CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Ronalda Walsh: 50 Shades of Debate

Ronalda Walsh.JPG Maurice Fitzgerald Photography

Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.

If you haven’t heard of the best selling trilogy “50 Shades” you must have missed the news and entertainment reports for the past six to 12 months. Forty million or more books have been sold. The book is written entirely from the female perspective. Too bad it is probably one of the worst written pieces of literary work you may ever lay your eyes on. Despite its poor composition, it does have a way of drawing the reader into the world of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey and has caused women to giggle, gasp, snort in disgust or run (or send their husbands or partners) to the nearest adult store to buy some of the sex toys written about in the book. No doubt, for those who enjoyed the book, many a partner will reap the benefits of this book in the bedroom. The online joke is that there will be a “50 Shades of Grey” baby boom in the coming months. I’m sure researchers are already lined up.

From my own personal experience, 50 Shades has polarized women to levels of intensity I’ve not witnessed before over a book. While on vacation in this summer, I casually asked people poolside why they read the book, canvassed colleagues and friends, and listened to the debate that came up during board meetings. Yes, I said board meetings. When I wrote a final exam this summer the exam invigilator was reading the book. I found it distracting though because I was more interested in gauging her facial reaction to the book than I was writing my test! Everywhere I went this book was there. And so was the debate.

In the UK, there were groups publicly burning the book in protest. Burning something in effigy is hardly a new approach to protest, but it emphasizes just how wide the spectrum of debate. At the other end, sex stores are having a hard time keeping the items in stock and the book is flying off the shelves in book stores. Those I’ve spoken to recognize the relationship has its “challenges” (likely an understatement). Others appreciate what they referred to as “the love story”, some were interested in the raunchy sex and then there are the groups that say it is a complete waste of time and isn’t worth the energy to read it.

I can’t reference the male perspective because I couldn’t find one guy who read the book or who would at least admit to reading it. The women I chatted with told me that the book has been a catalyst for people to feel more comfortable to talk about relationships - in and out of the bedroom, as well as sexual health, more openly. They also told me that it was a good conversation piece to get into discussing the intimacy in their relationships with their partners. For those who did not enjoy the book, some found it offensive, others felt it was so poorly written they couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then there were others who felt it encouraged acceptance of unhealthy relationships and would spark young women to think it was OK to be treated the way the main character, Anastasia, was treated.

What these people may not realize is that they’re talking about sexuality and what constitutes a healthy or non-healthy relationship. How often do we do that?

Having something in pop culture create a stir or cause a debate is nothing new. Why we’re so closed off about talking about sexuality and relationships in 2012 is somewhat disappointing. But do we really want to use this book and the relationship it portrays as the basis for this discussion? It’s true that this experience will open doors to more open discussions in the future, but what other books should we be talking about that would lead to a more realistic discussion. What do you think?

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While listening to the interview with the Hon. Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, and/or Former Minister of Fisheries, I felt it necessary to write in and relate to your listeners my take on his comments re: Newfoundland’s Future After the Moratorium.

First of all, Mr. Crosbie is correct in saying that rural NL is better off in terms of economic growth and tourism. As well, he’s correct in saying that we as a society complain and bicker a lot. However, he fails to realize that a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have lost hope and a sense of pride, especially knowing they are not permitted to fish for personal consumption. Grant you we have something we call the Newfoundland and Labrador Recreational Fishery, but as far as I am concerned this is discriminatory towards the citizens of this province.

Again, Mr. Crosbie failed to mention that the Cod Moratorium has failed Newfoundland and Labrador and that Canada has abandoned their obligations under the Terms of Union with Newfoundland to effectively and responsibly manage and sustain the fisheries.

On a positive note, he referred to the fishery as being a priority, especially in rural areas of the province. I give him full endorsement for saying that. Further to this, he mentioned how much tourism is playing a role in this province. True, but looking at the millions that our provincial government is pumping into advertising, why is it that the business people coming to this island are not setting up shop?

Finally, let’s turn our attention to housing construction, which I might add is not such a bad thing, however, if our urban centres continue to grow at the expense of rural NL, where will be the vacant land for my children, their children and people who want to plant vegetables, raise cattle, and the like? And why is it that Newfoundland and Labrador imports between 95-99 per cent of their food produce? Shameful I say!

Folks, it’s all too easy to sit back and say everything is fine, but under that false fabrication lies something more precious that you can imagine. It’s called “Living by the Sea” where small boats ought to be, where hope is bursting at the seams, and most importantly, where pride excels, thus making us realize that it was the ‘Cod’ that brought us here and it will be the ‘Cod’ that will see us through.

Ray Johnson-Chair Community Linkages

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Susanne Hiller: Bullying Part Two

This is the second part of a two-part column on bullying.

Susanne's Bullying Part One

Bullying is nothing new, but haven't we moved on yet from the "kids will be kids" platitudes?

It is difficult, though. Bullying is such a complicated and emotional issue - right down to its definition. There is the outright physical and verbal "classic" bullying, but there is also the subtle kind that is tough to monitor. The false rumors.The putdowns.The exclusionary tactics. Mean girls seem to thrive in every school. I recently heard about a family who home-schooled their teen for the last few months of high school rather than let her be ostracized by her peers one day longer.

Governments and schools everywhere are trying to figure out solutions. A tragic series of youth suicides in Nova Scotia triggered the creation of a task force that recently recommended school principals be given authority to discipline students for acts off the school grounds. It also recommended a pilot ban on cell phones in the classroom in an effort to curb cyberbullying.

Under the new anti-bullying bill introduced in Ontario, bullies can now be expelled and it mandates the creation of school groups to encourage tolerance. Teachers in some schools in the U.K. have gone so far as to even ban "best friends" as they feel kids with larger networks are less likely to be bullied.

Closer to home, our province has implemented a Safe and Caring Schools initiative and schools across the island have developed their own anti-bullying campaigns and activities to get students involved to help combat the problem, such as mandatory anti-bullying pledges.

Certainly, awareness is better these days and surely implementing solid tactics such as increased adult supervision, better counseling services, real consequences and anti-bullying policies make some difference. But my aunt, who has seen her share, working in the school system for 30 years on the west coast of Newfoundland, says these strategies, while important, will not solve the problem as a whole.

"The issues are societal. Kids see bullying everywhere - at home, in the workplace, in churches, on the floor of the two houses of our governments, you name it," she said. "It is just called different names: spousal abuse, physical assault, slander, theft. Kids might not make all the links in a cognitive way when they engage in bullying in the schoolyard or the internet or wherever, but at some level they see connections and notice that some of these adult activities are not considered bad."

The task force in Nova Scotia put it this way, "Bullying is a major social issue throughout the world and is one of the symptoms of a deeper problem in our society: the deterioration of respectful and responsible human relations."

So how do we instill a larger culture of empathy and respect in the first place?

How do we teach our little munchkins to be kind?

There are no easy answers on the horizon. No quick fixes. And so we, the helicopter parents, continue to hover and worry and hope we can infuse our kids with enough self- confidence to handle whatever comes their way.

Like my friend and her 14-year-old son. He is a talented singer and she encouraged him to audition for a wonderful local choir. He has found a place where he shines and he has made some solid friends outside of his troubling school situation.

"I know he will be fine," says his mother. "As long as there is breath in me, I'll make sure of that."

Susanne Hiller is a writer and a communications consultant based in St. John's, NL. She has three children under the age of seven.

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Susanne Hiller: Bullying Part One

A lovely mom told me recently that her kindergarten daughter was being pushed around and picked on by another child in her east-end classroom in St. John's. It was getting to the point where my friend's five-year-old was having nightmares and was scared to go to school.

My friend set up a meeting with the teacher. The teacher said she would speak to the child's parents. A few days later, she went to pick up her daughter from school. In the parking lot, she was confronted by the other child's mother who hissed, "If you have a problem with my kid, you deal with me, not the school!"

There has been a lot of attention on the issue of bullying in this province lately, what with the Febreze debacle and other incidents making the news. Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms has called for uniformed security in the schools and St. John's Coun. Debbie Hanlon has even written a children's book on the topic.

It's been fodder for discussion in many parenting circles. The release of the lauded documentary Bully in Canadian theatres this weekend will no doubt further fuel the conversation.

But many moms I know don't want to see the film. The trailer looks grim and they don't need to watch children being terrorized on the big screen to know bullying is a problem. They see enough damage going on right here in our own schools and neighbourhoods - often at a very young age.

One friend transferred her daughter to another school after a boy broke her daughter's arm in the playground because she told him to wait his turn for the monkey bars. She was in Grade 2.  Another mom told a group of us sitting outside gymnastics class one day that she had to take her child off the kindergarten bus because a boy was calling her names and stealing (and stomping) on her Dora knapsack.  

"We have a kinder-bully in our class too," one dad commiserated. "But just wait, in a few years, it will be pure psychological warfare with Facebook and texting."

Honestly, it is enough to bring out the crazed mama bear in any parent. One story, in particular, made my heart stand still.  A friend confided that her 14-year-old son has been consistently bullied since he was in Grade 4.  He has been harassed both online and in the classroom - his sneakers thrown in the rafters. During the night of his 13th birthday party, their Torbay home was egged by seven kids. The police didn't take the complaint seriously and only one parent showed up with their child to apologize.

When the bullying first started, my friend and her husband spent a lot of time dealing with the bureaucracy of the school until they felt they were getting nowhere (the principal told her that it was her son who needed to mature) and they decided, instead, to focus on giving their son the tools he needs to navigate through this difficult period.

"Yes, his school has anti-bullying policies," she said. "Not to sound like a downer, but experience has taught me a lot, policy is all good on paper, but when it is needed to be implemented, you are then dealing with something different. There are so many limitations placed on teachers and administration as to how far they can go, especially when you have parents who refuse to believe their child could be a bully. You end up back at square one.

As parents, we have taken a different approach. We focus on our child and help him get through this. No administrator or teacher can do that. Our main focus is to make him believe that no matter what anyone else may tell him, he is special, unique, and worthy. We can't change what people think of him, just prepare him that, unfortunately, people are mean and some will not always like him and he has to keep his focus on those who do."

It's too much to think that my friend's family has to deal with this sort of harassment on an ongoing basis. It's just as unbelievable that the parents of these brats don't step up (seriously, where are they?). And it's heartbreaking that this little boy has to steel himself to face his tormentors every day.

Hiller will return with Bullying Part Two.

Susanne Hiller is a writer and a communications consultant based in St. John's, NL. She has three children under the age of seven.

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Ronalda Walsh: Stop domestic violence

Ronalda Walsh.JPG Maurice Fitzgerald Photography

Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.

This column is about domestic violence. Many of you will read on, many of you will click the browser back to the previous web page. Those that click back are part of the problem. We are not reaching them to educate them about what is happening in our society and what they can do to stop domestic violence. We need everyone to do their part to speak out against domestic violence and help someone who might be in this situation. Full disclosure - I am a board member with the Iris Kirby House Foundation.

If you turn on a radio, go online or pick up a newspaper there are numerous stories about domestic violence. For example: Man beats his wife with guitar; man convicted of brutal assault against former girlfriend; and woman shot to death in murder suicide. Those are just the headlines in the past week. This is only the end of March. What does the rest of the year have in store?

Let me dispel a few myths about domestic violence. It is more than bruises, blood, broken bones and stitches. It is also verbal, financial, emotional and psychological abuse. These are things you cannot see with your naked eye, but they too leave a scar that takes many years to fade away. It is also not a lower income societal problem. It is also not the fault of a woman for staying in the relationship. Victims of domestic violence are of all ages and wages and there are many factors influencing whether a woman stays or leaves.

Each victim of domestic violence lives through a different but yet similar experience. There is the act of violence itself and then there is, what the experts call, the 'cycle of violence' which follows three stages. The partner becomes increasingly jealous or controlling, the violence happens and then the "honeymoon" stage - where the partner shows remorse and spends time convincing the victim he will change. It's this cycle that most people have a hard time understanding. You'll often hear, "What do you mean she didn't leave? If that happened to me, I'd be gone in a heartbeat?" It is not that easy. If it were, we would hear fewer stories about women being murdered and beaten by their partners instead of a growing number.

If we can protect one more woman or child from abuse we can count that as a success. The Iris Kirby House shelter is typically full and operates on average at 89 per cent capacity. To say the shelter is a busy place would be an understatement. The staff work around the clock to support the women and children who come through the door. Empowerment groups and counselling are offered. Shelter staff speak publicly at events, schools and in offices to spread the word about how to stop domestic violence or support those who you think might be in a bad relationship. There are shelters located across the province that offer this support. Their work saves lives and gives people a second chance.

Generating awareness and enabling more people to talk about the issue is a good thing. In recent years, there have been provincial campaigns focused on respecting women. Campaigns are great at generating awareness, but more needs to be done to embed the specific way of thinking and behaviour to stop the violence. We need the discussion embedded in our schools and community groups, businesses and associations. If this column does anything, I hope it sparks your thinking toward what you can do to help. Allow yourself the opportunity to discuss the issue with your family or a co-worker. Just like the women and children need the courage you leave, you need the courage to have the conversation. It starts with one.

Links to recent media stories about domestic violence cases:

Guitar assault results in guilty plea

Bail hearing set for man suspected in brutal attack on girlfriend

Chaisson sent witness away before shooting wife: RCMP

No bail for man accused of killing N.L. woman in Alberta

Brutal attack results in 8-month sentence

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Allan Johnson: Why I'm giving up my hair


By Allan Johnson

Most of us are pretty attached to our hair, and for some the thought of shaving one's head would instill feelings of fear, panic and God knows what else.

But for some, that hair loss isn't optional. Instead, it's just one of the many nasty side effects associated with being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

On March 10, I am going to be participating in Young Adult Cancer Canada's Shave for the Brave at the Avalon Mall in St. John's.

Yes, I'm shaving my head. Yes, it's going to be cold. But it's only hair, it will grow back, and I am losing it by choice.

In June 2011, one of my closest friends, Steven Corbett, told me he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

My first response was that of disbelief and shock. Nothing really prepares you for that kind of news or the wave of emotion that ensues from hearing those words.

Amongst those emotions, there was also a strong desire to be supportive, to immediately offer whatever assistance possible, to help him beat this disease. I know full well he would do the same if the situation were reversed.

How did he react? From day one, he carried on with his everyday life as if nothing had happened. He accepted the fact that he had cancer, but he also accepted that there was no reason for that to stop him from living.

In hindsight, I should have expected no less from him; he's just that type of guy.

The next few months were clouded with uncertainty, and countless appointments to determine the approach that best suited his diagnosis. Finally it was determined that he would start chemotherapy in November.

In preparation for his treatment, he was forced to take a medical leave of absence from work and put his entire life on hold. Despite three rounds of chemotherapy and their side effects, he still kept his spirits up and maintained his positive outlook on life and his focus on the road to recovery.

This is not to say that any of the above was a walk in the park, but he was determined to not let his cancer diagnosis control his life.

From the time of his diagnosis to the time he finished his treatment in early January, I had continued to search for ways to show my support, to lend a hand in any way possible. My wife and I would visit him at the hospital or send him an email or text message on days when we couldn't make it to the hospital, but it never felt like we were doing enough.

Through doing research to learn more about testicular cancer, the side effects of chemotherapy, and ways to support friends battling this disease I came across Young Adult Cancer Canada.

The St. John's-based not-for-profit organization operates around the principle that cancer is different when you're a young adult. The first stage of adult life is usually filled with university, starting a career, buying a house, getting married, starting a family, and celebrating your independence with your peers.

If you have cancer, issues like fertility, friends and finances take on a whole new meaning.

Intrigued, I did more digging and learned that the founder, Geoff Eaton, was also a cancer survivor. Geoff recognized that there was no organization that focused on the specific problems and concerns of young adults battling cancer, and he took it upon himself to create one.

Now in its 12th year, Young Adult Cancer Canada has grown into a national organization and strives to empower young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer by offering support, information, skills and opportunity.

It was through discovering Young Adult Cancer Canada that I determined how I could both support my friend, and help ensure that he and other young adults diagnosed with cancer had a resource that they could turn to for support after receiving their diagnosis, while undergoing treatment, or even taking their first steps towards recovery.

Each year, Young Adult Cancer Canada hosts Shave for the Brave, a series of fundraising events in which participants volunteer to shave their heads in an effort to raise money. The money raised at these events is used to provide information and support to the almost 7,000 young adults who are diagnosed with cancer every year in Canada.

This was not the first time I had heard about this event. I've had other friends participate in the past, but it's the first time I put any consideration into participating.

Having seen first-hand how cancer can affect someone at this stage in life, I wanted to use this opportunity to support Steve, and to do my little part in easing the road for other young adults fighting this disease.

So I consulted with my wife, shared the news with a few close friends, and signed up as a participant.

To date, I've raised over $2,200 and I'd like to thank everyone who has donated on my behalf thus far. If you'd like to join me in supporting my friend and all the other young adults across Canada who have been diagnosed with cancer... visit this link and make a donation to this excellent cause.

A reminder that all donations, big and small, help Young Adult Cancer Canada provide programs free of charge to help this "forgotten generation."

Not able to make a donation? Then please spread the word far and wide, or head on down to the Avalon Mall on March 10 and show your support.

If you're brave enough, you too can sign up as a participant!

If you would like more information on Young Adult Cancer Canada or the Shave for the Brave, check out their websites.

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Karen Moores: Why shopping local works

Karen Moores is a Newfoundland-based lifestyles specialist who spent several years trend spotting with national Canadian lifestyles properties.

The holiday season is well and truly over. I know that because I finally paid off all my bills. I had to makes some choices this year: go online or go to a local store. The ease of shopping online is easy to see (who doesn’t like shopping in their pyjamas?) as without the hassle of lines or having to visit a shopping centre during the holidays, stress is somewhat reduced. It is no doubt convenient, shipping charges have reduced significantly on this side of the border since the dawn of online shopping and sometimes the discounts and perks, such as gifts with purchase or major price reductions, are considerable when compared to a traditional brick and mortar store front.

This year, however, I made an effort to buy half of my gifts at local boutiques and stores as well as the local version of national franchises and brands. Many local boutiques and shops also offer online stores and shops, an added bonus for online shopping fans like me. (As online shopping continually rises, as industry experts predict, independent operations will undoubtedly add their own online storefronts and provide additional options for consumers with loyalty to provincial and nationally owned brands.) This isn’t a case against online shopping (I dearly love it and acknowledge it’s the way of the future) but rather a push to buy local whether ‘local’ is right here in our own back yard or within our larger national retail community.

I know many who endeavoured to give something exclusively made in Newfoundland (or even simply made or purchased in Canada) and there isn’t a doubt that giving local benefits our province and also provides an opportunity for locals to act as ambassadors for our province - this year, my colleagues across the country were given packages of Jumping Bean Screech Coffee and Newfoundland Chocolate Company Santas and the gifts were well-loved not only because it was made by a successful independent entrepreneur, but also because it a first-class product.

There are many levels of strategic gift giving: buy handmade and purely local from one of our province’s talented artists, artisans or culinary specialists. The Newfoundland and Labrador Craft Council, the local Craft Fairs and kijiji.ca are always a wealth of information for talented bakers, artists and artisans.

Experiential giving is another trend in Canada - a spa package, vacation credit or a gift card for a favorite coffee house. Larger gifts, like ski weekends or bed and breakfast packages, also make ideal gifts for weddings (there are tons of holiday weddings in Newfoundland and Labrador) and anniversaries.

Shopping in local independent stores for major items, particular brands and specialty goods is another way to keep next year’s giving at home. The selection in independently owned and operated stores throughout the city has never been better. Supporting small to mid-size businesses operating in our province is always a part of our holiday giving plans.

Finally, taking your mall shopping local, in major franchises, also benefits local employees of major franchises and big and offers employment for many during the holiday season. Although it might mean a visit to a chaotic shopping centre or big box store, it also heightens provincial retail sales and benefits the employees working in this province.

Of course, living on an island, we are faced with certain realities: a package with a beloved toy doesn’t show and it’s Dec. 24. Maybe a particular gift item just isn’t available in the province or perhaps even in Canada. Certain gifts will always have to be ordered in and shipped, even at the cost of duty fees, for certain people in your life.

If you’re giving strategically, strike a balance between your favorite online retailers (ideally, Canadian) and local independents as well as Newfoundland-based franchises. Set a percentage of gifts that can be sourced entirely locally and also set a day for downtown shopping during the holidays and while we’re all proud Newfoundlanders, we happily flash a Canadian passport. Endeavour to find Canadian-originating sites that don’t just cut duties, but also positively impact the Canadian economy.

Many of these rules apply all year long for occasions and events of all kinds and before we know it, it will soon be holiday season 2012.

Karen Moores is a Newfoundland-based lifestyles specialist who spent several years trend spotting with national Canadian lifestyles properties.

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Kim McNeil: One Year later


Woman dies after crash near Clarenville

This is the text of a letter sent to CBC

Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 will be one year since you aired this story (above). I would like to introduce myself as the 42-year-old woman that survived that accident. My name is Kim McNeil.

That day was the most horrific day in my life. It was also the end of a life of a woman from Bunyon's Cove. Wife and mother Rosie Tucker died that day.

My life changed that day forever. When I was extracted from my car (white car in photo) I was immediately brought to the hospital in Clarenville. A few hours later I was transported to the trauma unit at the Health Sciences Center in St. John's. While en route I flatlined several times.

When I arrived in St. John's, my family was all gathered there with some friends and co-workers. Because of the story CBC aired that day, most people in my life were made aware of the horrific event I had gone though.

Upon my arrival in St. John's my family were told of the injuries I suffered as a result of this accident. I was indeed in serious condition with life threatening injuries. I had broken a vertebra in my neck (C2), three ribs were broken, one lung was punctured, a vertebra in my lower back (L2) was broken and my foot was broken in three places.

I had survived the accident but my battle wasn't over at that point. I was heavily sedated on morphine for almost two weeks to allow my body to start to heal. It wasn't determined immediately if surgery was needed but over the next few days, it was determined that surgery wouldn't help. I never did have surgery. It was decided that my bones would heal on their own as long as I was totally immobilized.

Almost two weeks after that day, the morphine was suspended and my work began. I was told about the fact that someone else did die that day and she was a wife and mother. That hit me extremely hard. I had never had to deal with anything like this before.

The occupational therapists working on my case came to help fit me for the brace that was made for me in the US while I was sedated.

This would have been the first time that I moved from my back in two weeks. I felt like I had been hit by a truck, not a car. Through their efforts, I was sat up on the edge of my bed for the first time. With the help of a walker, I was told, "Okay Kim, it is time to walk." Off course I had no idea if I could. No one really did know if I could because this was the first time I did anything except wiggle my toes.

They helped me off the bed and I stood on my feet for the first time. Dawning my neck brace, body brace and a plaster cast on my foot, I was standing for the first time. Now the challenge was to walk. I put one foot in front of the other, cast and all, and made my first step. I walked to the end of the hospital room and back. That was the moment I was waiting for, my family and my medical team.

At that time I made the transition from an accident victim [to] an accident survivor.

I was kept in the hospital for a total of 22 days. I was released to my parents home in St. John's. I couldn't go to the bathroom on my own. I couldn't get out of bed on my own. I couldn't do anything on my own.

While at my parents house, my mother had a mild stroke due to the stress caused by me.

At that point, it was apparent I needed to return to my own home in Clarenville where I lived alone. I needed an ambulance to get me there. When I arrived at home, I was greeted by the homecare worker that would work 10 hours a day to help me.

From that moment on, I took my life back. My recovery was amazing. I took charge of my life and gained my independence again. I was home with my own stuff around and in my own bed.

I still had a lot of work to do though.

At Week 6, the man in my life prior to my accident, and someone that stayed with me during this whole event, told me we were over. Another speed bump in my recovery. I was devastated.

I pulled up my big girl pants -- well, my homecare worker did -- and I decided that I needed to get my physical well being back to where it had been.

At Week 9, I returned to the Health Sciences Center for another CT scan and my neurologist was pleased to tell me that my neck was better. My back still needed some TLC but I now could take off the neck brace, which had been with me 24/7 for nine weeks. I asked if I could drive and he told me if I had the range of motion in my neck, I could drive safely.

I had lunch with my mother and niece and proceeded to a car dealer, bought a new SUV and drove it home two days later. I was indeed on the road to recovery.

At Week 11, I returned to work half days. Much to the amazement of my co-workers and family, I was sitting behind my desk. It was April 4.

On June 1, 2011, I returned back to work full time.

My recovery continues to this day and although my physical injuries are just about healed, my mental and emotional recovery is far from over.

I did make the decision early in my recovery though that I needed to get my life back. I needed to get better. After all, someone had died and if I didn't fight to get my life back, she might have died in vain. I had enough guilt to live with, I couldn't add that to it as well.

I told my body every minute of everyday that I would get better. I would recover from this horrific event. I never allowed anyone to be around me that was negative at all about my recovery. If I could have a smile on my face and trudge on, they could too. After all, I was the one with the injuries.

One year has passed now since you first reported on this story. It has been a year of much pain, grief, mourning and speed bumps for me, but I am finally at the stage in my life where I can celebrate the fact that I am alive. The pain I feel on a daily basis is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be alive. It is a reminder that I can at least feel the pain.

My work continues, but I have never given up believing that I would get better. I have never given up telling my body that it would heal.

Although, I never met Rosie or her family nor do I remember the day of the accident, I have pledged to her and myself that her death wouldn't be for nothing.

I will visit her grave this weekend and tell Rosie how sorry I am that she died. In doing that though, I will also thank her for giving me the inspiration to continue with my struggle.

I am telling you all of this because I want you to know that the stories if death and accidents that you often report on aren't the end of the story. Sometimes, as in my case, there is something positive that comes from it. I realized for the first time in my life I had the inner strength to fight the biggest challenge of my life. My life has changed and although some would think for the worse, it has changed for the better.

I know now that tomorrow is just a plan, it isn't a promise to any of us.

Thank you for the news story a year ago. It allowed people important in my life to know it was me that day and that allowed people I haven't heard from in over 20 years to reach out and encourage me in my recovery.

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Sidewalks: Sheila Pike/Dennis O'Keefe

This was sent via email to St. John's City Council and news representatives.

My Name is Sheila Pike.

I want to express my disappointment in the city council for its lack of endeavour in clearing snow on sidewalks in this city.

I don't have a car, I don't have my licence. I live in a city, so I shouldn't need either.

It's the sidewalks. In the winter, I am terrified to leave my apartment. Last year, there were three times I fell off the piled-up sidewalks and into the street. The only reason I'm still here, uninjured, is because I got lucky, there were no cars driving by at those moments. My significant other has not been so lucky, he's actually had to roll across the tops of a few cars. We have to walk on the roads usually, or risk death. There are times the traffic gets so aggressive that you literally have to jump up on the snowbank that covers our sidewalks. Sometimes those piles are strong enough to hold us, other times they aren't, and you fall back into the street. When winter comes, we leave the house very little (we both work from home now). Sometimes you have to, to get to a doctor's office, or a grocery store. On days where the snow piles have gotten really bad, if it happens to be during a busy-traffic part of the day, we call a cab. Trying to get to a bus stop and then wait for a bus under these conditions is just too dangerous.

I just watched the NTV news and I agree with the Canada Post. The sidewalks are disgraceful and dangerous. If it's gotten this bad, why is nothing done? Even if cost saving is a partial motivator, why aren't you more concerned with your voters safety? I challenge you to get out and walk the paths these people have to on a daily basis! Do it the day after a snowstorm. A good job is so hard to come by these days, people WILL and ARE ignoring safety concerns just to keep/get a job. The onus on the employer to provide a safe work environment ... not on an employee's willingness to work in an unsafe environment. Shame on you, Mr Mayor! Comments like those you made on the news tonight only encourage people to work through unsafe conditions. What about employee safety? Is it really that big of a deal to have to walk to a secure box to get your mail? I like the idea that my mail will be more secure, and so will my mailman. Any loss in jobs would be detrimental. Is the loss of jobs acceptable, given the circumstances? I think so.

The only places where I see cleared sidewalks are in areas of expensive houses or areas with just businesses. When I walk, I walk from Higgins Line, Nfld. Drive, and Torbay Rd. On this path, it is common to see women with little children dodging cars to try to get to a bus station ... to see teenagers hugging the side of the road, trying to get as close to sidewalks as possible ... to see elderly people struggling to get to the doctor's office...

I was shocked and appalled to see THIS reaction from our MAYOR, the man who should be protecting the BEST interests of St John's on the news. Where is your compassion for your fellow man?

The postmen/postwomen aren't the only people who have to walk these sidewalks ... please think on that ...

Please clear our sidewalks. I think that if a street is busy enough to require stoplights, it is busy enough to need cleared sidewalks. This isn't about money, or jobs. This is an appeal for public safety.

There are still other employees that HAVE to walk our sidewalks to read metres and deliver newspapers, people who need to get to the bus stop, to get to the doctor, to get to school. There are people who walk an hour twice a day, just to get to work. These are the people who need your support.

Please figure this out before a tragedy happens.

Sheila M Pike

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe later sent this response.

Hi Sheila

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your sentiments and your opinion on this issue. I am a walker. I walk our streets every day, sometimes twice a day, each day of the year. The weather does not stop me. Snow, rain, sleet or sun, I am on the streets. I do it because I enjoy it and because it is healthy. So, I understand your feelings. At present we clean 132 kilometers of sidewalk in the city. Given time between storms and given half a chance our crews do even more. Not only do we clean them but we salt them also. I doubt we will ever be able to clean every single sidewalk in the city and keep the clean given our winter conditions. But we try to do as much as we can within our capacity to keep as many sidewalks as possible clean.

The present situation with Canada Post is not about sidewalks. Even the mail carriers and their union agree with the city that this move by Canada Post is not about clearing sidewalks but is about their program to discontinue door to door delivery using sidewalks as the excuse. If those boxes go in, they will never go out, door to door mail delivery will be a thing of the past. It is really paradoxical for them to say that the sidewalks are to dangerous for people so our solution is to force people out on the streets to get their mail. Thank God for my Telegram carrier, he/she manages to get me my paper day in and day out without a problem. Even the carriers agree that the city is doing all it can to clean as many sidewalks as possible. One has to wonder why it is St. John's? There is not a city or town in Newfoundland and Labrador that cleans all of its sidewalks. Do they get less snow? Are they in any better condition. No! Again, why St. John's first. I guess if they get away with it here, then the others will follow. Count on it.

Sheila, rest assured that I as Mayor and the city will continue to improve its sidewalk snowclearing. In this current Budget we have hired six new operators and purchased three additional sidewalk snow plows so that we can do more sidewalks. What we cannot do is allow Canada Post to continue the policy of eliminating door to door mail delivery disadvantaging many including seniors and those with disabilities. Again, my thanks for your email

Dennis O'Keefe

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