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‘Jar of hearts’: P.E.I. woman gathers 365 messages of support for ailing friend

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CTVNews.ca staff, with a report from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker


Published Saturday, December 29, 2018 7:48PM EST

When health complications began taking a toll on a friend, a P.E.I. woman collected 365 messages of love and support so that he would have something to lift his spirits every day for a year.

Leslie Labobe of Lennox Island First Nation lost two toes to diabetes in 2017.

In September, he fell and suffered compression fractures in his spine.

Being bedridden was particularly difficult for a man who used to work helping others as a paramedic and on humanitarian missions across the world.

“I did, I think, about eight natural disasters,” Labobe said. “From 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Los Angeles earthquakes, Georgia floods (and the) Puerto Rico hurricane.”

Madlene Sark has been friends with Labobe for more than two decades. Recently, she says, she began noticing changes in her once-bubbly friend.

When he posted a cry for help online, she realized that he was falling into a dark place.

“I saw a post on Facebook at one time and just the morale in the post was not Leslie,” Sark said. “It was like I was reading something from a stranger.”

Wanting to help, Sark took to social media to ask Labobe’s friends from across the globe to send kind words his way. More than 200 people responded.

From their responses, Sark handwrote 365 messages on paper hearts and stuck them in jars to create what she calls a “jar of hearts” so that Labobe could have a message of support every day for a year.

Sark explained that she did it “so that he knew every single day, that no matter what, he’s cared for.”

Labobe says that he was speechless when he first opened a jar. It was exactly the pick-me-up that he needed.

“At 12:01 every night, I open up one of the jars and it just gives me inspiration,” he said.

With a CTV Atlantic camera rolling, Labobe opened one of those messages.

“Les, you are a very strong and courageous person with a heart as big as the universe,” Labobe read aloud. “You are an amazing man and I am so proud to call you my friend.”

Labobe plans to hang all the hearts on his Christmas tree next year.

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LIFESTYLES

Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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LIFESTYLES

Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash

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The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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LIFESTYLES

OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada

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OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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