Archive for: ‘April 2019’

Those who lost everything

23/04/2019 Posted by admin

by Dawna Friesen

When I met Brenda and Dave Derkoch, there was something remarkably upbeat about them considering they’d just learned they’d lost their house in the Slave Lake fire. Lost everything, in fact. Except their two kids and some family photos they managed to snatch before jumping into their pickup truck to make the terrifying drive down the one road out of town.

Their kids, Cory, 12, and Carlee, 11, were crying and asking if they were going to die. Their mom says she didn’t know what to tell them. The smoke was so thick they couldn’t see the car in front of them and ash was falling everywhere.

But they made it. Now they’ve heard their house is nothing but a basement full of charred remains — and they still aren’t too upset about that. “It’s just a house,” Brenda told me. “We’ve always told the kids material things don’t matter that much. We can rebuild.”

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What she can’t get over so easily is how close to death they were, and how no one warned them the fire was closing in on the town. No one told them it was time to leave. They, like everyone else in Slave Lake, made the decision to flee when they saw smoke and flames leaping through the neighborhood. They feel let down by town officials who they trusted to keep an eye on things, and to keep them safe.

So are there lessons to learn? Should the town have been evacuated hours before, even though the threat didn’t seem imminent then? It might not have saved all that has been destroyed, but it would have avoided the sheer panic that is now an indelibly etched in the memory of each and every one of those residents who had to run for their lives. Especially the children.

I asked the mayor of Slave Lake, Karina Pillay-Kinnee, why people weren’t warned, why no one told them to get out. She said there simply wasn’t time. “Everything changed in a matter of minutes,” she said. She’d just finished a briefing with fire officials who said the town was safe, when suddenly flames were licking the town hall. She had to drop everything and run, carrying water bottles to try to put out fires from flying embers.

The charred remains of one area in Slave Lake following a massive wildfire on May 15.

Is there somewhere to lay the blame? The premier says there will be an investigation eventually. For now, families like the Derkochs have to focus on the future. They’ll be embraced by a strong sense of community and a fierce resilience that is bred in the bones of northern Albertans.

As they sifted through what is left of their worldly goods — a few boxes of family photos piled in the back of the family pickup truck — they were laughing, reminiscing, and giving each other hugs. “We’ve done a lot of crying too,” Brenda told me.

And they expect they will again when they return to confront what’s left of their neighbourhood.

Dawna is Global National’s anchor and executive editor. Follow her on Twitter: @DFriesenGlobal.

The search for a miracle

23/04/2019 Posted by admin

by Francis Silvaggio

No one believed that a 56-year-old woman could survive 49 days in the northern Nevada wilderness, with just scraps of snack food and melted snow.

Miraculously, Rita Chretien did survive and is now making great progress while recovering at St. Luke’s Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho. That’s why searchers haven’t given up hope that they may also find her husband, Albert Chretien, alive and safe as well.

Albert set off for help three days after his van got stuck on a remote road near the Nevada/Idaho border. Rita stayed behind hoping he would be back soon. Officials say he was heading to Mountain City, Nevada, which is about 16 kilometres away over very harsh terrain.

Albert and Rita Chretien were travelling to Las Vegas when their vehicle got stuck.

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Global News crews went up in a helicopter to take a look at the area and discovered that the path to Mountain City was treacherous, requiring traversing steep canyons and landscapes. What Albert appears to have not known was that although the highway was further away, it could be easily reached by simply following the road. More importantly, Albert didn’t know there was an occupied ranch just fewer than five kilometres away from the van.

Search crews are honing in on the area they believe Albert would have travelled. They’re using the exact same GPS model, hoping it will guide them along the same path. There’s not a lot of shelter from the cold, and even less food to sustain a lost person, but officials say they’ve already witnessed one miracle when Rita was found alive. Maybe, just maybe, another miracle may be waiting in Northern Nevada wilderness.

Francis is Global National’s Alberta correspondent, but currently in Twin Falls, Idaho. Follow him on Twitter: @FJSilvaggio.

Hiding in plain sight

23/04/2019 Posted by admin

by Dawna Friesen

There are numerous things that make Osama bin Laden’s capture and death remarkable: that he survived as long as he did; that the end, when it came, took just 40 minutes and a small team of Navy Seals; and that he died after months – possibly years – of hiding in plain sight.

Pakistan has a great deal to answer for. It’s always been assumed the head of al-Qaida was there somewhere, but he was thought to be deep inside Pakistan’s tribal territories, a remote and lawless part of the country. I travelled through part of it back in 2002, attempting to get to the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It seemed like the ideal hiding place – vast, ungoverned, with no modern conveniences like roads or electricity. After eight hours driving on a dry riverbed, we were turned back by a horde of armed men who threatened to kill us if we carried on. It struck me there were not only plenty of places for bin Laden to hide, but he’d have plenty of protection.

Now we know he wasn’t cowering in a cave. He was living in an affluent town 35 miles north of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, just down the road from a military academy. The neighbourhood is home to many retired Pakistani military officials. How the world’s most wanted man got there, and who sheltered him in a luxury compound that was reportedly built specially for him are the questions Pakistan is going to have to answer. Pakistan long denied bin Laden was anywhere on its soil, when in fact, he was being given sanctuary there.

This photo of a section of a poster taken from the FBI website shows Osama bin Laden.

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Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror. It’s the world’s second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid – $1.5 billion last year. The money is aimed at strengthening what’s considered a vital strategic partnership between the two countries.

But does it buy trust? No. Almost no one believes Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, didn’t know bin Laden was there. Which is why the Americans told no one – certainly not the Pakistanis – about the raid on the compound.

During a White House briefing, a senior administration official pointedly noted that “we shared our intelligence on this bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan.” He added, “That was for one reason and one reason alone: we believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel. In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance.”

The U.S. didn’t, and doesn’t trust Pakistan. Its intelligence service has long been suspected of having ties to militant groups, groups that fund, support, and train men to kill American and coalition soldiers.

Now the country will also be known as the place that harbored the world’s most wanted man.

Dawna is Global National’s anchor and executive editor, based in Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter: @DFriesenGlobal.

Building For The Future

23/04/2019 Posted by admin

   The CFL Canadian Draft is on Sunday and the Blue Bombers have 2 picks in the top 4. A great chance to add some building blocks for the future and continue the rebuilding process.  The Blue Bombers own the 1st overall pick and they’re likely to take either Linebacker Henoc Muamba or Offensive Lineman Scott Mitchell.  GM Joe Mack says they’re looking for someone to be a backup at first and immediately play special teams.  That would rule out Mitchell!  Bombers legend and now TV commentator Milt Stegall was asked his thoughts on who the Bombers should select and the “Turtle Man” made it abundantly clear they should select Mitchell because he could start immediately.

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   But its that short term thinking thats part of the reason why the Bombers haven’t won a Grey Cup in 20 years.  I say who cares if he can start this year.  Select the most athleticly gifted player that will star for the next decade even if it takes him a year or so to get up to speed.  If they were to select Mitchell he could possibly start at guard this year but would he really be that much of an upgrade on Steve Morley ?  Why not select the talented linebacker from St F-X who can be not only a ratio breaker but a starter for years to come.  But is Muamba good enough to be the clubs starter at middle linebacker ?  That’s the real question since there have been so many duds in the CFL draft taken over the years.  Most people in the know in the CFL believe Muamba can be the next Shea Emery/Mike O’Shea.

   By starting Mitchell on the offensive line you really don’t gain a whole lot of roster flexibility.  But by drafting Muamba and playing him at middle linebacker it would free up an American spot somewhere else.  Probably at receiver where they could start an extra American…maybe a guy like Damian Sherman.

   The other question since the Bombers also pick 4th. Are the Eskimos or Lions who pick 2nd and 3rd really looking to add an offensive lineman ?  You see it is quite possible that Mitchell could still be around when the Bombers select 4th.   The Bombers next pick is not until the 3rd round…17th overall and if they don’t select a receiver with their top 2 picks expect Mack to add a pass catcher with their 3rd round pick.

   Mack says his decision is already made and now we just have to wait til Sunday to see who’s name is called.



   Here’s my mock draft and predictions for the top 5 picks on Sunday…Of course this could change if the Stampeders trade up which has been rumoured because of their interest in hometown receiver Anthony Parker.


1. Winnipeg – LB Henoc Muamba

2. Edmonton – WR Nathan Coehorn

3. B.C. – WR Anthony Parker

4. Winnipeg – OL Scott Mitchell

5. Hamilton – WR Marco Iannuzzi

A Special Gift

23/04/2019 Posted by admin

As a little girl, spending time at Grandma’s was always fun.  She had the most amazing doll collection, baked the most delectable Banana Cream Pie and always had a warm smile and open arms.  Before leaving, she would always say “Now what do I have to give you?”  Over the years I took home all kinds of treasures, from costume jewelry to candy or maybe even a crisp 5 dollar bill.  

While many little gifts were quickly spent or lost along the way, on one ordinary Saturday afternoon visit, she presented me with something I would treasure for many years.  As I was about to leave, she pulled a quilt out of the top of her closet.  “Dear, this is for your first baby” she told me sweetly, unfolding a crib quilt.  “Grandma, I’m only 15” I replied with a smile.  She explained she wanted to make sure my future child would have something from her.  An expert quilter, I had spent many years wrapped up in a quilt she had made for me.. and now my child would have the same.  It’s hand stiched with nursery rhyme characters and with the same blue border she knew I loved on my own quilt.   

I toted that baby quilt on many moves until I finally could put it to use with the birth of my daughter, Grandma’s first great-grandaughter.  While failing eyesight and stiff joints have taken away her favourite hobbies.. she still does well as she closes in on her 95th birthday.  She lives at a care home in Melfort with few personal belongings, but she still always says as I leave.. “Now, what do I have to give you?”   I always ask for a hug.