What comes up when you hear China these days?
Dictatorship, authoritarianism, human rights violations, censorship?
On a CBC radio episode of the Current in December, host Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed 3 people during a half-hour segment on the recent escalating tension following the Huawei CFO's arrest.
The first guest was Chinese exile Poet Sun Xuwei. She asserted, “China is bullying Canada because China is a dictatorship, a state terrorist, and not a normal country.” Conservative Party MP Erin O'Toole was next. He said China is running a “state retaliatory detention” against Canada in arresting a young Canadian teacher. He suggested that a travel advisory to China should be called. The third person interviewed was former ambassador to China David Mulroney, a conservative. He said China is a “surveillance state,” praised the US Secretary of State's recent criticism of China and called for a more joint effort among western nations against China's “extreme and aggressive behaviour.” He indicated a lot of young western people living in China should watch their backs because China has so many measures to use to terrorize them. This is the same Mulroney who, just a few days ago, said Canada should treat Trump's words as background noise when Trump politicized the Huawei CFO's arrest.
Should China treat Trump's numerous threats against itself as background noise?
No, it shouldn't, nor can it.
Western countries have waged several wars against China. I am not referring to the two World Wars, during which many western nations were also the victims. I am not referring to the Korean War and Vietnamese War in which China was also involved directly or indirectly as these two wars were part of a broader scheme by the Western world to constrain communism's expansion and undermine the new Communist China.
China was the primary target of Western invasions historically, primarily because of its huge wealth. China's economy was the largest in the world in the beginning of the1800s.The British empire launched the First Opium Wars between 1839 and 1842, which saw Hong Kong ceded to the British. Between 1856 and 1860, the British, French and Americans launched the second Opium War, with the participation of many other Western nations. Then in 1900, Britain, France, the US, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Japan, and Russia, dubbed the eight-nation Alliance, invaded and occupied Beijing, ransacking the Forbidden City, and looting the Old Summer Palace before burning it down to cover up their plundering. Can you imagine if the Louvre was ransacked and burned down? The difference is, the Old Summer Palace was much bigger and richer, and it took 4,000 troops and 3 days of active burning to destroy it.
The wars imposed on China resulted in significant loss in Chinese treasury in the form of war compensation to western nations, significant land sovereignty loss, and nationwide long-term opium addiction, which was eradicated only after the communists took power. And today, many stolen Chinese treasures are still held in museums in western countries, and numerous more are lost in private collections.
The wars may be over, but the memory lives on, especially with the new threats from the US following the economic rise of China.
The rise of China has relied on the hard work, perseverance and intelligence of the Chinese people. For the western companies which brought knowledge and jobs to China, it was business, not charity that motivated them.
The view that the media and the politicians have been almost universally portraying recently is one of China as the bad guy, and the US and Canada as the moral superior. The claims of China stealing and cheating on a national scale are more rhetoric than proven fact and aim to discredit China and its people more than bring about justice.
Unfortunately this rhetoric is getting louder each day with assertions of such things as “spyware” and “state-sponsored hacking” schemes by China against Western nations.
This anti-China rhetoric will undoubtly lead to anti-Chinese sentiment.
In December, a friend of mine, who has been a supporter of our farm since its start, visited me to give us a Christmas gift. We talked about politics and the rising tension between Canada and China. I mentioned my concern to her. Will I suffer consequences just for being Chinese?
I'm a small farmer in a predominantly white county in eastern Ontario, but I was born into a peasant family in China and came to Canada for university almost two decades ago. I have never felt racial discrimination against me personally. Canadians are kind and accepting. But shifts have occurred and can occur again.
And in the world of Trump, who succeeds from chaos, and thrives on the downfall of others, Canada is a pawn in a US-waged war against China, whether it is willing or not.
X.B. Shen is a farmer and writer living in South Frontenac.
Edna Webb was quite young when she gave birth to Jennie, her first child, at home on Little Franklin Lake near Perth Road on December 6, 1918. WWI had just ended, and horse power still ruled on the roads.
The Webb’s - George, Edna and baby Jennie, soon moved to Ida Hill, at the Washburn Road in the southeastern corner of Storrington Township, in what would become South Frontenac 80 years later.
At the age of 82 Jennie was one of the recipients of the second annual South Frontenac Volunteers of the Year Awards in June of 2000. The award recognised her decades long commitment to the Women’s Institute, 4H club, the United Church and numerous other community efforts. The other winners that year included Mel Fleming from Bedford, Percy Snider from Loughborough and John McDougall, Portland.
A lot happened to Jennie Webb between 1918 and 2000, and a lot more has happened since.
As she reflected last week on the occasion of her 100th Birthday at Fairmount Home, with her eldest daughters Nadine and Linda at her side, a picture of a life of family, hard work, faith, and a love of the rural, farming life, emerged.
Jennie Webb grew up at Ida Hill, where she attended elementary school at the Ida Hill School. She was not an only child for long, as 6 younger brothers arrived in succession. Her father George worked for the telephone company as the service was being built out in the region, and was an active beekeeper. After leaving Bell, he had as many as 250 hives on his own property and the properties of many neighbours around the countryside. Jennie’s mother Edna was a midwife.
When Jenny was 15, a family from Desert Lake, near Verona, bought the farm across the road from the Webbs. John Abraham was the eldest son of that family. He was about 22. With his sister, he walked the family’s stock of cattle over from Desert Lake to Ida Hill in one long day.
There must have been a first glance, a first time when 22-year old John Cousineau and 15 year, Jennie Webb saw each other soon after the Cousineau family arrived at Ida Hill. That first impression is still alive in Jennie. It comes out when she looks at some of the family photos she keeps by her side, a sign of her enduring love for her John Abraham.
Two years after meeting, Jennie and John were married. When John passed ten years ago, at the age of 97, they had been married for 72 years.
Jennie and John purchased their own farm on the Battersea Road, and moved there in 1942. They have four daughters, Nadine, Linda, Shirley and Marilyn. They ran a Holstein Dairy Farm, and raised chickens for meat and eggs on the farm.
It took John ten years to build a new brick house for the family on the property, since he was running the farm while building the house, and they moved into the new house in the 1950’s.
In those days, there were four hotels in nearby Battersea. At the Cousineau farm, they would raise 500 chicks at a time. Calls would in from one of the hotels for 3 or 4 dozen broilers for the next day, and Jennie and John were pretty experienced and efficient at preparing chickens. It took them 7 minutes to kill, dry pluck and prepare a chicken for delivery. They would bring up the chickens in the morning, for serving that evening in the dining room. Local food was a way of life back then.
Jennie lived in the house until January of last year, when a month after her 99th birthday, mobility issues, hearing and vision loss had progressed to the point where it became necessary to move to Fairmount Home. The farm is still operating, as a cow-calf operation now, in the hands of one of Jennie’s grandsons, one of many family members who continue to live nearby, and her house has been sold, to her great grandson.
Jennie’s daughter Linda lives across the road, Nadine is in Inverary, and Shirley lives nearby as well. Marilyn lives in Guelph, but has a summer cottage in Verona. Jennie has 9 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and 6 great-great grandchildren, with another one on the way. Just as they visited at the farmhouse often, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren drop by Fairmount Home on a regular basis.
The changes that have taken place in the world during Jennie’s lifetime are unprecedented in human history. She has bridged the era of horse and carriage and driverless cars.
It is a tribute to her lifetime of hard work and devotion to community and family that the rural values she grew up with are still alive in her, and in her family as well.
Watching helplessly as a child slips into frigid water under a broken ice shelf is a parent’s worst nightmare.
Speaking in Sydenham on a Sunday on Sunday, (November 25), Rob Pasch talked about the device he has invented to counter the danger of open water in winter.
“It’s not about money, it’s about safety,” he said about about his illuminated buoy that can prevent accidents and keep a person afloat or guide them to safety if they fall in.
A cottage owner on Knowlton Lake, Rob thought of the product when he couldn’t buy one.
“I was looking to purchase something like that for myself and there was nothing available on the market so I made it,” he explained. “It’s a device that’s quite unique in its own right. It saves lives and mitigates a property owner’s liability. From here to Florida, there is nothing that will safeguard people from open water systems.”
Called the RescueBubblerBuoy ™ , the product was officially launched Nov. 1.
The three main features are: • a bright blue LED light that shines from dusk to dawn • the ability to hold the weight of someone who has fallen into the water • a tether which can be used by people to pull themselves to shore or safety
“For the sake of $500, this mitigates the potential of a lawsuit and can save lives,” says the 66-year-old father of three.
Originally from Holland, Rob moved to Canada in 1969. He works as a travelling orthodontic associate for five dental clinics in the Greater Toronto Area.
“I came to Canada when I was 17,” said the Queen’s University Alumnus, and University of Toronto Graduate.
“I’m an individual who enjoys the chosen path in life,” he said when asked to describe himself. “I enjoy providing opportunities to my children and grandchildren because I know what it’s like to not be supported. Hopefully I’m able to do that for them which stems from my childhood days.”
Clearly passionate about the health and wellbeing of others, Rob’s device is insured, approved by the Canadian Coast Guard and pending a patent.
“It’s different. There’s nothing like it on the market,” he said. “I’m proud of it. It’s definitely a product that has a need.”
According to Rob, many people are concerned about the increasing number of de-icers on the lakes which are used to prevent ice build-up around docks, boathouses and other
structures. The de-icers create open water which is often not visible to fast moving snowmobilers, despite warnings such as signs and possibly lights.
“They don’t know if there is a de-icer there or not,” says Rob. Citing section 263 of the Canadian Criminal Code, Rob says it is the property owner’s responsibility (or the person who creates the open water) to alert people to the hazard.
“If people don’t see the opening, they could potentially fall in,” he said. “The RescueBubblerBuoy ™ gives you an indication of something you want to be aware of.
“The mindset is changing now,” he said Rob. “It used to be that the fall was levied against the person falling in, now it’s the other way around. What has the property owner done to safeguard against potential injuries. It’s a different mindset now.”
“I thought the RescueBubblerBuoy would be useful. People need that stuff.”
Being this year’s recipient of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association’s (OFSAA) Leadership in School Sport Award wasn’t something Sydenham High School’s Leslie Lawlor was expecting.
“I was surprised,” she said. “But I’m really grateful and appreciative.”
The award came at the opening banquet for this year’s OFSAA AA Boys Volleyball Championship, which Sydenham hosted.
The award is presented annually at each OFSAA Championship to a teacher-coach who has made a significant contribution to their educational athletic program. The recipient exemplifies the values of fair play and good sportsmanship, while promoting enjoyment, personal growth and educational achievement through school sport.
Lawlor was a student at Sydenham High school, representing them at OFSAA track and filed and cross country.
She went to Queen’s University where she played five years on the women’s soccer team.
She’s been at SHS for more than 22 years, teaching primarily phys. ed. but also students with special needs and English. Before SHS, she taught at KCVI and the old Sharbot Lake High School.
As a coach, she guides the cross country team in the fall and then in the spring, she coaches both the Boy’s Senior Soccer team and is Head Coach of the Track and Field Team — a team that regularly features more than 80 athletes.
“I have known Leslie personally for over a decade and have come to know the amazing rapport and mutual respect she has earned with the students at our school,” said fellow teacher-coach Mark Richards. “I have seen first hand how Leslie has truly made each of her athlete’s lives better in many areas.”
Art Dunham is a committed environmentalist and volunteer on Big Clear Lake, which borders the hamlet of Arden. He has been involved with the Big Clear Lake Association, Scouts, the Frontenac Environmental Partnership, and Friends of Arden.
His other life has been in IT. He worked for Nortel when the company was a giant in the telecommunications industry in Canada, and eventually was working with Avaya, which had purchased Nortel’s remaining assets in 2009 after Nortel’s spectacular failure and demise. Art kept working at Avaya until he was downsized out of job in 2013.
“At age 53, I wasn’t ready to retire. As part of my volunteer work, I had developed software that helped me do the associated day-to-day tasks easier and faster. I knew other volunteers running similar associations were facing the same challenges and would benefit from these solutions as well. It was time to give back to the community and help others, as well as generate some extra income to bridge the gap until my regular retirement age. Those were the incentives that led to the creation of Vital Volunteers Inc. later that same year,” he said of his decision to combine two of his passions, lake association work and communications technology.
Vital Volunteers has been developed for lake Associations and other not-for-profit groups that deal with a similar set of problems: communicating with association members, collecting fees, maintaining financial records in a timely manner, and promoting events.
“We help those tireless volunteers running the executive of community-based associations, societies, clubs and not-for-profit with cloud based solutions for member management, communication, events, online payments, and more. This makes them more efficient and effective, freeing up their volunteers to focus on their organization’s mission, rather than updating spreadsheets for member contact information, donations, dues etc. Our solutions also help to make information more readily available via the Cloud, as well as enhancing direct communication to an organization’s members. Getting these administrative type tasks done, without burning out your volunteers, is vital for any community-based organization,” he said.
Over the last five years, Vital Volunteers has been fine tuning its service offerings based on Dunham’s experience with the Big Clear Lake Association and other clients
“Our solutions continue to evolve, and our customers love it,” he said. “Before they used several different 3rd party software packages and now they can just use ours. Additionally, we have been able to deliver custom solutions to their individual problems that go beyond administrative boundaries such as BioBlitz tracking, interactive lake buoy mapping, revenue generating Business Directory and online community hall rentals.”
Vital Volunteers was recently recognised for its innovative approach to communications by the WISE 50 over 50 annual awards program. WISE, which stands for Wisdom-Initiative-Skills-Experience is a website and awards program that was developed by Wendy Mayhew, a senior’s entrepreneurship researcher and promoter.
The 50 over 50 awards program recognises innovators in what it calls the “newest and fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship, led by people over the age of 50.” The program is now two years old, and has been steadily increasing its profile.
“Winning this award gives me a boost by showing me that others see the value in what I am doing. I can use it as another tool in marketing my service to lake associations and other groups who are looking to make it easier to manage their operations and recruit members and volunteers,” he said.
For info about Vital Volunteers, go to vitalvlunteers.ca
After 30 years in the meat department at the Trousdale’s Foodland store in Sydenham, Laurie Ross is hanging up his meat cleaver on November 18th.
Laurie had not intended to retire any time soon.
“I had figured I would be working at least another dozen or so years,” Laurie said, when interviewed in the store lunch room last week during his break, “but everything changed with the diagnosis.”
That diagnosis came two years ago. Laurie had been feeling some weakness in his left hand and wrist, and didn’t know what was causing it. He has always been very active in sports, and is also a gym rat, going to Elements Fitness in Sydenham between 3 and 5 days a week to work out. Even though he cut meat with his right hand, the weakness was starting to get in the way at the gym and on the field.
“A friend mine at the gym suggested that I check it out because it could indicate more serious problems, so I went to the doctor. The doctor said it was motor neuron disease. I think that was because he knew I didn’t want me to hear it was ALS right away, but that is what it is, and that is what we have been dealing with.”
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is the most common type of motor neuron disease. It is also sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the baseball player who had been known as the “Iron Horse” because he set a record playing 2,130 consecutive baseball games without missing a single one due to injury, before developing symptoms.
There is no cure for ALS, and no exact cause has been determined either, and the prognosis for those who have it is dire. Few live more than 5 years after symptoms develop, although some do live more than 10 years.
“Over the last two years we have learned to live day by day, and while it is hard for Laurie to stop working, it is time” said Andrea (Andy) Ross, Laurie’s wife of 30 years, and the mother of their two daughters, Megan and Kelsey. Andrea is the store manager at one of the Kingston Beer Store locations and Megan and Kelsey also work in Kingston.
Laurie’s departure will be keenly felt at the Foodland store.
In 1988, Laurie was working at Bennett’s in East Kingston as a meat cutter when he was offered a position at the new Trousdale’s grocery store in Sydenham, which had been open for a few months at that time.
“It was a chance to work close to home, and I took it and have never regretted it,” he said.
It was also not the first time he had worked for the Trousdale family, having worked when he was younger at Trousdale’s General Store for before he went on to become a licensed butcher.
When he arrived at the new store, it was like coming home, and one of the people who was already there was Sherri Horton, who he had worked with at the General Store years earlier.
“I always tell that I’ve been here longer,” said Sherri, who came to the store when it opened in March of 1988 “because he didn’t get here until November of ‘88”.
To say Sherri, who is the Deli manager at the store, will miss her friend Laurie, is an under-statement.
“He’s been here every day, for all these years, quietly serving customers whenever they needed something special. He’s been there for everyone, staff and customers alike. I don’t think he ever thought of himself as someone who would need help from others, he’s always been the one helping. I’ll miss his very dry sense of humour, but mostly not having him around the store everyday will be a change for me, for all of us. We’re going to see him, of course, this is a small town and we all live in the same community, but it will be different in the store,” she said.
“One of the good things about working in Sydenham, where our daughters went to High School, and where we went to High School also, is that he never missed any of their competitions when they were students, and got to play a lot of sports as well,” said Andrea Ross.
Laurie played touch football in the Kingston League for many years, and played rugby and what they now call Y-ball at the Kingston Y (they sued to call it Murder Ball). In addition to that he always worked out.
“That’s one of the strange things. I was in better shape than I had been in years when this all started,” he said.
Typical of the commitment of the local community, Laurie’s diagnosis has made a difference for the Kingston chapter of the ALS Society. At the annual Walks for ALS a large contingent from Sydenham, wearing matching t-shirts, is now a regular feature.
After the 18th of November (he will keep working until then so the current meat manager, and avid hunter, can get his two weeks in the bush) Laurie will be taking it easy at home, with the support of his family, and his Trousdale family as well.
“We’re not going to leave him be,” said Sherri Horton. “We know where he lives, and if he needs anything, we will make sure to get it to him.”
On Friday, November 16, customers and friends will have an opportunity to mark the end of Laurie’s time at Trousdale’s. There is a drop-in scheduled from 11am-3pm and there will be cake for everyone who stops by, as well as an opportunity to visit, and reminisce.
Flipping through the pages of the recent publication, “Lest We Forget, a book of short biographies of men who fought in the Great War with connections to Kennebec and Olden Townships,” by Malcolm Sampson and Rhonda Noble, it becomes clear how present the war was to the lives of people in rural Ontario communities at the time. The biographies tell the basics of what happened to the men who left and either returned physically intact, with injuries that impacted the rest of their lives, or did not come back at all. It also shows how the war’s impact on their lives has reverberated in the local communities in the 100 year since the war ended.
To mark 100 years since the end of the war, we are printing a selection of excerpts from those biographies.
CRAIN, George, was born in Oso Township on July 29, 1894. He enlisted on May 6, 1916 at Sharbot Lake and gave his father, who lived at Clarendon Station as next of kin. He was single and gave his occupation as a farmer. After training, he sailed to Europe on the SS ‘Southland’ in September 1916, arriving at Liverpool on October 6, 1916. On August 25, 1917 he was wounded and taken to the 3rd Australian Hospital at Abberville, France He eventually made it back to the 20th Battalion on April 9, 2918. On October 18, 1918 he was again wounded, gunshot wounds to his right thigh and shrapnel wounds to his right arm. After recovery he returned to Canada and was discharged at Kingston, Ontario on February 17, 1919. After the war George returned to the Elphin area and farmed. He never married and died on February 2, 1986.
BEVERLEY, George Francis. George was born July 9th, 1895. He attested March 9th, 1916 and his occupation was a farmer. His next of kin was Francis H. Beverley, his fatherHe joined the 146th Battalion and while overseas he served with the 4th Canadian Mounted Regiment. He was wounded at Vimy Ridge in the right knee on December 20th, 1916 and transferred to England. He spent 3-1/2 months in England and sailed for Canada on SS‘Letitia’ on May 13th, 1917 and reached Halifax on May 23rd, 1917. He convalesced in Kingston and was discharged January 31st, 1918. He died September 5th, 1969 and is buried in Mountain Grove.
LOYST, Roy, Private was born in Arden on November 8, 1896. His father was Christopher and his mother was Addie. Addie died in 1899 and Roy was raised by his grandparents, Christopher and Sara Boomhower. He sailed for Europe on September 22, 1915 and was reported missing in France on June 21, 1916. On the 28th of June the report changed to “wounded and missing”. He was finally reported as “killed in action ”February 16, 1917 at only 19 years old. Although he had given his next of kin as his grandparents, his war service medals were sent to Mr. W.S.C. Loyst of Arden, his brother. His name is commemorated on the Menin Gate in France.
LEWIS, David “Austin”, Private was born 27th August 1885 in Olden Township. He was the son of George Lewis and Margaret (nee Laidley). When he attested on January 17, 1916 he worked as a farmer. He enlisted with the 146th Battalion and sailed to Europe on the SS ‘Southland’ from Halifax on September 25, 1916 arriving in England October 6, 1916. He was sent to France December 1, 1916. In June of 1917 he was serving with the 4th Canadian Mounted Regiment when he died of shrapnel wounds to his arms and chest on the 4th June 1917 at age 31. He is buried at Bruay Cemetery in France. e. Austin was the second son of George and Margaret to die within 2 months of each other. The cenotaph in Mountain Grove indicates that he was gassed.
MEEKS, Archie, was born in Cloyne on August 18, 1897. His parents were Ian and Annie Meeks. When he attested at Flinton on January 17, 1916 he was 18 years and 5 months old. He went overseas with the 146th Battalion on September 25, 1916 on the SS ‘Southland’. He served as a machine gunner and on April 9, 1917 at Vimy Ridge was shot in the head and was blinded. He returned to Canada and spent time in Queen Military Hospital and was discharged on September 27, 1919 and received a $20 monthly pension for his wounds for the rest of his life. He married Azeta Lyons and they had eight children, 5 girls and 3 boys and lived in the Northbrook/Cloyne area. He died on November 11, 1965 at 11:00 am while the 1 minute silence was being observed, according to family members. Archie was a founding member of the Northbrook Legion, Branch 328.
PALMATEER, Marshall Bidwell was born in Kennebec Township on March 18, 1893 to Jacob Palmateer and Elizabeth Martha Larabee. He attested on January 14, 1916 and went into the 146th Battalion. He was single, his occupation was a labourer He sailed to England on the SS ‘Southland’, arriving October 6, 1916 and on October 6th, 1916 was transferred to the 95th Battalion. On February 17, 1917 he was transferred again to the 20th Battalion and sent to France. Marshall was reported killed in action on August 18, 1917 and is buried at Aix-Noulette in France.
PARKER, Clare. Clare was born May 22, 1894 in Olden Township. His parents were Alexander (Alec) and Edith Parker. When he attested on August 16, 1915, he gave his occupation as a farmer. He served first with the 2nd Reserve Depot and later with the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillary. While in France he was reporetd wounded in the face and right shoulder and arm on May 2, 1917. He healed and went back to action and while serving with the Field Artillary was killed in action on October 1, 1918 just 6 weeks prior to the Armistice. He was 24 years old and is buried at Haynecourt British Cemetary in France.
SELMAN, Norman Curtis. Norman used his middle name Curtis. He was born in Kennebec Township on March 27, 1888. When he enlisted on December 23, 1915 he was living in Harlowe. He listed his mother, Jane Anne Selman as next of kin; she was living in Northbrook. He was single, his occupation was a farmer. and he had previous experience with the 47th Militia. He joined the 146th Battalion and sailed on the SS ‘Southland’ to England on September 25, 1916. When he arrived in France he was transferred to the 20th Battalion. He was reported “missing” at Passchendaele on November 12, 1917. The report was later updated to reflect that he had, in fact, been captured and was a prisoner of war. Later reports showed him at P.O.W. camps at Dulmer or Dalmen, Westfalen and Brandenberg. Records dated January 8, 1919 shows “Now released, arrived at Ripon, England, January 4, 1919”. He was later returned to Canada and was discharged on May 14, 1919.
Gary Paquin felt alive when he held a set of drumsticks.
Feeling the music pulse through his body, he played the drums with passion and pleasure. Like his father and brother, music was a large part of his life; tap a beat for the musicians around him and give the crowd a great show.
He played for years, travelling from coast-to-coast with several recording artists in Canada.
But that all changed when a tick hiding in the fur of his cat returned home and infected him with Lyme Disease. Gary was in his early-50s when his illness stole his ability to play the drums.
Now, at 57 years old, he’s fighting for his life.
Wearing a leather jacket in late October, Gary talks about the challenges he has endured. He isn’t looking for pity, but he would appreciate help to finance a potentially life-saving medical treatment he wants more than anything, including the ability to play his drums again.
“The hardest part of this disease is getting help,” says Gary who lives in South Frontenac Township.
Struggling to diagnose the condition that was stealing Gary’s motor function, doctors prescribed a variety of medication that were ineffective.
Finally, after 1.5 years of suffering, Gary spent $600 on a test in the United States to confirm Lyme Disease.
“There is a real problem within Canada,” he says thoughtfully. “Many doctors do not have a solid understanding of the disease and the doctors who do can lose their license for treating chronic Lyme, along with Ontario's flawed testing.”
With precious time lost, Gary returned to Canada to treat the disease that was creating havoc in a body already compromised by Type 1 Diabetes.
Dependent on insulin since he was nine years old, Gary’s immune system was powerless to fight the bacteria invading his cells.
“It’s a little bit complicated,” he says with a small smile when asked about his management and control of diabetes. “With the other conditions, I have a pretty good hold on that.”
What he hasn’t got a hold on is the Parkinson’s Disease that set-in two years ago from the long-term effects of chronic Lyme which damaged him neurologically.
“My motor skills are severely impaired. The chronic fatigue is incredible,” he says about the degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system.
Already showing signs of shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty walking, Gary knows the disease is progressive and relentless.
To stay alive, he has spent his savings and sold almost everything he owns, including his drum kit and acoustic guitar from his late father, to pay $500 a month for medications and visits to a naturopath.
“Alternative therapies have helped,” Gary attests. “In the end, you do what you can afford and hope it’s enough.
“Saying that, there is a huge urgency to get the funds for treatment as I fight to maintain my independence and dignity as the diseases take more of my life day-after-day. Time is not on my side.”
Looking tired as the night closes in, Gary admits, “Sickness has taken away most of the things I love. My drumming career has been completely squashed. I can’t function normally. When I couldn’t play the drums, I lost my heart.”
“I can’t button-up shirts or tie my own shoes,” he continues. “I try to stay positive because stress makes it worse. It’s hard not to be pissed-off, it’s an outrage. But I don’t feel sorry for myself. It’s anger more than anything and some acceptance because you have to accept what you can’t change.”
He notes solemnly, “I’m grateful just to be alive. I just buried a good friend last weekend who was only 52. It makes me grateful for the things I can still do such as the ability to feed and wash myself.
“My blessings are many,” he says, referencing the functions he still has and the friends, family and church who are rallying to support him through a fundraiser at Zorbas Banquet Hall on Nov. 18.
The fundraiser is to help offset the cost of stem cell transplant for Gary.
“It was a quite a process just to qualify for the treatment because you have to be the ideal candidate,” he explains. “They plan to harvest the stem cells from my own body. It’s regenerative medicine. The stem cell network will be working closely with me for at least two years to help me and gather research for future patients who might benefit from this treatment. They’re also trying to find better ways to improve and help other people who are suffering from a debilitating disease.”
Working to raise $10,000 to cover expenses not funded by OHIP, Gary’s voice sounds hopeful about his upcoming treatment which boasts a 63 per cent success rate with Parkinson’s symptoms. Calling it the new face of modern medicine, Gary says stem cell transplant should help with his Lyme Disease and some of the damage caused by years of diabetes. He hopes it will help him sleep better and reduce his chronic pain.
“People in worse shape than I am have been helped,” he says with confidence.
“I’ve been beaten-up pretty bad over the years,” he acknowledges softly. “But I keep coming back kicking. It’s hard to keep a good man down.”
Smiling at his joke, Gary is quick to thank the people who plan to support his fundraiser in November and who have donated to his Go Fund Me page.
“Some people who have contributed to the cause are in worse shape than I am,” he says kindly. “I’m very grateful for the friends and fellow musicians who are helping me with this whole process. I have an attitude of gratitude.”
Trinity United Church in Verona has been holding a craft/bake sale on the first Saturday in November for a long time now. Nobody’s really too sure how long but it’s at least 25 years, dating back to when it was held in the bookstore at the mall in Verona.
Organizer Jane Adamson has been involved in most of them, although she readily admits “I have help, for instance Joyce Casement was the fundraiser.”
Although Adamson moved to Kingston recently, she’s still involved with the museum in Hartington and still spends “about three days a week in Verona” with various activities and groups.
“We have 17 vendors this year, two of whom are new,” Adamson said. “It’s been steady (customers) considering the weather.
“We try to decorate for Christmas to get people in the mood.”
Although the event is a fundraiser for the Church, they are also continuing the Christmas basket tradition (all the goods in the baskets are donated, including gift certificates from Tim Horton’s, Canadian Tire and Carmelinda’s Restaurant in Kingston) which raises funds for the community.
“Last year we raised $860 that went to Christmas for Kids,” she said.
It’s a very social atmosphere at the sale, with lunch available and that’s a big part of what keeps Adamson and others coming back to do it.
“I just enjoy the day,” she said. “People come and I love seeing new people, but I also love people coming back.”
Adamson said it’s important to keep up traditions such as this.
“We need to keep it up,” she said. “As Joyce said to me, ‘people look forward to it.’”
The sign says ‘just chillin’ and that’s what therapy dog Buddy was doing with his crafting companion Tony Farrell of Tony Farrell Woodcrafts. Photo/Craig Bakay
Life can be so unfair. We’ve all felt that at times, whether reacting to global news, local tragedy or personal setbacks. What keeps us going is our collective humanity – knowing that whatever happens we are not alone, there will always be some neighbor, friend or agency to lend support. But there’s no denying that adversity also puts one’s courage and tenacity on the line. How many of us would have the ‘true grit’ to be a survivor, if put to the test?
Take inspiration from Roya Shams, one of the remarkable Afghan girls we hear about who defy the Taliban and risk their lives to further their education. Imagine the fortitude it must have taken to flee her homeland at 16 years of age and put her safety in the hands of strangers and adapt to an entirely different culture.
We are blessed that Roya’s story is now unfolding in Canada, where she came to study with the help of the Toronto Star and its readers. She’ll be in Perth on Monday, October 15th to give a free talk to the public – in an interview format – about her transition from a burka-wearing repressed teenager to an ardent activist for women’s rights and girls’ education. There is both tragedy and inspiration in this tale.
Born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Roya’s progressive views were shaped by her father, a police officer who insisted that his daughters be as well educated as his sons. He taught them to never give in to intimidation, but rather to choose "country or coffin," a statement Roya has taken to heart. Sadly, he was killed in 2011, leaving his family of nine vulnerable to insurgents and targeted by the Taliban. As a young Afghan woman longing for an education, Roya's only choice was to flee her homeland.
Please join us on Monday, October 15th to hear her incredible tale, being presented by the Perth & District Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) as part of a speaker series held at the Perth Legion (26 Beckwith St E, Perth, K7H 1B5.) Doors open at 6:30pm; donations from non-members would be appreciated.