10 year old once given 48 hours to live has ‘miracle’ recovery a year later

Almost a year ago, Patty Furco was told she was going to lose her daughter.

Her second child, Abby, was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of four. Today the 10 year old based in Virginia Beach has made a “miracle” recovery even doctors can’t explain.

“Sometimes we can’t grasp what has happened and what continues to happen,” the 41-year-old mom-of-three tells Global News. “We had prepared for Abby to die.”

Abby’s long journey

In the last few years, Abby went through several hospital visits, intense chemotherapy sessions and radiation treatments, Furco says, but in 2015, things took a turn.

After being in remission for 11 months, Abby relapsed in September 2014. A year later, she had a bone marrow transplant that caused acute graft versus host disease (GvHD) — a common side effect of the transplant.

“Late last spring the side effects [of GvHD] were out of control and started a downward spiral leading to continuous dialysis [and] a long pediatric intensive care unit stay,” Furco says.

Abby’s organs weren’t keeping up and her kidneys began to fail.

“[My husband] and I tried to be hopeful, yet we prepared everyone, including our other daughters, for the end.”

Her family was told by doctors their little girl would die.

“I still have flashbacks to sitting at my dining room table with the head hospice nurse, choosing a funeral home. [My husband] Joe and I talked about where we wanted her remains. I clearly remember thinking about specific songs I wanted played during her memorial service,” Furco says.

Living in a tight-knit military community, Furco says her friends gathered together to give support.

Last year she remembers driving Abby to a girl scout event in another part of town, and passing by the funeral home she had picked out for her daughter.

“My heart sunk and I called Joe crying,” she says. “It just caught me off guard. Here I am in the car with my thriving Abby and we’re driving by the funeral home I picked six months earlier.”

Her recovery can’t be explained

Abby’s doctor, pediatric hematologist and oncologist Jacob Wessler, told People magazine there’s no real explanation of Abby’s recovery.

“We have no idea [how she got better] and there is no way to test it,” he tells Global News. “She’s the only patient I have to do this. She is one for one as far as our experience.”

Wessler was the first person to diagnose Abby and has been working with the Furco family for six years.

READ MORE: Saskatoon family appealing for more childhood cancer research funding

Although he adds there have been ups and downs throughout the journey and continues to be, last June he remembers bringing Abby home to feel more comfortable. At this point, he had believed she wouldn’t survive.

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He reduced the amount of medication and check-ins, as her family prepared for the worst.

“But she sat there and just started getting better,” he says. “It was really interesting and fascinating.”

At first, Wessler told the family there was no absolute timeline of when her organs would fail, but weeks and soon months went by and Abby was feeling better. Almost a year later, she is the best she’s ever been.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened, but it’s a good news and bad news situation,” he says. “It’s great that it has happened, but it is a little maddening we don’t know why. But for Abby it doesn’t matter why — what matters is she’s better.”

The heartache living with a sick child

Parenting coach Julie Romanowski of Vancouver says for any family or parent who is going through a similar situation with a sick child, the most important thing to do is to be aware of your situation.

“It sounds obvious but when people are in crisis mode, we think life is ‘normal’ and we need to keep going,” she tells Global News. “Get a good support network and let them know you are in crisis. Pretending nothing is going on adds more stress.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of Calgarians take part in annual ‘Run for Childhood Cancer’

And if you have other children, it can get difficult to talk about what their sibling is going through, especially the topic of death.

Romanowski says siblings also need a support network and parents need to be honest with them.

“If you pretend nothing is happening, that’s what makes the situation dangerous. We have to get real and accept our current situations… younger children will look at their parents on how to deal with the crisis and mimic it.”

Her recovery is also inspiring others

Furco says since 2012, the family has been very active in raising awareness for childhood cancer. They raise money for cancer research and put time into learning about Abby’s medication.

Abby is also an ambassador for the St. Baldrick`s Foundation, a private fund of childhood cancer research grants. Since 2012, her fundraising campaign has raised US$133,226.

Patty Furco and her daughter Abby.

Courtesy of Patty Furco

But Furco says hearing from other families with similar situations has been the most heartening. Some people tell her Abby has inspired them to get out of bed or keep fighting their own disease.

“That’s a gift that could only come out of this dark journey that has consumed our lives for many years,” she says. “It’s giving people hope and letting them continue dreaming about the future.”

Abby is looking forward to summer

Today, like many children, Abby is looking forward to her Grade 5 graduation. She is once again in remission and is receiving steroids twice a day.

Her mom says she loves to play Minecraft, hang out with her friends and plans on being a chef when she grows up.

“This is amazing as last year around this time, she was barely walking then wheelchair-bound. Through very hard work she is now able to walk on her own, currently working on long distance stamina,” she says.

Furco says her daughter is also looking forward to summer camp, a place where she meets other cancer patients and survivors.

“Our hope for Abby is that she gets to live a full life full of happiness. We take each day as it comes, so we hope that each day continues down the path of good health and growth in every way possible.”

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To buy or rent a cottage? These 5 questions will help you decide

To buy or rent a cottage? It’s the eternal question Canadian families face, especially as summer draws near.

Ask your friends and relatives, and you’re likely to find an even split between those who can’t imagine life without a lakeside property and those who see a second home as a ball and chain.

READ MORE: Why this may be the best summer ever to spend your vacation in Canada

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Coming up with a list of pros and cons isn’t much help, either. In theory, there as many good reasons to purchase a cottage and as there are not to.

In the buy camp: Building priceless memories by the same lakes as the kids grow up. Having an affordable gateway for every break and long weekend. Eliminating the risk of a ruined vacation because your rental cottage looks nothing like the pictures. Similarly, avoiding massive family disappointment — especially for the little ones — when it turns out the rental you have been booking every summer and have grown to love isn’t available this year. And so on.

READ MORE: Think you don’t need insurance when travelling in Canada? Think again

In the rent camp: The kids’ memories may be priceless, but owning a cottage certainly has a price tag — and a hefty one. Renting means your hard-earned vacation time won’t be sucked into a black hole called “cottage upkeep.” It also means being able to explore a different lakeside spot every summer — or deciding, guilt-free, that you’d rather go to Paris instead.

A more productive approach may be examining your specific circumstances and financial situation, according to Maureen Reid, Meridian Credit Union branch manager in Penetanguishene, a popular cottage country destination on the southeasterly tip of Georgian Bay, Ont.

For the undecided cottage vacationer, she has a list of five key questions:

1. How much will it really cost you?

Step one is assessing whether you can really afford to own a cottage. The question goes beyond whether you can carry two mortgages, Reid points out. As with any residential property, buying involves a slew of legal fees and taxes, as well as monthly expenses like utilities. Heat in particular can be a financial back-breaker in a cottage, said Reid, especially if you have to rely on electricity to keep it cozy inside.

READ MORE: The genius life hacks that working moms and dads use to get it all done

Other potential costs include owning, maintaining and docking your own boat if that’s the only way to reach your property, said Reid.

And then, of course, there’s upkeep. Although Reid told Global News it’s hard to come up with an average estimate for this kind of expense, it’s safe to say it will likely be higher than whatever your average yearly spend is on your first home. From rodent infestations to pipes that burst in winter, the fact that cottages are usually immersed in nature and used only for part of the year tends to drive up the maintenance bill.

READ MORE: Flooding, flooding everywhere – do Canadians have insurance for it?

2. How much will you (realistically) use it?

Once you’ve come up with a comprehensive cost estimate, ask yourself how much R&R bang you’re going to get for your buck, according to Reid. Is the cottage close to home? Do you get lots of time off in the summer? Will you be able to use the property in the winter as well? If so, then great.

On the other hand, if you only have two weeks to spend lakeside every year, will the stress of the drive and the upkeep work eliminate your ability to relax?

READ MORE: Here’s why a good school isn’t always worth the home price premium

3. Are you going to rent it?

This one goes back to question No. 1. Being able to rent your cottage for periods of time when you’re not there will make it easier to afford it, noted Reid.

Doing so has become easier than ever with online home-sharing services like Airbnb. And if you’re worried that the tenants who presented themselves as a “a quiet middle-aged couple’ will turn out to be a horde of partying teenagers, Facebook groups, which tend to be more community-focused, are another great resource. A short post advertising your property among friends and neighbours can quickly locate a trustworthy tenant.

READ MORE: Buying and selling online? Instead of Craigslist or Kijiji, try Facebook

Still, not all cottages rent easily, cautioned Reid. Remote properties in less well-known areas might have fewer takers.

4. Is it a good investment?

This is really a two-part question. The first thing to consider is whether using your savings to buy a cottage makes sense. Owning two homes could mean tying up a lot of your investments in real estate, which can be risky.

READ MORE: Moody’s downgrades Canadian banks: Beginning of the end for the housing market?

Speaking to your financial advisor is always a good idea, said Reid.

The second part of the equation is figuring out what the rate of return on your cottage will likely be. A winterized property in a coveted, easily accessible location will be easy to sell and likely to appreciate over time, said Reid.

The opposite is generally true, if your version of a cottage is only a few steps removed from a wooden shack, or if it becomes inaccessible in winter.

READ MORE: Here’s how much climate change can cost homeowners in damages

5. What financing is available to you?

Location and features like insulation, heating and running water will also dramatically affect what kind of financing you’ll be able to access in order to purchase your cottage, said Reid.

What Reid calls a “type A” cottage — one with all the amenities — usually guarantees you’ll be able to get a regular mortgage.

For a more rustic “type B” property, on the other hand, your only option might be a personal loan, for which the going interest rate is generally 7 per cent, much higher than currently available mortgages.

William Sandeson murder trial hears full day of testimony ahead of holiday weekend

The seven-woman, seven-man jury sitting on the first-degree murder trial of Dalhousie medical student William Sandeson heard a full day of evidence on Thursday.

Sandeson, 24, is accused of killing fellow Dalhousie student Taylor Samson, 22.

Samson was studying physics and about to start his fifth year of university when he disappeared in August, 2015. His body has never been found.

WATCH: Murder trial hears from police, Taylor Samson’s girlfriend

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Staff Sgt. Andre Habib, a forensic identification officer with Halifax Regional Police was the first witness on the stand Thursday.

The crown had questioned Habib the previous day but court ended before the defence had an opportunity to complete their cross-examination.

Lawyer Eugene Tan questioned Habib about what protective clothing he wore when at Sandeson’s apartment on Henry Street. He told the court he wore both gloves and booties.

READ: Jury hears William Sandeson told roommate not to come home on night of alleged murder

The defence also questioned Habib about his experience using a trajectory kit. He testified not only did he take a two month course but he also did a seminar with a firearms expert in Calgary a few years ago.

Habib told the court he was not a ballistic expert but that he and other identification officers are able to use the trajectory kit to determine which way an object, like a bullet, may have come from.

Habib also testified that he was involved in the search at the Sandeson family property in Lower Truro, N.S.

He said he had been involved in searches of that nature “numerous times” and was satisfied that police did the best they could at the scene. “We left no stone unturned,” he told the jury.

WATCH: William Sandeson murder trial hears police searched family farm looking for body

The second witness to testify on Thursday was Rick Chadwick who currently works with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Chadwick told the court before going to RBC he worked as an RCMP officer.

Chadwick says he was served a production order – which requires documents to be made available to law enforcement  – for the banking information of Taylor Samson.

He told the court that Samson was a client at the bank for eight years and had an everyday account, a tax-free savings account and a MasterCard.

Chadwick testified that until August 13, 2015, there was “actual activity by the client.” Following Samson’s disappearance, the only activity he said was on the accounts was automatic.

WATCH: Former teammate of William Sandeson tells court he saw bleeding man, bloody cash

Two volunteers with Ground Search and Rescue were also called as crown witnesses.

Wayne Burns, a volunteer with search and rescue for 15-years, told the court that he and a team of volunteers searched the farm property for hours.

Burns was the one who located the refrigerated ice cream truck and informed police. He testified he looked inside and saw three bags but did not enter the truck.

READ: Court hears bag found in ice cream truck at Sandeson farm smelled like decomposition

Lawrence Corbin, also a volunteer searcher, testified that when he arrived to search at the farm in August 2015 he was told by officials that searchers could possibly find human remains. None were ever located.

Corbin and his team found a pair of gloves located in some brush, not far from where the ice cream truck was. He told the court that he flagged the gloves and called his command centre before searching the rest of the area.

READ MORE: William Sandeson says during interrogation video intruders may have shot Taylor Samson

Cpl. Shawn Reynolds, an RCMP officer, was the incident commander for the Sandeson farm search. He told the court that he helped coordinate and run the search, as well as pass information along to the Halifax Regional Police major crime unit.

Reynolds said he was notified by search and rescue that a pair of gloves were located and helped seize them. He also secured the scene where the ice cream truck was located until ident officers arrived to process it.

READ: Jury shown gun, bullets and cash seized from William Sandeson’s apartment

David Webber, a civilian member of the RCMP was also called to the stand. He is a forensic lab technician and was tasked with examining Sandeson’s DVR.

He told the court that although the DVR was passport protected he found a back door to access the video. Webber testified that he was able to dump video from Aug. 13-18, 2015 from the DVR and give it to investigators.

Webber said he did not splice or edit any of the video. After the initial video dump from Aug. 13-18, Webber said he was able to go back and locate video for two and a half months, which was also turned over to investigators.

Under cross-examination, Webber admitted he originally thought he had discarded his notes from the case but later found them.

WATCH: Last images of Taylor Samson shown to jury in William Sandeson murder trial

The final witness to take the stand Thursday was Det. Const. Jonathan Jefferies, a Halifax Regional Police officer. He told the court that he was the scene coordinator for the farm search.

Jefferies said he executed a search warrant at the property and explained to William Sandeson’s father what police would be doing.

When questioned by defence lawyer Brad Sarson, Jefferies said that police and volunteer ground search rescue members did search some property that was not covered under the search warrant. However, Jefferies said they asked the owners of the property if they could search there and had them sign consent forms.

Jefferies was also tasked with getting a DNA sample from Sandeson after he was arrested and remanded to the Central Nova Correctional Facility in Dartmouth. While there, he also told the court he questioned Sandeson about the whereabouts of Samson’s body but Sandeson did not speak about it.

READ MORE: William Sandeson ‘confident’ as murder trial begins in Halifax: defence

The trial is scheduled to sit for 32 days over the course of eight weeks.

The case does not hear evidence on Friday and because Monday is a statutory holiday, the jury is scheduled to resume hearing testimony on Tuesday morning.

A pair of exhibits bring dinosaurs back to Winnipeg

Dinosaurs are roaming Winnipeg once again thanks to a pair of exhibits that opened up for the season.

The Manitoba Museum unveiled its World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibit Thursday morning, which was followed by the Assiniboine Park Zoo unveiling a new dinosaur to its Dinosaur’s Alive! exhibit.

The museum’s exhibit features a Brachiosaurus, measuring 24-feet high, and a 66-foot long Mamenchisaurus.

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It is housed in the recently reopened Alloway Hall and was created with the help of dinosaur expert “Dino” Don Lessem, who worked as an adviser on the Steven Spielberg film, Jurassic Park.

“The awe of giant dinosaurs – you can talk about how great they are, but to see them is really jaw dropping,” Lessem said. “This is the greatest experiment in life’s history, to create animals as big as buildings – six stories high, weighing 50 elephants.”

Dinosaurs on display are either skeletons and robotics or sculptures and represent about 130 million years when dinosaurs ruled the land, according to the museum.

And Lessem said these aren’t your typical sculptures.

“They will pee on command and they will also fart,” Lessem said. “We want to give the impression of every aspect of dinosaur life.”

The exhibit runs from May 19 to September 4.

Manitoba Museum unveiled its World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibit on Thursday.

Matt Carty/Global News

Manitoba Museum unveiled its World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibit on Thursday.

Matt Carty/Global News

Manitoba Museum unveiled its World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibit on Thursday.

Matt Carty/Global News

Manitoba Museum unveiled its World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibit on Thursday.

Matt Carty/Global News

Not to be outdone, the Assiniboine Park Zoo opened its Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit with the unveiling of the newest dinosaur – a 13-metre long Tylosaurus, otherwise known as the T. Rex of the sea.

Bran Adams, Education Coordinator for at Assiniboine Park Conservancy said the Tylosaurus has a Manitoba connection.

“Here in Manitoba we had Bruce that was discovered right around the Morden area there – about a 65 to 70 per cent complete skeleton,” Adams explained.

READ MORE:
‘Dinosaurs Alive!’ gives Assiniboine Park Zoo record-breaking weekend

There are now 16 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs along the path in the zoo, with the Tylosaurus being the first sea predator featured.

“Being a marine reptile, these guys have a lot of interesting connections to lizards and snakes,” Adams said.

Along with the dinosaurs, the exhibit also features a dig site and excavation site.

Drag queen story time takes over Millenium library

WINNIPEG —; Millenium Library is  being taken over by queens on Saturday. But it’s not all about tiaras and crowns… this event is all about diversity.

Read by Queens is a family story time event being led by a group of local drag queens. It includes a variety of books, themed crafts and games.

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RELATED: Pride must be inclusive for all members of the LGBTQ community

“The event is a first of its kind in Winnipeg,” Drag Queen Levi Foy said.

“To give kids the opportunity to show them they can be anything. We didn’t have that sense of inclusivity and acceptance growing up.”

Similar events have taken place in Toronto and in cities across the United States. It helps to open up the conversation surrounding LGBTQ issues and questions for children and adults.

WATCH: A similar event in Toronto in April, 2016

“I think it’s really important for younger kids to have,” Foy said. “Hopefully it will make life easier for younger kids who are going to struggle with things that we did. Hopefully it will make it less hostile.”

Foy spoke candidly about being physically bullied and taunted growing up.

Experts said it is important to open up the conversation around gender, sexuality and spirituality at a young age. Currently LGBTQ conversations are already happening in Manitoba schools as early as grade three.

RELATED: Winnipeg group rallies for more inclusive Canada

“Just accepting that people are people,” Professor Fiona Green said.

“They may express themselves in a multitude of ways and that expression can change over time. Gender and sex are not limited to these ideals, these prescriptions, we have at the moment. “

Green said having open and candid conversations about curiosity are just as important for parents as it is for children.

“People are fearful of what they don’t know and what they don’t understand,” Green said. “We learn from what our parents have taught us. If you have a child who is curious, you can go along with that curiosity. I often think children can take the lead in some areas and open up ways of thinking.”

There are two opportunities to catch Read by Queens story time:

Saturday, May 20

Time: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.Location: Millennium Library, 251 Donald StreetDetails: Drop-in event (no registration required); free admission

Wednesday, May 31

Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.Location: West End Library, 999 Sargent AvenueDetails: Registration required, visit any branch of the Library to register or call 204-986-4677; free admission

Calgary ‘parkrun’ connects with worldwide running community

It started in 2004 in London, England and is now in 14 countries all over the world, including most recently in Calgary: it’s a free, fun 5-kilometre run called parkrun.

Suzanne Brooks immigrated to Calgary from England in 2015. She had run over 100 parkruns back home and was missing the connection of community that it brings, so she started the second parkrun in all of Canada at Nose Hill Park.

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“I made it my vision to start it in Calgary because I was missing it so much. It’s a great community event, I love it. A great start to your weekend!”

All over the world, parkrun starts at 9 a.m. sharp in the local time zone every Saturday. Once you register, you get a bar code that can be used at any parkrun in any country.

Suzanne Morse, who directs the Nose Hill parkrun, says it’s not called a race because this run is not competitive.

“There’s no competitiveness; it’s very much you do your best,” she said. “If you need to run and then walk, if you have to walk the whole thing, that’s fine. We have a wide variety of people.”

That wide variety of people includes Craig Cutler, who just moved to Calgary from Australia in May. He and his son Zach have run over 65 parkruns back home and the first thing he did when he came to Calgary was to look and see if there was a parkrun here, to hopefully meet new friends and feel more connected to home.

“As soon as we saw it was here in Calgary, we were very happy, because it’s a great community-based event and the volunteer side of it is fantastic,” he said. “Everyone loves it.”

The Nose Hill parkrun already has over 400 people registered and with the summer months approaching, those numbers are sure to climb.

For more information on this weekly community event, go to parkrun杭州夜网.

Donald Trump this week: Comey, Russia and a memo

U.S. President Donald Trump faced a series of major controversies this week that have thrown his administration into chaos.

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From the uproar over his firing of FBI Director James Comey to questions about sharing highly classified intelligence with Russia and questions around a memo regarding his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn have created on-going problems for the White House.

And now Trump says he isn’t being treated very well.

“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump said during a speech to the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut Wednesday. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

May 9: Donald Trump to James Comey, ‘You’re fired’

In this March 29, 2017 file photo, FBI Director James Comey addresses the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner in Alexandria, Va.

Cliff Owen/Associated Press/File

Trump fires Comey in a letter where he thanks the FBI director for “informing me, on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation.”

Multiple reports emerge that Comey had requested more resources for the FBI investigation into Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia during the election.

The White House denied Trump’s decision had anything to do with Russia. Instead, the White House said he fired Comey at the recommendation of the deputy attorney general.

Democrats and others raised questions about whether Trump’s actions constitute “obstruction of justice.”

May 10: Trump-Russia meeting

This handout photo released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shows President Donald Trump meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Russian Foreign Ministry via AP)

On May 10, Trump held a closed-door meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak.

Kislyak is the ambassador linked to controversial meetings with Trump associates Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The New York Times  reports that in the meeting he told the Russians that firing Comey, whom he called a “nut-job” had eased the pressure from the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

READ MORE: Trump tells Russian officials firing ‘nut-job’ Comey took pressure off Russian probe: NYT

May 11: Trump’s interview with NBC

WATCH ABOVE:  Trump interview with NBC anchor Lester Holt

Trump contradicts himself and his administration’s talking points telling NBC News that he would have fired Comey “regardless” of what the Justice Department said.

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,” Trump said in an interview. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”

READ MORE: Could Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey lead to impeachment?

Trump had previously said he fired Comey on the recommendation of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein who cited Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation as reason for dismissal.

Trump’s comments called into question the legitimacy of his firing the person responsible for investigating his ties with Russia.

May 15: What did Donald Trump share with Russia?

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a question at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

(Yuri Kadobnov/ Pool photo via AP)

The Washington Post, citing anonymous officials, reported Trump shared highly classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the closed-door meeting, which is confirmed by other news outlets including The Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

The White House says the reports are false but doesn’t provide any details.

“The premise of the [Post] article was false – that in any way the president had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security,” national security advisor H.R. McMaster told reporters.

READ MORE: Donald Trump’s sharing of information with Russians ‘wholly appropriate,’ security adviser says

According to the Post, the intelligence Trump shared involved an Islamic State plot to use bombs hidden in laptop computers to bring down planes. Multiple reports say the source of the information is Israel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin later came to Trump’s defence saying he was willing to handover transcripts of Trump’s May 10 meeting to reassure U.S. lawmakers.

May 16: Surprise! Trump sends out a Tweet

Trump says via 杭州桑拿会所 he gave the Russians information for counterterrorism purposes and he was right to do so.

“As president, I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled WH meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump wrote. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against Isis and terrorism.”

May 16: The Comey memo

WATCH ABOVE: Former FBI Director Mueller named to investigate Trump-Russia ties

The New York Times reports Comey wrote in a memo that Trump had asked him to drop any investigation into former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, during an Oval Office meeting in February.

“I hope you can let this go,” Trump said, according to the memo.

READ MORE: Potential end-game scenarios for Donald Trump

More questions about obstruction of justice begin to swirl with some senators and congressmen theorizing any Comey notes or recordings could be subpoenaed.

Speculation again rises about impeachment and the 25th Amendment which allows for the removal of the president if a majority of the cabinet informs Congress that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

READ MORE: Robert Mueller has credibility needed to complete Russia investigation, say experts

The next day, House of Representatives say they will hold a hearing on May 24 to investigate if Trump interfered in the FBI investigation. James Comey is asked to testify.

It’s announced former FBI director Robert Mueller will oversee the federal investigation into allegations of collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Trump, however, is certain the investigation won’t find anything untoward.

“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday evening.

May 18: It’s a witch hunt!

WATCH ABOVE: Trump stands by ‘witch hunt’ comments on Russia investigation

Reuters reports Michael Flynn and other advisers to Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with ties to the Kremlin in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race.

Trump lashes out again in the face of rising pressure in Washington, D.C. following the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign’s ties with Russia Thursday, repeatedly calling it an unprecedented “witch hunt” that “hurts our country terribly.”

“Well I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt,” Trump said, insisting there had been “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.

*With files from the Associated Press 

Several charges laid in April assaults involving Surrey Creep Catchers president Ryan LaForge

The president of the Surrey Creep Catchers, a group that claims to expose people they allege are child sexual predators, is facing three charges after two separate confrontations in April.

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Ryan LaForge, 34, is charged with one count of assault and one count of uttering threats due to his involvement in a confrontation with a man in the 10100-block of King George Boulevard on April 3. The target was later charged with child luring.

READ MORE: Surrey Creep Catchers under investigation by B.C. privacy watchdog

A video of the confrontation was posted on the Surrey Creep Catcher page and showed LaForge shoving a man against a wall and using profane language. At the time, Creep Catcher Nicole Hunter said the alleged pedophile was arrested and LaForge was taken into custody for assault and released.

WATCH: The video posted by the group that exposes alleged child sex predators has generated more controversy over whether they’re going too far. Rumina Daya reports.

Then on April 19, Surrey RCMP responded to a similar confrontation between one man allegedly involved in child luring and three men believed to be involved with the Creep Catchers organization. Officers arrested two men at the scene —; a suspect allegedly involved in child luring and 37-year-old Lance Loy from the organization. The two remaining men, one of which was LaForge, fled the scene before police arrived.

As a result of the second incident, both LaForge and Loy are charged with one count of assault.

Loy has been scheduled to appear in court on Thursday and a warrant for the arrest of LaForge has been issued by authorities. Police say a third suspect is being investigated for his part in these incidents.

WATCH: Surrey Creep Catcher in the news again

LaForge posted to his Facebook page saying “WE WONT [sic] STOP. I promise you that, and with these up coming charges against us we need your support more than ever.”

Also in the post he says he stands “behind our citizens arrests as non violent but necessary force to detain the subject, there are a few aspects that have become violent…”. He goes on to say that “myself and another member are going through court now for multiple charges of assualt [sic] and uttering threats. We need this movement to have a clean image to come off as we truely [sic] are … Non violent citizens who care enough for child protection to be out here risking our own freedom. We will leave it in our justice systems hands to deal with us as they see fit and I am ready to pay and serve any sentence handed down for this cause that i believe in.”

Creep Catchers is a loose collection of organizations across Canada that claim to expose people they allege are child sexual predators by posing online as minors before meeting in person to film and berate their targets.

The group claims to have outed several people, including a Surrey RCMP officer and a Mission elementary school principal.

WATCH: Surrey Creep Catchers are speaking out after posting a video showing them once again using physical force during one of their stings.

Law enforcement officials across Canada have repeatedly expressed concern about the groups, warning the public that confronting alleged child predators could put people in danger and compromise police investigations.

LaForge is facing multiple defamation lawsuits in British Columbia.

~ with files from Canadian Press

Fred Sasakamoose reflects on journey to the National Hockey League

Fred Sasakamoose made history in 1954.

At the age of 20, he skated onto the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens and became the first indigenous person to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).

“That is an unforgettable memory of my life, to be able to reach and become and NHLer,” said Sasakamoose, who was born on the Sandy Lake Reserve in Saskatchewan.

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    When Sasakamoose was 16, he tried out for the Moose Jaw Canucks in the Western Canada Junior Hockey League, but homesickness threatened to end his career.  He even ran away once, getting as far as Chamberlain by foot, a 55-kilometre journey.

    His coach, George Vogan, found him and persuaded him to stay.

    “I wanted to come home, I didn’t fit in this world. White kids, 130 of them,” explained Sasakamoose.

    WATCH BELOW: Fred Sasakamoose overcame monumental obstacles to succeed in the world of hockey

    His grandfather taught Sasakamoose how to skate when he was six.  While his grandfather couldn’t talk or hear, he could see, and he would put three pairs of socks on Sasakamoose’s feet, then moccasins and strap on a pair of bob skates.

    He took two willows, cut then into the shape of a hockey stick and dried them by the fire to harden their frame. The puck he used was made of frozen horse manure. They would spend hours together on the pond near the reserve.

    When Sasakamoose was seven, he was removed from his First Nations home in northern Saskatchewan and taken 500 kilometres away from his parents to attend St. Michael’s Residential School in Duck Lake.

    “It’s hard to talk about residential school. There were a lot of things in there, that … well. Every Saturday night, we listened to Hockey Night in Canada, a whole bunch of us kids on this cement floor.”

    WATCH BELOW: Obstacles aboriginal kids face as they try to realize their hockey dreams

    Sasakamoose couldn’t afford a hockey stick, so he would work in the barn or sell his apple at lunch for extra money at St. Michael’s.  Over two years, he saved up enough money for a proper stick.

    His team, the St. Michael’s Mallards, or as Sasakamoose says, “the original Mighty Ducks,” would capture the 1948 Northern Saskatchewan Midget Hockey Championships.

    Eventually, Sasakamoose achieved what seemed the impossible and earned a spot on the roster of the Chicago Blackhawks.

    “Only 125 hockey players and six teams, and I was one of them,” noted the 83-year-old.

    READ MORE: Teaching aboriginal culture through hockey

    Compared to residential schools, hockey was a stark contrast for Sasakamoose.

    “It didn’t matter about your colour, you were a team. You played to win, you played to win together.”

    Ted Nolan, a former NHL player and coach, grew up on a reserve near Sault Ste Marie, Ont. He arrived on the hockey scene 30 years later and credits Sasakamoose and other indigenous players for paving the way.

    “All the guys on TV who had brown faces, those are guys that were inspirations for us. If they could, maybe we could, too.”

    But just like Sasakmoose, the success on the ice didn’t come easy.

    “When things are tough, one of the easiest things people do in life is to quit. You just have to find a way to persevere if that’s something that you truly believe that you can do,” Nolan said.

    “And for whatever reason I believed I could when I was skating with those Size 6 skates on a reserve with my feet being Size 3. No equipment, old stick, on an outdoor rink, thinking one day that I could play in the NHL, when I did, that’s why the tears came down.”

Thousands of Canadian Armed Forces members take part in massive training exercise

Nearly 5,000 military personnel are at CFB Wainwright in Alberta, taking part in the largest and most comprehensive military exercise of the year.

Exercise Maple Resolve allows the military to practise their skills in a setting as realistic as possible for when they are deployed.

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    “I think the only thing that is missing is that there are not real bullets flying,” said Col. Peter Scott, the commander of the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright. “We’ve created an environment that is as close as possible to what they will face on any given deployment.”

    READ MORE: Largest Canadian Armed Forces military training exercise underway in Wainwright

    The exercise is a force-on-force battle where Canadian troops work to liberate the fictitious country of Atropia from the aggressive nation of Ariana and re-establish the international border between the two.

    Those who take part in the exercise wear sensors at all times. There are also sensors connected to their guns and equipment. The technology allows their leaders to track the men and women in real time and see when and where a person has been hit by gunfire.

    “It gives the soldiers a real type of environment that they would face without actually using real bullets,” Col. Scott said.

    Soldiers play both friendly and enemy forces and use their expertise just as they would if it was a real-life battlefield.

    Soldiers practice skills from combat, to peacekeeping, building bridges – both literally and figuratively – with those in villages who are played by actors.

    Blackhawk helicopters practise medical evacuations and Hercules aircraft drop much-needed supplies to soldiers and villages.

    Troops from the United States, Great Britain, Australia and  New Zealand are also helping which allows the allied countries to work together in an environment where the realities of a deployment are replicated as closely as possible.

    “This training area is probably one of the best in Canada,” Col. Scott said. “It enables us to bring those forces together into a great training environment.”

    The soldiers are being tested. This is the last major training exercise before they’re at a high level of readiness, which means they are prepared to be deployed anywhere in the world where they are needed.

    WATCH: Canadian soldiers deployed to Poland

    “Whether you are a soldier or you are a leader or you’re staff, it definitely allows you to refine your skill sets,” said Maj. Mike Miller, who has taken part in the exercise before and has served overseas twice.

    He said the training is invaluable.

    “You get to link in with your allies, understand what you need to do to get yourself and your guys ready to go and conduct – whether its domestic or international – operations.

    The members sleep as they would if they were on a real mission, eat rations and there are no showers. They are exhausted and that’s the point.

    “Many of the soldiers are very tired, however, this accurately reflects an operational theatre of war,” said Lt.-Col. Ben Irvine. “The length of training (and) the complexity of the stressors applied are quite challenging for the members.”

    When the exercise is over, the entire group will sit down and look at what went right and what went wrong so soldiers can learn from their successes and failures.

    After days of observing the work of the men and women on the ground, Lt.-Col. Irvine believes the group will be ready to head into combat if need be.

    “I’m fully confident on completion of this exercise we’ll be able to not only meet but exceed any expectations from the army and the Government of Canada for any operations abroad,” he said.

    View a photo gallery of the training operation below:

    Canadian forces help their translator get medical attention during Exercise Maple Resolve

    Canadian forces help their translator get medical attention during Exercise Maple Resolve.

    Global News

    US troops return from playing opposition forces during Exercise Maple Resolve

    Global News

    Soldiers prepare to head out to Exercise Maple Resolve from the CFB Wainwright base

    Global News

    US Military ambulance parked during Exercise Maple Resolve

    Global News

    CH-147 Chinook at CFB Wainwright airfield.

    Global News

    The CC-130J Hercules at the CFB Wainwright airfield.

    File

Chelsea Manning shows off new look after release from prison

NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters) – Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. Army soldier responsible for a massive leak of classified material, shared a photo of herself for the first time since she was released from prison.

The portrait, which Manning shared on her 杭州桑拿会所 and Instagram accounts @xychelsea87, shows the 29-year old in a short-cropped hair wearing red lipstick and a dark deep-V-neck sweater.

Manning was released from a U.S. military prison on Wednesday, seven years after being arrested for passing secrets to WikiLeaks in the largest breach of classified information in U.S. history.

In this Aug. 20, 2013 file photo,Chelsea Manning, who then went by the name Bradley Manning, is escorted to a security vehicle outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File

Manning was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for furnishing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks, an international organization that publishes such information from anonymous sources, while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

WATCH: Obama defends decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Many on social media congratulated Manning’s newfound freedom, with her post receiving 33,000 likes and 7,600 retweets on Thursday.

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76-year-old Alberta grandmother to graduate with her granddaughter

Monique Trottier doesn’t sit in the back row of a Red Deer, Alta. classroom because she wants to hide from her teacher.

It’s because the 76-year-old student uses a walker and it’s the easiest place to sit.

Known as “Nana” to staff and fellow classmates, the senior is trying to achieve a lifelong goal.

“It has been a dream of mine to graduate (high school),” she told Global News.

“I guess you could say it was on my bucket list.”

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    It was a dream because as a teenager growing up in Montreal, she dropped out of school.

    “I just had a hard time learning and I didn’t know why. Back in those days, you were dumb or stupid and the kids made fun of you.”

    The mother of five, grandmother of 13, and great-grandmother of seven went to work and later raised a family.

    It was only many years later she learned from another teacher why she had struggled so much in class.

    “She says, ‘you know what your problem is?’ I said, ‘No.’ She says, ‘you’re dyslexic.’”

    “I said, ‘Is it contagious?’ She said, ‘No, it’s not contagious,” Trottier laughed.

    READ MORE:
    This simulation shows what reading can be like when you have dyslexia

    Two years ago, she started giving her time at Red Deer Public School District’s Alternative School Centre.

    She had a positive impact on the students from the start, and they gave her an idea, too.

    “As I was doing the volunteer work, I would sneak a peek at the books and wonder if I could do that.”

    She started classes in February and she’ll graduate in June 2017.

    To top it off, Trottier won’t be the only one from her family walking the stage: her 17-year-old granddaughter is graduating, too.

    Brittny Berekoff says it’s a moment she can’t wait to share with her grandmother.

    “Forever we will remember this as something we did together,” Berekoff said.

    “It’s made me appreciate my learning more because I know how much she wants this.”

    It’s rubbing off on other students, according to principal Rick Ramsfield.

    “I have never seen a student like her before.”

    Many of her fellow students are doing better with their studies because of Trottier, Ramsfield said.

    “It was kind of this competition going on as to who is getting the better mark, so she’s been a great catalyst with kids moving forward with their own learning.”

    Now some 60 years after leaving the classroom, Trottier is sometimes surprised by her success.

    “I’m doing Grade 12 work and I’m understanding it! I’m not stupid,” she said.

    “My message is: don’t give up. Don’t believe what you hear,” she said.

    “Go for it! You’ll make it; you can do it.”

Ontario Provincial Police investigating after muskrat found injured in diaper box dies

GORES LANDING, Ont. – The case of a muskrat found badly injured in a diaper box has triggered an investigation by Ontario’s provincial police.

Investigators say they’ve determined the now-deceased muskrat was left in a Huggies box on the shore of Rice Lake at Gores Landing, Ont., about 40 kilometres south of Peterborough, Ont., on Monday evening.

They say a witness told them a mid-sized, four-door blue sedan drove into a boat launch area with three occupants — two females and a male driver — who all appeared to be 16 to 18 years old.

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Police say one of the female passengers allegedly placed the box near the water’s edge before the vehicle drove away. They say the witness investigated and found the injured muskrat.

The animal was taken to Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue centre in Bowmanville, Ont., where staff named it George, and then taken to a veterinarian on Tuesday for treatment of cuts to its mouth, broken teeth and an eye injury. The muskrat died a short time later.

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Investigators are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the three people in the car.

Stefanie MacEwan, the founder of the rescue centre, had started a GoFundMe page to pay for George’s vet bills, but said Wednesday that some of the money raised — nearly $3,400 — would now go to pay for a detailed autopsy on the rodent.

George’s remains were to be sent to the Ontario Veterinary College located in Guelph, Ont., for the autopsy, MacEwan said.