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Kelowna  

Showing trans support

Growing up, 25-year-old Jaquelyn Furman had never heard about transgender people, and assumed everyone had feelings of wanting to be the opposite gender. Today, Furman has embraced being transgender, and is surrounded by a supportive community, which was on full display Thursday night.

The Okanagan Pride Society hosted their third annual Trans March and Social, which began at 6 p.m. at The Sails in downtown Kelowna and concluded at the Laurel Packinghouse.

Furman, Okanagan Pride Society's director of transgender community relations, says the community is a lot more accepting of transgender people than in the past and things are safer for transgender people today.

“It's amazing, my parents are supportive, all my family is supportive, I have lots of supportive friends, it makes a huge difference having a supportive community,” Furman said. “I've seen people who lack that and the difference in the mental health of someone is huge.”

Thursday's event included speeches from Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough and 12-year-old Tor Broughton, who considers herself gender queer.

Broughton, who spoke to School District 23 trustees last fall about the importance of gender-neutral bathrooms, talked about her struggle fitting in.

“Today in this room, I feel like I belong,” Broughton said. “I think the reason I feel I belong here is because I don't think anyone here is going to try and label me or put me in a box, or maybe it's just that the box is big enough for all of us to be ourselves together.”  



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Passport to thrifty finds

Madison Erhardt

National Thrift Day was Thursday, but don't worry if you missed it – the event continues until the end of next week. 

"Here at the Salvation Army, anything that happens here goes back into our programs, like our parenting, budgeting classes or our food bank, said Patty Lou Bryant, communications co-ordinator. 

The Sally Ann is featuring a passport that encourages customers to patronize several local thrift stores. 

"We want people to see that non-profits put all of their money back into the community. This is going for eight days. It runs until next Friday, so you have lots of time to go shopping," said Bryant. 

Our bargain-hunting expedition found a dress, a pair of shoes and a necklace for a grand total of $18.40. 

To check out your nearest Salvation Army, click here.  



Beauty with a purpose

A Kelowna woman made the top six at the Miss World Canada pageant.

Natalie Allin returned from a busy week at the Toronto pageant in late July. 

Originally from Jasper, Alta., Allin took her post-secondary education in B.C. She won the title Miss B.C. World in March, which qualified her to attend the national pageant. 

Allin is most proud of winning the Beauty With a Purpose award because of her platform on the "Look Good Feel Better" charity, which raises awareness about women facing the appearance-related side affects of cancer.

The award is close to her heart, as Allin has lost three women in her family to cancer.

During the pageant's 50 years, it has raised more than $250 million for children's charities.

This year's Miss World Canada charity was the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.



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IH CEO says thanks

The CEO of Interior Health has paid tribute to the hundreds of employees who stepped up during the devastating wildfires that have ravaged the region.

Chris Mazurkewich said more than 800 clients, patients and residents, "an unprecedented number," were forced to evacuate from hospitals and care homes.

"We’ve seen our own staff, along with physicians, emergency responders, First Nations, social services agencies, churches, charitable organizations, universities, businesses, and individual citizens come forward to ensure these vulnerable people are kept safe and comfortable," Mazurkewich said in an email sent to local media.

"As well, I cannot say enough about the generosity of health sites in Interior Health and Northern Health, who have taken in patients and clients evacuated from their home facilities."

IH has facilities throughout the Cariboo, the hardest hit region of the province. Facilities are situated in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Ashcroft and Cache Creek.

"With the extent of this crisis, we know health repercussions will continue in the months ahead.

"There is no doubt that this emergency is causing incredible upheaval, stress, and frustration."

Mazurkewich says IH's primary focus will continue to be the health and safety of residents, and that of staff and physicians.

"While we have made progress on re-entry in several areas, we are taking care and caution with decisions to reopen sites and services only when it’s safe to do so. The wildfire activity remains close and continues to impact transportation routes, so every decision is well considered before we reopen our sites or restore full services."



Boxing raises cash for kids

More than $21,000 was raised for children in need, as first-time boxers stepped into a ring for charity.

Thirty boxers went toe to toe at Rutland Centennial Hall on Saturday.

Kelowna's Madkatz Boxing trained 14 complete beginners who took part in the slugfest.

“For a three-month crash course, I got comments from other coaches on how well they looked. I'll take that as a personal compliment to our coaching staff,” said head coach Geoff Lawrence.

The 14 “three-round heroes” raised money for Urban Bulldogs Against Kid Abuse, a non-profit organization that helps provide counselling and support to children who have been impacted by abuse.

“They were so grateful and appreciative,” Lawrence said. “They were almost in tears when we gave (the donation) to them.”

The event raised $21,695 for the charity.

In addition to the 14 first-timers, the second half of the show featured 16 actual amateur boxers from around B.C., who Lawrence said are some of some of the best in the province.

The event was such a success, Lawrence plans to make it an annual affair.



Evening Update Aug. 17

Castanet's Evening Update for Thursday, Aug. 17, with reporter Wayne Moore.



Sportsfields get makeover

Kelowna's Mission sportsfields are getting an improved irrigation system.

Work began Thursday at Mission Recreation Park.

“The irrigation system for three soccer fields will be upgraded and replaced in order to lower maintenance costs, improve watering efficiency and conserve more water,” said Andrew Gibbs, senior project manager with the City of Kelowna.

The $300,000 project is expected to be complete by Oct. 31.

Visit kelowna.ca and search for facility rentals or check out all the infrastructure projects planned this year on the map at kelowna.ca/cityprojects.



Chamber weighs in on wage

With Tuesday's provincial announcement of a minimum wage hike, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce hopes that small businesses will have their voices heard on the way to a $15 minimum wage.

"We hope with the announcement of the fair wage commission that either the BC Chamber or small businesses are engaged in that conversation moving forward," said Dan Rogers, executive director of the Kelowna chamber.

Minimum wage in BC will increase to $11.35 on Sept. 15, and will hit $15 by 2021, but the plan for incremental raises is not yet clear. 

"There’s some appreciation that they are trying to phase it in over time," Rogers said.

"When you increase labour costs, there is a risk that (those costs) get passed on to consumers in the form of higher costs ... which could actually harm the very people you’re trying to help who are on minimum wage.

"We would like a predictable formula. We hope that the fair wage commission considers that … so that businesses have that certainty of what their costs will be."



An innovation celebration

The Okanagan Innovation Centre celebrates its grand opening tonight in downtown Kelowna.

A rooftop celebration at the 104,715-square-foot Doyle Avenue facility will kick off at 6:30 p.m. 

“Kelowna’s urban city centre has grown up, and the Okanagan Innovation Centre is a prime example of that," said Ben Stewart, a former minister and MLA for Westside Kelowna. "I applaud the relentless passion of our local tech leaders who drove this project to completion."

The state of the art centre will accommodate everything from small tech proprietorships to large corporate firms.

Construction began nearly three years ago, in October 2014.

Come back to Castanet for coverage of the grand opening this evening.



Little smoke, day 2

For a second straight day, the province's Air Quality Health Index remains low throughout the Okanagan.

The index Thursday morning i pegged at a two, or low. It's expected to reach four, or moderate later in the day.

And, the forecast, at least for Friday, is for much of the same.

Areas around Quesnel and Williams Lake, which has a larger concentration of fires, is high, and will remain that way for much of the day.

Despite the diminishing smoke in much of the province, a Smoky Skies bulletin does remain in effect from Environment Canada, meaning there is the potential for accumulations of smoke.

In that case, you are again advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activity and see a doctor immediately if you feel discomfort or have trouble breathing as a result of the smoke.



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