot about.
JD: It gives love a bad name. Some people consider it a term of endearment and others can't come to terms with it at all. Now, a sociology prof has taken a hard academic look at the controversial word “Newfie”.
HM: Going above and beyond. When a fellow passenger allegedly attacks members of the flight crew and tries to open the airplane door, a Toronto city councilor steps up to stop anything worse from going down.
JD: Moving out and moving on. An encore presentation of Helen's conversation with Samra Zafar, who draws on her harrowing experiences to help women rebuild their lives after leaving abusive relationships.
HM: Most people in Washington are ducking questions; he's questioning ducks. When officials install ramps for ducklings in the Capitol, one congressman wonders who will pay the big bills to help creatures with such small ones.
JD: And… tough as snails. Because of his unusual physiology, Jeremy the snail has had a hard time finding love. And now, even after humans found him two potential mates, it turns out they only have eyes stalks for each other. As It Happens, the Wednesday edition. Radio that figures they'll come crawling back.
[Music: Theme]Back To Top »
Part 1: Trump latest: former Nixon counsel John Dean, councillor flight, Jeremy the Snail update
Trump latest: former Nixon counsel John Dean
Guest: John Dean
JD: Well over the past week, Donald Trump's White House has been rocked by scandal after scandal. From the firing of FBI Director James Comey, to the sharing of highly classified information with Russian officials. And now, reports that President Trump asked Mr. Comey to lay off the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. It seems like every day there is a disturbing new revelation. But President Trump isn't letting that get him down. Here's what he had to say at a Coast Guard commencement ceremony today.
DONALD TRUMP: Never, ever, ever, give up. Things will work out just fine. Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can't let them get you down. You can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.
JD: President Donald Trump speaking earlier today. Well the word “impeachment” has been on the lips of Democrats since before President Trump even took office. But today, the first couple of Republicans uttered it to, as allegations of obstruction of justice get louder. This morning, on the floor of the house, Texas Democrat Al Green called for impeachment.
AL GREEN: I rise today, Mr. Speaker to call for the impeachment of the president of the United States of America for obstruction of justice. I do not do this for political purposes, Mr. Speaker. I do this because I believe in the great ideals that this country stands for: liberty and justice for all. The notion that we should have government of the people, by the people, for the people, I do it because Mr. Speaker, there is a belief in this country that no one is above the law and that includes the president of the United States of America.
JD: Democrat Al Green, in Congress earlier today. All this talk of impeachment inspired us to call up John Dean. Mr. Dean was White House counsel under President Richard Nixon. Well we reached John Dean in Los Angeles.
HM: John Dean, if the reports about Mr. Comey’s memo are true, and the president did ask his FBI director to let go of his investigation into Michael Flynn, what would that mean for the presidency?
JOHN DEAN: Well, it could mean that he's obstructed justice. The criminal statute is a little confusing because courts in the United States — different circuits — interpret the statute differently. And there are cases that say that just acting alone you can't obstruct the FBI. I mean that's not a crime to do so, whereas if it's working with a judicial entity it becomes obstruction of justice. So that's the first question is the factual question as well as a legal question when we get the facts. But I must add that Richard Nixon was impeached for obstruction of justice and they did not really follow the statute. It's a political judgment that he was interfering with the FBI’s investigation, and on that basis alone, was politically impeached.
HM: Would those who are pursuing this have to prove the president's intent if they were trying to get him on obstruction of justice?
JD: They would if they follow the criminal statute. But in an impeachment proceeding, they may or may not. The impeachment starts by a bill being introduced that would charge obstruction and then it would go to the House Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives. They would hold hearings and make a recommendation to the full House to either impeach or not impeach. And then the full House would vote on it. And a simple majority will make the decision. A majority can impeach and then send the charges of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
HM: We are hearing that former Director Comey will testify before a Senate committee next week. So we'll get more details. But based on what you've heard so far, do you think this looks like obstruction of justice?
JD: I do. I don't think there's any question that whether he's technically violated the statute or not. He has certainly tried to stop the investigation. And you can take first his trying to get Comey to not investigate Flynn, and then secondly firing him. That's about the clearest way he made it clear. You put the two of those together and you show a pretty clear intent to obstruct this investigation.
HM: So in your mind, is this grounds for an impeachment proceeding to begin?
JD: Oh, certainly for one to begin. Whether the Republicans will do so, they control the House and Senate, is another question. I think that they're beginning to see the light and realize they're in deep trouble with this president and it might be good to get rid of him earlier rather than later and they can do that.
HM: We put our call after call today inviting sitting Republican representatives and senators to come on the program and defend the president and not one excepted. Is he do you think at this point losing the support of his party?
JD: Well, let's say he doesn't have the enthusiasm of his party. He isn't really a Republican. I mean he sort of ran his campaign — his presidential campaign — without the Republican Party. So other Republicans have been confused about how to deal with him. They do want him to sign their legislation and they do want him to assist getting things through. But so far that has been chaos as well and they've gotten really nothing through the Congress.
HM: There was an op-ed in The New York Times today by a noted conservative columnist calling for the use of the 25th amendment, which would remove the president by deeming him unfit. Is that a possibility do you think?
JD: I doubt that. That really was designed, I actually worked on that when I was minority counsel of the House Judiciary Committee, and that was really designed to deal with a very different set of circumstances and to deal primarily with a truly incapacitated president. And it was done in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination with the thought what would have happened had this man not died and been little more than a vegetable? And yet, there would be no way for the vice president to take over because he was still alive — technically alive. So that's where this started and to get out to the outer fringes where you would say that a president who just had not been diagnosed as any sort of mental disorder was unfit is pushing that constitutional amendment further than I think it ever does. And I don't think that'll happen.
HM: The last time we spoke with you on this program was in early January before the inauguration and you told us at the time you were having nightmares about Donald Trump, and he wasn't even president. Are those nightmares coming to life do you think?
JD: Some of them are. Fortunately, the nightmares have stopped. And I'm dealing with the reality of it now. This is exactly what I was worried about. The man is just not competent for this job and he has refused to bring in people who understand how the government works. You know if it doesn't implode soon, he he's going to have to do something to get a strong, knowledgeable staff in there. He just can't survive at the pace it's going right now. Where it's as one members of the Senate said, Senator Corker, it’s spiraling downward and it's going to crash at some point.
HM: All right. John Dean, thank you so much for taking time to talk to us.
JD: OK. Bye bye.
JD: John Dean was a White House counsel under President Richard Nixon. We reached Mr. Dean in Los Angeles. And late today, the U.S. Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel. Mr. Mueller will oversee the investigation into possible Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.
Guest: Michael Thompson
JD: On Monday, Toronto City Councilor Michael Thompson and his mom were on a flight home from a family vacation to Jamaica. But any sense of lingering relaxation vanished when a passenger became aggressive on the flight and, eventually, tried to open one of the doors on the aircraft. Michael Thompson represents Ward 37 in Scarborough. We reached him earlier today in Toronto.
HM: Councilor Thompson, when did you first notice that something was unusual on this flight home on Monday?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: It was about an hour into the flight when the flight attendant started to talk to a man who was sort of walking to the back of the plane. A little bit discombobulated, he seemed a little bit out of sorts and he was talking a bit loudly to them and they were attempting to get him to sit down and try to calm him down. And while they were doing that, he wasn't calming down. He was rather agitated. He was speaking in colorful language to the attendant and then to people who were around. And he sat down in the seat that they wanted him to sit down in. Then he was basically bothering a number of the passengers who were around in the back area where I was.
HM: How were people reacting on the flight at this point?
MT: People were trying basically not to look at him, trying to avoid him because if you kind of looked at him he sort of reacted to you. And it was actually during that point I'd gotten up actually not to get involved. I had just gotten up to go to the washroom and the attendants were trying to deal with him. At the same time, they were going to serve you know the passengers their water, teas and other things. And that's one thing I noticed that they were leaving him on his own at the very back of a plane and I went up and I said to one of the flight attendants you know would it be OK for me to sit with him just to talk with him? I thought that perhaps I can just sit and calm down. And I said if you don't mind that would be great because they're both leaving the back section. And so I went and sat beside him and for the first five or 10 minutes it seemed to work. He was conversational with me. I was asking him you know how his trip was and what he enjoyed about Jamaica? And then he said you know I want to leave, I don't want you to see me anymore. I said OK, That's fine. I asked why and he wouldn't tell me and I got up and stood in the aisle and he said I want you to go back to your seat, I don’t want you to stand. I said no, I’m going to stand here on my own. I'm a passenger on this plane.
HM: Can I ask what was going through your head at that moment when you decided to stay there?
MT: I just felt that the situation was getting worse and that there was nobody back there if he was attempting to do anything to alert the attendant. I just wanted to make sure that you know that nothing unfortunate would occur. At that point, he went and got a silver metal coffee pot that was filled with coffee. He got it and he said if I don't go back to my seat he's going to throw it on me. And I said no you're not. Just to sort of engage him and you know just to kind of find a way to get through to him.
HM: All right, so he's standing there with this coffee pot, he's made this threat to you. What did he say next?
MT: Something to the effect of It takes one person to take the plane down and I’m going to open the door and I said you’re not going to open the door. He said yeah, I’m going to open the door. I'm going to take the plane down. I said no, there’s young people on the plane, families, everybody's on the plane, nobody has done anything to you. Like what is the problem? And so he moved towards the door on the right hand side. And at that time, I think that the flight attendant who had left us in the back had recognized that something was going on. So she came back and some of the other people around, some of the other men, got up. People, at that point, were starting to cry and just getting really agitated and very concerned about what was going on. And you know we were like either 30 or 35 thousand feet in the air at that point.
HM: can I ask you whether those people heard him threaten to open that door?
MT: I don't know? I don't know what they heard?
HM: But everybody knew something was going on; they were all getting pretty frightened?
MT: Just trying to get him to stop basically.
HM: So how did he eventually come to be restrained?
MT: The flight attendants gave me a set of the plastic restraints and gave someone else another. It was sort of like plastic handcuffs.
MT: And I just said I'll take the feet and someone is going to get the hands. And we just all moved towards him and got him on the ground and he was fighting us, of course. We were able to contain him on the ground and then I proceeded to secure his feet and the other guy secured his hands. And then we moved him to the middle seat in the back area where he was originally. The pilot came over the PA system and announced that he was going to divert the flight because there was an unruly passenger.
HM: What happened when the plane did eventually land?
MT: Officials came on, the police and the border agency, and later on the FBI came on. They took him off the plane. People were really relived. People were clapping, people were quite happy when the law enforcement agencies came onto the plane to remove him.
HM: I am sure you have seen a lot of things in your time as a Toronto city councilor. Have you ever experienced anything like this before?
MT: No, and I hope not to again to be honest with you.
HM: Right, now you said you were flying with your mother. What has she said about everything?
MT: Yeah, my mother is very religious and my mother was afraid. I mean she was very afraid, both for me and about the situation. It's mothers, right? Mothers are dear and she was concerned.
HM: Is she better now?
MT: Yeah, she's fine. We're on the ground we’re fine and she’s good.
HM: Right and you were clearly concerned about the man's well-being. I guess you don't know how he's doing?
MT: I don't know at this particular point in time. But yes, we were very concerned about his well-being and wanted to make sure he was OK. But I never thought anything like that was possible.
HM: Mr. Thompson, thank you for telling us what happened. We appreciate it.
MT: Thank you very much. Take good care.
HM: You too. Bye
JD: Michael Thompson is a Toronto City Councilor for Scarborough Ward 37. On Monday, he helped restrain a man who became violent and grabbed the plane door during an Air Canada flight from Jamaica to Toronto. A 33-year-old Ontario man now faces charges in connection with that event. And you can find more on this story on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.
Jeremy the Snail follow-up
Guest: Angus Davison
JD: It is the story that made us laugh. It has made us cry. And above all, it has inspired us. You may remember when we first covered Jeremy's story on As It Happens. Jeremy is a snail, he's a very rare “lefty” snail, whose search for a mate made international headlines. At first, the search seemed to be a success. But now, Jeremy's story has taken a sad turn. Angus Davison is a professor who studies Jeremy. We reached him in Nottingham, England.
HM: Professor Davison, The Telegraph actually characterized what's going on as “Gastropod Love Triangle Tragedy”. What happened?
ANGUS DAVISON: Isn’t that a fantastic headline? It's a slight exaggeration, but it is also a kind of true. So originally we found this very rare left coiling snail, which we call Jeremy. And we put out a call to find a mate for this left coiling snail because left coiling and right coiling snails can’t mate. Amazingly, through that publicity that we got with this, we found to two snails, one from Brittan and one from Spain. And so we got them all together in the hopes to do some genetics and you know where this is going. So we had Jeremy and two other snails. Unfortunately, kind of in the same way that sometimes you know you might have someone you're interested in romantically you introduce them to your best friend and, of course, that person goes off with your best friend. That's what's happened. There’s good and bad news. The two snails have gone and reproduced with each other while they ignore Jeremy. As the scientist involved in this — the fourth person — it's great anyway because we can still do the science. You know it doesn't matter if Jeremy doesn't reproduce. We've got two other fantastic examples, which we wouldn't have been able to do.
HM: So it's all work for you, but to heck with Jeremy.
AD: I wouldn't be that cynical. So Jeremy was slow to come out of hibernation to put it that way, so the other two were just more ready for it. I originally thought out of the three Jeremy is the oldest certainly, so I was slightly concerned that he might be a bit ill or you know near the end of his life. But recently, he's been looking absolutely fine, so I think probably we will also manage to get some offspring out of Jeremy soon too. I keep saying Jeremy is a he, but of course remember their hermaphrodites or male and female at the same time.
HM: You mentioned one of these snails called “Lefty” was found in England. We spoke with Jade Melton, who found the snail. The other one you mentioned from Spain, so this really became an international effort?
AD: Yeah, it became a huge story and so that one in Spain is really, really interesting. The guy that heard about this story is a snail farmer and he's got a snail restaurant — a restaurant that specializes in serving snails as food — so having heard the publicity you know sorting through these snails he found one the coiled the wrong way. And I think he reckoned he's got to about two million snails at the farm at any one time. So he found one so that does illustrate how genuinely rare they might be.
HM: Now you said that these other two, who've left Jeremy out on a lurch, they have successfully mated. So you're happy?
AD: Yeah, so they produced offspring and the big question there is as two left coiling snails, do they produce more offspring that are left coiling or right coiling snails? And in this case, two Lefts has made a right. Their offspring are right coiling. That's more or less what we'd expect given what we know about the inheritance of this condition. So probably the mother is what's called a heterozygote, she has two versions of the gene and the one that makes it coil right is probably dominate. That’s what we would expect. So we're going to have to see this through to actually breed further generations of snail to really pin down what it is about them if the condition is inherited.
HM: It is a genetic mutation.
AD: Yes, let's not forget I mean what this ultimately is about not just having some fun it's actually about real science where we have shown previously that the body asymmetry, the left/right asymmetry of snail, is in some way similar and involving the same genes as the left/right asymmetry of ourselves. So that's most easy to explain why your heart is on the left hand side nearly always. And that's how you develop just occasionally with heart on the right hand side and all the other organs as a mirror image as well. And you know there's a similar process going on there despite us having a common ancestor you know 500 plus million years ago.
HM: Are you still looking for more of these lefty snails?
AD: Yeah, that would be amazing. We haven't come across any since November, but if people find any I would love to hear about them. You know send me a photo first because there are a lot of confusion in people's minds about which is right coiling and which is left coiling. But I would love to hear about any possible examples.
AD: One of the reasons this was a great snail to talk about and talk about science with is it's a great traveler you know and agriculture loses out. But this snail is I'm sure quite common in large parts of Canada.
HM: Because it's a common garden snail.
AD: Yes, there’s a good chance if you've got fairly large snails in your back yard it's probably the same species.
HM: I have snails in my backyard. I have to say I'm going to take a fresh look, but if I found one and I want to take a picture how do I find out how to send that to you?
AD: You could just email me. I mean I'm in the University of Nottingham, you know you could quickly find my email there. And what I would say first maybe before you do that because of the confusion is just find three or four or five snails, line them up in the same direction and if all the coils go the same way then almost certainly you must have the common kind.
HM: OK. Well I'll take a look.
AD: the other thing I'd say is no tricks please. You know this hasn’t happened yet, but some people might be tempted to take a photograph and then mirror image it in Photoshop and send me that.
HM: And they just get your hopes up and Jeremy’s too.
AD: Which would be a bit mean, so if they thought you know I might suggest you photograph it next to a coin so I can tell.
HM: All right. Well good luck to both of you. Both you and Jeremy, I hope he finds love.
AH: Yes. Well, we'll see.
HM: OK. Bye bye.
AD: We'll keep you updated. Thank you. Bye bye.
JD: We'll be watching. Angus Davison is an associate professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Nottingham in England. And that is where we reached him. And if you would like to see some photographs of Jeremy, or hear that story again, or share it, got to get it out. Visit our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.
[Sound: Ducks chirping]
JD: Ducklings, ducklings, even hearing them raises your spirits. Nothing lifts you when you're feeling down like imagining feeling their down. Everyone's a sucker for a baby duck. Except North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker, he's not falling for their adorable fluffiness and their sweet little sounds. In fact, to his human peepers, those avian peepers are waddling all over us. Now to be fair, it's not exactly the ducklings themselves Congressman Walker objects to. It is the people who are spending precious government money to help the ducklings. See at this time of year, the tiny little baby birds like to swim in the Capitol Reflecting Pool, in Washington, D.C. but they can't fly yet and their vertical leap is… well it's not great. And so on Monday, the office that maintains the Capitol Hill grounds installed duck ramps to help them in and out. Now that may sound totes adorbz to you, but you know what's not totes adorbz? Squandering public money, which is why also on Monday, Congressman Walker tweeted a photo of a duck ramp saying quote, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it must be government waste.” Well the New York Times reports quote, “A spokesman for the congressman did not return an email on Tuesday asking about his criticism and his feelings on duck more broadly.” Unquote. But quite honestly, with everything else that's going on in Washington these days, you got to kind of give the congressman some credit for keeping an eye on the details. Although it's not really clear if he stands by his anti-ramp rhetoric after a video was posted of ducklings using the ramp. Well three of six ducklings, the other three either didn't get it or avoided it on principle. Well, we heard the sound from that video a minute ago. But where you heard cute baby duck wings, Congressman Walker apparently heard welfare bums because unlike you snow flake, he's a tough nut to quack.Back To Top »
Part 2: “Newfie” study, car wash pets
Guest: James Baker
JD: It is a word that makes some people cringe, especially when it comes out of the mouth of a mainlander. And the word is “Newfie”. To some, it is a slur that is on par with some of the worst words out there. Others don't seem to think it's a very big deal at all. Well now, McMaster University sociologist has done some research into this word and people's perception of it. James Baker is presenting his findings at a conference today in Hamilton, Ontario. And that is where we reached him.
HM: Professor Baker, you are from Newfoundland, have you ever yourself been called a Newfie?
JAMES BAKER: I have and I've been called it in both you a good-natured term and also in what I perceive to be a not-so-good-natured term.
HM: What do you mean? What were the circumstances?
JB: So when I was doing my undergrad at the University of Ottawa, I had a roommate who was from Quebec. And he was an ardent Quebec nationalist, and so we're having an animated discussion about the Churchill Falls, which of course is obviously a sore spot for many Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. And you know we were having an animated discussion and then he switches into French and I don't speak French, so I didn't know what he was saying. But I did pick up him saying Newfie and I was like what do you say to me? And he just stopped and just mumbled something and then went on and ended the conversation. So I was thinking like yeah, I'm pretty sure you just insulted me. But I really don't know what you said in French, but it kind of suggested that perhaps I was stupid or an imbecile.
HM: Had you always seen that word as an insult, Newfie?
JB: No, not really. When I was growing up you know we would use it to refer to ourselves and you know proud Newfoundlander, proud Newfie. It's only really you know within the last probably four or five years when I started to hear other people who were you know coming from other parts of Canada. And actually, when I started teaching at Memorial and I was teaching a Newfoundland culture and society course and asking my students about their experience with the term. And you know a lot of them saying when I went on vacation in Florida, you know people would call me Newfie. And I kind of knew that they didn't mean it in a good-natured way. So that really piqued my interest in further exploring the term.
HM: Yeah, now you formalized that interest in terms of producing a study. What did you find?
JB: What I found was that there was sort of a mixed bag in terms of the results. Some of them were quite happy with using the term and saw it as a term of endearment. There were those who vehemently agreed with me that they thought that it was an insult and should never be used. And then the majority of those were sort of in the middle saying it was context dependent. So you know they had no problem if it was being used among their friends and used by other Newfoundlanders. But when it was used by people from other parts of Canada or the U.S. they kind of thought that that shouldn't be the case. Especially if they felt it was being used in a derogatory manner.
HM: What makes it offensive to you and the others who hold the opposite view?
JB: I think what it is, is the fact that you know its historical origin suggests the Newfoundlanders are uneducated, are imbeciles and that's you know certainly not reflective of our society. You know historically or in contemporary society. You know its origins go back partly from the research that I've found to the Second World War when it was used by Americans to refer to Newfoundlanders in a derogatory manner.
HM: Is that the root of this? Did it come from the Americans?
JB: Supposedly. The research from the late Pete Narvaez, who was a folklorist at Memorial, that's where he suggested that it came from during the Second World War.
HM: Do you see it as being as bad as a racial slur?
JB: Well, racial slurs and ethnic slurs you know are two different things because when you're looking at someone who is you know say African-American then you're making a judgment based solely on the color of your skin. When you have you know ethnic slurs, which is what I would characterize Newfie, you're looking at you know the comparing it with words like you know “Pollock” for Polish people or for “Gypsy” for the Roma. So I wouldn't say that has the same, certainly I wouldn't compare it with the N-word simply because of the social cultural and historical origins.
HM: I grew up in Ontario in a time when Newfie jokes were pretty common. They were used the way people used dumb blonde jokes, also very offensive. Why do you think people think or thought time that that was OK?
JB: To be honest, I really don't know. I find those types of offensive jokes really curious to why people feel a need to tell them you know. Some suggest that you know it's the possibility the telling of jokes can demonstrate certainly if it's been told by Newfoundlanders that they can demonstrate that you're you know just a regular person who can enjoy a little ridicule. And certainly that's one of the supposed character traits of Newfoundlanders is that we're a very jovial, easygoing type of people and that we can take a joke, so people feel that perhaps that they are able to tell those types of jokes without offending Newfoundlanders, perhaps not realizing that they actually are offending them.
HM: So your best advice to those of us who haven't been lucky enough to be born in Newfoundland?
JB: I wouldn't use it.
HM: OK, Professor, thank you very much for talking to us.
JB: No problem. Thank you very much.
OK. Bye bye.
JB: Bye bye.
JD: James Baker is a sociologist at McMaster University. We reached him in Hamilton, Ontario.
Candice Rochelle Bobb
JD: Toronto Police are now offering a $50,000 reward to anyone with information about the murder of Candice Rochelle Bobb. It has been a year since a gunman opened fire on the car the pregnant mother was traveling. She died shortly afterwards. Her baby, Kyrie, was delivered by emergency C-section, but he was four months premature, and died just one month later. At this morning's press conference, police investigators announced the reward and then they invited Ms. Bobb's mother, Jackie Weir, to the microphone.
JACKIE WEIR: Hi everyone. Thank you for being here. I'm Rochelle’s mom. Rochelle was a young mother, who was brutally gunned down as Sergeant Carbone said a year ago on John Garland. And at the time, she was pregnant and we lost baby Kyrie. He came into this world way too early and under extremely difficult circumstances. He didn't make it. their deaths has been very difficult for us. It has left a void in our lives. Rochelle was the life of the family. She kept us all together. She's got a great sense of humor. We missed her laughter. We missed her smile. We missed her beautiful, beautiful hazel eyes. She left behind two boys. And they miss their mom every minute of the day. We miss her dearly. We’d like to reach out to the public, to the members of the community of John Garland and Jamestown. We're asking for any information that you have no matter how small the detail is. We're asking you to call Crime Stoppers, to go to your local police, to tell someone. We know someone in the neighborhood knows something. We're asking each and every want to just search your heart. She could be your sister; she could be your daughter, your friend. We're asking, pleading with the public, to come forward. We need some answers. To the killer, we're asking you to turn yourself in. It has been a year and you're out there enjoying life and we've been handed a life sentence. We're still trying to come to grips with what happened and how you could have done something so senselessly. You don't deserve to have that freedom. We haven't been free in over a year. So we're asking you to get your lawyer and turn yourself in. If anyone knows anything please we're asking you to call Crime Stoppers or your local police.
JD: That was Jackie Weir, the mother of Candice Rochelle Bobb, speaking at a press conference earlier today in Toronto. Ms. Bobb was five months pregnant when she was gunned down one year ago, as the car she was in drove through the Etobicoke neighborhood of Jamestown. Her son, Kyrie, died one month later. Police are now offering a $50,000 reward to anyone with information.
Dateline: Disney film hacked
JD: Dateline: New York City.
SPEAKER: Video pirates man the guns and prepare to defend borders. Fire!
JD: That is a scene from a film that is not coming to a theater near you for a couple of reasons. First, because it's a stand-alone scene from a spoof film called “Video Pirates” that was fortunately never actually made. Second, because it already appeared in an actual movie of parody sketches called “Amazon Women on the Moon” that was released 30 years ago. But it does illustrate that video piracy is nothing new. Although, it has become a much more sophisticated, and potentially lucrative, enterprise in recent years. See many pirates are no longer content with the profits from mere bootlegging. Now, they are threatening to post films online before their release if the studios who made the films don't cough up exorbitant ransoms. And that is exactly what happened to Disney this week, according to Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, who revealed that hackers claim to have seized an as yet unreleased Disney film and are demanding a hefty Bitcoin payment to be made to prevent them from leaking it online. If Disney fails to cough up, they warn, they will begin by releasing the first five minutes of the film and then continue posting 20 minute installments until the ransom is paid or the full film has been made available. Mr. Iger did not specify which film the hackers purport to possess, but fingers are already pointing at one of the brightest jewels in Disney's treasure chest: the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series: “Dead Men Tell No Tales”. The film is set for release in North America next week. Bob Iger insists that Disney is refusing to pay the ransom and is pursuing the hackers with the help of federal investigators. Will calling the hackers bluff payoff for the Walt Disney Company? Or is it bound to backfire? Tune in next week, to hear the Video Pirate Captain say:
SPEAKER: Make all the illegal copies you want.
Note: the proceeding audio clip was a highly speculative and satirical dramatization of one of a number of possible future outcomes, inspired by and courtesy of the only scene in a fictitious 1987 film entitled “Video Pirates”.
Car wash pets
Guest: Erin Woodward
JD: A dog was driven through an automatic car in Happy Valley-Goose Bay while in the back of a pickup truck — an open pickup truck. The man driving the truck has since been charged under the Animal Protection Act. Erin Woodward is the owner of the Happy Goose Car Wash. We reached her in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
HM: Erin Woodward, how did you realize that a man had driven a pickup truck through the car wash with his dog in the back?
ERIN WOODWARD: Well, we were very lucky to catch it. Well, we do have cameras and surveillance running all day long. One of my staff was cleaning the floors when she knew somebody was in the auto wash and heard somebody pulling into the parking lot fairly quickly. So she glanced out the window and noticed the truck leaving with the dog in the back. So that's when we first noticed it that it had probably happened. And we went ahead then and went back and reviewed all of our footage and found that sure enough he did go through with the dog in the pan.
HM: Tell us what you saw in that footage? How did he do this?
EW: It was actually was very hard to watch. He pulled up outback at our teller. It's all automated, so he never had to come inside. The first time he pulled her and back that we caught him one of our plumbers that was on site that day pulled around about the same time. So he left the lot then. I don't know if maybe the plumber had scared him off? But he pulled away and I watched the video for another five - six minutes and then sure enough he came back. And nobody was back at the car wash at this point, so I don't know if maybe he felt it was safe to try and pulled up to the teller and purchased one of our top wash packages, which is the longest and involves the most chemicals and didn't look like you gave much thought about it. Never got it to check on the dog, nothing like that and went on in through the wash. And you can't see the dog on the footage while the wash is actually going. But you can see that the dog doesn't get out of the truck. And then as the wash is completed, about four minutes later, he's exiting and you can clearly see the dog in the pan, going under the dryer and through the doors. And thank goodness when the vehicle got out of the car wash you can see on the footage that the dog is clearly still moving around in the back of the truck, which was a big relief. But it's very lucky that it survived, in my opinion.
HM: What do you think this man was trying to do?
EW: I really have no idea? I can't fathom and I would love to know what was going through his mind. I don't know if you know common sense isn't that common and he was trying to wash his dog. I really can't see anybody doing that. But, to me, it's just pure cruelty.
HM: What kind of dog was this?
EW: It looked like a German Shepherd mix.
EW: Probably a mutt. It was larger dog, so it could stand up on the sides of the pan. It wasn't secured in at all, which is also illegal in this province to have an animal unsecured in the back of your pickup truck.
HM: Well in fact, the RCMP say the dog wasn't injured, but they have laid charges one of those is involving the dog being unsecured, the other causing an animal distress. Do you have any sense of the state of that dog after this? You saw it in the video, it stood up. But any other sense of what happened to it?
EW: I really don't. I know that this was not the dog's owner, I’ve been told. The owner had the dog by the time that she found out and said that the dogs seemed fine and then took it immediately to the vet when she was told what had happened. So how it came out unscathed is a miracle in my opinion. Because that water pressure, I know myself, is strong enough to take off skin and it could certainly easily blind an animal who didn't know what was coming at it.
HM: You say it could take off skin. How do you know that?
EW: Well, I've actually had an incident with a pressure washer myself. So I speak from experience when I say that water pressure is not something to play around with.
HM: Right. So after you realized what happened you contacted police. Have you ever heard of this happening before?
EW: No, I haven't. One of my biggest fears were actually the first full-service car wash here in Labrador and we only opened last June. So I was kind of expecting anything could happen being a lot of people in this province, or on in the Labrador portion, aren’t accustomed to using car washes at all. So for a while you know we had people going through with garbage in the back of their truck. Or forgetting that they just picked up their mail or their packages and they were in the back of trucks. And I was kind of concerned with people maybe leaving pedal bikes and things like that in the backs of their trucks and having them blown apart and ruined. And I have seen our wash blow apart drywall and plywood and just splinter it to pieces. So the fact that somebody could leave a living creature in the back of the vehicle just boggles my mind. But it was certainly not something we expected to see.
HM: I can understand why. Thank you for telling us about it.
EW: Thank you for listening.
HM: All right. Bye bye.
JD: Erin Woodward is the owner of the Happy Goose carwash in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador.
[Sound: Bells ringing]
JD: That was the sound of Montreal this morning, as churches across the city began ringing their bells. Today marks the 375th anniversary of Montreal's founding. Prime Minister and the Premier of Quebec were in town giving speeches about the city's founding peoples, the sacrifices of the First Nations and the tolerance and the diversity that have made Montreal so great. But the real party is going to begin tonight, when the Jacques-Cartier Bridge is set ablaze with lights. And then, at the Bell Centre, musical acts of every genre are going to begin taking the stage.Back To Top »
Part 3: Erdogan protestor, encore future interview: Samra Zafar
JD: High waters have come to Mud Lake. Residents of the small Labrador community spent the day being evacuated by helicopter to nearby Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Melissa Best is one of those residents, and she was busy today helping to coordinate the rescue efforts. But she did manage to find a few minutes this morning to speak with the CBC's Matt McCann. Mr. McCann is the host of “Labrador Mourning”. This was her response when he asked her to describe the scene in her town.
MELISSA BEST: Have you been to Venice? There are houses now that are underwater. Not to the roof, but you know I mean I can walk out now into water. It must be like an eight foot-nine foot rise in the water.
MATT MCCANN: How did it come to this decision to evacuate? What happened overnight?
MB: When the water reached the high point in the community we realized this is dangerous. You know where I'm now is the highest point of the community. And the water is coming up to our bank, so this is enough now.
MM: So how are people getting out of the community right now? It must be helicopter?
MB: Yes, we have a helicopter, it’s search and rescue of some kind. We have two meeting points here in the community where people are going in and getting on board and they're doing their best to get everybody out safely and to the air terminal in Goose Bay.
MM: How many people are in Mud Lake?
MB: Between 40 and 50. There are only a few men staying on to make sure animals are safe. Other than that, everybody's going to be out of here.
JD: Mud Lake, Labrador resident Melissa Best speaking with CBC's “Labrador Morning” host Matt McCann earlier today.
Guest: Lucy Osoyan
After Reccep Tayyip Erdogan visited the White House yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted quote, “It was a great honor to welcome the President of Turkey”. But peaceful protesters did not feel remotely welcomed when they showed up at the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Washington, D.C. After hurling insults, a group of men ran into a crowd of protesters throwing punches and kicks. Nine people were hurt, one is still in critical condition. U.S. officials have confirmed to one media outlet that the men who assaulted the protestors were President Erdogan's bodyguards. Lucy Osoyan is a Kurdish activist who was hurt at the protest. We reached her in Washington, D.C.
HM: Ms. Osoyan, how are you feeling right now?
LUCY OSOYAN: Well, I’m on pain killers, but I still feel a little dizzy. So I may be slow in responses.
HM: Can you take us to this protest and tell us what was going on outside the Turkish ambassador's residence just before the violence started?
LO: Oh sure. Well, we actually had two teams to join the protests. Our team arrived a little bit earlier than the second team and we were only a group of people like 10 to 15 people, it wasn’t a big team. So once we came to the area, the Turkish embassy people I think were outside to welcome Erdogan because he was heading towards the embassy. And they saw us all of a sudden and they begin to scream, cursing us and you know sending some messages or statements like you’re country-less because we had Kurds with us. And they were saying we have two countries we have Turkey and U.S. Then we begin to chant “long live USA”.
HM: And how far away are you from the front of the embassy at this point?
LO: Well, we were like across the street. So we had police officers, but there was not enough to respond, that's the problem. So when we arrived, I don't think anyone was aware of it. So there was not enough police and it was only the traffic regulators, so they were working really hard to help us. And then, I came to the front to observe how safe it is for our team because you know I saw there was a team of know people in front of the Turkish Embassy. They were only wearing like these professional suits, ties and blue and black suits. Then I saw different team breaking into that group and there was like four or five absolutely different people. They were in very good shape, physically fit, they were clear-cut. When I saw that I though oh my God, this was very bad. They ran towards us and began to beat everyone. I was on the frontline, so I don't know how I ended up being on the ground. And then they began to beat me in the head.
HM: So they just ran across the street from outside the embassy and started attacking you and the others?
LO: Yes, yes, yes. We ended up having three people injured in the face, so they now have stitches. One lady is in critical condition. She’s still in the hospital.
HM: According to NBC News, the men who beat you were President Erdogan's bodyguards. Was that apparent to you at any point?
LO: I believe it's true because those people were professionals. You know they were not regular people. And when I was watching videos today when we were beating me, a police officer was trying to take one of the guys away from me and he just jumped into to the face of the police officer. They also injured a police officer.
HM: You say they were professionals. What do you mean by that?
LO: Well, I mean you know professionally well physically trained. That's what I mean by that. I mean that they knew how to deal with people, how to beat the people up, how to injure people and knock them down.
HM: You've mentioned several times that there were not enough police officers. What about the Washington police who were there? How did they respond?
LO: They were very protective. They did an excellent work as much as they could in their capacity. Right away, they got a lot of help from all around. They got a lot of police officers who joined and helped us. But it was just it was a very short time. It was just like five or six of them. There were a lot of people around the embasy, around 50 people. They helped a lot of us, especially they helped me to get up. None of us was expecting that at the end so violent because you know we came with children. We had two little children with us. We were just expressing our feelings about what Erdogan was doing in Turkey. We never expected that something like this would happen.
HM: What would you like to see happen to these bodyguards?
LO: Well according to police here in Washington from the second district, a bunch of them has been arrested. But I can understand that you know Turkey they have enough and influence enough attorneys to get them released. And get them out of the country. I would really ask for justice and I would ask the U.S. government take these actions very seriously. And you know place some measurements against it so that justice can be provoked.
HM: Ms. Osoyan, thank you for speaking with us and I hope you have a full and quick recovery.
LO: Thank you so much.
MH: All right. Goodbye.
LO: Bye bye.
JD: Lucy Osoyan is a Kurdish activist who was beaten up at a protest during the Turkish president's visit to Washington yesterday. We reached her in Washington, D.C.
Encore feature interview: Samara Zafar
JD Samara Zafar was just 15 years old when her life was uprooted and she was sent across the world to marry a man she had never met. She was taken from the United Arab Emirates to Canada to live with her husband. She spent 10 years here in that abusive relationship before she was finally able to get away. Now, Ms. Zafar has launched a non-profit organization to help women rebuild their lives after they escape abusive relationships. In February, she joined Helen in the As It Happens studio. And here's an encore presentation of their conversation.
HM: Samra Zafar, it’s good to meet you.
SAMRA ZAFAR: it's good to me to meet you too Helen. Thank you for inviting me.
HM: Oh, we're glad to have you here. Take us back to the moments when as a girl, you found out you were going to get married. How did you learn that?
SZ: Wow. It was it was quite a moment. I actually was in grade 10. I was 15-years-old. I came home one day from school and my mother told me that I have a marriage proposal that's just come in. I remember feeling shocked and just you know in disbelief I thought she was joking. I thought it was it was some kind of a joke because it just did not make sense to me and I was one of those girls growing up who I was just very ambitious. I was just dreaming about school, going to the best universities and becoming a professor or a doctor or something. And my parents knew that from day one, so I was just very surprised and shocked and I honestly thought it was a cruel joke.
HM: Had your parents encouraged your academic ambitions?
SZ: Yes absolutely, especially my father. My father, my father is no more, but he would always champion me and I would be at the top of my class and my father would be you know thrilled and he would congratulate and spread the news among his coworkers and hand out chocolates at his work. My daughter you know got this A-plus in this course and as I was growing up, as a little girl, he would always see to me one day my daughter's going to be a top student at a top university.
HM: How did they explain to you then their rationale why they decided to marry you off?
SZ: I feel like it hasn't made sense to me, but recently I've tried to rationalize it as much as possible. There's a huge amount of cultural pressure in the culture that I come from on girls marriages. And being the oldest of four girls, my parents were always given the feedback from the family and the extended family that oh you have four girls, you better start thinking about their weddings and girls are thought of as a burden. And even though my parents, especially my dad, was not of that mindset. But I can understand the pressures that were coming from the families and a lot of my friends around me you were saying oh, you’re the luckiest girl. Like you're the you're the one who's getting married first among all of us, so it was some kind of an amazing accomplishment? Not to mention you know just the fact that he was from Canada and since I was very ambitious and wanted to go to international universities and no girl from my family — extended family — had ever gone abroad to study.
HM: So tell us about your first meeting with your husband. How did that go what were your impressions?
SZ: It was a couple of days before the wedding. The entire family was around my family and his family. So I was told to just act shy and demure and look at my hands and not look up and not talk too much and not smile too much. I remember just sitting there I could not even fathom what was happening around me. And I'm just sitting there terrified. And then I glanced up and saw him and just thought to myself oh my gosh, he's so big.
HM: And he's 14 years older than you?
SZ: 12. So he was a very tall man and I think actually that was one of the reasons that his family even picked me because they thought oh he's tall, she's tall, they're good to look really great in pictures. But yes I remember looking up and thinking to myself that this is going to be my husband. I mean from a child's eyes, he looked as one of he was somebody who could be my father's friend. And in my mind I was like this this can't be… this can't be happening. But I had lost my voice at that time. You know I didn't I didn't have a voice.
HM: So the marriage went ahead. What did you know about married life as a 16 year old girl?
SZ: Nothing at all. I did not know about birth control. I did not know about what it is like to be married. In fact, I was told by my family, by my parents; just think you're going to university. Don't even think that you're going to get married. So in my mind you know yeah the marriage is just a ticket to university in Canada you know. And I'm going to go here and get to go to school and that's all I was thinking. Because that's all I had ever thought of.
HM: And had he assured you would go to school?
SZ: like his family had assured my family, but there was one time several weeks before the wedding that since the day that the wedding was fixed until the wedding day and throughout that whole three four months I used to have nightmares every night. And all those nightmares were around the fact that I'm stopped from going to school. So one night I woke up you know crying and sweating and my mother actually called him and. And then he talked to me for like two seconds. The only question I had for him was you let me go to school right? And he said yeah, I'll let you go to school don't worry about it.
HM: Then you arrive in Canada. You're supposed to be starting this new life and things were pretty different pretty fast?
SZ: Oh yeah, yeah. Like A: I mentioned in the article that I did not know about birth control at all, I got pregnant right away. And B: I was told that well you know you're pregnant now, you're someone's wife, you're going to be a mother, you should stay at home and look after the family. That's what good girls do. It doesn't even matter if you go to school or not right? This is the real purpose of a woman, you should consider yourself lucky that you've skipped all that school crap and come to the real purpose sooner. And yeah I wasn't allowed to go to school and I had my older daughter nine months right after I got married.
HM: You say that he became abusive. How did he treat you?
SZ: In the beginning it was mostly verbal. A lot of emotional as well like neglectful. The first few months were OK, but I think things changed as soon as his parents arrived as well to live with us. So a month before my daughter was born, they came over as well to Canada. And that's when that's when his attitude changed. So when my baby was born that's all I did was take care of the baby and no one helped me. He never even changed a diaper or made a bottle or anything, so you know I was this 18-year-old girl raising a child. And then not only that listening to all the verbal abuse and the name calling and you're useless, you're worthless, you don't deserve and then I would ask him why he would say that to me? It was like because you deserve it. And when you hear that on a daily basis you believe it, it becomes a part of you and those five years it completely tore at my self-confidence — at my identity. I lost myself, I lost my soul, I lost my voice, I just lost me completely and I didn't know what I was doing wrong. I just wanted to figure out and you know what am I doing that is so bad? Why do I deserve this? And no matter how much I tried, you know I would think to myself. Maybe if I wake up early or maybe if I cook better food or maybe if I you know iron his clothes better or maybe if I don't piss him off you know with that or this. But no matter what I did it was never good enough. There was always something that fell short. There was always something that was missing. And I internalized it and I thought that it's all me. It's all my fault.
HM: Did the abuse become physical?
SZ: Eventually yes. Yes it did. It started with things like throwing things at me. You know a pillow or a water bottle. And then eventually yeah it did and especially towards the end when I started speaking up. When I started university and started going to counseling. That's what I learned what's happening to me was abuse. And it was not it was not my fault. There's nothing I could do about it you know except for maybe to stand up to it. And when I tried doing that that I think he felt like he's losing control. And also I was accused of being corrupted by the Western society. That's the point where it got physical pretty fast.
HM: Before you went to university during the time all this was happening your parents were still back in the UAE.
HM: Did they know what was going on?
SZ: They didn't in the beginning. I didn't tell them because I didn't want to worry them. In my mind was like OK, there are three other sisters that need to get married. There's a certain huge sense of stigma attached to being divorced and a single mother. And people would say well don't even think about divorce because then no one's going to marry your sisters because no one would want to marry a divorcee sister. You know so I felt like I was I would have to sacrifice myself. And then also you have a daughter, who's going to marry her you know? So this whole notion about a woman's life purpose just getting married. It's just so ingrained that it's hard to break away from that. So my parents didn't know in the beginning, but then eventually I told them, yes.
HM: And you ended up taking inspiration from your father to get yourself back on track and to get your education finished at the high school level and go on to university.
SZ: I think I always had it in me. As a girl, I was always — even in school — like the one that was always pushing the envelope and breaking stereotypes. I started a girl's cricket team in a school where there was no such thing. I started a school newspaper and things like that, so I always had it in me. But yes, my father really did support me and I was actually I had decided that I will get a divorce and he didn't care about whatever anyone said. But when he passed away I lost that support and I was sent back to my husband because I didn't have a job or an education and you know no one in my family would have taken my responsibility. I was pregnant. I had a daughter already, but yeah two days before he passed away, I remember crying. And saying Papa, what if something happens to you? I don't know what I'm going to do? And he said daughter this fear in you is what I want you to get rid of. I want you to see the strength that I see in you. You don't need anyone, you don't need me, you don't need anyone else. You have it in you, you can do it. I mean those words will be my motivating force till the day I die. Because when I did come back to Canada after that, I just knew that now it's just me. I have to find a way to make it happen.
HM: And you did that while you were still in the marriage. You harnessed the strength to get to university and to begin that education while you were still living with your husband and his parents.
SZ: I was living in that house and just stepping back a little bit even during those first you know several years while I was being abused; while all this was happening. The one thing I couldn't give up on was my education, so I had been doing my high school courses through distance learning. Just sitting at home studying and going and doing the exams, so when my father died in 2006 and I came back and I was back in the marriage, back in the house. I finished all my high school and then I started babysitting and tutoring and I would supplement his income completely. But I would still see a little bit on the on the side every month and took me two — almost three years, to have enough for my first year tuition. And applied again to university,, got in again and that was quite a time because I had to put my foot down and say well I'm going to school. And then they were like well who's going to pay for it? I said I'll pay for it. I have the money.
HM: You're listening to As It Happens, we are talking to Samra Zafar. You finally got out of the marriage. At the time, you were going to university. You were juggling a life with two kids, multiple jobs, you're living in student housing, you're renting a room to a student in that student housing and you managed to be the top economics student at the University of Toronto.
SZ: the top student actually.
HM: The top student. And it's astonishing to think of what you were juggling at the time and being so successful.
SZ: Yeah and not to mention the two court cases. Because I was I had to take him to court for child support and everything and then there was a domestic violence case. And then all the cultural backlash that I faced. It was crippling.
HM: So how did you do it?
SZ: I was determined to prove to my daughters, to myself and to everybody who said I can't do it. That no, you know what, I can. So I just put all my energies into studying and I like if there's one thing it's going to be my GPA. So yeah I just you know pulled a 4.0 straight through and applied…
HM: You say it so casually.
SZ: And then the best best time of my life. Fourth your university I applied for this big scholarship at University of Toronto which is the top most prestigious award. A $17,000 scholarship that goes to one person annually from all three campuses and I won it. And it was just a huge reinforcement for me. And it just came full circle you know. And I think at that point I realized that I needed to start talking about this.
HM: Well in fact, you found the resources to recognize what you were going through to get some counseling while you were at university.
SZ: That's what enabled me to walk out of the marriage because I started university when I was still married. So I would sometimes skip class to go for counseling. And that's where I learned what was happening to me was abuse. And the first session I remember so clearly I was talking and as if the floodgates it open and then and the councillor, she just looks at me and says it's not your fault. And it's the first time anyone had ever said to me.
HM: what did that mean for you?
SZ: I was shocked. I looked at her and I was like what do you mean it's not my fault? And then I you know started learning about the cycle of abuse, these studies and the charts. And it all made sense it like oh my god how do you know this is happening to me? And then I realized it's not just me. It's something that happens to a lot of women and I'd come to a point where I knew that staying was scarier than leaving. Also I knew that I did not want my daughters to grow up thinking that being treated this way is OK, just because there are girls. And also very important for me was realizing that there's nothing I can do to fix it. There's only two options here: it's either leave or stay and suffer. So there's no middle ground where I can stay and improve things.
HM: I don't know how many people know how many women are in forced marriages or arranged marriages, especially at such a young age. Living in Canada right now and I know going public with your story you've been hearing from some of these young women — now some of them older I suppose. What was your sense of what they're going through and how common this is?
SZ: This is very common. It is in fact, you know it's shocking to me how whenever I go on stage and I share my story I have women coming up to me approaching me that this is happening to me to. You know my parents are pressuring me to get married. In fact, a few months ago I was speaking in an event where a very senior person at TDSB (Toronto District School Board) came up to me and said every year, we have girls that go back home after 11 — grade 10 — and they never come back because they get married over there. And forced marriages — arranged marriages — are one thing and then there's domestic violence you know. And that happens across cultures, across races and a lot of times people come up to me and say this doesn't happen here. It happens only in third world countries. And I’m like you know go on to Stats Canada and look at the stats. It’s one in three women will have faced in you know intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. And it's shocking that in a country like Canada — in North America — you know where we are progressive You've me you've covered so much ground. How come you know this is such a huge problem and what is even more mind boggling is how are there so many domestic abuse survivors and victims and there's so much silence around it?
HM: And now you’ve set up this non-profit organization. What do you hope it will achieve?
SZ: Well, my non-profit is around mentorship and support. So what I realized during my journey, as well as talking to countless of other women, was that there's a great deal of crisis support agencies that do really really well to pull a woman out of abuse. And I've definitely benefited from their support and advice and help, but the hard part comes after you're out. It's the time when I left and I had moved to university campus housing and I had no support. My community, my family, everybody had abandoned me. People wouldn't pick up my calls. I was told that I'm committing a sin by leaving and living alone. It was like walking in a dark tunnel and not even knowing if you're going in the right direction and hoping to God that there's light at the end of it. I would think I wish I had somebody who would just listen to me without judgment and hold my hand and just teach me how to walk. There are so many life skills and things that people take for granted around me and I don't even know where to begin. I don't even know how to pay my bills. That first year or two, I am incredibly grateful and indebted to the University of Toronto because the support that I got from there, my professors, my mentors, my peers; that was my family. Those were the people that helped me and that was how I benefited from mentorship. And I just want to be able to pass that along. Because what you need to heal from trauma and succeed in life — the most important — thing is human connection. And that's what I hope to do with Brave Beginnings.
HM: Through everything that you've gone through. You've had two companions along for that journey…
HM: Your daughters. What did they think of where you've come?
SZ: They are my pride and joy. And I think what I did was mostly for them. You know I did not want them to have the same fate that I did. They are the most supportive children in the world. They are super proud of what I'm doing. They are so compassionate and kind and you know my younger one, she just tears me out because you have this empathy award last year at school because she helped a new student in her class with her English and her homework. And you know they asked her why did you do what you did? She was like I wanted to be like my mommy.
HM: That's wonderful.
SZ: And my older daughter, she's an artist and you know she does some really amazing work and she's been my rock. She was eight or nine when I walked out and I remember even before I walked out of that marriage. We would have these conversations where she would come up to me and say Mom, we can do this together. Don't stay here because of us.
HM: At nine?
SZ: At nine. And even after I walked out, there were times when I was so bogged down by everything that was happening and there were times when I felt like giving up and just going back. And she would hold my hand and say nope, you're not going back. We've come this far we're going to make it work and let’s take it one day at a time. So I don't think I would have been able to do what I did if it weren't for my children. They've been the biggest blessing and support system I could have asked for.
HM: Well, it's been a real pleasure to meet you and to hear your story.
SZ: Thank you Helen.
HM: Thank you so much for coming in.
SZ: Thank you so much for having me.
JD: From February, that was Samira's Zafar in conversation with Helen here in the As It Happens studio. Ms. Zafar is now an alumni governor at the University of Toronto. She works at the Royal Bank. You can find more on her story in the February 2017 issue of Toronto Life magazine.
CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.