Lethbridge kicking off Cirque du Soleil's Canadian leg of OVO

Cirque du Soleil has arrived at Lethbridge’s ENMAX Centre to prepare for upcoming performances of “Ovo,” a bug-inspired spectacle.

According to senior publicist Janie Mallet, the travelling crew consists of 100 people — more than half of whom are artists from 25 different countries — and around 100 more people are hired locally to set up the show.

“Ovo,” which isPortuguese for egg, is all about insects.

“We have have butterflies and crickets and spiders, but with the Cirque du Soleil twist, so very vibrant and colourful costumes, very whimsical” she said.

“‘Ovo’ really is a show for the entire family.”

The show includes hand balancers, contortionists, musicians, a variety of different acrobatics, and more.

Live Cirque du Soleil performances were on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but “Ovo” returned to the United States earlier this year for a two-month stint in Los Angeles.

Now, the crew has arrived up north to start spring and summer performances in western Canada.

“Today is actually the first time the artists are coming back,” Mallet said on Tuesday.

“Being on tour again and being able to perform for an audience, and being around people is so amazing,” performer Zander Biewenga said.

“It’s just a whole different feeling of energy and community.”

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Cirque du Soleil bringing OVO to Saskatoon and western Canada

For Belgian tumbler Jorn De Lander, the travelling is a highlight.

“It’s really great ’cause I’ve never been in the west side of Canada, so looking forward to travelling around here,” he expressed.

While training in regular clothes for now, he’ll have to don a cricket costume come showtime.

“We have shoes to jump with, which are heavier. We have a headpiece, which is very constricting,” De Lander explained. “You get used to it and you have to adapt.

“It’s showbusiness, so it has to look good right?”

Despite the audience’s attention being focused on the stage, a lot goes on behind the scenes to make the magic happen.

Jean Marc Perras has been with Cirque du Soleil for around 20 years.

As the show’s production manager, he knows just how much work it takes. The show travels with nearly 20 trailers full of equipment which takes about 12 hours to set up at each venue.

“We have around 19 to 20 people that are working the show itself, either from opening the traps, for the lights, for the sound, for the rigging making sure everything is clipped together,” Perras said.

“There are so many people working together to make things happen that you really don’t see.”

“Ovo” runs May 27-29 at the ENMAX Centre before heading to Medicine Hat.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Charges expected following serious assault in Sorrento, B.C., say Chase RCMP

Police say charges are expected to be laid after a man was taken to hospital following a serious assault in B.C.’s Southern Interior earlier this month.

According to Chase RCMP, police were notified during the early hours of May 11 that a male had been beaten in Sorrento and that he was unconscious and bleeding in a parking lot outside a business.

The male was taken to Shuswap Lake General Hospital in nearby Salmon Arm, where police say he received treatment for head injuries.

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RCMP say they attended and interviewed witnesses. They also said that the males involved in the assault did not take responsibility for what happened and fled before officers arrived.

“All parties in this incident were well known to each other,” said Chase RCMP. “The investigation is ongoing and police expect to forward charge recommendations to Crown Counsel.”

The RCMP added that neighbours can expect to see increased police patrols at this business in the future.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Man drowns while swimming in Nanaimo's Long Lake

The body of a man was pulled from a lake in Nanaimo, B.C., Monday after it is believed he drowned while swimming on Sunday.

Nanaimo RCMP said officers were told by the man’s family that he had gone for a swim in Long Lake sometime after 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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The man, who was in his late 30s, had not returned by Monday morning so his family called the police, RCMP said in a release.

Officers notified Nanaimo Search and Rescue (NSAR) and crews pulled the man’s body from the lake.

The BC Coroners Service was contacted and attended to the scene. Foul play is not suspected, RCMP said in a release.

No more details are being released at this time.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

RIP Smudge, the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald ambassador dog

A beloved dog known to many Edmontonians has passed away.

Garrett Turta, the general manager of the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, announced Tuesday his dog Smudge has crossed over the rainbow bridge.

For years, guests who walked inside the iconic Edmonton hotel were often greeted by the sight of the yellow Labrador Retriever hanging out in the lobby.

“Today I said good bye to Smudge. RIP my friend,” Turta posted online.

“You were a part of my family for the past 13 years and someone that I went to work with every day for the past 13 years.”

Smudge was a member of the hotel chain’s Canine Ambassador program and Turta’s companion.

For nearly 20 years, Fairmont hotels have “employed” dogs to greet guests and provide companionship for travelers who may miss their own pup back home. Most of the ambassadors are doggos didn’t make the cut to become guide dogs.

At the Jasper Park Lodge, a black lab named Stanley has been the resident canine since October 2013, when he arrived from the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Smudge also didn’t pass the tests to become a guide dog — she was too friendly —  so that trait was put to use as a hotel greeter and morale booster.

“Smudge was always at the hotel for guests. She was ambassador, raised funds for charity, a family member of the hotel and my personal family, and will probably be most remembered for crashing the premiers conference a few years ago.”

It was in 2017 when the goodest of girls wandered into a Council of the Federation meeting at the hotel, crashing the news conference.

Smudge the hotel dog walks past the stage full of Canada's premiers during the Council of Federation meetings in Edmonton, Alta, on Wednesday July 19, 2017.

Smudge the hotel dog walks past the stage full of Canada's premiers during the Council of Federation meetings in Edmonton, Alta, on Wednesday July 19, 2017.

Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

The Fairmont dogs are don’t actually live at the hotels. They’re owned by a staff member who takes the pet home in the evenings. Turta said Smudge was just shy of 14.5 years old.

“From the previous Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrews, New Brunswick to Fairmont St. Andrews in Scotland and now to her final place at Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. Smudge shared the love all around the world,” Turta wrote.

“She always knew how to put a smile on your face and love was the only thing she knew how to give.

“Thank you Smudge for all you have given me. Chase those bunnies and squirrels, eat those treats, play with your toys and you can now go swimming every day. Until we meet again.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Southern Alberta's Creepy Hollow loses haunted house in devastating fire

A southern Alberta attraction has taken a big hit, after a late Friday fire left Creepy Hollow's haunted house in ruins. Erik Bay has more on the blaze and how the owners are planning to rally.

Where Creepy Hollow’s famous haunted house once stood, one lamppost and a pile of charred building material is all that remains.

All that remains of Creepy Hollow's haunted house after a fire.

All that remains of Creepy Hollow's haunted house after a fire.

Erik Bay / Global News

Around 11 p.m. Friday, co-owner Glory Reimer noticed smoke coming from the area in Warner, Alta.

“By the time I come up here, you can hear the whole thing just crackling,” Reimer said.

“It just went really quickly; people were calling 911. We had fire trucks all the way wrapped around… the driveway. They fought until 3:00 in the afternoon (on Saturday).”

“The loss, work-wise and museum-wise, is phenomenal.”

The fire was contained to the haunted house and didn’t affect any other buildings at Creepy Hollow.

Fire departments from Warner, Stirling, Milk River and Wrentham responded to the call.

Nobody was injured and officials said the cause of the blaze is still being investigated but will be difficult to determine.

“Unfortunately, with the extent of the fire it’s hard to tell,” Warner volunteer fire department Capt. Kim Owen said.

“We also had to call in a backhoe to knock down what was left, because of course with the lack of moisture we had we didn’t want it to reignite if the wind came up.”

While the building’s memories are irreplaceable to Reimer, she said the outpouring of support from the community has been incredible.

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“Every day, people come into the yard…. and it’s somebody I know and haven’t seen in five years and everybody just starts crying all over again,” Reimer said.

“Then they pull money out of their pocket, even if they don’t have money to give and it just hits you.”

“Every room was its own museum, its own masterpiece. To think of all the memories, the fun and the joy that we spread to the community, they all have that,” Reimer said.

The family has started a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of a rebuild. As of Tuesday afternoon, it has raised more than a quarter of its $10,000 goal.

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Damage in the millions after morning fire destroys Lethbridge Lafarge building

And while a Creepy Hollow Halloween may look different this year, Reimer says there will be something for southern Alberta to enjoy this fall.

“Because that’s what we do,” Reimer said. “We don’t quit. We’ll find something else, bigger, better hopefully.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Calls grow for U.S. gun control after Texas school shooting: 'Our kids are living in fear'

WATCH: Texas school shooting: Police say suspect deceased in 'mass casualty incident' at elementary school

The horrific mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday that left 14 children and a teacher dead has sparked another round of calls for gun control in the United States.

The chances of meaningful legislation getting to U.S. President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature remain grim, however, as Republicans have blocked several previous attempts at reform and conservative-leaning states move to weaken existing gun laws.

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As information about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, was still being confirmed, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a longtime advocate for gun control, was already speaking on the Senate floor begging his colleagues to act.

“Our kids are living in fear every single time they set foot in a classroom because they think they’re going to be next,” he said.

“What are we doing? Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate … if your answer is that as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing?”

In Texas, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released a statement calling on state and federal lawmakers to pass “reasonable gun control legislation.”

“How many more children must lose their lives from senseless gun violence?” the mayor asked.

Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential nominee, said it was not enough to offer “thoughts and prayers.”

“After years of nothing else, we are becoming a nation of anguished screams,” she wrote on Twitter. “We simply need legislators willing to stop the scourge of gun violence in America that is murdering our children.”

U.S. President Joe Biden is set to address the Texas school shooting Tuesday evening, after returning to the White House from a trip to Asia.

On social media, Americans across the country said the time has long since passed for laws to be changed, arguing the deaths in Uvalde could have been prevented.

The last meaningful effort to pass some kind of federal gun control measure was in 2013, in the wake of another school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children dead.

At the time, Biden was vice-president to Barack Obama, who pushed Democrats in Congress to come to a solution. A bipartisan compromise was eventually reached that would have expanded background checks and banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The bill ultimately died in the Senate, where 60 votes were needed and most Republicans refused to offer support. Obama later called the bill’s defeat “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Amid an increase in shootings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the gun control debate was reanimated once again just a week-and-a-half ago, after an 18-year-old gunman killed 10 people and wounded three more at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighbourhood in Buffalo, N.Y. The gunman had posted online that the shooting was racially motivated.

Days after the massacre, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new bills to further restrict people deemed dangerous from accessing firearms, bolstering existing regulations on purchasing and carrying firearms.

Those laws are currently at risk, however, as the U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule this summer on a case brought by two New York men who are challenging restrictions on concealed carry permits in the state. If the high court rules in their favour, it could weaken similar laws across the country.

Conservative-leaning states, meanwhile, are passing new laws that allow more people to own and carry guns with fewer restrictions — including Texas.

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Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law last year allowing Texans to carry handguns without a licence or training. Other laws passed in 2021 allow school marshalls and hotel guests to carry guns and declared gun stores as essential businesses.

Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia also saw weaker gun legislation go into effect last year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group.

The bills range from so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws — which allow residents to shoot anyone they deem a threat to their safety — to allowing people to carry concealed weapons without a permit and weakening background checks on some guns.

Tuesday’s shooting came just days before the National Rifle Association’s annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and Texas’ two U.S. senators were among multiple elected Republican officials who were scheduled to speak at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

Biden has taken his own actions to try and curb shootings, issuing executive actions last year that tighten regulations on homemade guns and provide more resources for gun-violence prevention. But those measures fall short of the sweeping gun-control agenda Biden promised during the 2020 campaign.

Asked about the push for regulations last week, after he gave a speech condemning the white supremacist ideologies behind the Buffalo shooting, Biden admitted, “It’s going to be very difficult … I’m not going to give up trying.”

About two-thirds of Americans support stricter gun laws, according to an Ipsos/USA Today poll last March, although the poll found support had declined from 75 per cent in 2018. The issue has become increasingly partisan, with 90 per cent of Democrats in favour of reform compared to just 35 per cent of Republicans.

Everytown estimates that between 2009 and 2018, 1,121 people in the U.S. were killed in a mass shooting, and 836 more were wounded.

Since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, more than 300,000 children have experienced shootings at 320 schools, according to an investigation by the Washington Post.

Those shootings have led to the deaths of at least 163 children, educators and other people.

The U.S. government does not keep track of school shooting events, leaving most tallies to be done by independent advocacy groups and media reports.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Quebec confirms cases of monkeypox now at 15

WATCH: Rosamund Lewis, head of the Smallpox Secretariat within the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergencies Programme said on Tuesday there have been 131 confirmed monkeypox cases and 106 further suspected cases globally, but the latest outbreak was "containable."

Quebec has reported 15 confirmed cases of monkeypox as of Tuesday, up from just five on Friday.

The Health Ministry released few details about the outbreak but said Montreal public health had been investigating cases of oral and genital ulcerations possibly linked to monkeypox since May 12.

The investigation was prompted by a recently identified case in the United States in which an American citizen had travelled to Canada from the U.S.

Canada’s Public Health Agency says the person used private transportation to get to Montreal and may have been infected before or during his visit to the city.

The cases mark the first time the rare infectious disease has been found within Canadian borders, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The agency said last week it was investigating about two dozen possible cases of monkeypox in the country in addition to the confirmed cases in Quebec.

Toronto Public Health said over the weekend it was investigating Ontario’s first suspected case.

Read more:

3 more monkeypox cases confirmed in Quebec, bringing Canadian total to 5

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses as variola. That virus causes smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980. It is also linked to the vaccinia virus used in the smallpox vaccine.

The disease is generally found in parts of central and West Africa and can sometimes cause infections in people after exposure to infected animals or contaminated materials.

Although uncommon, the virus can also spread from person to person through contact with blood, body fluids or lesions on the skin or inside the mouth or throat of an infected person. It can also be contracted by sharing clothing, bed linens or other common items that have been contaminated by a sick person’s body fluids or sores. Respiratory transmission is also possible through coughing or sneezing.

Health authorities in Quebec and Canada said the risk of transmission in social settings is low, since close and prolonged contact is required.

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In a release posted to its website, Quebec’s health ministry said the most commonly reported symptoms were skin lesions in the mouth area and on the genitals.

Other symptoms to watch for include fever, night sweats, headaches, swollen lymph nodes and joint or muscle pain. Health officials warn those symptoms can appear before or at the same time as sores on the skin.

Anyone who has had close contact with a suspected case or with someone presenting symptoms of monkeypox is being asked to be on the lookout for the appearance of symptoms for a period of 21 days.

A close contact is described by the ministry as someone who lives under the same roof as an infected person or has had sexual relations with an infected person.

Because it is possible to transmit the disease up to five days before the appearance of symptoms, contacts are being asked to avoid having sexual relations.

People living with someone presenting symptoms should limit their contact with that person and avoid sleeping in the same bed. Wearing masks is also recommended.

Someone who is ill with the disease or presenting symptoms should consult a doctor and isolate themselves from other members of a household as much as possible. Open sores should be covered and masks worn when in close proximity with others. The isolation period can end once the sores have crusted over.

In most cases, the illness will disappear on its own within two to four weeks, although in very rare cases complications can arise.

Health Department spokesperson Robert Maranda says Quebec is considering ordering vaccines against the disease from the federal government.

— with files from Global News’ Sean Boyton and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

From maybe to no: Alberta cabinet ministers give range of answers on replacing Kenney

The race to replace Jason Kenney as United Conservative Party leader and Alberta premier has two entrants so far along with a number of cabinet ministers who, when asked if they plan to run, delivered answers ranging from maybe to a hard no.

Government house leader and Environment Minister Jason Nixon says he has not ruled out running for the top job but has more thinking to do and, for now, is focused on the spring sitting of the legislature.

“At the end of the day, internal politics are internal politics, but the people of Alberta expect us to come up here and get to work,” Nixon told reporters on his way into the house Tuesday.

“I haven’t ruled anything out (on a leadership bid),” he added. “I’ll be doing what I think is best for the party under the lens of making sure that we stay united and that we defeat the NDP in a year.”

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Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney said she will consult with her family, constituents and Albertans before deciding.

“I haven’t made up my mind as of yet,” she said.

Finance Minister Travis Toews refused multiple times to say whether he would be running or not running, or whether he’s even considering it at all.

“This week we are focused on the people’s business,” said Toews.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said he will not run for the leadership but plans to run again for a seat in Calgary-Acadia in the 2023 provincial election.

“It’s never crossed my mind to run for the leader of any political party,” said Shandro. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a politician or MLA in the first place.”

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Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said he won’t be in the running.

“I don’t have any plans for anything like that,” he said, adding he does plan to run in the election.

Health Minister Jason Copping also tossed cold water on a bid.

“I’m not considering running for the leadership at this time. I’m focused on delivering health care for Albertans,” he said.

Children’s Services Minster Rebecca Schulz said: “It’s too early to say.”

Labour Minister Kaycee Madu had two words: “No comment.”

On Monday, Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer announced he won’t run for the leadership and won’t run again for his seat in Calgary-Elbow.

Two candidates, Brian Jean and Danielle Smith, have said they will seek the leadership.

Jean and Schweitzer ran and lost to Kenney in the inaugural UCP leadership race in 2017. Jean has since returned to politics, winning a seat for the UCP earlier this year in a byelection on a platform to unseat Kenney as leader.

Read more:

Jason Kenney to remain focused on ‘people’s business’ until new UCP leader is chosen

Smith is the former leader of the Wildrose Party, which merged under Jean with Kenney’s Progressive Conservatives in 2017 to form the UCP.

The UCP is still working on details of the leadership race and no rules or timeline have been presented yet.

Tuesday was the first day the house sat since Kenney said last week he will quit the top job once a new leader is chosen.

He made the announcement after receiving 51 per cent support in a leadership review vote by party rank and file. He said the result reflects a deep division in the party that won’t be fixed if he stays premier.

The Opposition NDP continued to hammer away at what it calls the “interim UCP” government. It said while the government focuses on its internal drama, Albertans are facing real challenges, including inflation, high gas and utility costs and long waiting lists for surgery.

“(There’s) all kinds of uncertainty in Alberta politics right now, but one constant (is) this premier’s self-importance,” NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips told Kenney as he sat across the aisle from her, signing documents and answering questions in the house.

“Anyway,” Phillips added, “enough about yesterday’s man.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Balfour Collegiate students upset at teacher's remarks on MMIW Day in Regina

May 5th marks a day of commemorating Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in Canada. It’s also known as “Red Dress Day,” when red dresses are worn or displayed to symbolize those who are still missing.

As students at Regina’s Balfour Collegiate tell Global News, it was also meant to be a day of learning at their school.

“We basically just learned about missing and murdered Indigenous women all day and in the morning,” said Nina McGillis, Grade 12 Balfour Collegiate student.

“We had a session so we would have story sharing.”

Read more:

Families and Indigenous leaders gather in Regina for Red Dress Day

But on that day, McGillis said she heard inappropriate comments from one of the school’s teachers. McGillis alleges one of the school’s teachers was insensitive to the intent of MMIW Day.

“He was basically just making a mockery of the entire day, calling it stupid and dumb (and) saying that we shouldn’t even have this day,” said McGillis, who identifies as Indigenous. “Honestly, I … was shocked.

“I just couldn’t believe that he was saying this because our schools really cares about Indigenous students. And hearing that from one of their own teachers from Balfour Collegiate, I was just disgusted.”

Another senior student at Balfour Collegiate, Calista Poorman-Desjarlais, says she heard the comments from others students and became upset which led to her and several students bringing the issue to the attention of the principal and vice-principal.

“Me and some students went to do a talking circle, and we had heard his apology (but) he didn’t come in and say it to us,” said Calista Poorman-Desjarlais. “The vice-principal came into the talking circle … at the cultural centre … and read an apology from the teacher.”

According to Poorman-Desjarlais, the written apology took place on Friday, May 20, 2022, in the cultural room at Balfour Collegiate. When asked what she thought about letter, Poorman-Desjarlais said she did not accept it.

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“As much as I don’t want to say bad things about someone. (The letter apology) just felt so insincere,” she said. “I couldn’t accept it because it just sounded so rehearse(d), you know, like instead of being about him realizing, like, ‘I get it.’ It seemed like he was making excuses.”

Global News reached out to Balfour Collegiate and to the teacher in question for a response, but none was received by deadline.

The Regina Public School Division (RPS) responded with an emailed statement and said they were made aware of the issue on Tuesday, May 17, and that steps were taken to address the issue at the school level.

“Specifically, the use of words that may have been perceived as insensitive,” stated Terry Lazarou, RPS Communications. “It is our understanding that this issue has been rectified.”

RPS added that neither the school division nor Balfour Collegiate will be commenting further on this issue.

Global News reached out to the Saskatchewan Teacher Federation. The federation said they cannot comment on this matter.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

RCMP incident closes Victoria, B.C. airport to all commercial flights

Developing: Due to a police incident at Victoria International Airport all commercial flights are being temporarily suspended. More details to come.

An RCMP incident has closed Victoria’s airport to commercial flights Tuesday.

The Victoria Airport Authority confirmed police are responding to a call at the airport.

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP said in a release that officers are responding to a threat.

They said there are no public safety concerns but the public should avoid the airport for at least the next several hours.

Travellers are asked not to come to the airport and to check their flight status with their carrier, or on the airport website.

“Victoria Airport Authority cannot comment further at this time. We will endeavour to provide more information as soon as it becomes available,” the authority said in a tweet.

More to come.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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