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‘A blackout day:’ Witness tells Calgary court he can’t say who shot tourist

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CALGARY — A witness to the shooting of a German tourist driving down an Alberta highway said he remembers hearing a loud clap, but couldn’t say who pulled the trigger.

The man was testifying Tuesday at the trial of his brother — a teen from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation — who was charged last August after the 60-year-old tourist was shot in the head by someone in a passing car west of Calgary.

Horst Stewin survived, but suffered debilitating injuries.

The teen, who cannot be identified because he was 16 at the time, is on trial for charges that include aggravated assault.

The witness, one of three people in the car with the teen that day, told court that they were all high on meth and vodka and he was in and out of consciousness during the drive.

“All I can say is it was a blackout day.”

He said the driver pointed to Stewin’s black SUV, said someone named Bubba was driving it, and then sped up and drove alongside. The driver said something, but the witness couldn’t remember what.

“I told my brother ‘don’t,’ but it was too late because it happened so quick,” he said.

“A clap. All I heard was like when a vehicle drives into something … a loud noise. I thought it was a gunshot.”

He said he was looking over at the SUV when he heard the noise.

“I remember that German’s head hitting the steering wheel and it went off to the left into the ditch. From there I was freaking out, blacking out,” he testified in a low voice.

“The wife and the kids in the back were ducking.”

The witness told court he remembers the car speeding off. He woke up as the driver was hiding it.

Prosecutor Dane Rolfe asked the witness to look at statements he made following the accident to help refresh his memory. He did remember a gun being in the car, but wasn’t sure who fired it.

“Do you remember seeing anyone shoot a rifle that day?” Rolfe asked.

“No,” he replied.

The trial has already heard from two other witnesses in the car. A woman on Monday identified the suspect as the shooter, but testified the driver had ordered him to pull the trigger.

The driver said he had no idea about the shooting until he heard a loud bang from the seat behind him.

Under cross-examination, Tuesday’s witness said he did remember that a .22-calibre rifle was in the front of the car next to the driver’s leg.

And he said he had heard about Bubba, who had reportedly beaten up the driver’s younger brother and also drove a black SUV.

“Did (the driver) threaten you other three not to say anything?” defence lawyer Balfour Der asked.

“Yeah. He did point the gun at my chest too. He told me if I was going to tell he was going to shoot me,” the witness said.

“He was going to blame me for being the driver and I wasn’t driving.”

Stewin was transported back to Germany where he had eight bullet fragments removed from his brain. He is paralyzed on his right side, gets confused and has memory issues.

His wife, son, and his son’s girlfriend are to testify by video from Germany on Wednesday.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

 

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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