Bryan Myers

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Month: April 2018

Barrie Advance | Digging Roots

This story originally appeared on Simcoe.com on February 9, 2018.

Digging Roots brings music with a message to Barrie

Raven Kanatakta, singer and guitarist of the Juno Award-winning band Digging Roots, can write music anywhere.

“We go where the music calls us,” Kanatakta said. “You never know where you’re going to end up.”

The six-piece roots rock outfit is back in their home studio in Barrie following a festival in Australia.

Digging Roots has played shows all over the world.

“We ended up in northern Norway. Twice,” Kanatakta said. “Once when the sun didn’t go down, and another time when there was no sun at all.”

The band is playing a number of shows in Canada, including a Feb. 28 event at the Georgian Theatre in Barrie, but has plans to head back to Australia.

“Because it was colonized by the British, a lot of the same colonial history exists there,” said Shoshona Kish, Digging Roots’ singer. “I think there’s a really interesting conversation and connection with Indigenous people from Australia.

“We share some of the struggles and triumphs,” Kish said. “The exchange of that art seems really important.”

The home studio is filled with guitars, amps, drums, mics, keyboards, and, in the middle of it all, the master control, a Logic-equipped computer.

Kanatakta said they’ve got Logic, one type of digital audio workshop, in the home studio and Pro Tools at their main studio, but he can write music using Garageband on his phone.

“Raven’s always doing that,” said Kish. “He’s either got a guitar in his hand, or he’s at his desk, or he’s got his phone in his hand. You’ve got to grab those moments of creativity when they’re there.”

While they’re no strangers to high-tech music production gear, many of their songs use traditional methods.

“One of the ways we used to make music back in the day, some of the chants come from dreams, but others come from song lines,” Kish said. “You would trace the horizon and that would inform the melodic rise and fall of the song.”

On the walls of the studio are huge photographs of Jasper and Lake Louise.

“Many of our songs actually belong to a specific place,” Kish said, adding that they have thousands of these landscapes, both natural and urban settings.

“It’s a traditional Anishinaabe way of making music,” Kish said.

While they’ve lived in Barrie for the past 18 years, which is traditional Anishanaabe territory, Kish is from the Batachawana First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie and Kanatakta’s roots are at the Kahnawake First Nation near Montreal.

“The last time we played Barrie was four years ago,” Kish said. “We’re excited to do a hometown show.”

Fans can expect to hear a few new songs, but the band is still working on producing their latest album.

For the uninitiated, Digging Roots is roots based and blues-infused.

“We’re inspired by music for change. Some of the really revolutionary artists have been our primary influences,” Kish said. “It’s music with a message.”

The band’s Feb. 28 show at the Five Points Theatre also features Dione Taylor and the Backsliderz.

Tickets are available at 1 Dunlop Street West or online at barrie.ca/TheatreTickets.

Digging Roots from Bryan Myers on Vimeo.

Barrie Advance | Ripe Juice

This article originally appeared on Simcoe.com on December 8, 2017.

Beaten to a pulp: how a downtown Barrie business achieves zero waste

A downtown Barrie juice bar has beaten waste management to a pulp.

Or more accurately, to the pulp.

Twice a week, volunteers deliver pulp from Ripe Juicery to Wishing Well Animal Sanctuary in Bradford, to feed 74 hungry rescued farm animals.

“Technically, we’re a zero waste company,” said Meghan Muise, co-owner of Ripe Juicery. “We bring in only raw ingredients and make our stuff from there. We don’t bring in anything packaged.”

The juice bar even handpresses their own nut milks.

All of the store’s disposable packaging is made from recycled corn, wood or paper.

Working with just raw ingredients, Muise said, they were producing a more organic waste than most downtown businesses. Each bottle of juice comes from three to five pounds of fresh produce.

“It’s perfect pulp. It’s top-of-the-line produce,” said Muise. “It’s immaculate.”

“From the day I realized we couldn’t really recycle our pulp with the city, I thought, there has to be a better way,” said Muise. “We would have had to throw out a lot of it, and we don’t like garbage.”

Meghan Muise, co-owner of Ripe Juicery in Barrie, Ont. donates all the pulp from her fresh, locally-made juices (between 3-5 pounds of produce goes into each bottle) to Wishing Well Animal Sanctuary in Bradford, and Rounds Ranch in Elmvale. December 4, 2017.

Twice a week, volunteers deliver pulp to Wishing Well Animal Sanctuary in Bradford, and once a week, they deliver to Rounds Ranch in Elmvale.

But, pulp isn’t the only thing the juicery is diverting from the landfill.

“Our bottles are all recycled. We’ve brought in 20,000 glass bottles, maybe even more,” said Muise. Customers who return their bottle to the store get 50 cents back per clean bottle.

“We wanted a product that was super sustainable and eco-friendly,” said Muise.

Before opening Ripe two-and-a-half years ago, Muise worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital in addictions and mental health. Her business partner, Lindsay Haley, taught private yoga.

Muise said the pair saw an opportunity to do something unique in the city and the business took off.

Since opening, Ripe has three locations: two in Barrie and one in Muskoka that operates during the summer months. Each location offers a range of juices and smoothies from scratch and has recently added a full plant-based menu.

Barrie Advance | Ripe Juicery from Bryan Myers on Vimeo.

Barrie Advance | Barrie racer takes gold in WorldGaming GT Sport championship

This story first appeared on Simcoe.com on March 12, 2018.

While Canadians were celebrating the end of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeonchang, a Barrie man eked out one last gold medal.

On Feb. 25, Andrew Waring, 24, took the top spot in the first ever WorldGaming Canadian GT Sport Championship. Bringing home a grand prize of $8,000, an all-expenses paid trip to the Long Beach Grand Prix in California, racing gear, and the rear-wing of a Porsche RSR race car — a grand prize worth nearly $60,000.

Waring competed over two months, qualifying with 39 other racers on one-lap time trials in January. In early February, the 40 players competed head-to-head for a shot at the finals.

“Somebody like me is thinking about the whole event,” said Waring, now juggling his career in aerospace as a production planner with an e-sports career. “You don’t need to risk a pass on a corner to get first when second will win this competition.”

Waring said he experience with racing in the real world, initially go-karts and later formula 1200 cars, put him in prime position for victory.

“It helps when you’re thinking of the long-term championship. A lot of people go from corner to corner,” Waring said.

Waring said he knew he had a chance when he saw how well he’d fared during the qualifiers.

On top of his real world experience, Waring said he put in a lot of practice with his friends.

Knowing the vehicle, the Porsche 911 RSR, and tracks used for the competition, he went to work.

“I don’t believe people take it as seriously as they should,” Waring said. “An opportunity like this has never come up before.”

Waring has been playing the Gran Turismo series since 2010, taking breaks, he said, to focus on his studies.

When he heard about the WorldGaming competition, Waring went out and bought everything needed to compete, just a few weeks before the competition started.

“As far as console gaming goes, Gran Turismo is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of realism, handling, and difficulty, than most other console games,” Waring said.

He swears by competing with a wheel as opposed to a controller.

At home, Waring uses a Logitech G27, but for the competition was provided with a Thrustmaster T-GT wheel, a high-end peripheral valued at around $1,000, more than the console and game combined.

“Always play with a wheel,” Waring said. “It’s the only way to compete in my opinion.”

For the final round, Waring said the experience provided more pressure than playing at home in his living room.

At the Vaughan Cineplex, the WorldGaming event was captured by a full camera crew with commentators.

By 9 a.m. Waring said he was already practicing for the final competition.

“It’s not something anybody is used to,” Waring said.

Although this level of sport may be on the rise. Waring said following the competition some players were seeking managers and pursuing careers as e-sports athletes.

“It’s just going to keep growing,” Waring said.

Barrie Advance | Barrie man saved by ‘Coronation Street’

This story originally appeared on Simcoe.com on February 6, 2018.

Watching the UK’s longest-running soap opera, Coronation Street, saved a Barrie man’s life.

Scott Wray, 27, decided to give himself a self-examination following a Corrie storyline where one character, Robert Preston played by Tristan Gemmill, finds a lump on his testicle.

Preston discovers a lump, and is convinced by his girlfriend on the show to have it checked out. The lump is deemed malignant and Preston has to have it removed.

“In the end, he knuckled down and had it done,” Wray said. “It’s a very factual storyline.”

Wray, originally from Durham, England, said he checked now and then, but after following the Corrie drama, performed a more thorough examination.

“I checked around the back, which I don’t normally do. It was kind of hidden,” Wray said.

Wray said he found a 1.5 cm lump, about the size of a pea. Wray said there wasn’t any pain associated with finding the lump.

Wray visited the walk-in clinic, got a referral to a urologist, and quickly had an appointment at the RVH.

“I think I shocked the urologist,” Wray said. “I was so prepared for it because I’d seen [Preston’s] worries on the show. It felt like I’d already been through it.”

“It’s painful now, you’ve pretty much lost an organ,” Wray said, “but it’s fatal if you leave it.”

Wray said he was thankful that Coronation Street had raised awareness for testicular cancer.

“It’s not a big deal,” Wray said. “People get kind of worried about it.”

Wray, like fictional Corrie character, Preston, has had a testicle removed.

“My testosterone will drop temporarily, but then in the next couple of months the other one will do the job of two,” Wray said. “It reverts back to normal.”

Wray’s story has gotten a response in the UK from Coronation Street, his wife, Emily, tweeted about Wray’s procedure, and received a response from Tristan Gemmill. “I was actually speaking to him earlier,” Wray said. BBC Manchester ran the story and connected Wray and Gemmill by telephone.

Barrie Advance | Striking Ontario college faculty reject offer

While striking college faculty voted to reject the current terms presented by the CEC (College Employer Council), post-secondary students may be back in class as early as next week.

The OPSEU college faculty bargaining team recommended its members reject the resolution, and with a 95 percent voter turnout, the decision was decidedly ‘no’ with 86 per cent rejecting the offer.

A statement released by Premier Kathleen Wynne said she will meet with representatives of the CEC and OPSEU to discuss options for an immediate resolution.

The two main factors that OPSEU and CEC are in disagreement on are academic freedom and the division of part-time and full-time workers.

“The final offer given to us by council did not address any of those concerns, but made things worse for our part-time faculty,” said Anita Arvast, OPSEU Local 350 chief steward in Barrie.

Arvast said the current agreement allowed ample room for colleges to hire more part-time faculty, resulting in a ‘gig economy’ for teaching staff.

“When you have precarious workers, they’re working over and above to respond to students. Often they can’t because they have to teach at other places or hold down other jobs to put food on the table,” Arvand said.

Part-time faculty, or precarious workers or partial load faculty, aren’t guaranteed benefits and their contracts aren’t secure year after year.

“I don’t want my children working in that kind of environment,” Arvand said. “We should all be entitled to secure work, and I think this vote put a huge dent in the concept of the gig economy.”

In terms of academic freedom, Arvand said faculty was negotiating for faculty to determine the course content, among other issues. 

“That’s a grave concern for us, if the students don’t have the knowledge they need to gain in the course, they aren’t prepared to be successful in the workplace,” Arvand said. “We’re in a danger zone now if we don’t get back in the classrooms next week. It has to be solved.”

Georgian College president and CEO, MaryLynn West-Moynes, said she had similar concerns about academic freedoms.

“Full-time faculty and partial-load staff are involved in new program development,” she said. New courses and material were developed and then put before an academic council of three administrators and nine faculty member.

“They make up a broad cross-representation of all the different areas of the college,” West-Moynes said.

A local advisory committee of employers looks over the curriculum as well.

“Faculty have the majority of the input on the curriculum, but we think it’s also a team job,” West-Moynes said. “If we were to agree that every single faculty member had complete control over the syllabus, we’d be breaking down the foundation of what differentiates a college from a university.”

For partial-load or precarious workers, West-Moynes said, “if they taught a course, they’d get first right to teach the course if it came along again.”

An effort, she said, to provide more sense of the future for part-time faculty.

“This is an incredibly difficult situation for our students and I truly regret that.”

Myja Hogendoorn, a second year nursing student at Georgian College said the strike has lead to a loss of motivation.

“It’s hard to understand what we’re coming into with all the curriculum changes,” she said. “The semester would have to be extended, our program is extremely content-heavy.”

In terms of academic freedom, Hogendoorn said she sided with the faculty.

“It makes zero sense that somebody with a bachelor’s degree in Education can tell a nurse what is important,” Hogendoorn said. “They don’t know. They haven’t been in the hospital.”

Barrie Advance | Are Simcoe county cats on the menu for growing fisher population?

This story originally appeared on Simcoe.com on November 3, 2017.

Cover photo borrowed from Bethany Weeks via USFWS.

Despite a striking resemblance to the titular character of the TV series ALF, fishers in Simcoe are probably not responsible for a number of missing cats across the region.

It’s likely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Fishers, part of the weasel family, resemble a stumpy cross between a bear and a raccoon.

“They certainly are capable of (eating cats),” said Brent Shirley, a management biologist for the Ministry of Natural Resources. Despite high-level predator status, the region offers a wide variety of more appealing fare including snowshoe hares, rabbits, mice, voles, in addition to fruits and mushrooms. The fisher is also one of the few predators capable of dining on porcupine, but despite the name, rarely eats fish.

There are parts of Ontario where forest cover is actually increasing. We see more fishers now than we would have seen in the 1980s“We have done various types of studies with fishers, including diet studies, but we have not observed fishers eating cats,” said Jeff Bowman, a research scientist for the MNRF, but said there is some anecdotal evidence.

Bowman said it was no coincidence there are more sightings, in recent years the fisher population has been on the uptick.

“They were a species distributed all the way through Ontario and down through the Great Lakes states,” said Bowman.

Increased forestry and agricultural activity reduced the fisher habitat, forest, in Ontario to Algonquin Park and areas north of Lake Huron by the 1930s. The population began to recover in the 1970s and 1980s with improved management.

Conditions in Simcoe are increasingly more welcoming to fishers.

“There are parts of Ontario where forest cover is actually increasing,” said Bowman, “We see more fishers now than we would have seen in the 1980s.”

Climate change also plays a role in their bolstered numbers. The fisher’s small, hairy feet are best suited to areas with light snow cover. The marten, a smaller cousin of the fisher, has bigger feet better suited to deep snow.

“As these shallow snow winters happen, fishers are more successful than they might have been in the past,” said Bowman.

It’s also the perfect season for fisher sightings. Between September and December, young fishers are gaining independence from their mothers and finding food on their own.

While it’s not likely the fisher is responsible for a rash of missing cats, other predators, like coyotes, won’t turn their nose up at an easy meal, so preventing small pets from crossing paths with hungry wildlife is crucial to their safety.

Melissa Kosowan, spokesperson for the Ontario SPCA, said it’s important to keep dogs on a leash and to keep cats and other small pets indoors.

She also said pet owners could reduce the risk by eliminating food sources from their property to make it less attractive for wild animals.

Shannon Lawless, a clerk at the Midhurst MNR office, said it was also important to eliminate feces from yards, especially in rural areas, that may attract wildlife.

While a trapper can be hired to protect a person’s property, prevention is the best protection for pets.

Sharp Magazine | Canada’s Next Great Explorer

I interned at Sharp Magazine in my last year of j-school with the intention of a career in magazines.

While I ended up in print, I’ve occasionally pitched to Sharp. This story was actually pitched to me about a competition for outdoor gear brand Woods Canada hosted by Ricky Forbes of Tornado Hunters fame.

The story is online here.

Lloydminster Meridian Booster | Dominoes… supersized

In 2013, I submitted this photo to the Alberta Weekly News Awards’ ATCO Photographic Awards. I’d been working as a reporter for less than six months, and was just getting more comfortable with using a camera.
The office camera was an older Nikon D3, a high end professional DSLR. Since then, I’ve shot with a variety of cameras both Nikon and Canon.
Gear, in my opinion, is not as important as knowledge. A good photographer can take award-winning photos with a smartphone.
I brought home the second place award for Best Feature Photo.

Portrait of Riggins

 Photo of Riggins.

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