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Fostering better relations with a cross-border group

Living on the St. Lawrence River, have you ever looked across the water at your neighbours in the United States and wondered, “Are we really that different?”

A press release from Ontario Senator Bob Runciman’s office announced that he has formed a cross-border group with New York State Senators Patty Ritchie and Joseph Griffo.

“This initiative will help open new lines of communication and create a chance to explore new opportunities that can benefit both New York and Canada,” Senator Ritchie said.

The group’s formation came in response to a recent incident in local waters where an American fisherman was arrested for “straying” into Canadian waters.

“The incident reminded Senator Ritchie and I how interdependent the two countries are along the border and how important it is to have a regular dialogue to discuss matters of mutual concern,” Senator Runciman said.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon has joined Runciman’s group alongside Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark, and Kingston and the Islands MP Ted Hsu. These members, however, were not present for the founding meeting on October 7.

The Leader was able to speak with Lauzon late last week. He told the Leader that “Runciman is taking the lead.”

While he admitted that his “information is somewhat limited” at this point, he did offer the following information: “I’m on the committee. What we’re trying to do is foster better relations between the two border countries and ridings.”

Lauzon referenced the incident with the fisherman as the catalyst to the formation of the cross-border group saying: “We just think if we can open up better communication with both countries at both levels we can eradicate this problem.”

“Northern New York and Eastern Ontario share not just a common border, but face the same challenges and opportunities. It makes economic sense to look for joint solutions,” Runciman said. “And the people in border communities are not just neighbours, but we’re good friends, too. I see this group as a way to reinforce that message.”

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Let’s skate!

It appears that the Morrisburg Shopping Plaza will be getting a skating rink for the Christmas season.

At the October 4th South Dundas council meeting Councillor Jim Graham reported that the Morrisburg Business Improvement Association (BIA) met the previous evening and “agreed there should be a better location.”

Hugh Garlough, Manager of Public Works, said that he’d like to “thank the BIA for accepting my thoughts” and went on to say that  “we will do our best to work with them (and when it) comes time, do whatever we can to cooperate.”

In terms of where the rink will be located, he reported that “the mall location south of the clock tower will not be used as the township has concerns with this location.”

Possible locations were discussed, including the area of the parking lot where the former visitor’s centre was located. However, Garlough informed the Leader that “the location of the BIA’s skating rink has not been decided as of yet.”

“The location will be decided by township staff and the BIA representatives at a later date.”

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Council hit with unexpected costs

Like everyone else, even the township gets hit with unexpected costs now and again.

On October 4th, Don Lewis, Manager of Recreation, informed the South Dundas council that three of their roof top units for two of their buildings had been red-tagged by the gas company, meaning that the gas won’t be turned on until the heaters are replaced or fixed.

The Morrisburg Justice Building has two roof top units needing immediate attention. One, almost 20 years old, will be completely replaced. The other, only ten years old, will require only the heat exchanger to be replaced.

The remaining roof top unit in question is also close to 20 years old and can be found in Iroquois at the Civic Centre. This unit will be completely replaced.

A tender invitation is being advertised in this week’s papers.

In terms of financing the repairs, Treasurer Shannon Geraghty told council that there “are some potential items we’ve saved on this year” as well as “savings we could pull from.”

As Mayor Steven Byvelds pointed out, “things break unexpectedly.” He said that he agreed with Geraghty, “we should find savings out of the existing budget.”

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OPP arrests in South Dundas

On October 9th, SD&G OPP officers responded to a report of a family dispute on County Road 31, South Dundas Township.

The investigation revealed that a male threatened other family members that were in the residence.

The 24yr old male was arrested and faces charges of: Utter Threat to Cause Death or Bodily Harm; Utter Threat to Damage Property; Mischief Under $5,000; and, Possession Schedule II Cannabis Marihuana. He was held in custody pending an appearance in Cornwall court.

On October 10th, SD&G OPP officers responded to a report of a domestic incident on Strader Road, South Dundas Township. 

The investigation revealed that a female and her 34yr old common-law husband were involved in a verbal altercation that resulted in the male assaulting the female. 

He was arrested and faces charges of: Assault and Mischief Under $5,000. He was held in custody pending an appearance in Cornwall court.

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Bill C-292: putting victim rights over criminal rights

On September 28th, Guy Lauzon, Member of Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, tabled a private member’s bill, Bill C-292, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (victims’ restitution and monetary awards for offenders).

“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce an amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. This amendment will ensure that any monetary amount awarded to an offender pursuant to a legal action or proceeding be paid to victims and other designated beneficiaries,” said Lauzon in the House of Commons on September 28, 2011.

“This amendment ensures victims of crimes come first and criminals do not profit from their crimes. Just another example, Mr. Speaker, of this Government putting the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals.”

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South Dundas receives thanks for

South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough recently shared a copy of a thank you letter with the Leader.

The letter was addressed to South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds from Fire Chief Bill Hollett of the Chance Cove Volunteer Fire Department in Newfoundland thanking the mayor and the township for their recent donation.

“I would like to extend our most sincere thanks and appreciation to you and your Town for the generosity you have shown in donating to us a fire truck, rescue van and fire & emergency equipment.”

“We are a volunteer fire department in a small community with limited funds available for equipment and training. Up until the arrival of the fire and emergency vehicles you so graciously donated to us, the fire truck we had in use was a 1976 model which we were having great difficulty maintaining due to parts for this truck no longer being available through the manufacturer.”

In a recent email to the Leader, Mayor Byvelds explained that “the idea started with looking at the Old Williamsburg Pumper and what to do with it.  In talking to others including firefighters in Williamsburg, it was in too good a shape to scrap it.  Normally the Township takes items like this to Rideau Actions however we never get what it is worth and may only get less than $5000. “

“I was in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia last year on vacation.  I met a firefighter from the area that told me that they were getting a new to them pumper that evening to try out.  They were using a 1976 pumper and were getting a 1987 model.  The group were very happy to get the newer model.”

“It was after that (meeting) that I suggested to Council that instead of selling our old unit that we find someone who was in need.”

“Chief Chris did the research and as a result Chance Cove now have new to them equipment.  I think that it is great that we could help out a community that have a lot less resources than we do.”

The Chance Cove letter also credited Chief McDonough for the donation: “He has certainly gone over and above any call of duty in identifying our need, advocating on our behalf and ensuring we received these vehicles and equipment with as minimum a cost to us as possible.”

Chance Cove did reimburse South Dundas $400 for the “cost of batteries purchased to travel these vehicles to Newfoundland.”

This donation has given Chance Cove more than just reliable fire equipment, as Chief Hollett stated in his letter: “These vehicles will long stand as a source of inspiration to our residents and in particular, our volunteer firemen. They represent the kind and helping hands of a neighbour and of our fellow firefighters, and I am glad to say, has brought a new sense of pride and ownership to our volunteer fire department.” 

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Celebrating history: Ontario honours first British Home Child Day, Sept 28

British Home Child Day was celebrated for the first time on September 28th at Upper Canada Village (UCV) with a full day of activities, including presentations, skits, readings, displays, bagpipes and more.

An historical overview from the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration webstie outlines why this period of our history is important.

“Home Children quietly helped build our country and their many descendants continue to do so today. Yet the migration of British children to Canada is a little-known chapter of Canada’s immigration and social history.”

“Between 1869 and the late 1940s, British religious and philanthropic organizations transported about 100,000 children to Canada to live with Canadian families and work as farm labourers or domestic servants.” 

“In Canada, the children would become known as Home Children, as the institutions from which many of them came were known as Homes. The best-known, Barnardo’s Homes, sent approximately 30,000 children to Canada, 70 percent of them boys.”

A Native Red Maple tree and a plaque donated by Jim Brownell, MPP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry were unveiled in an afternoon ceremony at Aultsville Station complete with the sounds of bagpipes.

In a release by Brownell, he stated: “Over the years, we shall watch the growth of this tree, just as the descendents of these British Home Children have grown and multiplied, and have contributed, in countless and significant ways, to the social and economic fibre of Ontario’s communities.”

Carolyn Goddard, chairperson for the British Home Child Day Committee of SD&G, (BHCDC)got things underway with a short reading from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, where Rachel Lynde is discussing the horrors of orphan children to Marilla Cuthbert. Marilla’s brother Matthew was, at the time, on his way to the station to collect the new addition to their family.

Tom Brownell, secretary for the BHCDC, spoke next about his brother Jim’s efforts and eventual victory in making September 28th officially British Home Child Day in Ontario with the passing of Bill 185.

Brownell explained the significance of the September date: “Mary Scott Pearson (Brownell’s grandmother) stepped off the boat in Halifax 120 years ago today.”

Brownell also informed the crowd that Nova Scotia had just passed a bill making September 28 British Home Child Day there as well.

He told the crowd that an “important part of this story that deserves to be told” is how these children were “susceptible to mistreatment” because they weren’t closely monitored by the organizations that sent them.

He went on to say that while they did endure hardships, many also “went on to lead proud lives. Almost all who came to Canada remained in Canada.”

These children “helped to cultivate our country’s values” as well as fight for our country during the war. 

He concluded saying, the British Home Children are “part of our country’s history, they’re part of our past, and their descendents are part of our future.”

Chairman for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission Ron Eamer and South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds each took turns speaking before the introduction of Leeds and Grenville MPP Steve Clark.

Clark dedicated the tree and unveiled the plaque in place of Jim Brownell who was unable to attend the event. He  began by saying, “just the fact that we’re here deserves applause.”

He went on to detail the long road leading to this day saying that “private member’s bills rarely get passed.”

Most significantly, Clark is proud of the fact that he, Brownell and Parkdale-Highpark MPP Cheri DiNovo, “the three parties have gotten together to get this bill passed – putting politics aside and doing something good for the province of Ontario.”

Clark informed the crowd that Brockville was the “location of one of the receiving homes,” Fairknowe Home. This home, still standing in Brockville today, was originally built by William Quarrier of Scotland for the purpose of receiving “his” children from Scotland.

Clark went on to talk about the discovery that his wife’s paternal grandfather, Sidney Roberts, was a Home Child with “a story much the same as Mary Scott Pearson.”

Following the tree and plaque dedication, a vignette, “Arrival of British Home Children, Aultsville Train Station” was performed by Dave Hanson, Tyler Konick, Faith McCrae and Shannon McCrae.

There were eight other vignettes to follow at different locations throughout UCV detailing different time periods and experiences of British Home Children.

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa was set up in the Harvest Barn with an abundance of pictures, books, articles, and artifacts detailing the history of the British Home Children. Many were on hand to talk, educate, and share stories.

Sandra Joyce, whose father came to Canada from Scotland in 1925 as a Home Child, launched her new book “The Street Arab – A British Home Child Story” with two scheduled readings at the Village Store.

Rounding out the day was the Just Kiddin’ Theatre from Metcalfe who performed on the Cook’s Tavern verandah. “

According to their website: “Just Kiddin’ Theatre is a volunteer organization that delivers dramatic arts to students in Ottawa’s rural South.  The program is based on the belief that enrichment of the arts is not only a fun and enjoyable experience but presents opportunity to develop skills that will positively impact students for the rest of their lives.”

Immediately following the performance, guests with dinner reservations made their way to Willard’s Hotel, where they were welcomed with bagpipe melody.

Throughout the day it was said by many – time and again – that British Home Child Day will forever be an opportunity for Canadians to celebrate the courage and perseverance of the British Home Children who triumphed over adversity.

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Seaway District High School welcomes new vice principal

Karen Bryan, new vice principal at Seaway District High School, was able to come to Iroquois in July, getting to know many of the school’s teaching and support staff and learning how the grades 7-12 school works. 

That opportunity has gone a long way towards making her feel comfortable and welcome at SDHS as the 2011-12 term begins.

“Students have been very welcoming, creating a friendly atmosphere,” vice principal Bryan said. “And the staff here is wonderful, student focussed and student centred. Since I arrived, I’ve also had a lot of communications with parents, and I am very pleased with the level of parental involvement at Seaway.”

Mother of three boys, Bryan, who shares administrative duties with Seaway principal Terry Gardiner, enjoys the idea that she is working in a multi-generational high school.
“Many of the parents of our children have also gone to Seaway, and many have played on school teams and worked on projects with the school. As a result the school is a vital part of this entire community.”

A graduate of General Vanier in Cornwall, with an honours degree from Queen’s University and teacher training from the University of Toronto, Bryan began her career with UCDSB, prior to 2004, in the (no longer) capital region. 

“I worked with teachers from grades 7-12 on instructional practice and curriculum design in all subject areas. In 2006, this job moved to the board level where I began working with all board members in the areas of literacy and numeracy mandates. The focus was on classroom instruction and success initiatives.”

After 2007, she served as a learning resource coach at St. Lawrence and C.C.V.S. “We worked with teachers in helping students meet I.E.P. requirements by examining learning mod-ifications. We essentially trained teachers to go back to their classrooms and carry on what they learned.”

Before her involvement in these fields, Bryan served as a classroom teacher in Toronto and at North Dundas District High School, in the fields of mathematics and physical education.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Bryan said. “I think it was the influence of some of the awesome teachers I had growing up. I think I experienced early on  examples of what a good teacher can be in a child’s life.”

Some time spent teaching at R-O, a kindergarten to grade 12 school, has, Bryan feels, prepared her for the combination of intermediate and high school. 

She is getting a feel for the needs and priorities of Seaway. But there are some programs she hopes may be introduced at the school down the line.

“I would like to introduce after school programs, especially for grades 7-9, which combine a literacy and numeracy component, but also offer fitness and nutrition experiences for the students. Many kids wouldn’t mind staying after school for interesting programs they could benefit from.”

She senses a good feeling at Seaway built on strong connections between 7-9 teachers spanning programs and procedures. “I want to keep both high school and intermediate panels working together. 

We are working with teachers as ‘instructional leaders’, not as ‘managers’, which is a board wide initiative. I am an authority figure in the school, but I am also a teacher. I see a lot of willingness in this staff to collaborate in this approach.”

Bryan strongly feels that public education must be maintained as accessible to all children. Every child can learn and brings skills to the table. “We must value all the paths our children choose whether they choose to go on to higher education, or to learn in the world of work. Each path must be valued equally.” 

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High School development leaves Helping Hand mission

The final notice has been received and the Helping Hand, a mission of the Pentecostal Church, has until October 17th to vacate its location in the old Morrisburg High School, where it has been a source of clothing for those in need for the past 11 years.

Unfortunate, but true, the Helping Hand used clothing depot, answers a very big need in South Dundas and the surrounding area with an average of 2000-2,500 visitors benefiting from it each year.

The fact that the Helping Hand has to vacate is not a surprise as they were put on notice way back in 2009, that they were in their location on a monthly basis. With the upcoming renovation to the historic high school building to house an expansion to the St. Lawrence Medical and the South Dundas Municipal offices, the monthly basis has ended and the Helping Hand is closing.

The problem is that since they were put on notice of the eventual loss of their location they have been unable to find a new location that would be rent-free, or at the very least, very cheap.

“We have a lot of people not happy about it,” says Pentecostal minister, Rev. Duncan Perry.  “But we can’t afford to go somewhere else. We have a couple thousand dollars (donations) a year coming in, but that is not enough to rent.”