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Long-time FSIN legislative speaker passes away PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mervin Brass   
Friday, 27 November 2015 17:26

Vern Bellegarde, left, and Fred Starblanket pictured in 1985. Photo courtesy sicc.sk.ca

He was known simply as "Mr. Speaker."

Fred Starblanket, the long-time speaker of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Legislative Assembly passed away Friday morning.

Starblanket spent more than 30 years guiding the FSIN legislative assemblies with firmness but always managed to find something funny to say when things heated up.

Former FSIN Chief, Lawrence Joseph says Starblanket had a way of dealing with sensitive political issues.

“He had a way of doing that because he commanded respect in a way not very many people can do that,” said Joseph. “He didn’t have to get angry, he didn’t have to really lay the law down.”

A memorial and funeral to honour the life and achievements of Starblanket will be announced in the coming days.

Fred Starblanket was 73.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 November 2015 17:31
UPDATE: Man arrested after Saskatoon police identify body of Karina Wolfe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mervin Brass, Chelsea Laskowski   
Friday, 27 November 2015 12:10

Saskatoon Police say a 33-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder and offering an indignity to human remains, following the discovery of a body in a rural location northwest of the city.

Police say the remains located on November 14 are those of Karina Beth Anne Wolfe, based on a DNA test.

She was 20 years old when reported missing in July, 2010.

Saskatoon Police received assistance from Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Ernie Walker, the RCMP Cold Case Major Crime Unit and the Corman Park Police Service.

On Thursday, a suspect was arrested and he is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial Court on Monday after appearing before a Justice of the Peace on Friday.

Allison Edwards, spokeswoman for Saskatoon Police, said when Wolfe disappeared in the summer of 2010 police had lots of leads that led nowhere.

"This is something the investigators are doing right now. They're trying to figure out, you know, what was the timeline in her final moments, her final hours. And I think that that'something that may play out in court," she said.

Next of kin was also notified on Thursday.

At this time Wolfe’s family is requesting privacy. They’ve been active in the cause of missing and murdered indigenous women, participating in walks and speaking at public events across Saskatchewan. In the years after Wolfe went missing, they continued to search for her.

At a Saskatoon fundraiser in 2013, Wolfe’s brother Desmond said he wanted to bring greater awareness to all Aboriginal women who are currently missing.

“This event is just to let people know there are missing people and that there are supports out there, we have family, and we want to make sure we show the public there are things that can be done,” he said. “We also want to get the message out that there are missing people, missing families, and it is not an easy thing.”

More information on the case is expected to be released by police on Monday.

Edwards says they’ve been able to provide answers to the family. On Monday, police will allow them to go to location where the body was found.

"We wanted to give some time to the family to be able to visit that spot and have any special ceremonies they feel appropriate in the meantime," she said.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 November 2015 17:26
Red Cross gives nod to volunteers in year marked by wildfire crisis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Thursday, 26 November 2015 18:20

Prince Albert's 100 or so Red Cross volunteers got a well-deserved pat on the back on Thursday.

Evacuations from the summer's wildfires crisis taxed the organization. Almost 10,000 people went through Prince Albert for help through the Red Cross after the summer's wildfires forced them through their homes. About half of those people found accommodations in the city.

In the disaster situation lots of people stepped up to offer their time, including some familiar faces, said Prince Albert’s Kim Maclean is the Red Cross’s director of disaster management for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

"I remember walking through and looking 'that's my neighbour.' I didn't even recognize they were there," she said. "You see people every day and you don't expect things from them and then something like this happens and some people do things that you never would have thought they could have done.”

About 100 people from Prince Albert, and 450 province-wide, volunteered their time with Red Cross during the summer. Those people and Red Cross staff put more than 30,000 man hours into the Red Cross's response to the northern wildfires.

MacLean recalled the night of mass evacuations, in which people were bused to Prince Albert and waited at the Margo Fournier Center.

"I remember the night that everybody had to come out. It's a bit of a trickle down they all start coming you start off with health issues around smoke, and then it was 'you need to get everybody out,'and I remember thinking, 'how are we going to do this? Where are we going to put everybody?'”

When plans changed in a hurry, Red Cross had help from police, the City of Prince Albert, and the Salvation Army.

The accommodations offered for 700 people at Cold Lake left a lot to be desired. Maclean says Cold Lake offered its Red Cross-vetted space in a crisis situation, and they took it. She says there are lessons to be taken from this, but at the time they needed a building that follows strict Health Canada rules. This includes a certain number of sinks in the building, and other requirements.

MacLean has respect for the First Nations who stepped up to offer what they couldn't, including the self-proclaimed "Rez Cross" that set up on Beardy's Okemasis First Nation.

“Those communities that were providing food that represented indigenous diets, that was so great. It's not something that we were able to manage, but they could. So perfect, works out," she said.

She said she sees the services offered by groups like Prince Albert Grand Council as a complement to the Red Cross’s efforts, not a competition.

The summer's wildfire crisis was the biggest mass evacuation in the province's history.

As a disaster management expert, MacLean says those displaced by Syria's bombings and the summer's northern wildfire evacuees have a lot in common.

In September MacLean helped Red Cross in Germany, to offer a safe place for Syrians that left their country due to bombings and war. In the past, she’s travelled to New Orleans to help the Red Cross with Hurrican Katrina’s ensuing chaos.

MacLean explains, the Red Cross looks at natural disasters and wars through the same lens.

"The way we respond is, 'is there a need, is there vulnerability?’ Then, ‘how can we step up and support it’ We don’t spend a lot of time on questioning 'we need to help domestic first or local first versus from around the world,’” she said.

“It's ‘what is the need at this time?’ And that's how you have to approach disasters … what can I do to help that need and help make things better for that individual?”

Maclean says even though many were frustrated with long waits to register with Red Cross this summer, she saw in Germany just how necessary it was.

They were processing 1,500 Syrians a day - providing them with food and temporary shelter.

Canada is aiming to accept 25,000 people fleeing the war-torn country by this February.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 November 2015 18:29
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