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SEPTEMBER 27, 2010

South Peace




Dawson Creek residents unite to support local with MS

A photo display of what happening in Fort St. John

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Fight club condemned across the board DAVID BELL Staff Writer

A recent string of heavily-organized UFC-style fights arranged near, but not on, North Peace Secondary School (NPSS) property has officials scrambling to condemn the activity. Residents who live near the school are making regular calls to police when a fight gets underway because, at times, a huge crowd is on hand to cheer on the fighters. The fights are being posted to Youtube, money is said to be changing hands and in some extreme cases, parents are willing spectators. “The high school has reported that a group of youth have been fighting off of school grounds on a regular basis,” said Const. Jackelynn Passarell of the Fort St. John RCMP. “Homeowners in the area DAVID BELL PHOTO Clint Parker, an MMA coach at Iron Rhino, says training and education are the only ways to ensure that kids are not seriously injured when engaging have called police several times about these large fights that are in combat. happening in the field behind

School rallies around boy with cancer DAVID BELL Staff Writer

Ethan Zentner, a nineyear-old who attends Christian Life School, was diagnosed with advanced Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June. This has required frequent tr ips to the BC C h i l d re n’s Ho s p i t a l i n Vancouver for chemotherapy treatments. Some people at his school decided to do something for the family. “We are doing a walk and then also selling ‘Footsteps’, that is where the fundraising comes in. They are available at the school office for $5,” said Tamara Packer, an educational assistant at the school. “There is also a trust fund set up at the North Peace Savings and Credit Union.” Packer said the family could really use a hand right

the high school. We have found that there is a group of students that organize these fights, they have been going around the high school enlisting people to fight. They go off school property during school hours to have the fight. “Although these people are volunteering, as far as we know, they use MMA-style gloves. They are surrounded by a large group of onlookers. It is disturbing to the residents because they don’t want to see these kids fighting. They are asking us to do something about it. These are all students that should be in school at the time.” Numerous videos of the fighting have been posted to Youtube. “I have looked at some of these videos. It is a large group of kids that form a circle and two youths go inside and fight. They take a break and then continue to punch each other,” Passarell said. • SEE FIGHTERS ON A3

Ethan enjoys some time at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver while taking a break from the hospital. (Submitted Photo)

now. “The fundraising will go to Ethan and his mother just to help out with all of their bills. She is a single mother who owns her own business. When she is away with him a week at a time she cannot work so she is not bringing in an income. That has been very difficult for them so we just wanted to support them in that way and see if we could raise some money to help out with all the different expenses associated with it.” When reached by phone Thursday following a chemo treatment, Ethan said he felt “really mucky and puky.” He said his recent assessment was “good” and that he looks forward to returning home. “I hope they are all doing good and they can expect to see me soon,” was his message to his fellow students. • SEE RECOVERY ON A5



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Fighters could face suspension, arrest, says RCMP

won’t ever be a member here.” Larry Espe, superintendent of School District 60, said it was a homeowner near the school that tipped off school officials to the activity. “A neighbour phoned because they saw kids doing what they thought was boxing, they are wearing these gloves, but it turns out to be mixed martial arts stuff. I don’t think any of them have been trained formally in it. Apparently they are tapping gloves and the whole thing.” He said these fights are different than your typical schoolyard dust up. “These are organized. They are not necessarily even mad at each other, it is an exhibition. This is not sanctioned. Whether you agree with UFC or not, in these incidences it is not sanctioned, there is no referee, there is no medical help, there is no specific training. There is none of those things, so obviously we cannot condone it,” he said. “We are going to do our part with DAVID BELL PHOTO the RCMP to make sure that is doesn’t Const. Jackelynn Passarell of the Fort St. John RCMP says criminal charges could apply to those who are fighting including orgahappen, as much as possible.” Espe said the school has a range of nizers and onlookers. consequences available to them, from warnings to suspensions, but that Wednesday after I had heard about contacted the RCMP and said there is okay.” The fight club was a new experience every case would be looked at individ- this. He was all kind of pumped. He a group of students and it looked like said, ‘Yeah, I won my boxing match. I there was a fight but the kids had dis- to Parker, he said. ually. “I was born and raised in this town He said some of the fights have knocked the other kid out, it was awe- banded by the time they got there,” he and I have seen fights, it happens. But taken place well off school property some.’ I asked him where the match said. “Between the two of us we were able never in my life have I ever seen it and with unexpected spectators was held. He said in the field beside to piece it together.” the school. organized or heard of people organizcheering them on. He said there could be an upcoming ing fights. I guess kids are too smart “I swore at him, I said ‘You are so “One of the concerns that we are getting, is that they are not just doing stupid’. I explained to him the risk of talk to students expressing that there these days, but it has to come to an this off school grounds. There have disease, or injury. On so many levels it is a time and a place for this type of end. They see it, they want to be it. Everybody wants to be a fighter but I been incidents where they are in is bad. Then he actually tells me that combat. “Mat Alexander was just here talk- don’t think they know what it is to somebody’s backyard and they have they put money on it. ‘We have been actually had parents as spectators. doing this for years,’ he says. We put ing to our vice principal. He would really be one,” he said. “What they are doing is not fighting. That is some of the feedback coming money on it and the winner takes the love to come in and do a presentation and we would support that whole- It is closer to a circus show that is danpot. It is all good.” to us.” Parker said the boy’s mother paid heartedly.” gerous.” Clint Parker has coached MMA Asai recognizes how children might the gym a visit. Asai said that students are mistaken fighters at Iron Rhino since it opened. “She came in Thursday morning be influenced by the popularity of to believe that if something happens He said, unintentionally, he may off school property that they are have helped a 15-year-old train for and called us unprofessional, she was mixed martial arts. “UFC and MMA is a huge business relieved of the consequences for it. mad at us, but then she condoned it. one of the fights. “As long as it is school time we still “On Tuesday a kid came in, he had She said, ‘it has been going on for right now. It is a multi-million dollar red hair and freckles, he was a nice years, they put money on.’ She was business. Kids are seeing and hearing have some jurisdiction over you. As far how much money some of these guys as we are concerned you are still under enough kid. He was interested strictly aware of it.” He said fights like this, without are making and they think, ‘Well I am school jurisdiction even though you in boxing. I said, ‘Come on in, I can teach you whatever you want.’ I get a training or medical supervision, have tough, I will build a reputation and I might be off school property. Yes, we will make my millions of dollars being can deal with you and if it means lot of new people and we work on huge negative potential. “What if one of these guys actually this tough guy.’ The reality is if you are involving the RCMP we will do that as basic combos, some footwork. I had him working with one of my guys. The landed a haymaker and put the kid not trained properly you are going to well.” He added that the onlookers can be class ended. He said ‘this is great.’ He down. I have seen it before, I have get hurt. I think that is the message we held accountable too. even paid for the membership and seen broken orbital sockets, fractured want to send,” he said. “If we can get that message out jaws, terrible things, even concus“The only time we have fights is then left,” Parker explained. When Parker became aware that kid sions. If one of those kids had brain there to kids and parents, that is what when there is an audience. If you are an audience member you are contribwere organizing fights and posting swelling, it would be two minutes that we want to do.” Parker said if proper training and uting to that fight. We consider you as them online, he began to review some we have to get them to hospital for some real care or God only knows.” education is used, MMA can be a great promoting the fight.” of the footage. Ray Asai, NPSS principal, said the experience. Passarell said consequences will “I came to work and we watched the “I want to educate these people apply. videos and I laughed about it. At first, I school received numerous calls from “Nobody wants to get suspended, thought this is brutal to watch, then it local and provincial media Thursday because it is a sport that I love. I love blew me away that kids are actually morning following an RCMP press what I do and I would love to teach but this is something the school might kids. We have seven or eight kids here be looking at, suspending the people organizing this. Half of those kids are release outlining the situation. “We had actually approached the that are awesome and have a real who are organizing and being not even physically fit enough to be involved. When you punch someone there let alone the lack of training,” he RCMP the day before because we had future.” heard of an incident. A student had a He said more education is needed. in the face numerous times, they said. “I would like to work with the police, could get hurt. The residents are being “We looked at all the kids in the fight on an iPod. One of the vice prinvideo, we looked at faces. We could cipals got the iPod, saw this fighting all the other martial arts places, have a disturbed by this. If we come upon town meeting and I will gladly call out this fight and you are causing a disturnot recognize any of them. The only and so we contacted the RCMP. “On Wednesday one of the neigh- any parents who want to explain to bance we are going to be arresting kid I found was this kid that came in t h e o t h e r d a y. He c a m e b a c k bours at the bottom of the hill had me how this is a good thing, or safe, or people.”

B.C. gov't targeting surgical wait times with more funding JAMIE WOODFORD Staff Writer

British Columbia is leading the country in surgical wait times. In hopes of being liberated from that title, the province announced Wednesday it will give $23.4 million to health authorities across B.C. towards patient-focused funding that aims to reduce wait times for common surgeries. The funding will allow hospitals to do thousands more day surgeries, inpatient procedures and MRI exams, specifically targeting patients waiting for common procedures with the greatest need – such as, back and spine surgery, bladder surgery and hernia repair. “These are areas with the most urgent needs that were identified by health authorities, based upon the additional capacity they could manage, and on what the wait lists were telling us across the province,” said Health Minister Kevin Falcon, who made the announcement.

He explained that the arrangements mean the health authorities will only be paid for the procedures that they perform. With financial incentives versus block funding, health authorities should be able to increase their services and shift between in-patient services to same-day surgical procedures where appropriate, thus reducing wait times in high demand areas. The Dawson Creek and District Hospital Foundation (DCDHF) was pleased with the announcement, but is not holding its breath over whether it will see any of the money. “With the limited procedures we’re able to do here, the bulk of the money would go to places that are already have those procedures in place,” said DCDHF Communications Coordinator Jerimy Earl. “We’re happy for any additional funding, if it shows up. Until then we’ll just keep doing what we do, which is try and bridge the gap between the funding we get and the funding we need.” • SEE NEED ON A5



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• CONT. FROM A1 Regardless of where the fights are taking place the RCMP have a number of avenues to pursue charges, she added. “There is an offence called ‘causing a disturbance’. The people in houses around there are disturbed by this big group of kids that are fighting and punching each other in the face.” Passarell said that while a person can consent to enter a fight, they cannot consent to being injured. “I have been involved in investigations where people are punched once, fall down, crack their heads open and they end up with brain injuries. You cannot agree to that. We can proceed with criminal charges even though they voluntarily went into the fight.” The people cheering it on could be charged with abetting, she said. She said schoolyard fights have always gone on, however the level of organization in these fights in unusual. “There is a proper place for this under correct supervision to make sure that nobody gets hurt. This is not that place.” One NPSS student said he was approached by a fight organizer. “It was just a skinny dude that came up to me and said, ‘Do you want to sign up for a fight.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t fight.’ The fighters were not getting money from it, but there were guys betting on it. They go over to the hill, off school grounds. They are just consenting fights. I think the cops are just getting involved because of the betting, not the fighting.” Another student said the fights happen regularly, but doesn’t seem aware that charges could be made. “They did it last year too. They are calling it fight club. Last week it was almost every day and in the first week of school. It is just boxing, they have gloves, so it is not illegal. They talked to the cops about it already so no one can legally get in trouble for it.” The owner of a local MMA gym was quick to condemn the bouts. “I was blown away,” said Iron Rhino owner Mat Alexander. “I had heard rumours of kids doing that and I didn’t actually think it was really going down until I was approached by the police. Our rules are, there is no fighting outside of our club and none of these kids that were caught doing this were members here at all.” Some aspiring fighters have trained at Alexander’s gym since it opened last December, going on to professional MMA fights in venues like King of the Cage. “It is a sport if it is done properly,” he said. He said he gets tough with people who take the fight to the street. “You will be terminated as a member of the gym if you are caught doing this type of fighting outside. We have a zero tolerance for it. Even if we hear your name associated with it, you

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REGIONAL Generosity has been incredible, says mom • CONT. FROM A1 His mother, Tanya Zentner, said they recently received some good news. “His very last chemo is going to be Oct. 21. He is technically in remission now, all the cancer cells are gone, but we have to keep doing chemo to make sure it doesn’t come back. It is somewhere between every month-and-ahalf and every three months for the first year that they fly us down for a week to do testing and make sure it hasn’t come back. After the first year it is every six months. Once someone has had any type of cancer, the likelihood of getting it again is higher. That is where we are right now.” When she learned of the schooldriven walk and fundraiser, she said she was overwhelmed. “I almost cried. I was not expecting that at all, it was totally awesome of them,” she explained. “You kind of expect it from grandparents and close family members, but for people who don’t know you very well, for them to be moved enough to make such a big event just for us, it is very touching.” She said the generosity of this community, in this event and others, has been incredible.


Rose-Ann Nichols has growing support in the Dawson Creek community for her journey to raise $20,000 for Multiple Sclerosis treatment. Tara Tom (back left) of Gold Canyon and Tammy Schmidt (back right) held a candle-selling fundraiser Wednesday, September 23, and are committed to helping her make it to her treatment.

Dawson Creek residents unite to help MS patient STEWART BURNETT Staff Writer Inspired people can do beautiful things when they get together, which is something Rose-Ann Nichols is learning on her journey to raise $20,000 for her Multiple Sclerosis treatment. “You live your life thinking that you’re on your own,” she began, trying to put the right words together to describe what’s happening in her life. “When something really good like this happens, it really puts things into perspective.” On September 14, the Dawson Creek Daily News reported on her story, which was still in its beginning phases. The groundswell of community support has grown hourly since then, as more and more people in Dawson Creek unite to help a fellow resident in need. “I cannot stress this enough. I’m so humble, and I’m so proud of this town, the people that have been helping me, the people that have donated. People care about it. I can’t even say it properly,” she struggled, still searching for words that could encapsulate her feelings. Eventually, she found the words she was looking for. “It blows my mind. Those are the perfect words. It blows my mind. I can’t believe how good people can be, and how much they truly care.” One person who has shown incredible commitment to Nichols’s cause is Tara Tom. She has no affiliation with Nichol – having just met her at one of her fundraiser garage sales – but is going beyond the call of duty to help

her. “I thought, well, I’m going to use the people I know, and I’m going to let everybody know this lady needs some help, and we can all pull together and so something.” She started a Facebook group called, In Support of Roseann Nichols. “When I saw this thing on Facebook, I was bawling my eyes out,” admitted Nichols. “I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as in the last two months. Just the things people have done, the people making donations. These people you think wouldn’t care – they do.” The Facebook group has 112 members at this time of writing and has already organized two events, a bottle drive and a candle selling party. Tom is still counting the bottles-about nine truckloads of them – and is using her position with Gold Canyon to sell candles and host parties, with a generous amount of the proceeds and her commission going towards Nichols. “I reached out to help her because she’s a sweet lady,” said Tom, explaining why she would donate so much time and money to a person she only just met. “I also feel very blessed. My children and husband and I have been very blessed with good health, and I would only hope that if we needed the help and support of the community, that we would get it. We just have to kind of pay it forward.” Tammy Schmidt, a longtime friend of Nichols, hosted the Gold Canyon candle party on Wednesday, Sept. 22 of this week. “I want to do whatever I can to help

“I have been missing so much work. Our life savings and emergency cushion is now gone. We have been living off grants and help from families, so this is going to help. The Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce surprised us and did some fundraising for an iPad,” she said. “It is difficult for Ethan to carry a whole bunch of books because of the implants in his chest and with the surgeries and biopsies. His shoulders get sore. To carry all of the school books would be really hard. His teacher now send him school work by email, he fills it out and sends it back. It is super light, about two pounds so it doesn’t hurt him.” Packer said the walk is to let Ethan know that there are people that care about and miss him. “We feel like a real family here. When one is sick or there is something going on, we want to rally around them and support them in whatever way we can. That is our goal. Our goal is encouraging him and that is really important, but also to help raise the funds because it is a very expensive and difficult time for them. That can add more stress to an already difficult situation.”

Need to re-think how health care money is spent, says Falcon

her, and Tara actually got a hold of me about doing a fundraiser event, and it started with the bottles. I donated all of our bottles and got a hold of all of our friends to donate bottles. I’m a regular woman, and I love candles, so I thought it was a perfect way to help Rose-Ann,” she laughed. “It’s really exciting,” she continued. “We’re trying to do everything we can, and it’s a great cause. There are lots of people out there that want to help, and we’re going to do everything we can.” The Nawican Friendship Centre is hosting another garage sale for Nichols on Saturday, Sept. 25. Nichols said people have been so generous with donating items that she has too much stuff, and probably enough for garage sales right up until January, which is when she is scheduled to go t o Ne w Yo r k f o r h e r C h r o n i c Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency treatment. Schmidt is also planning to host another Gold Canyon candle sale on November 2 and Tom is looking for sellers to take orders for candles. To find out more, email Tom at For now, Nichols is just spinning with pride in the “whirlwind of her life right now”, as she describes it. As support for her snowballs, Nichols is just enjoying the ride and thanking everyone involved. “It just gets more and more and more exciting. It seems like every time I turn around, something new is happening. It’s just been amazing what people have put together.”

• CONT. FROM A3 Falcon said the different approach to funding should help create a more cost-effective healthcare system. “We’re not just handing these dollars over to the health authorities and hoping for the best in terms of outcome, we are actually buying and purchasing specific outcomes and specific performance,” he said. “We cannot just throw more money into the system, do things exactly the same way and expect to get different results. That is the way of the past. It is not the way of the future.” Health authorities will have access to the money on top of their project-

ed budget increase of 15 per cent over the next three years. Falcon said an increase of up to 33,000 more surgeries and procedures are expected across the province with this new funding. Of the $23.4 million, $3 million will go towards MRI exams. Falcon said the number of MRI exams is expected to go up by 14,000 with this money. A nearly 15 per cent increase. He added that, although 15 MRI machines have been purchased since 2001, the province still has trouble meeting the demand for exams. Falcon said the funding is in addition to the $250 million that was announced in April.


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Fight club condemned across the board | Alaska Highway News  

A recent string of heavily-organized UFC-style fights arranged near, but not on, North Peace Secondary School (NPSS) property has officials...

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