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Kamloops  

Addictions group want locals to take pledge around substance use

Pledge to end stigma

Addictions Matters Kamloops is looking to locals to help end the stigma around substance abuse.

The group wants locals to be aware of the words they use when talking about substance use, and avoid language that stigmatizes the issue.

“These actions, such as using person-first and recovery-oriented language, are simple enough for everybody to do and can result in a tremendous difference to individuals and families impacted by substance use in our communities," says Jessica Mensinger, chair of the organization, in a press release.

The organization is looking to decrease the shame those fighting substance abuse feel in public, which becomes a barrier when they seek treatment.

"Stigmatization and discrimination against individuals with substance use issues gives rise to isolation, increasingly poor health and further marginalization," states the organization in the release, citing the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

The issue is particularly important right now as deaths related to substance use have spiked. The organization points to recent stats from the B.C. Coroners Service showing a spike in May for deaths related to drug toxicity.

A website has been set up for those wanting to participate.

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Highway 5 north of Kamloops is open again

Highway 5 reopened

UPDATE: 1:58 p.m.

The incident is now clear and regular traffic patterns have resumed.

UPDATE: 12:42 p.m.

Highway 5 north of Kamloops is closed due to "a multi-vehicle incident," according to Drive BC.

The crash occurred between Sadler-Brown Road and Carilla Road between McLure and Barriere. Traffic both directions is shut down with no estimated time of reopening, as an assessment is in progress.

Drive BC expects an update around 2 p.m.

ORIGINAL: 12:35 p.m.

An accident north of McLure has reportedly closed Highway 5.

Drive BC is reporting a closure near Dianna Road north of McLure Ferry Road. Currently an assessment of the situation is in progress.

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Mom wants changes, awareness after baby finds drugs on Kamloops play structure

Drugs found by baby

A Kamloops mother is warning other parents to be aware when they head to the park after her 11-month-old daughter nearly ingested what appeared to be heroin.

Stefanie Elliott was at McDonald Park Sunday morning (July 5) with her baby and three-year-old daughter. While she says she normally checks the play area for anything dangerous she was distracted from doing a full look over.

Less than a minute after her kids were on the play structure she noticed her youngest had picked up what looked like a leaf while sitting by the top of the slide.

"My three-year-old was next to her. I asked her to take the leaf from her sister," she says. "I said, 'Please get that from your sister before she puts it in her mouth.'"

Her three-year-old grabbed the object from her sister, and that's when Elliott realized it wasn't a leaf.

"As she was handing it to me I realized it was a bag of drugs," she says.

As a registered nurse who works in the mental health field, Elliott says it appeared to be heroin, though without a chemical test it's hard to be certain. She notes, though, that it appeared to be similar to a strain of purple heroin that there have been warnings about recently.

"I knew if a baby ingested it would have been fatal," she says. "I realized how (near) her death was and I was devastated."

She quickly washed her and her children's hands, called police to dispose of the drugs and spoke to a city parks crew who was nearby, who empathized.

"Of course they responded with, 'Oh my god, that's so horrible,'" she says. "Then one lady said, 'I wouldn't let my grandkids come to the park.'"

Elliott says she felt instantly shamed by the comment.

With her experience as a nurse and her husband's as a paramedic, they were able to monitor their children for any signs of an overdose from contact with the bag. Luckily, everyone was OK, she says.

Kamloops RCMP, in a press release, say they were alerted to the incident and responded, calling the material in the small bag "a suspected controlled substance." They note that fentanyl has become the drug of choice now, over heroin.

"Some drug traffickers add colouring to their product to make it a signature product," says Cst. Gary Gray in the release. "The most common colour that Kamloops RCMP have been seeing is purple fentanyl."

After the incident, Elliott took to Facebook to warn others. The post has since taken off.

"I think the shares indicates the amount of people who are supportive," she says. "But the comments are vastly negative, shaming, begging me for self-responsibility."

"Believe me, there is self-reflection on my part."

However, she's hoping speaking about her experience will do some good. Long-term, she's hoping it will add to the discussion about substance abuse, and she says she supports ideas like safe supplies and supervised consumption sites.

In the short-term, she's wondering why drugs were left on a children's play structure without it being cleaned up.

"Is it anyone's job description... to ensure the play structures are not filled with drug paraphernalia?" she says.

While the city does have park crews, Deputy CAO Byron McCorkell says there is no crew assigned to checking playgrounds every day.

"It'd be great if we could, but we have some 50 or 60 play structures in the park system," he says, noting he isn't aware of any community where staff do daily playground checks.

"We have crews that are assigned specific tasks, like checking fences, benches, cutting grass," he says. "But they don't do any of them daily in any park."

Also, while parks have an opening and closing time, he adds that is a bylaw, and no one is physically going around to parks to open or close them. Only Riverside Park and McArthur Island have crews working on them daily, because of the size and amount of use.

He says the crew that was on site at McDonald Park Sunday was a washroom crew, who go to all the city washrooms in Kamloops to clean and restock. While they'll survey the park for any significant pieces of litter and check the garbage cans, they don't do a close-up review of the park.

"We rely on the public to inform us when something isn't working the way it's supposed to," he says. "The person using the space needs to be aware of their surroundings."

If someone does notice something wrong in a park, he says to call the appropriate organization, be it police, bylaw or the parks department. While this incident took place at McDonald Park, he says drugs, alcohol, litter and other "untoward items" are found at parks across the city, of which there are more than 80.

McCorkell says he's saddened to hear what happened to the Elliotts, and said he's disappointed at what parks staff told the family afterward. However, he adds staff members are allowed to express themselves how they wish.

Elliott says she doesn't think it would take long for staff to do a simple once over of play structures and that it should be part of someone's job.

"It really ought to be," she says. "A five-minute run through would have saved my kids life it I hadn't been there."

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Blue Fish to bring creative sushi to Kamloops North Shore

New North Shore sushi joint

Kamloops probably has at least one fish, and it would make sense it has two fish, and there are likely some red fish.

But soon it will absolutely, certainly, definitely have a Blue Fish.

Katie Yun, owner of the Korean BBQ joint GUI in Aberdeen, is opening Blue Fish Japanese Sushi Restaurant (that's the full name) later this month. It'll be located next to the North Shore library, at 685 Tranquille Rd.

With Blue Fish, she's trying to create "a nice atmosphere for dining out" on the North Shore with unique sushi options.

"The food here is very creative," she tells Castanet, adding that the sushi chef she's hired has 20 years of experience.

"It's a good time to open a restaurant here," Yun says, referencing the growth and development going on in the area.

At the same time, Yun says the pandemic has thrown a wrench into things. However, with the province starting to reopen, she decided to go forward with Blue Fish.

In general, she sees Kamloops as a growing city ready for more diverse dining options. She says when GUI started, there were hard times at first (as it was the first Korean-specific restaurant in the city), but they adapted and the community responded.

Blue Fish is scheduled to open July 15, but Yun is still waiting on some administrative paperwork to come through before making it official.

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TNRD civic building reopens today

Civic building reopens

If you have business with the Thompson-Nicola Regional, as of this morning the civic building is open to the public.

Regular hours of operation will return as well, with the administrative office open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"Following the recommendations of BC provincial public health officers and guidelines from WorkSafe BC, new protocols are in place to ensure the health and safety of all visitors and staff," states the regional government in a press release. "Plexiglas barriers have been installed and signage is in place to assist with physical distancing and to protect visitors and employees."

The Kamloops Art Gallery, which is in the same building is scheduled to reopen July 7.

The regional library service will not be reopening at the same time and remains closed. There is a library takeout service though.

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Kamloops RCMP officer's controversial post prompts backlash

'Is my skin care racist?'

An RCMP officer in Kamloops is under review after a controversial Instagram post in which he asks, 'is my skin care racist?' 

CTV News reports the post contained two photos. The first shows Const. Rupert Meinke having a face mask applied with the caption "Black face session. It's supposed to help my looks. I don't think it's working."

The second photo shows Meinke with the entire face mask on, and the caption "Is my skin care racist? Micro aggressions matter." 

A former RCMP officer who shared screenshots of the photos on Twitter says the content must be addressed by Meinke's management. 

"When you reference it’s time for your Black face treatment or that you know commenting about Black face or making a remark about micro aggressions, the attitude underlying that post is problematic."

Meinke's Instagram page has now been made private, and it isn't clear whether the post still exists. 

When contacted by CTV News Vancouver, Meinke simply replied: "Sorry I cannot comment other than it is a skin care product. Take care." 

An RCMP spokesperson responded in an email saying the posts are from May 2020, and confirming there is a review underway. 

- With files from CTV News Vancouver

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New fundraiser for BC Wildlife Park features park residents on buffs

Buffs for the wildlife park

A new fundraiser for the B.C. Wildlife Park is hoping to get people into the buff.

Sorry, no, that's into a buff.

Kamloops-based Streetside Apparel has created designs featuring residents of the park, from Clover the Kermode to Thunder the Elk, and others. Six different patterns are in production right now in Montreal says Streetside's owner Jennifer Marshall.

"They're available as soon as I can get them in stock," she says. "They're already available through my Etsy and website."

Running $25, the park will receive $10 directly from each purchase she says.

"Basically I just wanted to help them out," she says. "I started arranging the car rally for them and I thought there was more that I could do."

The multipurpose stretchy loops are used for anything from facemasks to scarves to headbands. She says the zookeepers are looking forward to using them as masks since they'll be easier to use in their jobs around the park.

The six designs are bears, carnivores (the cougars, wolves, etc.), hoofs (bison and elk), small mammals, birds of prey and reptiles. She expects to have them in stock at the park itself by the end of July, though production has been affected by the pandemic.

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Local children's theatre company planning live online performances

Rivertown Players go online

Kamloops's Rivertown Players are going to be back this summer, but instead of taking to a stage, they're taking to the screen.

This season they'll be performing via Vimeo, the online video service.

"The team is currently hard at work writing and rehearsing shows to bring an entertaining, exciting summer!" states a press release from the Kamloops Arts Council, which oversees the group, in partnership with Project X.

"A theme they have been exploring this year is 'Heart The Planet.'"

The four-person group will perform live children's oriented shows for free from July 15 to Aug. 8. From Tuesday to Saturday there'll be two shows a day, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The shows will still have some interactive elements despite no audience being at the performance, in person.

For more information, click here.

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Video captures wild crow saying "hello" to Kamloops man

"Hello" from a crow

It seems the local bird population might have something to say to Kamloopsians.

In a video posted on YouTube, a wild crow can be heard making a sound very different from the usual 'caw, caw.'

At first, you can hear it making a sound similar to 'hello.' The man shooting the video then responds by saying hello, himself.

The crow seems to get better after it, and after the man says "Do it again, hello, hello" the crow looks at him and calls out "hello, hello," back, deeper this time.

Crows and related birds like magpie and ravens are known to be able to imitate human language, though usually, they're in captivity.

Check out the video from andromedaman1964 below.

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Your photo could be featured in the City of Kamloops 2021 calendar

City calendar contest opens

The City of Kamloops is now accepting photos for its 2021 calendar.

Residents of all skill levels are invited to submit their pictures.

"This year, we are looking for YOUR image that you think best embodies Kamloops while representing one of the following terms: community, recreation, arts and culture, (and) nature," reads the city's website. 

A few conditions to keep in mind:

  • Photos must have been taken and owned by the participant
  • Photos must be horizontal 
  • A maximum of three photos per participant can be submitted in digital format
  • Participants grant reproduction rights and permissions to the City of Kamloops to use their photo for other city promotional initiatives including, but not limited to, print and online ads, magazines, the city's website(s), etc.
  • Photos must be a minimum of 2 MB, and cannot exceed 20 MB.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 30 at 4:30 p.m.

Click here to enter. 

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