Italian-Canadian community planning fundraising after deadly earthquake

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The Canadian-Italian community is mobilizing to help after a deadly earthquake in central Italy killed at least 120 people and left thousands homeless on Wednesday The 6.2-magnitude quake struck at 3:36 a.m. and reduced three towns in central Italy to rubble.

Bob Sacco, president of the National Federation of Canadian Italian Business and Professional Associations, says that while it’s still early, his organization is looking at options to support recovery efforts.

Photographer recounts ‘surreal’ Italy quake disaster
(AP Video)

“I got a lot of calls from our chapters in Montreal and various chapters across Canada that basically said, ‘How can we help?’ The first step is really to figure out who the right people are to have an idea and do an effective plan,” he said.

Sacco was previously involved with fundraising after a powerful 2009 earthquake in Italy’s Abruzzo region, which killed more than 300 people. At that time, the Abruzzo Earthquake Relief Fund was established, raising $2-million for a new medical research facility at the University of L’Aquila, in one of the towns hit hardest by the earthquake. Another $400,000 was donated to the Red Cross.

“The Italian community stepped up to the plate when that happened there and I’m sure they’ll do that this time as well,” Sacco said.

He added that his organization will likely follow a similar plan to raise money for the towns affected by the recent earthquake. But for now, he said rescue efforts are most important.

“Some of those towns, they go back thousands of years with churches and architects. That’s part of that rebuilding process – how you recapture what’s lost,” he said. “But first of all you have to make sure everybody’s safe.”

Corso Italia BIA co-ordinator Deborah Annibalini said many members of her husband’s family live in the Le Marche region, close to where the earthquake hit.

After checking in with them Wednesday morning, she said everyone seems to be safe.

“They thought it was really scary when it happened, but we didn’t get into too much,” she said. “We just wanted to make sure everybody was okay.”

She said the BIA doesn’t yet have fundraising plans, but she expected to discuss ways they might help with the BIA chair.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

New Brunswick MP Elsie Wayne didn’t shy away from controversy

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Elsie Wayne was not known for political correctness. The legendary Atlantic-Canadian politician used her direct, unapologetic and often outrageous ways to get things done, especially for her beloved Saint John, N.B.

Jean Charest, who served as one of only two Progressive Conservative members of Parliament, alongside Ms. Wayne, after the Liberal sweep in the 1993 federal election, described her as the “true people’s representative.”

He remembers one particular House of Commons confrontation that demonstrated everything she stood for. Following a Question Period session in the late 1990s, Ms. Wayne marched across the floor of the House to take her concerns about veterans’ benefits for the merchant mariners directly to Jean Chrétien, who was then prime minister. A small group of the Second World War navy veterans looked on from the gallery above.

“She bolted up and just rushed across the aisle towards Mr. Chrétien,” Mr. Charest told The Globe and Mail. “I remember her poking her finger into his shoulder saying, ‘Listen to me, young man. Listen to me. You’re going to have to help those young boys up there who sacrificed so much.’ Going over, we were concerned that she’d get into trouble.”

After years of pressure from advocates, including Ms. Wayne, the Canadian government recognized the 12,000 merchant mariners in 2000 and provided them with a $50-million compensation package.

Aside from veterans’ issues, Ms. Wayne also cared deeply about Saint John, where she served as mayor from 1983 to 1993. It was just one chapter in her 27-year political career, which included a stint as interim leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party.

“She had a very deep affection for the people of Saint John and I think that translated into the support she had,” Mr. Charest said. “I think her legacy as a member of Parliament will be the memory of what we hope for in those who represent us, who are able to fight injustice with zeal and determination, to change what is wrong, as she did for the men in the merchant marine.”

Elsie, as she was known, died peacefully in her sleep at her Hunter Lake, N.B., home on Tuesday. She was 84 years old and a devout Baptist.

Her son Stephen Wayne said she will be remembered for her honesty, in her political life as well as her personal life.

“I don’t think they’ve made a more honest person – male or female – on the face of the Earth, which helped her politically,” he said. “There was no hidden agenda with my mother. If she had something to say, she said it.”

Ms. Wayne was born Elsie Eleanore Fairweather in Shediac, N.B., on April 20, 1932, the youngest of seven children. Her father, Paxton, was a mechanic and her mother, Ada (née Estabrooks), stayed at home with their five sons and two daughters.

Ms. Wayne attended Saint John High School and went on to work as a secretary for a local church.

Her political career started at the grassroots level. It was her involvement in community flood prevention in Glen Falls, N.B., where she was living at the time, that led her to run for the Saint John city council in 1977. She served as a councillor until 1983, when she was elected the city’s first female mayor.

She worked tirelessly to promote the interests of Saint John, coining it “the greatest little city in the east.” Ms. Wayne loved her community, especially its former American Hockey League team the Saint John Flames, for which she was a season ticket holder. Her devotion to the city made her one of its most popular mayors.

“They did a survey once on the 100 most popular people [in Saint John], and she tied Wayne Gretzky here,” Stephen said.

Ms. Wayne did not publicly affiliate herself with a political party until she ran for the Progressive Conservatives in the 1993 federal election. Under Kim Campbell, the party suffered a devastating defeat, however, its parliamentary representation dropping from 156 seats to just two. Ms. Wayne and Mr. Charest were the only remaining PC MPs on Parliament Hill. With Mr. Charest travelling across Canada in an attempt to rebuild the party, Ms. Wayne led the charge in Ottawa.

“She certainly had not signed on for the hand she was dealt. It was like being in charge of a train wreck,” Mr. Charest said. “I think of how lucky I was to have her as a partner as we undertook the rebuilding.”

When Mr. Charest resigned the party’s leadership in 1998, Ms. Wayne stepped in as interim leader for seven months before Joe Clark took over the post.

Ms. Wayne was a colourful character on the Hill – literally. She was known for wearing brightly hued sweaters, especially around Christmas time. Mr. Charest said one sweater was like “a whole holiday vacation wrapped into the top of her body, reindeer and all.”

Sporting one of her notorious sweaters and antlers, she crashed a Liberal Christmas party in mid-1990s. Against the advice of her staff, she took the stage and jokingly proclaimed herself “the horniest woman in the House of Commons.”

“She seemed to make this kind of an annual thing. The next year, she showed up at again the Liberals’ Christmas party in a blue Santa suit. She had a knack for crashing parties,” said Jeff Ferguson, who worked as Ms. Wayne’s executive assistant in Ottawa from 1994 to 1999.

Ms. Wayne was also known for her straight-shooting attitude and socially conservative views, which sometimes landed her in the headlines. She openly opposed abortion and in 2003 said gay Canadians who want the right to marry should “shut up.”

Although Mr. Charest said Ms. Wayne probably would have denied being a feminist, he thought of her as one. Her insistence on being treated equally made her a inspiration for women in politics, including Dorothy Shephard, member of New Brunswick’s legislative assembly.

“Because she was a housewife who stood up for her community and then realized the power of speaking up and the power of escalating people to that call for action, she realized that she could make a difference on so many levels,” Ms. Shephard said. “She showed all of us that it wasn’t necessarily about … having to have the most expensive and expansive education in order to get things done.”

When Ms. Wayne retired from politics in 2004, she moved back to New Brunswick to live with her husband, Richard Wayne, at the home he built on Hunter Lake. She was presented with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for her work on veterans’ issues in 2008 and named an honorary gunner by the 3rd Field Regiment (The Loyal Company) in New Brunswick. She also has honorary doctorate degrees from the University of New Brunswick, in Saint John; St. Thomas University, in New Brunswick; and Husson College, in Maine.

Ms. Wayne had a stroke in 2009 and suffered from slight dementia before her death. She is survived by her husband, sons Daniel and Stephen Wayne, two grandchildren and one step-grandchild.

Mr. Ferguson, who will be a pallbearer at Ms. Wayne’s funeral in Saint John on Saturday, said the one-of-a-kind “people’s politician” can finally rest.

“She worked very hard and never ever took a break. She was always 24/7,” Mr. Ferguson said. “She can put her feet up finally, take a break and rest in peace.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Despite verdict, Peter Doig case could pose problems for other artists

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You could see more artists being tested by third parties who believe they own works by particular artists – but which the purported artists deny are theirs – following a federal court decision Tuesday involving the renowned Scottish-born, Canadian-raised painter Peter Doig.

Chicago Judge Gary Feinerman ruled that a desert landscape painting allegedly completed in Canada by Mr. Doig, now 57, in the mid-1970s and owned since then by a one-time Ontario corrections officer is not, in fact, by the artist. Mr. Doig, whose work at auction can sell for up to $32-million, was faced with a lawsuit in 2013 after the ex-prison official, Robert Fletcher of Thunder Bay, and a Chicago art dealer, Peter Bartlow, failed to get Mr. Doig to authenticate the desert scene. (Mr. Doig’s own researchers went on to assert the painting was done, in fact, by a Peter Edward Doige, who died in 2012.)

However, a leading U.S. legal researcher says the fact that “this controversy even went to trial at all, not the verdict per se,” may serve as “a useful occurrence” for future claimants. Speaking in an interview Wednesday, Michael Bennett, associate research professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, said “not all artists are going to be as steely and steadfast as Doig has been,” nor have the financial wherewithal to mount a detailed defence in a court of law.

“There will probably be a number of artists who’d rather avoid years of stress and worry, all of the financial costs … and the time lost in handling a matter like this,” Mr. Bennett said. He added that when faced with a claim similar to the one pressed by Mr. Fletcher, “artists might just decide to pay, in effect, by acknowledging a work, to do that quietly, with perhaps some contractual stipulation about how the work can be used. But one way or another, they [artists] might bend to it. That worries me a bit.”

To protect themselves in future, Mr. Bennett said, artists and dealers may have to look to a technological solution, especially if the art is a physical artifact. One possibility is genomic watermarking embedded in the painting, sculpture, print or installation.

The history of Western art is littered with examples of artists disavowing work that others claim to be by them. In most instances, the attributions have been mistakes, wishful thinking or, in the case of forgeries, fraudulent. Other times, though, the artist will argue the work in question, while originally his, has been damaged since being displayed, changed without his permission or otherwise so fundamentally altered as to cause the artist to revoke authorship.

In the U.S., such revocation is permitted under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 if the modification is “prejudicial to the [artists’s] honour or reputation.” Where the matter gets tricky is when an artist acknowledges a certain work was created by him, but pooh-poohs it as being juvenilia, a “non-work,” unrepresentative or inferior to his mature output. The owner may choose to exhibit the work, but as the legal copyright-holder, the artist can, if he wishes, forbid the work from being reproduced in books and catalogues raisonnés as well as show announcements and exhibition catalogues.

For Mr. Bennett, the Doig affair represents a new scenario, or at least something unusual. “What we have not seen often – and maybe have not seen ever in such a public manner – is an instance in which a third party brings a work that an artist has never laid claim to … and says, ‘Oh, in fact this is that artist’s work and we’re going to compel that artist … to put his or her name on it.’” From the artist’s perspective, Mr. Bennett said, this is akin to a living artist “being extorted into making a fake of their own work.”

In a statement released Wednesday through his dealer, the Michael Werner Gallery, Mr. Doig said he was thankful “justice prevailed, but it was way too long in coming. That a living artist has to defend the authorship of his own work should never have come to pass.”

Gordon VeneKlasen, co-owner of the Werner, which has offices in Manhattan and London, concurred. “It is our hope,” he said, “that this verdict will have at least one good outcome – that artists maintain the unfettered right to authenticate their own work.”

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Melting Arctic permafrost releasing ancient carbon, study confirms

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Researchers have confirmed the widespread release of ancient carbon from melting Arctic permafrost in what could be the lit fuse on a climate-change bomb.

A paper published this week in Nature Geoscience has released the first measurements of greenhouse gases from permafrost under Arctic lakes. But while the study confirms those gases locked away in ice for thousands of years are seeping free, it concludes the amounts are not yet large.

“It’s a lit fuse, but the length of that fuse is very long,” said lead author Katey Walter Anthony of the University of Alaska.

“According to the model projections, we’re getting ready for the part where it starts to explode. But it hasn’t happened yet.”

Scientists have long known that permafrost contains vast quantities of carbon in dead plants and other organic material, about twice as much as the entire atmosphere. Now, that permafrost is melting more quickly as the Arctic warms up faster than anywhere else on Earth.

The melt often takes place in Arctic lakes where water thaws long-frozen soil. The material released is digested by tiny bugs and turned into carbon dioxide and methane.

“I’ve been walking on these lakes when they were frozen for a very long time,” said Ms. Walter Anthony.

“I would go out after the ice formed, look at the lake ice surface and see bubbles. I observed that bubbles are most dense and largest along the edge, where the margins were expanding, where the permafrost was thawing.”

Her observation led to three questions: Were the bubbles generated by melting permafrost? If so, was the permafrost releasing ancient, long-dormant carbon? And, if so, how much?

Researchers looked at lakes in Alaska and Siberia, as well as data from Canada. They used aerial photographs and other information to measure how the area had changed over the past 60 years.

They found that, across the Arctic, the amount of gas being released from a lake was directly related to its expansion. The more permafrost was melted around the water’s edge, the bigger the lake became, and the more greenhouse gases were released.

The team captured some of those gases and subjected them to radiocarbon dating. They found the gases had been generated from carbon stored for anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 years.

It was the answer to the final question that most surprised Ms. Walter Anthony.

Climate scientists have long predicted a spike in the release of such long-dormant carbon. But if that’s true, it isn’t happening yet.

“Today, the permafrost-carbon feedback is pretty small,” she said.

Models suggest that over the next 90 years, greenhouse gas releases from permafrost will be 100 times higher than the levels Ms. Walter Anthony measured.

“I believe it will (happen), but when are we going to start seeing that?” she asked.

The increasingly warmer Arctic may eventually reach a permafrost-carbon tipping point, Ms. Walter Anthony suggested.

The stakes are high. Scientists estimate there are more than 1,400 petagrams of old carbon stored in permafrost. Each petagram is a billion tonnes.

“There’s a lot of interest in what the fate of that permafrost carbon is.”

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Footage of what scientists believe are the oldest living vertebrates on Earth
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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Schools in Surrey, B.C. expecting 300 more Syrian refugees

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The Surrey school district says it expects to receive about 300 more Syrian refugee students in the coming months, nearly matching its total from the last school year, and some of its schools are not as full as people might think.

Surrey Schools, the largest district in British Columbia, welcomed 350 Syrian refugees last year.

Doug Strachan, a Surrey Schools spokesman, said the district expects about 300 more Syrian refugees from now through December. It expects about 1,000 more students this year in all, raising its total to more than 71,000.

He said that’s “on the high side” when it comes to annual growth, but the district has experience incorporating new students.

“There’s likely a perception that we’re full right across the board, but we’re not,” he said in an interview. “We have primarily three areas of our district that are considerably overcapacity.

“… Outside of that, there’s some schools that are modestly overcapacity, some schools that are about even and some schools that have space.”

Mr. Strachan said when it comes to refugee families, the district is working with social service agencies to identify schools that have space.

He said additions were built to three schools last year, and a new secondary school is expected to open in September, 2018.

Mr. Strachan noted the provincial government announced a plan in May to create 2,700 new student spaces in Surrey. The province is contributing $74.2-million to the plan, while Surrey Schools is paying $25.3-million.

In Vancouver, enrolment this school year is expected to remain at about 50,000 students, said Vancouver School Board chair Mike Lombardi.

“Our declining enrolment has pretty well flattened out. This year we’re projecting pretty well the same population as last year in terms of students,” Mr. Lombardi said in an interview.

He said Vancouver received 42 Syrian refugee students last year – a total well behind Surrey and one Mr. Lombardi linked to the high cost of housing in his city.

“I think the main reason why our numbers are where they are is because of housing affordability,” he said.

“… We may have a few more [refugee students] but I don’t think that number will increase dramatically because of the housing concerns.”

British Columbia’s Ministry of Education wrote in a statement the number of students in the public school system is expected to increase provincewide by approximately 2,900 students this year, bringing the total to 529,000.

The ministry said a one-time count of Syrian refugee students in May indicated 604 were enrolled in B.C. public schools.

It said an additional 388 refugee students are expected to be registered in B.C. public schools in September.

Mr. Strachan said of the 300 refugee students expected in Surrey schools by the end of December, most have likely already been to the district’s welcome centre. The centre offers language services, school orientation and information about the community.

The ministry said all eligible refugee students requiring language-learning supports will receive them.

“We will make sure our updated refugee guidebook and fact sheets in Arabic and Kurdish are available to help teachers and schools prepare to welcome students from refugee backgrounds,” it said.

“The ministry will continue to meet regularly with our education management partners on those items which impact education in B.C., and continue to share information on refugee settlement as it becomes available from the Immigrant Services Society of B.C.”

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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Tornado rumbles through Windsor, southwestern Ontario causing major damage

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Multiple reports of a possible tornado touching down in southwestern Ontario flooded social media as a wild storm passed through Wednesday evening.

Environment Canada said an eyewitness saw the tornado near LaSalle, a bedroom community of Windsor, at 7:10 p.m. local time.

Windsor police were warning residents to avoid the Deziel Drive area because of damage.

They also reported that hydro poles were knocked down in the city and there were some live wires as a result.

Tom Greer, a resident of LaSalle, Ont., said he was on his back porch with his girlfriend watching the storm when he saw funnel clouds forming in the distance.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Greer, adding that he saw tree branches and other debris swirling around.

He said the area with the most damage was just a kilometre away from his home.

“We went for a drive afterward and some houses had the roofs torn off,” Greer said of the homes on Victory Street — the area that he said sustained the most damage.

Environment Canada described the storm and possible tornado as a “dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.”

The national weather agency lifted its tornado warning at about 8 p.m.

No injuries have been reported.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Opioid overuse is creating ‘lost generation,’ expert says

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Opioids overuse is the “worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history,” a leading expert on workers’ compensation told Canadian physicians Wednesday, urging them to take tough and immediate action to address the problem.

Dr. Gary Franklin, medical director of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, said two people an hour are dying of opioids misuse in the United States, and, proportionally, the problem is likely as bad, if not worse, in Canada.

“We are creating a lost generation of people whose lives are ruined by opioids,” he told the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Protective Association in Vancouver. The CMPA is a “mutual defence association” that insures Canadian doctors.

There are roughly 14,000 opioid deaths a year in the United States and an estimated 2,000 in Canada.

“The assumption is that these deaths are happening among junkies, but that is very, very wrong,” Dr. Benedikt Fischer, senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, told the conference.

“The people who are dying are not street users; they are being introduced to these drugs medically.”

A recent found that the federal and provincial governments have failed to take the necessary steps to stop doctors from indiscriminately prescribing highly addictive opioids for chronic pain. Last year, doctors wrote 53 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in Canada, according to figures compiled for The Globe by IMS Brogan, which tracks pharmaceutical sales.

“We’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching this crisis unfold,” Dr. Fischer said, lamenting the utter lack of regulatory action in this country.

Even basic stuff such as the tracking of overdoses and deaths is poor, and there are no national data in Canada, he said, adding that it is absurd that this kind of information is compiled by media such as The Globe and Mail rather than by health authorities.

Dr. Fischer said the fundamental problem is that physicians are prescribing opioids for all manner of conditions for which they don’t work and, once treatment begins, doses are increased to dangerous levels.

“We are prescribing large volumes at too high doses,” he said. “I’ve never heard regulators say that clearly.”

Opioids, which are strong pain medications, are effective for treating cancer pain and in palliative care, but there is little evidence they are effective for long-term chronic pain. They are also highly addictive. Because they affect breathing, opioids can also be deadly, especially if taken with alcohol or sleeping pills.

Yet their use has soared. In Canada, for example, opioid prescriptions have increased three-fold in the past decade, and there is a trend toward using the most potent forms, such as fentanyl.

Dr. Gordon Wallace, managing director of Safe Medical Care at the CMPA, said pain control is not easy for doctors to navigate, and many are struggling to figure out how to use opioids appropriately.

The CMPA has taken interest in the issue, and sponsored a high-level panel on the topic, because of the potential legal repercussions for physicians.

Dr. Wallace said the CMPA has been involved in 151 cases involving allegations of patient harm caused by opioid prescribing between 2010 and 2015.

He said there were three major themes that arose in these cases: inadequate assessment when patients are prescribed opioids or when their prescriptions are renewed; oversedation (physicians prescribed opioids to patients who are already taking benzodiazepines); and not acting appropriately toward patients with drug-seeking behaviour.

Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, said physicians have to respect guidelines for prescribing opioids and be vigilant to avoid causing harm.

“It’s not good enough to be naive,” she said. “You are the prescriber, you have to be responsible.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published strongly worded , and physicians were urged to heed those directives.

Traditionally, doctors have been taught that opioids should be used for chronic pain and doses increased if pain worsens, and that they are not addictive.

“We were taught falsehoods,” Dr. Franklin said. “Remember that 95 per cent of deaths are in people who should not be getting these drugs in the first place.”

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Saskatchewan not doing enough to address racism, First Nations chief says

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Saskatchewan has done the bare minimum to address the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says a First Nations chief in the province.

Chief Bobby Cameron, who leads the umbrella group the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, took exception on Wednesday to suggestions by Premier Brad Wall that racism is not a problem unique to Saskatchewan.

Chief Cameron said that approach ignores the ugly undercurrent that has threatened to explode since a rancher was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a young aboriginal man. He said an education program for the young is the best way toward a future of reconciliation in Saskatchewan, which his organization says has more residential school survivors than any other province.

Chief Cameron said he will meet with Mr. Wall to discuss the idea, but did not say when.

He said the province’s efforts to date have not been sufficient.

“We have to ramp up our efforts on a more consistent basis and offer [anti-racism education] in the school curriculum whether it’s weekly or daily,” he said.

“We have to see what we can do to begin educating the next generation. Right now, it’s going to be hard to change opinions and minds of, let’s say, some of those 40- to 70-year-old people,” he said. “They’re never going to change.”

Earlier this week, Mr. Wall objected to reports of racism in his province.

“I’ve seen some of the commentary that [racism is] somehow is unique or has a greater presence in our province. Sadly, it has a presence right across the country,” he said.

Mr. Wall said he would welcome a discussion of the FSIN’s education proposals, but he noted the Saskatchewan schools are already teaching about treaties, and will soon be teaching about the residential schools. Still, he said more could be done.

He said the younger generation, including his own children, seem to have more enlightened views on race. “It’s changing. That’s because the school system has been a part of the process. It needs to continue to be a part of the process.”

On Aug. 9, Colten Boushie, 22, was shot after he and three other people drove onto a farm near Biggar, west of Saskatoon. They were returning home to the Red Pheasant Cree Nation after going swimming, and had to seek help after getting a flat tire. Gerald Stanley, 54, the owner of the property, has been charged with second-degree murder.

The case prompted a wave of racist social-media posts, which Mr. Wall has condemned. One post by a councillor with the Rural Municipality of Browning to a Saskatchewan farmers’ group Facebook page said Mr. Stanley’s “only mistake was leaving three witnesses,” referring to the others with Mr. Boushie.

Chief Cameron, whose group represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, said he understands there is racism across Canada, but he is focused on doing right by Saskatchewan.

“This is where we live,” he said.

Earlier this week, reporters asked Mr. Wall why he removed Jennifer Campeau from cabinet. She was the first First Nations’ member of his cabinet, and had been minister of central services.

Mr. Wall suggested Ms. Campeau’s background was not the reason he had put her in cabinet, adding that he wants her to work on the First Nations file now. “Here is an excellent example to young aboriginal people in terms of her education, in terms of her career,” he said.

The Premier said he has asked her to go into schools and focus on First Nations student achievement if the boards agree to it.

Also on The Globe and Mail

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Why bisexual women like Amber Heard are more at risk for domestic violence

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“Easy Amber.”

It’s what Johnny Depp allegedly scrawled on a mirror with a partially severed finger dipped in blue paint, according to disturbing in Amber Heard’s domestic-violence case against her now ex-husband.

Depp was allegedly accusing Heard of cheating with actor Billy Bob Thornton. The sexual slur on the mirror was one of many hurled at Heard in the months before the couple divorced last week. Throughout the divorce proceedings, Heard was smeared as a gold digger: In May, Depp’s lawyer Laura Wasser said she was gunning for “a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse” – even after emerged of Heard’s bruised face and busted lip.

It was satisfying to see Depp and his team dial it back after a of him violently kicking and slamming kitchen cupboards and pouring a sizable glass of wine while yelling at Heard hurt his standing in the court of public opinion. The exes put out a joint statement last week that read in part: “Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain.” And Heard put the gold-digging jabs to rest entirely when she donated her entire $7-million (U.S.) divorce settlement to charity, stating that was going to the American Civil Liberties Union “to stop violence against women.”

But it was also dismaying to follow the narrative around , with tabloids screaming that threats of infidelity – with both men and women – had “driven” Depp to and . Heard had never hidden her sexuality: “I have had successful relationships with men and now a woman,” she said in 2010, while attending a Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation event with girlfriend . “I love who I love; it’s the person that matters.”

But as for many bisexual women, it seems that neither the public – nor her husband – truly believed her. Bisexual women encounter unique stigma in their romantic relationships, facing significantly higher risks of physical and sexual violence than straight women or lesbians. It has much to do with the stereotypes that are lobbed at them: that they are hypersexual, fickle, untrustworthy and unfaithful – that their sexuality is illegitimate, a cover for promiscuity. These myths remain pervasive and abusers seize on them to demean their victims.

In Canada, rates of sexual and physical assault were four times higher for bisexuals than they were heterosexuals, according to the : 28 per cent of bi people reported being by spousal abuse, compared to 7 per cent of heterosexuals. Bisexual girls were more than twice as likely as heterosexual girls to report dating violence in the past year, 11 per cent versus 4 per cent, respectively, according to the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey of students ages 12 to 18.

Persisting negative social attitudes about bisexuality can have a on these women’s dating lives, experts say.

“One set of stereotypes is that you’re unreliable and generally kind of shady in your relationships and dealings with the world,” said Cheryl Dobinson, who researches LGBTQ health at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and works in community programming and research at Planned Parenthood Toronto.

Some partners grow jealous and insecure, questioning the solidity of their monogamous relationships with bisexual women. Male partners of bi women can feel that their own masculine identities get compromised in these relationships. Abusive partners treat it like ammunition. Dobinson said the red flags for bi women should be a partner who criticizes your sexual identity, isolates you from your same sex friends or threatens to out you to family.

Lori Ross is leading a research program on bisexual mental health at the University of Toronto. She says bi women often talk about the difficulties they have “because their partners understood bisexuality to translate into a lack of willingness or capacity to have a monogamous relationship.”

Myths about bisexual women’s supposed hypersexuality can bring more risk into their intimate relationships. “Being bisexual gets read as, ‘You’re up for anything, all the time.’ Women talk about having their consent assumed,” said Dobinson. Young bi women have told her they often feel sexualized and “disposable” around male partners. “A person saying they’re bisexual doesn’t mean they consent to any and all sexual activity,” she said. “Even if a person is hypersexual, it doesn’t mean they consent this way.”

Even more damaging for bisexual people is the way their sexuality still gets doubted, with assumptions that they’re closeted or “sitting on the fence.”

For more than two decades, Elizabeth Saewyc has been challenging the line that bisexuality “isn’t a real thing.”

“The notion that someone might be attracted to more than one gender is difficult for people. Our society doesn’t deal with shades of grey or ambiguity very well,” said Saewyc, who is executive director of the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre at the University of British Columbia.

“Prominent figures who are bisexual don’t get billed that way,” said Saewyc, a professor of nursing and adolescent medicine. “It’s this idea of, ‘First they were straight and now they’re gay.’ The b-word just doesn’t seem to come up.” This biphobia, Saewyc said, comes from both straight and gay communities.

Advocates argue that bisexual women who suffer societal rejection and get hostility from a variety of sources are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence. “It can really affect people’s self-esteem and self-worth,” Dobinson said. “If who you are isn’t seen as a ‘real thing’ in the world, it’s pretty hard to develop positive self-regard and positive relationships, or even value yourself or your health and well-being.”

A from Philadelphia’s Drexel University found that bisexual women were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and traumatic stress. It’s relevant: Abusers tend to target vulnerable people.

For Farrah Khan, co-ordinator of sexual violence education and support at Ryerson University, the treatment of Amber Heard throughout her divorce was “absolutely about her sexuality.”

Khan is co-founder of Femifesto, a Toronto-based feminist organization that developed a media guide for reporting on sexual violence. As Khan scanned the Depp-Heard headlines, she said Heard’s bisexuality was being used as a for abuse.

“They weren’t just excusing the abuse, they were . The stereotype was that bisexual women are unfaithful by nature and that it somehow makes abuse okay.”

Khan argues that sexuality impacts the rate at which victims are believed.

“It goes back to respectability politics: who gets to be seen as a respectable human and as a good person, and who doesn’t? With bisexual women, we’re talking about sex and people who are open about their sexuality. That is seen as a problem.”

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Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall shuffles cabinet

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Six ministers have changed portfolios and four new faces have been added in a major cabinet shuffle Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall promised after last spring’s election.

Some high-profile changes announced Tuesday involve two key cabinet ministers who have found themselves in hot water for different reasons.

Don McMorris resigned from cabinet and as deputy premier earlier this month after being charged with impaired driving, while veteran Bill Boyd told the premier he wanted out.

Boyd was most recently in the middle of a controversy over a land deal outside Regina, although the provincial auditor concluded Boyd was not in a conflict of interest. He was also the minister responsible for SaskPower last year when 105,000 smart meters that had been installed in homes and businesses had to be removed because of a fire hazard.

Wall moved Dustin Duncan out of health to take over Boyd’s energy and resources duties and also gave Duncan responsibility for SaskTel and SaskEnergy.

Wall said Duncan led a lot of innovation during his four years at health, including a move to allow private-pay diagnostics in Saskatchewan.

“There’s been a number of changes in terms of health-care delivery that he’s overseen and so Dustin has done great as the health minister,” Wall said.

“He would have happily continued in the file. I just thought it would be good to have some renewal in that portfolio.”

Jim Reiter, who was government relations minister, moves to health.

Duncan said he didn’t ask for the change, but he’s OK with it.

“I would say that there were probably days where, after four years, a change looked pretty interesting,” said Duncan. “It’s a little bit bittersweet. There’s a lot of interesting things that we were working on.”

Duncan just last week announced a committee to look at how to reduce the number of regional health authorities in the province.

Boyd said earlier this month that he started thinking of stepping back shortly after the April election because of the “high-quality team” in place. He had been a minister ever since the Saskatchewan Party formed government for the first time in 2007.

Another veteran cabinet minister, Don Morgan, is keeping his duties at education and labour, but also takes on the position of deputy premier left vacant by McMorris.

“Don is very well regarded in the caucus, very well regarded in cabinet,” said the premier. “Don has handled his files very well, the ones that he’s had as a minister. I trust him implicitly.”

Four ministers are keeping their portfolios. Kevin Doherty remains at finance, Lyle Stewart stays at agriculture, rural and remote health is still headed by Greg Ottenbreit and Gordon Wyant is still justice minister, although he is also taking on corrections and policing from Christine Tell.

Four people were appointed to cabinet for the first time: Regina MLA Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Dave Marit of Wood River, Saskatoon’s Bronwyn Eyre and Prince Albert MLA Joe Hargrave.

The size of cabinet is smaller by one. Wall has reduced the number of ministers, including himself, to 17.

The Opposition New Democrats said the cabinet shuffled changed nothing.

“Today, the premier wasted an opportunity to demonstrate the change the Sask. Party has promised,” NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon said in a release.

He pointed to keeping Doherty and Morgan in their jobs and failing to increase the number of women at the cabinet table.

“A few titles have changed but the direction and tone that has seen the Sask. Party stumble from ethical scandal to ethical scandal and mismanaged crisis to mismanaged crisis has stayed the same.”

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