Nobody knows music like Ron Sakamoto, but a special ceremony on Saturday struck a new chord with the legendary music promoter.
Sakamoto was honoured with a Blackfoot name and presented an eagle feather headdress during the International Peace Powwow & Festival at the Enmax Centre.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Sakamoto. “I just want to thank the Blackfoot Nation for giving me one of my most humbling experiences of my life. I’ve had a lot, but (Saturday) was just spectacular.”
An Elder painted his face and declared his Blackfoot name to be komahnishnski, which means “Owner of Many Songs.”
Sakamoto said he understands what a rare privilege it is to own eagle feathers, which are sacred within Indigenous cultures. He looks forward to wearing it proudly at future First Nations ceremonies.
“They told me now I can even paint faces,” he said. “It was a real humbling experience for me. I never really felt the significance of it until (Saturday) night.”
Longtime friend Max Gibb, one of the most admired and respected promoters of amateur sports in Alberta, also received a Blackfoot name, Sakamoto said.
Fentanyl crisis hits Lethbridge
Just two grains of salt.
They won’t make much difference on your steak and fries. But if those two grains were fentanyl, they could kill you. And that’s just one of the hard facts about fentanyl, a street drug that killed more than 340 Albertans last year.
As well as dealing death to many users, speakers at a Lethbridge forum pointed out, fentanyl brings amazing profits to those who sell it — in Lethbridge and across the province. And it’s created an epidemic that’s overwhelmed Alberta’s health care and addictions treatment facilities, they told concerned citizens attending a recent public meeting at McKillop United Church.
What’s worse, the speakers explained, treatment programs that help men and women overcome their addictions to other substances aren’t always successful with fentanyl. In Lethbridge, they added, the waiting list for treatment is now eight months long. Some addicts — teenagers, middle-aged workers, seniors — won’t survive that long.
Const. Ryan Darroch, a drugs intelligence officer with the Lethbridge Police Service, said making and selling fentanyl pills is so lucrative that dealers can’t be bothered with cocaine anymore.
Teacher released on bail
The Lethbridge teacher charged with possessing, accessing, and distributing child pornography has been released from custody.
Dwayne Evan Schnell was released Friday on $3,000 no-cash bail and several conditions, including that he live with his parents in Calgary and not have any contact with children under the age of 16. He is allowed to be with his own children, however, as long as he is with his wife or parents.
Schnell, who taught math and science to students in Grades 7 to 12 at Ecole La Verendrye, a Lethbridge French Language school, was arrested Wednesday by members of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team’s Internet Child Exploitation unit (ICE).
Officials say an investigation began in January after ICE received information from the United States National Center for Missing and Exploited Children relating to interactions a man had with underage children on an undisclosed social media platform.
Schnell, 37, who was hired at Ecole La Verendrye in 2014, appeared in court in person Thursday, then by closed-circuit TV from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre on Friday.
In addition that he live with his parents, Schnell was also ordered not to use the internet or possess any computer or device that has access to the internet, and not to have any device capable of taking pictures or videos. He is not to have any contact with children under the age of 16, and he is prohibited from going to playgrounds, schoolyards, daycares, swimming pools or community centres where children are or likely to be present.
Majority oppose carbon tax
If you vote NDP, you likely support Alberta’s new carbon levy. If not, you’re probably among more than 64 per cent of Lethbridge citizens who say they’re opposed to the carbon tax and rebate program launched by the government last month.
A new study by the Citizen Society Research Lab at Lethbridge College shows more than 80 per cent of city residents who would vote for the New Democrats favour the climate change initiative, along with 53 per cent who’d vote Liberal provincially. But just 10 per cent of the city’s Wildrose supporters agree with the program, and 18 per cent of Progressive Conservatives.
“It’s a highly ideologically charged issue, and the numbers show that,” says political scientist Faron Ellis, who supervised the research.
While more than 35 per cent of Lethbridge residents polled said they agreed with the NDP government’s program, more than 64 per cent were against it.
Opposition was highest among seniors, people without post-secondary education and households with an income between $40,000 and $100,000.
By now, Ellis notes, many lower-income Albertans will have received carbon tax rebate cheques — while all drivers are paying an extra 4.5 cents per litre for gas.