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$50K in diamonds, pearls and gold jewelry accidentally donated to charity

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It was one of those moments in life that makes your stomach drop, takes your breath away for a split second and makes you yearn for a time machine.

In early December, Jane Lowe and her husband were heading out of town for a few days, so she asked him to hide her good jewelry just in case of a break-in.

He stashed the freezer bag of jewels and gold worth about $50,000 inside a bag of clothing in the attic of their south-end Halifax home.

This wasn’t the first time he had taken care of that task for her. She had never before asked where he had hidden the jewelry, and he had never before mentioned it.

Just before they left town, Lowe called Diabetes Canada to arrange to have them pick up some items they wanted to donate. She placed about six bags outside and thought nothing more of it.

‘It seems to have disappeared without a trace,’ says Lowe about the jewelry mistakenly donated to charity. (Submitted by Jane Lowe)

A couple of weeks later, when she was back home and getting dressed for a party, she remembered they had stowed her jewelry somewhere.

“I said, ‘Where’s my jewelry?’ And my husband said, ‘It’s in one of the bags in the attic.’ And then we realized what had happened.

“I felt sick. Because there’s no getting around it. I’d gotten rid of the bag of clothes.”

The bag of jewelry contained a strand of pearls Lowe’s father had given her when she was 13, a pendant with a diamond and emerald of a “significant” size, a platinum and diamond ring, a diamond and aquamarine pendant and earring set, gold and pearl mabé​ earrings, diamond and amethyst earrings, four gold bracelets, including one with diamonds, and other gold pieces.

Lowe’s gold bracelet was among the jewelry accidentally donated to charity. (Submitted by Jane Lowe)

The bag also included items that “are not valuable to anyone but me,” Lowe said, including her grandmother’s imitation-pearl bracelet that both Lowe and her daughter wore on their wedding days.

“There are some things that you could replace, I guess, but some of the things you just couldn’t,” Lowe said.

Jewelry could be in Africa now

Lowe contacted Diabetes Canada to see if they could help her track down the jewelry, and was told the truck that picked up items from her house that day likely delivered its load to a Value Village store in Charlottetown.

Staff at the store are instructed to bring any items such as bags of jewelry to the attention of the manager, but nothing had been brought forward, Lowe was told.

Lowe’s necklace, seen in this wedding photo, is among the lost pieces of jewelry. (Submitted by Jane Lowe)

The manager also told her deliveries from early December had already been processed, and the contents of some bags, such as those containing summer clothes, are quickly bundled up and sent to Africa.

Lowe admits she doesn’t hold out a lot of hope that she’ll be reunited with her jewelry.

“It doesn’t sound promising,” she said. “It seems to have sort of disappeared without a trace.”

She said although she’s sad, she doesn’t hold the loss of the jewelry against her husband because she knows it was a mistake.

“My husband’s hopeful,” she said, laughing. “He said to me, ‘I’m surprised you didn’t cry.’ But I mean what do you do? It’s somewhat fruitless to get really worked up about it.”

In addition to contacting about eight Value Village stores in the region and the headquarters in B.C., Lowe has been in touch with pawn shops, has been keeping an eye on Kijiji and has filed a police report.

Halifax police confirmed the case has been assigned to an investigator.

In the meantime, Lowe’s hopes may rest with her mother — and St. Jude, the patron saint of hope, desperate cases and lost causes.

“My father has a Rolex watch that he’s lost three times, I think, and my mother each time has written to St. Jude and they’ve always found the watch,” Lowe said. “So she’s absolutely convinced that if she writes to St. Jude that I’ll get my jewelry returned.”

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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