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Sports

Fake Raptors merch cat-and-mouse game plays out during NBA Finals

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TORONTO — Hours before the Toronto Raptors take to the court during their historic playoffs run, a cat-and-mouse game unfolds outside the team’s arena.

On one side, a group of slippery hawkers sell illicit team merchandise in an effort to seek large profits from excited fans. On the other, a crew of NBA executives, private investigators, city bylaw officers and police try to enforce the league’s property rights.

It’s the first time this type of anti-counterfeit operation has played out for the NBA on such a scale in Canada, given the Raptors’ unprecedented ascent to the Finals where they are tied with the Golden State Warriors at one game apiece.

“The finals generates so much interest and the Raptors story is so significant being the first Canadian team that what happens is it creates a tremendous spike with certain types of illicit vendors,” said Anil George, an intellectual property lawyer with the NBA based in New York City. “They basically do a bait and switch.”

The top items being sold without the NBA’s permission are T-shirts, jerseys and caps. George didn’t provide specific figures but said a number of counterfeit items have been seized so far.

Such anti-counterfeit operations are set into motion before many of the league’s marquee events. For the current Finals, one of the league’s intellectual property lawyers has been in Toronto leading a team of private investigators as they enforce intellectual property rights.

The private investigators are the key to the operation, George said, calling them the league’s “eyes and ears.” They’re trained to differentiate between legitimate and counterfeit goods and know where to find the sellers who easily “disappear” when spotted by the anti-counterfeit team.

The NBA also got in touch with the City of Toronto, which has bylaw officers out on game nights looking for those selling wares without a permit, said the city’s director of bylaw enforcement, Rod Jones.

Permit-related fines run about $200, he said, but some other bylaw offences, relating to street vending for example, can come with a maximum fine of $5,000.

A city analyst couldn’t say how many violations bylaw officers have handed out related to selling Raptors merchandise, but Jones — who called the role of bylaw officers “minor”  — believes they’ve laid a few fines.

Plainclothes police officers are also involved, said Toronto police spokesman Kevin Masterman, but they are only along to “keep the peace.” The force has not launched a criminal investigation related to fake goods, he said.

When the anti-counterfeit crew catches a seller, it shows them a cease-and-desist letter, informs them they’re breaking the law, and asks that they stop their operation and give up their goods, George, the NBA lawyer, said.

“Generally we obtain compliance,” he said.

A recent operation during an all-star weekend in Charlotte, N.C., for example, gathered $100,000 in fake goods, he said.

The alleged perpetrators are usually a mix of locals along with others who come in from out of town — in Toronto’s case some peddlers are suspected to have come from the U.S., George said. Fake jerseys are likely made in China and smuggled in, while T-shirts are usually made locally, he said.

The goods are cheap, poorly made, don’t last as long, and those manufacturing them don’t pay taxes, George said.

“If it’s too good to be true in terms of a deal, it probably is,” he said, adding that cheap, vague labels, and merchandise without holographic labelling are easy ways to spot fakes.

A pair of Toronto intellectual property lawyers who’ve been helping brands protect their rights for years said hawkers often have sophisticated, organized operations.

Lorne Lipkus and his son, David Lipkus, aren’t working with the NBA but have been part of similar efforts for bands that play at the same arena as the Raptors. They said such operations typically have three teams of at least eight people circling the arena before an event.

Those teams consist of private investigators, paid-duty police officers, at least one lawyer armed with cease-and-desist letters and a group of “spotters.”

The hawkers often have their own “counter-spotters,” David Lipkus said.

“They get on their phones and say, ‘stay away from gate six,'” he said. “Then everyone moves and disappears into the crowd.”

Lorne Lipkus said the hawkers typically carry their goods in garbage bags and restock at a van full of fake merchandise that’s parked in the area.

“They used to sell it out of the trucks, but they don’t do that because we can seize their vehicle,” he said. “It’s a lot of garbage bags of merch.”

On a good night, the lawyer duo said they may find up to 300 fake shirts, each going for $20 to $30.

“We’re always trying to stay one step ahead,” David Lipkus said. “It’s intense.”

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press


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2019 Canada Winter Games

2 years later the Canada Winter Games presents massive gift to Albertans

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From the 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society

2019 CANADA WINTER GAMES LEGACY FUND SOCIETY ANNOUNCE FINANCIAL LEGACY AND LAUNCH FUNDING APPLICATION PROCESS

 The 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society is pleased to share the details of the final 2019 Games legacy—a legacy fund of $650,000 designed to support not-for-profit sport and community organizations in the province of Alberta.

“The Legacy Fund Society is now accepting funding applications from Alberta-based sport and community not-for-profits until April 2,” said Guy Pelletier, Legacy Fund Society Chair. “Requests for funding will be reviewed based on their alignment with the values of the 2019 Games and accepted in four categories: athlete and coach or official development; infrastructure or equipment development or acquisition; sport development capacity building; and non-sport or discretionary projects.”

Not-for-profit sport and community organizations in Alberta are encouraged to review the Legacy Fund Society’s application form and criteria available online here. Organizations may also email [email protected] for a copy of the application form.

The original intention of the Legacy Fund Society was to disburse the financial legacy during one granting period; however, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sport and community organizations, future grant allocation opportunities may be necessary. Applications for the initial funding opportunity are open until April 2, 2021, at midnight.

Today’s announcement builds on the numerous legacies the 2019 Games left in Alberta. These legacies include investing $14.5 million across five capital projects; acting as a catalyst for over $200 million in infrastructure projects in the region; distributing over $500,000 in sport equipment and assets to over 40 local and provincial sport organizations and not-for-profits; building a strong, trained volunteer base for future events; donating 3,000 pairs of mittens and toques, as well as thousands of meals, to the Mustard Seed; and supporting $110.3 million in economic activity in Alberta.

2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society

“Thanks to the sound planning and execution by our Board, volunteers and staff and the amazing support of our Funding Parties, sponsors, donors and community partners, we are thrilled to build on the legacies of the 2019 Games with a significant legacy fund,” said Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games Board Chair.

Government of Canada

“The Government of Canada is proud of its contribution to the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer,” said the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “The Games not only allowed athletes from the region to perform in their hometown, but also gave all Canadians the opportunity to watch athletes and teams from across the country excel and make us proud. I congratulate the Host Society for ensuring that the legacies of the Games will keep having positive impacts for years to come.”

Government of Alberta

“I applaud the 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society for their excellent work in delivering this substantial legacy fund,” said the Honourable Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women. “Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games was a very successful and memorable event that gave an opportunity to Canada’s next generation of athletes to continue their sport development. The decision to share the legacy fund with the province’s non-profit sport organizations is commendable since it will provide further opportunities to support Alberta athletes in their development journey.”

City of Red Deer

“Red Deer is stronger for having hosted the 2019 Canada Winter Games. It ignited our community spirit, transformed our city through new and upgraded infrastructure, and it now brings us a legacy fund to continue to help future generations and community organizations with sustainable funding,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We are grateful for the outstanding support from our partners, the corporate sector, our 5,000 incredible volunteers, staff and our community as a whole for positioning our city for a prosperous future in sport, culture, recreation and community life.”

Canada Games Council

“The 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer were a tremendous success. In addition to the infrastructure, sport programming, and social legacies of the Games, the Canada Games Council is thrilled to see the distribution of a financial legacy to benefit sport and culture in Red Deer and central Alberta,” said Evan Johnston, Chair of the Canada Games Council.

 

2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund

What is the 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund?

From February 15 until March 2, 2019, Red Deer and central Alberta hosted the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Hosting the 2019 Games left a lasting legacy of new and enhanced sport facilities, volunteer and leadership development and a financial legacy in the form of a $650,000 legacy fund. This legacy fund will be distributed to Alberta not-for-profit sport and community groups through a grant application process running from February 10 until April 2, 2021.

How can I apply?

Applications are being accepted online through a Google Form here. Online submissions require a Google account to access and complete. If you do not have access to a Google account and require a copy of the application form to fill out, please email [email protected]

Who can apply for funding through the 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund?

1. Applications will be considered from Alberta not-for-profit organizations that have a mandate for the development of sport locally, regionally or provincially and are affiliated with a recognized provincial sport organization in good standing. The Legacy Fund Society will not accept applications from individual athletes or coaches/officials; however, the Society will accept applications for athlete and coach/official development programs and organizations.

2. Applications will be accepted from Alberta community organizations for non-sport purposes and activities provided they build community capacity and reflect the values of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

What information do I need to provide as part of the application process?

You are asked to provide:

1. Organizational information, including your organizational structure and business plan and/or financial statements;

2. A brief description of the project with an explanation of how the grant dollars will be spent, impact the community in a positive manner and how the project aligns with the 2019 Games’ values;

3. Motion from the applying organization’s Board of Directors approving an application for Legacy Funds and a statement outlining the process for the use of the funds and accountability protocol in place to ensure alignment with the application; and

4. Letters of support from all stakeholders impacted by the application or from organizations that will benefit from the grant and support the application. Up to five letters can be submitted.

Can I apply for a project that won’t take place until 2022?

Given the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on many organizations, applicants are permitted to apply for events or activities that may take place beyond 2021. The applicant must provide specifics as to the timeline for the use of grant allocations. Hold backs may be in place for deferred events/activities.

Can I make a funding request for on-going expenses?

Applications may be made for projects that will be expended over time. In these instances, the grant allocations may have a hold back pending confirmation of the ongoing need for future grant allocations. Organizations that are applying for funds to be expended in the future should identify the timelines for these expenditures.

Can I apply for funding for regular, operational costs?

All applications that meet the application criteria and demonstrate alignment with the 2019 Games’ values will be considered. This may include requests to fund operational costs. Requests to offset operating costs should demonstrate how that request provides for sustainable funding within their business model.

What is the maximum amount of funding that an organization may request?

There is no specific funding request maximum. The Legacy Fund Society will look to support as many projects as possible with meaningful grants.

What are the application categories?

Applications will be accepted in four categories: athlete and coach or official development; infrastructure or equipment development or acquisition; sport development capacity building; and non-sport or discretionary projects.

What is the 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society?

The 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society was formed in 2018 with the mandate to create a process to disburse the financial legacy of the 2019 Canada Winter Games to support not-for-profit sport and community organizations in the province of Alberta. While evaluating applications, the Legacy Fund Society will be guided by the values of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

What are the values of the 2019 Canada Winter Games?

The values of the 2019 Games are:

1) Innovative – Surprising solutions;

2) Collaborative – Stronger together;

3) Sustainable – Future generations matter;

4) Frontier Spirit – Raise the barn;

5) Inclusive – Everybody’s in;

6) Authentic – True to our roots;

7) Tenacious – All stones turned.

Will there be another granting period in 2022?

The original intention of the Legacy Fund Society was to disburse the financial legacy in one granting period; however, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sport and community organizations, future grant allocation opportunities may be necessary. The first granting period is open from February 10 until April 2, 2021. If another granting opportunity is available, a call for applications will be issued.

Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions regarding the application form or the application process, please email [email protected].com.

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Alberta

“It transformed my life” – Tackling Addiction through Triathlon Training

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A Calgary woman is using the power of athletics to tackle and transform the narrative surrounding addiction, and support youth and young adults on their journey to recovery. 

Vanisha Breault, founder and CEO of the Terminator Foundation, has created a unique avenue for young Calgarians caught in addiction to overcome their struggles and accomplish something great, while smashing stigmas and stereotypes. 

Using her own experiences with addiction as a driving force behind her foundation, Breault is passionate about educating, aiding and supporting youth, young adults and communities affected by the indiscriminate and devastating influences of addiction. The vision of the Terminator Foundation is to “reach all youth and young adults who are impacted by addiction and mental health, and radically transform their lives through sports coaching, peer support, team training, endurance and triathlon participation.”  

The foundation unofficially originated in 2015 as a local 5km run dedicated to raising awareness and supporting discussions surrounding youth addiction and mental health. The Terminator Foundation was officially founded as a nonprofit organization in 2017 with a broader scope, namely to facilitate triathlon training alongside the annual 5km run and ongoing health and education services. “Terminator encompassed everything I wanted the organization to be,” says Breault, “Terminator is strong, it’s resilient, it’s tough. It’s how I see our youth and young adults in recovery, fighting for their sobriety. It’s about overcoming.”

Vanish Breault, Founder & CEO of Terminator Foundation

Breault’s decision to apply an athletic, training oriented approach towards battling addiction came from her own experiences during a difficult time in her life. When Breault’s young daughter turned to drugs and alcohol at the age of 14, Vanisha took every measure possible to help her daughter reach recovery. It was during this time, where she lived in fear for her daughter’s safety and well being, all while coping with her own depression, that she made the decision to complete a half Iron Man. “I didn’t even own a swimsuit or a bike, but I registered in April and 3.5 months later, I completed the Calgary Half Iron Man,” says Breault. “It transformed my life.” 

This experience became the inspiration for the Terminator Foundation’s triathlon training approach. “If this exercise in grueling physical endurance could light up my life in the darkest of times, what could it do for these kids?” She asked, “The youth and young adults also struggling, and feeling lost in their own dark?” The Foundation was launched that fall. 

In recent years, the Terminator Foundation has begun expanding into neighboring provinces while catering to a growing global audience online. Currently, Terminator is preparing to launch its first 5km run in Vancouver, which will take place in September alongside Calgary’s 7th annual run. 

To keep up with growth and the demand for youth addiction and mental health services in Calgary, the Terminator Foundation recently launched their Sponsor an Athlete initiative.
This campaign is the first of it’s kind for the Terminator Foundation, calling on local businesses and individuals to aid in the recovery process for young members of the community. The cost of sponsoring a single athlete is $2500, which helps cover costs for training facilities and equipment, professional coaching and mentorship, transportation and entry fees. “We’ve been grinding this thing out for years,” says Breault, “and we’ve had some amazing people help and support us, but it’s time to take things to the next level, and this is a part of that. Anything helps.” 

Moving into 2021, the Terminator Foundation will continue to function as a source of relief, information and aid for those who need it most. By encouraging discussion and education, Vanisha Breault hopes to address systemic sources of addiction and support prevention, rather than intervention, wherever possible. 

For more information on the Terminator Foundation and how to Sponsor an Athlete, visit https://terminatorfoundation.com. For a list of mental health and addiction resources, visit https://terminatorfoundation.com/resources/

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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