24 Nov -

Calgary Stampeders re-sign Charleston Hughes

Defensive end Charleston Hughes signed a two-year contract extension with the Calgary Stampeders on Wednesday.

Hughes, who had a CFL-high 16 sacks this season, was eligible to become a free agent in February. He also registered 47 tackles and three forced fumbles in being named a league all-star for the third time.

“Charleston is a cornerstone of our defence and 2016 was another great season for him,” Stampeders president/GM John Hufnagel said in a statement. “He has maintained a high level of play since he first came to Calgary and I look forward to more of the same in the future.”

Watch below from Nov. 19, 2015: Calgary Stampeders defensive end Charleston Hughes teaches Global Calgary’s Amber Schinkel his signature “sack attack” before the big Western Final game this weekend.

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  • Calgary Stampeders’ Dave Dickenson to be questioned on Grey Cup decision

    Calgary Stampeders Dave Dickenson named CFL Coach of the Year

    Hughes joined the Stampeders in 2008 and led the team in sacks in helping Calgary win a Grey Cup title as a rookie. He returned to the squad in ’09 after attending training camp with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

    Hughes has 88 career sacks to stand second in Stampeders history behind Will Johnson (99). Hughes has appeared in 10 playoff games and three Grey Cups with Calgary.

    “I’m glad to get the contract taken care of,” said Hughes. “I’m very happy to be back with the Stamps and I look forward to us having another great season.

    “We have a lot of unfinished business and we just have to focus on getting even better as a team.”

    Watch below from Oct. 19, 2016: Calgary Stampeder Charleston Hughes and Murray Gibson of Purolator join Global Calgary with details on the Purolator Tackle Hunger Game Day Food Drive.

24 Nov -

Is Bill Gates the best Secret Santa ever? This Redditor thinks so

The richest man in the world also turns out to be an excellent gift giver, according to a Reddit user who found out her Secret Santa was none other than Bill Gates.

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The Redditor, who goes by the screen name Aerrix, posted a gallery on imgur which showed the presents Gates sent her as a part of the Reddit Secret Santa gift exchange.

A spokesperson from Bill Gates’ office confirmed to Global News that the Microsoft founder has been participating in the holiday gift exchange for the past few years and verified Aerrix’s story.

Secret Santa pays off thousands of dollars in layaway accounts at Pennsylvania Walmart

It appears Gates looked at Aerrix’s past Reddit activity to determine her preferences. The 30-year-old Nebraska woman described herself as a lover of “all things Internet and video games” and expressed a specific love for the Legend of Zelda series, Nintendo and Harry Potter.

Gates’ gifts included customized Zelda-themed mittens and a matching set for her dog, an Xbox One Minecraft Edition with special edition controllers, and a Cajun cookbook, because she’s originally from Louisiana.

But she said when she opened a box to find that he had also sent her a classic edition Nintendo gaming system, she “started screaming like a little girl!”

He added a personal touch to several of the gifts by adding handwritten notes and Photoshopping himself into a picture. He said he even went to the popular clothing store Hot Topic to pick out a pair of Harry Potter-themed slippers.

“I’m just blown away by his generosity, which went even further than all these gifts because he submitted a donation to code长沙夜网 in my name to give more students the chance to learn computer science,” she wrote.

Now Aerrix said she’s just trying to figure out how to send Gates a thank-you note.

Follow @jennynotjen

24 Nov -

B.C. woman advocates for genetic testing after sister nearly dies of adverse drug reaction

After a severe drug reaction that almost killed her sister, a Vancouver woman is fighting to bridge the gap between researchers and policy makers to make genetic testing part of the Canadian health care system.

In 2010, Amani Saini’s sister, a 19-year-old anthropology student at the University of British Columbia (UBC), came down with a common cold and went to see a doctor at the university hospital.

The doctor told her to get some rest and gave her a sample of Advil Cold & Sinus to ease her symptoms.

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She went back to her residence and took the pill. When she woke up the next day, she had massive blisters all over her body and her eyes had turned red.

So she went to see an eye doctor at Vancouver General Hospital, who tried to find a dermatologist to see her, but there was none available. The doctor, however, reassured her it was not a big deal.

She went back home but got even sicker overnight.

With her condition getting worse, she was rushed back to the ER, where doctors finally realized she was experiencing an adverse drug reaction to Advil Cold & Sinus. It turned out she was suffering from something called toxic epidermal necrolysis and she likely had just days to live.

The family was shocked by the news.

“This is somebody who is 19 years old and really healthy,” said Saini. “Somebody who should have been studying for her mid-terms, but is now in intensive care, and we are being told she is going to pass away soon.”

Saini’s sister spent the next three weeks fighting for her life in the intensive care unit, but some health practitioners at the hospital still advised the family to start preparing for the funeral.

Miraculously, her sister beat the odds and made it through the ordeal.

However, she is still dealing with the side effects.

“It destroyed her tear ducts,” said Saini. “She now has to see an eye-care specialist at least once a month and put really expensive drops into her eyes.”

READ MORE: Canada’s seniors face high rates of hospitalizations from adverse drug reactions

After her sister was released from hospital, the family was told there was nothing that could have prevented her condition from developing — an answer that was not good enough for Saini.

She started reading up on her sister’s condition and found out that adverse drug reactions are the fourth-leading cause of death in Canada.

By definition, an adverse drug reaction is a noxious unintended consequence of taking a normal dosage of a drug, usually prescribed to an individual by a medical professional, that was properly administered and which was supposed to be beneficial for the patient towards curing a disease or sickness.

The consequences of an adverse drug reaction can include damage to the proper functioning of a patient’s body, prolonged hospitalization, significant disability or incapacity, life-threatening injuries and even death.

Recent research indicates adverse drug reactions claim anywhere between 10,000 and 22,000 lives in Canada every year.

“And that’s just the official number,” said Saini.

Health practitioners can use the Canada Vigilance Adverse Reaction Online Database to report adverse drug relations, but it’s not mandatory, which, Saini says, means many cases go unreported.

A 2011 UBC study found that in B.C. alone, hospital emergency departments treat an estimated 210,000 patients each year for adverse drug events.

The research team estimates that the cost of treating these patients is 90 per cent greater than the cost of treating other patients. The added cost could be as much as $49 million annually.

Treating adverse drug reactions is estimated to cost the Canadian health care system anywhere between $13.7 billion and $17.7 billion overall each year.

From a personal story to policy making 

After her sister got better, Saini did not think much of her medical condition until last year when she came across an article that talked about genomics, a branch of molecular biology that deals with the structure, function and mapping of genomes.

It also mentioned genetic testing for rare medical conditions.

Having no background in biology, political science major Saini delved into scientific literature on genomics and toxic epidermal necrolysis, the condition that almost took her sister’s life.

She came across articles from researchers in Thailand and Singapore that talked about a gene variant in people like Saini’s sister, who have experienced an adverse drug reaction and genetic testing that could be used to detect that variant.

“What that meant for me was that her disease could have possibly been prevented if she had been tested to see if she was carrying that gene variant,” said Saini.

So she started digging deeper and found out that Taiwan has actually made genetic testing part of their health care system, which means before a patient receives a new drug, they have to undergo genetic testing to determine if they are allergic to it.

“That’s something Canada has not done yet,” said Saini.

Through her research, Saini noticed both the United Kingdom and United States have already started to implement policies related to genetic testing.

So she decided to put her background in public administration to use and drafted a policy proposal that could be implemented here at home.

Saini put together a proposal that recommends that any child born at a Canadian hospital should be administered a genetic test for possible drug allergies along with a battery of other tests that newborns get subjected to.

Saini suggests parents should be asked if they would like to have their newborn tested and told about the consequences of an adverse drug reaction.

“That way the family knows from Day one what drug reactions their child can potentially have,” she said.

She also recommends that any Canadian, who gets prescribed a new drug which they have never taken before, should be given the option of taking a genetic test to determine which gene variants they carry and this knowledge should be used by their health practitioners when prescribing new drugs.

“Just like any other blood test, I think the provincial government should be funding that,” Saini said. “If you have never had this drug before, you could go and get a test done and that would determine if you would have an allergic reaction to it.”

Mark Kunzli, a pharmacist and pharmacogenomics researcher, says Saini’s proposal is feasible and can be cost effective, considering there are far greater societal costs beyond the health-care spending required to treat adverse drug reactions.

“Not only was [Amani’s sister] hospitalized, but she now has to have ongoing care and her economic productivity is affected for the rest of her life because of this adverse drug reaction,” said Kunzli. “When you start adding up all these costs, it makes total sense [to fund genetic testing.]”

“At the end of the day, we are getting to a point now where someone’s DNA can be incredibly informative in a health care setting. We are getting to a point where you can’t really make the argument that [genetic testing] doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective, because if you prevent even one of these in 1,000 or 10,000 people that’s very severe, those costs are a significant amount of money and they don’t just go away after that person leaves the hospital.”

READ MORE: Privacy risks lurk in DNA tests, experts warn

Saini reached out to MLAs in B.C. and spoke to them about her proposal.

While no promises have been made yet, the B.C. Ministry of Health told Global News advancements in genetic testing and genomics research are evolving rapidly, and there are many tests and technologies that have emerged, providing new scientific research opportunities and information for health-care practitioners in B.C., Canada and internationally.

“The policies presented by Ms. Amani Saini in her report are good examples of policies that B.C. is exploring within a broader and evolving science and research sector,” said Lori Cascaden, a spokesperson for the ministry.

Cascaden says the Ministry of Health is currently working with Canadian and international partners, including Genome BC, the U.K. and Australia, to understand best practices in genomics and learn from other jurisdictions that have implemented national and local government genomic policy frameworks.

“B.C. health authorities currently undertake genetic testing across the province, for example, in areas of cancer, infectious disease, prenatal screening, newborn screening, medical and hereditary disease,” Cascaden said.

The ministry also says there are a number of individuals who have made similar recommendations to Saini’s.

“As we move forward, we will consider all the recommendations that we have received to determine what testing may be publicly funded,” said Cascaden.

Why is Canada lagging? 

Kunzli says while genetic testing for adverse drug reactions is being actively looked at in a number of countries in Europe, Asia and the United States, there seems to be a gap when it comes to Canada.

While many Canadians turn to private providers like 23AndMe to learn more about their DNA, Kunzli says the government has to worry about privacy concerns.

“But there is a disconnect between what the government is worried about and what the people want. I don’t think it’s been explained properly,” Kunzli said.

“If a pharmacist knows that you have a variant that may potentially make you react to drug A, and drug B is an equal therapeutic alternative, why wouldn’t they use that information? Patients are coming up to doctors and pharmacists every day saying their 23andMe results suggest they should not be using a certain drug, and their health practitioners end up using something else instead. So why don’t we do that in a formalized way that actually helps our health care system?”

Kunzli says ultimately it’s about demystifying an easy scientific concept.

“Looking at it as this exotic technique and this new thing, I mean, it’s really cool, but it’s no different than the things we already do,” he said. “It’s just got all these other social connotations, so people get nervous, and especially government, because that’s the last thing they want to be seen meddling with. That’s where I think the holdup is. It’s being looked at as this unique beast, but really we are just refining our view of who you are.”

What’s next?

In November, Saini’s policy-drafting efforts were recognized at the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa, an event that bridges the gap between scientists and policy makers. 

She became the recipient of the 2016 Canadian Science Policy Award of Excellence, which recognizes an individual who developed an innovative and compelling evidence-based policy that will make a positive difference to Canadians. 

By utilizing genetic testing to identify people who could potentially have life-threatening adverse drug reactions, Saini says thousands of lives could be saved and the Canadian health care system could save billions of dollars.

But first, an important gap in communication needs to be bridged.

Saini says while she was working on her policy, she consulted with a number of pharmacology experts, like Kunzli at UBC, finding out in the process that the majority of researchers working in the area are not familiar with drafting public policy.

“I was really astonished that one of the professors I talked to said they were aware of how other countries are using genetic testing, but nobody has really advocated for it here, because they don’t know how to do that,” she said. “It is a huge problem in the scientific community. There is all this research that’s done, but it never gets translated into policy.”

READ MORE: The genetic test you couldn’t get in Canada, until now

In the next several months, Saini is hoping to put together a group of stakeholders to address that gap.

“I really think we need to bring together researchers with patients and their families, like me, and individuals who actually know how to write policy,” she said. “These people never interact with each other. Scientists never really talk to policy makers and policy makers never really approach scientists and ask them if they have any new research that can actually save lives.”

Kunzli agrees it is a matter of having the right discussion.

“It’s going to make people healthier, it’s going to make drugs safer and it’s going to save money in the end,” he said.

“A lot of people see DNA as something that will tell you all the ways you will die. But we look at DNA as something that can tell you all the ways in which you can be healthier. If we change that perception, then I think we are going to be miles ahead.”

To learn more about Saini’s policy proposal, go here.

24 Nov -

Saint John adds another medical marijuana dispensary

Legislation to legalize marijuana has yet to be introduced, but medical marijuana dispensaries continue to open at a regular pace across New Brunswick.

HBB Medical has opened a second location in the Saint John area to service a customer base in the Kennebecasis Valley. There are now five HBBs in operation, four in New Brunswick and one in Dartmouth, N.S. with plans to expand more across the Atlantic provinces.

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READ MORE: Medical marijuana dispensaries ‘a pebble in our shoe’: Saint John Police Chief

Company president Hank Merchant said he’s not in it for the money.

“If you could spend one day in my shoes and watch the people come in and go in any one of our dispensaries, it’s amazing,” Merchant said. “People have two words to say to you and they are, ‘Thank you.’”

The legalization of marijuana is coming according to the Trudeau government, but it’s not here yet.

Currently, Moncton-based OrganiGram is the only licensed marijuana dispensary in New Brunswick. The others are unlawful according to the province.

Police chiefs have recently been told if they want to bring a file forward to the Crown, it will decide if prosecution is viable.

READ MORE: Government to cut how much medical marijuana veterans can get for free

“For all prosecutions in the Province of New Brunswick our prosecutors review files and determine if there’s sufficient evidence and if it meets the public interest test,” said Luc Labonte, New Brunswick’s assistant deputy attorney general and director of public prosecutions. “That’s our threshold test. It has to be more likely that charges can be proven or not.”

Labonte uses alcohol as an analogy.

“If I was to open a beer store in downtown Saint John tomorrow it would not be permitted,” he explained. “So you can only sell alcohol in certain places, in certain manners and you can only possess alcohol in certain manners. Well the same thing will happen with marijuana.”

READ MORE: 53% of Atlantic Canadians support marijuana legalization: poll

Merchant said he’s willing to take the legal risk to service his clients but his goal is to be officially licensed in the future.

“We don’t want to operate outside the law,” he said. “I’ve always advocated, I’m a law abiding citizen and we want to continue being that way”.

There’s been no indication how police will respond to the matter in the immediate future

24 Nov -

Nova Scotia’s top 5 political influences of 2016

For the Nova Scotia Liberal government, 2016 was a year of many ups and downs — from backing down on pharmacare for seniors to teachers ending the year working-to-rule.

Here are the political events that shaped Nova Scotia through the past year.

1. Nova Scotia government closes all public schools as of Monday

Nova Scotians saw tensions surrounding the months-long labour dispute with teachers reach new heights near the end of the year, after teachers voted down a second tentative agreement.

Things quickly spiraled downward after contract talks broke off, and teachers announced plans to work-to-rule after voting 96 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.

Their plans were put on a brief hold, however, after the government closed all provincial schools for a day, saying the directives toward teachers under work-to-rule threatened student safety.

Premier Stephen McNeil’s approval ratings took a hard hit after the brief school closure.

2. Nova Scotia reviewing controversial changes to seniors’ pharmacare

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The government backed down on proposed changes to seniors’ pharmacare in February, after advocacy groups highlighted issues they had with major changes announced in January.

The change would mean 12,000 seniors who previously paid a premium would no longer have to. However, it didn’t mention the 14,000 seniors on Guaranteed Income Support who would have had to start paying a premium, ranging from $1 to $482.

The government said in February they would review the changes, but gave no commitment to change.

3. Nova Scotia to introduce cap-and-trade in 2018

Along with an exemption from the federal government’s plan to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030, the Nova Scotia government announced in November it would be adopting a cap-and-trade system for the province.

McNeil announced the change, which would come to all sectors of the Nova Scotia economy, would come sometime in 2018.

Environment department staff said at the time the cap that Nova Scotia Power is already operating under will stay in place, and other caps will be rolled out across the transportation, infrastructure, and home heating sectors.

4. The CAT leaves Yarmouth port for inaugural sail of 2016 season

The Yarmouth ferry, under new operator Bay Ferries and with new boat the CAT, left Yarmouth for its inaugural sail of the 2016 season on June 15.

The provincial government shelled out $23.3 million for the passenger ferry’s first year of service. It’s expected the ferry will cost the government $9.4 million in the 2017 season, and there’s no estimate on cost for the subsequent eight years of the contract.

By end of season, the ferry had carried more than 35,000 passengers — a figure well short of the government’s target of 60,000.

5. Nova Scotia pulls ‘racist’ legal argument against Sipekne’katik First Nation

Protests over the Alton Gas Natural Gas site have been front and centre throughout 2016, however the dispute was at its most heated after a legal brief from the government suggested the Sipekne’katik First Nation are a conquered people.

In November, government lawyer Alex Cameron argued the province didn’t have a duty to consult with the Sipekne’katik First Nation because the duty to consult extended only to “unconquered people,” and the band’s submission to the Crown in 1760 negated its claim of sovereignty and negated the government’s constitutional duty to consult.

The government announced on Dec. 21 it had removed several paragraphs from that legal document. Cameron was also removed from the case.

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24 Nov -

‘Knees together’ judge gets more time to respond to suggested removal from bench

The Canadian Judicial Council says a judge who asked a sex assault complainant why she couldn’t keep her knees together has been given more time to respond to a recommendation he be removed from the bench.

Justice Robin Camp made comment while a Calgary provincial court judge in a 2014 sexual assault trial, during which he also referred to the woman as ” the accused” and told her “pain and sex sometimes go together.”

READ MORE: A look at the legal career and trial that led to judge Robin Camp controversy

Last month, a judicial council panel recommended the comments should cost Camp his job.

Council spokesperson Johanna Laporte says Camp’s lawyer had 30 days — until Dec. 30 — to file a response, but asked for more time.

She says he has been given until Jan. 6 to make his submission.

Watch below: Global’s past coverage of the controversy surrounding Robin Camp

Judicial committee says ‘knees together’ judge Robin Camp should lose his job


Judicial committee says ‘knees together’ judge Robin Camp should lose his job


Travis Vader verdict, Robin Camp controversy: why don’t Alberta judges know the law?


Alberta Justice Robin Camp apologizes at hearing


Justice Robin Camp to take the stand at judicial review

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  • Judicial committee says ‘knees together’ judge Robin Camp should lose his job

    Travis Vader verdict, Robin Camp controversy: why don’t Alberta judges know the law?

    READ MORE: Judicial committee says ‘knees together’ judge Robin Camp should lose his job

    Council is then to make a recommendation on Camp’s future to federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

    Camp apologized at his disciplinary hearing in September for what he called his rude and insulting attitude toward the woman. He testified that he made mistakes but was willing to learn from them and wanted to remain on the bench.

    “I was not the good judge I thought I was,” Camp said. “Canadians deserve more from their judges.''

    READ MORE: Judge in ‘knees together’ retrial says a woman can change her mind on consent

    Camp’s lawyer, Frank Addario, argued that removing Camp would send the wrong message to other judges who want to improve themselves.

    But the committee said Camp’s apology and other efforts, such as counselling and training, didn’t make up for the damage he caused.

    “We conclude that Justice Camp’s conduct is so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judicial role that public confidence is sufficiently undermined to render the judge incapable of executing the judicial office,” wrote the five-member panel.

24 Nov -

1 in 4 Canadians admit to driving while legally drunk, half think limit is too low

A full quarter of Canadians admit they’ve had a few too many drinks before driving in the past, a new poll reveals. A full half of the population thinks the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers should be raised.

The survey was conducted between by Ipsos on behalf of Global News between Dec. 16 and Dec. 19, and it highlights some surprising trends when it comes to attitudes toward impaired driving across Canada.

Sean Simpson, vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs, said the polling firm didn’t place a time limit on when an incident occurred, so it’s perhaps not surprising that 24 per cent of respondents said they’d been legally drunk behind the wheel.

“It could have been one time,” he pointed out. “You know, people make mistakes and you hope they learn from them and don’t do it again.”

WATCH: Saskatchewan continues to lead country in impaired driving

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A more worrisome result was the nearly two-in-10 Canadians who agreed that they “feel comfortable driving after a few drinks, even though they might be over the legal limit.”

“It’s 16 per cent of Canadians who say ‘to heck with the legal limit, I know my limit so I feel comfortable getting behind the wheel,’” Simpson noted.

Legal limit too low?

One of the most surprising figures in the survey, said Simpson, was that about half of respondents said they believe the legal limit for what constitutes impaired driving (0.08 per cent blood alcohol content or higher) is too low.

Basically, these people think you should be able to drink more before you’re considered legally impaired.

READ MORE: Trudeau government begins to (slightly) lose its appeal

But a controlled test conducted recently by York Regional Police showed that the average person may not know how 0.08 per cent feels. Even when people were still below the legal limit, they judged themselves far too impaired to drive. At 0.06 per cent, some said they felt so drunk they would never consider operating a vehicle.

Staff Sgt. Sarah Riddell of York Regional Police told Global News the legal limit is really no indication of how drunk a person feels.

“It just goes to show that realistically, no amount of alcohol is a safe amount of alcohol in your system when you’re thinking about driving,” she said.

WATCH: Experiment tests the definition of ‘drunk driving’

There may be some “targeted education” that needs to happen, Simpson noted.

“That (would say) ‘this is the limit, regardless of what you believe you’re capable of handling, there is the law and you’re judged against the law.’”

Generational divide

Among the 24 per cent of respondents who admitted to having driven while legally impaired at least once, baby boomers seemed to be the worse offenders (29 per cent).

Still, Canadians over the age of 55 took a very cautious approach to drinking and driving in general. Just 15 per cent agreed that it’s OK to have a few drinks and then drive, even if you might be over the limit. On average, they said they could consume 1.8 drinks and still be fine to get behind the wheel.

The same cannot be said of millennials. Almost 40 per cent of the youngest cohort polled said that it’s okay to have a few drinks and then drive even if you might be legally impaired, and on average they felt it would be fine to consume a full 2.5 drinks before driving home.

“I think what is more acceptable among young people is this idea seemingly of knowing your own limit, and having one or two drinks and then still driving home even if you legally might be impaired,” Simpson noted.

“Almost like self-policing, rather than this limit that’s been decided by governments … there’s clearly a generational divide.”

These attitudes were also more prevalent among men, and for some reason, among British Columbians. Simpson said he’s not sure why that province showed different data.

“They were more likely to admit to having driven while legally impaired and they’re the most likely to say they feel comfortable driving after a few drinks even though they might be over the limit,” he explained.

“They’re among the least likely to support roadside breath tests.”

WATCH: Three B.C. cities make top 10 drunk driving list

This poll was conducted between Dec. 16 and Dec. 19, 2016, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel who were interviewed online. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that the legal blood alcohol content limit is 0.8 per cent. The limit is 0.08 per cent. 

24 Nov -

Parents of Canadian held hostage in Afghanistan since 2012 speak out about new video

TORONTO – The parents of a Canadian man held hostage in Afghanistan say a recently released video of their son and his family marks the first time they’ve seen their two grandchildren, who were born in captivity.

Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were kidnapped in 2012 while travelling in a mountainous region of northern Afghanistan.

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In a video uploaded to YouTube earlier this week, Coleman – sitting next to her husband and two young children – urges governments on all sides to reach a deal to secure the family’s freedom.

Boyle’s parents, Patrick and Linda Boyle, said they watched the video on Monday, getting their first glimpse at their young grandsons.

“It is an indescribable emotional sense one has watching a grandson making faces at the camera, while hearing our son’s leg chains clanging up and down on the floor as he tries to settle his son,” the Boyles said in a written statement. “It is unbelievable that they have had to shield their sons from their horrible reality for four years.”

The parents say their son told them in a letter that he and his wife have tried to protect their children by pretending their signs of captivity are part of a game being played with guards.

“It is simply heartbreaking to watch both boys so keenly observing their new surroundings in a makeshift film studio, while listening to their mother describe how they were made to watch her being defiled,” the Boyles said.

The video came to public attention through the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online. The group said the video was dated Dec. 3.

READ MORE: Canada calls for release of Joshua Boyle, Canadian held in Afghanistan after new video appears

In the clip, Coleman says her family has been waiting since 2012 for somebody to understand the “Kafkaesque nightmare” they are living.

“We understand both sides hate us and are content to leave us and our two surviving children in these problems but we can only ask and pray that somebody will recognize the atrocities these men carry out against us,” she is heard saying.

The Boyles said their daughter-in-law could not have used a more accurate term than kafkaesque.

“The absence of a clear course of action to escape a complex and bizarre situation that seems it may be somewhere between fiction and reality. Overpowered and constrained by others beyond their control, but striving to break through nonetheless,” the Boyles said.

WATCH: Canadian hostage in Afghanistan desperate plea for help (Aug. 31) 

They said the video appears to confirm that those holding their son and family captive “want to bring this to an end soon.”

“They prefer to reach an understanding during this brief period of the American presidential transition,” the Boyles said. “It also confirms the seriousness and immediacy of the captors’ threats to our four family members.”

The Boyles said they hope all governments involved will bring their son’s case to a safe resolution soon.

A spokesman with Global Affairs Canada said the federal government is “deeply concerned” about the safety and well-being of Joshua Boyle and his family and calls for their unconditional release.

READ MORE: Joshua Boyle, Canadian held hostage in Afghanistan, pleads for help in new video

Coleman’s parents say they are hoping U.S. president-elect Donald Trump will broker her release if President Barack Obama doesn’t succeed before he leaves office.

Jim and Lyn Coleman, of Stewartstown, Pa., spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday, saying they took solace in seeing their daughter and grandkids looking healthy and in seeing the children for the first time.

“You just want to reach out, you know, and hold them,” Lyn Coleman said of her grandchildren. “And that’s very difficult.”

Joshua Boyle and Coleman vanished after setting off in the summer of 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.

READ MORE: Canadian held in Afghanistan: Who is Joshua Boyle?

Coleman’s parents last heard from their son-in-law on Oct. 8, 2012, from an Internet cafe in what he described as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan.

In 2013, the couple appeared in two videos asking the U.S. government to free them from the Taliban. Coleman’s parents received a letter last November in which their daughter said she had given birth to a second child in captivity.

A video released in August showed Coleman and Boyle warning that their captors would kill them and their children unless the government in Kabul ends its execution of Taliban prisoners.

With files from The Associated Press

24 Nov -

Students raising money to provide Christmas gifts around the world

For more than 10 years, Linden Christian School in Winnipeg has been making a difference in the lives of children around the world who need it most.

Students from Grades 5 to 12, as well as staff members, raise the bar a little higher every Christmas in order to bring hope through the World Vision’s gift catalogue.

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“I babysit to earn my money, so a couple of the babysitting jobs over the past month (and) I’ve decided that money is going to go towards World Vision,” Grade 12 student Jenna Allison said.

Robert Charach, principal of Linden Christian School, said the initiative has been growing over the past several years and described the amazing partnership of “kids helping kids.”

“They set goals individually, and then collectively they go through a process where they select things that they will purchase with the money they raise … There’s a lot of passion for this project,” he said.

“I think that they are planning to surpass the $180,000 total mark.”

Michael Messenger, president of World Vision Canada, reflected on the importance of the catalogues.

“Every gift in (the catalogue) comes alongside existing communities that we have, so it supplements and supports and it actually builds up the foundation that we can continue to help kids.”

“It is often the difference between just survival and helping kids thrive.”

The school students raise about $15,000 annually for the gift catalogue and through their efforts, they’re learning about being responsible global citizens, giving to those less fortunate and looking beyond themselves.

“I’ve been involved in World Vision fundraising since I was in Grade 5 and it’s a really neat way to have a tangible impact on people around the world,” Allison said.

Students recently spent a lunch hour with Eddy the goat. Goats are one of the many animals the kids have given as gifts to families in developing countries.

“A goat can supply a lot of things. It’s food, milk, all that stuff and it’s very helpful and immunizations can save a child’s life,” Grade 8 student Caelan Cook said.

“Everyone’s getting involved together to help other people who don’t have as much, right? Because we have so much stuff,” Grade 8 student Nikki Gilmour said.

24 Nov -

NS man convicted of child luring, child porn offences granted day parole

A Nova Scotia man convicted of child luring and accessing child pornography has been granted day parole.

READ: NS man who tried to lure children, accessed child porn, soon eligible to apply for parole

ChangSha Night Net

Alexander John Ernst was sentenced to three years in prison in June 2015. Parole Board of Canada documents obtained by Global News show that Ernst used social media to attempt to lure underage females, and one of the potential victims turned out to be an undercover police officer.

A search of his computer following his arrest also turned up 250 deleted images of child pornography.

The case came to light after a Bridgewater man contacted police and reported that his 10 and 12-year-old daughters were allegedly approached over social media. Police said Ernst had arranged to meet the girls in person.

Ernst has been a registered sex offender for nearly a decade, with prior convictions for accessing and possessing child pornography.

Parole documents show Ernst acknowledged being attracted to “younger and smaller females, about age 12 or so,” and refer to him as “a work in progress.”

When rendering their decision, the board said they were satisfied that a “deviant sexual interest and poor emotional regulation” were factors in the offence and granted Ernst day parole until his statutory release date.

The documents also show that during his sentence he completed sex offender programming “at a level of intensity that was consistent with your level of risk,” and as a result “gained in skills and tools that better equip you in recognizing deviant thoughts and risk situations.”  The board said he “demonstrated a motivation for change.”

The board imposed a number of conditions on Ernst’s release including that he not own, use or possess a computer or any device that would allow him unsupervised access to the Internet.

He is also not allowed to purchase or acquire any type of pornography and cannot be in, near or around places where children under the age of 16 are likely to gather, like schools, parks, swimming pools or recreational facilities.

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