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Category "News/Canada/British Columbia"

24May

Councillor wants Vancouver to realize the full potential of its ‘night’ economy | CBC News

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A Vancouver city councillor wants her new motion to unlock the potential of Vancouver’s nighttime economy. 

Coun. Lisa Dominato says cities around the world have started paying attention to their nighttime economies — which include sectors like dining, entertainment, music, concerts and related economic factors including transportation and food and drink costs. 

“There [are] lots of things that can be activated after five o’clock, and contribute in a positive way both to the local economy in terms of jobs … but also to the vibrancy of our city in terms of arts and culture hospitality,” Dominato said.

She says her four-page motion brings together work the city has already done on liquor policy, music strategy and its creative city strategy to create a stronger focus on the night economy. 

The strategy would extend beyond the patrons of Vancouver’s traditional bar scene to young families, children and youth, and students. 

“It also includes nighttime workers,” she said. “We’ve got people working in sectors like health care, policing, first responders as well that are part of our nighttime economy … so after five o’clock you have to think about things like public transportation, public safety, accessibility and what are all the different wraparound pieces that might be basic things like lighting, washrooms.” 

Dominato’s motion goes before council on May 28.


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23May

Abbotsford police say early morning fire deliberately set in occupied home | CBC News

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Abbotsford police are looking for a man in connection with an arson fire at a house in the 22-hundred block of Bedford Place Thursday morning at 3:15 a.m.

Fire investigators say a male suspect backed a mini-van onto the driveway of the home before dousing the vehicle with accelerant and setting it on fire. The flames spread to the garage attached to the home with five people inside.

Sgt. Judy Bird with the Abbotsford police says it’s unclear whether the suspect knew there were people inside sleeping at the time of the attack.

“We are in the preliminary stages of the investigation. We are also working with officers from Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service investigators to collect CCTV from the neighborhood, speak to witnesses, and be able to find out why the family appears to have been targeted and what possibly the motive is.”

Five people managed to escape their house unharmed after an early morning arson fire in the 22-hundred block of Bedford Place Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Kevin MacDonald)

All five victims were able to get out of the house in time but were treated for smoke inhalation. 

Sgt. Bird says none are known to police.

“This family are truly victims”. 

The suspect is described as wearing a hoodie, dark pants and dark shoes and was seen running from the driveway.

Police are asking anyone with information about the attack to contact the Abbotsford Police Department.

 

 


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23May

‘We’re not all in gangs, doing drugs and bumming out of school’: Surrey students defend their city | CBC News

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When you spend an entire month back in high school, you hear a lot of stories.

Once the students get comfortable, they have no problem sharing their thoughts about anything and everything.

And the most common topic the students at Surrey’s L.A. Matheson Secondary School wanted to talk about? The unfair reputation that comes with being from Surrey. 

“We are not bad kids,” said Grade 12 student Samantha Czulinski, 18.

“We’re not all in gangs. We’re not all doing drugs and bumming out of school.”

Grade 12 student Samantha Czulinski says people need to work harder to truly understand what happens in Surrey. (Martin Diotte/CBC)

It’s a common sentiment in these hallways, but not just among students.

Like it or not, Surrey has struggled with reputation issues throughout its history. As a suburb which was traditionally lower on the socio-economic scale compared to Vancouver, stigmas have always been attached to the city and its residents.  

Struggles with gang violence has also exacerbated the perception and reputation of the city, but students here say it’s high time those misguided ideas are put to rest. 

Living and working in Surrey allows Matheson teacher Annie Ohana to see first-hand the impact the reputation has on her students.

Some students say they feel that coming from Surrey negatively impacts how they’re viewed. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“We all walk with a chip on our shoulders,” said Ohana, who teaches social justice.

“From a very young age, kids are very well aware that somehow our city is maligned.”

Ohana is concerned that sometimes students subconsciously parrot that narrative.

“If all someone does is point you out as negative or say you have a problem, that’s internalized and then often becomes a behaviour,” she said. 

“You think I’m bad? Well then I’ll show you I’m bad.”

Annie Ohana lives and works in Surrey and says she sees the impact of the city’s reputation on her students. (Martin Diotte/CBC)

Stereotypes and stigma

Grade 12 student Kunwar Sandhu has lived in Surrey for most of his life, and said he often feels the stigma is felt deepest when Surrey students are compared to those who live elsewhere. 

Sandhu, 18, recalled one law field trip that brought together students from different schools in the region. 

“All the kids from our class were coming up with creative questions,” he said. Meanwhile, students from other schools weren’t nearly as engaged, yet the Matheson students felt looked down on.

“We’re not worse than these kids, but we’re viewed as worse than these kids.That’s not fair at all.”

Kunwar Sandhu, who is in Grade 12, has lived in Surrey for most of his life. (Martin Diotte/CBC)

Sandhu is not the only one who’s felt the stigma in his family. 

“My brother got a full ride scholarship into UBC but he’s still viewed as thuggish because he comes from Surrey. It happens to most people who are here,” he said. 

“It’s crazy how people can go ‘Oh you’re from here? You look like this, you must act like this.'”

The hallways at Matheson are monitored during class. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Stigma in the hallways

The students say the stigma doesn’t just come from outside Surrey — it shows up in their hallways and classrooms, too. 

The Surrey School District has a program called Safe Schools that operate across the city. Trained liaisons monitor the halls during class to ensure students are safe and to look out for any suspicious activities.

Some students at Matheson point to this as an example of how their reputation as Surrey students has an impact on the way they’re treated. They say the feel that hallway monitors are policing them throughout the day. 

“If I’m outside of the classroom for two minutes, going to the washroom, I feel like it’s so unnecessary to attack every student who walks through the hall [during class],” said Grade 11 student Jasmeen Saini.

“We’re not rats infesting the school.”

Surrey’s school district is one of the fastest growing in the region. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Growing city offers means the chance for renewed reputation

Surrey is the second-largest city in B.C., with 800 new residents moving in each month, and its school district is one of the fastest growing in the region.  

That’s having an impact on how Surrey is seen, according to Matheson principal Peter Johnston.

“The perception of Surrey and LA Matheson is slowly changing in the minds of people who end up coming out here,” Johnston said.

“They realize we aren’t a small and rural town anymore and our facilities and school districts are second to none.”

L.A. Matheson is located in inner-city Surrey. (Evan MItsui/CBC)

But for that perception to continue changing, it’s also up to the students. 

“It’s part of our responsibility to get these students ready for the modern world to help change that narrative,” Johnston said.

“The students have to take some responsibility for that too.”

For students like Sandhu, they have a clear message to the rest of B.C. about Surrey’s reputation: 

“Just because I’m from somewhere else, you think you’re better than me? It’s just not cool.”  

This story is part of a series called Matheson, examining the lives of students at L.A. Matheson Secondary School in Surrey, B.C. CBC journalist Jason D’Souza was given unparalleled access as he spent a month embedded at the high school in order to hear unfiltered stories of students today.


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22May

Nix the noise: WorkSafeBC worried about hearing loss for service industry workers | CBC News

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Exposure to continuous loud noise at work can cause permanent hearing loss and WorkSafeBC is telling service industry employees to beware.

Dan Strand, director of prevention services at WorkSafeBC, says noise levels above 85 decibels during an eight-hour shift can cause hearing damage and the levels in nightclubs and bars are often higher. According to Strand, employers are required to have a noise control program in place if volume in the workplace is a health risk.

Strand says WorkSafeBC officers routinely find noise levels in clubs, pubs and cafes between 90 to 95 decibels. He told CBC’s On The Island guest host Megan Thomas there’s an easy way to test whether the environment is above 85 decibels: If you have to raise your voice into a “sort of yelling mode” to communicate with someone a metre away, it’s too loud.

‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone’

WorkSafeBC wants employees and their bosses to be aware of the risk and has created a new safety bulletin to help them take action.

The bulletin has tips for employers on how to reduce noise, such as using plastic containers instead of metal for dropping off dirty dishes. It is also recommended that staff rotate during shifts so that no employee is continuously positioned where the noise is loudest.

 

To protect themselves, WorkSafeBC suggests employees wear hearing protection and get a baseline hearing test withing six months of working in a loud bar or club.

“You do not want to see degradation of hearing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and it doesn’t come back,” said Strand.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, said WorkSafeBC’s focus on educating employers about the health impact of noise has been positive because many don’t know it’s a hazard.

Guignard said there are hearing protection devices that employees can wear that will cancel out background noise, but still allow them to hear customers who are speaking to them.

Between 2008 and 2017, WorkSafeBC accepted 3,343 disability claims for noise-induced hearing loss in B.C.




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18May

Victoria looks to make city more inclusive for trans, non-binary and two-spirit residents | CBC News

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Victoria, B.C. is looking to make the city more welcoming for trans, non-binary and two-spirit people and is looking for advice from residents.  

The city held the first of several community consultations earlier this week to hear suggestions on what would make their services, programs and spaces more inclusive.

“This is the beginning of a really important conversation,” said Marianne Alto, a Victoria city councillor who attended the consultation event on Tuesday.

“It’s just a way for the city to begin to acknowledge that our population is extremely diverse and that we welcome and want to include all of our residents, regardless of who they are.”

Some of the most common examples include gender-neutral bathrooms or improving inclusivity in places like public swimming pools, Alto said, but the conversation goes far beyond that.

“We want to make sure that what we do in the public domain reflects a true measure of accessibility for anybody who wants to come to this city,” she told CBC’s All Points West.

Chance to create change

The city started looking at these questions a couple of years ago and, in 2017, adopted a motion to re-evaluate policies and programs.

That includes everything from improving city signs to changing how forms are phrased to re-evaluating city staff training, Alto said.

Initially, Victoria conducted “ad hoc consultations” before hiring a private consulting firm to work with the community.

The community consultations are part of that and, Alto said, there will be at least three more events open to the public for feedback.

“There’s a whole series of different themes that the city actually has authority to create change and take action on,” said Alto.

“We’re hoping that we’ll get those directives and be able to present that to council.”


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18May

‘We’re just like everybody else’: New play tackles misconceptions about disabilities, love and sex | CBC News

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Talking sex and romance can be cringe-worthy for parents and their adult children — the stuff of many an awkward romantic comedy.

Now imagine you have a physical disability, can’t get in or out of your wheelchair by yourself, and need a caregiver to help you talk with others. You like a boy, but how do you date? What does consent look like in that scenario?

You might be paralyzed from the neck down, but you have sexual urges. What do you do? 

Those are some of the scenarios a new theatre production at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster wants its audience to consider about dating, romance and sex for people with disabilities.

The production, called Romance, Relationships and Rights, is described as social theatre, where the community — in this case individuals with disabilities who are also advocates — are empowered to tell their own stories. 

The actors have little professional experience but plenty of lived experience, and the six scenes from the show draw from that.

Performers are pictured during the Romance, Relationships and Rights performance at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster, B.C. on Wednesday, May 16, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“Love has no boundaries,” says one of the actors and advocates, Dana Faris. 

“We’re just like everybody else. People can see it (the disability) as a barrier to having a relationship. They make assumptions about us.”

For example, some might assume people with disabilities aren’t capable of having relationships, or believe it might be too hard physically. But a 2018 study found that 84 per cent of individuals with mild to moderate developmental disabilities said they had been in a sexual relationship, and 87 per cent indicated that they would like to be in a relationship. 

Often, the barriers to relationships are overprotective caregivers.

The advocates in this production wanted to perform, rather than tell, their stories. Some of their scenes — about online dating and meeting a stranger for the first time — would feel familiar to anyone, irrespective of whether they have a disability.

Other stories are more unique and based on real people.

The theatre process

The show was put together in conjunction with The University of British Columbia’s Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship and theatre departments. The advocates participated in acting classes in the fall, and then scripted the show from their own experiences in January.

The process took more time and effort than a typical theatre production, but director Leyton Schnellert said it was worth it.

“Traditional actors just couldn’t tell these stories,” Schnellert said. “It’s not theirs to tell and the experience would have been totally different.”

The theatre made changes to the way the show is delivered to make it more accessible for both the actors and the audience. 

One of the actors, Justin Vancleef, is blind in his left eye, and worked with the lighting director to ensure the bright theatre lights were dimmed. Interpreters were paired with actors and also signed the show for the audience. 

All you need is love

Vancleef plays Jeffrey, a young man with multiple disabilities who wanted to date Shannon, who had difficulty communicating by herself. Their parents facilitated a date, carefully watching and ensuring that what was evolving was romantic and meaningful.

Advocates bring to life the love story of Jeffrey and Shannon. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Then, the caregivers get out of the way and allow Jeffrey and Shannon to spend some romantic time alone. 

When Shannon’s seizures worsen, Jeffrey is at her side in hospital simply holding her hand even while she’s in coma. There’s hardly a dry eye in the audience. 

Ainsleigh Spencer, a support worker who came to the show with his client, was choked up after the performance.

“I thought it was beautiful, insightful, really meaningful,” Spencer said. “It’s just a beautiful story about two people who found love, and it ended too quickly.”

And for Vancleef — who like his character needs the help of an interpreter to communicate — the message to the audience is simple.

“We have the right to date and love just like anyone else.”

Many in the audience teared up during the final scene. (Ben Nelms/CBC)


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17May

Daughter makes appeal to catch dad’s killer | CBC News

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The daughter of a man killed at a strip club in Surrey, B.C., a decade ago is appealing for information to help catch his killer.

Chris Whitmee was shot alongside another man in the washroom of the Legacy Show Lounge in Cloverdale. Whitmee died of his injuries just after midnight on May 17, 2009, although the other man survived.

Lexus, Chris’ daughter, was only nine when her father died. She remembers her dad as “really awesome.”

“He was a really good guy,” she said, her voice breaking. “I try to remember as much of him, but it’s really hard because I was so young.”

She wants whoever was responsible for her loss to be brought to justice.

Lexus Whitmee, pictured with her father Chris, before he died. (Submitted by the Whitmee family)

Police say a gunman walked into the Cloverdale strip club and opened fire in the washroom. Chris Whitmee was not the intended target, but an innocent bystander.

Moments after the fatal shooting took place, investigators said a man in his early 20s wearing dark clothing and a dark hooded sweatshirt was seen fleeing the lounge through the rear of the building.

Cpl. Frank Jang with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team expressed condolences to the Whitmee family on this, the 10th anniversary of his death. 

“All our unsolved homicides remain active and we are pursuing, will pursue leads as they come up,” Jang said. 

Lexus Whitmee says it’s been impossible to move on when she doesn’t know what happened.

“I know that there are people that definitely know,” she said. 

“There’s no way the other man involved doesn’t know what happened. You don’t get shot multiple times and not know who did it and not care to find out.”

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the police. 


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16May

‘Deeply upsetting’: Long time Summerland, B.C., lifeguard accused of indecent acts involving children | CBC News

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A long time lifeguard and aquatic centre supervisor in Summerland, B.C., has been charged with 10 criminal counts for alleged sex crimes against children between 2008 and 2014, according to the RCMP.

Edward Casavant, 54, of Penticton was arrested on Wednesday on an outstanding warrant in relation to a child sexual assault and pornography investigation that began last November when someone contacted investigators at the Penticton RCMP detachment, according to police.

“Mr. Casavant was also known as ‘Eddie Spaghetti’ and was employed as a lifeguard for over 30 years beginning in the late 1980s,” said RCMP Cpl. Chris Manseau.

“We believe that Mr. Casavant used his position to gain access to school-aged children and in addition he volunteered as a lifeguard at various local summer camps.”

Cpl. Manseua said Casavant is facing the following criminal charges:

  • 2 counts of making or publishing child pornography.

  • 1 count of importing or distributing child pornography.

  • 1 count of possession of child pornography.

  • 1 count of accessing child pornography.

  • 1 count of secretly observe/record nudity in private place.

  • 1 count of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.

  • 1 count of sexual assault.

  • 1 count of sexual interference of person under 16.

  • 1 count of Invitation to sexual touching under 16.

Edward Casavant worked as a lifeguard and aquatic centre supervisor with the District of Summerland for the past 30 years, retiring in late 2018. (District of Summerland)

Cpl. Manseau said investigators have identified at least two victims but believe there are others who have not spoken to police or who may not be aware they are a victim.

‘Deeply upsetting’

Casavant worked as a lifeguard and aquatic centre supervisor for the District of Summerland for 30 years until his retirement in late 2018, according the district.

In a written statement, Summerland Mayor Toni Boot described the allegations as ‘”deeply upsetting” and stated “our focus is on ensuring those impacted by these alleged incidents get the help they need, and ensure this sort of thing can’t happen again.”

Boot wrote that she understands the situation is upsetting to the community but because the case is before the courts the district is unable to answer questions about the matter.

“We know people will have questions and we will do our best to answer them when it is appropriate and when we have the authorities’ permission to do so.”

Boot stated the district and its staff will strive to ‘provide municipal facilities where people can feel comfortable, safe and free from harm or discrimination.’

Cpl. Manseau said investigators have released a photo of Casavant in hopes that additional victims may recognize him and contact police.

He asked anyone with information about the case to contact the Penticton RCMP tip line at 250-276-2177.


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9May

Adaptive boxing gets athletes with disabilities into the ring | CBC News

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Thoughts of boxing might conjure up images of two fighters, duking it out, trading blows while fast on their feet.

But how about two people in wheelchairs? Or people who have undergone amputations? Or even brain injuries?

Peggy Mayers, owner and coach of the Bulldog Boxing Centre in Salmon Arm, B.C., hosted a special event this past weekend for adaptive boxing. 

It’s a way for the sport to be more inclusive for those who might be kept out of the ring by a physical disability.

“The whole point is boxing is truly adaptable, including competition, and it can be made safe,” Mayers told CBC Radio West’s Leah Shaw.

“And I felt like this was the one piece that just wasn’t there yet in our sport. And here we are today. We’re making history.”

Wood and Twining practise while Peggy Meyers and Carina Trueman, right, look on. (Leah Shaw/CBC)

The weekend event saw people come from far away, including Colin Wood, CEO of the Great Britain Adaptive Boxing Council.

He described adaptive boxing as a sport that focuses on scoring points during fights. That, he said, minimizes physical risks to the fighters.

“This is about inclusion, it’s about a wide variety of disabled people to be able to be included,” Wood said. “Most sports have not got [that] correctly at the moment.”

Trueman, left, and Twining practise while Wood looks on. (Leah Shaw/CBC)

‘Boxing changed my life’

Samantha Twining, from Philadelphia, was paralyzed 11 years ago in a car accident. She has been in a wheelchair since, and said she struggled at first.

“I didn’t participate in sports before my accident. So, it wasn’t something I was looking to,” Twining said.

“Boxing changed my life, my self-confidence … I would like to show other people that they can do it, too.”

Christopher Middleton, a British veteran of the war in Afghanistan, lost his legs in an explosion in 2011.

“As you can imagine, it was quite tough to get free, obviously, with the PTSD and just generally not knowing the way of life I was going to go down,” Middleton said.

“Sport was a massive thing for me, so was my scuba diving, but now I’ve got boxing. It’s something else to pass on to anybody else who thinks negatively about their situation or their injury.”

Wood is hoping to grow adaptive boxing and have his organization accredited by the World Boxing Council as the official body.

As for Mayers, she wants the sport to head to the biggest stage of all. 

“Paralympics, look out, because we’re coming for you,” she said.

Listen to the full story:

Peggy Mayers, owner and coach of Salmon Arm’s Bulldog Boxing Centre, hosted a special event this past weekend for adaptive boxing: a way for the sport to be more inclusive for those who might be kept out of the ring by a physical disability. 5:56

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7May

When is your child’s problem behaviour a sign of a bigger problem? | CBC News

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This story is part of Amy Bell’s column Parental Guidance, which airs on CBC Radio One’s The Early Edition.


If you wrote down a list of all the behaviours my children exhibit on a near daily basis, it might look something like this: nervousness, lack of focus, hyperactivity, poor listening, trouble with school work, memory lapses, aggression — usually in the form of whacking their sibling— and emotional outbursts. 

Is this unusual? 

Not really. But some of these behaviours can be signs that something other than the normal childhood shenanigans are afoot. So, when should a parent begin to explore the possibility they might not have a problem child — but a child with a very real medical problem? 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common childhood psychiatric disorder in Canada —and many children with ADHD also fall under the spectrum of learning disorders such as dyslexia. But there are many other hidden disabilities that children can face, and if not treated, your child is at risk for less academic success, poor self esteem, additional mental health issues and substance abuse.  

Trust your gut

As with many things concerning your child, it’s always a good bet to trust your gut. If you sense they’re struggling socially or academically, reach out to friends and family to see if they’ve experienced anything similar with their own children.

It can be hard to gauge what children are like behind the well cultivated facade of social media, so do talk to someone who will feel comfortable telling you the truth. 

When is it time to see if something bigger is behind your child’s ‘bad’ behaviour?

Don’t forget that kids develop at very different rates and there are phases they’ll go through at different times, so what may be “normal” behaviour for a four year old —such as an inability to sit still and focus — may be a sign of a problem in in a 10 year old. 

Teachers — especially experienced ones — can often give you a clearer picture of what your child is like when you’re not around.  School can be a minefield at the best of times for any kid. For someone with a learning disability or mental health problem, it can be especially hard to connect and “fit in”.

Lower Mainland mom Jennifer Fullerton has two boys and both have been diagnosed with learning disorders.  For the past two years, they’ve been attending James Cameron School in Maple Ridge, which specializes in teaching children with learning and behavioural disabilities.

“Both children were incredibly stressed, particularly my youngest.” said Fullerton. “He knew something was wrong and he was too young to articulate it.”

Reach out and talk to others

So what happens when you do decide to reach out to get a professional diagnosis and discover that what you were hoping was something to grow out of is actually something long term?

Understand that what you’re experiencing isn’t unique or unusual —and that’s actually a great thing! Dr Ashley Miller, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with BC Children’s Hospital, works with kids who experience a host of different diagnoses, and she’s stresses how valuable it can be for families to reach out and talk to others who have gone through the same experience. 

“Tons of people are struggling with their child’s behaviour at home in isolation,” says Miller.  “It’s just wonderful when people can connect and realize they are not alone.” 

Yes, ADHD, dyslexia and many disabilities and mental health issues can mean life-long behavioural management for kids and their families.

But once you realize what you and your child are dealing with — and with the right supports and proactive behaviours — they most certainly can and will continue to grow and learn and generally amaze the heck out of you. 


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