OKIB welcomes new mental health and wellness team

Help with mental health

Coming up on one year since COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic, it’s come as no surprise the need for mental health support and wellness is long overdue.

Statistics Canada shares that six in 10 Indigenous peoples have “report(ed) that their mental health has worsened since the onset of physical distancing.”

The team is not fully Indigenous, a decision made strategically in order to ensure client-led care and comfortability is key. The team shares that it’s important, “everyone has a choice,” said Grant Louis, Addictions Worker and OKIB member, “If you’re more comfortable with a woman we have that, or a man, I’m there too.”

Louis says his preferred personal method of practice is land-based and that reconnecting with your roots is vital in healing from intergenerational traumas.

“Being out on the land you’re with the land, you have your hands in the dirt, all of it heals, all of this was here long before us, so being out on the land reconnects us,” said Louis.

Louis has returned home after 20 years and is looking forward to learning the language and how it can inform his practice as well as share what he’s learned in his expansive past work working with several different tribes and nations on both sides of the medicine line.

Lovanda Beliveau, a Metis Plains Cree Mental Health Counsellor, shares in the same sentiment as Louis that land-based work is vital in healing, and that the comfortability of the clients is paramount in the program. “So me specifically, if (people) wanted someone who wasn’t a band member or a female they can definitely come to me,” says Beliveau.

Beliveau has “14 years of experience of working with people who suffer from PTSD, agoraphobia, anxiety, I have a good knowledge of the body and the brain.”

Although Beliveau is not from the community, but has grown up experiencing what for Indigenous peoples is a collective experience with intergenerational traumas affecting daily lives.

“I grew up with an understanding of intergenerational trauma, I lived it, so I understand it,” she said. “Being here makes me feel like I really have a purpose.”

Mental Health Counsellor Jeueness Pearson acknowledges that although she is non-Indigenous, she’s been welcomed with arms wide open.

“Everyone has been extremely welcoming and patient with me.”

Pearson has been working in the field since 1996 and her experience is working with people, “with mental health challenges. My specialty is more depression, anxiety, relationships, I tend to work more with people who are dealing with the addiction of a loved one, so people who are affected by addictive addiction.”

Vernon RCMP said a targeted attack left several people injured early Saturday morning

Multiple victims at break in

UPDATE 6:23 p.m.

Numerous people were injured during an early morning break in at a home in Vernon.

On Saturday, March 6, at 2:07 a.m., RCMP were called to a residence in the 700 Block of 39th Ave for a report of a break in.

Police immediately attended the scene and found people at the home in need of medical attention. They were taken to hospital for treatment.

In a statement, police said it is believed to be a targeted incident and police do not believe that there is any further risk to the general public.

If anyone one was in the area of Blackrock Road and the 700 Block of 39th Ave, and saw anything suspicious, call Const. Richard MacQueen, Vernon Serious Crime unit at 250 307-1111.

UPDATE 9:32 a.m.

RCMP media relations officer Const. Madonna Saunderson said not much information on the situation is available yet.

“It looks like there was a break and enter,” said Saunderson.

Castanet has learned numerous police, including plainclothes officers, were at the home at 3 a.m. searching the yard and the ditch adjacent to the property.

ORIGINAL 8:32 a.m.

Vernon RCMP are stationed in front of a house in the 700 block of 39th Avenue.

A police SUV and van are parked in front of the home near the intersection of Francis Street and Black Rock Road.

What appears to be a secondary driveway to the white house is behind police tape.

RCMP at the scene could not comment on the situation.

Castanet will have more information as soon as it becomes available.

Fishing derby to raise money for BC Children's Hospital

Fishing for a good cause

Anglers will be fishing for donations to the BC Children’s Hospital next month.

A fishing derby born out of a baseball tournament will be held in April on Okanagan and Shuswap lakes to raise funds for the Lower Mainland facility that takes care of children from throughout the province.

In 2008, Mike Bridge entered a team - Brewed in Canada - in a slo-pitch baseball tournament called Bats for a Cause in support of BC Children’s Hospital.

Bridge played in the tournament and supported the cause every year possible and his sister, Mandy Davis, has been a part of the fundraising and team management since 2015.

Their children grew up watching the tournament and in 2019 they were all old enough to join the team. The Bridge-Davis family, along with friends, donors and sponsors, has raised approximately $25,000 for the hospital since 2008.

While COVID restrictions may have thrown a curveball at the annual fundraiser, it did not stop it.

In order to maintain social distancing Brewed in Canada is hosting a fishing derby on Okanagan and Shuswap lakes and are selling raffle tickets as a way to continue fundraising.

Registration for the April 17 event is $75 per boat. Raffle tickets are on sale now, with the draw being held April 27.

For more information on the derby and raffle, click here.


Vernon Community Music School held a virtual concert featuring more than 60 performers

'Music needs to be shared'

The Vernon Community Music School put on a virtual concert featuring more than 60 performers.

Due to government-imposed COVID restrictions, live events involving that many people are not allowed, but that didn't stop the music school from showcasing the talents of its students.

Natalie Kober helped create the virtual orchestra that is comprised of violin and cello students.

“It's been a year since our regular group classes were cancelled by the coronavirus, so I thought it was time to do something special to encourage and remind my students of how wonderful it is to play music together,” said Kober.

“Usually around this time of year, we would be getting ready to play at festivals or other events, but it hasn't happened because of coronavirus.”

The orchestra involves students from beginners to advanced.

“One thing I wanted from this project was for each child to have a memento and a reminder of what it is like to play music with other people even if we are not really getting a chance to play it all together, we can hear what the music sounds like,” said Kober. “Music is something that needs to be shared and it's meant to be made with other people.”

The students are performing Pachelbel's Canon in D.

Hello Okanagan takes some martial arts training

Doing it for kicks

Everybody was kung fu fighting this week at Hello Okanagan.

Well, actually they were doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Taekwon Do, and Peter Kaz and David Scarlatescu were put through the paces by some very skilled martial artists.

Each week, Kaz and Scarlatescu talk with Okanagan business leaders, debate issues facing the region, and promote the Valley as a whole.

The videos will be aired each Saturday, and you can see them here on Castanet.

If you any questions or suggestions, contact them via the Hello Okanagan Facebook page.

Kal secondary students are holding raffle to raise money for 2021 grad

COVID can't stop grad class

COVID restrictions won't allow Kal Secondary School to hold its annual apple pie fundraiser this year.

However, they can hold a raffle to raise funds for 2021 graduation events.

In 'normal' years, the grads would be busy selling pies to raise money for the big event, but this year they are teaming up with Glohaven Community Hub for a unique raffle.

For a $20 ticket, people will have a chance to win five Globox gift boxes in the COVID-friendly fundraiser.

There are only 1,000 tickets available for the prize that is worth some $6,000.

The raffle is open to all residents living in British Columbia who are 19 years or older.

Each Globox is curated with authentically local products and experiences and features one Indigenous product or experience, as well as one product or experience from a Biosphere Committed Company.

Historic O'Keefe Ranch is bouncing back after a dismal 2020

Ranch on the rebound

Like so many other attractions, 2020 was a rough year for Historic O'Keefe Ranch.

The sudden and unexpected collapse of the tourism sector due to COVID-19 hit the ranch hard.

Deep cuts, including reducing staffing levels to the bare minimum, were necessary to keep the 154-year-old ranch afloat.

But the ranch weathered the storm and O’Keefe Ranch and Interior Heritage Society President Bruce Cumming said they are optimistic for 2021.

“We were in a very tough spot, but we managed our way out of it and we are in good shape looking forward,” said Cummings.

The ranch will keep its traditional Mother's Day opening this year, but they are not out of the financial woods just yet.

The huge financial loss from 2020 has ripples into 2021 as the ranch strives to return staffing levels while maintaining some of the oldest buildings in the province.

“Our mandate is to look after the collection out there,” said Cummings, noting most of the buildings are owned by the city, but others are owned by the society.

“Trying to divert money into maintenance has been very difficult and it's impossible without grants, so we are constantly applying for infrastructure-type grants.”

An area of concern last year was the animals that call the ranch home. The goats, pigs, chickens and other critters still had to be fed and cared for even in the middle of a pandemic and when the call for help went out, the citizens of Vernon answered.

“We had a campaign in the summer, preparing for the winter to look after the animals and so many people stepped up we had enough to cover the animals over the winter,” said Cummings.

Currently, the ranch is open by donation and Cummings said last year's season passes will be honoured this year.

“And of course we will sell you one too,” Cummings said with a chuckle. “If you want a seasons pass, they're cheap.”

Crown appeals retrial granted to former Vernon man in death of Natsumi Kogawa

Crown to appeal retrial

Crown counsel is appealing a decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal to grant a retrial to a former Vernon man convicted in the death of a Japanese exchange student.

William Victor Schneider was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2018 in the case of Natsumi Kogawa, whose decomposed body was found stuffed into a suitcase on the grounds of a vacant Vancouver mansion in 2016.

He was granted a retrial last month in a split decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver.

Schneider successfully appealed the conviction on the grounds that the trial judge erred in admitting an overheard telephone conversation in which he was heard by his brother, Warren, to have said "I did it."

Spokesperson Dan McLaughlin confirmed the B.C. Prosecution Service is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

"The appeal is brought pursuant to the provisions of section 693(1)(a) of the Criminal Code. This section grants the Crown the right to appeal when there is a dissenting judgment in the court of appeal," McLaughlin said in an email to Castanet.

No date has been set for a hearing of the appeal.

Meanwhile, Schneider remains in custody on his guilty plea to indignity to a human body – but also due to a "provincial remand of detention" pending his new trial.

Schneider's next appearance in B.C. Supreme Court on that matter is set for March 10.

If the Crown is successful in its appeal, there would be no second trial on Kogawa's killing.

On Feb. 26, the Parole Board of Canada ordered a detention review for Schneider.

The review will determine if Schneider is eligible for statutory release now that he's reached the two-thirds point of his sentence on the indignity conviction or if he is a danger to reoffend and should remain behind bars.

In a decision rendered Feb. 26, the parole board noted the 53 year old has a criminal history dating back to a young age, with 40 convictions as an adult, including violent offences such as robbery, assaulting a peace officer, assault causing bodily harm, and others.

The parole board report stated Schneider is "an untreated violent and sexual offender," and a psychologist's report said he "would present a high risk of future violence."

Kogawa was a 30-year-old Japanese citizen who came to Canada on a student visa. She was reported missing Sept. 12, 2016. Her body was located about two weeks later, folded into a suitcase on the grounds of a vacant mansion in Vancouver’s West End.

An autopsy revealed Kogawa had Zopiclone and Lorazepam in her system. The first typically used as a sleeping medication, and the second an anti-anxiety medication with a sedative effect. Neither medication had been prescribed to her.

Vernon videographer has unearthed footage of a BC Tourism pitch in Los Angeles in the late 1960s

Courting Hollywood in '69

A Vernon-based historian and videographer has gone south of the border for this week's vintage video.

Francois Arseneault has an extensive collection of old black and white films he converts to a digital format and today dug up footage of a meeting in Los Angeles circa 1969.

“This appears to be a tourism pitch from the BC government of the day to Hollywood,” said Arseneault. “Several unidentified people, some perhaps recognizable, are gathered around a fellow distributing BC tourism brochures.”

The footage features a luncheon at Universal City Studios – which included a slide show – and a publicity stop outside the Brown Derby restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard with possibly a few actors.

“Finally, there's a gala event or luncheon featuring salmon - likely from BC - with stars of CBS Television including Werner Klemperer of Hogan's Heros and Sebastian Cabot of Family Affair,” said Arseneault.

Cabot retired to Vancouver Island where he passed away on Aug. 23 1977.

Arseneault said he has not been able to uncover much information about the tourism campaign.

“Today of course, British Columbia has a very healthy film and TV industry,” said Arseneault. “How much of it was perhaps a result of this campaign?”

Arseneault encourages people to leave comments on his Youtube page.

Anyone who may have old 16 mm or 8 mm film footage of the Vernon and Okanagan area is invited to email Arseneault at [email protected]

Work to begin this fall on student housing at Vernon campus of Okanagan College

A first for Vernon campus

Work on student housing announced Friday for Vernon's campus of Okanagan College is expected to begin this fall.

In a Friday afternoon Zoom availability, Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu said completion is slated for the summer of 2023.

A contractor has yet to chosen for the project.

Sandhu said she expects the $18-million, 100-bed project will have a positive impact on the local rental market, which has seen vacancy rates as low as one per cent.

"It should have a great impact for students who had to commute previously," she added.

The project will be built on the grounds of the campus, but an exact location on the campus overlooking Kalamalka Lake has yet to be revealed.

The Vernon project was one of three announced Friday, including others in Kelowna and Salmon Arm.

This will be the first time student housing will be available at the Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses.

The Vernon component of the $66.5-million announcement is worth $18 million.

In total, the three campuses will add 376 student beds.

"Students in Vernon and across the Okanagan will soon have affordable and sustainable housing close to school, so their focus can remain on their education and building a better life for themselves and their community," Sandhu said Friday morning as she announced the project.

There will be 216 beds in Kelowna, and 60 in Salmon Arm.

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