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Winter safety: Should you be shovelling the snow? – National

WATCH ABOVE: They’re used to snow in Buffalo, N.Y., but no one was prepared for this. More than 1.5 metres of snow has fallen in some places, but there’s still more expected. Jackson Proskow reports on the snow emergency in Buffalo.

TORONTO – If you’re thinking of tackling the snow with a shovel in hand, be careful out there, doctors are warning.

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A new blast of lake-effect snow pounded Buffalo for a third day on Thursday, piling more misery on a city already buried by an epic, deadly snowfall that could leave some areas with nearly 8 feet of snow on the ground when it’s all done.

READ MORE: 8 feet? Buried Buffalo braces for more lake-effect snow

Eight people died in the wake of the snowfall – three incidents were caused by cardiac arrest from shovelling snow, according to The Associated Press.

This is the time of year when emergency rooms fill up with weather-related injuries – throwing out your back while shovelling, wiping out on the ice and fracturing your hand or even overexerting yourself and triggering a heart attack.

Medical experts see wide range of injuries caused by winter weather

On a snowy winter’s day in 2011, Dr. Adrian Baranchuk saw eight people come into hospital suffering from a heart attack after they had shovelled snow.

“Snow shovelling is a combination of things that aren’t good for you,” he said.

He is a cardiologist At Kingston General Hospital and professor at Queen’s University’s School of Medicine.

READ MORE: Storm blamed for 8th death in upstate New York

Snow shovelling is an isometric activity, like weightlifting. It’s intense, compared to lifting hundreds of pounds over the course of an hour.

That causes your blood pressure and heart rate to climb quickly, putting stress on your heart.

Baranchuk points to five factors that increase heart attack risk while shovelling snow:

– It takes place in the morning. Research has also noted that heart attacks are most common in the early part of the day, when hormones and your nervous system are activated.
– It’s anaerobic exercise. It’s high-activity and very strenuous.
– It happens in extreme temperatures. This doesn’t help because your arteries are narrowed by the cold.
– Snow shovellers don’t warm up before they get to work.
– They also don’t take breaks and push themselves to get the job done.

Pair heart health risk with other injuries: sprained ankles and wrists from falling, or hurting your back from slipping on ice.

Scott Allen, a Toronto-based physiotherapist, says his clinic notices a jump in winter weather related incidents.

“It varies, from feeling tension in the body to people literally feeling like they cannot get up for a couple of days,” he said.

IN PHOTOS: Incredible images as historic snowstorm blankets upstate New York

The primary incidents he sees are people fracturing their wrists after taking a fall. Then there are people with lower back and shoulder pain from shovelling snow.

Allen’s job is to help deal with back spasms, alignment issues and assess the underlying pain from back injuries.

Should you be shovelling snow in the winter?

This isn’t new to the medical community that has looked at the link between snowy conditions, health and accidents.

Anyone with underlying heart problems shouldn’t be shovelling snow.

Baranchuk’s research at Queen’s University looked at hospital records to see if wintertime patients had higher incidence of heart problems because of shovelling snow.

The scientists suggested that the notion that shovelling snow causes heart attacks is an urban legend. After they looked up 500 patients who came to the hospital with heart problems over two winters, results showed that seven per cent started feeling symptoms while shovelling snow.

“That is a huge number,” Baranchuk said.

“Seven per cent of anything in medicine is a significant proportion,” he said, noting that they also had to take into account some patients who did not mention that they were shovelling snow.

“That number could easily double,” he said.

Meanwhile, a 2009 study by the New England Journal of Medicine study pointed to 11,500 individuals treated for snow shovel-related emergencies.

Sprains and strains made up 55 per cent of diagnoses in this cohort, meanwhile cardiac related incidents made up 6.7 per cent.

How should you safely shovel snow?

Take a look at tips from the Ontario Chiropractic Association’s Lift Light, Shovel Right education campaign.

Don’t let the snow pile up. Keep your eyes on the weather reports to find out if there will be several days of snow. Frequent shovelling allows you to move smaller amounts of snow at once.
• Pick the right shovel. All shovels are not necessarily the same. Use a lightweight pusher-type of shovel to help protect your back.
• Push, don’t throw. Pushing snow to the side is easier on your muscles. Avoid lifting heavy amounts of snow and sudden twisting movements.
• Bend your knees. Using your knees, legs and arm muscles to do the heavy lifting while keeping your back straight.
• Warm up. Shovelling can be a strenuous activity, so take the time to warm up your muscles with some overall conditioning like walking followed by some stretches.
• Take a break. Listen to your body and stop to take a rest if you feel tired or short of breath. Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain.

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©2014

Graco stroller and travel systems recalled

WATCH: Elliot Kaye, the Chairman of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, was in Ottawa Thursday to discuss the safety of children’s products. Kaye addressed the Graco baby stroller recall.

TORONTO – Health Canada has announced the recall of a brand of baby strollers because a folding hinge on the products poses a risk to children’s fingers.

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The department says while there have been no reports of injuries in Canada, several children in the United States have lost fingertips or parts of a finger.

The recalled strollers are made by a company called Graco Children’s Products Inc.; the recall affects eight models of Graco strollers and travel systems.

All the affected models are single-occupant strollers with a spring-loaded fold lock on the side and a one-hand fold release mechanism on the handle.

The recall relates to the Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Literider, Sierra and Sterling models and covers products sold in Canada from August 2000 to November 2014.

Owners should contact the company immediately for a free repair kit, which will be available at the beginning of December.

They can be ordered by phone at 1-800-667-8184 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

Owners of Graco strollers can find model numbers and the date of manufacture on a label located on the stroller’s tubing frame.

“While waiting for a repair kit, caregivers should exercise extreme care when unfolding the stroller to be certain that the hinges are firmly locked before placing a child in the stroller,” Health Canada said.

“Caregivers are advised to immediately remove the child from a stroller that begins to fold to keep their fingers from the side hinge area.”

It is estimated that over 200,000 of the strollers have been purchased in Canada.

The recall is undertaken jointly by Health Canada, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Mexico’s Consumer Protection Federal Agency and Graco Children’s Products Inc.

A list of the affected models and model numbers as well as images of the recalled strollers can be found on the Health Canada website.

©2014

Embrace the beard: Global popularity of facial hair on the rise – National

WARSAW, Poland – Jakub Marczewski grew a beard six years ago because he was too lazy to shave. Now he finds himself in the middle of a global trend.

The 21-year-old got his hair and beard trimmed at a new shop with a hip retro vibe, the Barberian Academy & Barber Shop, which opened in Warsaw last month to serve the growing number of Polish men with facial hair. A revival in the culture of barbering in this Eastern European capital is just one sign of how popular beards have become, with actors, athletes and hipsters leading the way.

Metrosexuals be gone: Europe is agog for beards.

“Worldwide, we are at the height of facial hair,” said Allan Peterkin, a Toronto psychiatrist and author of One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair.

“It’s a delightful expression of masculinity, but not a super-macho expression.”

Delightful.

Rob Kim/Getty Images

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  • What makes the Movember movement so successful?

After World War II, men were mostly clean-shaven, reflecting a military ethos that came to dominate corporate life, Peterkin said. Over the next decades facial hair was adopted by outcast groups like beatniks and hippies. Since the mid-1990s, it has been slowly spreading to the point that now the mountain man beard is all the rage across North America.

The 2008 financial crisis added to the beard momentum, with some men who lost their jobs ditching the conformist look as they reinvented themselves.

“To grow a beard is to start a new life and to have more confidence in yourself. You look a little older, so people have more respect,” said Salvador Chanza, a 31-year-old master barber from Spain who trains professionals. Sporting both a handlebar moustache and a substantial beard, he said the embrace of facial hair reflected a rejection of the previous clean-shaven metrosexual ethos.

Masculine, not macho, right?

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Now facial hair is hugely popular across Western Europe, especially in fashion-conscious Paris. And across the globe, it’s the month of “Movember” – when men are encouraged to grow a moustache to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues.

Piotr Zuchowski, manager of the Warsaw shop, said barbering is reviving after vanishing during Poland’s communist era. Although democracy leader Lech Walesa sported an impressive walrus moustache, most communist-era workers were clean-shaven.

Peterkin said the popularity of facial hair has always been cyclical.

“When something once edgy becomes so commonplace, like tattoos, it loses its edge,” he said. “If every guy across generations is doing it, then there is going to be a shift back to clean shaven-ness.”

©2014The Associated Press

Recipe: Joey – BBQ Salmon Rice Bowl – Toronto

Serves: 4

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Salmon Marinade Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil1/3 cup soy sauce1/3 cup brown sugar1/4 cup water3 garlic cloves finely choppedPinch of salt and pepperFor those who like some spice pinch cayenne or red pepper flakes

Salmon Rice Bowl Ingredients:

4 fillets of salmon (1 per person)1 bag of fresh snap peas from local market, cut into bite size pieces1 cup of mushrooms sliced, halved1 cup of edamame, shelled3 carrots, sliced into bite sizes pieces3 red peppers cut into bite size pieces4 oz. of daikon julienned1 oz. of daikon sprouts2 cups of white or brown rice (personal preference)4 cups of water4 tbsp. Vegetable oil4 tsp. black and white sesame seeds

Directions:

    In a large bowl place all your salmon marinade ingredients.Place salmon fillets in and coat, cover and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum.While salmon is marinating measure out rice in a jug.Wash and rinse rice until water is clear.Place in saucepan or rice cooker and add the 4 cups of water, stir once.Cook on low heat until water is absorbed, fluff with fork.While rice is cooking, heat fry pan and add 2 tbsp. vegetable oil over medium heat, and griddle pan with 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium heat.Add mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, edamame, peppers to frying pan and  let it cook for 10 minutes.Add salmon skillets to griddle pan and cook on both sides for 5 minutes.Lift salmon into vegetable pan, adding extra marinade sauce to coat vegetables.Separate rice into four bowls, add vegetables and set salmon to side of bowl.Add julienned daikon, and daikon sprouts to top for presentation.Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and serve.

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In a connected world, cookbooks remain steadfastly old school

A few years ago, Ken Hagemann was drawn to what he thought was the future of cookbooks. Lured by the ease and searchability promised by e-books and apps, he purged most of his old school volumes.

But instead of a digital culinary epiphany, he found only disappointment.

“You can’t get the spirit and the intent of the author,” says the 46-year-old systems analyst and avid cook from Arlington, Virginia. “You can get 100 recipes that cover the Italian regions, but that doesn’t make it an Italian cookbook. It’s the person writing it who gives it the thread all the way through.”

He’s hardly alone. While books across categories have surged into digital, cookbooks generally have lagged well behind.

The Great Lobster Cookbook by Matt Dean Pettit, chef and owner of Rock Lobster Food Co.

Random House

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While as many as 50 per cent of fiction and non-fiction readers say they prefer e-books, according to research by the Book Industry Study Group roughly 60 per cent of cookbook readers cling to print, despite its obvious drawbacks. Print cookbooks are big. They’re expensive. They can’t be searched, except by using that Rosetta stone called an “index” at the back of the book.

And in times when an extra bundle of parsley or a farmers market tryst with pawpaws sends us to the computer in search of a recipe, the devotion to paper seems counterintuitive. Publishing industry executives and observers say the tactile and emotional experience of cookbooks, coupled with the generally superior delivery of print over digital, have conspired to keep “p-books” on top of the country’s bookshelves.

“While other books are being bought digitally and for less money to the publisher, cookbooks are still selling at their hard cover rate,” says Mark Rotella, a senior editor at Publishers Weekly. “They’re still selling strong. There’s such a huge interest in food and restaurants and food writing. People are just buying more of them.”

Physical books offer a tactile and sensual experience, says cookbook editor Rux Martin, who runs her own imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In fact, Martin says, the print-digital divide has “amped up the artistic quotient” for cookbooks, inspiring publishers to add more colour, design and other flourishes that make the print editions even more lush.

“This is now practically the only frontier where books are still books,” she says. “Who would choose functionality over beauty? Digital is strictly functional.”

The cover of “J.K.: The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook” by Chef Jamie Kennedy.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-HarperCollinsCanadaLtd

And part of the issue is that digital cookbooks are not yet functional enough. Very often, they are little more than PDF versions of the print book they represent. While many digital cookbooks allow users to create shopping lists for recipes and to look up dishes on the fly at the supermarket or farm stand, they rarely if ever allow cooks to make notes in the margin and to do other things a cook might do in print.

E-books also do not have the gift-giving cache possessed by big, photo-filled cookbooks. And they’re presented on devices – tablets, phones, computers – that don’t always adapt particularly well to the splash and splatter of the kitchen environment.

“It’s difficult to reproduce the reading experience of a cookbook on an iPad,” says Scott Shannon, senior vice-president and publisher of digital content for Random House Group. “We spend a ton of time making sure it’s the best experience on every device that it can be. But the e-book production process is where the Web was a decade ago. It’s definitely improving. Our accounts are spending a tremendous amount of time on it. But we’re not there yet.”

The current limitations of digital haven’t stopped some forward thinking publishers. Alta Editions, a New York-based independent publisher, produces digital cookbooks exclusively. The company expects to release its fourth book in January. Alta publisher and chief executive officer Chris McBride – who has a large collection of print cookbooks – says Alta is trying to combine the esthetics of print books with the ease of digital.

“One of the things we are excited about is the story telling and the narrative associated with cookbooks,” says McBride, adding that Alta is working to allow users to take notes in the margins of their e-books. “We pay more attention to the esthetics, to making them more beautiful. We’ve invested heavily in photography and have produced some video.”

But the larger plan, McBride says, is to create a library of digital cookbooks, one that can be searched as easily as we currently search free recipe databases. McBride says that in early 2015, Alta expects to launch an online library of roughly 100 cookbook titles, a number that will grow into the thousands. He envisions a subscription-based service offering unlimited access.

“The whole notion of Alta Editions is if you made a whole library available to people and made it as convenient as Google or web search, people would use that,” he says. “It would be a sad world to me and to a lot of people if cookbooks went away and all that was left were 12,000 chicken recipes on a database. The stories of the food and the people and the culture are critical for people to appreciate the food they eat.”

©2014The Associated Press

Are weather extremes the new normal?

TORONTO – On Nov. 6, residents of Calgary enjoyed a balmy 16 C day. Though it was a bit cloudy and the winds had picked up by the evening, it was a nice reminder of the cooler days of summer. Fast forward seven days and Calgarians woke up to a frigid temperature of -20 C.

And let’s not forget the 28 cm of snow the city received in early September. Which was followed by the warmest October the city had seen in almost 50 years.

An icicle forms on a sunflower as snow continues to fall in Cremona, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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    UN weather agency says extreme weather of 2014 a result of global climate change

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It’s a roller coaster of weather, and it’s not just limited to Calgary.

We’ve seen flooding in Calgary and Toronto. Ice storms in Quebec and Ontario. Temperature records broken in Winnipeg.

This week, Buffalo is seeing what will likely be record amounts of snowfall following a week of unprecedented lake effect snow. Some parts of the city are buried under almost 10 feet of snow. Ten feet. They have received their yearly snowfall over a few days.

WATCH: Incredible drone footage of Buffalo during massive snowstorm

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Best memes out of Buffalo during epic snowstorm

And what’s coming? Highs of 7 C in the next two days with rain.

It seems like weather extremes — or more specifically weather variability — is becoming more frequent. But is this really the case or are we living in an age where social media makes it appear that way?

“I’ve often said: The more you educate people about the weather, the more weather you get,” said Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.

A perfect example is that tornado numbers appear to be on the rise. It’s not the large, destructive tornadoes that impact peoples’ lives, but rather weaker ones in far-off fields. With more people chasing them or using cell phones to capture them, the numbers are skewed.

Raw video: Storm chasers enveloped by tornado near Mayflower, Arkansas

Many people look to extreme weather events as a signal of climate change.

“There is all kinds of thoughts with climate change. That the potential there is for greater extremes and for greater swings in temperature. That the jet stream seems out of whack, it tends to be more loopy than straight,” Phillips said. “And I think a lot of people are suggesting that this is the way we will see climate in the future.”

The jet stream highly influences our weather. Its winds typically travel from west to east. However, lately it seems like there are “kinks” in it, where it rises high up into the north and then drops down again into the south. And that means it brings cold air along with it. The snow event in Buffalo is due to that influence as the Arctic air has met the relatively warmer waters of the Great Lakes.

The jet stream on Nov. 20, 2014. Note how it meanders north before dipping far south again.

Climate Reanalyzer (苏州桑拿按摩论坛cci-reanalyzer苏州丝足), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA/NCEP/NOAA/NWS

Jennifer Francis is an atmospheric scientist and a research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University in New York. She’s studied the jet stream and believes that its meandering is due to the melting sea ice in the Arctic.

“Our hypothesis is that, as the Arctic warms so fast, it’s reducing the temperature difference between the Arctic and areas farther south,” she said. “And that temperatures difference is one of the main factors that drives the jet stream.”

As that difference gets smaller, there’s less force driving the winds of the jet stream. When that weakens, the jet stream is more easily influenced by other weather patterns — like Typhoon Nuri which raced across the Pacific in early November, landing here in North America and bringing freezing temperatures to the Prairies.

Temperature anomalies on Nov. 20, 2014 illustrate the influence of the jet stream as it funnels cold air from the Arctic.

Climate Reanalyzer (苏州桑拿按摩论坛cci-reanalyzer苏州丝足), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA/NCEP/NOAA/NWS

“We think that these sorts of very wavy patterns will happen more often, and that’s because the Arctic continues to lose its ice and continues to warm faster than the rest of the world,” Francis said.

Looking for extremes

Weather reporting seems to have taken on a sports-like mentality, where there’s a statistic for everything: the coldest day, the coldest temperature on that particular day, the most humid day, the hottest June, the windiest Fall, the month with the worst wind chill, the coldest midday temperature.

Phillips feels that weather is always variable, however he does concede that even he’s seeing a difference from the weather of his youth.

Southern Ontario was one of the most consistent areas when it came to weather, he noted. But over the past 10 years, there’s been much more variability: Farmers struggle to keep up as they experience the wettest growing season followed by the driest.

READ MORE: Here’s the damage extreme weather has dealt insurance rates this year

But Phillips says that perhaps the period on which we have based our “normal” — the 1950s to 1970s — wasn’t normal at all.

“Everything that we’ve done has been based on those decades — the infrastructure, the planning decisions, the building codes,” he said. “But some have suggested is that what we’re seeing now is really the norm.”

“The new normal is expect the unexpected,” said Phillips. “But in many ways, which is the more normal?”

Follow @NebulousNikki

©2014

Author Roch Carrier surprised ‘The Hockey Sweater’ still touches Canadian readers

WATCH: Author Roch Carrier and illustrator Sheldon Cohen talk about the 30th anniversary of their timeless classic The Hockey Sweater

MONTREAL — When Roch Carrier wrote The Hockey Sweater in a mad rush in 1979 he had no idea it would become one of Canada’s iconic stories about childhood and the country’s national sport.

The simple story of a small-town Quebec boy who is sent a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey instead of that of his beloved Montreal Canadiens by a faraway department store has sold more than 300,000 copies.

Author Roch Carrier poses with a new Canadian five dollar bill during an unveiling ceremony in Montreal, Wednesday, March 27, 2002.

Paul Chiasson/

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It has been taken into outer space by Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk and appeared on the back of the Canadian five dollar bill.

WATCH: ‘Rock the Sweater,’ a song by Montreal rapper Annakin Slayd, inspired by The Hockey Sweater

It has gone from a story read on CBC Radio to part of a short story collection to an illustrated children’s book to a 10-minute National Film Board production.

In short, it has become one of the country’s best-known and enduring hockey stories.

“I could not imagine anything that happened,” Carrier said in an interview this week.

“It was a gift from life that is just amazing.”

“Almost every day there’s happy news coming to me because of that little book. It brought me in touch with an incredible number of people and none of those people ever said anything I didn’t enjoy hearing.

“It’s not something a marketing company could do. It just happened from people who read the story, remember the story and tell the story to their kids.”

Although it was first penned in 1979, it is the English translated version from 1984 with illustrations by Sheldon Cohen that is being celebrated this year with a special release by publisher Tundra Books.

The 30th anniversary edition, released Nov. 15, includes the story with Cohen’s sketches, plus a section at the back with comments from Carrier and other prominent Canadians and photos of the central Quebec town of Sainte-Justine where it is set. A DVD of Cohen’s NFB film is also included.

The Sweater by Sheldon Cohen, National Film Board of Canada

The 77-year-old Carrier has told the story many times about how he failed to come up with anything interesting when asked to write an essay on “what Quebec wants” in 1979. With only a day left before he had to go on the air, he instead came up with a true story from his childhood in Sainte-Justine.

READ MORE: Bruins hockey sweater banned at Montreal school on jersey day

It was about an outdoor rink in 1946 jammed with boys all wearing Canadiens jerseys with Maurice (Rocket) Richard’s No. 9 on the back.

When he outgrows his jersey, the 10-year-old’s mother orders another from an Eaton’s catalogue, but instead of the red, white and blue, a Leafs jersey is delivered to the door.

And instead of sending it back, his mother makes him wear it. The boy is traumatized.

READ MORE: Leafs fans feel slighted after survey says Habs are Canada’s top sports brand

The story captures the essence of the Toronto-Montreal rivalry that carries on today, although lately fans have been throwing Leafs jerseys onto the Air Canada Centre’s ice in protest of the team’s recent struggles.

But even many Leafs fans like The Hockey Sweater.

“In Toronto, they like the book, which is amazing,” said Carrier.

“Many fans of the book are in Toronto.”

“As people in this country, we have a certain sense of humour, which is very good.”

It also illustrates English-French relations in Canada in the days before Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, which brought an assertion of French language rights and power in Quebec.

READ MORE: Montreal student asked to remove Sens’ shirt on Habs’ jersey day

The boy’s mother has to order from an English-only catalogue. She makes him wear the sweater because if he doesn’t “Monsieur Eaton” will be upset.

“He’s English and he’s going to be insulted because he likes the Maple Leafs,” she tells her son.

At the rink, a priest tells him that just because he’s wearing a Leafs jersey “doesn’t mean you’re going to make the laws around here.”

MORE: Language issues in Quebec

Carrier didn’t see The Hockey Sweater as any kind of political statement.

“Frankly, I tried to tell a good little story, writing very fast because I had a tight deadline, so I was not thinking of putting it in any kind of political context,” he said. “The story was used in many ways to support this or that, but no.

“It is a story of a little boy who belonged to a little group and suddenly, because of his uniform, he doesn’t belong any more and is rejected. So what do you do? I prayed. I don’t think I’d do that today, but I prayed.”

Roch Carrier, right, author of the book “The Hockey Sweater,” and illustrator Sheldon Cohen pose for photos Wednesday, November 19, 2014 in Montreal. The iconic Canadian children’s book is marking its 30th anniversary.

Ryan Remiorz/

From 2001 to 2013, a line from The Hockey Sweater appeared with a picture of kids playing hockey on the back of the five dollar bill.

Carrier said it was fitting that it has been replaced by an astronaut on the newer bills because, as a child, he devoured comic books about space travellers and even built his own pretend spaceship from leftover wood in his father’s garage.

“I did not feel bad because I’d had this great privilege.”

“Years passed and I got an email suddenly from NASA,” he said.

“It was from an astronaut (Thirsk) who brought the book into space — six months at the space station. So I was happy to see an astronaut on the five dollar bill. I didn’t feel rejected by that.”

Carrier is an accomplished, award-winning author who wrote many novels and short stories, but none captured the imagination or brought him more fame than The Hockey Sweater.

“I would like it if all my books were that popular, but it doesn’t happen that way,” he said.

“I’m positive and perhaps, one day, someone will discover a book I wrote and read it.”

©2014

African grandmothers filling in for a lost generation – National

All around them are graves. Thulisile Dladla of Swaziland buried her husband and three of her children. Immaculate Nakyanzi of Uganda lost her parents, most of her brothers and sisters, her husband and two of her children. Zodwa Hilda Ndlovu of South Africa first lost a daughter, then her HIV-positive son doused himself in gasoline and burned himself.

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AIDS has killed 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, and left more than 15 million orphans with no one to care for them. No one except the grandmothers. They’ve become a continent’s caregivers by default: inheriting a generation of boys and girls who need to be fed, clothed, schooled and loved through the trauma of losing their parents in the pandemic.

It is an impossible job, made even crueler by the fact that many of the grandmothers are themselves HIV-positive, who are, themselves, grieving. Impossible, but also impossible to avoid.

“At my age,” said Thulisile, “you don’t have much energy to take care of people, but now I have to find the energy, because if I don’t cook for these children, no one will … The people in our families who used to support us are all gone.”

But feeding a generation is only one of the challenges they face. African women, especially older ones, are in many ways an underclass: poor, powerless, and the target of discrimination when it comes to property laws, inheritance and the justice system. In Swaziland—one of the worst-hit by AIDS—caregivers like Thulisile only get money from the state when they turn 60. She’s in her 50s, and that’s turned her into a lobbyist for fairness.

“It is an election year, and we grandmothers are talking to our MPs, letting them know that if they want our votes, they must change the law.”

The grandmothers, exhausted by the burdens they carry, have been forced to learn leadership. One of their teachers is Uganda’s Mariam Mulindwa. She has 17 people in her home–her own children, grandchildren and a group of orphans.

Mariam Mulindwa takes care of 17 people in her home–her own children, grandchildren and a group of orphans.

Alexis MacDonald

Yet somehow, she found the time to sit on the local Land Rights Committee, and help other grandmothers who were being afflicted by land-grabbers—family members who tried to steal the home and property from women parted from their husbands by death or divorce. “It makes a huge difference to have a grandmother on this committee,” she said.

Mariam reminds the grandmothers of their rights, and how they can better protect the children who live under their roof. “I even learned how to convince them to make out wills and I feel very good about this…It is important because it means their children will be safe to inherit.”

The women know it is a race against the calendar. Who will care for the children when they themselves die?

It’s that sense of urgency that has propelled both the Stephen Lewis Foundation and thousands of Canadian grandmothers to lend their voices to the fight for equality. For their part, the Canadian grandmothers have raised $21 million for the cause, while the Foundation has issued a call to action, and given the African grandmothers a platform from which to make their appeal to the world.

WATCH BELOW: Jo-Anne Page is one of thousands of Canadian grandmothers giving moral support, and money, to their beleaguered counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa – the women raising a generation of children whose parents died in the AIDS pandemic.

“We understand that this is not an exercise in charity or benevolence,” said Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, executive director and co-founder of the Foundation. “The threshold of tolerance for injustice must be shattered today, and the resources and support you require to effect change in the face of AIDS … must be acted upon.”

The work of the Foundation and the Canadian grandmothers can be seen in a documentary entitled African Grandmothers Tribunal: Seeking justice at the frontlines of the AIDS crisis, which premieres in Toronto at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Thursday, November 27.

16×9’s “In Grandma’s Care” airs this Saturday at 7pm.

©2014

PHOTOS: Best memes out of Buffalo during epic snowstorm

TORONTO – A relentless lake-effect snowstorm continued to pound western New York for a third day — but many residents have kept a sense of humour.

Many people took a break from shovelling out nearly eight feet of snow to share hilarious memes on social media, showing that Buffalo-area residents are taking things in stride.

From the Kool-Aid Man to Star Wars Walkers roaming the streets, here’s a look at some of the best memes being shared on 桑拿会所.

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Related

  • IN PHOTOS: Incredible images as historic snowstorm blankets upstate New York

©2014

Supreme Court to hear landmark case for off-reserve aboriginals

OTTAWA – The question of whether the country’s Metis and non-status Indians have a right to the same programs and services as First Nations and Inuit has fallen to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The eventual outcome of the case could vastly extend the federal government’s responsibilities to hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal People.

Or it could overturn a historic victory.

Story continues below

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from both sides in a case started 15 years ago by Metis leader Harry Daniels. As usual, the court did not give reasons for its decision to hear the case.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, along with several Metis and non-status Indians, took the federal government to court in 1999, alleging discrimination because they were not considered “Indians” under a section of the Constitution Act and thus have been denied certain benefits.

Both the Metis and non-status Indians scored a major win last year when the Federal Court recognized them as “Indians” under the Constitution. The federal government appealed that ruling.

Earlier this year, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld part of the decision. It ruled that while Metis should remain Indians under the Constitution, extending that recognition to non-status Indians should be done on a case-by-case basis, since it is a separate issue.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples – which represents both non-status Indians and Metis – appealed that ruling.

So did the federal government. It claims both lower courts were wrong to extend Indian status to the Metis – while also arguing the appeals court got it right when it ruled non-status Indians as a whole should not constitutionally be considered Indians.

The head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the appeals.

“This is an important step in the long struggle begun by my predecessor as national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Harry Daniels,” National Chief Betty Ann Lavallee said in a statement.

“The decision of the Court of Appeal was flawed in our view, as it drew an unhelpful distinction between the federal government’s responsibility for non-status Indians and its responsibilities toward Metis peoples and status Indians.”

The Supreme Court also gave the Metis National Council, which is a intervener to the case, more time to file its own response to both appeals.

The council wanted the federal government to drop its appeal and start working out an agreement with the Metis people.

©2014