Super-Juice Shine

Potent homebrew known as super-juice a scourge on dry Manitoba First Nations

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St. Theresa Point First Nation is one of many northern communities battling an onslaught of addictions-related issues.

John Jacob Harper’s voice is quiet, almost inaudible, but the emotion in his words carries to the victim’s family and friends seated in the courtroom. They are waiting for justice in a case that has shone a spotlight on the deadly consequences of substance abuse in a northern Manitoba community.

“I didn’t mean to do that… I didn’t know that will happen to him.”

Harper was sentenced earlier this week to five years in prison for drunkenly beating one of his best friends, a 26-year-old man who had been drunkenly attacking his own wife before Harper intervened.

Everyone involved, including a co-accused who is still awaiting trial, had been at a party in St. Theresa Point in April 2016, drinking a dangerous type of homemade alcohol that has long been blamed for spikes in violent crime in remote First Nations communities designated as dry.

Harper’s friend died the next day after being flown 600 kilometres south to Winnipeg for emergency medical treatment that was ultimately unsuccessful. Before he died of a brain injury, likely caused by Harper kicking him in the head as he lay defenceless on the floor, he told Harper he forgave him.

“It’s particularly tragic, and it’s typical. The difference is that someone died. But every court sitting we see a number of court cases very much like this where people are on super-juice and they have violent disputes and things get out of hand,” said Harper’s defence lawyer, Chris Sigurdson, who has been working in northern Manitoba communities for nearly 20 years.

“You’re looking at places that don’t have proper running water, there’s very high unemployment, it’s isolated — all of those factors are going to play into addictions and substance abuse,” he said.

Consumption of the potent homebrew has been particularly damaging in Manitoba’s remote First Nations that have banned the sale of alcohol.

Community leaders and First Nations advocates have been raising the alarm about super-juice since the homemade alcohol started gaining popularity in Manitoba nearly 10 years ago. The majority of RCMP calls in Manitoba’s north arise from alcohol abuse, and police say they’ve seen a rise in violent crime since super-juice came on the scene. Now, as prescription drug abuse becomes more common, the concoction is likely to be mixed with illegally obtained pills — and small, remote northern communities are suffering the consequences.

“I deserved it,” he said.

The homicide is one of a rising number of violent-crime tragedies that has been blamed on the scourge of what is commonly called super-juice.

“I lost my friend,” Harper, 29, tells the judge who is about to send him to prison for manslaughter.

Curtis McDougall, justice director with St. Theresa Point First Nation, said the community of nearly 4,000 on the shore of Island Lake is seeing a spike in crime that can usually be traced back to substance abuse.

“The majority of murders that happen in our community, it’s with super-juice all the time. And that really causes a problem. Sometimes they don’t even know what happened. It’s really potent, that super-juice,” he said. “It’s not a regular alcohol like beer or liquor. It has more potency.”

Super-juice is a fermented mix of water, sugar and “super yeast,” commonly sold in wine making kits. It’s usually mixed in pails, forming a foul-smelling greyish-white liquid that sometimes contains floating pieces of fruit. It only takes a day or so to ferment, making it a quick option for people looking to sell the stuff in two-litre bottles or imbibe in their own homes — although they often do so too early, leading to painful stomach issues and increased intoxication as the yeast continues to ferment from inside.

St. Theresa Point is consulting with Public Safety Canada to develop a safety plan for the community, something McDougall hopes will address gaps in treatment and after-care and lead to better prevention on addictions, in addition to a wide range of issues the community is tackling.

“Instead of waiting, we have to go out there and try to bring it to reality,” he said.

While band councils across Manitoba’s north have tried to ban super yeast in their dry communities, it’s easy to bring in and RCMP can’t seize it because it’s a legal product, said Manitoba RCMP Staff-Sgt. Noel Allard, who oversees the north district which stretches from Grand Rapids to Churchill, with Flin Flon on the east and Shamattawa on the west.

The majority of calls — about 70 per cent — to northern RCMP detachments are alcohol-related, and super-juice is a contributor to that, particularly in the northeast region of the province, he said. People blackout on the quick-fermenting homebrew and often can’t remember what they did, he said.

Many First Nations communities have long battled addictions in the fight to improve their quality of life, and that’s no easy task in a place like St. Theresa Point, where only about 10 per cent of the population has employment.

Winnipeg Free Press

The Central Manitoba Railway

A cool little railway in my backyard and I was not aware of it. Winnipeg is a railway hub with two of the largest railway yards in Canada located in the city. The city of Winnipeg also has it’s very own railway: The Greater Winnipeg Water District (GWWD) Railway, see link at bottom.

The Central Manitoba Railway (CEMR) operates on 67 miles, stretching from Selkirk north of Winnipeg to Carman south of Winnipeg, and serves 20+ transportation customers, handling a variety of commodities including grain, fuel, lumber and steel.

CEMR interchanges daily with both the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Class 1 railways, maintaining close working relationships with both mainline railway partners.

CEMR is committed to operating safely and has a comprehensive rail safety management system in place. We work with the communities and municipalities we operate in to ensure a safe work environment at all times.

CEMR provides switching service and on line operations on a daily basis, 24 hours a day.

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The Central Manitoba Railway currently operates 16 locomotives.

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Distance between Oak Bluff and Sanford is 15.6 Kms (9 miles)

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My sister blog below:

The City of Winnipeg has its very own Railway

Manitoba Hydro Meltdown

Manitoba Hydro to shrink workforce by roughly 900 positions

Crown corporation cuts will follow immediate 30% reduction in executive team, management restructuring

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Manitoba Hydro will cut 900 positions across the province and will increase rates by at least 10 per cent, the Crown corporation announced Friday.

The utility, which employs about 6,200 people, plans to offer voluntary buyouts starting later this spring. The reduction amounts to a 15 per cent cut to Hydro’s total workforce.

“We care about our employees, so we’re going to work and try to make this as smooth and as fair as we can,” said Kelvin Shepherd, CEO and president of Manitoba Hydro. “I think our voluntary program will get some good results.”

Starting immediately, the number of executive positions will be reduced by 30 per cent. Three vice-presidents have already been let go, Shepherd said.

The hands-on workers

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Cuts to staff are necessary to protect the financial integrity of Manitoba Hydro, the chair of the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board, Sandy Riley, said in a written statement.

Reducing costs will not only bolster Hydro’s financial future but can help protect Manitoba from future credit downgrades, he said.

Hydro’s debt was reported at $13 billion in October. Over the next three to four years, company debt could rise to $25 billion.

Some of the workers are getting out anyway they can.

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CEO Kevin Shepherd and the Manitoba Hydro board said cost reductions at the utility will not be enough to restore the Crown corporation’s fiscal outlook.

It is also planning “double-digit annual rate increases” for at least five years in order to re-establish “proper financial footing,” Riley said.

It is all so unreal!

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Groundhog Manitoba Merv sees his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter, worse yet, Merv is a Dang Puppet!

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Just after sunrise, Manitoba Merv, the rodent forecaster at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre made his Groundhog Day prediction, and it’s grim.

Merv saw his shadow, so Manitobans will have another six weeks of winter.

Oak Hammock Marsh staff say Merv’s predictions have been amazingly accurate.

For the past 23 years, Manitoba Merv has correctly predicted the arrival of spring and only made one error.

The groundhog may well be correct about this year’s prediction. Six weeks from now is mid-March, which is typically when the first geese return, Oak Hammock Marsh staff say.

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I don’t trust groundhogs anyway, or gophers and badgers for that matter. All they’re doing is guessing. And more and more the guessing is being made by puppeteers.

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