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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    Karan project

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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.

Scientists battle to save world’s coral reefs

HONOLULU — After the most powerful El Nino on record heated the world’s oceans to never-before-seen levels, huge swaths of once vibrant coral reefs that were teeming with life are now stark white ghost towns disintegrating into the sea.

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And the world’s top marine scientists are still struggling in the face of global warming and decades of devastating reef destruction to find the political and financial wherewithal to tackle the loss of these globally important ecosystems.

“What we have to do is to really translate the urgency,” said Ruth Gates, president of the International Society for Reef Studies and director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

READ MORE: New study says bleaching has killed over a third of the coral in parts of the Great Barrier Reef

Gates, who helped organize a conference this week for more than 2,000 international reef scientists, policymakers and others, said the scientific community needs to make it clear how “intimately reef health is intertwined with human health.”

The International Coral Reef Symposium convenes Monday to try to create a more unified conservation plan for coral reefs. She said researchers have to find a way to implement large scale solutions with the help of governments.

Consecutive years of coral bleaching have led to some of the most widespread mortality of reefs on record, leaving scientists in a race to save them. While bleached coral often recovers, multiple years weakens the organisms and increases the risk of death.

Researchers have achieved some success with projects such as creating coral nurseries and growing forms of “super coral” that can withstand harsher conditions. But much of that science is being done on a very small scale with limited funding.

WATCH: Why is the Great Barrier reef turning white?

Bob Richmond, director of the University of Hawaii’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory, said the problems are very clear: “overfishing of reef herbivores and top predators, land-based sources of pollution and sedimentation, and the continued and growing impacts of climate change.”

While reefs are major contributors to many coastal tourist economies, saving the world’s coral isn’t just about having pretty places for vacationers to explore. Reefs are integral to the overall ecosystem and are an essential component of everyday human existence.

Reefs not only provide habitat for most ocean fish consumed by humans, but they also shelter land from storm surges and rising sea levels. Coral has even been found to have medicinal properties.

In one project to help save reefs, researchers at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology have been taking samples from corals that have shown tolerance for harsher conditions in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay and breeding them with other strong strains in slightly warmer than normal conditions to create a super coral.

WATCH: How Google’s “Street View” is changing how we look at coral reefs

The idea is to make the corals more resilient by training them to adapt to tougher conditions before transplanting them into the ocean.

Another program run by the state of Hawaii has created seed banks and a fast-growing coral nursery for expediting coral restoration projects.

Most of Hawaii’s species of coral are unlike other corals around the world in that they grow very slowly, which makes reef rebuilding in the state difficult. So officials came up with a plan to grow large chunks of coral in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

Coral reefs have almost always been studied up close, by scientists in the water looking at small portions of reefs.

IN PHOTOS: El Niño devastates coral reefs in Pacific

But NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is taking a wider view, from about 23,000 feet above. NASA and other scientists recently launched a three-year campaign to gather new data on coral reefs worldwide. They are using specially designed imaging instruments attached to aircraft.

“The idea is to get a new perspective on coral reefs from above, to study them at a larger scale than we have been able to before, and then relate reef condition to the environment,” said Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences’ Eric Hochberg, principal investigator for the project.

If the scientific community and the world’s governments can’t come together to address coral’s decline, one of earth’s most critical habitats could soon be gone, leaving humans to deal with the unforeseen consequences.

“What happens if we don’t take care of our reefs?” asked Gates. “It’s dire.”

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