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Canadian dairy plant becomes unlikely symbol of defiance for Ukrainian farmers


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KRASNE, Ukraine — The cows on Lyuba Pastushok’s farm are like her “cheeky children,” she explained in Ukrainian as she walked among her growing herd, gently cooing to them and softly petting their heads.

A few years ago there were only five cows on her small family operation in Holoskovychi, a rural community an hour and a half east of the nearest city of Lviv, in western Ukraine.

Now she tends to 25 cows, six of which she bought after Russian forces invaded the country. 

Wrapped up against the cold with a kerchief tied over her head, the Ukrainian matriarch pointed out each by name, her voice full of motherly pride.

She credits her success to the creation of a Quebec-style co-op in her community, and said a new Canadian dairy plant in the area is likely to help the local industry grow even more.

The project has become an unlikely symbol of defiance in the face of the Russian invasion.

Russia is stepping on Ukrainian farmers, Pastushok said through a translator during an interview in her farmhouse kitchen, “but we are developing in spite of them. We are who we are — Ukrainians.”

The $3-million dairy plant, funded by Global Affairs Canada, will produce milk, yogurt, sour cream and hard and soft cheeses using milk from the local dairy co-ops. Those co-ops will also have a stake in the management of the plant, which will employ 30 to 40 people. 

Construction was already well underway when war broke out last year and disrupted every aspect of life in the now embattled country. 

Investors at first shied away from putting their money into a project in conflict zone, said Camil Côté, the project officer for SOCODEVI, the Montreal-based development agency spearheading the project.

The invasion put a stop to the work for about three months, until Canada offered another $2 million to get it started again. 

“Just like the whole of Ukraine, we survived the winter,” Côté said in an interview from Nicaragua. 

“We have (had a) few dangerous situations near the plant,” said Andriy Blinovskyy, who manages the project on behalf of a corporation of local dairy co-ops called Nabil. 

“We have missile explosion near the plant, when the electricity transformer station was destroyed maybe 10 kilometres from the plant.”

That explosion late last year forced workers to continue building through the winter without heat, using a generator for power.

When it’s up and running, the plant will mainly supply the Lviv region with locally produced products. The equipment and the brand new, gleaming milk tanks in each room carry Canadian flags.

“The factory is perceived as our own. Our country, our home, our family,” Pastushok said.

SOCODEVI first brought the Quebec-style co-op to Ukraine nearly a decade ago. It allows local producers with just a few cows to band together to negotiate for better prices.

“The needs in Ukraine are very similar to to what they were in Canada 50 or 60 years ago,” said Erin Mackie, a program manager for SOCODEVI.

“They were created because farmers needed to have that collective response in order to get the value added and to be able to generate a better income for themselves,” she said. 

Ukrainian farmers were initially hesitant to sign on, since the co-operative model conjured memories of state-run operations under the Soviet Union. Mackie said the development agency worked to convince them that the plans was, in fact, democratic and capitalist.

The model is based largely on Quebec’s Agropur, the largest dairy co-op in Canada. 

“This is how Agropur started, with a small co-op where you process milk,” said Céline Delhaes, who sits on the co-op’s board of directors, in an interview from her farm outside of Montreal. 

She said it’s much easier for farmers to negotiate fair prices as a group than to negotiate one-to-one with large companies to process and sell their milk. She also said the profits will stay in local communities. 

Delhaes travelled to Ukraine several times before the COVID-19 pandemic to coach local farmers and help them with the administrative aspect of setting up their co-ops.

The Ukrainian programs were growing steadily, as more and more farmers like Pastushok signed on, before the war began.   

“People started selling cows. Some due to their illness, while young people went to work abroad. And it turned out that it became very expensive to cultivate the land,” Pastushok said. 

She hopes more farmers in the region will join. 

“We need to unite. Like this proverb, ‘One man in the field is not a warrior,'” she said. 

Mackie said the aim is to create a national movement in Ukraine, in line with Canada’s dairy industry, and Canada’s decision to continue with the plant’s construction is a show of faith in the country’s future. 

“It’s faith in the Ukrainian people, that they would overcome this,” she said. 

The milk plant is by far the most modern-looking building in the area, its white siding and black roof standing out in stark contrast to its wood and stone neighbours. 

Blinovskyy said he hopes it will be ready to accept milk from local cows this spring. 

“It’s very powerful sign for all — for our enemies, for our friends, that Canada supports Ukraine and that the plant will start producing,” he said.  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2023. 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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Scotia Place – Calgary unveils design for new arena / events centre

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News release from the City of Calgary

Scotia Place, Calgary’s new event centre, designed as a place for community where there is room for everyone

The City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) are excited to reveal the design for Calgary’s new event centre – formally named Scotia Place.

The design is influenced by the ancestral and historical land of Indigenous Peoples and the culturally significant site that embodies our shared purpose – to gather. It brings together Indigenous cultural perspectives with Calgary’s and the region’s natural beauty, reflecting the four elements of nature – fire, ice, land and air.

A striking feature of the building is the central structure with a textured flame motif that emulates a home fire, which is further amplified when it is lit at night. The home fire, a place of warmth and energy that brings people together to share stories of the past and create stories for the future, rises from the white, glacial-like forms that define the lower parts of the building.

“When you consider that Calgary is already the envy of other cities with a new world-class convention centre in the heart of the Culture + Entertainment District, the addition of Scotia Place is another signal to investors that our city understands how to build a future that leverages hospitality and hosting as its core strengths,” says Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “We are also acknowledging and honouring the foundational role that Indigenous communities have played for generations in making Calgary, and now Scotia Place, a space where we all belong.”

Scotia Place, which is scheduled to open in fall 2027, celebrates the area’s importance as a place for all and will be a landmark attraction in Calgary’s emerging Culture + Entertainment District. More than a building, however, the 10-acre city block is designed for community and connection and includes a community rink, outdoor and indoor plazas spaces, four restaurants, the Calgary Flames Team Store, and future development opportunity in the northeast corner. It will provide gathering places and amenities for the 8,000 people who will live in this new downtown neighbourhood.

“Calgary has a long history of hosting world-class events, drawing millions of visitors to the city each year, generating revenue for local businesses, and boosting the economy,” says Danielle Smith, Premier of the Province of Alberta. “With construction on the Calgary Rivers District and Event Centre now underway, Calgary is one step closer to a revitalized downtown that will bring new energy into the city, attract more exciting events, and create jobs to improve the quality of life for Calgarians.”

A development permit application for the facility was submitted on July 19, 2024. This was a significant milestone for the project team, consisting of CAA ICON, HOK-DIALOG, and CANA/Mortenson. People interested in following or commenting on the permit can find the application at The application is expected to be heard by the Calgary Planning Commission by end of 2024.

“This is an important day for Calgary,” says Councillor Sonya Sharp, Event Centre Committee Chair. “Today is about so much more than the designs of a building. Today is the unveiling of a place where Calgarians and visitors from around the world will make memories at concerts, and sport and community events. I hope that everyone is as excited as we are, knowing that Scotia Place will become the complete experience in our new Culture & Entertainment District.”

“At CSEC, a key component of our mission is to be the heartbeat of our community, create connections and bring people together,” said Robert Hayes, CSEC President and CEO. “Scotia Place will become the perfect home to achieve and share this mission with all Calgarians. Seeing the design brings the vision of so many contributors to life. We are especially thankful to the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta for their leadership and support to help bring us to this point. In stride with our partner Scotiabank, we are very proud to play our role in presenting Scotia Place as the culmination of diligence and passion, that is now visual in this breathtakingly beautiful and meaningful facility.”

“For years we have seen firsthand the value these partnerships bring to the communities in which we operate and for our clients,” said Aris Bogdaneris, Group Head, Canadian Banking of Scotiabank. “Scotia Place introduces a bold new vision for what will be Alberta’s premier sports and entertainment venue. For nearly 20 years, Scotiabank has been a proud partner of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and together, we are committed to bring fans and our clients an unforgettable experience when they walk through the doors of Scotia Place.”

“We are excited to start the construction of the critical infrastructure needed to build thousands of new homes and to make the Calgary’s new Culture + Entertainment district a reality,” says Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors. “Albertans expect basic infrastructure to be maintained and improved and this commitment from the province goes a long way in helping Calgary build these projects.”

Acknowledging the significance of the building’s location at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers on the ancestral land of the Treaty 7 Peoples and the Metis Nation, The City, CSEC, HOK-DIALOG and CAA ICON worked with an Indigenous Advisory Group that included representatives from the Treaty 7 Nations, the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, and the Urban Indigenous community throughout the design process.

“It was great to be part of a truly representative voice that included all indigenous peoples of southern Alberta regarding the design of this center acknowledging the historic significance of the land it sits on to the Metis people,” said Carmen Lasante Captain of the Calgary Elbow Metis District. “Inclusivity is a core part of who the Metis are. The City has worked hard to include many diverse histories together in creating this space.”

“Engaging in the right way is fundamental to the success of relationship development with the Indigenous communities, as we have played a critical role in the identity of the land now known as the city of Calgary as the Indigenous nations are inextricable linked to the landscape and environment,” says Ira Provost, Piikani Nation Consultation

A key theme heard often during the Indigenous engagement sessions was “Come in, there is room”, making it clear that Scotia Place needs to be a place that is designed for all.

The public plazas are designed to honour the deep-rooted connection that Indigenous Peoples have with the land, incorporating representations of the tipi, Métis Trapper’s Tent, and elements of Alberta’s world-renown natural landscape.

An important design decision was to lower the event and ice surface so that the primary concourse will be at street-level. Calgarians and visitors will be able to move seamlessly between the curb, the primary concourse and the outdoor public plazas.

“We at DIALOG are thrilled to join forces with HOK and combine our unique expertise to transform Calgary’s Event Centre into the catalyst for a dynamic new urban community,” says Doug Cinnamon, Partner Architect at DIALOG.

“Other design principles including public realm activation, the integration of indigenous influences, public art & storytelling, sustainability, and a balance between past, present, and future is central to our vision. The ultimate goal is to ensure seamless accessibility, promote mixed uses, and create vibrant public areas for everyone to enjoy. This joint redesign represents an opportunity to spur investment into the area and enhance its cultural vitality, anchoring Calgary’s position as a thriving, bustling community hub.”

Scotia Place is a generational investment in Calgary’s emerging vibrant Culture + Entertainment District. A modern event centre with universal accessible design throughout and with energy and water conservation built in to maximize efficiencies and the ability to be net-zero by 2050, Scotia place is designed to serve Calgary’s growing community for decades to come.

Construction begins this week. Additional information about Scotia Place including design renderings, a video, and frequently asked questions is available on

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Jordan Peterson interviews Alberta Premier Danielle Smith

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This episode was recorded on June 29th, 2024

Dr. Peterson’s extensive catalog is available now on DailyWire+:


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