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Alberta

Murder charges against 2 in Drumheller Institution slaying

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From the RCMP Major Crimes Unit

RCMP Major Crimes Unit lay murder charges in Drumheller

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit (MCU) South have laid first degree murder charges against two inmates at the Drumheller Institution following a serious assault which occurred on August 4, 2019.

At 7:34 p.m. on August 4, Drumheller RCMP responded to a complaint of a stabbing at the Drumheller Institution.  The 42-year-old victim was taken to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

On August 5, RCMP MCU South attended the Institute along with Calgary RCMP Forensic Identification Section to investigate and gather evidence. An autopsy was completed on August 6 confirming that the death was caused by stab wounds.

Two male inmates, 24-year-old Giovanni James Alexis and 23-year-old Richard George Paul have both been charged with first degree murder in the death of Jason Tremblay. A court date has not yet been confirmed.

Further information will not be provided in relation to this incident.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Holiday Mental Health – It’s Okay if it’s not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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The stores are stocking up on red and green everything, the shelves are lined with ornaments and dancing reindeer and you can’t ignore it even if you want to – the holiday season is nearly here. 

For many, Christmas means celebrations, decorations, rum and eggnog and time with family. From sledding and snow days to hanging the lights and putting up the tree, there are lots of things to love about the holiday season.
However, for others, there are lots of reasons why it might not be the most wonderful time of the year, and that’s okay too. 

While the claim that suicide rates spike during the holiday season has been repeatedly misused and ultimately disproven as the “holiday suicide myth” (1), the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon. In the midst of the celebratory season, feelings of anxiety, isolation, depression and grief can be overwhelming, particularly when combined with additional stressors such as strained personal relationships and financial uncertainty. Not everyone is looking forward to Christmas, and in the midst of the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, which has left many people without employment and unable to travel, the emotional toll of this holiday season promises to be increasingly complex. 

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Alberta Division released a statement regarding coping with the holidays during these unusual and uncertain times. 

“The pandemic has disrupted many yearly holiday traditions and has increased collective anxieties and social isolation. As we look for alternative ways to spread joy and take part in new ways of celebrating the holidays, Albertans must focus on their mental health during an already busy and often overwhelming season.”

According to the CMHA, these are some simple but useful ways to maintain your mental health during the holidays. 

Focus on what you can control. Like the food you eat, the time you have a shower or the media you consume.  

Anxiety is normal. During times of crisis it is normal to feel increased anxiety. Acknowledge those feelings are valid. 

Limit your consumption of media. Allow yourself time to focus on activities you enjoy instead. Reading, listening to music or meditating are all great ways to de-stress when you are unable to attend regular holiday festivities. 

Remain connected to your body. Exercising regularly, getting outside, eating well and resting will support positive mental health. 

Be open with your support system. Identify supportive people you can connect with if you begin to feel overwhelmed or lonely. 

Reach out for help. If you or a loved one needs help, call 211 (Alberta only) or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642. 

As the holidays arrive amid the fog of the ongoing global pandemic, remember – it’s okay to feel confused, frightened, and uncertain of the future. You are not alone, and there are always resources available to help you and your loved ones through these complicated times. Be gentle with yourself and others, ask for help if you need it, and above all, be kind. 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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Alberta

‘My heartdog’: Misunderstood wolfdogs get permanent home at sanctuary near Calgary

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COCHRANE, Alta. — Angie Birch isn’t worried for a moment as she’s greeted by Rocky, Rue and Loki at a sanctuary for wolfdogs whose unpredictable behaviour and innate fear of humans make them too hard to handle for their original owners.

“We’re going to have a visit. Please be nice,” says Birch as she sits down on the ground at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, her three admirers licking her face and leaning against her.

“What a good boy. Could he be more precious?” she asks about Rocky.

Birch started out as an intern at the sanctuary, about 15 kilometres west of Cochrane, Alta., nearly six years ago. She’s now a tour guide and helps take care of the 37 wolfdogs permanently housed there. 

Birch says some will learn to trust right away, but one fellow named Zeus was wary for four years before that changed.

“Every morning when I go in, I get some pretty nice snuggles from Zeus. I ask him do you feel like snuggling today? He’ll either come and lean right into me and rub his forehead into me or he’ll just look at me and walk away,” she says with a laugh.

A wolfdog is produced by mating a domestic dog with a grey wolf, eastern wolf, red wolf or Ethiopian wolf. 

Anyone familiar with the HBO TV series “Game of Thrones” would be struck by the wolfdog’s similarity to the dire wolves featured prominently in the show. 

Alyx Harris, the park’s operations manager, says many pet fanciers don’t realize what they’re in for when they decide to get a wolfdog and that’s why the sanctuary is near capacity.

“They’re super challenging to have as pets. They don’t care about humans the same way a domestic dog does and don’t have that same affinity to want to please humans or be around us as much,” Harris says.

“The more wolf content you get with the wolfdog the more they act like a wolf than they act like a dog.”

The recent addition of 10 wolfdogs as a result of an out-of-province animal cruelty investigation has stretched resources and space. Not taking the animals would have resulted in them being put down, Harris says.

She says wolfdogs aren’t considered dangerous, because wolves have an instinctual fear of humans. But that also makes it difficult for them to make a connection. She says they’re considered to be exotic pets, but that has backfired.

“You don’t get the best of both worlds. You get the worst of both worlds. You’re getting an animal that doesn’t really care to please you, so they’re terrible hunting dogs. They’re terrible guard dogs. They’re fearful of humans. But they really are beautiful.”

The entire sanctuary covers about a hectare and is fenced in with roomy individual enclosures that hold up to three animals. The environment is entirely natural with native trees and grasses.

There are almost 25,000 visitors a year, Harris says. And while there have been about 50 adoptions since the sanctuary opened 9 1/2 years ago, the animals there now are not appropriate for people to take home.

“This is their forever home. They will remain here at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.”

For Birch, it’s Rocky that’s her favourite and the one she has taken home with her on occasion.

“He’s my heartdog,” she says. “He’s a really special animal that gave humans a second chance when we probably didn’t deserve it and he’s a very special animal to me.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 30, 2020.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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november, 2020

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