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Last member of Vancouver baseball team that fought racism helps unveil new stamp

25Apr

Last member of Vancouver baseball team that fought racism helps unveil new stamp

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BURNABY, B.C. – A new Canada Post stamp honours an amateur Japanese-Canadian baseball team that used sport to battle racism and discrimination.

The Vancouver Asahi formed in 1914 and thrilled fans in the city until 1941 when it was disbanded during the Second World War as Canada interned more than 20,000 people, most of them Canadians of Japanese descent.

Canada Post says the stamp recognizes more than the well-known story of the Asahi players, who used a strategy they dubbed “brain ball” to beat bigger, more powerful teams by relying on bunts, base stealing and squeeze plays.

The stamp also honours the Asahi commitment to honourable, fair play to oppose overt racism and fear that was common in Canada during the first half of the 20th century and resulted in the forced internment of Japanese-Canadians.

Kaye Kaminishi – a third baseman and, at 97, the last surviving member of the Vancouver Asahi – helped unveil the stamp Wednesday night at a ceremony in Burnaby, B.C.

The stamp displays 11 Asahi players from the 1940 team, including Kaminishi, who appears in the back row, second from left.

Carla Qualtrough, minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, who is responsible for Canada Post, attended the unveiling and says Canada’s internment policy during the Second World War remains one of the most tragic events in Canadian history.

“This stamp reflects the Asahi’s determination to overcome racism and discrimination through the power of sport,” Qualtrough says in a statement. “Asahi players exhibited integrity, honour and fair play and were shining examples of what it means to be truly Canadian.”

Actor George Takei, known for his role as Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek,” took time off from a local movie shoot to attend the unveiling at Burnaby’s Nikkei centre, a complex celebrating Japanese-Canadian history and culture.


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25Apr

North Vancouver doctor’s painful ambulance ride led to ketamine on board

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Paramedic Specialist Ryan Stefani holds ketamine, shown here ready to be used as a nose spray. In a recent paramedic trial, used intranasally, the drug reduced patient pain significantly. Photo: Courtesy of BCEHS


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Gary Andolfatto spent four hours hobbling nine kilometres on one leg over snowy forest trails, using his bike as a crutch, after breaking his leg four years ago in a cycling mishap.

When Andolfatto, an emergency room doctor at Lions Gate Hospital, was discovered by Lynn Canyon park rangers and loaded into an ambulance, his immediate need was pain control.

Andolfatto was shocked when the paramedic riding in the back with him could only offer nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas.

“He told me how frustrating it was that it is all primary care paramedics are permitted to give since they aren’t trained or permitted to inject drugs or give opioids,” said Andolfatto.

“I was ashamed, and felt so humbled that I didn’t realize what their limitations were and how bad it must be for them and their patients in serious pain. It really struck a chord and it gave me the impetus to do something that would be a game changer. Maybe I was meant to break my leg that day.”


Dr. Gary Andolfatto, ketamine researcher and emergency room physician at Lions Gate Hospital.

Some innovators jot down the kernels for good ideas on napkins. While lying on a stretcher, with a broken left femur, Andolfatto conceived a research study that would involve paramedics spraying low doses of ketamine — a non-opioid, but still a controlled substance — into the nostrils of patients.

Unlike opioids like fentanyl, ketamine doesn’t suppress respiration so it is considered much safer.

“With low-dose ketamine, the risk of doing serious harm is zero,” said Andolfatto. “There are many reasons why it makes sense for this to be used more widely in an ambulance setting. On the other hand, laughing gas (delivered through a mask) requires a certain amount of co-operation (inhalation) from patients.”

Laughing gas is also not as effective as ketamine for controlling pain, added Andolfatto.

The research Andolfatto envisioned that day was recently published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Now primary and advanced care paramedics with B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) are enthusiastically starting to deliver intranasal ketamine. Critical care paramedics with advanced training have been using intravenous ketamine on patients since 2008 but 70 per cent of the more than 4,000 paramedics in B.C. are at the primary care level and not permitted to do so.

The research led by Andolfatto has paved the way for use of a drug that is economical ($10 a dose), effective, safe and delivered quickly without needles, said Joe Acker, director of clinical and professional practice at BCEHS.

But before ketamine can be widely used by paramedics the provincial government will have to change statutes pertaining to the scope of practice of primary care paramedics as it is a controlled substance, said Acker. Health Canada will also have to give its approval.

BCEHS also has some challenging logistical issues to work on to prevent theft of ketamine by patients, paramedics or others. Biometric safes for storage and audits — similar to what hospitals have done to prevent drug diversion — are two of the strategies being implemented. 

“The onus is now on us to do our due diligence,” Acker said, adding that paramedics have for too long been hampered when it comes to relieving pain experienced. In rural areas, such transports may take hours and when paramedics witness such pain, it can be traumatizing, “opening huge moral wounds for paramedics frustrated that they cannot offer more.”

The study involved 120 patients who were transferred by ambulance to Surrey Memorial Hospital between November 2017 and May 2018. Patients were randomized to receive either a ketamine nasal spray or a placebo of saline solution. Those who got ketamine, along with nitrous oxide, reported having a significant reduction in pain after 15 minutes. A majority of patients who got ketamine said they felt dizziness and a feeling of unreality, but their levels of comfort were higher than those who received a placebo spray into the nostrils.

“We now have the science to show us that it can be used effectively and safely by primary care paramedics,” Andolfatto said. “Now it’s time to allow primary care paramedics to start using it and doing the quality assurance piece to ensure it provides a real benefit, is financially feasible and won’t potentially be abused.”

The $26,000 study involved researchers from UBC, Lions Gate Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital, and BCEHS. It was funded by the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and the B.C. Emergency Medicine Network.

[email protected]

Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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25Apr

B.C. soccer player recovering after scary flesh-eating-disease fight

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VICTORIA — Harry Sandhu walked out of Royal Jubilee Hospital on Wednesday a changed man, 24 days after flesh-eating disease left him fighting for life and limb.

He boarded a ferry to begin his trip to Surrey, where he’ll stay with his parents for the weekend as he continues to recover from his near-death experience.

Until this month, Sandhu, 43, who has played soccer nationally, provincially and professionally, ran about seven kilometres every other day around the Cedar Hill chip trail, lifted weights in a gym and played soccer recreationally.

On March 31, he was playing soccer with the Saanich-based Gorge FC against the Cowichan 49ers for the Tony Grover Masters Cup at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. An opposing player’s soccer cleat cut open what was already a small abrasion on his right shin.

Sandhu bandaged the bloody wound and kept playing. He has played in India, Honduras, Mexico and never been concerned about sports injuries. “I mean, what’s a cut?” Sandhu said.

He later realized the extent of the bloody gash and sat out the rest of the game. He took a long shower, wrapped his shin in a tensor bandage with ice, watched another game and went to dinner.

He thought no more of it.

In the morning, he woke about 8 to “intense projectile vomiting.” His shin was badly swollen. “I thought what is going on?” said Sandhu. “I tried to stand up and, oh my God, I was screaming at the top of my lungs.”

The pain was excruciating.

He phoned a friend to drive him to hospital.


Harry Sandhu

DARREN STONE /

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Based on the pain and swelling, Sandhu thought he had broken his shin. Infection never entered his mind.

At the hospital, medical staff wasted no time. Sandhu was seen by doctors and whisked into emergency surgery.

Necrotizing fasciitis, commonly called flesh-eating disease, was on a path of destruction, dissolving fat, muscle and tissue from his right shin to his thigh.

If it had been allowed to continue, his vital organs would have been next.

Sandhu said his leg was sliced open to get at the infection.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, said with flesh-eating disease, bacteria enter a break in the skin and produce powerful toxins that help infiltrate tissue, destroying the tissue and decreasing blood flow. The tissue dies.

“At the microscopic level, the toxins being made are the deadly shock troops for the germs, killing the muscle cells, rapidly advancing the continued growth of the bacteria in the dead and dying tissue, causing even further local destruction and more toxin production,” said Stanwick.

If untreated, this lethal combination results in infected muscle dissolving and dying off, said Stanwick.

The disease is rare, but if it takes hold, it has a fatality rate of about 26 per cent.

It moves at such a rapid pace that amputation or cutting away most of the tissue around the infection is often necessary.

“Antibiotics alone are not fast enough or powerful enough to stop the infection, so they have to do emergency surgery,” said Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for Island Health.

The symptoms include swelling, redness and excruciating pain out of proportion to the size of the wound.

Sandhu said faced with all that was coming at him, he wasn’t the tough soccer player he imagined himself to be.

He was in tears from the pain, in tears over the thought of losing his leg or life, and in tears at the thought he might have left his nine-year-old daughter, Sahana, without a father.

“You bawl your eyes out,” said Sandhu. “ ‘I can’t go,’ I thought, ‘I have a kid’ — that’s what you fight for.”

Sandhu credits the swift and skilled action of infectious-disease specialist Dr. Eric Partlow and plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Gray with not only saving his limb and his life, but preserving the integrity of his right leg.

Sandhu would have three surgeries and now faces months of physiotherapy.

Where the bacteria came from is uncertain.

It could have already been on his skin and just needed a break in the skin to enter his system.

In general, the bacteria are more commonly found on the skin, nose or throat — rather than lurking in dirt or dirty items — and enters a wound, Hoyano said. Why and when it strikes is less understood.

Necrotizing fasciitis is caused by several kinds of bacteria, but more commonly it is a Group A streptococcus, said Hoyano.

Some of these bacteria also cause infections such as strep throat and impetigo. Usually, infections caused by these bacteria are mild.

But in rare cases, they can produce toxins that result in a dangerous infection.

Sandhu calls the near-death experience life-altering. “I didn’t want this to happen to me, but I think coming out of this has changed me for the better.”

He made a lot of hospital-bed pledges — to be more spiritual, coach more, return to Topaz Sikh Temple, volunteer more and educate kids in sport about washing and caring for abrasions.

“When you see death, it changes the way you think.”

He has also been changed by the outpouring of care he’s received from his family, church, soccer and school community.

Health officials advise practising good hygiene and handwashing and paying attention to thoroughly cleaning cuts and scrapes with soapy water and covering them. If after an injury, there is sudden and disproportionate pain, swelling, heat, fever, chills, vomiting and diarrhea, seek immediate emergency medical assistance.

[email protected]

An online fundraising page has been set up for Sandhu, who is on unpaid leave from his job in education while he recovers.

Click here to read more stories from The Victoria Times Colonist.


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24Apr

Daphne Bramham: Decriminalization alone won’t end B.C.’s overdose crisis

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A man injects drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Despite significant efforts to combat overdose deaths in British Columbia, the provincial coroner says illicit drug overdose deaths increased to 1,489, just over the 2017 death total.


JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The problem with the provincial health officer’s special report recommending decriminalization of all illicit drug users  is that Dr. Bonnie Henry chose to make that her only recommendation.

Three years after a public health emergency was declared because of an epidemic of deaths from illicit opioids, B.C. still has no comprehensive addictions strategy.

It has a stunning lack of treatment services, no universal access to services, no simple pathway to what few services there are, no provincial standards or regulation of privately operated treatment and recovery homes services.

Government ministries such as health, mental health and addictions services, social development and housing remain siloed and the root causes of addiction remain largely unaddressed.

While there has been substantial investment in harm-reduction measures including overdose prevention sites, free naloxone kits (to reverse an opioid overdose), low-barrier shelters and poverty reduction, the needs are greater.

Overdose deaths have only hit a plateau – not dropped. Every day, four people British Columbians die.

Yet, Henry is adamant that decriminalization is the most important next step.

“It’s about a focus and an intent,” she said. “Instead of police focusing on requirement of the Criminal Code, it builds off-ramps to connect with services. And, that in itself, ensures those systems are built.”

The majority of those who have died of overdoses were young men using alone at home. Without fear of being arrested and with the stigma of addiction being reduced, the expectation is that addicts or recreational users would be more likely to go to a supervised injection site, use with a friend (with a naloxone kit at the ready) or call for help if they overdose.

Henry calls decriminalization “a necessary next step to stop the death toll from rising and to make harm-reduction services more readily available.”

But it’s a question whether those recreational users would do that, because many addicts say that they use alone for a variety of reasons — not least of which is that they don’t want to share their drugs or they don’t want anyone to know what they do when they’re high.

The report recommended two options for British Columbia to work around the Criminal Code provisions.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth firmly and quickly said no to both. But he noted there are pilot projects in Vancouver, Abbotsford and Vernon where rather than charging for possession, police are linking users with services. An evaluation of those will be completed in the fall and, depending on the results, they may be expended to other communities.

Henry makes no secret of the fact that her ultimate goals for Canada are full legalization and regulation of all drugs to ensure that there is a safe supply. If that were to happen, Canada would be the first in the world to do that.

Portugal is mentioned frequently in the report and by Henry. Possession for personal use was decriminalized more than 20 years ago. But it was done only as part of a comprehensive, drug strategy.

Police still arrest anyone found with illicit drugs. They are taken to a police station where the drugs are weighed. If the amount is above the maximum limit set for personal use, they are charged and go through the criminal justice system.

If the amount is below the limit, tickets are issued and users told to appear at the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Use within 24 hours. There, they meet with a social worker or counsellor before going before a three-person tribunal, which recommends a plan for treatment.

People don’t have to comply. But if they are arrested again, the commission can impose community service, require that they seek treatment, impose fines and even confiscate people’s property to pay those fines.

That’s not the kind of decriminalization Henry is recommending. Instead, the onus here would be on police officers – not trained addictions specialists, psychologists or social workers — to connect users with services.

Part of the reason for the difference is that Portugal’s goal wasn’t legalization or keeping addicts alive until they chose to go treatment. Its focus was and is on getting addicts into treatment and recovery so they could resume their place in society.

Harm reduction is only a small part of the Portuguese plan. Its first supervised injection site has only recently opened. But there is free and easy access to methadone (which dampens heroin addicts’ craving for the drug) and free needles to stop the spread of infection.

These harm reduction measures are deemed to temporary bridges to abstinence for all but older, hardcore, long-term heroin users rather than long-term solutions. Of course, fentanyl and carfentanil have yet to be found in its illicit drug supply.

Its treatment services as extensive and include everything from outpatient treatment to three years’ residency in a therapeutic community during which time the users’ families are provided with income supplements.

Nothing in this decriminalization report moves British Columbia anywhere close to that kind of comprehensive system. And until we get there, it’s hard to imagine that this overdose crisis ending anytime soon.

[email protected]

Twitter: @bramham_daphne


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24Apr

Overdose crisis: BC’s top doctor wants drug possession decriminalized

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B.C.’s top doctor has unveiled a bold proposal to slow the rate of overdose deaths — by decriminalizing possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s report, released Wednesday, says it is known around the world that the “war on drugs” has been a failure, and says the criminalization of non-violent people for possessing a substance for personal use does considerable harm to the person and society.

Specifically, Henry says criminalization increases communicable disease transmission, stigma and drug-related mortality. Incarceration and criminal records exacerbate drug harms by preventing future employment and travel, she adds.

“As the Provincial Health Officer of B.C., I recommend that the Province of B.C. urgently move to decriminalize people who possess controlled substances for personal use,” Henry says.

“This is a fundamental underpinning and necessary next step for the continued provincial response to the overdose crisis in B.C.”

Henry’s report, called “Stopping the Harm: Decriminalization of People Who Use Drugs in B.C.,” says that despite expanded harm-reduction activities and interventions in the province, and increased access to evidence-based treatment, an average of four people continue to die in B.C. each day due to the toxic illegal drug supply.

“Decriminalization of people who use controlled drugs is an effective public health approach to drug policy in other jurisdictions and is the most appropriate option for B.C. at this time,” Henry says.

“While law enforcement in B.C. exercise their discretion when considering possession charges, such as the presence of harmful behaviour or identified need for treatment services, the application of the law is inconsistent across communities. As such, there is a need for a provincial-level commitment to support an official policy to decriminalize people who use drugs.”

Henry says decriminalization would allow law enforcement to work with health and social systems to help connect people with treatment and other social services.

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs for personal use in response to a surge in heroin use.

Henry said there are two means by which to decriminalize in B.C. One would use provincial legislation to allow the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor to set provincial priorities, such as declaring a public health and harm reduction approach as a priority for police to apply when toward simple possession. The other would develop a new regulation under the Police Act that would add a provision preventing police from expending resources on simple possession offences under Section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.


Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference about the release of the latest provincial statistics by the BC Coroners Service at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 7, 2019.

CHAD HIPOLITO /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

The report explains decriminalization as follows: “Decriminalization involves removing an action or behaviour from the scope of the criminal justice system. In the context of controlled substances, it is typically focused on possession and consumption of drugs for personal use and does not set out a system or structure for production, distribution, or sale of controlled substances.

“Decriminalization does not exclude the application of fines or administrative penalties. For example, if possession of drugs for personal use was decriminalized (as is the case in Portugal), the drug itself is still illegal, but possessing it does not lead to criminal sanctions (unless the possession is at a trafficking level).”

More to come.

[email protected]

twitter.com/nickeagland




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23Apr

Health database that crosses provincial borders gets federal funding

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Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor


Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Dr. Kim McGrail says she and her team ran into a familiar challenge when they were trying to compare different approaches to family health-care reform across the country.

They wanted to look at Quebec and British Columbia, which share the same goal of ensuring every resident has a family doctor but are tackling it through different care models.

Gathering the data was going to be difficult, said McGrail, who is a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

“The question is, is there a difference in outcomes with these two different approaches? It’s really, really complicated,” she said.

“It’s two different data requests, different timelines, different roles. And then you get the data and the data themselves are really, fundamentally different because you’re talking about primary care data that is negotiated in provinces between medical associations and governments.

So there’s nothing that looks similar about this data across the country.“

McGrail is the scientific lead for a new health research database that aims to eliminate some of those challenges. The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Canadian Data Platform is expected to launch in the next two or three months.

She said it will provide a single portal through which researchers can request information from various sources from across the country and share analytical tools.

“What we’re doing is trying to build those resources up front so when a researcher comes along and has that sort of question, it’s a much, much faster journey to get that answer,” she said.

McGrail likened the current research process to an undulating wave graph. A researcher will start at the bottom of the wave and work their way to the top then move on to something else. Another researcher who picks up the same topic has to start at the bottom of the wave again.

The database aims to eliminate those waves, having the second researcher pick up at the peak of where the last person left off.

“We trying to push people up so they can start closer to the top,” she said.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor was at University of B.C. Tuesday to announce the federal government and several partners are contributing $81 million over seven years to support the database.

She said the database will help improve responses for health-care priorities that affect all provinces.

“Cancer, the opioid crisis and heart disease don’t stop at Kicking Horse Pass, the Ottawa River or the Tantramar Marshes,” she said.

Other funding partners include the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Ontario Ministry of Health, Population Data BC, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information and the University of B.C.


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23Apr

Another cougar spotted in Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain area

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Yet another cougar has been spotted prowling around in the residential Burke Mountain neighbourhood of Coquitlam, adding to a growing list of sightings in the Tri-Cities this year.

A security camera video was posted on a community Facebook group shows the large feline pacing along the sidewalk just after 1 a.m. on Monday.

The 30-second clip shows the cougar wandering up the driveway and past a parked car, before it approaches a well-lit part of house’s exterior and darts out of the camera’s range.

The number of cougar sightings in the Tri-Cities has risen dramatically this year. Sgt. Todd Hunter of the BC Conservation Officer Service told CTV News Vancouver in February they had already received 39 reports of cougar sightings, a nearly 650 per cent increase from February 2018.

Hunter said in an interview Tuesday the Conservation Officer Service had around 20 cougar sightings reported so far in April, but that number isn’t particularly abnormal.

“I can’t say its high-high, but we do have a number of them and we’ve been watching them closely because of the previous months,” he said.

While sightings are up, the Lower Mainland has not seen any attacks on people, like what was seen near Lake Cowichan in March when a cougar mauled a seven-year-old boy.

“Nothing aggressive or threatening so far, we’ve been watching the reports very closely, and nothing is centered towards people at this time,” Hunter said.

The Conservation Service officer previously suggested the easiest way for residents to encourage cougars to stay away is to keep any elements that might draw wild animals in to a bare minimum.

“At the lowest level, people need to make sure animals are not attracted to their properties,” Hunter told CTV News Vancouver.

That includes bringing in family pets, especially at night, as well as sealing compost and garbage cans that can attract smaller animals preyed on by cougars.

Hunter also noted that  as weather becomes nicer and people spend more time outdoors, they are more and more likely to have direct encounters with cougars and other animals. Hunter said the keys are to expect a run-in, and be prepared for it.

If you do happen to come across a cougar in the wilderness, his advice is simple.

“Let it leave on its own and make yourself large,” he said. “Never, ever, ever turn your back and run on a cougar.”


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23Apr

Daphne Bramham: What is Indigenous Canadian food? The answer might lead to more than good cooking

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Award-winning Chef Shane Chartrand is on a journey to discover indigenous food in Canada. He’s one of the chefs featured in the six-part, web series, Red Chef Revival, available on STORYHIVE’s YouTube channel and on Telus Optik TV on demand. Chartrand’s cookbook, Tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine, will be released this fall by House of Anansi Press.


See Notes / Direction / PNG

It’s always a bit embarrassing when foreigners ask what Indigenous Canadian food is. After long, torturous pause, most Canadians might stumble out an answer like poutine, tourtière, bannock, Saskatoon pie or Nanaimo bars.

Of course, none of those is really Indigenous. They came with explorers and settlers who brought flour and sugar.

Yet, long before they arrived, Indigenous people had lived for centuries eating local plants and animals.

Initially, smart newcomers relied on their local knowledge to initially survive in this unfamiliar land. Others like Sir John Franklin and others tragically learned the folly of attempting self-reliance.

But because of colonization much of that knowledge has been lost along with other cultural practices and Indigenous languages.

“Even Indigenous people don’t understand what Indigenous food is,” chef Shane Chartrand told me when we talked recently. “We don’t know our own food. Powwow food is bannock, burgers, gravy and fries. That’s not Indigenous in my humble opinion.”

Recovering those foods, recipes and cooking techniques is something that Indigenous chefs like Chartrand are now in a position to explore.


Chef Shane Chartrand’s kale salad. Photo: Cathryn Sprague

House of Anansi Press /

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In the style of Anthony Bourdain, three award-winning chefs fanned out across Canada to Indigenous communities that they didn’t know to help prepare and eat food that included unusual ingredients like cougar, bison tongue and seal.

Answering the question of what is Indigenous food is the premise of a six-part series called Red Chef Revival, available on the Storyhive YouTube channel and to Telus Optik TV On Demand subscribers.

Chartrand visited Nisga’a people near Prince Rupert and was served chow mein buns.

“I thought it was ridiculous. No way is it part of Indigenous culture. But they told me that along Cannery Row, there were Japanese, Indigenous and Chinese and they shared recipes so it becomes Indigenous,” he said.

“I don’t agree. But they think it is.”

He feels the same way about “powwow food” — bannock, burgers and fries with gravy.

But the seal stew prepared by Nisga’a fishing families in Port Edward fits Chartrand’s definition to the letter.

Not only did it taste really good — better, Chartrand said, than the other four ways he’s eaten seal — it’s sustainable and healthy.

One of the tragedies of lost Indigenous food and cooking is that it’s been replaced by sugar-, fat- and carbohydrate-laden diets that have contributed to skyrocketing rates of diabetes and heart disease.

(For the record, the chef is opposed to a commercial seal hunt. He supports sustainable hunting with every part of the animal used.)

The genesis of Chartrand’s personal journey of discovery is a desire to connect with the Cree culture denied him as a child. Taken into foster care at two, he was adopted by a Metis Chartrand’s family at seven.

His father taught him about hunting and fishing. But it’s only as an adult that Chartrand began learning about his own people’s traditions.

By then, he was already a rising star in the kitchen, having apprenticed at high-end restaurant kitchens. He’s competed on the Food Network’s Chopped and, in 2017, was the first Indigenous chef to win the Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championships and is the chef at the River Cree Resort on Enoch First Nation’s land near Edmonton.

This fall, Chartrand’s cookbook — Tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine — will be published by Anansi Press. It’s about his life, his travels and includes more than 70 recipes using traditional foods.

Top Chef finalist and Haudenosaunee chef Rich Francis seems less of a purist. While he acknowledges in the series’ first episode that bannock doesn’t really fit the definition of Indigenous food, Francis made both bannock and risotto on his visit to the Osoyoos band.

For the risotto, Francis used sage and cactus gathered on the Osoyoos lands that he described as “the Hollywood of rezs.” Both were cooked to accompany cougar seared over an open fire. The cougar was shot because it was deemed a threat to residents.

Like Chartrand, Francis isn’t promoting commercial hunting. But last year he

did threaten to sue the Ontario government for the right to cook wild game in his restaurant because government regulations are one of the many barriers to Canadians’ understanding, knowing and even tasting Indigenous foods.

Elk, deer, moose, bison, seal and the like can only be served at specially permitted events and not in restaurants. Only farm-raised meat can be served and that requires finding suppliers who can raise enough to guarantee a steady supply.

The idea of eating what the Canadian land alone can produce aligns perfectly with concerns about climate change and a sustainable food supply.

Rediscovering traditional foods with Indigenous chefs guiding the way seems a perfect way to learn how to do that.

Beyond that, there’s reconciliation. So many attempts at it are so earnest, so political and so difficult for some people to swallow, that sitting down and eating together may provide a new pathway because who doesn’t love a good meal?

[email protected]

Twitter: @bramham_daphne


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23Apr

Five reasons to check out Kickstart’s 21st Gala

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Violinist/vocalist Gaelynn Lea headlines Kickstart’s 21st Anniversary Gala at the Cultch, April 26.


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Kickstart’s 21st Annual Gala

When: April 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Cultch

Tickets: $25, $75 VIP (includes tickets, pre-show cocktails with the artists & auction preview) at 604-251-1363, or TheCultch.com

1. Gaelynn Lea. The violinist/singer was discovered playing at a farmer’s market in her hometown of Duluth, where Alan Sparhawk of Minnesota indie-rock band Low caught her act. She has since gone on to win NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest and fans such as the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who said: “Karen Dalton and Joanna Newsom melt together in the form of Gaelynn Lea, and set about absolutely obliterating your heart.” Her playing style is rooted in classical, Celtic and traditional folk music, but she also uses looping pedals, which gives her a more modern sound.

2. Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture. Lea was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition that causes complications in the development of bones and limbs. She headlines an evening organized by Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, a Vancouver-based non-profit that supports and promotes artists who identify as living with a disability.

3. David Roche. An in-demand speaker, Roche has turned living with a disfigured face into stories of hope, courage and humour. Inspirational though he may be, he is also “frank and witty and incapable of resorting to sentimental pap” (Publisher’s Weekly).

4. Mujtaba Saloojee. Self-taught painter Saloojee re-learned how to make art after a spinal injury caused him to lose mobility in his hands. The local artist will give a visual arts presentation.

5. Cocktails with the stars. The evening includes a silent auction with original art, jewelry, experiences, and gift baskets. VIP ticket-holders receive early entry to the venue, tickets to the show, a preview of the items to be auctioned, and pre-show cocktails with the artists.


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22Apr

BC Interior warning on ‘trippy’ drug linked to ‘zombie’ outbreak in US

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KAMLOOPS — The B.C. Interior Health authority is warning street-drug users of a synthetic cannabinoid that has been linked to a so-called “zombie” outbreak in New York.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil says tests at a Kamloops overdose-prevention site found the powerful drug mixed with heroin, fentanyl and caffeine.

The authority warns that users can look like they have overdosed on opioids, but they won’t respond to naloxone and they can experience “speedy” or “trippy” symptoms with possible hallucinations.

A 2017 article in the New England Journal of Medicine says the drug caused a mass intoxication of 33 people in New York City in July 2016 and was described in the media as a “zombie” outbreak because of the appearance of those who took the drug.

The journal article says the drug was developed by Pfizer in 2009 and it is a strong depressant, which accounts for the “zombie-like” behaviour reported in New York.

Corneil says they don’t like to use the zombie term because it can give people the wrong impression and what is important is they exercise caution when new substances come on the black market.


Dr. Trevor Corneil of B.C. Interior Health.

Corneil says they aren’t aware of any deaths where the cannabinoid is the only substance.

“Often overdose deaths are caused by a mix of different substance together and we’re not seeing any increase in overdose deaths related to this substance, relative to the impact of fentanyl, which is the major toxin we have in our drug supply right now.”

Corneil says the discovery of the drug is a good example of the level of sophistication that both harm-reduction workers and users have been able to access in the province.

“This is the problem with criminalization, in that it takes away any of the safeguards that the system puts in place to ensure that people get the product they think they’re buying and it hasn’t been mixed with something else.”

He says workers are seeing that users are becoming more aware that they need to have their illicit drugs tested and when they learn what’s in their drugs, they make better decisions.

The testing machines at safe consumption sites look at a large database of drugs, which Corneil says is used for both research and by police.

“Many of them are unusual and rare and we’re finding that manufacturers and suppliers are trying different new substances all the time … trying to make a buck off people who are quite marginalized by the criminalized setting around them.”

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