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Controversy derails film festival

Despite death threats and the loss of its venue over a bestiality film, an organizer of the Okanagan Film Festival International still wants to present it.

In an unsigned posting on Facebook on the weekend, a festival organizer said he is “working on locking down a new venue” after Landmark Cinemas announced its Paramount Theatre in downtown Kelowna would not host this week’s festival.
A message on the Paramount’s office phone line confirms the theatre will not host the Okanagan Film Festival International (OFF) nor show any of its films Thursday through Saturday.
The 75-minute documentary Donkey Love, about men who have sex with donkeys, was scheduled to end the festival film schedule at 11 p.m. on Saturday.
The independent film chronicles village life in remote parts of Colombia where two Vancouver filmmakers discover a controversial secret: young men are encouraged to have sex with donkeys.
The film has been shown at Australian festivals and won best documentary at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. OFF organizers believe the Kelowna airing would be the Canadian premiere.
Jeremy Heyden, the festival’s program director, did not respond to voice mail messages on Monday, but a Facebook posting that appears to come from him says: “We will NOT censor art to comfort the close-minded and those who believe everything the media publishes. I will not let petty death threats from cowardly red necks stop me from moving forward. Local media has misled many people to want to try and stop this festival from happening. Do not believe everything coming from Landmark Cinemas.”
The theatre company apparently doesn’t want its reputation tarnished, says the post.
“A documentary is being made right now on all of these matters. I will fight until the bitter end to make this festival happen. Please do not trust anything being published or talked about anywhere else about this festival. Everything will slowly be made public as me (sic) move closer to the dates. I thank you for your patience and understanding.”
The only comment posted on the page Monday came from Ekkert Nafn, who wrote, in part: “And the war begins. OFF and filmmakers vs. Landmark Cinemas. Left wing vs. right wings.”

charity Mission serves up good grub, goodwill at Thanksgiving meal

Everyone — clients, volunteers and management — had plenty to be thankful for Monday at the Kelowna Gospel Mission’s annual Thanksgiving dinner.

Executive director Randy Benson was thankful the 259 Leon Ave. mission survived another increase in demand.
“We had record numbers this past summer — the number of people who have come for meals and other services. During the summer, we were averaging more than 500 meals a day. It really challenges our kitchen to the limit, but our staff and volunteers did a wonderful job,” he said.
“At a time like that, even the people we serve have extra patience and everybody gets along. There’s lots and lots to be thankful for. We’ve had a great year — a very busy year.”
Shelter numbers aren’t up, but the number of people coming from other services is up, he said.
“That’s maybe the new trend or the new need that we’re going to be seeing more and more of.”
The mission expected more than 700 people to line up for a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing and vegetables. That’s about the same number as the two previous years.
“We see a lot of families, especially on a beautiful day like today. The weather doesn’t keep people in,” Benson said. “And this really is a family spot for a lot of our regulars, a place where they can get fellowship and a good meal and see all their friends.”
Kitchen manager Jackie Sear noted the mission starts preparing four to six weeks ahead of time.
“We don’t have the oven space (to cook 45 turkeys),” Sear said.
“We do all the turkeys ahead of time, prep them, freeze them and then bring them back up to temperature today. That eases the burden a lot,” Sear said.
“It’s a blessing to see everyone eat as much as they want. Everyone’s in good spirits at this time of year too.”
She was a volunteer five years ago before becoming a staff member, she recalled.
“I had no idea how the cook handled it all. I was glad I didn’t have to do it,” she said.
Among the 50 volunteers were city councillors, former mayor Sharon Shepherd and her husband, Mike, RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon and new B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick.
“I find being here is just part of Thanksgiving,” said Letnick, who has volunteered for the past six dinners. “I look forward to seeing some of the people I’ve met over the years and working with the volunteers. It’s just about giving back. This is the least I can do.”
“I’m thankful for this place, the people I have around me and my animal. I have a dog in the back,” a man called Dave said as he began eating a heaping plate of turkey and all the fixings.
“Every day is a challenge, so this means a lot to me. A lot of the cities I’ve been in don’t offer stuff like this. I’m just grateful for this and everybody that helps out around.”
“This is wonderful. When I live alone, sometimes I don’t put five different pieces of food on my plate,” said another man, Doug, who came in a wheelchair.
“I’m very grateful to come down and have a hot meal. I wouldn’t say life was an even road for me. I’ve had to go down some hills and come back up again. Today, life is good, and I’m very thankful where I’m at.”


FortisBC meter plan to be aired


Public hearings on FortisBC’s plan to install smart meter-like devices at its customers’ homes and businesses in the Okanagan will be held in early November.
The Public Utilities Commission will hold meetings from 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 7 at the Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos.
A Kelowna meeting will be held Nov. 8, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m., at the Best Western Hotel.
People wanting to address commission members must register in advance by calling 604-647-4104 by Oct. 15.
FortisBC serves approximately 115,000 customers in the B.C. Interior. The utility is following the lead of BC Hydro in seeking the installation on buildings of electrical consumption meters that use wireless technology.
The provincial government exempted BC Hydro, a Crown corporation, from having to seek permission for the smart meters from the Public Utilities Commission.
The utilities say the smart meters allow customers to better track their electricity use, and that they provide efficiencies in data collection.
Critics say the wireless technology poses a health risk.

Death with dignity campaigner Gloria Taylor dies


Gloria Taylor, the 64 year-old Westbank woman with ALS who fought courageously to change Canada’s law on assisted dying has died.

Taylor was the lead plaintiff in the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s death with dignity lawsuit. Her dream of legal change for herself and all Canadians was realized in June when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the right to die with dignity is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and granted Gloria a personal exemption allowing her the right to seek a physician-assisted death. The case was a major victory for choice and individual rights at the end of life.

Taylor's death Thursday was sudden and unexpected; the cause of death was a severe infection resulting from a perforated colon. Due to the acute nature and brief course of her illness from the infection, she did not need to seek the assistance of a physician to end her life. In the end, her death was quick and peaceful and she was spared from the prolonged death from ALS that she dreaded and which inspired her participation in the lawsuit. 

Grace Pastine, Litigation Director for the BCCLA, said “Gloria was a heroic woman. Even as her own body failed her, she fought for all Canadians to have choice and dignity at the end of life. Gloria was terrified that she would become trapped in her body as her ALS progressed and she was incensed that other Canadians with serious illnesses were facing the same cruel predicament. She spent the last days of her life tirelessly advocating to change the law. The BCCLA will continue with the lawsuit, fighting to protect Gloria’s victory against government appeals. Gloria lit the torch, now we will carry it. This case is her legacy.”

Anne Fomenoff, Gloria’s mother states: “Gloria will be dearly missed by her devoted family and friends, but we are grateful that Gloria was given the solace of knowing that she had a choice about how and when she would die. Thanks to the ruling of the B.C. Supreme Court, Gloria was able to live her final days free from the fear that she would be sentenced to suffer cruelly in a failing body. The exemption she was granted allowed her to face her illness and death with dignity and grace. In the end, Gloria was spared a long and painful death from ALS -- she was able to die peacefully surrounded by her friends and family. Until the moment she died, Gloria firmly believed that all Canadians should have choice in dying, and we, her family, completely supported her in that belief. I am so proud of my feisty, determined daughter – she struggled to make the world better for Canadians. I speak on behalf of my entire family when I say we are so proud of her legacy. We are blessed to have known and loved this special woman.”

Rita Chretien grateful for husband's sacrifice



PENTICTON — The wife of an Okanagan man whose remains were found in the Nevada wilderness a year and a half after he went for help says she’s grateful he trekked through deep snow for kilometres in an effort to save her.

Rita Chretien said Tuesday that Albert Chretien hiked a great distance for her sake after their van got stuck in the mud on their way to Las Vegas from their home in Penticton.

Chretien, who survived for seven weeks on

her own in the van before she was found, said she’d tell her husband: “’Thank you for your efforts.’ ”I know he did it for me and I was so grateful.“

Chretien’s body was found Saturday by elk hunters in Merritt Mountain in Nevada after they discovered his backpack. Police identified him through items in his pocket.

Deputy David Prall of the Elko County Sheriff’s Office said Chretien had hiked more than 14 kilometres on a winding route and was within 10 kilometres of the community of Mountain City when the battery in the GPS he was using probably burned out and his path began to angle too far north.

“Once he lost the ability to use that GPS, due to the snow drifts, he couldn’t tell where the road was,” Prall said. “He did a lot of unnecessary climbing. He was heading literally for the summit of the mountain.”

Chretien may have made it to the highway had he kept his bearings, Prall said.

Henry Chretien said his younger brother’s body was found under a tree.

“He had placed his backpack where it could be seen. He lay down and under the protection of the tree for a much-needed rest and died peacefully in his sleep.”

Chretien’s clothed skeleton was intact and his blanket and other possessions were with him.

“We conclude that he was not attacked before or after his death by mountain lions or other predators,” Henry Chretien said. “This brings us comfort. We had long concluded that Albert was in heaven already. We now have more insight into his last day here. We now have comfort and closure to this chapter in our lives.”

On Sept. 23, Chretien’s wife and four others returned from a nine-day trip to Nevada, where they thanked people who’d helped in the many searches for the lost Canadian and prayed for him.

Rita Chretien said searchers answered her many questions and she answered theirs. Many of them expressed the need to find

Chretien’s remains because they felt their missions were incomplete and they needed closure.

Six days later, Chretien’s body was found.

— The Canadian Press

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:00

Penticton man's body found in Nevada


ELKO, Nev. (CP) — The remains of a missing Penticton man whose wife survived for seven weeks in the Nevada wilderness after the couple got lost have been found.
Albert Chretien went for help a year and a half ago when their van got stuck in the mud.
Det. Dennis Journigan of the Elko County Sheriff’s Department says Chretien’s remains were discovered Saturday by two elk hunters in a secluded area of Merritt Mountain, about 11 kilometres west from where he set off.
Journigan says the remains were intact and hadn’t been scattered by animals.
Rita Chretien stayed with the couple’s van and was found on the verge of starvation 49 days after her husband went for help.
She survived on trail mix, hard candy and melted snow and has told church groups her Christian faith kept her going.

Murder charge laid in hammer attack

The son of a woman bludgeoned with a hammer is now charged with her murder. 
The Crown has approved a charge of second-degree murder against Conor Grossmith, 24, and made it official at a brief hearing on Friday. He remains in custody and makes his next court appearance Thursday.
Kate Gilchrist, 57, died in hospital nine days after she was attacked in her Kelowna home on Sept. 13. Police arrested her son for attempted murder and seized a hammer from the Mission-area home.
Neighbours said Grossmith lived there and has a mental illness. He's expected to undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment to determine if he's mentally fit to stand trial.  
Gilchrist taught English as a second language at Okanagan College for 18 years and chaired the department for a time. The college has set up a bursary in her honour to benefit domestic ESL students who are pursuing academic studies. 
A private service was held in her memory.

Bomb threat prompts evacuation in Rutland


Multiple businesses in Rutland were evacuated and a main street closed at 11 a.m. Friday after a bomb threat was received by the Interior Savings Credit Union branch on Rutland Road South.
"Apparently, an unknown man called the branch and threatened to detonate a bomb that was somewhere inside the building," said RCMP Const. Kris Clark.
A police service dog, trained in the detection of explosives, was called in to search the building for explosive materials. However, "after considerable effort searching inside and out, no trace of explosives were found," said Clark.
Three hours after the threat was received, the building was deemed safe and the road was reopened. If anything had been found, the bomb disposal squad in Vancouver was on standby. An ambulance and a fire truck were stationed nearby throughout.
The threat to the credit union was vague, but due to the potential public risk, the area was evacuated, Clark told reporters at the scene.
Gene Creelman, vice-president of marketing and communications with Interior Savings, said the Rutland branch was only open for 90 minutes before the evacuation and a "business contingency process" kicked in.
Since it was close to the lunch hour, all staff went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. When the evacuation went into the afternoon, the branch manager decided to close for the rest of the day. The branch is normally open until 5:30 p.m. on Fridays. Creelman has never heard of a bomb threat closing a branch before.
The Salvation Army's Community Life Centre and Thrift Store were also closed by the evacuation.
Police are now focusing their investigation toward identifying the caller, said Clark. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. You can also leave a tip online at or by text at CRIMES (274637) ktown.


Last Updated on Friday, 28 September 2012 23:52

Body in Polson Park fountain


RCMP have secured the site where a body was found in the fountain at Polson Park in Vernon Wednesday night. Police say the man was known to them, but have yet to release further details.

Elderly woman hit in face, nearly knocked into traffic


Police are looking for witnesses after a shocking unprovoked attack on an elderly woman Wednesday afternoon.

The woman was headed north on Spall Road near Harvey Avenue on her scooter, trying to pass a man on the sidewalk, when he struck her in the face, said RCMP Const. Kris Clark.

"The woman was nearly knocked to the ground, and into traffic," said Clark.

"Several passers by stopped to offer the woman assistance but the suspect continued on his way without a second look. The man was last seen headed northbound on Spall Road before turning westbound on Harvey Avenue."
He's described as Caucasian man, in his 20s, about 5-foot10 and 200-220 pounds. He was clean shaven with short dark brown hair and was last seen wearing a long sleeve grey t-shirt with blue jeans and over-the-ear headphones.
Anyone with any information should call the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at to report.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 22:42

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