Thousands enjoy BBQ at annual Porkapalooza event

EDMONTON – Meat lovers filled Clarke Stadium on Saturday as the third annual Porkapalooza got into full swing.

Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director for Alberta Pork, said approximately 70,000 people are expected to walk through the grounds during the three-day event.

Fitzgerald said he hopes the event gives attendees a greater appreciation for barbecue, such as pulled pork, brisket and pork and beef ribs.

“The intent really was to try and introduce Alberta and Edmontonians to more barbecue,” he said.

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    “I think traditionally most people think of barbecue as grilling. You take the meat, you put it over a flame and you cook it really quickly. But barbecue is really about low and slow – low temperatures for a long time.”

    The low and slow barbecue technique is something Myke Badry is familiar with. The Edmonton man is one of three men who make up MJM Competition BBQ.

    The trio have barbecued together for about five years now but decided to enter the barbecue competition at Porkapalooza this year.

    “It’s a popular thing throughout the U.S. We see it on TV all the time. We thought, why not , give it a shot,” Badry said.

    So what is the key to good barbecue? Badry said the answer is actually quite simply.

    “To have fun – I think it’s all about getting people together in the backyard making delicious meat.”

    Attendees like Leon Cardinal have been coming to Porkapalooza ever since it started three years ago.

    “It’s pretty laid back, just like barbecue, low and slow,” he said.

    Cardinal said he finds himself drawn to pork ribs and beef ribs in particular.

    This year was Margaret Duma and Scott Cameron’s first time at the event.

    “We are both meat lovers,” she said with a laugh.

    “We love to eat and being Father’s Day coming up, I figured I would bring Scott.”

    “We’re looking at buying a smoker and thought we’d check out what these guys do,” Cameron said.

    Porkapalooza includes a concert series and this year, Alberta Pork decided to donate 8,000 tickets as a way to say thank you to everyone who helped out with Fort McMurray fire relief.

    “We looked at this and just thought Edmonton and Alberta and others just really opened their hearts, opened their doors and helped out the evacuees from Fort McMurray. We’ve seen so much giving, we just thought, why don’t we give too?” Fitzgerald said.

    Concertgoer Breanna Duguay calls the idea “great.”

    “It also gives people extra incentive to donate as well instead of just paying [the admission],” she said.

    Fitzgerald said the donation is a big financial cost but he hopes people enjoy it.

    “We hope people remember a good time and I hope people remember Alberta Pork helping out a great cause,” he said.

    The Rotary District 5370 Charitable Foundation is also on-site at Porkapalooza to accept donations for the Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund.

‘I don’t want anybody else to go through this’: Mac’s murder victim’s widow speaks out

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It’s been exactly six months since Karanpal Bhangu was shot and killed while working at a Mill Woods Mac’s convenience store.

In the middle of the night on Dec. 18, 2015, three masked men allegedly burst into the store in an armed robbery.

Police say Bhangu cooperated, but the gunmen still shot him in the stomach. The 35-year-old died soon after.

The suspects then drove to another Mac’s store in Pleasantview. That’s where Ricky Cenabrae was working alone. He too was shot and killed.

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    Bhangu’s widow, Kiranbir Bhangu, said she has not been able to move forward since her husband’s death.

    “Karan was everything to me. He was my husband, he was my mentor, he was my guide, my everything,” she explained. “Love of my life.”

    To help her cope, she’s spearheading the Karan Project, an initiative named in her husband’s honour, to improve the safety of overnight workers.

    “The project is my way of saying thank you to the community and finding a purpose in my life.”

    After more than five years of waiting to join his wife, Karanpal had just moved to Canada with the couple’s six-year-old son, Royce, in August 2015.

    The 35-year-old had only started working at the convenience store one month before he was murdered.

    “Kiranbir and her family came to Canada for the security and safety and that was robbed from them,” said Karan Project supporter Monica Lewicki.

    “It was stolen from them. It’s heartbreaking.”

    Kiranbir believes a few changes would go a long way in protecting workers like Karanpal.

    “Night shift employees should be behind a secure barrier or a bulletproof countertop or shield,” she said.

    She also wants to see them working in pairs.

    “If somebody’s in the back room and they see there is something going on, they can jump in or they can call the police.”

    Karanpal’s cousin, Navpreet Baath, agreed. He worked overnight at a Mac’s store for two years before quitting due to safety concerns.

    “If there are two guys working, you can feel like you have someone backing you up. And if you’re behind the counter, you feel more safe. You have a little space that’s yours.”

    Kiran said on the night of the robbery, her husband activated the store’s emergency transponder – but the store owner told her that alarm company can’t see what the surveillance cameras do – that’s another company.

    “They call the police and they call the dealer,” she said. “Then police call the store, three times, a minute apart, to make sure it’s not a false alarm. I think it’s too long.”

    She’s worried those phone calls tip off the burglars that the employee has reached out for help.

    “If you push it multiple times, in a panic, a patrolling officer should arrive there (without calling first),” she explained. “No wasting time.”

    With help from her employer, the Progressive Academy, Kiranbir hosted a special brainstorming event for the Karan Project on Saturday.

    She’s hoping to hear suggestions from others on how to ensure employees make it home from their shift.

    “I feel like night shift workers are at a high risk of violence. We need to get together to make our voices heard and get decision makers to have our voices heard.”

    Labour Minister Christina Gray came to Progressive Academy to speak with Kiran. She sent this statement to media later in the day:

    “My heart goes out to Kiran and all of Karan’s family. I was overwhelmed by today’s powerful show of support from the Edmonton community for Kiran following such a tragic loss. I was also touched to meet with her and hear from the Karan Project team about the ideas they have for improving the safety of workers in Alberta’s convenience stores and gas stations. These are tragic situations that should be preventable. Families need to know that when their loved ones go to work, they will come home safe at the end of the day.”

    Gray also extended an invitation to Kiran to meet with her and her staff at the Legislature.

    “The darkness of night is so horrifying. I don’t want anybody else to go through this.”

    Global News reached out to Mac’s Convenience stores, but has not yet received a response.

    Follow @SarahNKraus

Sask. and federal government investing in 12 affordable rental housing units in Regina

The provincial and federal government celebrated the official opening of 12 affordable rental housing units in Regina with a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday.

“This project is interesting, because it’s not all in one location. It’s at nine different locations throughout the city of Regina,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale explained.

The units are a mix of duplexes and two-storey family units. Most of the rentals are located in the North Central neighbourhood.

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The federal and provincial government, through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporate (SHC) and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) jointly contributed $240,000.

READ MORE: Most Regina housing rentals in suburbs despite inner city need

That money will go towards six of the 12 units over the course of ten years. The savings for low income families equate to $300 per month.

“This gives the individual or the family a really good running start to be able to make sure that they have some sort of help and assistance with their housing needs,” MLA Regina Rochdale Laura Ross said.

According to Avana Homes president Jennifer Denouden, the total affordable rental housing project costs $2.4 million.

“It’s very important to give back, and what better way to give back as a homebuilding company that to invest in affordable housing,” Denouden said.

READ MORE: Regina’s Housing First strategy sees success in early steps

According to the latest “Housing Market Outlook” according to CMHC’s Spring 2016 forecast, rental vacancies across Regina are at an all time high.

Still, the federal government said investing in social infrastructure, and specifically social housing, will help boost the economy.

“We increased over the next two years, the federal investment (of Affordable Housing Agreement) by 1.5 billion dollars. That is part of the acceleration that we’re making in infrastructure across the country,” Goodale said.

The province acknowledges there is more social housing that needs to be addressed, but believes this is a start.

“We have more work to do, there’s just no doubt about that … We’re committed to helping ensure that families and individuals have good quality homes,” Ross explained.

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WATCH: Brazen theft during Surrey open house caught on video

A Surrey realtor and homeowner are warning other prospective sellers to be cautious following a brazen theft during an open house.

Curtis Hellofs decided to leave his surveillance camera on inside his home office so he could track how many people came to their first open house. Instead, he ended up recording a theft.

“She definitely knew what she was doing,” Hellofs said. “You can see her taking something out and putting it in her bag and turns out it was a bluetooth speaker.”

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Hellofs said his wife’s perfume was also missing from their bedroom along with a pouch containing his son’s baby teeth.

READ MORE: Realtor raises safety concerns after sexual assault in Surrey

“I wouldn’t have even noticed that this had happened probably for a couple of weeks if I didn’t have that video,” he said.

The open house attracted about 60 people. Given Metro Vancouver’s hot housing market, Hellof’s realtor, Tammy Evans, said the traffic is typical.

“I try to introduce myself to everybody, make sure I know whether they’ve come with a realtor or not,” Evans said. “Everything I can do to make sure that I know who’s going through the house.”

In this case, Evans said she saw the woman enter the home, but was busy with another prospective buyer. She said the woman didn’t look suspicious.

“In this case, somebody that looked very innocuous came through — looked like she’d just come back from a shopping trip or a yoga class and she managed to get her hands on several things,” Evans said.

This isn’t the first time an open house has been a target. During another open house in Surrey in April, a female real estate agent said she was assaulted.

Evans described the woman as Caucasian, about 5’6″ tall with blonde hair. She was wearing a blue shirt and jeans and had a shoulder bag.

Hellofs and Evans hope their story serves as a wake-up call for anyone selling their home — hiding your valuables during an open house might not be enough.

“It’s possible that things are happening and people aren’t realizing that something’s been lifted,” Evans said. “I’m going to be watching carefully for people that I wouldn’t normally be alarmed by. I’m going to be scrutinizing everybody.”

Veteran receiver Clarence Denmark among final Saskatchewan Roughriders cuts

Veteran receiver Clarence Denmark won’t be continuing his CFL career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Denmark was among Saskatchewan’s 20 final cuts Sunday as CFL teams reduced their rosters to the league-mandated 46-man active roster.

Denmark joined the Riders this off-season as a free agent after being released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos beat Saskatchewan Roughriders 25-11 in pre-season play

“Tough biz we deal with but this gives me the chance to slide to the peg to see my lil man on Father’s Day,” Denmark tweeted. “See the good in everything #life.”

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    Denmark had 306 career catches for 4,165 yards and 16 TDs in 88 regular-season appearances with Winnipeg. He was a West Division all-star in 2014 after amassing 1,080 receiving yards.

    The Riders also released quarterback Brett Smith, who completed 142-of-224 passes for 1,822 yards with 15 TDs against nine interceptions as a rookie last season. Defensive linemen Eric Norwood and Dylan Ainsworth, quarterback Phillip Sims and offensive lineman Jarriel King and Matt Vonk went on the six-game injured list.

    Saskatchewan also acquired international defensive back Brandon McDonald from the Calgary Stampeders for a negotiation list player. The five-foot-11, 185-pound McDonald enters his third CFL season after splitting the previous two with Ottawa and the Stamps.

    The defending Grey Cup-champion Edmonton Eskimos released nine players, including veteran Canadian safety Cauchy Muamba. The six-year veteran spent the last two seasons in Alberta after playing for the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg.

    Also released by Edmonton was former Toronto Argonauts receiver Natey Adjei.

    Canadian linebacker Herve Tonye-Tonye and American defensive back Shane Herbert were among 16 players released by Toronto. The Argos also added running back Chad Kackert, the MVP of the 2012 Grey Cup, to their practice roster after releasing the veteran last week.

Vancouver’s Carleton Elementary faces partial closure amid school board cuts

As the Vancouver School Board struggles to cut its operating costs, one of the city’s historic buildings will close.

The yellow wood-frame school at Carleton Elementary on Kingsway will shut down this summer and remain locked for 2016-17 school year. Students will be transferred to the brick building next door.

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“It’s money and that’s why they’re doing it, and it’s a huge tragedy for our neighbourhood,” Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MLA Adrian Dix said.

“The space, the people, the teachers, the friendships, you can’t put a price on that,” parent Ann Wong said.

Wong’s two children attended Carleton and she fought to save the school once before. When the VSB faced an $18-million shortfall in 2010, trustees looked at the possibility of closing Carleton. Parents rallied, and the school remained opened.

“I can’t just believe that six years later we’re having to go through this exact same thing again,” Wong said.

Now, the VSB is facing pressure from the province to ensure schools are 95 per cent full. It’s part of the criteria the district must meet in order to receive provincial funding for seismic upgrades. Carleton only has roughly 300 students and is less than three-quarters full.

But school supporters say the province chose the historic building as a backdrop for its 2005 announcement of funding for a wide seismic mitigation program. Yet, more than a decade later Carleton remains unchanged.

READ MORE: Argyle Secondary School getting $45.7M seismic upgrade

“It’s really disheartening when you hear someone say we promise to do ‘X’ but nothing happens….at this point, maybe if I hold my breath, maybe my grandchildren will see it,” Wong said.

Tomorrow, the Vancouver School Board will release a list of schools that could face closure. Trustees say they may need to shutter up to 21 schools over the next 14 years.

Nobody from the VSB would say whether Carleton is on that list.

Multiple tornadoes touch down in Saskatchewan on Father’s Day

It was a wild Father’s Day in eastern Saskatchewan with Environment Canada confirming two tornadoes touching down, one of them just metres away from a community.

Tornado touchdown just metres away from the town of Naicam, Sask.

Courtesy Audrey McMillan

It all began just before noon Sunday as dark ominous skies started moving in.

READ MORE: 4 things Canada needs to do to prepare for extreme weather events

At the same time, the Saskatoon Soaring Club was heading out for a day of gliding, using the Cudworth Airport as a base, but their plans were quickly halted.

“We were looking at the weather and we saw these funnel clouds and large thunder cell just about 10-15 kilometres north of the airfield,” said Saskatoon Soaring Club member Ashton Reimer.

“One of the funnel clouds kept getting thicker and it eventually elongated and it looks like it had touched down.”

Down the road in Naicam, images started to surface on social media showing just how close a twister was to the town.

Trevor Sekora witnessed the tornado touchdown and said you could see dirt, leaves and small branches flying around.

“It would’ve come close to the graveyard just north of town, but I don’t think it damaged anything there,” Sekora said.

Environment Canada confirmed with Global News that at least two tornadoes touched down in the area.

The first tornado touched down around 12:00 p.m. approximately 10 kilometres west of Naicam and lasted for about 5 minutes.

The second tornado touched down about 12 minutes later on the northern edge of the townsite, lasting about 3 minutes.

Environment Canada confirms 2 landspout tornadoes tornadoes touch down in Saskatchewan Sunday.

Courtesy Environment Canada

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    There were no reports of damage from either tornado, however numerous other funnel clouds were reported across the region.

    The first funnel cloud was reported at 11:25 a.m. 2 kilometres north of Bruno followed by numerous other reports between Humboldt, Saint Brieux and Naicam over the next few hours.

    The last sighting was reported 8 kilometres east of Saint Brieux at 2:10 p.m.

    READ MORE: How you can stay safe and save lives this severe weather season

    All tornado and severe thunderstorm watches and warnings were ended by mid-afternoon on Sunday.

    For weather on the go download the Global News Skytracker weather app for iPhone, iPad or Android.

Premier Christy Clark tours flood-ravaged Dawson Creek

Premier Christy Clark toured flood-ravaged parts of the Peace Region Sunday afternoon, saying more has to be done to prepare for extreme weather events.

“When I was up in the Peace two months ago, the place was on fire,” she said. “And now it’s underwater. Really, we have to, across Canada, get used to the fact that weather events are getting more extreme. Climate change is having a big impact, so we have to adapt.”

On Sunday, Clark said the province is spending $65 million this year for flood mitigation and urged the federal government to do more.

Dawson Creek is in recovery mode as roads were ripped apart and the CN Rail line through town was washed out.

Clark said they will explore the possibility of building bridges to replace culvert systems that were damaged by the flood.

In Moberly Lake, northwest of town, Reg Whiten is stranded on his own property after raging floodwaters tore up the bridge he uses to get to his home.

“I had a bridge here, a beautiful steel bridge,” he said. “It didn’t last.”

The Moberly River remains under a flood warning today.

In other areas of Northeastern B.C., alerts have been downgraded to high stream flow advisories. People affected by the flooding will be able to learn about possible financial support at community meetings in Dawson Creek Monday and Chetwynd on Tuesday.

– With files from Justin McElroy and Kristen Robinson

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Regina’s White Pony Lodge patrol streets to tackle neighbourhood violence

After months of preparation, members of White Pony Lodge patrol took their first steps this weekend to combat violence and crime in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood.

“We wanted to get the community together, [to help] build rapport, build relationships within the community,” coordinator Shawna Oochoo explained.

“To show that we are here, and we do have a presence.”

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READ MORE: White Pony Lodge sets date for street patrols

The citizen street patrol was out in bright reflective orange vests Friday and Saturday evening touring streets and interacting with residents.

The group mandate is to be a positive and visible force in the community, with the hope that the patrols can help reduce violence and crime.

“If we walk out there with fear, then to me, we’re defeating the purpose,” coordinator Beatrice Wallace said.

Wallace explained she sees violence in North Central all too often.

“There’s been stabbings, murders, robberies, just in front of our house.”

READ MORE: New community group enlists help to curb North Central violence

North Central accounts for seven of the past nine murders in the city, dating back to April 2015.

Total crime rates in the area are also more than double other neighbourhoods around the city, according to Regina police.

“My girls weren’t allowed to walk down the streets by themselves because I was living in fear. I want to change that,” Wallace said.

The group hopes to spread positivity to all areas of their community.

“When we walk, we’re happy. We don’t walk scared or intimidated. We know what we’re doing is good,” Wallace said.

White Pony Lodge said they still need more volunteers to be the neighbourhood’s guardian angel.

“It’s not all negative. It’s good people. We need more good people,” member Destiny Goforth said.

The group will be on patrol every Friday and Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. Volunteers are required to fill out a waiver when they sign up.

The group is also accepting donations from the public and are seeking the following items:

Bug SprayRaincoats/PonchosSunscreenBottled WaterReflective vestsRadiosSnacks ie. cookies, crackersFollow @ChristaDao

Calgary Stampeders make final roster moves ahead of CFL regular season

The Calgary Stampeders made their final roster moves Sunday ahead of the regular season.

The Stampeders currently have three quarterbacks on their roster.

They also traded International defensive back Brandon McDonald to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the rights to a negotiation-list player.

McDonald played 17 CFL games over the past two seasons including seven with the Stampeders and had 65 tackles and four interceptions.

Here’s the full list of transactions which includes releases and players added to the Practice Roster:

The following players have been released:

National defensive back Jean-Philippe BolducNational defensive back Malcolm BrownInternational offensive lineman Alex FifitaInternational defensive lineman Uriah GrantInternational receiver Josh HarperNational offensive lineman Quinn HortonInternational quarterback G.J. KinneInternational receiver Matthew NorzilInternational linebacker Cameron OntkoInternational running back Lache SeastrunkNational linebacker Corbin SharunInternational defensive back Demetrius Wright

The following player is returning to his university team:

National defensive lineman Michael Kashak

The following players have been added to the practice roster:

International defensive lineman Demonte’ BoldenNational linebacker Max CaronInternational receiver DaVaris DanielsInternational defensive lineman Josh FrancisInternational defensive back Mylan HicksNational defensive back Dexter JankeInternational receiver Jamal NixonInternational defensive back Osagie OdiaseInternational offensive lineman Ucambre WilliamsInternational receiver Greg Wilson

The Stampeders begin the 2016 regular season on Saturday, June 25 in Vancouver to face the BC Lions. Kickoff is at 8 p.m.

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Widow of Mac’s murder victim’s struggling with loss on Father’s Day

It would have been their first Father’s Day together as a family – but instead, Kiranbir Bhangu is spending it as a widow in the company of her six-year-old son, Royce.

Royce’s father, Karanpal Bhangu, was murdered while working the night shift at a Mill Woods Mac’s store in December 2015.

Three masked men barged into the store in the wee hours of the morning in an armed robbery. Bhangu activated the emergency alert, but he was shot in the stomach and died within minutes.

READ MORE: Charges laid in Mac’s Convenience store robberies

“According to the medical examiner, that’s all he had, was three minutes after he got the bullet. It was too late,” said Kiranbir.

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    The couple met at a wedding in India. Soon after Royce was born, Kiranbir moved to Canada to go to school and become a teacher.

    “You wanted to have a better future for your children,” she said.

    “Part of that is also safety. You feel like these countries are safer.”

    Karanpal dreamed of also leaving India for better opportunities in Canada. But it would be five years and seven months before he and Royce would reunite with Kiranbir in Edmonton.

    READ MORE: Youth accused in Edmonton Mac’s murders cries in court

    When Karanpal arrived in Edmonton in August 2015, he fell in love with the Canadian winter.

    “He loved the snow,” his wife recalled. “The day this thing happened, he got out of the house and he’s calling me from the parking lot. I’m thinking he forgot something. So I’m like, ‘What now Karan?” and he goes ‘It’s snowing outside! Go get Royce and enjoy the snow.’”

    In the time leading up to his death, the family was very active.

    “I don’t remember any weekend or any time that we had together, since they came – in those four months – that we spent at home. We were always out in the parks, enjoying.”

    Karanpal would have turned 36 on Monday, June 13. Holidays and anniversaries that Kiranbir used to look forward to are now difficult to endure.

    From the outset, she was nervous about her husband working overnights. Back in India, he held a Masters in public administration and a bachelors degree in information technology.

    READ MORE: ‘I don’t want anybody else to go through this’: Mac’s murder victim’s widow speaks out 

    “His employer was so impressed with him, the way he would work – being so responsible and stuff. He’d say, ‘You should be the manager, not a night shift employee’ and he would say, ‘It’s okay, I’m not going to work here for long – just a couple months. I’ll find something else.’”

    He told his wife he felt safe at work – even though there was one time where a man came in bleeding from his head and threatening to kill him. Karanpal wasn’t initially forthcoming in sharing that story with his wife.

    “I was like, ‘Why wouldn’t you tell me that?’ And Karan was like, ‘You wouldn’t allow me to go to work the next day. I knew you wouldn’t let me go to work.’”

    In December Karanpal was killed in the same store.

    “All of a sudden it’s all been taken away,” said Bhangu, her eyes welling with tears.

    “He was a son, he was a brother, he was my husband. He was a father, who my child will be missing this Father’s Day.”

    Tears stream down Kiranbir’s face as she thinks of her son.

    “Now he will tell me he misses dad. He misses dad when he goes to the park.”

    Kiranbir said she still has unanswered questions, six months after her husband’s death.

    “All of this just doesn’t make sense to me. I still cannot wrap my head around it. How could this happen to me? I don’t know if I have accepted it or not. I’m still working on it.”

    But as the pair grieves, Kiranbir pulls strength from her family and friends.

    “The prayers, the thoughts they did for me, I felt that. Otherwise there was no other way I could have survived it.”

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‘Never give up’: Saskatoon police officer trains youth for triathlon

For six young girls, Sunday wasn’t just Father’s Day —; it was competition day.

The three swam, biked and raced their way across the finish line in the Kids of Steel Triathlon, most of the girls competing for the first time.

“It’s not easy, it’s challenging, which makes it fun,” said 11-year-old competitor Laurenne Trottier.

“It’s an accomplishment.”

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    “It was actually pretty cool because it’s the first triathlon I’ve ever done, but it was pretty tiring,” said Grade 4 competitor Riley Pierce.

    READ MORE: ‘Makin’ It Happen’ triathlon held in memory of passionate volunteer

    Joel Pedersen, a Saskatoon police officer and owner of Fitness 2J2, has been training the group for two months.

    “I know the importance of sports, recreation and how it all combines into health and wellness,” Pedersen said.

    “When I first started, I didn’t think that I’d be able to do it, but as I trained it seemed easier and easier,” said competitor Layla Stone, 11.

    Beyond competing in a new sport, Pedersen has taught the girls perseverance.

    “To keep going and even when it gets hard, just keep going and don’t give up,” said Neave-Marie Pedersen.

    READ MORE: CrossFit is whipping 56-year-old man into the best shape of his life

    Tara Desroches is a teacher at St. Mary’s and has seen the positive psychological transformation the program has made on her students.

    “They realize they can do it. They realize with enough determination and practice they’re capable of performing in a triathlon. Something they weren’t able to do at the beginning of the year. It builds confidence,” Desroches said.

    “I’m so proud of them. They accomplished more than they thought they could and at the end of the day they got to meet new kids and learned a new sport they can do forever,” Pedersen explained.

    Despite a few bumps and bruises, all of the girls say they’re going to continue training for triathlons. Proving the experience not only kept them active, but it showed them they’re capable of overcoming life’s obstacles if they put their minds to it.

Vancouver dragon boaters furious after charter boat interrupts race in False Creek

Organizers of the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival are renewing their call to limit boat traffic in False Creek after an uninvited entry crashed the competition this weekend.

A large charter vessel ran right into the middle of the course during a 2,000-metre race on Saturday.

“Unfortunately during our final race of the day, the women’s Guts & Glory, a local charter operator, chose to power across the course even when given the opportunity to get out of the way of our athletes,” Dragon Boat BC wrote on their Facebook page.

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Fortunately no one was injured.

Festival organizers filed a police complaint against the charter operator.

“We think that his actions were reckless,” Anita Webster of the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival said.

“On the waterways…the right of way goes to the non-motorized vessel. He was in the thick of a lot of non-motorized vessels and not obeying the rules of the road.”

Charter captain Andre Filimonov agreed that dragon boats have the right of way, but said the way the festival has taken over the channel also breaks the rules.

“All lanes are blocked,” he said.

“We’re just looking for a safe window to pass through.”

Dragon boaters recently launched a petition to ban moorage in the eastern part of False Creek in order to keep a small area safe for regattas and other non-motorized water sports.

Some dragon boat fans vented their frustrations online, posting negative reviews on the Yelp page for Golden Eagle Boat Charters, the owners of the boat involved in Saturday’s mishap.

A second Dragon Boat BC Facebook post said the Vancouver Police Department is looking for witnesses who were on the water at the time of the incident.