In Jasper, Pajama Day is anything but a sleeper.
The annual event brings supporters and Auto Immune Disease sufferers together for a day of raising awareness, money and hope for a better quality of life for millions of people living with AI disease.
On February 27, an estimated 1,260 Jasperites walked with event organizer Marta Rode to show their support. Jasperites all over the community donned their bedroom best to represent AI sufferers who often can’t leave the house for their symptoms.
“This is absolutely overwhelming,” said Rode’s sister, Hana Dankov-Bye.
Rode was diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a disease which affects the body’s organs and blood vessels. The disease affects one in 40,000 people. Three years ago, she started Find the Common Thread, an organization that would bring together sufferers under the same banner.
“One in five people are affected by auto immune diseases,” she said. “We need to unite as a group and show the world who it’s actually hitting.”
I saw her from a distance. Her technique was true and strong
It made me think that all this time I’d been doing something wrong
Approaching with my head down, I tried to walk right by
But even with my sun shades on she managed to catch my eye
“I really can’t believe it,” she said, gesturing to the snow
“There’s so much I’m not quite sure where it’s all going to go”
Before I could respond, so quickly came her smile
She pointed to the extra shovel: “It’ll only take a while.”
There was no obligation, I could have easily declined
But in doing so, I thought, I’d leave all dignity behind
And so we pushed the piles of snow until they were head high
We scraped the walk, we chipped the ice, we excavated the drive
And when upon completion, we lay our shovels on the floor
My new friend offered tea at hers, which turned out to be next door
Confused but not devoid of sense, I figured out our labour
Was not being performed for her, but for the benefit of her neighbour
When photographer Valerie Domaine went paddling on Talbot Lake recently, she thought she’d snap some photos, maybe catch a fish.
When she spotted three adult loons and two chicks, she got her camera ready: here was a nice, peaceful moment on a warm summer’s night to capture.
Or not. The placid paddle suddenly turned into something else entirely: the scene of a triple-homicide. Domaine, an experienced wildlife watcher, had never seen anything like it before.
“All of a sudden two of them started to fight,” she said. “One loon was clearly more aggressive than the other and was grabbing the other one by the neck, trying to force it
Shocked, but with her finger on the shutter, Domaine snapped away as the aggressive loon relentlessly attacked. Soon, the less-dominant loon was dead.
“The killer headed back across the lake; we lost sight of it for awhile but soon saw it with its head shaking in the water and the wings flapping vigorously. As we got close we realized he had a young dead loon in its beak.”
The aggressive loon didn’t stop there. Soon the other fledgling was dead.
“We watched helplessly as right before our eyes the killer took yet another life,” Domaine said. “And the aggressive loon had now joined mother loon.”
To humans, the scene plays out like an episode of Dexter, but in the wilderness, this is normal behavoir. Although it is hard for us to feel anything but horror toward the hostile display, the aggressive loon was simply ensuring his genes got passed along, according to Jasper National Park biologist Ward Hughson.
“This aggressor accomplished exactly what he wanted,” Hughson said. “And although it’s rarely seen, it’s not a rare event.”
Male loons, like male grizzly bears, will often kill competing birds to ensure their gene remains dominant. The battle that Domaine witnessed was the first step in that process, Hughson said.
“The pair will now likely develop a relationship and fly to the coast where they’ll spend the winter,” Hughson said. “Next summer they’ll be back at Talbot Lake.”
And maybe then Domaine can capture that peaceful moment she was looking for.
Loons: An Iconic Species in our National Parks
Double duty: Both male and female loons take responsibility in raising their young
Long in the beak: Loons have been recorded in nature as old as 24 years. Biologists suspect they can live to be 30.
Built for the water: their legs are positioned far toward the back end of the body. As a result, they can’t walk on land and must nest very close to water.
Lake longing: In Jasper, loons arrive on area lakes as soon as the ice is out.
Love you loon time: Mating/incubation period is typically just under 30 days.
Fish fill: A single loon family can consume up to 2,000 pounds of fish in a single summer.
Three’s a crowd: Female loons typically lay only two eggs each season.
There goes the neighbourhood: As many as eight pairs of loons have been observed living at Talbot Lake in one summer, due mainly to the lake’s high amount of forage fish (spot tail shiner minnow species).
Kids that might not otherwise get the chance to cross country ski have been sliding with style thanks to a partnership between volunteers, local businesses and the Jasper Elementary School.
Members of the Jasper JackRabbits Cross Country Ski Club were gleefully gliding around the trails at Whistlers Campground February 25. Racing around Marmot Meadows, they might not have realized their fun in the sun was made possible because of support from a few key allies.
“My favourite part is spending time with my friends,” said 10-year-old Keely Ralf.
Coordinator and coach Louise Knight, who’s been running the program for five years, said the focus is on playful progression in a natural setting.
"We're just really proud that we're getting kids outside after school," Knight said. "We're so lucky to have people in the community to make it possible."
This year, Robinson Foods donated $1,000 to the club. That money will eventually go towards gear, which is turned over to the Jasper Elementary School. In turn, JES allows the JackRabbits to access its gear room. Wild Mountain plays a key role in making the equipment available at a fraction of what it retails for, Knight said.
"These sponsors are so important to us," Knight said.
Knight also commended Parks Canada for providing the groomed trails. The JackRabbits often ski at Centennial Park, where multiple tracks make for an ideal learning location, but also make it around Whistler’s Campground and up the Pyramid Fire Road.
To learn more about the Jasper JackRabbits, email Knight.
Edi Klopfenstein, Dylan Skinner and Dana Ruddy play the same character in Parks Canada’s new feature film, Through Ice and Time. The film, which will play at the Columbia Icefields Centre, was shot over six days last summer.
On June 22, acclaimed Hollywood cinematographer Alar Kivilo told the audience at Jasper’s Chaba Theatre that working with the Jasper locals was an amazing experience.
“They were ready for anything,” he said.
Skinner, who is eight-years-old, was selected for the role of the young protagonist at the very last minute. Kivilo said it was Dylan’s “ability to be real,” that attracted the casting crew.
“You can feel the wheels turning when you watch him. There’s a depth there,” he said.
Ruddy, who plays the character as a grown man, when the protagonist is traveling through the incredible fissures and around deep crevasses in the Icefields, also won praise.
“There was another fellow who was totally natural with the camera,” Kivilo said. “And after the shoot he cut ice blocks to make wind breaks so he could make us all supper.”
Klopfenstein, who plays the elder protagonist, won over the production company with his enthusiasm and energy.
“He epitomized the attitude of everyone we met in Jasper,” Kivilo said. “So many people left a mark on this film.”
The film will be shown in the new theatre at the Icefields Centre, due to open next year. The production is one component of a $3 million Icefields Centre upgrade announced last week by Yellowhead MP Rob Merrifield.