OTTAWA – Peter Herrndorf will be stepping down as head of the National Arts Centre in June after leading Canada’s largest performing arts organization for 18 years.Herrndorf is credited with transforming the NAC through national and international performing arts projects and with a federally supported $225-million architectural and production renewal project.The project was designed to transform the NAC’s architecture into an inviting space with views of the nation’s capital, including major upgrades to the building’s performance halls and production facilities.Herrndorf recently announced that the NAC will open a new Department of Indigenous Theatre to mark the centre’s 50th Anniversary in 2019. The department will be led by Indigenous actor and playwright Kevin Loring.Herrndorf took over as NAC’s president and CEO in 1999, following a career in broadcasting, magazine publishing and the performing arts.At the CBC, he is credited with developing such programming as “the fifth estate” and “The Journal.” He left the CBC in 1992 to become publisher of Toronto Life magazine and then took the helm of TVOntario as chairman and CEO.“Leading the National Arts Centre for the last 18 years continues to be the greatest joy of my life,” Herrndorf said in a release. “The National Arts Centre is a national treasure, and my role was to create the conditions to allow artists to dream, and to do their very best work.“It has been a privilege to serve Canadian artists, and to help them define who we are as a people.”
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – A couple who treated their toddler son with natural remedies before he died of meningitis can appeal their convictions to the Supreme Court after a split decision from Alberta’s Court of Appeal.David and Collet Stephan were found guilty last year of failing to provide the necessaries of life in the 2012 death of 19-month-old Ezekiel. Their trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard they treated the boy with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than taking him to a doctor.There was testimony from a nurse, who was also a friend, who said she had suggested to the Stephans that Ezekiel could have meningitis.The couple’s lawyer argued before the Appeal Court that the trial judge allowed the jury to be overwhelmed by medical evidence and it took almost 39 months from when the Stephans were charged to when they were sentenced.Two of the three Appeal Court judges ruled in support of the conviction.Writing for the majority, Justice Bruce McDonald said the delay in the case was not unreasonable and the judge was not wrong in admitting expert witness evidence. Collet Stephan’s testimony showed she did tests for meningitis and ignored the positive results, McDonald wrote.“This evidence supports the conclusion that they actively failed to do what a reasonably prudent and ordinary parent would do,” he said.But Justice Brian O’Ferrall wrote in a dissenting opinion in favour of a new trial.He felt the trial judge’s charge to the jury was confusing and misleading. He said the jury wasn’t cautioned about doctors who were allowed to testify about what they would have done in the Stephans’ situation.“The standard of care demanded of a medical professional is not the same as that required of parents lacking medical training,” O’Ferrall wrote.“The thrust of this dissent is that the trial judge’s instruction to the jury gave them little choice but to convict,” he continued.“That is, if a parent does not take his or her sick child to the doctor and the child dies, the parent is guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life. Even in strict liability regulatory offences, due diligence is a consideration.”O’Ferrall’s dissenting opinion means the Stephans can automatically appeal their case to the Supreme Court of Canada if they choose.Defence lawyer Karen Molle, who represented David Stephan, had argued the trial judge allowed too many Crown experts to testify. She said the amount of evidence from three doctors unfairly distracted jurors from the real question of whether the Stephans acted differently than any other reasonable parent.“We can’t undo the impression that these doctors left on this jury,” she argued at an Appeal Court hearing in March. “The jury is emotionally reacting to … a week-long barrage of inflammatory and emotional evidence.”Crown prosecutor Julie Morgan had told the hearing the Stephans received a fair trial and the jury heard evidence from both sides.“The jury found a reasonable, prudent person in their situation would have foreseen medical attention was required,” Morgan said.The trial heard the little boy’s body was so stiff he couldn’t sit in his car seat, so the toddler had to lie on a mattress when his mother drove him from their rural home to a naturopathic clinic in Lethbridge, where she bought an echinacea mixture.The Stephans never called for medical assistance until Ezekiel stopped breathing. He was rushed to a local hospital and died after being transported to Calgary Children’s Hospital.David Stephan was sentenced to four months in jail and his wife was ordered to spend three months under house arrest — the only exceptions being trips to church and to medical appointments.The two were released early pending the outcome of the appeal.The Crown has indicated it will appeal the sentences as being too lenient.— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
An Ontario woman is suing her former common-law partner for allegedly denying that the couple had won $6 million in a provincial lottery before claiming the full prize for himself.Denise Robertson’s lawsuit against Maurice Thibeault and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation alleges the winning ticket was purchased with the understanding that any winnings would be split between the two parties.Robertson’s statement of claim alleges Thibeault kept up a long-standing tradition and purchased a ticket for the Sept. 20, 2017 draw, but later denied that it was a winner.Days later, she alleges he packed up his belongings, left their home and tried to redeem the winning ticket. The OLG has since paid Thibeault half the prize while the rest remains in legal limbo.Robertson’s suit accuses Thibeault of breach of trust and unjust enrichment and seeks the roughly $3 million that would represent half the winnings from the lottery ticket, plus an additional half a million dollars in aggravated damages. She is asking that a jury hear her civil suit.Representatives of OLG declined to offer specific comment on the suit, but Thibeault’s lawyer Richard Pollock said his client denies there was ever an agreement in place with his former partner.Pollock said Thibeault has readily complied with an OLG investigation into the matter and criticized Robertson for not taking part in an agency arbitration process to resolve the dispute.“There’s a statement of claim, and there is the truth,” Pollock said in a telephone interview. “And the truth is that my client has participated with the OLG investigation in every respect, including offering to take a polygraph examination.”Pollock added that Thibeault had gone through with the polygraph and passed “with flying colours.”Robertson’s lawyer Steven Pickard said his client decided to pursue a lawsuit in lieu of the arbitration process, arguing a court procedure would give both parties a better opportunity for a full investigation and fair hearing.“The jury is critical in this,” Pickard said. “I think this is a case where the public and the community needs to weigh in and say what they think is appropriate and what’s acceptable in society.”Robertson’s statement of claim alleges that she and Thibeault regularly bought lottery tickets together throughout their nearly two-year-long common-law relationship, with both members of the couple purchasing or paying for the tickets at different times.The statement said both Robertson and Thibeault loved muscle cars and dreamed of purchasing a vehicle each, a piece of large country property near their home in Chatham, Ont., and a shop in which they could indulge their shared hobby. The statement of claim said both parties had an understanding that they would split any winnings that came from their lotto purchases.On Sept. 20, 2017, the OLG announced that a $12 million prize was to be split between two tickets — one purchased in Quebec, the other in Chatham.The statement of claim said Robertson texted Thibeault urging him to check whether their ticket was among the winners. He agreed to do so, but later told both Robertson and some of their mutual friends that they had not won anything, the statement alleges.Three days later, Robertson said Thibeault told her he was driving to London, Ont., for a granite installation job. When Robertson got home from work, however, the statement of claim alleged she found he had packed up his belongings and left their home.“When Denise looks back, she recalls that he did approximately 15 loads of laundry of all his clothes the night prior, and didn’t put them into the drawers and closets, as if they was preparing to pack up and leave,” the document said.Later that week, Robertson alleges she got word from a mutual friend that Thibeault had sent a text to his boss announcing the end of his relationship, giving in his notice and displaying a picture of the winning ticket.Robertson sought an injunction preventing the OLG from paying out the full amount. In January, the corporation paid Thibeault half of the $6 million prize, since that sum was not in question.OLG said it intended to pay the remaining money “into court,” but said it could not offer further comment.
HALIFAX – A Metis chief is calling for the reversal of the East Coast Music Association’s decision to pull a Nova Scotia nominee from consideration for an Indigenous artist award amid questions about his heritage.Cape Breton guitarist Maxim Cormier, who identifies as being of Acadian and Metis heritage, has been withdrawn from the Indigenous artist of the year category.Karole Dumont, chief of the Council of the First Metis People of Canada, said there is no question that Cormier is Aboriginal, and to suggest otherwise is an affront to Metis identity.“(Aboriginal people) are the only, only group of people in Canada who constantly have to prove who we are,” said Dumont. “We’re not going to take it laying down. This has been going on for quite a while, and it’s part of a much bigger dispute … at the national level.”Dean Stairs, chair of the East Coast Music Association’s board of directors, called the situation “regrettable.” He said the decision, which was announced late last week, was made based on research and in consultation with government officials and community stakeholders.“Though we do not question how someone identifies their own ancestry and personal identity, we also have to …. be respectful of the Indigenous peoples of Atlantic Canada,” Stairs said in a news release. “We must ensure that all nominees for the Indigenous Artist of the Year award have met the true intent of the criteria.”Neither Cormier nor the community he belongs to, the Highlands Metis Nation Association, are recognized as members of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples under constitutional law, according to the board.But Dumont said the awards association is wrong about both the musician and the Highlands Metis, which is one of the council’s treaty partners.She said the council has determined that Cormier’s lineage can be traced back to Metis ancestors on both sides, and based on this evidence, the council is consulting with lawyers about challenging the East Coast Music Association’s withdrawal of his nomination in court.A spokesperson for East Coast Music Association declined to provide further comment. Representatives for Cormier did not return a request for an interview.The chief of the Highlands Metis Nation Association, which was founded two years ago, said he was “disappointed” in the organization’s decision, but declined to comment on the association’s legal status.A spokesperson for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said the government does not maintain a list of Metis individuals or groups.The Metis population in Atlantic Canada increased by nearly 125 per cent between 2006 and 2016, according to Stastics Canada, leading some academics to question the legitimacy of many people’s claims to Metis ancestry.“This is about supporting Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination,” Saint Mary’s University sociology professor Darryl Leroux tweeted Monday. “It’s fundamentally a political issue, not one that is simply about individual self-identification. I have many of the same ancestors as Acadians who are now calling themselves ‘Acadian-Metis.’”After centuries of discrimination, Dumont said many people of Metis heritage have only recently come to take pride in their identity. She acknowledged there have always been a handful of “charlatans” making fraudulent ancestry claims, but insists that Cormier is not among them.“He shares the same lineage and same blood as people who are currently registered as status Indians,” she said.Mi’kmaq activist Cheryl Maloney said many groups claiming Metis ties have cropped up in the Atlantic Canada in recent years, and in some cases, opposed the Mi’kmaq’s efforts to preside over their ancestral territory.Indigenous artists make up a tiny cohort of the region’s relatively small music industry, Maloney said.“We need to be proud of the achievements of our people and for somebody to come in and they’re not part of the Indigenous community, that leaves us without those role models,” she said.“It’s hard to watch if you’re a part of a real Indigenous community, a real struggle, a real identity to the land … when someone walks in and takes what’s ours.”The East Coast Music Awards, a five-day celebration of music showcasing hundreds of Atlantic artists, is set to take place in Halifax in May.
JUNEAU, Alaska – A British Columbia climber who died during a recent mountain trek in Alaska is being remembered as a talented athlete who was eager to share his expertise and passion for the outdoors.Alaska State Troopers said Wednesday that Marc-Andre Leclerc, a 25-year-old from Squamish, B.C., and 34-year-old Ryan Johnson of Juneau are presumed dead.They hadn’t been heard from since March 5 when they posted a photo from the top of the Mendenhall Towers, a seven-peaked mountain about 20 kilometres north of Juneau. Poor weather hampered search efforts when the men were reported overdue two days later.Leclerc grew up in a family that loved the outdoors and he became something of a climbing prodigy early on, said John Irvine, manager of global community marketing with outdoor gear company Arc’Teryx.Arc’Teryx sponsored Leclerc’s professional climbing exploits, providing him with the financial support and equipment he needed to pursue his passion.Leclerc’s skill as a climber was one of the reasons Arc’Teryx wanted to work with him.“But more importantly for us, he was a great speaker. He was inspiring. He told great stories,” said Irvine.Leclerc enjoyed imparting his expertise about the technical and safety aspects of climbing and inspiring others to take up the sport, he said.The climber would deliver his remarks as though he were speaking to buddies gathered around a campfire, said Irvine.“He had the skill set that, in my opinion, was the equivalent of Sidney Crosby in hockey, and yet he was very approachable and very humble,” he said.“He didn’t talk about his athletic abilities or prowess, but just simply his love and appreciation for the magic of being in the mountains.”The state troopers say a helicopter with rescuers aboard was able to reach the north face of Mendenhall Towers on Tuesday. There, they saw ropes matching the description of gear Leclerc and Johnson were carrying.“Due to continuing significant avalanche danger and safety hazards, recovery efforts are not feasible at this time,” the state troopers said in a news release Wednesday.Leclerc’s father posted a message on his public Facebook page late Tuesday night with news the pair had died.“Sadly, we have lost two really great climbers and I lost a son I am very proud of,” Serge Leclerc wrote. “Thank you for the support during this difficult time. My heart is so broken. … Part of me is gone with him.”A GoFundMe campaign for Johnson says money raised for him will be used to pay for the search efforts and support his two-year-old son, Milo. The online crowdfunding website says money raised for Leclerc and his family will help his partner, Brette, as she and the family grieve.The campaign for Johnson says the pair were “climbing a cutting edge new route on the north face” of the main tower.Outside magazine called Leclerc “one of the best young alpinists in the world,” and his biography on Arc’Teryx’s website says he completed several ascents in Canada and Patagonia.Treya Klassen, a close friend of Leclerc’s father, said on the weekend the young man has had his eye on climbing Mendenhall Towers for a decade.Johnson was described in the online version of Alpinist magazine as knowing the Mendenhall Towers “like nobody else.”Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers, said it wasn’t clear what went wrong because no one saw what happened.“We know they made it to the top. We know they set anchor,” she told The Associated Press. “Whether they were taken out by an avalanche, whether their rope failed — I mean, anything could happen.”— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary, with files from The Associated Press.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Marc-Andre Leclerc was 24.
TORONTO – A raised bit of concrete on a sidewalk. An icy patch on the road. A misstep on the stairs at home. All of these can lead to accidental falls — landing a person not only on the ground but often also in hospital.Unintentional falls are the most common form of injury across the country: every day last year, falls resulted in almost 1,800 reported emergency department visits and 417 hospital admissions, says a new report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).In 2016-17, nearly 654,000 — or about one-third — of the more than two million injury-related emergency department visits were due to accidental falls, CIHI reported Thursday. Injuries from falls led to about 152,500 hospital admissions, up from more than 146,600 the previous year.The average length of a hospital stay after a fall was 14.3 days, compared to 7.5 days for other medical reasons, the data showed.Falls are the scourge of growing older, said Geoff Fernie, a senior researcher at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) who is independent of CIHI. He notes that seniors have a higher risk of taking a fall and tend to have more serious injuries as a result.“But it’s not exclusively older people,” he said. “We see a lot of young children falling down stairs and having serious head injuries.“We see middle-aged people running up and down stairs and having indoor stair accidents quite commonly. And we see a lot of workers having falls — and not just construction-type workers. People in the winter, people working in coffee shops and falling over in the car park when they get there in the morning.”In fact, almost 8,800 of fall-related injuries across Canada occurred as a result of people slipping on ice, CIHI data showed.Falls within the home accounted for more than 114,000 emergency department visits last year, making it the most common place that people take a tumble.“You keep seeing the incidence of falls going up and you see the injuries continuing to increase,” said Fernie, who has been researching falls and ways to prevent them for 30 to 40 years.CIHI found hip fractures were the most common injury sustained in falls.“The ones that we most worry about are hips because they’re extremely common and they are really difficult to get over if you’re an older person,” said Fernie, noting that studies have shown that between 20 and 40 per cent of seniors who break a hip die within a year.CIHI found the second most common injuries were lower leg fractures — including 16,135 broken ankles — and head injuries (13,997).“Head injuries are a big worry, too, because they can be very serious,” said Fernie. “You can have long-standing effects from head injuries and people can be off work for one to two years and become quite significantly affected.”Toronto Rehab runs a falls prevention program, primarily for seniors and those with disabling injuries or illness.But researchers are also looking at ways to prevent falls at the “environmental” level, including helping to increase the depth of stair treads under the Canada Building Code, a move that was shown to save an estimated 27 lives and avoid 13,000 serious accidents in the first five years, he said.Toronto Rehab scientists also began rating the safety of snow boots sold in Canada in 2016 (ratemytreads.com), resulting in some manufacturers improving their footwear and some retailers saying they would stock only winter boots given positive ratings for non-skid properties.When it comes to preventing a fall, Fernie advises people, especially seniors, to maintain their fitness level to promote good balance and to keep muscles strong.Wearing the right footwear is important, as is making sure steps and stairs in one’s home are in good condition and have decent handrails on both sides. Grab bars in bathrooms can also prevent falls.Fernie said when he gives talks on falls, about a third of the audience will raise their hands when asked if they have a close relative who has taken a spill and been injured.But those who have not personally encountered a slip, trip or stumble tend to discount their potential seriousness, he said.“We all think of cancer and heart disease and strokes as being the big problem — they are serious and you do sometimes die of them — but you also find that falls are extremely common and although they don’t usually kill you straight away, sometimes they do.”— Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
CALGARY — A senior with dementia who was found unfit to stand trial for killing his wife has died with a murder charge still attached to his name, but loved ones say they hope that won’t be what he’s remembered for.Close friends say Fred van Zuiden, 88, died Sunday at a care home in Camrose, Alta., about a three-hour drive from Calgary, the city he called home for decades.Police charged van Zuiden with second-degree murder in October 2016 after they found his 80-year-old wife Audrey dead in their home. Friends said the two, who were married for almost 60 years, were soulmates and van Zuiden would never have intentionally hurt his spouse.Valerie Walker, who became friends with Audrey van Zuiden when they were children in the United Kingdom, said the grief was just beginning to fully hit.“Somehow with Fred alive, Audrey was still alive,” Walker said in an interview. “But now I know she has gone and he has gone. Hopefully they’re together.”A Jewish funeral was to be held Wednesday.Vince Walker, Valerie’s son and van Zuiden’s godson, said friends had hoped to have the murder charge withdrawn, but a determination would have been needed that van Zuiden posed no risk to society.“We just never got to that step,” he said.“It was a personal struggle for me. I really wanted to make sure that he passed with a clear name.”In his best-selling memoir “Call Me Mom: A Dutch Boy’s WWII Survival Story,” van Zuiden described being shuttled between dozens of hiding places in Nazi-occupied Holland. Sometimes that meant going hungry, living in a chicken coop or sleeping in a hole in the ground.He emigrated to Canada in 1952 and met and married his wife in Calgary six years later, Walker said. They ran a successful sailboat business and had no children.“They were joined at the hip really,” said Valerie Walker. “They were almost one.”She remembers her friend saying at her husband’s 70th birthday that he was the love of her life and “that the love just grew the more they were together.”Those close to the couple said van Zuiden had long been suffering from dementia when his wife died and that she had been caring for him by herself in their home.A judge found him unfit to stand trial in early 2017 as he did not understand the charge against him, could not recognize his lawyer and believed he was in court over a skiing accident. There was no hope he’d ever be well enough to face trial.Van Zuiden never showed any recollection of what happened to his wife or that he had even been married, loved ones said. Until last August, he stayed at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre — meant for short-term court-ordered psychiatric assessments or for people found not criminally responsible of a crime. He was transferred to the Camrose facility and a care home in Calgary said it was willing to take him once it could be assured he would not be violent. Vince Walker said he hopes the case fosters a better understanding of dementia and stressed that a diagnosis does not automatically mean violence. He said it’s possible something startled van Zuiden the night of his wife’s death and he thought he was protecting her.He said he hopes the murder charge is not his godfather’s legacy. “He was kind and he was the poster child of a gentleman,” he said.“I’d just like people to remember him as that.”Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Inuit are hoping to use the alphabet to help keep their far-flung people together.Canada’s national Inuit organization recently decided on a standard way to write their language that could be understood from Inuvik in the northern corner of the Northwest Territories to Nain on the east edge of Labrador. The new orthography replaces a patchwork of nine different, often mutually unintelligible scripts.“We’ve never done this before,” said Natan Obed of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. “It’s the first time we’re exercising our own self-determination to implement our own writing system.”Before European contact, Inuktut was an entirely oral language. Nobody needed to read or write anything down until the 1700s, when missionaries, government workers and businessmen started showing up.Those groups all worked out different ways of translating the sounds of spoken Inuktut into symbols on a page, which they then taught to the Inuit.Some methods, known as syllabics, looked like rows of circles, squares and triangles. Some used the letters familiar to European languages, but with a whole battery of accents and diacriticals. From one method to the next, the same letter could represent an entirely different sound.While Inuktut speakers can understand different dialects, they couldn’t necessarily read the different writing. That creates problems, said Obed.“Going in to my children’s elementary school, on a rack of take-home books there are as many as five different writing systems in play for the children. You can imagine how challenging that might be.”The orthographic hodge-podge has not only made it harder for Inuit kids to get educational material in their own language, it makes it harder to communicate between the Inuvialuit in the west, the Nunatsiavut in the east and all the groups in between. “Without a standard writing system, we are always catering to just one portion of Inuktut speakers,” Obed said.The digital age has posed its own challenges. Keyboarding the accent marks required by some orthographies is awkward and typing syllabics requires specialized software.Although the project has been discussed since the 1970s, the real work began in 2011. It wasn’t always easy to get people to agree to changes in long-familiar characters.Inuktut language experts would come up with proposals, then run them by the widely separated communities of the North.“They went back and forth,” said Solomon Awa, who helped develop the new approach. “‘We want this. We want that’ — it takes a while.”The result is called Inuit Qaliujaaqpait, which was officially adopted by the national Inuit organization late last month. The circles and squares are gone, as are the squiggles above and below the letters. Characters are limited to the standard and widely familiar 26-character Roman alphabet.Doubled vowels mean a long sound as in spoon. A “K” is hard, as in key, but a “Q” requires a little drag in the back of the throat.It is intended to be easy to learn and easy to use. Awa expects it to take a couple years before Qaliujaaqpait is fully implemented.It isn’t intended to immediately replace syllabics and all the other forms of writing. Obed said some prefer the familiar scripts and they will continue to be used.Qaliujaaqpait will be used to slowly develop new curriculum materials and in all written material distributed nationally.The move is supported by other Inuit groups such as Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which oversees the Nunavut land claim.“It will take time for Inuit and service providers to grow accustomed to a new, Inuit-developed writing system,” said president Aluki Kotierk. “But we are confident that, alongside other tools and techniques, our newly adopted Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait will enable us to make much needed advances in areas such as the production of formal education resources and materials.”Inuit have decolonized the alphabet, said Obed.“It’s the first time we’re exercising our self-determination to implement our own writing system.“The biggest consideration was self-determination. It’s our right.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2019.— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960Bob Weber, The Canadian Press