B.C. babysitter charged with second-degree murder

August 12th, 2018

VANCOUVER -A Cranbrook, B.C., babysitter has been charged with second-degree murder in the drowning death of 19-month-old Iyanna Teeple.

Tammy Marion Bouvette, 28, was charged after the infant was found face down in a bathtub in Bouvette’s townhouse on May 26.

According to police, Bouvette called emergency crews at around noon. When they arrived, they discovered the baby girl, who wasn’t breathing, said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Faulkner.

Iyanna was taken to East Kootenay Regional Hospital and then flown to Calgary Children’s Hospital, where she was taken off life support on May 28.

Though Iyanna was declared brain-dead a day earlier, she remained on life support for organ-donation purposes, Iyanna’s mother, Renee Savarie, told The Sun on Tuesday.

A forensic autopsy confirmed that she had died from drowning.

Police said Iyanna had been dropped off at Bouvette’s townhouse a few hours before she was found in the tub. The home is located in a modest area of the southeastern British Columbia town, on a street lined with low-rise apartments, duplexes, and detached homes.

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“We were at work at the time,” Savarie said, adding that she’s known Bouvette for a couple of years. “I met Tammy at a pre-natal group,” she said, explaining that they were acquaintances, “not really friends.”

Bouvette, who has four children of her own, sometimes watched Iyanna for Savarie and her husband, Jason Teeple, when Savarie’s mother or their regular sitter were unavailable.

Asked about the charges, Savarie said, “You don’t leave a baby alone in the tub. That’s every mother’s common sense.”

After interviewing Bouvette several times following Iyanna’s death, police collected enough evidence to indicate that foul play was involved, Faulkner said. On June 24, they sent the investigation to Crown counsel, who on Monday approved a charge of second-degree murder.

Faulkner said police wouldn’t be releasing many details about the case. “I’m glad it’s slowly coming to an end,” Savarie said. “We just want to get it over with.”

Iyanna, an only child, “was very polite, happy and really a great baby,” Savarie said.

“She didn’t like to see people upset, so she would do something silly to make you smile. It’s just been an emotional roller-coaster for us. … It was her birthday on the 14th of October,” she said. “We’re planning to have more kids,” she added.

Renee’s younger brother, Mike Savarie, also of Cranbrook, said his niece “was the happiest little thing around. She was always smiling.”

He said the family hopes the trial won’t drag on so his sister and her husband can finally find a way to move on from the tragedy.

Bouvette appeared in Cranbrook Provincial Court Tuesday, but will have to appear in front of a Supreme Court Justice for a bail hearing.

According to the Criminal Code, second-degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison, though the judge can set parole eligibility anywhere between 10 and 25 years. Generally, the charge applies to homicide carried out intentionally but without premeditation.

Maintenance work curbs MEG third-quarter productions; full-year targets intact

August 12th, 2018

CALGARY – MEG Energy Corp. said Wednesday its output was reduced during the third-quarter as its Christina Lake oilsands project underwent three weeks of maintenance downtime, but that it is on track to meet its full-year production targets.

The Calgary-based oilsands operator (TSX:MEG) produced an average of 20,945 barrels of bitumen per day between July and September, higher than the 19,339 barrels it churned out during the same period a year ago, when maintenance work was also undertaken.

During the first nine months of 2011, MEG produced an average of 25,450 barrels per day, and remains on track to meet its guidance range of 25,000 to 27,000 barrels.

“This quarter was a very busy one for us, and it was marked by the successful completion of a full plant turnaround at our Christina Lake facilities in late September,” said chief executive officer said Bill McCaffrey.

“And I’m happy to report that the shut down was completed in a safe and efficient manner with costs coming in as planned.”

MEG shares rose more than 7.5 per cent, or $3.21, to $45.81 Wednesday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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McCaffrey made his remarks on a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s results during the third quarter, in which MEG booked net and operating losses.

McCaffrey likened a plant turnaround to a driver taking his or her car to the mechanic for regular tune-ups. First, the company inspects its systems for possible problems, then cleans them out and replaces any parts to ensure they keep working smoothly.

“We found that our equipment was in good shape, which is a strong indication that our existing operations are being very effective. Basically it tells us that our field facilities’ designs and operations are quite robust,” McCaffrey said.

Regulators require oilsands companies to undergo regular turnarounds. And since MEG has got a number of expansions in the hopper, future downtime will be needed to make tweaks along the way.

But in time, McCaffrey said it’s possible that such shutdowns will become less frequent – so long as MEG has gained enough confidence its various components can go a longer time without being cleaned or replaced.

“It is our goal, as we go forward, to reduce the amount of time and potentially the frequency of the turnarounds, and our guys are actively working on that.”

Also Wednesday, MEG recorded a net lost $115.2 million, or 60 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared to earnings of $21.2 million or 11 cents a year earlier.

MEG said its third-quarter loss reflected an unrealized foreign exchange loss of $101.4 million in the latest quarter, compared to a foreign exchange gain of $28.8 million in the same year-earlier period.

Stripped of the effects of unusual items, MEG reported an operating loss of $5.4 million, or three cents per share, compared to profits of $6.1 million, or three cents per share a year ago.

MEG attributed the operating loss to higher interest costs on its debt, higher staffing levels as it undergoes its Christina Lake expansions and higher costs as a result of the maintenance work.

The company develops oilsands deposits in the southern Athabasca region of Alberta using steam assisted gravity drainage, or SAGD, technology. Its key project is the Christina Lake oilsands development.

SAGD oilsands companies pipe steam underground to melt thick tar-like oilsands deposits. The oil is then collected through a second pipeline and pumped to the surface.

MEG said it expects to spend $1 billion on capital projects this year, with the majority invested in the company’s strategic plan to increase bitumen production capacity to 260,000 daily production.

Air Canada may be protecting bottom line by abandoning appeal, say experts

August 12th, 2018

MONTREAL – Air Canada’s decision to abandon a legal challenge of an arbitration ruling with one of its unions may win it some labour goodwill, but the ultimate goal is to preserve the airline’s bottom line, industry observers said Wednesday.

“The last thing that Air Canada needs at this point is more negativity. The whole issue of challenging the pension ruling just optically didn’t look good,” said Robert Kokonis of airline consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

With the economy souring and the key holiday period approaching, the national carrier could ill afford to scare off potential customers amidst a threat of disruptions by customer service workers represented by the CAW union, he said.

The customer service agents represented by the Canadian Auto Workers were the first of Air Canada’s major unionized groups to reach a collective agreement in the current round of contract negotiations.

The deal included a provision to send the difficult issue of pension reform to an arbitrator for what was intended to be a binding resolution.

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Air Canada’s original plan to challenge the arbitrator’s ruling unsettled not only the CAW, but also a hard-won agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees – which had agreed to abide by the arbitrator’s decision as well.

Kokonis said Air Canada’s (TSX:AC.B) brand could have been tarnished for several months until case against the CAW arbitration was heard by the Federal Court and Ontario divisional court.

Chief executive Calin Rovinescu said Tuesday the airline would abandon its judicial review “to create a climate of stability so that the company can move forward.”

The move came after he had a telephone conversation with Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza, who had threatened major disruptions.

Kokonis said more negativity at this point would create a snowball effect for the travelling public.

“As the snowball gets larger and the more the public hears about labour instability as Christmas is coming up, there is a real danger of seeing a material impact.”

Air Canada’s flight attendants union said the airline’s decision to abandon the judicial review brings relief for all bargaining groups.

“I would hope that Air Canada does want to forge peaceful times with the unions and the employees. It has been a rough go,” said CUPE national representative Daniela Scarpelli.

The head of Air Canada’s machinists union, whose members handle aircraft repairs and maintenance and baggage transport, said he was disgusted by the judicial review, calling it ridiculous.

“There was no common sense to that decision so who knows why they came to their senses,” Chuck Atkinson, district chairman of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said from Ottawa.

The Machinists union resumes negotiations next week with eight days of talks.

Atkinson doesn’t believe the arbitration rulings for customer service agents or flight attendants will set precedents for his union’s members.

It doesn’t accept a two-tier wage system for new hires and opposes a hybrid pension model favoured by the CAW and CUPE.

“We have a separate proposal that we think will meet the needs of the company and the union guys that’s not the hybrid plan.”

The company has put a low-cost carrier on the bargaining table, but the key issues for the Machinists is money. Like other workers, they want to recoup losses from the airline’s 2003 bankruptcy protection and 2009 wage freeze.

And it’s prepared to fight back, possibly through a legal challenge, if Labour Minister Lisa Raitt threatens back-to-work legislation to prevent a strike, Atkinson said.

“We are there to get a deal, to move forward for our members, and we would not like to have a disruption in service but we’ll do what we have to do.”

Air Canada faces intense competition from lower-cost WestJet (TSX:WJA) and Porter Airlines, along with charter operators such as Transat A.T. (TSX:TRZ.B) and Sunwing.

Ian Lee, who teaches strategic management at Carleton University, said Air Canada likely miscalculated when it launched the legal challenge.

But it faces the daunting challenges of an unfunded pension liability exceeding $2 billion, low margins and intense competition.

“I think that they decided from a rational, strategic point of view that going to judicial review on the pensions was not good for their bottom line,” he said in an interview.

Just the noise about possible disruptions – even without a strike – could have affected bookings and further eroded its relationship with customers, added George Smith, a former Air Canada director of employee relations and fellow at Queen’s University.

“If you’re running a fragile business and a highly competitive one…you’ve got a lot of pressure without adding the pressure of labour unrest to the travelling public’s thought about whether and when they travel.”

He said the airline may have been trying, through the legal challenge, to send a message to the flight attendants arbitrator to stay within the bounds of their jurisdiction.

The airline has found itself in a difficult position by having a pension ruling it can’t afford, which now serves as a precedent for other labour groups, he said.

“It’s a little hard after that milk has been spilt to scoop it back into the glass.”

Air Canada’s pilots will return to the bargaining table in the fall after previously rejecting a tentative agreement.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Air Canada’s shares closed down two cents to $1.32 in Wednesday trading.

Malaysia’s Petronas chief: Oil price too high, should fall to $75-$80 a barrel

January 23rd, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The chief of Malaysia’s national oil company Petronas said Monday that global oil prices are too high and should fall back to between $75 and $80 a barrel.

While demand has surged, Petronas Chief Executive Shamsul Azhar Abbas said there was no real evidence of an oil shortage and that current prices above $100 a barrel appeared largely linked to speculation in crude markets.

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“Given the current state of market fundamentals and the cost environment, I believe prices should remain within the range of $75 to $80 per barrel,” Shamsul told a two-day Asian oil and gas conference.

Oil prices soared from about $70 a barrel last summer to as high as $115 this spring, and currently are hovering above $100. They were driven up by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, rising demand in developing countries and a weakening U.S. dollar.

The 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for about 40 per cent of the global crude supply, will discuss Wednesday whether to boost production to help lower prices.

Shamsul said a major long-term challenge would be to meet growing oil demand amid dwindling resources, and that companies would be relying on smaller fields and offshore fields to sustain production.

Meanwhile, Asia’s oil demand has been projected to increase by two-thirds within the next 20 years. At this rate, Asia will have consumed more than 250 billion barrels of oil by then – more than six times its current reserves of about 40 billion barrels, he said.

“There is truly no mistaking that Asia’s dependence on energy imports and investments into other resource-rice regions will grow,” he said.

Boeing says growing Asia, Mideast demand should offset stagnant Europe, US military spending

January 23rd, 2019

SINGAPORE – Boeing Co. is counting on growing demand in Asia and the Middle East for military aircraft to help offset possible spending cuts in Europe and the U.S., a top company executive said Friday.

Austerity measures to help lower government debt will likely reduce military spending in Europe and leave U.S. expenditures flat for the next several years, said Dennis Muilenberg, chief executive of Boeing’s defence, space and security unit.

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“It’s certainly a challenging environment,” Muilenberg told reporters in Singapore. “Our growth prospects are somewhat muted. We anticipate steady, moderate growth in our defence business.”

Boeing is hoping to boost defence sales outside the U.S. to about 25 per cent of its revenue by 2013, up from 17 per cent last year and 7 per cent in 2006. About half of Boeing’s $64 billion of revenue last year came from defence sales.

South Korea will likely request proposals on a contract for 60 fighter jets during the first quarter of next year, and Boeing plans to bid its F-15 model, Muilenberg said.

Boeing sells a variety of fighter jets, transport planes and attack helicopters to governments in the region including Japan, Singapore, South Korea and India.

“We see strength in all of those markets,” Muilenberg said. “We expect our growth to be driven by Asia and the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a very important customer for us,” he added. “The interest in the F-15 and the Apache (helicopters) is continuing to move forward robustly.”

Based in Chicago, Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and employs 159,000 people in 70 countries.

Israeli forces on high alert for possible border unrest on anniversary of 1967 Mideast war

January 23rd, 2019

Thousands of Israeli security forces mobilized for possible border unrest Sunday as Palestinians marked the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Mideast war and Israel’s occupation of Arab land.

Borders with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were quiet on Sunday morning. In Gaza, security forces from the ruling Hamas movement were keeping hundreds of protesters from approaching the border with Israel at two potential flashpoints.

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Over the weekend, Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon cancelled plans to march to their frontiers with Israel.

Israel wasn’t taking any chances after thousands of Arab protesters surged to Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank last month on another key anniversary, Israel’s 1948 creation. Hundreds breached a porous border fence at the time and entered a border village in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

Fifteen people died in border clashes with Israeli and possibly Lebanese security forces.

Since that May 15 confrontation, Israel has fortified its northern frontier with trenches and land mines.

The military wouldn’t release troop deployment details Sunday. Soldiers stationed along the border fence said the northern Golan had been declared a closed military zone.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said thousands of officers were mobilized across the country in anticipation of possible disturbances, with an emphasis on the north and Jerusalem.

Israel also seized east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt, in the six-day war in 1967. Palestinians want all three territories for their future state.

Malaysia’s Najib says Asia shouldn’t have to choose between US and China

January 23rd, 2019

SINGAPORE – Asian countries shouldn’t have to choose between being allies of the U.S. or China and must avoid another Cold War-style polarization in the region, Malaysia’s prime minister said Friday.

Asia should foster co-operation between the U.S., the world’s military superpower, and emerging power China in order to tackle regional security problems such as human trafficking, terrorism, drug smuggling and nuclear proliferation, Najib Razak said in Singapore at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference.

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“China is our partner and the U.S. is also our partner,” Najib said in a speech. “It’s not about taking sides.”

“We must replace the old bilateralism of the Cold War, not with a new bilateralism, but with a multilateralism that can rise to the task ahead.”

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates met Friday in Singapore with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie, amid recent signs of warming relations between the two countries.

China’s army chief of staff met with top U.S. military officials last month in Washington, and China for the first time chose to send its defence minister to the Singapore conference, now in its 10th year.

Gates will deliver a speech Saturday while Liang will address the conference Sunday.

“We face a new set of asymmetric and non-traditional security challenges that cannot be resolved in isolation or through the old security structures of the past,” Najib said. “We must meet these challenges comprehensively and with no option off the table.”

Najib also called on Southeast Asian trade pact ASEAN to develop a new rapid response team that can provide assistance when humanitarian disasters strike the region.

:China dispatches patrol boat to Singapore amid spike in South China Sea tensionsRead it on Global News: Global News:China dispatches patrol boat to Singapore

January 23rd, 2019

 

BEIJING – China has dispatched one of its largest maritime patrol ships on a
first-ever visit to the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore amid a spike in
tensions over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

The Haixun-31 left Wednesday and will stay in Singapore for two weeks of
exchanges on search and rescue, anti-piracy and port management operations,

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Chinese state media reported Thursday.

Similar ships have been accused of harassing foreign shipping in the South
China Sea, including U.S. Navy surveillance vessels.

China, Vietnam and the Philippines have traded diplomatic barbs recently over
claims to the resource-rich South China Sea and its island groups. Vietnam’s
navy conducted live-firing exercises Monday after accusing Chinese boats of
disrupting oil and gas exploration in its waters.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news conference
Friday that the U.S. understood the Chinese ship was making a “routine, planned
visit” to Singapore. She reiterated that the South China Sea disputes should be
resolved through negotiations.

The 3,000-ton, helicopter-equipped Haixun-31 is one of two vessels of that
size belonging to the Maritime Safety Administration, one of five nominally
civilian agencies tasked with overseeing China’s interests at sea. All of those
departments are undergoing major expansions as Beijing moves to assert its
territorial claims and economic interests in both the South China Sea and the
East China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with Japan and
Taiwan.

Flash mob attacks in Philadelphia leave 4 in hospital

December 23rd, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — Four people, including an off-duty police detective and his wife, were taken to a hospital after a “flash mob” attack by some among a crowd of juveniles in downtown Philadelphia, police said.

Police said a large crowd of juveniles were at 16th and Walnut streets, a popular spot for dining and shopping, at about 6 p.m. Saturday when some people began randomly assaulting people on the street.

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A 55-year-old off-duty police detective saw a 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman being assaulted and tried to arrest one of the offenders. He was punched from behind by several people, police said.

READ MORE: Six masked men enter Dartmouth home, assault homeowners

The detective’s 53-year-old wife splashed water on the offenders to try to stop them from attacking her husband, and she was punched in the face, police said. All of the offenders then fled.

One of the five people assaulted there declined medical treatment, but the other five were taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for treatment. The police detective had an orbital fracture to his right eye while the others had minor injuries.

Immediately afterward, there was another assault by several juveniles nearby, and two 16-year-old youths were arrested, police said. The victim had minor injuries and didn’t seek medical attention.

One man told WPVI-TV that he feared for his safety when the large group of teens appeared, and he saw other people running into nearby stores to escape.

“It’s crazy out here,” said Dwight Magood. “I don’t know if they were trying to protest or ‘flash mobbing.’ But it’s not the right way to do it, whatever it was.”

Chris Rock makes ‘SNL’ cameo to mock white liberals shocked by Donald Trump’s win

December 23rd, 2018

Chris Rock returned to Saturday Night Live to mock white liberals shocked by Donald Trump’s victory.

In the skit, he and host Dave Chappelle watch the election unfold with their friends, who started out confident in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s victory.

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When someone starts out claiming “this is going to be a historic night, we’re about to have our first woman president,” Chappelle is quick to point out: “Don’t forget, it’s a big country.”

READ MORE: Dave Chappelle wishes President-elect Donald Trump luck in ‘SNL’ monologue

The two of them sit back and watch as the liberals seem confused as they slowly realize Trump will become president.

“Oh my God, I think America is racist,” one person said.

Chappelle replied: “I remember my great-grandfather told me something like that. He was like a slave or something.”

Throughout the election the comedy show has brought levity to the contentious election season, and it ended with a stunning tribute from SNL regular Kate McKinnon.

WATCH: Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton performs Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah‘ 

Dressed as Hillary Clinton, she sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, less than a week after he passed away.

At the end of the song, she turned to the camera and said “I’m not giving up and neither should you.”

Chappelle hosted the show, and wished Trump well in the coming years, but reminded him that he should remember to give the “historically disenfranchised” a chance.

WATCH: Dave Chappelle wishes Trump luck, says he’s willing to give him a chance

*with a file from The Associated Press

Edmonton’s Val Sweeting to play Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot in Tour Challenge final

December 23rd, 2018

Sweden’s Niklas Edin will try and make it two for two on this season’s Grand Slam of Curling calendar.

Edin beat Matt Nichols and Team Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 6-4 on Saturday in the Tour Challenge men’s semifinal.

Nichols, skipping in place of Brad Gushue while he recovers from hip surgery, led 4-3 through seven ends after scoring a single, but Edin responded with three points in the eighth to pull off the victory.

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    Edin will go for his second title of the season on Sunday when he faces Scotland’s Kyle Smith in the championship draw.

    Smith needed an extra end to defeat Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud 6-5 in the other men’s semi.

    Edin won the first stop on the Grand Slam tour in October, beating Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., at the Masters.

    The women’s final will see Edmonton’s Val Sweeting against Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot.

    Sweeting earned her spot in the women’s championship draw with a 9-2 drubbing of Allison Flaxey of Caldeon, Ont., while Englot used an extra end to beat Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg 6-5.

    Sweeting dropped her first round-robin draw but has won five straight en route to the final. Meanwhile, Englot needed a tiebreaker just to reach the quarter-finals.

Fundraiser set up for family of Calgary teen killed in suspected drunk driving crash

December 23rd, 2018

A fundraiser is underway for the family of a Calgary teen who was killed in a suspected drunk driving crash last month.

Shiraz Shermohammad died when his family’s car was struck just after midnight on Oct. 23.

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READ MORE: 19-year-old killed in crash on Metis Trail

His mother, father and one of his sisters were in the car when they were hit by a Dodge Journey driven by a 28-year-old woman who police say didn’t stop at the intersection of Country Hills Boulevard at Métis Trail N.E.

The eastbound Kia Forte driven by Shermohammad’s 43-year-old father was struck on the passenger side by the northbound Journey, according to police.

The father and teenage daughter were also in the car and were rushed to hospital in serious condition.

The driver of the SUV was arrested at the scene. She has since been released pending the results of the investigation.

At the time, investigators said they suspected speed and alcohol were contributing factors in the crash.

A GoFundMe page set up for Shermohammed’s family. 

“This Afghan family is in need; let’s help the remaining family by reaching our goal of $5,000.00 or more if possible so it helps the family with the financial situation,” Shermohammed’s family stated.

Shermohammed’s sister told Global News that her father is now out of the hospital but her mother and sister are still being treated at the Foothills Medical Centre.

She says this has been an extremely difficult time for their family, both emotionally and financially.

Sittara Shermohammed says her brother recently started a new job at a warehouse to help pay for his school fees and her father is not able to work now.

Event aims to spread message that computers aren’t just for the boys

December 23rd, 2018

For the second consecutive year, young females in Saint John got a chance to see exactly how computers work at Girls Learn to Code Day.

In what is typically a male-dominated field, IT professionals are spearheading an initiative to encourage girls to give computer technology a try.

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“Women are underrepresented in IT and they might be more reluctant than men to learn how to code or go to a place where they can learn how to code,” Susan Almon, the lead for the Saint John chapter of Ladies Learning Code, said . “We find the same thing with girls.”

In her efforts to encourage young women to pursue a career in the computer sector, Almon has noticed many don’t immediately consider it an option, despite computers being so prevalent in our society.

She hopes to change that by getting girls interested at a young age.

“I was in an event a few weeks ago for high school girls where we talked about careers and a lot of the girls were saying, ‘Well, I don’t really know about computers,’” she said. “And I was thinking, ‘Well you could. There’s no reason why you can’t.’ So programs like this counter that.”

Now in its second year in the Port City, the initiative has grown from a handful of attendees last year to over 20 this time around.

Almon says the success comes from showing the girls that working with computers can be a lot of fun.

“Part of our goal is for these girls to go home, back to their schools, back to their soccer teams, their girl guide groups – and say, ‘Wow, that was really cool, I made a game all by myself,’” she explained.

Girls Learn to Code Day is a Canada-wide initiative that takes place in cities across the country.