Parrots form friendships with long-term care residents in Lethbridge

A spoonful of peanut butter and a visit from her feathered friends is all it takes to put a smile on Elma Koenig’s face.

The long-term care resident at St. Michael’s Health Centre is one of many who gets frequent visits from Brian Shields and his two parrots Baby and Taz.

The centre welcomes volunteers and their pets to visit residents as a way of providing socialization.



    The Parrot Lovers of Lethbridge need your help finding Abby the cockatoo

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    “A lot of them don’t get out or go home, or have families who visit,” recreational therapist Cheryl Bodell said. “It’s a chance also for that one-to-one visiting, or in a group, just interacting with the animals and the different owners.”

    Shields started making trips to St. Michael’s three years ago with a Cockatoo named Abby.

    “Abby was the star of the show because she was so social and could go to anybody,” he said.

    But when Abby escaped from her home and passed away about a year ago, he wasn’t sure if the visits would continue.

    READ MORE: More than just hugs: Therapy animals require training, the right temperament 

    His other bird, Baby, was left on her own and wasn’t used to being in the spotlight.

    “Over the summer, we did a lot of treat training and other things to try and get Baby a little more adjusted to being the star of the show,” Shields said.

    Now Baby, along with her new flock mate Taz, are frequent visitors and make their rounds on a regular basis.

    READ MORE: Animal therapy offers hope for veterans struggling with PTSD 

    Bodell says for Sandy Johansen, another long-term care resident, the parrots make great companions.

    “She doesn’t do a lot outside of her room so to have animals come in and a chance to socialize and interact is really a special treat for her,” Bodell said.

    It’s also a treat for the parrots, Shields said.

    “Unfortunately a lot of people think that a bird is a cage animal and the parrots, especially the bigger and smarter ones, they need entertainment and they need to go out,” he said.

    “A busy parrot is a happy parrot.”

    Although Taz and Baby are the only parrots that visit, St. Michael’s has had dogs in the past.

    They’re encouraging anyone with people-friendly pets to contact them and get involved.

Unspoiled, ‘tremendously special’ forest at west edge of Edmonton to open to public in the fall

The Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, a 250 hectare old-growth forest just 30 kilometres from downtown Edmonton, is expected to be open for nature lovers to enjoy this fall, according to the Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT).


The EALT, along with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, held a media event at the parcel of land west of Alberta’s capital on Tuesday to talk about its future now that it has acquired the land. The property, acquired from private landowners, features diverse vegetation and wildlife.

‘It features aspen parkland woods as well as pockets of white spruce, tamarack, jack pine and wetlands, giving way to diverse plant communities throughout the whole area,” the EALT’s website says. “This natural area is an important refuge for wildlife and is home to many species including moose, deer, squirrels, owls, hawks and songbirds.”

In May 2015, the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced it was hoping to raise $4 million to purchase the forest and wildlife habitat. The land belonged to five families who preserved it in its natural state and agreed to sell it to the conservancy at a fraction of its market value.

READ MORE: Group raising $4M to buy large natural area outside Edmonton

Watch below: On May 21, 2015, Fletcher Kent filed this report after five families agreed to sell their land at a discount to Nature Conservancy Canada so it can be preserved.

“We’ve owned this for 45-plus years now and as kids, this was a long way from the city… it was a trip out to the country and it was always a special day when we got to come out here,” Kim Laskin, one of the former landowners, said on Tuesday.

The owners kept the land intact despite significant development all around it over the years.

“It’s like an oasis in the middle of a whole bunch of farmland.”

Laskin said his family also owned a nearby farm and would often take their horses to gallop through the Bunchberry Meadows area. He said he and the other landowners approached the conservancy about selling the land because with growing families, the land wasn’t being used as much as before.

“(It’s) very important that this was protected forever,” he said. “(This was) the ultimate way to preserve our parents’ legacies and keep this property exactly how it should be.”

“This is a tremendously special property,” said Pam Wight, executive director of the EALT. “It’s very large for the Edmonton area – a whole section of land. It’s completely natural.

“There are large populations of people who have to drive considerable distances to get to areas that are natural and this has tremendous promise.”

To help buy the land, the EALT was buoyed by a $1.667-million gift from an anonymous donor.

Wight said the green space won’t open to the public until the fall because her organization needs time to ensure the area and its trails are safe for nature lovers to use and to take steps to make sure the land isn’t damaged when visitors begin using it.

‘Undone, uncontrollable’: Doctor describes man shot by police in Winnipeg skywalk

WINNIPEG —; A Winnipeg doctor says the man shot by police inside his downtown office was asked several times to drop the weapon he was holding.

The 25-year-old man, shot on Monday over the lunch hour in the Winnipeg skywalk, has since been upgraded to stable condition.

“He was what we call undone, uncontrollable,” Dr. Robert Lecker said. He said the man burst into his optometry office with what looked like a homemade spear.


READ MORE: Man shot by police officer in downtown Winnipeg skywalk

“It was a thin metal pole probably about three feet and at the end of it there was a pair of scissors, half a pair of scissors, taped to the end of the rod,” Lecker said.

The man appeared to be in some kind of confrontation between police and downtown patrol members in the skywalk just outside the front door to the clinic, according to Lecker’s receptionist, Nicelyn Romero.

He then came through the door into the office where Romero was at the front desk and Lecker was in the back with two patients.

WATCH: Man shot by police officer in downtown Winnipeg skywalk

“He’s staring at me, I’m staring at him and I don’t know what to do next,” she said.

Police were right behind the man, asking him to put down the spear, Romero said.

“He’s telling him to drop the weapon, otherwise he’s going to shoot him and he didn’t listen,” she said.

One of the two shots fired hit the man, Lecker said.

“Everybody acted in an appropriate fashion and it was done in the best possible fashion to protect everyone who’s in here,” he said. “People shouldn’t be afraid to come into this area so whatever has to happen to prevent this from happening again is essential.”

Canadian MP Andrew Leslie uses hamburgers to illustrate importance of NAFTA

WASHINGTON – Just before lunchtime in Washington, a Canadian MP spoke to his audience’s stomach about the tasty attributes of the North American Free Trade Agreement and how cancelling it would cause economic indigestion.

Andrew Leslie told the story of a hamburger.


The parliamentary secretary for Canada-U.S. relations used the journey of a burger to illustrate the interconnectedness of modern supply chains and argued that tearing up NAFTA would rip the bread from the patty and the condiments and leave an economic mess.

READ MORE: Donald Trump will keep focus on trade as he celebrates 100th day in office

He was speaking at Johns Hopkins University a few days after President Donald Trump floated the idea of serving notice the U.S. might start pulling out of the continental trade agreement in six months.

Leslie talked about the tens of thousands of Americans employed by TD Bank, the thousands who work on TransCanada pipelines and the states that have Canada as their No. 1 customer.

And then he brought up burgers.

WATCH: Trump on NAFTA: will renegotiate or terminate deal

He described a how a cow raised in Alberta gets processed in the U.S., and ends up in a bun baked in California with wheat from Saskatchewan, topped with lettuce from Arizona and a tomato from Ontario.

“You (get) that (burger) for what – five bucks?” Leslie said. “Think of the complexity of that. Think of the decades it took for the various elements to reach their peak efficiency in what they were doing best, into an integrated supply chain. . . .

“How do you untangle that? How do you do that and retain the value-added that’s built up over the last 40 or 50 years? That was a simple example.”

The Trump administration says it intends to start renegotiating NAFTA with Canada and Mexico later this year and reserves the right to withdraw if those negotiations fail to achieve a new deal.

But it’s articulated conflicting objectives – just in the last few days.

On the one hand, Trump’s team has spoken of the need for major upgrades in complex areas, like dairy, lumber and pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, it’s expressed a desire to do it quickly, within months – and get a deal wrapped up before the Mexican election next year.

READ MORE: Donald Trump planned on giving Canada only 5 days’ notice of NAFTA withdrawal

Trade-watchers are overwhelmingly skeptical these two goals are compatible.

“The U.S. is hoping to fuse quick with thorough by rolling Canada and Mexico on the issues they care about,” said Eric Miller, a former Canadian official who runs a trade consultancy, Rideau Potomac Strategy Group.

“(But) I don’t see how you do a major rejig in six months.”

Asked whether the Canadian government favours a quick renegotiation, or a thorough one, Leslie said little. He said the Canadian government has a list of demands ready, but intends to keep its cards hidden for now.

He said Canada is waiting for the U.S. to make its opening move, which would come after the White House sends a formal notice to Congress that negotiations will start in 90 days.

One thing Leslie described as a non-starter: cancelling the deal.

“Tearing up the agreement is, in my opinion, not the answer,” Leslie said. “There’s a deep understanding there’s no good that would come from replacing perceived impediments to Canada-U.S. trade with real ones.”

John Oakley Show – Tuesday May 2, 2017

On the Tuesday edition of the Oakley Show, MPs want spies watching spies; later we talk to our resident criminal lawyer about a rapist released even though he may re-offend and why millennials are at high risk for mental health issues.  Listen to it again!

Liberal and NDP MPs recommend increased oversight over CSIS


Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director, Privacy & Big Data Institute – Ryerson University and Former Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario joins the Oakley show to tell us why more oversight and restricted the spy agency’s powers are necessary in light of Bill C-51

View link »

CSIS use of personal data troubles privacy watchdog

‘High Park Rapist’ back on streets, high risk to re-offend

Rejected several times for parole, and still considered a threat, Michael Giroux is now free and living near McGill University. We talk to criminal defense lawyer Lorne Honickman and ask if there was a way to keep Giroux in prison and if police have an obligation to let the neighbourhood know.

View link »

Seattle jogger who fought off her rapist sparks self-defence boom

It’s Mental Health Week – More Canadian millennials then ever are at high risk of mental health issues

A staggering 63 per cent of Canadian millennials are at “high risk” for mental health issues, according to a new Ipsos report released exclusively to Global News. Mark Henick, national director of strategic initiatives at the Canadian Mental Health Association discusses the struggles younger people are experiencing and how we can help them.

View link »

Why more Canadian millennials than ever are at ‘high risk’ of mental health issues

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.