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Buddhist translator to donate his $890K poker win





Scott Wellenbach won $890,000 last night and isn’t thinking twice about giving it away. 

He said he’s had an ongoing pact with the poker gods. They let him win and he donates his profits to charity, no matter what.

The 67-year-old from Halifax, who works as a Buddhist translator, finished third in an international poker tournament in the Bahamas Wednesday night.

“I’ve been able to do so much better than really my ability or my experience would warrant. I’ve been so fortunate,” he told Maritime Noon from Nassau Thursday.

“The deal that I have with them … has been an excellent one and I will do nothing to change it. I might start losing.” 

His donations over the years are well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, though he doesn’t keep a specific tally.

He’s given winnings to causes that help people with housing, health care, food and education — from Oxfam to Doctors Without Borders to groups closer to home, such as the Buddy Daye scholarship fund in Halifax. 

The tournament was televised live. (Carlos Monti/Rational Intellectual Holdings Ltd.)

The majority of the profits, though, have gone to Buddhist charities, with a particular emphasis on groups that support women’s education. 

Over the years he’s won trips to different tournaments — Las Vegas and Niagara Falls. Two years ago he won about $92,000 in a tournament in Barcelona and pledged much of it to a Buddhist nunnery in Nepal. 

“I would say the world could use a lot more of that at the moment everywhere. And if women receive an education such that they can assume positions of significance in the world I think we all might be better off,” he said.  

As for where the most recent winnings will go, he hasn’t had much time to think about it. He only got a few hours sleep for the last two nights of the tournament. 

Scott Wellenbach (right) has worked for more than 30 years translating Buddhist teachings from Sanskrit and Tibetan. (

Despite the intense pressure, amplified by the game being broadcast live around the world, Wellenbach said he tries to remain relaxed while playing. 

“We should try to be friends with each other and chat and get to know each other and what’s going on in their lives and whatever,” he said. “I really feel the poker environment is greatly enhanced by friendliness and conversation and decency amongst the players.” 

Wellenbach still considers himself an amateaur player, even though he’s been trying his luck for nearly 60 years. His first exposure to the game started as a child at the beach in New Jersey, where he’d watch teenage lifeguards play on rainy days.

“When you’re eight years old and the 18-year-olds or the 16-year-olds let you hang out, that just makes your life. You just felt so included and that was the very beginning,” he said. 

He went on to play in high school and university and now considers the Casino Nova Scotia his home base.


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa





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





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





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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