Health Scams: a growing problem in the age of misinformation

2Aug

Health Scams: a growing problem in the age of misinformation

by admin

“Everybody wants to be healthy. Everybody has been taken in by some sort of health scam at one point in their life — a product to improve their skin, or lose weight. It’s a normal human desire to try and improve our lives.” — UBC professor Bernie Garrett

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Bernie Garrett, author of The New Alchemists, in Pender Harbour.
Bernie Garrett, author of The New Alchemists, in Pender Harbour. PNG

In the opening of his book, The New Alchemists, author and UBC professor Bernie Garrett compares the rise of deceptive heath care practices and misinformation to the cons perpetrated by Renaissance alchemists, who swindled desperate people with promises of immortality and claims they could turn metal into gold.

“Everybody wants to be healthy,” said Garrett. “Everybody has been taken in by some sort of health scam at one point in their life — a product to improve their skin, or lose weight. It’s a normal human desire to try and improve our lives.”

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But when lives are at stake — or when a global pandemic hits — the outcomes of believing in pseudo-science, deception, scams and misinformation, can be more serious.

“It’s not just a question about losing money, some of these things can be detrimental and prevent people from getting effective treatment,” said Garrett, who cites several well-known cases that have had tragic outcomes, such as the death of a toddler in Alberta whose parents used natural remedies, rather than seek medical treatment for their seriously ill child.

Garret started writing the book in 2018 after noticing an increase in deceptive health care practices fuelled by the internet. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, with its plethora of misinformation and fraudulent tests, cures, immune-boosting agents, anti-vaccination rhetoric, and fake cures, from bleach to sunlight.

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Watching the explosion of misinformation play out in real time as he wrote the book was fascinating, said Garrett, who compared it to bailing out a leaky boat: for every theory that was debunked, a new one would replace it.

“For my colleagues working in the ICUs and acute care units across the country, the effects of this pandemic are horrific, and any misinformation that prolongs it has serious consequences,” said Garrett, who has 35 years of experience in nursing and health care research.

Bogus health care claims come in many guises, whether it’s a “magical health machine” or magical technology, unproven supplements, super-juices, fake products, fake clinics, or even fake doctors like teen Malachi A. Love-Robinson, who was caught fraudulently practicing in Florida.

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“The most egregious are the fake cancer clinics in the way in which they prey on very vulnerable people,” said Garrett.

Mistrust of conventional medicine has led to distrust of some public health options, said Garret, in part, because of scandals associated with big pharma.

“We’ve had scandals with Abilify, OxyContin, Respiridal and others, where these pharmaceutical companies have behaved very poorly in terms of marketing, and that’s encouraged some people to move away from traditional medicine. ”

Deceptive healthcare providers have capitalized on that growing lack of public trust in science and medicine, and social media has fuelled the fire. Studies show that even “absurd” rumours and easily understood falsehoods spread faster on social media networks than solid science, said Garrett who cites Kaiser Family Foundation research that shows 2/3 of unvaccinated adults believed at least one vaccine lie.

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The psychology of advertising plays a role said Garrett.

“These folks are very good at pushing our buttons with buzzwords that appeal to us or invoke fear.”

Deceptive health care claimants tend to appeal to emotion rather than logic, and rely on techniques that connect positive social imagery and phrases such as “Moms like this,” or use images of nature, or “ancient traditions.”

They tend to rely on testimonials, and claims of groundbreaking or secret research science hasn’t caught up with yet, or the conspiracy theorists favourite: “doctors don’t want you to know this,” said Garrett.

“It’s a complex problem,” said Garrett. “With people in our own lives it’s important to debunk these idea when they come forward by pointing out why things are illogical or irrational and correcting misconceptions.”

Garret said the “wild west” of health care advertising needs to be better regulated, and our health care systems need to be made more user-friendly so fewer people will seek alternatives.

“Some of the key problems we have in health deception in Canada and more broadly are based on this lack of regulation.”

dryan@postmedia.com

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2Aug

Afghan Kitchen restaurant in Surrey targeted with vandalism

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VANCOUVER —
The owners of a popular restaurant in Surrey are reeling after they were targeted with yet another act of vandalism.

Early Saturday morning a man approached the restaurant patio of the Afghan Kitchen, and began smashing the establishment’s outdoor heaters – first by tipping them over and then repeatedly picking them up and dropping them.

“For those visiting us today and this coming week, please do excuse the mess and lack of heating on our patio,” reads a statement from the restaurant on social media.

“Otherwise, we’re lost for words.”

The vandal’s actions were caught on a security camera. He was wearing all black, with a baseball cap and white headphones around his neck. According to the restaurant he came around 6 a.m.

The Afghan Kitchen, located in South Surrey, is owned in part by the Sarwari family, who immigrated from Afghanistan to Canada, and features their family’s recipes.

At one point, in the video, he begins to leave, but then turns back to further destroy the patio heaters by bending them with his hands.

This is not the first time that the restaurant has been subject to seemingly random acts of vandalism. In the spring and summer of 2020, thieves targeted the patio and stole plants multiple times.

30Jul

Canada’s Indigenous artists are going global like never before

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Indigenous artists are making some of the most exciting, challenging and important art in Canada today.

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Eighteen days after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, Metepenagiag First Nation member Rodney Levi was shot dead by RCMP in Sunny Corner, N.B.

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While Floyd’s death ignited outrage across the world, Levi’s death, which occurred during police response to a complaint about a home disturbance, didn’t prompt a similar outpouring of public sentiment.

While he feels nothing but sympathy with the global Black Lives Matter movement, Vancouver rapper Neon Empty (Bryce Lokken) wasn’t surprised.

Feeling disgust with the hypocrisy around Canada’s failure to recognize its own persistent systemic racism, he penned the single Red Lives Don’t.

“As the grandson of a residential school survivor, who still feels the effects of colonialism and Canada’s genocide of my people, I found it hard to believe Canada really cared about racism,” Lokken said. “It felt like they cared about being seen participating. That opinion was solidified when Rodney Levi was murdered 18 days after George Floyd at the hands of the RCMP.

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“No marches. No petitions. No justice. Nobody cares.”

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The track from the Métis-raised-white hip-hop artist is a throwback to the days of activist rap tracks that challenged all comers to face up to the pervasive ills in contemporary society.

Using some of the most direct language possible, the rapper doesn’t mince words tackling what he sees as the deepest-rooted problem facing Canada: “The hatred of Indigenous people and our constant attempt to silence, destroy, and minimize those who look like my grandmother.”

The opening line of the song refers to himself as an “opportunist, halfbreed, double race-traitor” knowing that he will get plenty of flak for pointing out we live somewhere that “Black lives matter, but red lives don’t.”

This challenging track is a prime example of the potent new Indigenous voices being raised across Canada.

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In reaction to police shootings, discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools and persistent broken promises by governments on issues as critical to human health as clean drinking water, a new generation of Indigenous artists is bringing pride of purpose into the public eye.

The variety of this cultural expression features a range of media and emotions.

“My grandmother was from Treaty 8 and went to residential school, but I was raised white and didn’t even meet that side of my family until I was around eight,” Lokken said. “I was raised redneck with all the negative views of First Nations peoples and didn’t really start to understand how much inborn hatred that generated until I was in my twenties. Working through that has been a big focus of both my rock and, now, the rap projects.”

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The Vancouver-based digital marketing strategist has six releases to his credit in various bands and is also the lead singer of progressive metallists Tenant. The single Red Lives Don’t marks his first foray into hip hop.

“Eminem has been a huge influence because I can really relate to a poor white kid from a trailer park in a bad home,” he said. “But I really love the way you can really go hard with your words and cut loose with rap and Neon Empty is where I’m going with that. I see this as a form of bloodletting almost, because it’s a different from the way you go hard with heavy metal.”

The Neon Empty name is a contradiction. There can’t be light in emptiness. But the artist thought the way that the title embraced both his wish to illuminate and rise out of the void worked perfectly.

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“I’m also a really huge fan of ’80s synth sounds and music and thought that neon in the name left things open for me to incorporate them in future recordings,” he said. “This one took a lot out of me, so we shall see what comes next. The truth is, in Canada, that my lived experience of racism around me was always directed toward Indigenous people before any other community and the whole response to something that happened in the States while ignoring what happens here drove me to it.”

The truth is, Red Lives Don’t hasn’t taken off, but the debate it addresses certainly has.

Lokken says the worst possible result for all of the effort it took to write, compose, record and release the tune would have been apathy. If he has to face haters who accuse him of being a “pretendian,” it is a small price to pay for getting the message out.

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The ever-growing community of dynamic Indigenous artists includes fashion influencers, visual artists, authors, and filmmakers.

Here are five active artists making a difference.

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1: Adele Arsenau. A Nehiyaw/Métis visual artist with a disability, she was born in B.C., and moved from painting to beadwork, woodcarving and digital art to reclaim her displaced heritage and language. Her work has been shown across the Lower Mainland. She is guest curator of the latest instalment of the Pushing Boundaries exhibit held at CityScape Community ArtSpace running until Nov. 20 in North Vancouver.

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2: Greyson Gritt. G.R. Gritt is half of the Juno award-winning Yellowknife blues/folk duo Quantum Triangle. The transgender Anishinaabe/Métis/francophone artist’s use of acoustic guitar and electronics adds up to a sound that is equal parts folk festival and dance club. Their latest solo album, titled Ancestors, is out on Coax Records. Previous releases have been nominated for Indigenous Music Awards.

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3: Lisa Boivin. The novel from this Deninu Kue First Nation bioethicist and graphic novelist is a tale of a young woman travelling to England to bring home her brother’s ashes. It’s a moving story for older audiences, ages 12 and up. A winner of a 2021 Indigenous Voices Award, her debut work is being celebrated for its potent storytelling, accomplished design and meaningful message. Her TED Talk about Painting the Path of Indigenous Resilience is well worth a watch.

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4. Mary Galloway. Cowichan Coast Salish actor Mary Galloway is a fixture in Hollywood North where she has appeared in shows such as Supernatural and feature films such as Ruthless Souls. Through her company Bright Shadow Productions, in partnership with Pass Through Productions, she has launched Querencia. The first original series on APTN Lumi, the web-based 2SLGBTQ+ story of two young Indigenous women’s budding romance launched on June 1.

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5: Tia Wood. A Nehiyaw/Salish/Tiamischihk creator now based in Los Angeles, this Vancouver singer and TikTok phenom posts pieces about her Cree and Salish cultures and educational videos on her site. With more than 1.6 million fans (and counting) tuning in to check out her work since going on the popular app last year, she has been featured in key style media such as Vogue.com.

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29Jul

17 ‘stranger attacks’ in just 2 weeks in Vancouver, police say, releasing video of an incident

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VANCOUVER —
Officers are investigating an incident they say is just one of more than a dozen random assaults reported in Vancouver in the last few weeks.

Police said the incident was reported in the early morning hours of July 11, though the public was not notified until this week.

In a news release, the Vancouver Police Department said a man was walking home along Granville Street at about 3:30 a.m. that day when he was approached by a group of men.

Part of the incident was captured by a nearby security camera, according to the VPD, who released some of that video Thursday.

Police said the video shows a man pushed the victim down. Another helped the victim up, and the victim can be seen walking with the group toward a lane near Granville and Smithe Street.

The VPD said the victim was assaulted while in the lane, and his wallet was stolen.

And it does not appear to be an isolated incident.

According to VPD Const. Tania Visintin, “Stranger attacks have been prevalent in recent weeks throughout Vancouver and this is very concerning.”

The constable said there have been 17 “random assaults” reported across the city in the last two weeks alone.

Three suspects are all described as South Asian and in their early 20s.

The first is about 5’10” with short hair and “large ears,” the VPD said. At the time of the assault, he was wearing a white T-shirt, white pants and a green jacket, and carrying a black satchel across his chest.

Police described the second man as about 5’11” with a medium build and short dark hair. He was wearing a grey hooded sweater and black pants.

The third, according to police, is about 5’9″ with curly dark brown hair, and had on a white sweater and grey sweatpants the morning of July 11.

Police are seeking witnesses, as well as anyone who may recognize the men in the video.

“This happened around the time the bars closed on Granville Street. We know there were people still out and they may have seen what happened and can identify these men,” Visintin said.

“There is no excuse for anyone to get attacked for absolutely no reason.”

29Jul

B.C. artist’s memoir illustrates his experiences of homelessness and addiction — and his way out | CBC News

by admin

Curled up beneath the toilet in a public washroom, P.J. could smell the old urine-stained concrete floor.

He was soothed by the sound of waves crashing onto Huntington Beach, just south of Los Angeles.

A meth pipe cured his emotional baggage. 

This was home. 

For several months between 2004 and 2005, P.J. Patten was homeless and lived on the beach. Drug addiction had made him leave his family and settle for life by Tower 25, a lifeguard tower.

Now an artist living in Burnaby, B.C., Patten has titled his new graphic novel-style memoir after the tower. He says Tower 25, which reveals the challenges of trauma, isolation and becoming sober, has allowed him to process his past in hopes of inspiring greater empathy for those struggling with homelessness and addiction. 

“I was so deep in meth addiction. I just, I didn’t know what to do. I felt overwhelmed by everything and I just wanted to be away from everybody,” he said.

‘I didn’t want to feel anything’

Patten had become a full-blown drug addict by age 15.  

This partly stemmed from watching his parents divorce at a young age and often feeling isolated. 

“I was just looking for drugs because I didn’t want to feel anything … And crystal meth just did that for me,” he recalled.

After leaving home, he found the washroom near Tower 25 was a relatively safe place to sleep. He says he would often fall asleep around 11 p.m. and wake up at 4 a.m. to prevent being caught by the guards or police.

The washroom where Patten slept while he was homeless near Tower 25. (Erin Pruden)

Living in isolation was one of Patten’s biggest challenges, but it also led to much journaling and reflection, as he realized he had nobody left to blame for his situation. 

“All those emotions that I had just buried for so many years just kind of came out all at once.” he said. “I spent a lot of time screaming at the ocean when no one was there.”

Turning points

Patten says his first turning point came as he desperately searched through garbage cans looking for foil so he could smoke meth.

“At that point there was no more lying to myself about it … mentally, it was time to stop,” he said.

Sometimes Patten’s friends would offer him their place to spend a few nights. He was using meth heavily around the time this picture was taken. (Dustin Burcombe)

His path to becoming sober was draining, but one opportunity significantly changed his circumstances. 

Growing up, he had had a fascination with Buddhism. So when he saw an ad from a Buddhist retreat centre hiring people with a background in construction and art, he knew he couldn’t let it slip away.

He says he spent his last $2 at an internet cafe printing out an honest application about his life.

To his surprise, he was accepted. 

“I was so happy and so relieved, I’d actually been able to do it … I was, I guess, just in shock,” he said.

From relief to despair

But that same night, his feeling of relief turned to despair when he was caught sleeping in the washroom. Although he begged the guard to understand his situation, Patten was ordered to attend court in three weeks’ time. 

The emotions were gutting, he said, and he recalls being moments away from making a call to get drugs to ease the pain.

But he stopped himself. 

“That was the biggest turning point for me,” he said. “I can throw away everything I’ve done to get to this point because this one thing happened to me, or I can figure out what to do.”

Out of desperation for change, Patten trashed the ticket and left the beach. He later wrote a letter to a judge about his situation. The charges were dropped and his father helped pay a small fine. 

Patten explains why he trashed a ticket in his graphic memoir Tower 25. (Tower 25)

Patten ended up spending nearly 10 years at a Buddhist retreat in northern California, working in bronze casting and printing. He practised meditation and being away from the drug scene helped him become sober. 

In 2014, he met the woman who would become his wife while volunteering at a meditation centre in Whistler. They eventually moved to Burnaby and, with her encouragement, Patten began writing and illustrating Tower 25

A gesture of empathy

Embracing his Japanese heritage, Patten was inspired to create his memoir in the style of haiga, an old Japanese art form that combines images with small verses beside them. 

The “graphic memoir,” based on Patten’s journal entries while he was homeless, features a character whose face is never seen. It’s a gesture of empathy for people who have gone through something similar, or their loved ones, he says.

“If you had been through a similar experience, you could see yourself in that book,” he explains.

Patten says he is one of the lucky ones — he had friends who checked in with him — and acknowledges that addiction and homelessness are no easy escape.

He hopes his memoir encourages people to treat those struggling with compassion — and check in with them, too. Even if it just starts with a smile.  

Tower 25 is available online.

27Jul

No jail time for drug-fuelled robber who seriously injured community leader in Prince George | CBC News

by admin

A man who pleaded guilty after a drug-fuelled robbery that left a Prince George community leader with a serious brain injury won’t serve jail time.

On Friday in Prince George Provincial Court, Marshall Schulze was sentenced to three years probation for mugging Diane Nakamura in broad daylight outside the downtown post office in October 2018.

Schulze has also been ordered to pay $1,500 to the Prince George Brain Injured Group Society.

The robbery left Nakamura, once a finalist for Prince George Citizen of the Year, on permanent disability, ending her 33 year career as a social worker. 

Still, Nakamura backed the judge’s decision to keep her assailant out of jail. 

Robber now ‘model citizen’

“Since [Schulze’s] been clean and sober, he’s just been a model citizen,” Nakamura told CBC News after the sentencing. “Sending him to jail would just unravel everything that he’s accomplished.” 

The court heard that since the robbery, Schulze had completed a lengthy drug rehabilitation program, was working full time as a carpentry framer and was committed to sobriety.

“What Marshall Schulze has accomplished is what I would have wanted for all of my clients … This is pretty much unheard of in terms of success,” Nakamura said. 

Daybreak North6:28Former social worker glad man who gave her permanent brain damage isn’t doing jail time

Diane Nakamura has had to quit her job and is living with permanent brain damage following an asault in 2018 but she says she’s glad her assailant is not being sent to jail for the attack. 6:28

During her working life, Nakamura counselled people living on the street, in jail, and in drug treatment.

She also assisted families of the victims of serial killer Cody Legebokoff, and supported the young victims of former judge David Ramsey, helping secure his conviction for sex crimes. 

Marshall Schulze robbed Nakamura in broad daylight outside Prince George’s downtown post office in 2018. Postal workers on the picket line and a passerby came to her aid. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

Victim ‘screamed and screamed for help’

The court heard that Schulze was supposed to be attending  court-ordered residential drug treatment near Prince George and was “intoxicated on drugs” when he robbed Nakamura.

Schulze told the court he had a “major addiction problem” after using opiates for pain control after surgery.

Nakamura said he was a “scary looking guy … visibly high on drugs” during the robbery.

Marshall Schulze was sentenced inside the Prince George courthouse for a robbery that ended Nakamura’s 33-year career as a social worker. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

“He tried to swing me around, he tried to head butt me, and I just screamed and screamed for help,” Nakamura told CBC News. 

Video footage played for the court showed Schulze running up behind a woman and knocking her to the cement sidewalk. 

A passerby and two postal workers picketing outside the post office came to Nakamura’s aid, tackling her assailant, and holding Schulze down until RCMP arrived.

Marshall Schulze outside the Prince George courthouse after entering a guilty plea for one count of robbery in March, 2020. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

Victim left with ‘no spark, no light’

During the sentencing hearing, Nakamura told Schulze  that she “didn’t deserve to be assaulted and left with a permanent brain injury. Now, I feel dead inside. No spark, no light.”

In a written impact statement, Nakamura’s husband said Schulze had “destroyed my wife’s beautiful nature. Her fun spirit has disappeared.”

The robbery conviction in Prince George was not Schulze’s first conflict with the law. 

Assailant was on probation 

In 2013, he was convicted of drug trafficking and the illegal possession of several high-powered stun guns. 

In 2018, Vancouver police arrested Schulze after reports a man was hitting people in Pigeon Park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Schulze tried to grab a police pistol, as well as bite and spit on officers, Crown lawyer Ryan Withel told the sentencing hearing.

As a condition of his release, Schulze was ordered to travel north to Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community and Farm, near Prince George.

Schulze got a ride to Prince George. But he never went to rehab, according to the Crown.

Withel said Schulze was on probation when he robbed Nakamura. 

“I’m forgiving you, because it’s the only way to move on,” Nakamura told Schulze before sentencing.

26Jul

The Burt Block Party – Winnipeg | Globalnews.ca

by admin

680 CJOB welcomes The Jim Cuddy Band and The Northern Pikes on Friday, August 20th AND Streetheart, Honeymoon Suite and The Headpins on Friday, August 27th part of The Burt Block Party Summer Concert Series.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, July 28th at 10am

Burt Block Parties mark return of live music downtown

on Aug. 20/21 and 27/28

WINNIPEG, July 26, 2021 – Manitoba music fans will have the opportunity to once again gather outdoors in a festival atmosphere this August in downtown Winnipeg with the Burt Block Party Concert Series.

The Burt Block Parties, produced in partnership with the world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation Canada, will be hosted over four nights on two weekends in August and feature a loaded lineup of star-studded Canadian talent. The concerts on Aug. 20, 21, 27, and 28 will take place directly outside the Burton Cummings Theatre between Smith Street and Notre Dame Avenue, welcoming up to 4,000 fans each night. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs for the concerts and can look forward to a fully licensed site plus several food trucks and vendors curated to add to the festival atmosphere.

Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday at 10 a.m., starting at $39.50 per night plus fees. A limited number of VIP tickets will also be available that include a VIP laminate, indoor washroom access, exclusive bar service, and access to the VIP Viewing Deck for the concerts. All tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster.ca.

“We’ve been eagerly waiting for the chance to continue putting on great shows for Manitobans, so we’re thrilled to be back doing what we love to do,” said Kevin Donnelly, Sr. Vice President, Venues & Entertainment for True North Sports + Entertainment. “As strong supporters of Winnipeg’s downtown, we’re looking forward to sharing the energy of live music in and around the Burt with these concerts as we celebrate good music, good people, and our beautiful Manitoba summers, together again.”

The Aug. 20 lineup will be headlined by eight-time Juno nominee alt-rockers 54.40, with Canadian Music Hall of Famer Jim Cuddy Band and double-platinum artists The Northern Pikes rounding out the night.

The concert on Aug. 21 will see a pair of western Canadian rock groups take the stage, featuring Saskatoon’s internationally acclaimed four-time Juno winning rockers The Sheepdogs and Vancouver’s chart-topping Said the Whale.

The following weekend, fans will get their fill of classic rock on Aug. 27 from three of Canada’s most iconic rock bands – local favourites Streetheart headline the evening with Honeymoon Suite and the Headpins.

The Block Parties will wrap up with Winnipeg’s Hottest Summer Party to pump up the downtown streets on Aug. 28.

Each Burt Block Party will be hosted by local music lovers The Village Idiots, creators of the hit series Live at The Roslyn.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ are thrilled to welcome people back to the city’s core for live entertainment.

“Events that bring people together like the Burt Block Parties add to the vibrancy downtown that we know and love,” said Kate Fenske, CEO of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “We look forward to welcoming people downtown to enjoy this event and others as we’re able to connect and gather again safely this summer.”

As per provincial health restrictions, this event is open to all fully immunized Manitobans over the age of 18 who can show proof of vaccination at the gate.

True North is committed to the health and safety of all guests. Guests are asked to review True North’s Health and Wellness Principles prior to arrival, which outline further details and requirements for immunization and other important protocols. To view True North’s Health and Wellness Principles, visit BurtBlockParty.ca.

For more information on the Burt Block Parties, visit BurtBlockParty.ca.

25Jul

Feds approve Vancouver psychedelics company’s trial use of ecstasy to treat PTSD

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Numinus, which specializes in psychedelic research, will study MDMA-assisted therapy on 20 people

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A Vancouver psychedelics company has been granted approval from Health Canada to study MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Numinus, a company that advances treatments for mental health care based on psychedelic-assisted therapies, said the feasibility of using the drug commonly known as ecstasy is being studied in collaboration with MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (a subsidiary of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies).

“We are thrilled that Health Canada has issued its ‘no objection letter’ allowing this important study to proceed and, in doing so, potentially advance Canada toward a legal, regulated system for MDMA-assisted therapy,” said Payton Nyquvest, CEO of Numinus.

“At Numinus, we are focused on expanding patient access to psychedelic-assisted therapies such as MDMA for PTSD, and we are gratified that our study will provide safety and outcome data to regulators to support integration of this treatment into mainstream mental health care.”

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The company’s aim is healing depression, anxiety, trauma, pain and substance abuse, rather than managing their symptoms, he said.

Numinus will now seek about 20 volunteers to study the safety and effectiveness of MDMA-assisted therapy. Ecstasy is a controlled substance and is illegal to use except for approved medical and scientific studies using medical-grade MDMA.

Participants in preliminary studies had PTSD diagnoses from a range of causes, including combat-related events, accidents, abuse, sexual harm and developmental trauma.

Those preliminary trials showed 88 per cent of participants who got three controlled and supervised MDMA-assisted therapy sessions experienced a clinically significant reduction in symptoms, with 67 per cent no longer qualifying for PTSD diagnosis, compared to 32 per cent of participants taking placebos, according to Dr. Devon Christie, medical and therapeutic services director at Numinus.

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“Health Canada should be recognized for its ongoing leadership through its support of this study,” Christie said. “At our Vancouver clinic, we have spent months establishing the physical, technical, clinical and human resource infrastructure needed to move the study forward and ultimately foster greater access to MDMA-assisted therapy.“

Those participating in the study will meet with therapists for a preparatory session and then a day-long drug session. Unlike preliminary trials, the participants will not be required to stay overnight.

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25Jul

Kelowna band bringing back live music with mobile bus | CBC News

by admin

After months of gig cancellations, a Kelowna band decided to take its show on the road and bought a bus. 

Tomy Thisdale and Paul Minor, members of The Carbons, say when pandemic restrictions cancelled their touring plans, they wanted to find a way to continue playing for people. 

The pair says that since they couldn’t play shows, they instead resorted to writing and recording more music. Thisdale says after awhile they started to miss the face-to-face interaction that came with live music. 

Enter Carol the Carbon Bus — a decommissioned accessibility bus the band acquired and decided to turn into its own personal concert on wheels. 

“We’ve been pulling up to different neighbourhoods, just knocking on people’s doors and trying to revive live music,” Thisdale said in an interview for CBC’s Daybreak South.

Drummer Paul Minor pictured playing in Carol the Carbon Bus. (Dominika Lirette/CBC News)

The band purchased the bus a few months ago and has slowly been turning it into a mobile venue with a rooftop stage. 

The bus, which originally had 24 seats, now has just four to make room for all its instruments and sound equipment.  

Door-to-door performances

Thisdale says it’s fully equipped with stage lights, live sound system, solar panels and a new paint job.

He says the band mostly plays in and around the Okanagan region but, on request, would travel as far as Saskatchewan.

Thisdale says the band has found a thrill in playing door-to-door performances where it pops in to surprise people at their homes. 

“We just were knocking on doors and just asking people if they want to listen to music for like 10 minutes,” Minor said. 

Minor says they are sometimes met with apprehension during the surprise visits, but after a couple songs they always seem to get them having a good time and dancing.

He says when the band first bought the van, they had no idea when they would be able to play live gigs again due to COVID-19 restrictions. They saw the van as an opportunity to do something different and spread a little cheer during an otherwise tough year. 

“We can still have a great summer and bring smiles to people and hopefully, you know, do some rock and roll healing.” Minor said.

Daybreak South11:41Kelowna band, The Carbons, have transformed an old bus into a travelling concert venue and have been giving surprise pop-up concerts all over the city

Kelowna band, The Carbons, have transformed an old bus into a travelling concert venue and have been giving surprise pop-up concerts all over the city 11:41

23Jul

Laura Johnston: Think what’s happening to Britney Spears can’t happen in B.C.? Think again

by admin

Opinion: Too many of our laws have outdated responses that rely on prejudicial stereotypes – treating mental health issues as moral failings or assuming everyone with a mental disability is a wholly “incapable person”

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The legal battle surrounding Britney Spears’ court-appointed conservatorship is shining a light on an area of law that has been neglected for far too long. Americans are asking hard questions of their lawmakers: How many people have their decision-making controlled under these orders, and how are their rights protected? We need to be asking these same questions of our governments here to.

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Conservatorship, committeeship, civil commitment, guardianship — different jurisdictions use different terms, and there are differences in the laws across states, provinces, and territories. But this isn’t something that could only happen in California or in the United States. There are remarkable similarities among places that imported British law through colonialism, including Canada. In B.C., there are several statutes that allow decision-making rights to be taken away from adults and given to someone else, including the Patients Property Act, the Mental Health Act, and the Adult Guardianship Act.

While aspects of Ms. Spears’ experience are unique to her celebrity and career, much of her recent testimony spoke to the all-too-common experiences of adults who are impacted by these laws. Basic dignities we take for granted — your privacy, choices in how you spend your own money, the decisions about what happens to your body — can be taken away and placed in the hands of those authorized to make your decisions for you. Ms. Spears testified that she has not been permitted to make a range of decisions: choosing her own lawyer, going on vacation, taking lithium, getting married, and making reproductive choices about her own body. As the American Civil Liberties Union stated, “What Spears has shared publicly fits the pattern of harm and deprivation of autonomy that happens all too often across the country.”

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These kinds of rights deprivations happen to adults in B.C. regularly. Ms. Spears spoke to the indignity of being compelled to pay with her own money for the legal proceedings and rounds of assessment and reassessments that she has not wanted. In B.C., the costs of legal proceedings under the Patients Property Act to declare an adult incapable is generally an expense ordered to be paid from the adult’s own money — whether they wanted the proceeding or not. Ms. Spears spoke to the fear and trauma of being trapped in a small room that lingers to this day following involuntary mental health care experiences. In B.C., the Mental Health Act still authorizes “direction and discipline” of mental health patients, allowing undefined, unlimited, and unreviewed use of restraints, seclusion, and other punishment mechanisms — as if mental health were a behavioural issue that could be disciplined out.

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Of course there are times when we need help with decision-making because of our health, an injury, or a disability. But the problem is that too many of our laws have outdated responses that rely on prejudicial stereotypes — treating mental health issues as moral failings, or assuming everyone with a mental disability is a wholly “incapable person.” The  B.C. Law Institute observed that “B.C.’s present legislation has remained virtually unchanged” from the ancient British laws that governed the estates of people those laws labelled as “idiots and lunatics.” We just haven’t reviewed and updated these laws to keep pace with our current understandings of mental health and disability. That is starting to change in the United States. Ms. Spears’ case is galvanizing lawmakers to take a hard look at how these laws are impacting everyone. It’s time for the B.C. government to do the same and reform these outdated laws to recognize basic human rights and promote dignity and autonomy.

Laura Johnston is the legal director of Health Justice, an adjunct professor, and a lawyer who has worked with many adults impacted by B.C.’s mental health and guardianship laws. 


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Hardip Johal, who can be reached at hjohal@postmedia.com.

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Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

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