Packing!

Water, t-shirts, shorts, jogging shoes, sunscreen, bug spray and that is about it!  That is my list for my 676-kilometre hike across the province of Saskatchewan in my attempt to raise awareness of and funding for Huntington Disease research.  I have published my itinerary here and as expected it will already have to be adjusted. I have an interview scheduled with CTV on July 13, as well as a potential media opportunity in Moose Jaw later that morning.

The pace has definitely picked up here in the last couple of days.  My best friend John Bickner at Bickner Trucking Ltd. in Vanguard, SK was concerned about my safety and well-being while on the road.  He made more than a few calls and managed to secure a few sponsors so that I would be looked after in terms of accommodations and nutrition. So far, Bickner Trucking Ltd. in Vanguard, Sterling Truck and Trailer Sales Ltd. in Regina, The Village of Vanguard, and Full Line Ag Ltd. in Swift Current have come together in order to help me across the province (I have one more to come, but will release that information shortly).   Level Coaching has put together a comprehensive nutrition plan for me to follow in order to minimize the chances of me basically self-destructing on the side of the highway in the middle of the province (let’s face it in my mind I still feel anywhere from 7-17 years old, but at 46 I’m a bit of a geezer).

I also have had some other help along the way.  Sport Chek in Swift Current set me up with some jogging shoes and athletic socks, Swift Current Pharmasave and Walmart Swift Current provided me with bottled water for the trip and Et Cetera in the Swift Current Mall even gave me a microwave steamer so that I can raffle it off to all my Twitter and Facebook followers and retweeters.

Thanks everyone for helping me out!

In addition, thank you to everyone who has been donating to the Huntington Society of Canada online and through me.  I set my goal of 10,000 dollars, and I am basically there already and still four days away from starting the walk. Thank you so much!

I also have some readers tuning in from places like India, Finland, The UK and the United States.  Welcome!  I should tell you about Saskatchewan:

My home province of Saskatchewan is a trapezoid in the middle of Canada. We are one of only two landlocked provinces in our country (though we have about 100,000 lakes most of which nobody ever sees).   We are slightly larger than the country of France in area but with 65 times fewer people.  Yes, that means we only have about 1 million people in our entire province.  Our 1 million people though, produce a whole lot of food (if you have eaten bread, margarine, or lentils, you’ve likely had a taste of Saskatchewan), oil and gas (unless you are from the United States though, you likely haven’t had our oil.  We only get to sell it to ourselves or the United States – long story.) and Uranium (if your electricity is generated by a nuclear reactor, the uranium used to power it came from us). Also, potash; if your farmers put fertilizer on their fields it probably came from about 3500 feet below the surface of my province. We are kind of the Saudi Arabi of potash.

We produce a lot of hockey players too!

What is Huntington Disease(7)?

One aspect of the disease that I haven’t touched on at all, is the Juvenile form of Huntington Disease or Juvenile HD. I was contacted today by someone that has been affected by this form of Huntington Disease and this manifestation of HD is very sad indeed.

About 10% percent of HD cases are of the juvenile form.  Whereas most HD victims remain asymptomatic until around 30-50 years of age, the juvenile incarnation hits kids in their teens (plus or minus a few years) and it hits them hard.  Generally speaking, if a teen starts showing symptoms of HD, they won’t see 30 years of age.  Misdiagnosis is more likely here too, because a child may show signs before the parent from which they inherited the disease. Symptoms are similar to adult-onset HD with less likelihood of chorea (dance movements) but more likelihood of epileptic seizures.

Here is a video that explains Juvenile HD:

Featured Town:

Wilkie SK

Wilkie’s population is about 1300 people.  It is named after Daniel Robert Wilkie who was president of the Imperial Bank of Canada from 1906-1914.  From what I can tell, all of the streets in Wilkie are named after their founder or after the Imperial Bank. The Imperial Bank was the forerunner of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  I started my first bank account with the CIBC because it was the “Bank of the (Toronto) Blue Jays” and because of this commercial:

I should be in Wilkie July 11.

Training Update:

I have effectively shut myself down until Monday.  I did go out for a walk with my wife and some friends yesterday that lasted for about 9 kilometres. I took this picture:

20170704_210659

Interesting note:  I lived in British Columbia for six years.  My son was born there.  B.C. was great.  I even wrote about it here. My born and raised B.C. friends would say they could never be without their mountains.  I always felt like the mountains were in the way!

Links:

Here is a link to my fundraising page. 

Please also check out the Huntington Society of Canada’s website.  It has a ton of information and articles.

Follow me on Twitter @gshwaga – Please like or retweet if you can. It gets my message to more people that way.

Follow me on Facebook: Greg Shwaga or my event page @GregsHDwalkSK

Follow me here at www.igslearn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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British Columbia: Just a Little Different

I lived in British Columbia for six years.  The province is flat out awesome!  It is, however, a little different than the rest of Canada.  Growing up in Saskatchewan, we used to have one or maybe two television channels on a good day.  Everything seemed to happen outside of Saskatchewan in places like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.   Furthermore, our roads and railways always seemed to me to be taking everything outside of Saskatchewan to far off destinations. As a result, I, like many other residents of Saskatchewan, saw myself as Canadian first, and a Saskatchewanian second. I learned very quickly that this was not the case in British Columbia.  People from British Columbia are British Columbian first.

Even just a quick glance at the province shows that British Columbia is a bit different than its provincial brothers to the east. For one, it is separated from the rest of Canada by the mountains. It has more geographic features and climate variation than perhaps the rest of Canada combined.  Its economy and trade patterns are different.  British Columbia also has differences when it comes to history.

First Nations people inhabited British Columbia first.  That is no different. There is, however, this Spanish element to British Columbia that the rest of Canada does not have. Spanish explorers explored the coast of British Columbia well before Alexander Mackenzie got scared off by the Heiltsuk Nation and painted his name on a rock in 1793.  Even the fur trade was based on sea otter pelts and not beaver like the rest of Canada.

British Columbia is very much like the rest of Canada, in that it came from what was left over from the United States.  At first part of British North America left after the American Revolution, British Columbia and the rest of the great North-West became of interest to American president James Polk in 1844.  Basically, the United States became really good at expanding.  The 1800s was a great time to be an American and there was this view that it was just simply a natural progression that all of North America would eventually be the United States. This was known as Manifest Destiny and it is an idea that a few historians and economists would suggest has never really died.  In 1844, however, it wasn’t just an idea, it was a belief that many Americans, including Polk, felt should be acted upon. He was even willing to go to war over it.  His battle cry was “54’40 or fight”.  This meant that James Polk wanted the United States to extend to the 54th parallel, not the present day 49th parallel. If this were to happen in present day Canada, the border would be north of places like Edmonton, Prince George and Saskatoon and about where Smithers, Slave Lake and La Ronge are located.  Essentially 98% of Canada’s population would be American.

Needless to say, this never happened.  Great Britain worked out a deal with the United States that established the 49th parallel as the border between the United States and Canada.  A few years later in 1858, a gold rush in the Fraser Valley brought many people to British Columbia (it wasn’t known as British Columbia yet)  and it would later join Canada as a full province in 1871.

Here is a brief video summary:

The Pemmican War of 1811-1816

We have seen that while the eastern part of North America was involved in wars and rebellions from a period of 1756 to 1837 (Seven Years War, American Revolution, War of 1812, 1837 Rebellions), the northwestern part of North America was still very much in the thick of the fur trade.

Two fur trading companies, the Hudson`s Bay Company and the North-West Company were battling it out to see who could make the most money buying and selling furs in North America. It wasn`t much of a battle.  The Hudson`s Bay Company had a massive geographical advantage in that it could take ocean-going ships half-way across the continent, whereas the North-West Company had to rely on an elaborate system of lakes and rivers that old French fur traders had established during the days of New France. The North-West company remained competitive as long there was new territory to find and exploit.  This ended in July of 1793 when Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific Ocean by land. This meant that there was simply no more fur trading areas to reach.  The Hudson`s Bay Company`s competitive advantage eventually started to wear on its failing competitor.

To further pressure the North-West Company, the HBC began opening up areas for agricultural settlement.  Agriculture and settlement meant the end of the fur trade and when the HBC started the Selkirk settlement in southern Manitoba, the demise of the fur trade soon followed.

The problem with the Selkirk settlement was that is was strategically located where the Metis had set up shop trading and supplying Pemmican to the North-West company voyageurs.  The Metis owed their livelihood (not to mention their origin)to the fur trade.  The Selkirk settlement was a clear and direct threat to their way of life. When the Metis mentioned to the HBC that they maybe could have moved their settlement somewhere that wouldn`t bring about the ruin of the Metis way of life, arguments started.  These arguments led to armed battles, which for a five-year period between 1811 and 1816 became known as the Pemmican War.  The last and most violent of these battles was at Seven Oaks in 1816.  Here is a summary:

By the way, pemmican seems like really cool stuff.It is a mixture of powdered dried meat, berries, and sugar or honey.  Apparently,  it can last for years and is highly nutritious and calorie dense.  It could sustain voyageurs for months at a time. Here is a recipe that I found and that we will try in class.

Pemmican

Recipe # 1

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups lean meat (deer, beef, caribou or moose)
  • 3 cups dried fruit
  • 2 cups rendered fat
  • Unsalted nuts and about 1 shot of honey

Instructions:

Meat should be as lean as possible and double ground from your butcher if you do not have you own meat grinder. Spread it out very thin on a cookie sheet and dry at 180 degrees F for at least 8 hours or until sinewy and crispy. Pound the meat into nearly a powder consistency using a blender or other tool. Grind the dried fruit, but leave a little bit lumpy for fun texture. Heat rendered fat on the stove at medium until liquid. Add liquid fat to dried meat and dried fruit, and mix in nuts and honey. Mix everything by hand. Let cool and store. Can keep and be consumed for several years.

The Durham Report and Responsible Government in Canada.

So we know that Great Britain messed up.  They taxed the United States into rebellion in 1776 and blamed it on too much freedom. Determined not to mess up again, Great Britain forced an oligarchy on what remained of its British North American colonies (Canada).  To no one’s surprise, this led yet again to rebellion in 1837 in Upper and Lower Canada.  Still unsure of why their colonies had this nasty habit of rebelling, Great Britain appointed Lord  “Radical Jack” Durham to both govern its North American colonies and also find out the causes of the rebellions.

Durham told of his findings in the now famous (guess what?) Durham Report.  Basically, he reported what the United States knew decades earlier: People generally like a say in how they are governed (i.e. responsible government).  The thing is, Great Britain rejected the Durham report! Instead, they opted for a kind of hybrid between Durham’s recommendations and what they had already established for government in the colonies. This led to among other things, the Act of Union in 1841, separation of English and French speaking Canadians, separate schools and overall a unique (or weird) political system that would be a forerunner of Canadian Politics.  Here is how it went down:

Rebellions in Canada?

It has often been suggested that one of the fundamental differences between the United States and Canada is that the United States was born out of a revolution while Canada was created by an Act of the British Parliament.  While this is true, it is an understatement.

In fact, some of the same sentiment that led to the American Revolution also led to rebellions in Canada in 1837 and this, in turn, led us down the road towards nationhood.

You see, one of the causes (and I stress one) of the American Revolution was “taxation without representation.”  Great Britain was taxing its  13 colonies, but those colonies did not have any political power or really any say in British government at all.

After the American Revolution, Great Britain’s response to its colonies’ desire for representative democracy was to further restrict democracy in its remaining North American colonies!  Basically, they set up an oligarchy where a few appointed officials made all of the key decisions in Upper and Lower Canada while elected assemblies had very little political power.

Two separate failed rebellions (really, they were more like riots) ensued and the road to Confederation began.

Canada: A Country of Leftovers

As we have seen, our country was formed out of what was left over from the American Revolution. Remember, that the most coveted territory in North America was the Ohio Valley.  The United States was finally granted the Ohio Valley after Great Britain conceded it to them in 1783 at the Treaty of Paris.    So the new country of the United States of America consisted of The 13 Colonies (now states) and the Ohio Valley in 1783.

Map of eastern North America in 1783.

British North America was left with Quebec (Upper and Lower Canada), the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, PEI,and New Brunswick), Newfoundland and Rupert’s Land (The Northwest). This is hardly what Great Britain had wanted of its North American empire.  Imagine Canada as being the equivalent of this:

Image result for leftovers.

Although wouldn’t you agree that sometimes leftovers make the best of meals?