Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Minister of Human Services announces funding for FCSS, Alberta Works during stop in Bonnyville

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

 Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski (left) and Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir during Sabir’s visit to Bonnyville last week.
Eric Bowling

A number of family services in Bonnyville will be expanding their scope after a cash injection from the provincial government.

Alberta Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir was in Bonnyville on June 24 to promote the new funding for several departments under his ministry. After meeting with Mayor Gene Sobolewski and Family and Community Support Centre (FCSS) Director David Beale, he announced the new funding at Bonnyville Town Hall.

“These grants are part of a government commitment to helping families and communities to fight against family violence,” said Sabir. “The grant will help the community here to come up with programs geared towards addressing the issue. Violence is unacceptable in any form, and we need to tackle it at many different levels.”

Among the new initiatives is a one-time grant of $77,000 for the FCSS Crisis Centre, which will cover the salary of a temporary employee who will be working around the area to help promote better ways to deal with domestic issues and help prevent family violence. The grants are part of a $3.5 million plan for municipalities around the province.

“Family violence is something we definitely need to address,” explained Beale. “I don’t think it’s any worse or better in Bonnyville than any other small town in Alberta, but it is a chronic problem that continues to exist. Public awareness is a key part of our strategy to combat it.”

In addition, the ministry increased the local FCSS’ annual funding by around $30,000, which prompted the Town of Bonnyville to pitch in an extra $6,000, as well as a $3,000 grant from the MD of Bonnyville. This has enabled the FCSS to hire a new employee for the crisis centre – an outreach office intended to help women escape domestic violence emergencies.

Beale noted that the crisis centre employee was hired in March. The new service will allow the centre to transport victims of domestic violence to the centre as well as to the women’s shelter in Cold Lake.

“We’re going to be doing a lot more in the area of family violence prevention, bullying prevention, elder abuse prevention, the whole gambit of family violence issues,” added Beale. “People should not live in fear.”

Aside from increased funding for the FCSS, Sabir also announced changes to the local Alberta Works centre.

The centre will be transformed into a full Alberta Support Centre, allowing people to access more government services.

“That is a work in progress. We need to provide services in a more collaborative fashion, so the Alberta Support Centre will become a one-stop shop where people are connected to a range of services depending on their needs,” explained Sabir. “It will be the face of human services where people can connect with over 120 different programs.”

He explained that part of the change will involve removing much of the bureaucratic red tape currently involved in accessing much of the ministry’s services.

“Programs should not exist in silos, people should be able to come in and be assessed once, and then they will be connected to the supports and services available through their government and community,” he added, noting the centre will also connect users to health care and other services outside of his ministry.

Beale noted that the funding would help the FCSS and crisis centre contend with a large backlog of issues.

“We’re very pleased and thank the minister for the funding,” praised Beale. “It’s been about eight or nine years since we’ve seen an increase in funding. What we’re doing right now is backpedaling some of the things we had to reduce in the past. So we’re looking at not cutting services as much as we were before.”

The Ministry of Human Services increased funding for FCSS from $75 million to $100 million as part of the province’s 2016 budget. The FCSS services are now available. The Alberta Support services are expected to come online later in the year.

Exercise Maple Flag 49 wraps up

For the Lakeland Regional.

The Royal Canadian Air Force wrapped up its international training mission Exercise Maple Flag 49 - a month-long gathering of air forces from Canada and several of its allies in #ColdLake, Alberta. The exercise is designed to prepare pilots and air crews for the realities of modern warfare and to ensure that forces for all nations involved are prepared in case they are needed.
Eric Bowling

A major military exercise conducted at CFB Cold Lake has wrapped up after 24 days of operations.

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) concluded Exercise Maple Flag 49 at 4 Wing on June 24. The multi-national military training mission, which began on May 30, is a part of the Canadian Armed Forces' (CAF) efforts to prepare both Canadian and international forces for future potential conflicts.

“The Royal Canadian Air Force is responsible to be prepared to deploy at any time,” said Air Force Tactical Training Centre Commanding Officer Maj. Chris “Chester” Horch. “No matter what the current state of world events it's our job to be prepared for and train for difficult scenarios like this.”
 A CF-18 passes over Cold Lake Air Weapons Range during a training mission June 23.
Eric Bowling

Over 1,300 CAF personnel and more than 400 allied personnel participated in the exercise. The training mission was held over two periods, from May 30 to June 10 and then from June 13 to 24. Two waves of training were held each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Horch explained, “The advantage of having this exercise in Cold Lake in June is that the days are very long here, so it gives our participants a chance to train after the last wave of the day.”

To be prepared for modern aerial combat, the airmen and women practiced a number of techniques, including air-to-air combat, air-to-surface combat, air-to-air refueling, surveillance and reconnaissance, and electronic warfare.

A french pilot looks directly at the camera after a refuelling mission in the skies above Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.
Eric Bowling

The scenario presented to the soldiers was a conflict between two fictitious nations. The nation of Lemgo had declared independence from the larger nation of Stromia. Stromia considered Lemgo a renegade province and had begun to mass troops and aircraft near the fledging Lemgoese nation earlier in the year. After Stromian forces entered Lemgoese territory, a coalition of nations lead by Canada deployed into Lemgo to protect their independence.

The part of the Stromian Air Force was played by pilots from Discovery Air Defence Services, aka “Top Aces.”

The scenario was developed in consultation between participating nations.

A CF-18 stops by a C-130 Hercules to get a refuelling in the skies over Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.
Eric Bowling

“It's basically the same scenario we've been running since the generation of Maple Flag. It's a state versus state scenario against an ever-evolving threat with very capable platforms and tactics. It provides the aircrew an opportunity to train in a non-permissive environment where they need to fight to gain air superiority so they can support troops on the ground,” noted Horch.

Training was conducted chiefly inside the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR). At 1.17 million hectares in size, CLAWR hosts over 640 potential targets for combat training, including military airfields, surface-to-air threats and military structures. As no live ammunition was used during the scenario, kills were tracked via precision lasers and GPS guided systems. However, pilots were able to train with live munitions at air-to-air and air-to-ground ranges that operated concurrently with the scenario.

Soldiers from a number of NATO nations participated in the fictitious conflict, including the Royal Air Force of Britain, the French Air Force, the German Army, the Belgian Army, and four separate wings of the United States military.

A French fighter pulls into the landing pad.
Eric Bowling

“They are what make the exercise, to be honest. Without our foreign participants, it doesn't really give the exercise the benefit we want it to have,” explained Horch. “The key here is not just for Canada to train its own tactics, but for Canada to train alongside coalition members so that when we see them in potential future conflicts we have an idea how to integrate together and can do so effectively from day one of conflict.”

In addition, 10 nations sent personnel as part of the International Observer Program during the second period of the exercise, including Australia, Chile, India, Israel, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

A french fighter fires off his afterburners in an early morning flight.
Eric Bowling

Maple Flag is the Canadian equivalent of the United States Air Force's Exercise Red Flag, which was started after the Vietnam War.

The need for regular tactical war simulations was determined after military planners noticed that aircrews with 10 or less combat missions were far more likely to go down in battle, and aircrews that survived more than 10 battles had a far greater chance of making their way back home to their families.

Trail users flock to trestle grand re-opening

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

A large crowd was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Beaver River Trestle on June 24.
Eric Bowling

After four years of uncertainty, a popular local bridge that connects a trail between Bonnyville and Cold Lake celebrated its grand re-opening last week.

The Beaver River Trestle was celebrated by a large crowd of hikers, ATV riders, and other outdoor enthusiasts on June 24, almost four years to the day since the trestle had to be shut down after a group of ne’er do wells committed arson on the bridge, burning much of the trestle’s support beams.

“It’s good to see it finally restored,” commented Fred Wilton, who works with Alberta Culture and Tourism.

Getting to this point was a journey in itself. Acquiring the $1.6 million needed to repair the bridge took several years and came from multiple sources ranging from local municipalities to the provincial and federal governments.

“It took a little while, but it was worth it,” said North East Muni-Corr administrative coordinator Marianne Price. “We’re really proud of our 10 municipal partners who matched the funding from the provincial government.”

The province pitched in close to $300,000 for the restoration. Price added that the trestle benefitted from a federal government program called the National Trails Coalition, which kicked in $380,000 on it’s own.

“We were very fortunate to be on the radar for the federal government,” noted Price. “We did do a couple of smaller fundraising events as well, which helped tremendously.”

MLAs from three separate ridings were on hand for the ribbon cutting. Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr thanked the provincial government for the funding and praised the grassroots effort to get the trestle back up and running.

“The more we connect our communities, the better,” noted Cyr. “It’s great to see we can work together to accomplish great things. We need to recognize the Minister of Culture of Tourism, Ricardo Miranda. What happened was he was nice enough to sit down with our board and get this done. Hopefully we can continue to work with the minister to continue work on local trails.”

Plans are now underway to replace the gates on the trail accessing the bridge and ensure that it is only being used for the recreation it is intended for.

“I can’t say enough times that vehicles are not allowed on the Iron Horse Trail,” said Price. “It’s for ATVs, snowmobiles, hikers, cyclists and horseback riders. We would deeply appreciate it if trucks and cars would stay off it.”

Another feature of the restored trestle is the addition of lookout points along the bridge to allow for viewing of planes taking off and landing from CFB 4-Wing in Cold Lake, which borders the trail.

“The trestle is on the flight path from the base,” explained Price. “We used to have the platforms on the side of the bridge fenced off with wiring fencing. Every time we would come out here someone would have cut the fencing so they could stand on the platform that had no railing on them. So when we rebuilt the bridge we designed the platforms into the railing.”

Local resident Doris Cory was ecstatic that the bridge was finally opened for use again.

“I think it’s great. Some people around think it’s noisy, but it’s not. My kids and I use it a lot. It’s good to have a trail, good for the people and good for the community,” expressed Cory.

The Beaver River Trestle was opened for pubic use after CN Rail stopped using it for rail transport in 1999. The bridge opened to pedestrians as part of the Iron Horse Trail in 2003 and was in service until 2012 when three local youth lit a car on fire at the base of the bridge on June 22.

City prepares for sidewalk expansion and repair

For the Lakeland Regional.

Construction on sidewalks is about to begin.
File Photo
The city’s assessment of its sidewalks and trails is complete and the concrete is ready to flow.

Cold Lake City Council is going ahead with a plan to construct, repair and expand a number of sidewalks in the community.

According to Infrastructure Services general manager Azam Khan, currently there are large portions of the city’s roads that are lacking a proper sidewalk or trail for pedestrians. He cited a number of places along 1 Ave. that need work done as an example.

The city will be adding a sidewalk along 1 Ave. from 23 St. to 25 St. In addition, a second sidewalk will be constructed between 9 Ave. and 12 Ave. along 16 St. and a third sidewalk will be laid out along 53 Ave. connecting 55 St. to 56 St.

Also included in the project’s funding are plans to build a few new walking trails, specifically connecting Beach Ave. to Willow Crescent, and Meadow Way to the Millennium Trail. A third trail being planned, the Palm Creek Trail, which will run from 55 to 52 Ave., is budgeted under the Meadows Storm Water Project.

Council also heard that a trail being planned along 16 Ave. would cost considerably more than what was allocated, and that the city would need to purchase a piece of land along the proposed route to be able to proceed.

Consequentially, that expansion was taken back to administration for further research.

City council originally budgeted $200,000 for trail and sidewalk construction. Khan estimated that the needed work would cost $208,230.

Mayor Craig Copeland cautioned that the estimated costs were overshooting expenses to prevent any nasty surprises down the road.

“We’re going to go to tender and hopefully the costs come in at under $200,000,” noted Copeland. “It’ll be a great opportunity for local contractors. There are some great locations that are going to open up some areas of Cold Lake where people can walk their dog.”

Khan added that future projects will include making sure is a sidewalk or trail on at east one side of all roads, as well as connecting the city’s trail networks with its many parks. Ensuring connections between trails, sidewalks and bus stops is also a priority going forward.

“There isn’t enough money in the budget this year, but we’ll look at this for 2017,” commented Khan.

Construction is expected to begin as soon as the tenders are completed and should be finished in the fall.

Cold Lake Landfill expansion about to begin

For the Lakeland Regional.

The Cold Lake Regional Transfer Station is slated to get a major expansion this fall, as use of
the landfill continues to grow.
Eric Bowling
The city’s trash will soon have a new can as construction on a new section of the local landfill is set to begin this fall.

Cold Lake City Council is moving forward with its plan to expand the Cold Lake Landfill’s capacity for incoming waste. The plan will now be sent to Alberta Environment for final approval before the construction can commence.

The new landfill cell is expected to create an additional 429,780 square metres of room for “dry waste”, which covers wood chips, shingles, drywall, paper, discarded metal and other solid objects.
The funding for the landfill expansion was approved in the 2016 budget.

Infrastructure Services general manager Azam Khan explained that the new cell was needed for the city’s projected growth over the next 25 years. Last year the landfill received 7,840 tonnes of waste. In increase of over 15 per cent from 2014 when the landfill collected 6,650 tonnes of waste.

“We are expecting 2016 to be similar to the last year’s volume because of the economic slump and all of the construction happening,” added Khan.

The new expansion is a requirement under Alberta Environment’s code of practice.

“That is kind of a relief,” noted Khan. “We won’t have out fill out as much paperwork this way.”

A perimeter berm will be constructed around the new cell to collect surface runoff and more gas detectors will be added to track the migration of gases and odours.

The expansion will require the city to relocate the current access road and scale house. The access road will be constructed on the west side of the current landfill cell.

The new scale house will also include a second scale to minimize traffic congestion and reduce turnaround time at the scales.

The height of the current cell, which is nearing full capacity, will also be raised by an additional five metres. Eventually, the two cells will be merged as the new cell begins to fill up.

Mayor Craig Copeland commented that the project was pretty much shovel ready and the city was just waiting on Alberta Environment for the go-ahead.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Copeland. “Construction should begin in the fall and hopefully the new structure will be up and running for next spring.”

Khan mentioned that the city was hoping to avoid any serious impact on nearby neighbourhoods by adding tree lines to ensure the new expansion does not impose on citizens.

Currently, the landfill serves approximately 38,000 customers per year.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Major roadwork on Highway 28 to begin right away

For the Lakeland Regional.

Roadwork on Highway 28 is expected to begin right away and will continue for the rest of the year
File Photo
The busiest intersection in town is going to be somewhat difficult to get around for the next few months as the city undertakes some necessary construction on the main road through Cold Lake.

Cold Lake City Council approved a major overhaul of Hwy. 28 at its general meeting on June 14. The major project involves twinning Hwy. 28 from 54 Ave. to the southern city limits as well as rebuilding three major intersections and upgrading the utilities buried beneath the road.

“We were thinking we would probably have to scale back the scope, just to bring it into something we could actually get done,” explained Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Nagoya, adding that the total cost of the project included geotechnical engineering and utility relocation. “But the results of the tender were positive, so it looks like, based on the scope of the project, that we're going to be able to rope it all in at around $10.2 million.”

To cover the cost of the construction, council passed a bylaw increasing its 2016 capital budget from around $58.5 million to approximately $59.2 million , increasing its spending for the year by $650,000.

The project was originally pegged at $4.4 million, but as council began to plan the construction work, a number of issues came up that ballooned the estimated cost to $12.5 million.

However, after cost estimates were worked out it was determined that the project was $2 million under the estimated cost, much to the delight of city council.

“This intersection is at the end of its life cycle so we're very happy to get favourable prices for the work,” noted Mayor Craig Copeland.

Nagoya explained that it made more sense to take care of all the issues with the road and its services at once.

“There's synergies to doing underground utilities and such at the same time, so we expanded the project,” noted Nagoya.

Nagoya added that the city wants to get the most difficult part of the construction out of the way first. Consequentially, the overhaul of the intersection at Hwy. 28 and Veteran's Drive is expected to begin immediately.

“We're going to be up to 20,000 vehicles a day on that thing. It's seen its age and is past its lifespan, so it's time to give it an overhaul,” explained Nagoya. “The challenge is that it's one of the busiest intersections in the community. With no pain there's no gain, so we're going to have to close portions of the roadway to get this thing done.”

Nagoya added that the city would do its best to minimize the growing pains, but citizens should expect traffic delays and detours.

Contractors are already preparing to move the shallow utilities of the intersections such as gas, power and phone lines.

“They're sitting in the way right now, we've got to get them out of the way,” noted Nagoya.

The main intersection is expected to be complete by mid-October. The full highway should be done by July 2017, subject to weather conditions over that period. The full construction will stretch along Hwy. 28 from 54 Ave. to 51 St.

Three new signal lights will be added along the way, including a new signal system at the Veteran's Drive intersection.

Air quality monitoring station moves into Bonnyville

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

Environmental Monitoring Program Manager Michael Bisaga and Maxxam Analyitics Technician Alex Yakupov stand next to the Portible Air Monitoring Station (PAMS) which will be in monitoring the air in Bonnyville for at least the rest of the summer
Eric Bowling
Those who claim that Jessie Lake is the source of an occasional rank smell around town may be right.

The Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA) has moved one of its active mobile air quality monitoring stations into Bonnyville as a celebration of Clean Air Day.

“It’s the one monitoring station that we move from area to area,” said program manager Michael Bisaga. “It’s providing us data for the air quality index in Bonnyville, which is something we haven’t had before.”

Bisaga was demonstrating the Portable Air Monitoring Station (PAMS) at an open house at the Alberta Energy Regulator’s Office on June 8. The information session was intended to help explain the process of air quality testing, as well as the need for it.

PAMS measures a number of different things in the air, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, hydrocarbons such as methane, particulate matter such as dust and smoke and hydrogen sulfide, which the station detected coming off Jessie Lake within its first week of operation.

“We’ve only been monitoring since Friday. So far the air quality is good, though we’ve picked up some hydrogen sulfide from the wind blowing off of Jessie Lake,” explained Bisaga. “Oftentimes we hear from people complaining that there is a smell in Bonnyville and a lot of people suspect it’s the lake. Now we have some data to support that.”

Bisaga added that there is no real air quality concern in Bonnyville and that moving the air quality station around is merely a normal practice. Though he conceded that air quality might diminish slightly over the winter months.

“It will be interesting to see what air quality is like in the wintertime, because oftentimes you’ll get temperature inversions keeping pollutants from motor vehicles close to the ground,” noted Bisaga, adding that was what he suspects is responsible for the occasional “winter haze” seen in town.
“With the air quality station here we will be able to determine what is causing that.”

The station, which fits inside of a trailer, collects air samples and then separates the different compounds into different boxes. It then measures the amount in the sample before exhausting the sample back to the air and collecting the next sample.

Bisaga added that the station is measuring samples every couple of seconds and updates a program on LICA’s website every hour.

The station was previously set up in Elk Point. There are four active monitoring stations and 27 passive monitoring stations in the Lakeland region. A passive station is simply a collection unit that does no measurements and simply transmits data, whereas an active station collects samples and actively measures them. LICA also has a number of plots of soil they regularly examine for contaminants and soil pH.

“What we’re monitoring at the soil sites is the effect of air quality on soil, so for example acid deposition – we used to call it acid rain but we now know it happens in more than just wet form, it can happen in dry conditions too,” added Bisaga. “We collect samples every year and monitor for long term change in soil chemistry.”

The air quality station also collects a general sample of air for laboratory testing, much like a water quality technician would take a bucket of water and test it.

The air quality station is expected to stay in Bonnyville for at least the remainder of the summer and hopefully for the entire year.

Lakeland Drifters take to the streets to fight cancer

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

The Lakeland Drifters ride out from La Corey for the Ride for Dad on June 18
Eric Bowling

The highways of the Lakeland were saturated with over a hundred road hogs out for a good cause this last weekend.

Members of the Lakeland Drifters gathered in La Corey to begin a day-long drive throughout the Lakeland region to help raise funds for prostate cancer research on June 18.

The rally was also intended to promote awareness about prostate cancer.

“They say that one in seven men will get diagnosed with prostate cancer,” said committee member Silke Skinner. “A lot of men are not very eager to get tested, so it’s important that every man talks to his doctor. The sooner they catch it the easier it is to cure.”

Starting in La Corey the bikers rode to Bonnyville, Glendon, then onward to Elk Point and back up through the Lakeland to Cold Lake, before finally returning to their starting point.

While the Drifters are primarily a motorcycle club, race bikes, street bikes, three-wheelers, ATVs and other forms of recreational vehicles were present for the ride.

“Any style of vehicle or bike is welcome,” commented Skinner.

During the ride, participants were also issued playing cards at each stop to assemble a poker hand. Upon arriving back in La Corey, the rider with the best hand won a small prize.

A total of 114 bikes were counted riding out of La Corey and over 150 people registered for the event. In total, the riders raised just over $20,000 for the cause, a slight decrease from the $30,000 they raised last year.

Skinner figured the economy was the culprit in the decrease in money raised.

“When the economy is down, it hurts everything,” she noted. “I’m happy we raised what we did.”
The ride is part of a multi-national movement. Rallies have been held across the country since the year 2000. In the 16 years of riding, the event has raised over $18 million for prostate cancer research. This is the second year the ride was held in Lakeland.

Skinner said she was overjoyed with how the weekend worked out and the Drifters are already working on plans for next year.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Hate Crime Conversation the first step to rebuilding trust between cultures

For the Lakeland Regional.

The former Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre.
(they have since moved to a new location by the Fire Hall)
A collection of Cold Lake citizens gathered together to discuss how to best combat hate.

Organized by the Hate Crimes Committee, the Conversation on Hate Crimes was held at the Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre on May 31. The group is a collaboration of police, community, and justice organizations that want to raise awareness about the problem of hate and racism in society.

The gathering of 16 people included representatives from the Cold Lake Peace Officers, Cold Lake Victims Services Unit and the Cold Lake RCMP. It was just one of a series of talks that are happening throughout the province.

The aim of the sessions is to allow victims of hate crimes to meet with officials and create a better understanding of the problem and what can be done to solve it. Cold Lake was the only talk scheduled where the RCMP accepted the invitation.

During the talks, a number of attendees aired personal grievances from incidents they had recently experienced. During the discussion, Cold Lake Mosque Manager Mahmoud El Kadri recalled a recent incident he believes could be racial profiling.

His 19-year-old son and his wife were driving back to Cold Lake from Edmonton when they had to stop for gas in St. Paul. After filling up, they continued on their way until reaching a stop sign before turning onto Hwy. 28.

El Kadri explained that an RCMP officer three cars behind them then pulled them over. “He drove all the way past the first three cars to this first car turning onto Hwy. 28, and he looks inside and sees my wife wearing the scarf (hijab),” said El Kadri.

“They accuse (my son) of running the stop sign. The situation got worse when he saw her in the scarf. He asked her ‘what were you doing in Edmonton, and what are you doing in Cold Lake?’ She told him that Cold Lake was her hometown. ‘Your hometown?’ said the officer, and it went on like that.” El Kadri added that the officer treated his son and wife like outsiders, then gave his son a $300 ticket and no charges were laid.

S/Sgt. Jeremie Landry of the Cold Lake RCMP pointed out that El Kadri would be able to access the footage taken by the camera now present in the dashboard of all RCMP vehicles.

“What I would recommend in that particular case is to speak with the detachment commander in St. Paul, where the incident occurred,” explained Landry.

“Through speaking to that commander that process could be facilitated.”

However, El Kadri was not the only person in the room with a grievance.

Agnes Gendron, Executive Director of the Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre, explained was that despite the fact many First Nations experience racism on a regular basis, they don’t report it as often as other groups – adding to the problem.

“I think one of the reasons aboriginal people don’t report incidents is that they aren’t taken seriously by the people taking the reports,” said Gendron. “The way the government treats aboriginal people works its way down to the people themselves.”

Others in the discussion were a bit blunter on why they didn’t bother to report incidents.

“It’s such a pain to report a hate crime, it becomes a situation where you say, you know, ‘suck it up princess, it’s just another day, right?’” commented Zane Thain, who works at the Native Friendship Centre. “It’s just an everyday normal thing.”

Landry expressed that people need to have realistic expectations of what the legal system can do, as well as the limits of police authority.

“I think it’s important that people to understand exactly what has to happen for a hate crime to be proven,” pointed out Landry.

“For example, if a First Nations person is assaulted, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a hate crime. It may just mean they were assaulted.

There has to be a substantive criminal offence that has to be in place first before it can be proven that there is a hate crime.”

Landry added that in order to properly police hate crimes, RCMP need to get accurate feedback from the community, which involves building better relationships.

“I think the more we educate everyone on what exactly constitutes a hate crime the more likely we are going to get reporting,” noted Landry. “In the RCMP we have a special way to categorize hate crimes so that we can actually gather statistics and be able to show how many crimes were against an identifiable group or religion. Without that reporting we’re not going to have accurate stats on what’s going on.”

A hate crime is defined as a crime that is targeted at a specific group of people instead of a specific individual. The vandalism of the Cold Lake Mosque was given as an example of a hate crime. It was also the only reported hate crime in recent memory, according to Landry.

Landry explained that in the case where a crime is not committed, there isn’t anything the RCMP can do. Cases like that should be taken up with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which has its nearest office in Edmonton.

“We look after hate crimes that fall under the criminal code. Other bodies look after situations such as unlawful dismissal that can be remedied.”

While there is no simple solution to overcoming hatred, a starting point on pathway to combating the problem became evident.

One of the key messages conveyed is the need to start building trust between minorities, the rest of the community, and government institutions.

“The structures that we have in place to deal with rights violations are extremely problematic,” said Tabrina Stenz, adult services coordinator for the Centre of FASD, who was also in attendance. “They’re not accessible, they’re not welcoming. If there’s no trust built, or it’s been broke, it’s very hard.”

El Kadri agreed.

“The government has to teach their staff how to treat people equally,” said El Kadri. “If we see the RCMP taking all of our matters seriously, people will report to them.”

All parties agreed that they were quite happy to have had the discussion, and everyone left the conversation with a feeling that they were moving in the right direction.

“We have come a long ways over the years with regards to treating everyone the same, but we have a long way to go,” said Landry. “I want to be part of the discussion and the solution. The stronger relationships are, the more you are going to get out of those relationships.”

If you think you or a member of your community may have been a victim of a hate crime, you have up until one year to make a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Complaints can be made in person in one of the two major cities or by the phone over a confidential line at 780-427-7661.

Former Cold Lake Royal signs with Edmonton Wildcats

For the Lakeland Regional.

Justin Barney is the latest tight end to join the Edmonton Wildcats
A former Cold Lake Royal has taken the next step in his football journey, signing a contract with a major club in Edmonton.

Justin Barney of Cold Lake has just signed a contract with the Edmonton Wildcats Football Club, marking his entry into the Prairie Football Conference of the Canadian Junior Football League and putting him into the big leagues. The Wildcats held their camp on May 5-7.

“I’m really excited. This is going to be fun,” said Barney. “I’m really looking to get out there and play hard.”

The offensive lineman, who moonlights as a business student at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology when he isn’t protecting his quarterback, said that he was kicking himself after taking a year off to focus on school.

“I missed the game,” noted Barney. “I wanted to come back and play.”

To prepare for the intense three-day training camp, Barney hit the gym five days a week, combining weight training and cardio.

“Just trying to get back in shape from missing a season,” commented Barney. “High school really kept me there, but when I went to university I kind of got distracted.”

Barney added that he owed a great deal to the Royals coaching staff for their support of his efforts over the years.

“I’m on a workout program from one of the coaches here in Cold Lake,” praised Barney. “They know what they’re talking about here. At Edmonton I never learned anything different from what I was taught out here. I was always right in step with the other guys.”

While he was quite happy to have made the team, Barney noted that by halfway through the Wildcats’ training camp he had a pretty good idea he had made the cut.

“I don’t want to sound cocky, but I had a feeling I would make the team,” expressed Barney. “There was a lot of newer guys coming from high school. I was sort of the same way because I hadn’t played football last year, but it’s good to know I made the team rather than just guessing.”

The Edmonton Wildcats have a long and proud history, dating back to the formation of the Alberta Junior Football League in 1948, though they were called the Edmonton Maple Leafs at the time. By 1952 the team had decided that a name change was in order, and renamed themselves to the Wildcats, which was actually slang for an oil field worker at the time.

The team has won three national finals in its history.

“It’s a really good team. They’ll be fun to play with this year,” said Barney. “Everybody there is so nice, all the coaches and all the other players. I think we got a good group of boys.”

Barney added that now that he’s made the team, the real work begins.

“I’m going to be playing against 20-something-year-olds,” noted Barney. “You can tell the strength difference from high school. In high school being the biggest guy out there wasn’t too bad, but now I’ve got to keep trying my hardest always, because I got to keep up with these guys who have playing the game a lot longer than I have. If you think you can take a break during the off-season, people are going to get stronger and you’re going to get weaker.”

Helping the stars shine brighter

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

A map of the extent of the light glow in the Bonnyville area.
Submitted photo
Lakeland Provincial Park is already known among sky watchers as an excellent place to watch the stars drift by, but soon it could have official designation for its panoramic views.

The MD of Bonnyville agreed to send a letter of support to the Dark Sky Preserve Designation Project, an effort by Alberta Parks to promote areas away from the glow of urban centres.

“It gives us a good designation for tourism and it doesn’t cost us anything,” commented Coun. Dana Swigart.

Alberta already has five so-called “Dark Sky Preserves,” with Wood Buffalo National Park being the largest in the world. Dark Sky Preserves are an initiative created by astronomers to ensure there are areas that they are able to get a maximum view of the night sky.

Light from artificial sources, called sky glow, can interfere with light from stars, obscuring their view and making accurate observations of the cosmos difficult.

Parks Planner Jennifer Okrainec explained that much of the Lakeland area is already quite popular with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC); so creating the regulations to get the park dark sky designation is the next logical step.

“We are in the process of applying to designate Lakeland Provincial Park as a Dark Sky Preserve,” said Okrainec. “There aren’t a lot of sites anymore that are relatively close to urban centres, just because of the fact we have things like power plants and camps. We actually have more lighting across the landscape than we think.”

Okrainec added that not only does the designation help researchers and stargazers, it also helps preserve wildlife.

“We don’t realize it, but the amount of light in the sky actually affects nocturnal wildlife substantially. It affects things like their hunting behaviours,” pointed out Okrainec. “The brighter the sky, the more likely wildlife will think that it’s daytime.”

According to Okrainec, light from towns, especially LED light, can travel hundreds of miles from their source. Typically incandescent light travels less easily, and light that is pointed down tends to have less range than light that is pointed up.

Making Lakeland 100 per cent dark sky compliant would be very easy. Okrainec pointed out that there were only six light fixtures in Lakeland National Park as it was, so all the MD would really have to do is replace the lights accordingly when it came time to replace them.

“It’s not something that has to happen right away, you just kind of incorporate it and change it when you go to change your fixtures,” explained Okrainec.

She continued, “Only one of the light fixtures (are owned by Alberta) Parks, and the rest are trappers and private land owners – they’re only generator operated at this point. So we’ll be working with our trappers for when those light fixtures need to be replaced that we’ll ask them to consider the different styled light fixture.”

Okrainec also mentioned that her department had already conducted sky quality measurements on the Lakeland sky.

“Lakeland was actually one of the second best sites that the member of the Edmonton RASC has ever seen,” boasted Okrainec. “We’re in a very good position with Lakeland.”

Getting the designation would also establish a one and a half-kilometre buffer zone around the provincial park boundary where development will have to consider their lighting choices.

Park staff will be engaging in public outreach to educate people on sky glow and what park staff will be doing to prevent it.

Okrainec stressed that these new policies would only affect parks and not the MD as a whole.

New parks bylaw puts more onus on patrons for cleanup

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

The MD of Bonnyville is hoping updates to their parks bylaw will better regulate the cleanup of campsites.
Submitted photo
A few changes have been made to the rules governing camping in the MD.

According to Director of Public Safety Chris Garner, the new parks bylaw, which is the first update the MD has made since 1985, defines a number of powers for the MD that he said were quite vague.

“Although some things have stayed the same, we have made some changes as far as trying to bring it in line with existing practices of park caretakers,” explained Garner. “We also wanted to make sure that when there are issues in a stall that we have a person that is always responsible for that particular campsite.”

MD council brought the new bylaw into effect at their June 8 meeting.

Among the changes made to the bylaw are defined responsibilities for a person who rents a campsite. In addition, a person will now need to be 18 or over to rent out a camping stall.

“If they leave it a mess, that’s the person that we’re going to go to for ensuring that they clean it up or we collect the funds for a clean up,” said Garner. “Or if someone comes in and rents a stall, and their friends are in there and causing a problem, even if that person is not there we still need to deal directly with the person that rented that stall.”

The updated bylaw also includes a list of fines. Garner explained that the old bylaw only had a generic fine that was applied to all camping violations, whereas this new bylaw sets out specific misdemeanors and fines to go along with them.

“There’s a responsibility to take care of the unit you’re renting,” commented Coun. David Fox. “It’s no different from going to stay at a hotel or anything, really.”

The new rules will be enforced in part by the fact the bylaw will now require park caretakers to collect personal information from campers, such as name, address, and phone number, to allow for contact after the fact. Garner pointed out the bylaw also has provisions requiring caretakers to store that information in a secure place.

The bylaw also keeps enforcement in check. For example, a camper can only be held responsible for leaving their campsite in a mess for eight hours after vacating the site.

Council updates dog control bylaw

During that discussion, council also passed a bylaw adjusting the impound fee for dogs the MD picks up. It was a response to the SPCA increasing its impound fee from $70 to $100.

“What happens is the SPCA charges the MD of Bonnyville the amount when we impound a dog and then we turn around and charge the same amount to the owner,” explained Garner. “So it’s kind of a zero balance.”

Former Voyageur signs with Edmonton Huskies

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

The Edmonton Huskies have signed former Bonnyville Voyagur Dylan Middagh.
Submitted photo
A long-time local football player has taken the next step in his journey through the gridiron.

Former Bonnyville Voyageurs football player Dylan Middagh has signed a contract with the Edmonton Huskies Football Club, launching himself into the Prairie Football Association, part of the Canadian Junior Football League.

“It feels good to play to continue playing football after high school,” said Middagh. “I’m extremely pumped up for the next season. It’s faster football and more exciting.”

The young receiver is now preparing for his debut in the upcoming season. To assist in this, he has been provided with a training program originally designed to be practiced alongside the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos.

When he arrives in Edmonton to begin the regular season later this summer, Middagh will be conditioning alongside the 2015 Grey Cup champions.

“Three times a week we train with the Eskimos and their strength and conditioning coach,” explained Middagh. “If I can’t make it, I have the field training program, but it’s better to go in so I can get the feedback from the coaching staff.”

According to Huskies head coach Iain MacLean, it was Middagh’s overall athletic ability that won him the spot with the team.

“What I look for in new football players is I’m looking for athletes,” explained MacLean. “Dylan is an exceptional basketball player who also plays football. He’s got that cross-sports training and the athletic ability that I’m looking for and he knows how to use his body from his basketball experience.”

MacLean added that he also was drawn to Middagh’s height. He explained that with defensive backs getting taller and stronger, it was paramount that receivers and running backs kept up to scale.

“He was consistent and picked things up quite well,” expressed MacLean. “He’s going to have to develop a lot more speed but I think he’s up to the job.

Middagh’s former coach said that moving on to the Huskies was a natural progression for him.

“It’s a good opportunity for him,” said Voyageurs Head Coach Larry Godziuk. “They like his height, they like his hands. He receives very well and has really good feet. It’s hard to pass up on size.
Middagh added that while he’s planning on going to university sooner or later, for the time being he has his sights set on football.

“I’m really looking forward to improving my game and getting better as a player,” said Middagh. “We have lot of talent on this team. I think we can really do well.”

Tanner Boser takes Unified MMA Heavyweight title

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

Bonnyville’s impressive list of athletic exports has put it on the map for such sports as hockey, football and boxing, but soon the town may have a name for itself in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
Tanner “the Bulldozer” Boser, of Bonnyville, is now the number one MMA fighter in Canada after defeating Tony Lopez for the Unified MMA Heavyweight Championship Title at the Royal Palace arena in Edmonton on June 3.

“I was the first heavyweight champion for unified, so to come and take it back feels pretty good,” said Boser, who is now also ranked as the 90th best heavyweight in the world.

Boser went five rounds against the six-foot-five Lopez to win by unanimous decision. He now sits on an impressive 10-2 professional record.

“Tony’s super durable. He’s fought over 60 fights,” noted Boser. “He’s never actually been knocked out, he’s just got an iron-freaking-head. So the game plan was to wear him down with some light kicks and keep a distance. Just punish him on the legs and the body for a bit. When he started to slow down, I was able to move in and start feeding him punches and wearing him down.”

Boser added that he was very careful not to get tangled up on the floor with Lopez.

“He took me down once in the third or the fourth, but I got back up pretty quick,” noted Boser. “I don’t want to deal with lanky guys in triangle locks or any of that, it’s not something I want to play around with.”

The win comes as part of a triumphant return to Canada for Boser, who just made an appearance at a show in Grozny, Chechnya as a last minute addition to the lineup.

“It was a wicked show,” commented Boser. “It was a huge stadium, it was packed. You walk down to the ring and there’s fire shooting out and there were tigers for some reason. It was awesome.”
With the whole of Canadian MMA conquered, Boser said he now has his sights set on the big leagues.

“UFC tends to be kind of difficult to connect with. So I’m only accepting big fights,” commented Boser. “There’s no point in fighting someone that’s an easy win, I want to fight UFC fighters or other prospects that have good records.”

Boser, who now lives in St. Albert, said that he trains at three separate dojos to keep his technique up to standard, between two to three times a day, six days a week.

“I usually take Sundays off,” he added. “It’s what I do.”

Boser couldn’t describe what it was about MMA that kept him going back for more punishment, just that he loved it.

“It’s one of the only things I like doing,” added Boser. “I just want to be good.”

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Bonnyville 4-H leader retiring after 30 years

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

Margaret Scott is retiring after close to 30 years with 4-H.
Eric Bowling
The Northeastern 4-H district is saying a fond farewell to one of its key leaders.

After nearly 30 years with the Bonnyville 4-H District, Margaret Scott is hanging up her boots. Scott was thanked and honoured for her service at the 4-H Show and Sale at Western Pride Auction House on May 31.

“We need more volunteers like Margaret,” said Ardmore Beef Club Leader Lori Davediuk. “She is an asset to 4-H and she helps continue the legacy of 4-H in our community.”

Margaret was involved in just about every aspect of 4-H at one point or another. One area she was particularly involved in was 4-H’s public speaking program, which she fondly remembers.

“There was a first-year 4-H member who was absolutely petrified to go up and give her public speech. She had to have her mother sitting right up there beside her,” recalled Scott. “As she got older, by the time she finished 4-H and graduated from high school she was a terrific public speaker.”
Scott added that it was very tough to leave an organization she had put so much time and effort into – to her 4-H was like having another family.

“It’s like watching your own children. You just see them change and mature and gather more knowledge,” explained Scott. “You see the benefits they’re getting from the program.”

Despite never officially being a member of 4-H herself, the grandmother first started working with 4-H in 1979 when her daughter joined the Beaver 4-H club. Even after her children moved on from the 4-H she has held a long list of roles in the 4-H, starting from becoming an assistant leader in 1989 and taking the mantle of Bonnyville 4-H Key Leader in 2003.

“It would be impossible to accurately guess how many people Margaret has influenced with her kind, positive comments and gentle guidance through the 4-H program,” noted Bonnyville Beef Club Leader Elma Herde. “Her endless enthusiasm for 4-H has helped our area flourish over the year.”

She also has served as the representative for the Northeast 4-H region since the year 2000. She worked as secretary-treasurer for the organization, and has operated as a liaison between 4-H and the provincial government. She was also instrumental in organizing several horse camps and shows.
“She has been a dedicated volunteer,” Evelyn Bourbeau Ardmore 4-H school. “For Margaret, the members were always the most important factor in 4-H.”

Scott was also the primary force behind the 4-H’s hosting of the Cenovus Barbecue at the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo and Chuckwagon Races.

“No job was ever too small or two large for Margaret,” praised Bourbeau. “I think I can safely say her philosophy is ‘Let’s just get it done.’”

For her part, Scott says that the organization is such a vital component of the community that volunteering for it was the right thing to do.

“It’s just a terrific program for the kids,” commented Scott. “It’s just a real good group to work with. Every year there’s just more and more that’s being offered for the members.”

Another of Scott’s finest memories in 4-H was her involvement in a 10-day exchange program with 4-H clubs in Ontario in 2006. She served as a fundraiser, supervisor and hostess for the delegation of young farmers.

“The leader of that group billeted with me and we formed a good friendship,” reminisced Scott. “We’re still in touch today.”

With so many roles being vacated, members of 4-H will be quite happy to know she will remain available to help guide her successors through any briar patches they may encounter.

“She is a wealth of 4-H knowledge and is always available to answer questions,” praised Bourbeau. “If she doesn’t have them, she certainly knows where to find them. If you’ve ever wondered how new leaders are so knowledgeable, thank Margaret Scott.”

Officially, Scott retires on September 30, though the local 4-H is pretty much done for the year. Scott said she is planning to spend more time with her husband Lenard and her grandchildren.

“I’m lucky they’re just five miles down the road,” joked Scott.

Rob Nichols remains the champion

For the Lakeland Regional and Bonnyville Nouvelle.

Rob Nichols connects with Frank White's jaw during a 10-round rematch at the Cold Lake Energy Centre on June 4.
Eric Bowling
The Fort Kent boxing champion did not disappoint a packed arena of supporters.

Rob “Raging Bull” Nichols went 10 rounds deep with rival Frank “The Hammer” White to remain Canadian Cruiserweight Champion at the Cold Lake Energy Centre on June 4.

Marching into the arena to the tune of Scotland the Brave, Nichols was the clear home-crowd favourite in the bloody late-night battle. White worked hard to trap Nichols in a corner to feed him body shots and wear him down, but Nichols was able to figure out his strategy and put the gloves where they needed to be to win by a very close decision, sending White to the hospital for several stitches and possibly a broken nose.

“He’s a tough guy. He changed up his fight a little bit from last time, which left some marks on my face. He was working the jab a little bit, and when I was trying to go in for my own, he was firing off a left hook just behind my guard. So the right side of my face had a pretty good sawing after the first few rounds,” commented Nichols. “I started to get a groove on and I left a lasting impression with him as well.”

As if retaining the title in front of friends and family wasn’t enough for the night, as Nichols was giving his victory speech the lights dropped down repeatedly. At first, it seemed like a technical glitch, but then the jumbo-tron blared out a challenge from former World Light Heavyweight Champion Roy Jones Jr. for the currently vacant World Boxing Cruiserweight Championship title.

“This is the second time they pulled this thing on me,” noted Nichols, adding that was how he ended up fighting White for the championship in the first place. “To have a chance to fight an icon like Roy Jones Jr., you don’t want to turn that down. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

The battle of nations is expected to go down this fall in a yet-to-be-determined location in Western Canada.

Nichols, who works 12-hour days as a personal trainer and masseuse, drove into Edmonton every weekend for the last three months to prepare for the June 4 brawl. Much of his free time was spent running up hills and he spent much of the winter on long hour-long runs with his dogs.

“I’m not built to be a runner, but I have to run in order to do this,” explained Nichols. “Doing that conditioning is the most important part of boxing, because if you can’t fight the other guy you’re basically fighting yourself.”

To prepare for the international bout, Nichols said he might have to look into corporate sponsorship to free up the time needed to train for such a level of competition.
“I’ve been doing this all on my own, with friends and family helping me out,” explained Nichols, who has no corporate sponsorship at this time. “This might help bring attention to what we’ve done here Cold Lake, maybe help me take on full time camp where I can take time from work to do this more seriously. For a fight like this, you have to. If you don’t, you’re not really being serious.
“To play in that league, you better up your game.”

Personal accomplishments aside, Nichols added that he was very hopeful that bringing such a high-profile fight to the Lakeland area would increase interest in the sport enough to help him get a boxing club going so he can pass on his experience to the next generation.

“I have the paperwork and I’ve registered to get the boxing club set up,” mentioned Nichols. “I have the experience and the knowledge, but I can’t do it alone. I’m hoping that this event has brought attention to what my intentions are. I want to work with kids and youth. I want to help boys and girls stay fit and out of trouble. If I can give back, I want to make that available.”

With the exact date of his next appearance in the ring still yet to be determined, Nichols said he was looking forward to healing up his wounds and spending some time with his kids. He spent his day after the fight at the Ardmore Duck races with his family.

“Today I might do a favour for helping out people trying to knock a champ off the duck tank or something,” joked Nichols. “We’re just going to take our time and see where it goes.”

4 Wing unveils special jet to commemorate 75 years of 419 squadron

For the Lakeland Regional.

The newly painted CT-155 Hawk on display in front of the 419 "Mooseman" hangar at CFB 4 Wing on June 2.
Eric Bowling
A fighter squadron at CFB 4 Wing was given a very unique birthday gift last week.

Members of the Canadian Forces 419 Squadron gathered at their hanger on June 2 for the unveiling of a specially painted CT-155 Hawk Fighter Jet – painted in the camouflage style that Canadian and Allied bombers used in the Second World War – to commemorate the squadron’s 75th anniversary.

The camouflage on the top makes the plane difficult to see from above, and the black underbelly makes the plane blend in with the night sky, which was when most bombing missions were conducted at the time.

There is deep symbolism in the design of the plane. The “VR-W” on the side of the aircraft commemorates the Victor-Romeo call sign that Canadian bombers used during the allied campaign against the Nazis, and the “W” portion is a nod to the original Wellington Bomber that was flown by 419’s first Wing Commander John “Moose” Fulton, who commanded the unit in from 1941 to 1942 when the original VR-W was shot down in action with no survivors.

Fulton’s name is also written on both sides of the plane.

While the spiffy paint job is intended to look authentic, designer Jim Belliveau explained that it is based more on an ideal of what the original Wellington Bombers looked like than the actual camouflage that was common by the end of the war.

“I wanted to take the disruptive camouflage scheme and stay as true to the original as possible,” explained Belliveau. “In the Second World War, what they used to do was they had these large rubber mats that were cut with these particular designs.

When the aircraft rolled through the assembly line they would throw these mats down on the wings or drape them over the side and someone would come along with a paint gun and simply paint between the rubber mats. It was the easiest, fastest way to pump out these things.”

He continued, “The end result was you ended up with a camouflage theme that was more or less hard-lined. As the aircraft went out into the field the painting process got more rudimentary and quick and you ended up with more blurred lines.”

The idea came about rather quickly.

Belliveau explained that originally the plan was to simply paint the tail of the warbird, but he suggested that the entire jet could be painted too and, much to his surprise, the military brass decided to go for it.

The project was funded by CAE, who holds the main contract for maintenance of the 419 aircraft. The warbird itself was painted at a hanger in Peterborough, ON. Flying Colours Corp. was awarded the honour of applying the paint job.

The vintage-coloured fighter jet will be put to work as part of 419’s mission to train up and coming fighter pilots. Fighters in 419 learn air-to-air combat tactics, more commonly known as dogfighting, as well as air-to-surface combat tactics. Once a pilot has been evaluated, they move on to the 410 squadron for further training.

“The scheduled program is about four to six months for a brand new fighter pilot to come through here,” said Lt.-Col. Mike “Moose” Grover, who estimates that the 419 trains between 30-35 new pilots a year. “It’s a selection course. We test their situational awareness and their decision making capacity. ”

It is a tradition that the commanding officer of 419 automatically gets the nickname “Moose.” The squadron was dubbed the “Moosemen” back in 1941 and the name has stuck with the unit ever since.
Grover flew the plane in from Peterborough earlier in the week, and members of the 419 have already developed a lengthy waiting list to get a crack at flying the beast.

“There’s a bit of a list, that’s for sure,” joked Grover, adding that the 4 Wing portion of 419 has a total of six CT-155s at its disposal.

In spite of the intended heavy use of the plane, the paint job is expected to last through its service. Belliveau said that the paint is designed to withstand some of the harshest environmental conditions possible.

“It’s made to be able put up with a lot of the things that it will encounter. Things like 600 mph winds, fuel, hydraulic fuel and UV rays,” boasted Belliveau. “The paint itself is almost bulletproof. It’s wonderful stuff.”

The 419 not only trains Canadian fighter pilots, but also pilots from air forces around the world as part of Canada’s international commitments. Airmen from Germany, Britain, France, Hungary and even Singapore were present for the historic showing.

“It’s a multi-national squadron, which is both unique and relevant,” explained Grover. “That’s what we go to combat with in fighter jets; a coalition of many countries. So to train the students at this age and teach them the different air force fighter cultures is exactly what they’re going to be doing in the future.”

The one-of-a-kind CT-155 began flying new pilots as of June 3.

Royal Canadian Circus dazzles Cold Lake

For the Lakeland Regional.

Aiperi "Aika" Kozugulova hangs off a rope in a full pose at the Royal Canadian Circus on May 31
Eric Bowling
Residents of Cold Lake were served a powerful reminder that there is no business like show business, and there is no show quite like the circus.

The Royal Canadian Circus rolled into town on May 31. In less than seven hours, the Cold Lake Energy Centre was transformed from a coliseum into a carnival with face painting, cotton candy and fun for the whole family.

Two shows were held in the afternoon, one at 4 p.m. and a second at 7:30 p.m. “We’ve been running around all day trying to figure out ways to make this building work for us,” said Ringmaster Joseph Dominick Bauer, who estimates that he has over 100,000 shows under his belt. “We’ve done it – we rented some concrete blocks to tie things to. Every arena is different, we have to strategically figure out where to anchor to.”

Bauer added that the circus is in his blood.

He has been performing since he was three-years-old, though he claims he was involved earlier than that.

“I performed before I was born in my mom’s stomach,” joked Bauer. “She was still performing in the air, and I was up there with her.”

The 253-year-old Zerbini Family circus is a world-renowned collection of classically trained performers. Children and their parents were treated to acrobatic clowns, high flying trapeze acts, and death defying horse riders, to name a few.

Performers had very specific reasons for being in show business.

“It’s about keeping the family tradition going,” explained Cristhian Videla from Argentina, who learned his trade from his father and grandfather. “We’ve been clowning around for 130 years.”
Other performers enjoy the opportunity to see the world that being with the circus gives them.

“You get to see everywhere,” said Kambarov rider Aiperi Kozugulova of Kyrgyzstan, who has been with the circus for seven years. “I get to travel through Mexico, America, Canada, so yeah, that’s the best part I would say. Everywhere I go everything is new.”

Kozugulova added she really would like to see the circus go to Hawaii.

Several of the performers said that while the lifestyle is addictive, safety had to remain a chief concern as injuries and accidents are quite common in the circus.

“If we fall, the ground will always catch us,” joked Videla.

A few acts were unfortunately not shown in the first showing of the night – the Russian Swing was stopped right before it started when one of the performers noticed a safety issue with the rigging of the net.

Bauer, who moonlights as a daredevil when he isn’t working as a ringmaster, had to cancel his Wheel of Destiny act because the wheel itself would not fit inside the arena.

Also, the Zerbini Elephants were not in attendance due to a last minute restriction placed on the show by the Alberta Fish and Game Association.

“The elephants were cleared by the Canadian government, they were cleared by Washington D.C.,” commented Bauer. “Fish and Game decided right before they crossed the border that they wanted another paper. So now it’s getting lawyered.”

Despite the setbacks, the remaining performers put on a great show and left the crowd begging for more.

“Everything is crazy in the circus,” joked Kozugulova.

This was the first time the Zerbini circus had come to Cold Lake as part of an Alberta-wide tour. An earlier show had been scheduled for Fort McMurray, but the show had to be moved to Olds because of the forest fire. The circus opted to run a fundraiser in Olds, where it raised over $40,000 for the Red Cross.

“We try as well. We know what it’s like to have family in need,” noted Bauer. “Everyone needs help sometimes.”

Bauer mentioned earlier on in the day that while the circus tends to be something families get into and stick with, there is always new talent appearing under the big top.

“There’s schools all over North America,” explained Bauer. “People go there, they start training, next thing you know they’re performing. One of the girls in our flying trapeze act, Emily, her first show was with us and she’s doing great.”

So the next time someone suggests you should just run away and join the circus, you might want to take his or her advice.