MY LOOK: Inspired by Courtney Love

BY EMMA PALING

(Previously published in Summer 2014 edition of Ottawa Magazine)

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Fashion plate Lisa Strueby is wearing a Band of Outsiders blazer, LaMarque leather shorts, a camisole from J.Crew, Chanel glasses, and Chloé sandals. Photo by Remi Theriault

 

What do you think about when you get dressed in the morning?
I like to dress up for work, but I’m not in a traditional legal role anymore, so I’m not putting on suits all the time. I like to look good, but I like to be comfortable.

How do you stay creative working in an office environment?
I’ve always kind of marched to the beat of my own drum when I get dressed, so I’ve never felt constrained by a dress code. I like to be dressy, so for me, it’s just about exploring different ways to incorporate a professional look while still having fun with it. You can be feminine or masculine, and women have so many options compared with men.

What influences your style?
It’s not just individuals — and for sure there are individuals — but I do read a lot about fashion. So I do look at fashion shows and what’s happening in the fashion world. One of my biggest influences at the moment is the Man Repeller.  She’s probably my favourite fashion interpreter of the moment just because she uses humour, brings intelligence and feminism into fashion, and doesn’t take herself very seriously. She’s not afraid to try things, and to me, that’s really an inspiration. She incorporates everything, and that’s kind of my approach — that fashion isn’t just about clothes per se, it’s how you’re expressing yourself. Music, literature, movies, art — to me, that’s what it’s about. So whatever your creative interests are, fashion is just one aspect. My influences are everything, including travel. I find it very intellectually stimulating to follow fashion these days.

How has travelling influenced your style?
It’s kind of the whole lifestyle. So in Brazil, for example, people’s lives gravitate around the beach and being near the ocean. But people don’t take towels to the beach — they take sarongs. You can whip the sarong around your body and then use it as a towel. To me, that’s just genius: incorporate what works practically in your life and bring it into your style. Your fashion should fit into your life. It shouldn’t be separate.

What particular artists influence you?
I am still a big Courtney Love fan. I think she’s a great example of someone who is irreverent and feminist in her fashion. She wasn’t looking for cues or approval from other people, and now, all of a sudden, she’s in the front row at shows and designers are referencing her.

You’ve mentioned a few times how feminism plays into fashion. Is that important to you?
Very important. There will be arguments that feminism and fashion are polar opposites, but I really feel strongly that the opposite is true — fashion is just another area where women really do things for themselves and express themselves in different ways. If you’re dressing for the male gaze constantly, then that obviously is not really a feminist take on fashion. But if you go in the opposite direction and really do things for yourself, it can be a very empowering thing.

Lisa’s outfit

 

PROFILES: Brooke Henderson — PGA Women’s Champ, Canada

BY LISA WALLACE

(Previously published in Summer 2014 edition Ottawa Magazine)

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Amateur golf champion from Smith Falls, Brooke Henderson ranks second in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Photo by Bernard Brault

At 16, Brooke Henderson is considered one of Canada’s brightest golf stars. The Smiths Falls native is an average teenager in many ways, but her drive and passion are the envy of many twice her age. Lisa Wallace catches up with the young golf phenom, who is currently ranked second in the world as a female amateur.

When did you start playing golf?
I started playing for fun when I was three and first started playing competitively when I was nine.

What drew you to golf?
I grew up watching my sister, Brittany, who is six years older. I’ve always looked up to her and would watch her play, so when I was really young, I grabbed a club. My dad used to play, too, so he got us both into it.

Do you play other sports?
I used to play hockey. I was a goalie and I really enjoyed it. I played until I was 14, but then I made the Canadian national [golf] team and I was always travelling, so it made it hard on my team — and me — to be committed to both. I decided just to go with golf.

How do you like to spend your down time?
I love spending time at my cottage. Spending time with my family and friends. I love swimming and playing golf. I always have fun when I play.

You committed to the University of Florida for your college education. How do you juggle training with your schoolwork as a grade 11 student?
I go to Smiths Falls Collegiate, and last semester I took two classes there and three classes online. All my teachers are very supportive and really help me catch up when I travel. I love going to school, so it’s fun to still be able to take part in that and still practise and play golf.

What is your favourite golf moment to this point in your career?
Last year I got to play in the U.S. Open and made the cut and had my sister caddy for me. I got to play with Morgan Pressel, who I really looked up to, in the third round and had a lot of family and friends there to watch. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from it.

What are your goals for this upcoming season?
I would like to keep in the top three in the world on the amateur rankings this summer and keep working to get to the top of the leader board. I want to qualify for the U.S. Open again, and at the end of the summer, there’s the World Amateur Championship in Japan, where I would like to contend for the championship.

How challenging is it to work on your game considering the harsh winter climate you have to deal with living in Smiths Falls?
It is challenging, but sometimes it’s nice to get that break because of the weather and you get to relax a bit. This past winter I spent two months in Florida. When I’m home, there’s an indoor golf school here in Smiths Falls that I can practise at. Sometimes I wish I was down South all winter, but I love being from the Ottawa area.

What do you love most when you’re on the course?
I love how quiet it is. I love early-morning tee times, when the dew is on the grass and you can smell how fresh everything is and all the little animals running around. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can think through all your problems and be relaxed. It’s just so nice to be out there.

OUR LOOK: Mother + daughter retail mavens celebrate style, business, and family

This article first appeared in OTTAWA Magazine May 2014.

Interviews by ERICA WARK
Photography by JESSICA DEEKS
Hair and makeup by Lauren McCarter and Anthonia Bejide
Shot on location at the Fairmont Château Laurier

Nikita and Sonia Vadher of Max’s Footwear Boutique and Cobbler

Nikita and Sonia Vadher of Max's Footwear. Nikita, left, is wearing a dress by Ramonalisa, silver hoop earrings, and heels by Danish designer Lola Ramona. Sonia is wearing a taupe tunic with turquoise beading by  C’est Moi, a lilac cardigan, a turquoise bracelet, and red patent sandals by Fly London. Photo by Jessica Deeks.

Nikita and Sonia Vadher of Max’s Footwear. Nikita, left, is wearing a dress by Ramonalisa, silver hoop earrings, and heels by Danish designer Lola Ramona. Sonia is wearing a taupe tunic with turquoise beading by C’est Moi, a lilac cardigan, a turquoise bracelet, and red patent sandals by Fly London. Photo by Jessica Deeks.

Erica Wark: I love the fact that Max’s is truly a family-run business. What made you decide to open a shoe repair shop and boutique?
Sonia Vadher: I was born and raised in England. In Europe, it’s all about unique fashion, and that’s what I wanted to bring to Ottawa. My husband grew up in Kenya and has been a cobbler since the age of 16. When we came to Canada in 2000, we decided to open up our own business. At first it was solely a shoe repair shop, but in 2011, we decided to start selling shoes we loved and believed in. Both my children, Nikita and Kishan, work with my husband and me — it’s wonderful!

EW: Nikita, you’re 19 now and helping out at the store. What’s it like having a mom who works in fashion and runs her own business?
Nikita Vadher: I’ve been working there for about two years now. My mom would bring home sample shoes as options to sell in the store. I loved all the colours and styles — plus, lucky for me, I’m sample size, so I got to try them all on and really appreciate them. I love working with her. I’m shy, and working with her in a retail setting has really helped me come out of my shell.

EW: What would you say is the most valuable lesson your mom has taught you?
NV: Treat people the way you would like to be treated. It works in all aspects of life, but in business, I’ve learned, it’s so important to make your customers feel comfortable, as if they’re being welcomed into your home. It’s about being polite and knowing your product so that you can best support your customer.

EW: Now that you’re both invested in the store, how do your different personal styles affect what you sell?
SV: I’m definitely more comfort-conscious. I’m on my feet all day and running around, so it’s important that customers who have similar lifestyles can wear shoes that last all day long.
NV: [Comfort is] usually the last thing on my list. I’d say my style is quite trendy with a European flair. I love colour and high heels. I also wear cute, feminine dresses with rugged ankle boots.
SV: We may have different taste in shoes, but that’s what makes our store so well-rounded. We’re able to offer style and comfort — something I think a lot of men and women in Ottawa can appreciate.

EW: What are your plans for the future of Max’s Footwear?
SV: We just want to thrive and support other local businesses. In today’s tough economy, it’s important that we support others who add uniqueness to our community.

Q&A: Andrew Peck, executive director of the Glebe BIA, navigates the neighbourhood’s changing landscape

This feature appears in Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

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Andrew Peck, executive director of the Glebe Business Improvement Area (Photo: Scott Adamson)

Redevelopment at Lansdowne is underway, bringing opportunities but also challenges — especially to Glebe residents and businesses that have set up shop in the historic ’hood. Andrew Peck, an entrepreneur with experience in marketing, has been at his new job for only a few months, but the new executive director of the Glebe Business Improvement Area is quickly coming up to speed on the issues

In a nutshell, what does your position entail?
Essentially a BIA is to strengthen and support a business community and help businesses come together with a common voice. A way to achieve this is through beautification: make sure the streets are clean, attractive, and interesting. Another is to tell the Glebe’s story and help draw traffic to the area — those are the fundamentals. But you’re also trying to keep businesses informed.

You describe the Glebe as being a “jewel.” What do you mean by that?

The Glebe is a gem. It’s surrounded by the Rideau Canal — a UNESCO World Heritage site — and it is the quintessential main street. You walk into a store, and the owner is often standing behind the counter greeting you by name.

Given the changes coming to the area with the redevelopment of Lansdowne, what plans do you have to preserve the Glebe?
By strengthening and promoting what makes the Glebe the Glebe. As a marketer, you have to listen to what people who have been living and working there want and connect that to the needs of the audience.

With bigger retailers setting up shop at Lansdowne, is there a fear the character will change or that traffic will stay at Lansdowne?
There is uncertainty. We won’t know what will happen until it unfolds, but we know that people will be in this area on their way to and from Lansdowne. With business, one of the most important factors is foot traffic, and Lansdowne will draw people to this area.

Do you think fears surrounding the Lansdowne development — especially concerning traffic congestion — have been overblown?
Because of the redevelopment, traffic issues have been in the media constantly. When you hear about parking problems over and over, you start to associate an area with that. Like any city, as it grows, there are going to be traffic issues, especially at peak periods. But parking issues can be alleviated with cycle lanes, a footbridge, rapid transit. There needs to be more ways to get places without relying on cars.

What’s the mood among merchants now regarding Lansdowne?
I wasn’t sure what response I would get, but I can honestly say the mood is good. Every single person I’ve spoken with is very excited to see it come to fruition. Everyone wants to see it succeed, because they recognize it will ultimately draw people to this area. From a business perspective, that will benefit the Glebe’s merchants. But there will be challenges for sure.

You live in Wakefield, which is not unlike the Glebe — both are considered to be places with unique character. Is there anything you’ve seen done there that might work in the Glebe?
Wakefield, like the Glebe, is a community that takes pride in their environment and wants to share it with others. This attitude not only adds the kind of buzz and energy we all want to be around, it helps local businesses thrive. It creates vibrancy and a potent kind of social cohesion that everyone benefits from. The Glebe has this in spades. In Wakefield, I helped local businesses harness this potential and present it to others in a way that is authentic, targeted, and inviting. I hope to do the same in the Glebe.

What is something you’d like to share about yourself?

I’m an incredibly creative, enthusiastic person who wants to focus on the best bits, and I feel lucky to live and work in two communities that appreciate those qualities.

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MAKING IT WORK: Open marriage in Ottawa

This feature appears in Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Open-Marriage

Greg and Holly Harris have been together for 11 years; their relationship has always included seeing other people (Photo: Tony Fouhse)

Greg and Holly Harris navigate the tempting, tumultuous waters of extramarital partners. FATEEMA SAYANI talks to the couple about first kisses, booty calls, and their secret to securing satisfaction

Open Marriage: Can it work work?
Greg and Holly Harris think so, though they don’t know any other way of approaching their relationship. When they met 11 years ago, they started dating casually and agreed to continue seeing other people on the side. As the relationship progressed to cohabitation and then to marriage nine years ago, they re-evaluated their decision at each stage: do we still want an open relationship?

Yes, because having extended relationships outside their marriage allows each of them to have their needs met — and not just that need. For example, Holly, 33, likes to try new restaurants; Greg, 36, prefers to eat in.

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MY LOOK: Dancer and choreographer Natalie Gelman

This feature appears in Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

By MATTHEW HARRISON

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Natalie Gelman makes her own costumes, which are influenced by world music, both contemporary and traditional (Photo: Lucyna Bakowska)

For the past 10 years, you’ve been a dance instructor, choreographer, and performer in Ottawa, fusing an urban dance style with global dances. How did your interest in dance first come about?
Born and raised in Ottawa, I went to college in Toronto, and one night I heard drums coming from my basement and I discovered an African dance class being held in my building. For the first time, I got to explore the fusion of masculine and feminine energy — the athleticism and sensuality that is African dance. Prior to that, I had been exposed to drum circles, breakdancing, and belly dancing.

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PROFILE: The Battle Cry of Pat Stogran

This feature appears in Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

By RON CORBETT

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Dog days Pat Stogran started playing guitar again after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Now he leads an open-mic concert series called Singing for Change, which raises funds for Wounded Warriors and encourages other vets to share their stories through song (Photo: Luther Caverly)

He led the first Canadian troops into Afghanistan and sparked controversy as the inaugural veterans ombudsman. As the mission winds down and vets rally for care, Pat Stogran offers a few choice words

Those who know Pat Stogran well, such as Scott Taylor of Esprit de Corps magazine, describe the man’s frequent flights of oratory as the “full send.”

Picture a windstorm in Kandahar, if you’ve ever had the pleasure, or the chaos of a helicopter pad — lots of action and noise, and you have to keep up and pay attention — and you have Stogran on full send.

Stogran is on full send right now. We are eating breakfast in a ByWard Market diner, and he is talking about the work he is doing for Wounded Warriors, a charity that helps disabled veterans. He has been hooked up with them for a few years now and says that they’re the ones who are really helping veterans — it’s not the government. To that end, he’s starting up a website. He already has a name for it — Rebel Guerrilla — although damned if somebody doesn’t already have that name registered, so he may need to throw the word “dog” (after his beloved chocolate Labrador, Apollo) or “the” in there somewhere.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Bayshore shooting finds Ralph Erfle, Robin Easey in the line of fire

This article by Judy Trinh appeared in the December 2006/January 2007 issue of Ottawa Magazine. This week, Trinh caught up with  Supt. Ralph Erfle who, as a junior police officer, was shot in the face during a botched armed robbery at the Bayshore Shopping Centre. 

Photos by Tony Fouhse

It’s the randomness of fate that makes it so cruel. Its arbitrary decisions leave some besieged for a lifetime, while allowing others to escape and marvel that they were spared. That’s how it was with Robin Easey and Ralph Erfle, two police officers gravely injured in a terrifying shooting spree more than two decades ago. In 1984, the men were ambushed and left for dead during a botched armed robbery at the Bayshore Shopping Centre. Their subsequent life paths challenge the adage that time heals all wounds.

That September 1, the Brinks truck was due to arrive at Bayshore at 9:30 a.m. sharp, as soon as the Toronto Dominion Bank opened its doors. Inside the armoured vehicle were a million dollars in cash, protected only by security guards who, at that time, were not allowed to have their guns drawn while doing a money escort.

What nobody knew was that the truck was being watched by criminals, a group of five professional robbers from Quebec who had marked it as easy prey. While the mastermind waited downtown, orchestrating the heist from The Westin Hotel, the female driver of the getaway car stationed herself a block away from the mall. Three other men, armed for bloodshed, sat in a car on the rooftop parking lot directly above the bank and waited for their moment to pounce.

That was 22 years ago, but Robin Easey remembers the events of the day it as if it were yesterday.

Easey. Photo by Tony Fouhse.

Easey. Photo by Tony Fouhse.

At 9:20, the police got a tip about suspicious activity from an alert shopper who noticed the men idling in their parked car. The call came over the cruiser’s radio at 9:22, and Easey, who was nearby, offered to check it out. Fellow constable Ralph Erfle agreed to provide backup.

As Easey pulled his cruiser up to the suspicious vehicle, the passenger door was suddenly flung open and a man leaped out. He bolted away down the concrete stairwell. Easey immediately radioed Erfle, who arrived on the scene seconds later and dashed down the stairs in pursuit. Easey, meanwhile, focused his attention on the second suspect—the driver.

“I took the driver to the front of the car, and I told him, ‘Put your hands on the car. I’m going to search you.’” Easey found a gun.

“I was just about to say, ‘You’re under arrest,’ when I heard a shot go off,” he recalls. Neither officer had realized until then that there was a third man who had left the car before the police arrived and hidden out of sight. Now he had entered the stairwell and was firing on Erfle as he ran down the stairs after the fleeing man.

Easey heard Erfle returning fire and remembers leaning over the railing, trying to see if his colleague was all right. The driver took advantage of Easey’s momentary distraction and grabbed for the confiscated gun. A frenzied struggle for the weapon ensued.

Erfle was unharmed by those first shots, but knowing they had come from the second level, he feared that Easey might be in trouble. He turned and raced back up the stairs.

Erfle. Photo by Tony Fouhse.

Erfle. Photo by Tony Fouhse.

As Erfle reached the second level, he saw his colleague struggling with the man he had previously been trying to arrest. Aiming at the driver’s shoulder, Erfle shot. The man fell, then immediately jumped up. The bullet had shattered the windows of a vehicle parked next to him. The driver turned and opened fire on Erfle. He missed, then moved quickly between the parked cars, spinning out of Erfle’s range as he tried to take cover behind a car. But the constable had a steady shot.

“I took close aim, I hit him in the head, and I heard him hit the asphalt,” Erfle remembers.

One threat was eliminated, but danger still lurked. Easey was down. In the brief seconds that marked the gunfight between Erfle and the driver, the third suspect had shot Easey in the back of the neck, and he now had Erfle in his sights. He opened fire with his semi-automatic pistol. Erfle was hit in the jaw and staggered back behind the door of the police cruiser, blood streaming down his face.

He knelt behind the door of his partner’s cruiser and took aim at his attacker but, to his horror, realized he had run out of bullets. With no time to reload, he threw himself across the seat of the cruiser and grabbed the radio to call for help. When he looked around, the gunman was standing over him and pointing his gun at Erfle’s head.

“Don’t shoot. Please don’t shoot,” he pleaded.

The gunman smirked, Erfle remembers, as he lifted his gun. In the split second before he fired the shots, Erfle kicked his legs up to protect his head. Two bullets tore through his thigh. Another shot passed through his hat and another lodged in the dashboard. The assailant attempted to shoot again, but when his gun jammed on the 10th, and last, shot in his clip, he fled.

Erfle, his jawbone shattered in 25 places, continued to call for help. He feared that Easey was dying.

The facts were these, it was established later: Twenty-one bullets had been fired in a span of 29 seconds. One suspect, the driver, lay dead, and two officers had been gunned down. The remaining four criminals were all eventually caught and convicted.

Easey. Photo by Tony Fouse.

Easey. Photo by Tony Fouse.

But Robin Easey would never again be the man he once was. While Ralph Erfle, 27, recovered quickly from his wounds and went on to achieve new heights in his policing career, doctors predicted that Easey, 30, would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair—parts of his body and brain damaged beyond repair by the bullet.

Today, the entrance to the Easey home is a cheery one. Shrubs and flowers line the pathway, its gentle incline disguising the fact that it’s actually a wheelchair ramp. Robin Easey sits at the kitchen table in a red Ottawa Senators T-shirt, having just finished his lunch. Knowing his vision is badly damaged, I tell him I’m tall, blond, and drop-dead gorgeous.

He looks at me out of the corner of his right eye, where his only patch of vision is, and responds with a smile.

“You know, I’m not completely blind.”

In fact, he can see only blurry and compressed images, robbed of most of his sight by the bullet that shattered a vertibra and severed an artery. The latter injury led to his brain being starved for oxygen. But although the brain injury limited his abilities, it didn’t change his core personality: in many respects, he’s still the same laid-back and upbeat man he used to be. His life is a full one, he’ll tell you. He has seen his children grow up, is enthralled with his grandson, and suffers for the Sens. He has aged well—he’s stockier but has a full head of hair—and his eyes still glint with mischief.

And 22 years after the shooting, his primary goal remains the same. “I’m going to walk. I’m going to get out of this damn thing,” he says, slamming his arm against the wheelchair.

The odds seem slim, but Easey has already exceeded many expectations and confounded most predictions. “The doctors said he wouldn’t survive more than 24 hours,” recalls his wife, Glennis Easey. “Well, he lived. They told us there was a less than one per cent chance that he would be aware of his surroundings, but he came out of his coma too.”

The couple celebrate each small achievement but always with an underlying sadness; Glennis admits she has long since given up hoping for a “Reader’s Digest kind of miracle” for her husband. In order to cope psychologically, both Easeys have had to readjust their goals. Her benchmark, Glennis says, is no longer a pre-shooting Robin. It’s just a Robin who’s better today than he was yesterday.

True, after years of therapy, Easey has regained some mobility and has partially recovered his ability to speak. But though his progress is amazing, given the extent of his injury, he’s still severely limited in what he can do. He has the mental capacity of an adult, but his physical ability to speak is compromised. So while his vocabulary and syntax are excellent, his words come out garbled and slurred.

The right half of his body is partially paralyzed. That means he can’t cut his own food, though he can direct a fork to his mouth. He has to drink through a straw. He needs help to use the washroom and to bathe. If he concentrates hard, he can curl a 10-pound weight with either arm, but he doesn’t have the strength or coordination to scoop his 18-month-old grandson onto his knee unaided.

By contrast, Ralph Erfle today has climbed high up the corporate ladder. His office on Greenbank Road is huge, even bigger than the police chief’s downtown office. It has comfortable leather couches and an expansive bookcase. Altogether, he has spent 26 years on the force, constantly pushing himself to excel, and last summer he became the new superintendent of Ottawa’s West Division, a region that stretches west from the Rideau River to Arnprior and south from the Ottawa River to Burritts Rapids—an area that encompasses the Bayshore shopping mall.

Back in 1984, though, Erfle had been a police officer for just four years. Until that fateful day in September, he had barely ever taken his gun out of its holster while on patrol, let alone aimed it at anyone. But in less than three minutes, he killed an assailant, faced death at the end of a crook’s gun, and learned a lifetime of lessons.

“A police officer’s greatest enemy is complacency,” Erfle says now. “Despite the routine nature of our job, we have to be prepared for surprises.”

After the shooting, he spent five weeks in hospital, in traction. His broken jaw was wired shut, and he was fed liquids through a feeding tube. A fellow officer stood at the door to his room in case any of the other members of the gang came back to “finish the job.” But despite that brush with death, Erfle never doubted he’d go straight back to policing, “get right back on the horse,” as he puts it. For one thing, there was his sheer love of the job. For another, the outpouring of support from his fellow officers and from the public made it impossible for him to walk away.

“There was so much peer and community recognition,” he recalls. “I was overwhelmed by the number of visitors and cards.” (He still has those boxes of notes and letters stored away in his basement.)

Erfle’s first challenge while still confined to his hospital bed was to get back into shape physically. He began working out with dumbbells. “The nurses thought I was crazy, but I wanted to prove I was able to do it.”

His combination of aggressive weight training and physiotherapy paid off: within a few months, Erfle was back on patrol again. Three years later he even won the title “Toughest Cop Alive,” beating dozens of other North American officers in a gruelling day-long athletics competition in Albany, New York. He is evidently a man who has always viewed adversity as a challenge and relishes rising to the occasion.

And there are plenty of challenges before him in his new role, now that he has exchanged patrolling the streets for guarding his department’s bottom line. Erfle now worries about overtime costs, which last year in West Division skyrocketed to more than double what the city had anticipated. In response, he got more officers assigned to his region, both to rein in those overtime costs and to avoid burnout on his front lines.

He also has to contend with growing community discontent over break-and-entry levels, speeding, and youth crime. “We do more than the community is aware of,” he insists. To get the message across, he has begun working on a plan to send out weekly crime statistics to community newspapers, giving details of offences committed and what police did about them: arrests made, crimes solved, and names of those convicted.

He also wants to get tough on youth crime by holding parents more accountable. Existing laws allow parents to be charged and fined if a teenager under 16 is out after midnight in a public place without an adult.

He hopes his approach will enhance public confidence in their police. “If they know we’re solving cases, hopefully the community will mobilize to assist us more,” he says. Erfle speaks with confidence, clearly excited by his new role and the greater influence and resources he has at hand to effect change in his region. But there are still moments when a sense of powerlessness descends on him. He still finds it hard to accept the two very different hands that fate dealt—why he recovered fully and Easey did not.

“We were outnumbered and outgunned. I know this. But there’s a part of me that wishes I could have made the outcome better for Robin.” He often wonders if he had had the training and experience then that he has now—or a better gun or more ammunition—could he have stopped the suspect before he shot Easey? If.

Both police officers were awarded medals for bravery in the line of duty. But you could argue that the third, if undecorated, hero of the tragedy is Glennis Easey. Her bravery has been demonstrated over 20 years as she has shouldered the dual responsibilities of caring for her husband and raising their two sons.

On the morning of the shooting, Glennis Easey was packing for a weekend getaway to the family cottage. Her sons, six-year-old Mathew and three-year-old Chris, were watching Saturday-morning cartoons. Then the phone rang. A friend called to say that there were radio news reports of two Nepean officers shot. At that moment, a wife lost the high school sweetheart who had swept her off her feet when she was just 15 and two young boys lost the father who tossed them in the air and wrestled them to the ground.

“When people look at us as a family, they must think it’s odd to live like this.” The “this” Glennis refers to is life with Robin’s disability and all that it entails. Robin has 24-hour care, which means a caregiver is always at his side, physically closer than any member of the family. It’s not the picture of marital bliss that the Easeys dreamed of, but after more than 20 years, they have adapted to the new “normal.” Despite the many physical and emotional strains she has had to cope with, Glennis says she has never considered placing her husband in a long-term care facility. To do so would finish what the gunman failed to do.

“It would kill him and I love him.” Her voice cracks, but it is steeled with conviction. “He went out to work to make a living to support his family, and he got shot. Yet every day he tries so hard to be the best he can be. He works to keep his sense of humour and to get out of that damn chair. At what point do you decide that’s not enough?”

But there was a time when Glennis was close to breaking. Two years after the shooting, shortly after Robin returned home from the rehabilitation clinic in Cortland, New York, she was exhausted and overwhelmed. Although a health-care worker came in to help her during the day, she still felt as though the walls were caving in.

To escape, she decided to challenge herself even further: the former stay-at-home mom headed back to school and completed two degrees: a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in counselling. She focused on what was most important to her: learning about brain injuries. And she came to the conclusion that there was a dire lack of resources in Ottawa, both for victims of brain injuries and for their families.

It was a void she decided to fill. In 1993, Glennis started The Phoenix Network. Located on Lancaster Road, the brain-injury rehabilitation clinic has helped hundreds of families cope with and make sense of brain injuries in all their forms. The network employs speech and occupational therapists as well as life-skills counsellors. These last coach patients through the often arduous process of relearning all the mental tools they lost: social skills such as listening, forming complete thoughts, and participating in conversations, for instance.

Also retaught are basic skills like getting dressed and more advanced ones such as cooking and managing finances. To help patients improve their hand-eye coordination, memory, and mental sequencing abilities, they are also taught basic woodworking skills.

Glennis is proudest of the fact that the clinic also offers counselling to the families of patients. She remembers vividly how alone she, herself, felt when Robin first came home. She couldn’t understand his thinking, his sudden mood swings, his overpowering feelings of guilt. She understands them now, though, and tries to ensure that others in similar circumstances never have to feel that same isolation.

When tragedy strikes, she stresses, the whole family is injured, whether they realize it or not. “You’ve got to treat the family—the wives, the husbands, and the children—you don’t want an injured family.” For Glennis, it’s vital that everyone who is affected is given as much information as possible about the implications and consequences of brain injuries. Information is empowering, and empowerment is a big part of the healing process.

 

hese days Robin Easey concentrates on his healing at the Richmond Arena. He spends most afternoons in the large community room above the arena. It has a circumference of 61 metres. There, he slowly works at realizing his own personal dream—one step at a time.

His therapist helps him out of his wheelchair and straps him into a customized walker. It’s designed specially, 1.5 metres high, made of pipe metal and with wheels. A hip cage wraps around his torso to balance him; his arms rest on a padded U-shaped support rail. He stands upright, takes a deep breath, and starts to walk.

His first steps are tentative, but after half a minute or so, he finds his pace and begins to move more briskly, round and round the circumference of the room. On a good day, he can do more than 20 laps. He has had this contraption for a decade, and in that time, he has walked roughly 900 kilometres.

“My goal is just to walk more than I did yesterday,” he says. To motivate himself through the exercise, his mind conjures up a destination—it’s always the same one. “I’m walking to Smooth Rock Falls.” That northern Ontario town, located between Iroquois Falls and Kapuskasing, is where he used to stay with his dad when he went moose hunting. It’s where he took his wife on their honeymoon. It’s where he used to walk miles at a time.

 

 

COUNTDOWN TO THE RETURN OF ALFIE (Dec. 1): 11 essays on #11 (essay #10 — Daniel Alfredsson as celebrity dad)

In April 2013, Ottawa Magazine honoured the captain with the “Alfie Pack,” deconstructing the Senators’ icon with 11 essays on No. 11. By July, he was a Detroit Red Wing.

On December 1, Alfie and the Red Wings visit The Canadian Tire Centre for the first time since the deal was done. In the lead-up to the big event, Ottawa Magazine revisits our 11 essays — one essay per day for 11 days. (Want a copy? Back issues for sale here.)

Turning It up to 11: Alfie as Celebrity Dad

This photo dates back to 2006 when Daniel Alfredsson was interviewed by Michael Prentice for Ottawa Magazine. Photograph by Bill Grimshaw

This photo, with second son Loui, dates back to 2006 when Daniel Alfredsson was interviewed by Michael Prentice for Ottawa Magazine. Photograph by Bill Grimshaw

By Roger Collier

My daughter’s class mates don’t gawk at me when I visit their classroom. They don’t call me by a cool nickname. They don’t say things like “Sweet job on that magazine article about new harm-reduction policies for drug addiction.” They don’t ask for my autograph. Oh, well, we can’t all be Daniel Alfredsson.

When my daughter, Ella, entered junior kindergarten six years ago, it was an exciting time for my wife and me. Ella is our first child. Watching her climb the stairs of the big yellow school bus with her Dora the Explorer backpack for the first time is something I’ll never forget. Naturally, Ella was excited too.

Over dinner, she would tell us about her teacher and her new friends. There was a Kyra and an Alisha. There was a Ben and an Owen. And there was a kid with a name I thought was pretty interesting: Hugo. His last name was no less interesting: Alfredsson. Could it be? Nah.

Surely a son of Ottawa’s most famous and beloved professional athlete wouldn’t attend a public school in Kanata. He would be enrolled in a fancy private school with tuition more expensive than my mortgage.

Read the rest of this story »

COUNTDOWN TO THE RETURN OF ALFIE (Dec. 1): 11 essays on #11 (#9 — Daniel Alfredsson as goal song)

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In April 2013, Ottawa Magazine honoured the captain with the “Alfie Pack,” deconstructing the Senators’ icon with 11 essays on No. 11. By July, he was a Detroit Red Wing.

On December 1, Alfie and the Red Wings visit The Canadian Tire Centre for the first time since the deal was done. In the lead-up to the big event, Ottawa Magazine revisits our 11 essays — one essay per day for 11 days. (Want a copy? Back issues for sale here.)

 

 

Turning It up to 11: Alfie as Goal Song

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It was Alfie’s goal song for years and shares some qualities with the team captain, namely in that it’s inoffensive, appeals to the everyman, and is loved by the masses

By Fateema Sayani

The jarring blare of the goal horn is softened when U2’s “Beautiful Day” rings through the arena after an Alfie score. It’s been Daniel Alfredsson’s goal song for years and shares some qualities with the team captain, namely in that it’s inoffensive, appeals to the everyman, and is loved by the masses.

The tune that plays over the Scotiabank Place sound system is actually an obscure upbeat remix of the Irish mega-band’s plain platitudinal song about redemption. (The lyric “You’re on the road, but you’ve got no destination” has all the depth of a fortune cookie message.)

You can’t really hear it beyond the faint introductory beats, anyway, because when Alfie scores, the swell of ovation in the stands dominates and the choral-like echo of the sustained background vocals of “It’s a beautiful daaaaay” amplify the crowd’s wails to epic levels.

It’s likely the effect of the unfortunate acoustics of an arena, but somehow the song gives a vaguely religious undertone to the experience of an Alfie goal. It’s but a brief sortie: the song fades out by the time his teammates are man-hugging their captain and head-butting one another in celebration.

Still, on an atmospheric level, it’s fitting. Here, devoted fans often refer to Alfredsson as God, a declaration recently backed up by iPhone — and Siri. Biblical numerologists would have a field day with this, since the number 11 is said to be an important number in The Good Book, representing chaos and duality. Eleven is stamped on Alfie’s jersey, he was born on December 11, and he’s five feet 11 inches.

To the logical and level-headed, these are mere coincidences and a mind-wandering exercise during the early strains of U2’s mind-numbingly boring song. Have they written anything with impact since War and Under a Blood Red Sky? It’s up for debate, but the band will always have a fan in Alfie. He paid the band the ultimate hockey-dad tribute in naming the Alfredsson family dog Bono.