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B.C. teen killer Kelly Ellard seeks day parole 18 years after Reena Virk murder

VANCOUVER—Almost two decades since an ostracized 14-year-old was swarmed, viciously beaten and then callously drowned near a Victoria bridge, Reena Virk’s most notorious killer is asking for release. Kelly Ellard was 15 years old in November 1997 when she smashed Virk’s head against a tree and then held the Grade 9 student’s head underwater until …

B.C. pedophile ‘Swirl Face’ promises change, apologizes to victims in Cambodia

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C.—A British Columbia man notorious for making child pornography where his face was obscured with a swirl apologized in court Friday to his victims in Southeast Asia and said he wants to change his behaviour. Christopher Neil told a B.C. Supreme Court that he no longer believes sex with children is acceptable “anywhere …

Crown seeks 5 year sentence for B.C. pedophile known as ‘Swirl Face’

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C.—A British Columbia man who disguised his face with a swirl in images showing him sexually abusing young boys in Southeast Asia manufactured the child pornography for online distribution, a court has heard. Christopher Neil, 41, should be sentenced to five years for child-sex crimes including the offences that catapulted him to notoriety …

British Columbia tech firm guards virtual worlds from cyberbullies

VANCOUVER—As online communities come under the attack of cyberbullies, racist speech and spam, a British Columbia tech firm has developed technology to keep the trolls under the bridge. Community Sift, based in Kelowna, has built digital armour for social media and gaming companies trying to protect their virtual worlds. The chat filter and moderation tool …

Tattoo artist transforms scars of trauma survivors into empowering masterpieces

VANCOUVER – Clients with scars from traumatic surgeries, suicide attempts and abuse are turning to a Vancouver tattoo artist for healing inside and out. Auberon Wolf designs tattoos around cut lines from self-injury, burn welts and traces of physical violence, painting them into symbols of empowerment. “You just can’t help but think, what can you …

First Nations basketball player excluded from games, native identity questioned

VANCOUVER—Tattooed on Josiah Wilson’s chest is a fine line of writing that combines two significant dates: his birth and the death of his biological mother four days after he was born. The 20-year-old, who was adopted as a baby from Haiti, also carries a status Indian card. He is African by race—but legally, culturally and …

Stigma worst barrier for sex workers leaving the industry, finds study

VANCOUVER—When Cheryl’s manager discovered the 38-year-old used to work in the sex trade, she says he joked that a name plate on her desk read “pubic relations.” Kayla, 61, was in a new job too when she says a police officer informed a colleague she had formerly been a “prostitute and a junkie.” She lost …

Vancouver woman inspires petition to save Japan elephant from ‘concrete prison’

VANCOUVER—What struck Ulara Nakagawa when she first saw Japan’s oldest elephant was how she resembled a figurine in a “concrete prison.” “There was absolutely nothing else for her to do,” the Vancouver woman wrote in a blog post about the 69-year-old animal. “It was beyond painful to take in.” Nakagawa’s observations about the elderly creature …

‘Bigger than thou’: Awestruck snowmobilers won’t stop after 5 avalanche deaths

MCBRIDE, B.C.—The day after a colossal avalanche killed five snowmobilers in eastern British Columbia, Thea Pelletier climbed aboard her machine and returned to the backcountry wilderness. She unfastened a yellow plastic lily from her backpack and planted the flower in pristine snow to pay her respects. “I had a moment. It was intense. It was …

Robots to drones: B.C. puts focus on tech into hyperdrive with first ever summit

VANCOUVER – Greg Caws calls home a cattle ranch in the East Kootenay community of Wardner and says he appreciates the perspective of rural British Columbia, where relatives have worked as miners and loggers. He’s also an entrepreneur who champions the technology sector with unsung stories of companies marrying those traditional industries with cutting-edge innovations. …