Huricane Juan
Toronto Star
  • Cpl. Nathan Cirillo loved life, especially being a dad, friend says

    Cpl. Nathan Cirillo of Hamilton loved plenty of things about life, but nothing more than being with his five-year-old son.

    His face routinely glowed when he talked about his son, whom he raised alone as a single father.

    “I feel so bad right now for his kid,” friend Randi Lotsberg recalled on Thursday. “Now his son doesn’t have a dad.”

    Lotsberg said she respected how Cirillo provided his son with a loving home when he became a single father in his late teens.

    “He raised his son on his own,” Lotsberg said. “The mom wasn’t in the picture. He stepped up. Definitely admirable.”

    Lotsberg recalled his face lighting up when he spoke of his role in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He graduated from being a 13-year-old cadet to a spot as part-time reservist with the Highlanders and dreamed of becoming a full-time soldier. “When he spoke of military, you could see the passion,” she said.

    This fall, he received what seemed like a perfect assignment: guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Parliament Hill.

    He was shot dead there by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau at 9:52 a.m. on Wednesday.

    Since it was a ceremonial posting, the gun Cirillo carried that morning wasn’t loaded.

    Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina visited a makeshift memorial to Cirillo outside his regiment’s barracks in the city’s downtown on Thursday.

    Bratina told CBC New that he and Police Chief Glenn De Caire visited with Cirillo’s family in their home in the city’s working class, east end on Wednesday.

    “We had hugs and we had tears and we had some conversation,” Bratina told CBC.

    As they spoke, Cirillo’s son, a little blond pre-schooler, wandered out to greet everyone.

    The boy likely didn’t understand the magnitude of what had just happened, Bratina said.

    “At what point does a five-year-old actually understand that?,” Bratina asked.

    Lotsberg said it didn’t seem real that the man with the omnipresent smile is suddenly gone.

    “He was always smiling and full of life,” Lotsberg said. “One of those people with a beautiful soul.”

    She recalled how he also loved fitness, and worked as a personal trainer at GoodLife Family Fitness on Barton Street in Hamilton’s east end.

    Krista Maling of GoodLife Fitness said Cirillo was a popular personal trainer and former club employee.

    “What I understand is that he was very well liked, both by our members and his team there,” Maling said.

    Lotsberg said she can’t stop worrying about Cirillo’s son.

    She recalled how he would leave the boy with his mother when he went to work or to his military duties.

    Canadian Press reports that his mother travelled to Ottawa immediately after the shooting.

    “Our family is grieving,” a relative reached at the Cirillo home told The Canadian Press. “Right now is the wrong time to talk.”

    Lotsberg said she’ll remember Cirillo with respect and affection: as a happy man who took his responsibilities seriously and who loved life.

    “He would just light up the room,” she said. “He was a happy guy, full of life, loved life. And now he’s gone.”

  • Health Canada approves Aspirin as emergency heart attack drug

    Health Canada has approved low-dose Aspirin as an emergency heart attack treatment.

    Acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin, prevents platelets from sticking together and can help break up blood clots that cause heart attacks, said McMaster University professor Jeff Weitz.

    Platelets are blood cells that clot and allow the body to heal wounds and stop bleeding. When a clot forms in an artery, it can stop or slow blood flow to the heart and cause a heart attack.

    “It’s something that we’ve been doing for years. It’s something for which there is very good evidence,” said Weitz, who holds the Canada Research Chair in thrombosis.

    Aspirin’s manufacturer, Bayer, suggests that people who think they may be having a heart attack call 911 and then chew two 81-milligram tablets.

    Chewing the tablets before swallowing them will speed up absorption into the body, Weitz said.

    The drug has few side effects in healthy people, he added, so there is “very little downside to just chewing an Aspirin.”

    Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is also sold as a generic medication and will have the same effect when taken by a heart attack victim, Weitz said.

    Research suggests that a low daily dose of ASA may help prevent heart attacks in people who have already had a heart attack or stroke or have heart disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

    The FDA recently declined to allow Bayer to claim in advertisements that the drug can also prevent heart attacks in people who have not already had one.

    The medication’s side effects can include stomach bleeding, and when combined with blood thinners can interfere with normal blood clotting.

    The FDA, as well as the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, recommend that people take the drug daily only on the advice of a doctor.

  • Students want trustee suspended over Pride parade tweets

    More than 200 Toronto high school students say they want Toronto school trustee Sam Sotiropoulos suspended for his comments about the Gay Pride parade, which they feel are homophobic, and for suggesting transgendered students could be mentally ill.

    “If the TDSB really is all about students and being accepting, why do they let this man get away with criticizing everything the board stands for?” asked Malvern Collegiate student Georgia Koumantaros, part of the Malvern Students Against Sexual Stereotyping club.

    The 16-year-old addressed a Toronto District School Board committee meeting Wednesday, saying students are offended at a tweet in which Sotiropoulos cited a blog that called the Gay Pride parade a “freak show” and another tweet that suggested transgendered students might be mentally ill.

    “He belittled the Gay Pride parade, which is a celebration of people who have not always had equal rights,” said Georgia, one of about 12 students from Malvern and Danforth Collegiate who attended the TDSB’s Administration, Finance and Accountability committee meeting Wednesday.

    “If a student tweeted something like that, we’d be suspended, or at the very least we’d have to write an essay about the negative impact it has on school climate,” argued the Grade 11 student.

    When told it’s not possible for the public to have a trustee suspended, Georgia responded: “He should at least be made to do community service, or write an essay — or apologize.”

    Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher said the students are raising concerns many trustees have shared.

    “They’re right: what’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander,” she said.

    Trustees at the committee meeting gave the student a round of applause for her presentation, although it is not clear whether the issue of Sotiropoulos’s tweets will be referred on for future discussion.

    One tweet by Sotiropoulos that the students cited was: “Until I see scientific proof that transgenderism exists and is not simply a mental illness, I reserve the right not to believe in it.”

    Students who signed the petition argue that this comment violated Ontario’s Accepting Schools Act, the board’s own guidelines on accommodating transgendered students and the board’s own code of conduct.

    However, Sotiropoulos, who was connected to the meeting by telephone, argued that board lawyer Tony Brown has told him “I have not violated anything . . . I have the right to express my opinion under the Charter of Rights. You seem to think you know better than the board lawyer.”

    Unrattled by his tone, the high school student responded: “Yes, you’re 100 per cent entitled to your own opinion — at home and with friends — but when you use the hashtag #tdsb and your Twitter name is ‘@TrusteeSam’ then you are speaking for the board.”

    All trustees should be accountable for their comments on social media, argued Malvern Grade 12 student Scott Phyper, “because in this day and age, what you say on social media is part of what the TDSB is about.”

    Sotiropoulos’ tweet about transgendered students has also sparked an Ontario Human Rights complaint from a group of parents who argue it violates the human rights codes of both the province and the TDSB. The Elementary Teachers of Toronto also have complained to the TDSB about the tweet.

    Earlier this spring, Sotiropoulos drew criticism from city councillors and fellow trustees for his comments about nudity at the Gay Pride parade. Georgia said students chose not to tweet back at Sotiropoulos “because of the way he tweets at people who complain to him.” However the students said they wanted to raise their concerns before voters go to the ballot Monday.

    “We want to bring his behaviour to public attention while the campaign is on,” said Grade 11 student Sarah Lewis. “He’s supposed to be following the school board rules to make schools more accepting.”

    Georgia said students know better than to tweet the sort of comments Sotiropoulos has tweeted because “it’s been drilled into us since Grade 4 to be careful what we say online because all your actions have consequences.”

Arts & Letters
Sunday, 12 August 2007