Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Something exciting is happening at the Avalon Community & Culture Blog!

Happy Wednesday Morning!

Along with the original purpose of the Avalon Community & Culture Blog, I have decided to incorporate weekly content on the how-to's of journalism and news writing. Here's a chance to look 'behind-the-scenes' at the world of news, as well as discover tips and pointers along the way!

Look for an original podcast this week on why news matters!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Symphonic Storyteller's are working on something wild...

From left to right, Megan Slade, Dave Martin, Mary Mesh, Jenelle Gillis, Kisha Jacobs.  Center, Martine Finn.  Not pictured is director and writer Marcia O'Neill.
Just wait until you see what the Symphonic Storytellers are doing to bring Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach to the stage!  Catch the full article in next week's Compass.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Local benefit for toddler battling brain cancer

Liam Wrice
Hundreds of residents gathered today at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23 in Carbonear for a benefit in support of the Wrice family, Jerry and Natasha, whose thirteen-month-old son Liam was diagnosed this past November with a rare form of brain cancer-Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour.

Jerry Wrice and Phyllis Ferguson in their #LIAMSTRONG hoodies
"We are extremely grateful for the community support.  It is overwhelming.  There are not enough words to truly express our sincere appreciation for the support given to our family and baby boy during this difficult journey,” said Jerry.

The Wrice’s, who currently live in Fort McMurray, but still have many family and friends home in Newfoundland and Labrador. Jerry was able to fly to Newfoundland to participate in both this benefit and one held at the Stone Jug on Friday, Feb. 5, while Natasha remained in Fort McMurray, where she also attended a benefit for Liam.

The benefit, one of many which have been organized across Canada in support of the toddler, was conceived by Scott Cooper and Ben Lewis, who approached Tammy Wrice, Liam’s aunt, with the idea.

“It’s hard knowing what the family is going through and we just wanted to help somehow,” said Cooper, who is also a distant relative of the toddler. “We wanted to do something for Liam and his family- my family. We decided a music benefit would be great.”

“It’s not about us. It’s about Liam,” said Tammy. “It’s about letting the community come into your life and letting them help and be involved.”

And the community certainly helped, as the group received dozens of donations from local businesses. Prize
Large crowds gather to support Liam Wrice
draws, snacks, fresh soup and sandwiches, and music provided by local performers such as Irish Coffee, Scott Cooper and his son Matthew, the Barley Boys, and more, made for an enjoyable evening for all in attendance. For sale at the event were t-shirts, hoodies, and wrist bands featuring the hashtag #LIAMSTRONG, which has been trending across social media sites ever since word broke of Liam’s battle.

Perhaps the most telling moment of the night was when Vanessa Patricia, winner of a 50/50 draw, donated her winnings of $1,800 towards the cause.

By the end of the night, a total of $13,000 had been raised for Liam.

In the face of all adversity, the family chooses to remain optimistic about the future.

“We need to help bring about awareness and let Liam lead the helm in what the new future holds for us,” said Tammy.

For more information on the Wrice's and their journey, you can visit their website.
The Barley Boys, one of several local performers

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Some Good Market kicks off with first event of the new year

Around 30 exhibitors were present at St. John's St. Thomas Church today for the first Some Good Market of 2016.

It was a time for entrepreneurs and craftspeople, both young and young at heart, to sell their locally made goods, meet customers, and connect with others in the business.

Some Sweet Fudge on display.
What astonishes me most about the Some Good Market is the variety. No two exhibitors are the same. And their products are incredible.  Fancy some natural, fresh baked dog treats (which are also entirely edible if you want to do some snacking of your own!) from Boou?  And who wouldn't wonder what one of Some Sweet Fudge's Nutty Baymen or Cape Spearmint fudge tastes like.  How about one of Spindrifts Handknits Rune toques, featuring favorite Newfoundland sayings written in an ancient Runic language?  Or a handcrafted greeting card from Vicki's Home Made Cards?  And once you try a sample of Steve Curtis' Indian Spiced Tomato Chili Jam, your going to find yourself buying a bottle.

Donations for the Some Warm Welcome
Donations were also accepted for the Some Warm Welcome, an initiate began by Laurie Legrow, founder of the Some Good Market, to welcome Syrian refugees to Newfoundland by providing them with hand-knit hats, scarves, gloves, and vamps.  For more information on the Some Warm Welcome, check out the Facebook page, or this Compass article.

Several exhibitors shared their advice on how beginners can prepare themselves for trade.

"You have to find something unique, something thats in demand," said Darren Hayward of Newfoundland Seasonings. "Just find something that you enjoy doing and do it."

 "I got laid off from my job, and rather than just sit around the house doing nothing, I decided I would start knitting again," said Hilary Simpson of Because I Felt Like It!

"I started a business, and once I found a job, I just kept going at it!" said Simpson.

Admission to the event was free, however donations were accepted for local food banks.  Last year the market raised $20,293 for food banks, with a goal of $20,000.  This year, the goal is $25,000

For more information on the Some Good Market, including vendors and contact information, you can visit their Facebook page.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Matthew Verge, a "Champion Child".

The Verge family at the TC Square.
Matthew Verge, this year's "Champion Child", was celebrated the TC Square today.

For more information on the Verge family's ordeal, you can read their Compass article.

For more information on the Children's Miracle Network, you can check out their website.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

'Some Warm Welcome' still accepting donations

A 'Some Warm Welcome' display seen at the Carbonear Library.

Remember, Some Warm Welcome is still accepting donations for refugees!

For more information, visit the Facebook page, or this Compass article written by myself .

Family Literacy Day

"The more we read together, the happier we'll be!" says Evans.
This motto is sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together".

Carbonear librarian Tracey Evans celebrates Family Literacy Day with some young patrons.

Family Literacy Day has been celebrated every Jan.27 in Canada since 1999. It's purpose is to raise awareness for the importance of family literary activities.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The plot thickens in Spaniard's Bay scandal story

The recent Spaniard's Bay volunteer fire department scandal has become an item of national interest.

It has become a national spring board for topics such as gender discrimination, rape culture, the mob mentality, matters of culpability, and the dedication of volunteers.

It has divided not only the town of Spaniard's Bay, but the province, as we each find ourselves siding with either the accused or the accuser.  Facebook has become a battle ground. And oh, the guns are ringing.

It is a story where the facts seem to change everyday, where opinions are loud and accusations louder, and the truth yet remains buried several layers deep.

It's become a political game of 'he-said, she-said'.

These things ought not be.  But they are.

I have chosen to write from a neutral standpoint, both here and in my last post regarding the issue.  Come to your own conclusion with the information you know.

Just yesterday, Jan. 26, a second firefighter came forward with a version of events which challenged Seymour's story.

This only hours after Seymour received an official apology from the town of Spaniard's Bay.

The manner was similar to that of Cory Mahaney, whose public Facebook outcry on  Jan. 20, the day after the mass resignations, caught much media and community attention.

Ross Snow, who claims to have acted as secretary, treasurer, fire prevention officer, 2nd lieutenant, 1st lieutenant, 2nd captain, and 1st captain for the volunteer fire department, released a lengthy Facebook post, outline Seymour's history with the department, including her involvement in a 2011 financial scandal, the pornographic video incident, and her political involvements.

Snow claims that Seymour issued a complaint in regards to the pornographic video, but stated shortly thereafter that she would drop the issue.

Snow also claimed that there is no proof that the 'masturbation joke' which Seymour reported can be confirmed.  

"There's no proof as to the exact wording... in my opinion it's he said she said so everybody is open to their own opinion," Snow's Facebook post reads.

"But knowing everybody involved I don't think for one second there was harassment."

He also writes in the Facebook post that liaison Sherri Collins resigned from her position because of continual abuse to both her and her family at the hands of Seymour.

At the end of the post, he states that "Mrs. Collins, Cheif (sic) Hiscock, firefighter Vicne Hiscock, firefighter Brenda Seymour and Martin Seymour be placed on temporary leave of absence from all positions until the allegations and legal proceedings end."

The entire post can be read here.

Seymour herself has received a great amount of support, both locally and nationally.  Many cite this as an obvious example of the corruption of male-dominated work places, of the mob mentality of small communities, and even 'rape culture' in action.

An online petition has been established in support of Seymour.  The petition currently has over 6000 supporters.  

One anonymous signature on the petition to support Seymour reads "it is time for the people who are bullying Brenda to wake up and join the 21st century."

Meanwhile, Spaniard's Bay is currently accepting applicants for volunteer firefighting. The deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 12.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Fiddle show rocks Freshwater

Playing from left to right, Chantelle Jubenville, Emilia Bartellas, Maria Peddle, Carole Bestvater, Daniel Hawkins, and Douglas Dorward.

There’s an old Irish proverb that reads ‘the older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.’ 
If that were true, then I’d say the instruments played this past Saturday night at the Freshwater Community Centre must have been ancient.
Or maybe it was the players. 
Emilia BartellasCarole Bestvater Douglas DorwardDaniel Hawkins, Chantelle Jubenville, and Maria Peddle brought to the stage genuine chemistry, passionate craftsmanship, and endearing personality. 
“We’re all involved in different things, with different commitments, and different styles of playing, but we just wanted to create an opportunity to play what we wanted, to be creative together,” said Bartellas. 
“For us it really us an opportunity to have fun and for everybody to bring to the table what they wanted to play to make this work.” 

Playing from left to right, Emilia Bartellas,
Carole Bestvater, and Daniel Hawkins.
The show, String Together ; Fiddle Tunes from Near and Far, delivered on the promise in its name, drawing material from America, Scotland, Sweden, and of course, from our own local repertoire.  The sextet struck a perfect balance between high octane, frenetic, toe tapping dance songs and more quiet, sombre, and reflective airs.  Both classic and contemporary tunes were performed, including a handful of original compositions.  
“Music has a way of bringing people together,” said Dorward.  “It just really taps into the emotions.” 
And the audience? During the intermission, and after the show, exclaims of ‘fantastic’, ‘phenomenal’, and ‘excellent’ could be heard all throughout the crowd. 
Though the performers have not formed an ‘official’ group, there is certainly potential for future projects. 
“I think one of the beauties of what we have created here tonight is that there is potential for more projects in the future, but as a project-based collective of friends rather than something that is really formalized,” explained Bestvater . 

For information on the Sizzle Sisters, a string duo comprised of Bestvater and Jubenville, you can visit their Facebook page.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Keeping the tradition alive

Carbonear Pond Hockey, Jan 23.  Keeping the tradition alive in 2016.

An important addendum to the post "Spainard's Bay responds to scandal".

Since publishing the article "Spaniard's Bay responds to scandal.", Brenda Seymour did make contact, by means of returning a  phone call.  She very politely and respectively declined to comment.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Spaniard's Bay responds to scandal.

Photo courtesy of Support the Spaniard's Bay Fire Department Facebook group

Cory Mahaney lived for firefighting.

You can hear it in his voice when he tells you one of his many stories.  And, after almost 10 years of volunteer firefighting, he has a great number of stories to tell.

It was Mahaney’s love for firefighting which made it so difficult for him to hand over his pager this past Tuesday night.  Mahaney resigned.

But he was not alone.  This past Tuesday night, Jan. 19, at least 20 members of the 33 members, including chief Victor Hiscock, as well as town counselor and liaison Sheri  Collins, also resigned.

In the wake of the mass resignations, which crippled the station’s ability to operate effectively, fire stations in neighbouring communities Bay Robert’s and Upper Island Cove have pledged their assistance in filling the void.

But, during winter months when the roads are icy and storms often come unexpectedly, making travel difficult one wonders, is it enough to depend upon neighbouring stations?

At the heart of the scandal is a series of allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment made by Brenda Seymour, both a level II firefighter and a town counsellor.

Seymour, speaking with the CBC earlier this week, claimed that a brief clip of a pornographic film was shown during an instructional class.

She spoke of another incident where a fellow firefighter made a joke about several male firefighters’ masturbating onto one of her belongs, among other complaints of harassment and misconduct.

At a Nov. 16 council meeting this past year, Seymour called for the suspension of fire Chief Victor Hiscock.   
The motion was defeated.

The mass resignations has left residents of Spaniard’s Bay bewildered, shocked, and uncertain.

Many in the town have rallied to show their support of the firefighters.

Kate Davis, the daughter of Randy Davis, assistant chief, created the Facebook group ‘Support the Spaniard’s Bay Fire Department’ Tuesday night, at 11:43 pm.  At the current time of writing, the group has 884 members.

“We as a town need to come together and support our loyal and dedicated members!!” reads the group’s description, written by Davis.

“It’s making me mad and upset that these men (including my father) are being accused for sexual harassment.  I grew up with these men and they are a bunch of awesome guys who are dedicated to our community, and to see them getting the bad end of this is horrible,” said Davis via Messenger.

 “No one knows how personally it’s affecting the family members”

On the Facebook page, one finds various shared photos of the firefighters and their families, comments offering love and support, as well as memes promoting volunteer firefighting.

Mahaney, one of the firefighter who resigned, has written a public rebuttal to Seymour’s story.  The write up, which has been submitted to several news outlets and is available on the Facebook page, states that Seymour is using ‘this porn video issue to her advantage and making believe she’s being provoked.... trying to convince council that she should be the next chief...”

“My only concern now is the residents,” said Mahaney via a telephone interview.

There will be a rally tonight at the Spaniard's Bay town hall.

Seymour could not be reached for comment.


Greetings!  And welcome to the blog!

If you don't know me, my name is Mark Squibb, and I am a current journalist student residing in Carbonear, who holds a Bachelor in Religious Education

The purpose of this blog is to reflect both the community and culture of the Avalon district.  I want this blog to be a reflection of both  the concerns and enjoyments of Avalon residents.  Community issues, concerts, community theaters, charities, and fundraisers are all topics I hope to cover. Have a unique story or know someone worthy of some recognition?  Want to spread the word about your fundraising project?  Send me blog suggestions- I promise to reply!

Thanks for your interest!