Monthly Archives: March 2019

Travis Vader’s sister ruled a hostile witness

EDMONTON – On Friday, Justice Denny Thomas ruled the Crown can cross-examine Travis Vader’s sister, Bobbi-Jo Vader, as a hostile witness because of inconsistencies in her statements about meth and guns.

“I do believe my brother is innocent and I will stick up for him any way I can, in telling the truth,” Bobbi-Jo said Friday.

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    She said she was addicted to crack-cocaine and was hallucinating in July 2010. She said she could have been high during three separate RCMP interviews. The Crown played the audio from an August 2010 interview with RCMP. At that time, she told the investigator her brother started changing two years earlier.

    “I can say, in the last few years, Travis has really changed.”

    Bobbi-Jo said her brother had a happy life with a beautiful house, seven kids, living in Summerland, BC. But, she said when he moved back to Alberta, “he went from having everything to nothing.”

    She said her brother lost his family and his job.

    “He’s hanging out with people that are affiliated with crime,” Bobbi-Jo said in 2010. “He’s into meth. He calls himself a cook.”

    “He’s not the same, he’s not the same. When I look into his eyes, he’s not there,” the recording replayed.

    Vader’s sister told court Friday she didn’t remember this interview.

    Bobbi-Jo Vader being interviewed by RCMP August 6, 2010.

    Crown evidence

    TIMELINE: The key events in the Travis Vader case

    Bobbi-Jo took the stand Thursday afternoon, but the Crown alleged her statements in court don’t align with several police statements she made in 2010.

    After questioning the 40-year-old about her brother, the Crown called upon Justice Thomas to review her “inconsistencies.” Thomas adjourned the case for the day and ordered Bobbi-Jo to return to court Friday morning.

    Bobbi-Jo testified she heard her brother had done meth, but she never saw him do the drug.

    In July 2010 she told RCMP her brother was into meth and called himself a “cook.”

    Vader’s sister again said she never saw him do meth, telling the court he had a lot of stress in his life.

    “I assumed he had done meth,” she said, testifying he would talk fast and seemed agitated.

    READ MORE: ‘Why do they want me so bad?’: Texts between Vader’s phone and ex shown in court 

    In late July 2010, she spoke to media outside the courthouse after Vader was before the court on charges unrelated to the McCann investigation.

    At that time Bobbi-Jo said her brother used drugs and after being caught hiding out from police she hoped his time behind bars would help her brother.

    “I was very emotional,” she said in that interview with Global News. “I just feel really sad for the guy. I just hope that one day he gets his life straightened out.”

    Bobbi-Jo told the court her brother arrived at an Edmonton home she was staying at on July 4, 2010.

    “He looked tired, sick, like he needed some sleep.”

    She said Travis was driving a light tan or grey truck and she went into that truck to fetch his belongings.

    READ MORE: Travis Vader’s bail conditions to be reviewed after 4th time late for McCann murder trial 

    “I do know there were some guns in the back seat, but I didn’t see them myself.” Bobbi-Jo then told the court she was confused and “messed up on drugs” at the time and perhaps someone put the gun idea in her head.

    During two separate RCMP interviews in 2010 Bobbi-Jo told RCMP a different story. Both times she told the investigator that Travis told her he had guns.

    “Maybe he did tell me. I’m not sure,” she told the court Thursday afternoon.

    She also told the court her brother had six children by July 2010 and that his wife had left him.

    READ MORE: ‘I plead not guilty to that charge’: Travis Vader at start of McCann murder trial 

    Travis is facing two first-degree murder charges, accused of killing Lyle and Marie McCann.

    The St. Albert couple fuelled up at a superstore on July 3, 2010 before heading to B.C. for a family camping trip. Their burned out motorhome was discovered two days later near the Minnow Lake campground.

    The green SUV the McCanns were towing behind the motorhome was found on July 16, the same day RCMP named Vader as a person of interest.

    Three days later Vader was arrested on outstanding warrants.

    “If you knew Travis as a person, you would know that he would never harm or do anything to any innocent person,” Bobbi-Jo Vader said in 2010.

    “Travis is not like that whatsoever. So, I believe in my heart he had nothing to do with the missing couple.”

    *EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on April 14 and updated on April 15 with the Justice’s ruling.

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Kelowna girl with rare lung disease has wish granted

KELOWNA —; It’s a rare lung disease that only a few patients in the province have and one of them is a 4-year-old girl in Kelowna named Isla Miller.

“Isla has something called Neuroendocrine Cell Hyperplasia of Infancy (NEHI) which is an Interstitial Lung Disease of Childhood. It is quite rare and there are only a couple of patients with this disease in British Columbia,” says Isla’s physician, Dr. Connie Yang.

Isla is adventurous and loves the outdoors but the B.C. Children’s Hospital patient has been battling the disease most of her life.

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“We noticed right from birth that something was a little off with her,” says Isla’s mother Julie Miller.

Several tests, visits to the doctor and even hospital stays later, she was diagnosed at B.C. Children’s.

“If you were to breathe through a straw all day long, that’s the way she breathes all the time,” says Julie.

With the help of regular use of oxygen tanks, her health has improved over the years, but every day is a challenge for the little girl who just wants to go outside and play.

“She’s a little compounded with different issues because she’s also diagnosed with autism and global development delay,” says Julie.

Isla hasn’t been able to join her family on camping trips because of her health but this summer her wish will be granted.

Thanks to the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and their partner, Voyager RV, the Miller family has been given a travel trailer worth more than $10,000.

“Through a series of conversations with our wish coordinator, we realized that she wanted to go camping and that she wanted a trailer, so this was the ideal solution for she and her family to enjoy camping” says Jennifer Petersen with the foundation.

Isla is one of thousands of kids the growing Canadian non-profit has granted wishes for this past year, which has been a record-breaking one.

“Across Canada this year, we have just granted the most-ever wishes in our 34-year history and that is just over 1,200 wishes,” says Petersen.

In the Okanagan, the foundation granted more than three times as many wishes as it did last year with 15 wishes in 2015 compared to four in the valley in 2014.

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‘On top of the world’: Ex skateboard pro rallies female boarders in Calgary 

CALGARY – Erica Jacobs isn’t new around the skate park. She’s an ex-pro who competed nationally in her 20s.

But in her 30s she noticed a distinct lack of lady boarders around the Calgary skateboarding scene.

“You get a different feeling when you’re hanging out with women, especially in a male-dominated sport,” Jacobs said.

That’s why Jacobs launched the 100% Skate Club last April, uniting girls rolling around the city on four tiny wheels.

“I thought, ‘I wonder if there are other girls out there skateboarding’ and that was my reason for starting the club,” Jacobs said.

She found out she wasn’t alone. The club quickly grew to a whopping 45 female members.

Some of the 100% Skate Club’s members

Sarah Offin, Global News

The youngest is Brynn Jackson, who proudly carries a brightly-coloured board, sized for a seven-year-old.

“It’s a little monster and it’s a little creepy,” Jackson said. “It’s kind of cool. Lots of people comment about it.”

Marlene Hielema, 53, picked up skateboarding again after 35 years off her board.

Sarah Offin, Global News

Brynn Jackson, 7, gets a hand from coach Erika Jacobs, who started the 100% Skate Club last April.

Sarah Offin, Global News

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    The oldest member, meanwhile, is 53-year-old Marlene Hielema.

    “People know me – the old lady in the orange helmet,” Hielema laughed. “I pulled out my 35-year-old skate board and I could still ride it. So I was pretty happy about that.”

    Hielema grew up skateboarding around her neighbourhood, but hadn’t ever ridden at a skate park before.  “It was a big, big challenge.”

    But thanks to the Wednesday group practices and other impromptu meet-ups with the girls, Hielema and others are now kick-turning their way around even the most challenging parks.

    “I was actually quite nervous to go to Millennium alone, but now I actually know some guys there as well,” Hielema said. “Now there’s a comfort level. You can go with some girls.”

    “It kind of has taken me out of my shell and I just love the social aspect now as well.”

    For women considering entry into the sport, seven-year-old Jackson recommends “being brave.”

    “You have to trust yourself going down the dips and making your board go up and then go down.”

    “Everybody is at a different level and everybody is here cheering each other on, helping each other out, motivating each other,” Jacobs said. She held hands with Jackson and other girls, swinging them back and forth on their boards in an upper bowl at Huntington Hills Skatepark.

    “When you leave and you’ve learned something new… it’s a wonderful feeling. Skating gives me that feeling every time I get out,” Jacobs added.

    “It feels like, I’m on top of the world, for a moment.”

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Calgary Underground Film Festival gets connected to local game development

The week-long Calgary Underground Film Festival wants to get patrons plugged in to the local video game development scene.

Running until April 17, CUFFcade is in its second year at the festival, with no signs of slowing down.

The five-game exhibit offers visitors the chance to play some new games from Calgary-area developers.

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    “There’s just so many great games being made in this city, I was looking all over, and the ones that really stuck and resonated with me were being made right here,” Mike Lohaus said.

    Lohaus is the curator of CUFFcade, and selected the five local games on display to feature.

    “There definitely were some hard decisions, but I think that in the end, the Calgary games really have a quality and some variety that’s pretty amazing,” Lohaus said.

    The exhibit has been received positively since it was introduced last year; Lohaus believes the excitement this year stems from people rallying behind local talent.

    Radu Murasan is among the local developers being showcased, and loves seeing the public enjoy his creation, Semispheres.

    “Personally just seeing people play my game–it’s really fulfilling. It’s great to see the reaction of people while playing the game,” Murasan said.

    Murasan started creating Semispheres a year and a half ago, building a weekend project into a elaborate puzzle game involving controlling two characters in connected worlds.

    Because game development tools are so easy to come by and learn these days, exposure is a struggle for an independent developer.

    “Many people are getting into games, and that means there’s a lot more competition,” Murasan said.

    While the development scene in Calgary is very self-taught and grassroots, they all come together through the Calgary Game Developers association to help build each other up.

    “Everybody is welcome to come out, you can get to talk to people actually making games. We’re a pretty friendly group,” Murasan said.

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Mother of 18-month-old Alberta boy who died of meningitis cross-examined

LETHBRIDGE — It was another emotionally charged day in court as Collet Stephan took to the stand to be cross-examined by Crown prosecutor Clayton Giles, showing frustration at some of his questions.

There was an unexpected delay in her testimony; the courthouse was evacuated after the fire alarm went off. The building was cleared and everyone was allowed back in within half an hour.

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    When court resumed, Collet testified that even though the report done by social workers and the RCMP in March 2012 states she did two tests to check for meningitis – known as the Kernig and Brudzinski tests – she does not have a memory of performing them on Ezekiel.

    READ MORE: Parents of Alberta boy who died from meningitis thought he had cold or flu: defence

    When the Crown asked if her memory would have been more fresh then than it is now, she said it would be more fresh, but not clear.

    “My state of mind was a lot different then than it is today,” Stephan said. “I was in a traumatic state and sleep deprived.”

    READ MORE: Alberta father whose son died from meningitis testifies at trial 

    The 35-year-old mother could not recall portions of her conversation with doctors, social workers and RCMP at the Alberta Children’s Hospital at the time her son was sick.

    Giles asked her why in the reports they stated Ezekiel was not taking fluids easily, yet Thursday she testified she only gave fluids through an eye dropper as a precaution.

    “We are being told our son’s heart could stop any minute,” Stephan said. “Your thought process comes in and out.”

    She also disputed the comments in reports and interviews that Ezekiel was too stiff to sit in a car seat. She said it was more achiness and tension.

    READ MORE: ‘Very sick little boy’: Pediatrician testifies in case of Alberta boy’s meningitis death

    Giles again asked if her memory would have been more fresh then than it would be four years later.

     “More fresh yes, not necessarily more clear,” Stephan said.

    Collet and her husband David, 32, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life.

    The couple’s trial will continue next week.

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