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Conversations beginning with Indigenous men and boys on cycle of abuse: Bennett

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  • OTTAWA — A $200-million component of the settlement for abuses at federally run schools for Indigenous children should help address the long-term pain of male survivors, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said Thursday after a regional chief sounded the alarm this week about a lack of supports aimed at Indigenous men and boys.

    Nearly 200,000 Indigenous children attended more than 700 “Indian Day Schools” beginning in the 1920s. Unlike children at residential schools, day-school students got to go home at night, but many endured trauma, including, in some cases, physical and sexual abuse.

    On Tuesday, as the government announced plans to compensate people who attended the day schools with payments of up to $200,000, a regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations spoke candidly about the abuse he endured.

    Roger Augustine, who began attending a day school near Miramichi, N.B. at age six and is now regional chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, said he is “very concerned” about other men living with the aftereffects of abuse. He said he was bullied and beaten up constantly as a day-school student.

    There is increased awareness about the “very important” issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women after years of public indifference, he said, but he remains worried about young Indigenous men and boys who do not feel they can speak about what happened to them.

    “They’re out there, lost,” he said. “They don’t even know where they are going to get their food to eat that night.”

    Discussions led by survivors such as Augustine give men and boys permission to seek help, Bennett said Thursday in an interview, noting the federal government heard similar concerns during sessions held ahead of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

    “I think these conversations are now becoming more out in the open,” Bennett said, point to the documented links among abuse and shame, substance abuse, violence and incarceration.

    Many day-school students had no idea they were being mistreated as children, Augustine said.

    “A lot of us, a lot of young people don’t know what it was, at the time, that was happening to them,” he said. “They didn’t know what they were faced with.”

    Bennett said Thursday she was moved by Augustine’s story and pointed to the $200-million investment the government is making in a “settlement corporation” for healing, education, and legacy projects in honour of day-school victims, which should include help for men who suffered and are suffering.

    On Wednesday, a group representing Indigenous day-school victims issued a statement expressing concerns about the compensation process, including that it believes each claimant should be allowed to choose a lawyer to assist him or her.

    In Halifax on Thursday, Bennett said survivors felt strongly they should not need lawyers to navigate the settlement process and they did not want to be retraumatized by a complex claims process.

    “This isn’t about defending yourself — it’s a paper exercise,” Bennett said. “Anyone who writes in their application about physical or sexual abuse will receive what they are entitled to.”

    For his part, Augustine said his healing will never be over.

    “You never stop,” he said. “PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and all the other things that you talk about, you grow up with it, you live with it and it never ends.”

    —with files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax

    —Follow @kkirkup on Twitter.

    Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Hungry wolves may get new home at Isle Royale National Park

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  • TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A U.S.-Canadian team is preparing for another mission to relocate grey wolves to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan from a second Lake Superior island, where the predators are in danger of starvation after gobbling up a caribou herd.

    The targeted pack is on Michipicoten Island on the eastern side of the lake, which was home to hundreds of caribou until ice bridges formed in recent years, enabling wolves to cross over from the mainland and feast on their helpless prey.

    The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources airlifted some of the last surviving caribou to another island last year. Before long the wolves were the ones in trouble, with only small mammals such as snowshoe hare left to eat.

    Their hunting prowess makes them prime candidates for Isle Royale, where a multi-year effort is under way to rebuild a wolf population needed to keep moose numbers under control, Superintendent Phyllis Green said.

    “We can use the good skills of those wolves, and this will match them with a larger island that will give them a better opportunity,” Green said.

    Isle Royale now has eight wolves, including six that were brought there last fall and winter from Minnesota and Ontario. Two of the newcomers were from Michipicoten Island, including the pack’s alpha male.

    Around six are believed to remain on Michipicoten. A crew of pilots, biologists and others will try to capture at least some and fly them to Isle Royale in the next few days, weather permitting.

    Officials had said earlier this month that no additional transfers were planned until this fall or next winter, partly because of a lack of money.

    But two private organizations — the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation and the International Wolf Center — kicked off a fundraising effort, fearing the Michipicoten wolves would run out of food before then.

    “They’re not going to make it,” said Carol Brady, spokeswoman for the foundation.

    The groups have pledged $75,000 between them and have started a GoFundMe campaign to produce the remaining $25,000 needed for a four-day airlift operation. The Ontario ministry granted approval Monday, Brady said.

    As they’ve done before, crew members will trap the wolves with net guns fired from helicopters. They’ll be examined by veterinarians, and those healthy enough for movement will be taken to their new home, where there will be no shortage of prey. Isle Royale’s booming moose population is believed to exceed 1,500.

    “If left unchecked, moose would over-consume the island’s vegetation,” said Rob Schultz, executive director of the wolf centre. “Apex predators like wolves are important components of any healthy, natural ecosystems.”

    John Flesher, The Associated Press


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    Health

    B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

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  • VANCOUVER — Researchers in British Columbia have designed a “robot” that helps reduce pain for premature babies by simulating skin-to-skin contact with a parent who may not be available during around-the-clock procedures in a neonatal intensive care unit.

    Lead inventor and occupational therapist Liisa Holsti said the Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator and is programmed with information on a parent’s heartbeat and breathing motion.

    The robotic part of Calmer is that the platform rises up and down to mimic breathing, and a heartbeat sound is audible through a microphone outside the device, said Holsti, adding a pad on top resembles a skin-like surface.

    The aim is to help babies cope with pain through touch instead of medication as much as possible while they’re exposed to multiple procedures, such as the drawing of blood, which can be done multiple times a day over several months.

    A randomized clinical trial involving 49 infants born prematurely between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre concluded Calmer provides similar benefits to human touch in reducing pain when the babies had their blood drawn.

    The findings of the study, completed between October 2014 and February 2018, were published this week in the journal Pain Reports.

    A parent’s or caregiver’s touch is the most healing and the Calmer isn’t intended to replace that, said Holsti, the Canada research chair in neonatal health and development. She worked with four other researchers on the project that involved a prototype built by engineering students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

    “We purposely did not design it to look anything like a human being,” she said, adding her work since 1985 in neonatal intensive care units, where she taught parents how to support their babies at home after leaving the hospital, sparked an interest in assessing infant pain and trying to relieve it.

    “We have about 30,000 babies born prematurely in Canada alone every year so my hope would be that we would be helping all of those babies with Calmer.”

    Holsti said nurses often provide so-called hand hugging by placing their hands around an infant’s head, arms and legs in a curled position during blood collection, but the study suggests the device would save almost half a million dollars in staffing costs every year at just the neonatal intensive care unit where the study was done.

    Lauren Mathany, whose twin daughters Hazel and Isla were born 24 weeks into her pregnancy last April and weighed less than two pounds each, said that while the Calmer research had been completed by then, it would have been a reassuring tool for her and her spouse when they went home to sleep or take a shower after doing plenty of hang hugging and skin-to-skin touching.

    “The NICU is the most difficult place to be. It challenges you in every single way,” she said.

    Methany’s children spent over four months at the hospital and were medically fragile when they were bought home but are now thriving at almost a year old.

    Dr. Ran Goldman, who has been a pain researcher at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute for 20 years but wasn’t involved with the Calmer study, said the device shows promise because there’s a greater understanding that healing is delayed when pain is part of an infant’s treatment.

    Scientists in the late 1960s believed babies didn’t feel pain but there’s now an increasing understanding that they’re more sensitive to it than older children or adults because their pain-inhibiting mechanisms haven’t fully developed, said Goldman, who is also an emergency room physician at BC Children’s Hospital.

    “Research has shown that babies who suffered pain as neonates do keep this memory later on and respond differently when they get pain experiences later in life,” he said.

    — Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.

     

    Camille Bains, The Canadian Press


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    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

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