Tag Archives: Chance

The Masters is back in its right place — and a Canadian has a puncher’s chance

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The Masters is back where it belongs

Golf’s most prestigious tournament was bumped to November last year because of the pandemic, and it wasn’t the same. Augusta National looked different, played different and just generally had a less-satisfying vibe in the fall — especially with no fans allowed on the course.

But everything we simultaneously love and love to make fun of about the Masters and the way it’s presented — the iconic holes, the impossible landscaping, the over-the-top reverence, the tinkling piano music — is all back in its traditional springtime slot. Well, almost all of it. Only a “limited” number of patrons (Augusta-speak for fans) are being granted entry, and the popular Wednesday Par 3 Contest was cancelled. Otherwise, though, it’ll be a pretty traditional Masters.

Here’s a look at some of the key players competing for the green jacket starting Thursday:

Dustin Johnson is the favourite. The 36-year-old American won his first green jacket (and second major title) in November by shooting the lowest score in Masters history — a 20-under 268. Sure, the course played softer in the fall and scores were down across the board. But Johnson produced a truly dominant performance, winning by five strokes. He’s currently the No. 1-ranked player in the world and the betting favourite to repeat as Masters champion. If he does, DJ will join Jack Nicklaus (1965, ’66), Nick Faldo (’89, ’90) and Tiger Woods (2001, ’02) as the only players to win back-to-back green jackets.

Bryson DeChambeau is the wild card. The most interesting man in golf is always worth watching because he’s the longest player on tour and the most aggressive. DeChambeau riled some of Augusta’s stuffed blazers last year when he said he was treating their hallowed par-72 course as a par-67. He wound up shooting only 2-under for the tournament — tied for 34th. But the 27-year-old American’s monster drives and willingness to try anything make him potentially golf’s most disruptive force since a young Tiger Woods.

Jordan Spieth is back. When he won the 2017 British Open shortly before his 24th birthday, it looked like Spieth was on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats. The 2015 Masters and U.S. Open champion now owned the three most respected major titles and had already won 11 tournaments in just five years on the PGA Tour. But that victory at Royal Birkdale would turn out to be his last for nearly four years. The former world No. 1 even dropped as low as 92nd earlier this year. But something must have clicked because, since then, Spieth has five top-10 finishes in seven starts, and he snapped his victory drought Sunday by winning the Valero Texas Open. Suddenly, Spieth is a top-five betting favourite for the Masters, which he won in 2015 and has finished third or better in four times.

A Canadian has a puncher’s chance. Corey Conners is about a 90/1 longshot at the more respected online books. But he might have what it takes to become Canada’s first green jacket winner since Mike Weir in 2003. Somewhat ironically, considering its manicured beauty and the soft touch needed on its tricky greens, Augusta is a bomber’s track. It favours big hitters more than most courses. Conners isn’t super long, but the 29-year-old from Listowel, Ont., has been above average in driving distance over the last few years, and this season he ranks 10th in strokes gained off the tee — a stat that measures the overall quality of all tee shots. Other encouraging signs: Conners tied for 10th at last year’s Masters, and he’s playing really well right now. Over the last month, he finished third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and seventh at the high-end Players Championship. Conners is 43rd in the official world rankings — eight spots above Mackenzie Hughes, the only other Canadian with a legitimate hope of contending this week. But the more-astute Data Golf model puts him 16th. So don’t be surprised if Conners is in the hunt this weekend.

Bryson DeChambeau is capable of overpowering Augusta with his length off the tee and go-for-broke approach. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)


North Korea says it’s pulling out of the Tokyo Olympics over COVID-19 concerns. It’s always tough to get a handle on the dictatorship’s true motives, but a website run by North Korea’s sports ministry said the decision was made to protect athletes from a “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.” The South Korean government expressed disappointment, saying it had hoped the Tokyo Games would be another opportunity to improve relations with its neighbour. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, athletes from the North and South marched into the opening ceremony together and the two countries entered a joint team in the women’s hockey tournament. Since then, their relationship has cooled. Read more about North Korea’s decision to skip the Olympics and the current state of its relations with South Korea here.

Baylor ruined Gonzaga’s perfect season. The Zags’ bid to become the first undefeated NCAA men’s basketball champion in 45 years crashed and burned last night with an 86-70 rout by Baylor in the tournament final. It was the lowest point total of the season for Gonzaga (31-1), which averaged an NCAA-best 91.6. Star freshman Jalen Suggs scored a team-high 22 points for Gonzaga after hitting that instantly iconic buzzer beater from just inside the halfcourt logo to win Saturday’s semifinal vs. UCLA. He’s expected to declare for this year’s NBA draft and be among the top picks. Read more about the sour end to Gonzaga’s season here.

The NHL’s Canadian division is dealing with its first big crisis. All the major COVID-19 outbreaks in the first couple of months of the season happened on U.S.-based teams. But with vaccinations now proceeding much faster in that country while Canada experiences a troubling rise in cases and hospitalizations, the tables have turned. Seventeen of the 22 players on the Vancouver Canucks’ active roster are now on the COVID-19 protocol list, meaning they’ve either tested positive or had close contact with someone who did. Four Vancouver games have already been postponed, and it appears the team will be out at least through the end of the week. This is throwing the North Division schedule out of whack, but NHL deputy commissioner insists the Canucks will be able to complete their full 56-game season. Read more about Vancouver’s situation here.

And finally…

This photo of a baseball crowd was taken yesterday, on planet Earth:

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

If you’ve engaged with any Americans over the past few weeks — in real life, on social media, listening to a podcast, or wherever — you’ve probably been struck by the feeling that we’re living in two different worlds. On this side of the border, we’re doing virtual Easters, debating whether to keep our kids in school and hoping our parents and grandparents can get vaccinated soon. Down there, they’re posting second-dose selfies, going on trips and having family gatherings. But nothing illustrated the divide quite like yesterday’s Blue Jays-Rangers game at Whatever Corporate Name Field in Arlington, Tex. It was played in front of an announced sellout crowd of 38,238. Judging by the photo, that’s considerably higher than the number of people who took the mask “requirement” seriously. Read more about the jarring crowd and the game here.

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Demi Lovato Recalls Having an Eating Disorder, Being Overworked & More During ‘Sonny With a Chance’ Reunion

Demi Lovato Recalls Having an Eating Disorder, Being Overworked & More During ‘Sonny With a Chance’ Reunion | Entertainment Tonight

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Athletes completing doping bans get unexpected chance at Olympics

Athletes completing doping bans over the next year will be eligible to compete in the postponed Tokyo Olympics, an unintended effect of the coronavirus pandemic that has some crying foul.

Turkish runner Gamze Bulut, for example, will now have plenty of time to qualify for a games she likely would have missed had they gone ahead as scheduled.

“It doesn’t seem like a fair punishment,” Irish race walker Brendan Boyce told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “They haven’t really missed the events they were supposed to miss.”

The 2020 Olympics were officially postponed last month for one year, with the opening ceremony now set for July 23, 2021.

Bulut originally won silver in the 1,500 metres at the 2012 London Olympics but was stripped of her medal because of irregularities in her biological passport, which monitors an athlete’s blood profile. She was given a four-year ban that began in 2016 and expires on May 29 — giving her an unexpected full year to qualify for Tokyo.

“I’m trying my best to [attend] the Olympics,” the 27-year-old runner said. “I hope I can join.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit estimates that about 40 of the 200 or so banned track and field athletes who stand to gain from the Olympic postponement are international-level competitors. The AIU maintains a global list of track athletes banned for doping violations.

Tougher road for clean athletes

More than 11,000 athletes are expected to compete in 33 sports in Tokyo, with about 2,000 of them in track and field.

Boyce, a two-time Olympian who has qualified for Tokyo, said restrictions on the number of competitors could make it harder for clean athletes to earn places.

“I wouldn’t be too happy now if I lost an Olympic spot because of an anomaly like what’s going on at the minute,” Boyce said.

The Irishman protested on social media but stopped short of filing any formal complaints. British long-distance runner and Tokyo hopeful Lily Partridge agreed.

“I don’t believe in second chances with regards to serious doping offences unless you provide serious assistance to anti-doping authorities and even then I don’t believe you should have the privilege of being able to compete and earn money from the sport,” Partridge told the AP.

However, World Anti-Doping Agency President Witold Banka said the unforeseen health crisis doesn’t mean authorities can “cherry-pick” when athletes have completed their bans.

“While an athlete cannot choose when he or she would like to be ineligible, an [anti-doping organization] cannot either,” Banka said. “This is entirely consistent with principles of natural justice and other areas of the law as it relates to sports or even criminal activity. When an offender has done the time, the sentence is considered to be served.”

‘Something we will need to look at,’ says track president

Sebastian Coe, the Olympic great who is now president of World Athletics, was less definitive in comments shortly after the games were postponed.

“This is something we will need to look at,” Coe said. “I know it’s something the Athletics Integrity Unit, and I’m sure all the other agencies out there in concert with our sports, will need to think about, and that will just be another issue in an overflowing inbox at the moment.”

Athletes who have already qualified for Tokyo have been assured that they’ll keep their spots as future qualification decisions unfold.

Among notable athletes due to come off doping bans are Polish weightlifter Tomasz Zielinski and Irish boxer Michael O’Reilly. Neither returned messages seeking comment.

Boyce, the race walker, said it would be difficult for an Irish athlete to compete after a doping ban.

“Having a doping ban in Ireland is much more than serving time away from your sport,” he said. “It’s really crippling for your life because you’re basically seen as a criminal. It’s a form of fraud. In other countries, you see some athletes who are on doping bans just training normally and they’re just waiting to come back and nobody in that country seems to be too bothered.”

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Canada’s De Grasse has new chance to feature in Olympics after postponement

Andre De Grasse now has the chance to be a major part of the sprint show at the Tokyo Games.

For that, he’s breathing a little easier.

A day ago, Canada’s fastest man wasn’t sure he would be allowed to take to the starting line, even if he wanted to. His country decided to not send a team to the Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic unless the games were delayed a year.

They were, and now he’s back on course.

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee postponed the Olympics until 2021. The announcement was recognition of the reality that training and qualifying schedules have been completely disrupted as the coronavirus spreads.

WATCH | Canadian IOC member discusses Tokyo 2020 postponement:

Canadian IOC member Dick Pound tells the CBC the Tokyo 2020 postponement will have a big impact on the international sports calendar. 8:50

This was supposed to be De Grasse’s year — his first chance for Olympic gold without Usain Bolt looming a few steps away. Only a new crop of talent has arrived on the scene in Americans Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles.

It’s shaping up to be quite a showdown, one that De Grasse certainly wanted in on and now can be given the IOC decision not to start the games on July 24 as scheduled.

Next on the agenda for the IOC and organizers is picking a date when it might be safe again to hold such a big event. They’ll also have to rearrange the 2021 global sports calendar.

De Grasse is, by most measures, Canada’s highest-profile summer sports star. The country brought 314 athletes to the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. It captured 22 medals, with De Grasse bringing home three.

Although De Grasse wasn’t contacted individually by Team Canada in regard to its decision not to send athletes to Tokyo before the IOC decision to postpone, he did receive a survey.

He didn’t fill it out.

WATCH | Postponement calls Olympians’ careers into question:

CBC Sports’ Scott Russell says the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics could jeopardize careers of some of Canada’s older athletes. 5:57

“I didn’t know how I felt about the situation at the time,” explained De Grasse, who has seven Olympic and world championship medals to his credit. “I was letting it go and playing it by ear day by day and seeing if this things got better.

“They’re trying to protect us. We’re humans first and athletes second. We’ll get through this.”

Family time

These days, he’s in Florida with his girlfriend, American hurdler Nia Ali. Now that cities and states are closing gyms and urging social distancing, his workouts have been reduced to running on a soccer field and chasing around their daughter, Yuri, who turns 2 in June. Ali also has a son, Titus.

“I’m with the kids, at home, a lot,” De Grasse cracked. “I feel like I’m active because I’m chasing them around. We go swimming in the backyard.”

De Grasse didn’t take the most conventional route into the world of sprinting. In fact, he thought his path to glory was as a point guard in basketball.

That changed when he bumped into a friend on the bus in high school. He boasted he could beat him in a race.

Race on.

Wearing baggy basketball shorts and borrowed spikes, De Grasse started from a standing position instead of uncoiling from the blocks.

He won.

A coach, Tony Sharpe, happened to see him from the stands, took him under his wing and helped fine-tune that raw speed.

De Grasse burst on the scene in 2015, when he tied for the 100-metre bronze medal at the world championships in Beijing. Back then, he was just a role player in the showdown between Bolt and American rival Justin Gatlin.

A year later at the Rio Games, De Grasse took centre stage and clowned around with Bolt, though it wasn’t all fun and games. Bolt was looking for the world record, possibly to even break the 19-second barrier in the 200. He fell short, and among the reasons he cited was De Grasse’s decision to push him the night before in the semifinals.

De Grasse ended up earning silver during the 200 in Brazil, along with bronze medals in the 100 and as part of the 4×100 relay team.

He occasionally watches his Olympic races — for inspiration.

“There’s a lot of motivation to say to myself, ‘I can be one of the fastest men in the world,”‘ De Grasse recounted. “When I watch, it fuels that and makes me hungry to win again and have that feeling that I felt in Rio.”

He’s healthy again, too.

Bothered by hamstring injuries in 2017 and in ’18, he flashed his familiar — and fast — form at the world championships last fall in Doha, Qatar. De Grasse took bronze in the 100 behind Coleman and Gatlin. Later, he picked up silver in the 200 behind Lyles.

A rematch in Tokyo?

De Grasse has that chance.

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Are Giving Fans a Chance to See ‘Just Mercy’ for Free

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Are Giving Fans a Chance to See ‘Just Mercy’ for Free | Entertainment Tonight

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There’s Still a Serious Chance We Lose the Notre Dame Cathedral

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On April 15 2019, the historic Notre Dame cathedral caught fire and burned. Firefighters battling the blaze were able to save key parts of the structure, including the buttresses, facade, stained glass windows, towers, and walls, though the spire and roof were both destroyed. Immediately after the fire, the French authorities made it clear that there was still some risk of collapse in windy weather. Eight months later, there’s still a 50/50 chance we lose the building altogether according to its rector, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet.

Christmas services were not held in the church for the first time since the French revolution. “Today it is not out of danger,” Monsignor Chauvet told the Associated Press on the sidelines of Christmas Eve midnight Mass in a nearby church. “It will be out of danger when we take out the remaining scaffolding.”

Notre Dame scaffolding, pre-fire. Image by Wikimedia

“Today we can say that there is maybe a 50% chance that it will be saved. There is also 50% chance of scaffolding falling onto the three vaults, so as you can see the building is still very fragile,” he said.

The problem with Notre Dame’s restoration is that the cathedral was already under restoration when it caught fire, with some 50,000 tubes of scaffolding spanning the structure. The roof burned around the scaffolding and the spire collapse further damaged it. The problem, of course, is that there’s no way to start fixing the damage without taking down the old scaffolding first. That’s scheduled to take until 2021, at which point the actual restoration work can begin.

There have been serious concerns about Notre Dame’s ability to remain standing without its roof, which acted to stabilize the structure. The high vaulted ceilings of the cathedral also act to stabilize its walls, which is why Chauvet is so concerned — any damage to the vaults by further scaffolding collapse could fatally compromise the cathedral.

“We need to remove completely the scaffolding in order to make the building safe, so in 2021 we will probably start the restoration of the cathedral,” Chauvet said. “Once the scaffolding is removed we need to assess the state of the cathedral, the quantity of stones to be removed and replaced.”

The French government has passed a law requiring Notre Dame to be restored to its exact original appearance. Further damage to the cathedral from scaffolding collapse could make that significantly more expensive, or even downright impossible.

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By Chance: Switched at birth, they were brought together again by coincidence

Clarence Hynes, left, and the woman who raised him, Rita Hynes, and Craig Avery, right, with the person who raised him, Mildred Avery. The two men were born Dec. 8, 1962, in Come By Chance, N.L. — a name that perfectly describes their mixed-up lives. (Submitted)

Imagine this: Your first memories, your early years with your brothers and sisters, and parents and grandparents — they all should have been someone else’s. And the reason why is pure chance.

Clarence Peter Hynes and Craig Harvey Avery were born in the Newfoundland town of Come By Chance — a name that perfectly describes their mixed-up lives.

Both were born at Walwyn Hospital, Come By Chance’s cottage hospital, on Dec. 8, 1962. Somehow, the two were sent home with the wrong families.

Avery went to Hillview with Hynes’s birth parents. Hynes was sent to St. Bernard’s with Avery’s birth parents.

Avery says the hardest part about the mix-up at birth is not knowing what happened. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

On television or in literature, it’s a setup for prince and pauper stories, where the child of a wealthy or aristocratic family is switched at birth with a child from a poor family.

Possible takeaways: Fate is a lottery or a poker game. We should play the hand we were dealt. The natural order finds a way to restore itself.

He said ‘Come By Chance’ and right then, when he said that, I just thought that, ‘You know, something is not right.’– Tracey Avery

But when it actually happens, it’s not so tidy. It’s painful.

“It’s unbelievable that something like that could happen. These people are supposed to be professionals and do what they are supposed to do, and it was just, to me, utter neglect,” said Avery.

“The hardest part is not knowing. How did this happen? Why did this happen?”

Similar upbringings

Being robbed of growing up with his birth family is what hurts the most, said Avery.

“You never got to sit down with your parents. You never got to be there for special occasions. Your brothers and sisters … you never got to grow up with them. It’s hard,” said Avery, swiping away tears. “It’s very hard.”

Avery’s and Hynes’s families were similar in various ways. Both are rooted in rural Newfoundland. Avery is third youngest of seven boys and one girl. Hynes is one of three brothers and four sisters.

“I grew up in a good, happy family. Me and Clarence grew up in probably equal families. Good families. Good upbringing. Good parents,” said Avery.

But that doesn’t mean what happened doesn’t matter.

“I had a wonderful life. I wouldn’t change my life that I had for nothing, but it still wasn’t right,” said Avery.

Early questions

There were hints decades ago.

Tall, blond and fair-skinned, Avery grew up reminded he wasn’t like his dark-haired brothers and sisters.

“They were all dark, and I was so light and I was bigger than all of them,” he said.

Questions were raised about Hynes too.

Working on the Hibernia oil project in the 1990s, Hynes was often told he resembled the Avery brothers. Sometimes he was even mistaken for one of them.

Clifford Avery, left, and his biological brother Hynes. (Submitted)

But Hynes dismissed it all until the evidence was too strong to deny.

“I didn’t want to know.”

Enter Det. Tracey Avery

What happened in 1962 might have remained unknown if not for Avery’s wife, Tracey, who connected the dots and asked the questions.

Four simple words, “Where were you born?” exposed a secret — a mistake? A cruel joke? — that irreversibly changed the course of two families’ histories.

That question might never have been asked but for a series of unlikely, chance events and circumstances:

  1. During a period when thousands of people left Newfoundland, most of the Avery and Hynes families stayed.
  2. Both Hynes and Craig Avery worked in oil industry-related jobs
  3. Both of them ended up at Bull Arm working on the Hebron project in 2014.

They weren’t working side by side, but they were in the same building, where their paths must have crossed many times.

Then there was a fourth, crucial, event: Tracey Avery was hired at Bull Arm too.

Avery worked on the Hebron project at Bull Arm. (Facebook)

Her first day there, she was struck by how much Hynes resembled her husband’s brother, Clifford Avery.

“She came to me and she said, ‘Craig, do you know there is a fellow who works here who looks just like one of your brothers?'” said Craig Avery.

But Hynes, a welding foreman at Bull Arm, had also heard it from other people.

“There were a couple of buddies who came to me also and said there’s a fellow down there that looks like my brother, and he even got the same spot on his moustache that you can see.” 

He had never noticed a resemblance himself: “He looked different with a hardhat and safety glasses on.”

Hynes asked Tracey Avery for her husband’s last name. When she told him, he said he’d been told he had looked like the Averys as far back as 1993.

Hynes said he initially brushed it off when he was told he resembled the Avery brothers. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

“But you just brush it off because there’s always somebody who looks like somebody,” said Hynes.

But it lingered in the back of Tracey Avery’s mind until another clue made it impossible to ignore.

Birthday surprise

One day, at a birthday celebration for Craig Avery at Bull Arm, Hynes told Tracey Avery it was his birthday too.

“So right away, I’m like, ‘Where were you born?’ and he said, ‘Come By Chance,’ and right then, when he said that, I just thought that, ‘You know, something is not right,'” said Tracey.

Tracey and Craig Avery flip through family photo albums at their home in Hillview. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

For her husband, the questions raised by the apparent coincidences weren’t entirely out of the blue, but learning the two men shared a birthday and a birthplace took those questions to a different level. Many nights, the Averys sat up in bed talking about it. What did it mean? How could they learn more? Should they look for answers or leave it alone?

It was unbearable. Craig Avery looked online and found articles about people who had been switched at birth in Manitoba.

Avery says DNA tests show Chesley Hynes, right, was his biological father. (Submitted)

“I saw this had happened in Manitoba and then I wondered if that was us too. Could it be that we did get switched?” asked Avery.

They decided to keep looking for answers. Avery went to his family doctor and took things a step further with a DNA test, comparing his DNA with the DNA of one of the brothers he grew up with.

The test showed Avery and a man he had always called his brother did not have the same father.

But what did that mean? There were a few possible answers, but Hynes’s parents and Avery’s parents were already gone. Hynes’s DNA would help clear things up, but when Avery told him about the results, Hynes was overwhelmed.

“I didn’t want to believe it at the time and it probably took me a couple of years to get something done myself,” said Hynes.

Eventually, he had his DNA compared with the same man Avery had.

“It came back that my DNA was a 100 per cent match with his brother,” said Hynes.

It was a discovery he couldn’t accept.

“I didn’t want to know at the time. I went through a hard time a couple of years. I broke down with all this playing on my mind. I had to go to my doctor and everything, but I don’t know.… It’s not getting no easier.”

Clarence and Cheryl Hynes look at family photos at their home in Paradise. (Bruce Tilley/ CBC)

Then, to further confirm what was becoming clear, Avery had his DNA compared with one of the brothers Hynes grew up with. They were a 100 per cent match. Avery and one of the men Hynes thought was his brother had the same father.

At that point, neither could deny what had happened — and it hurt. 

“It wasn’t easy,” said Hynes, understating the impact; he fell into a deep depression.

Sleepless nights

He couldn’t leave his home for weeks. Some days, he couldn’t get out of bed. Other days, he fought to get as far as the kitchen, where he stood over the sink and cried.

Hynes was dealing with something few people have experienced. It’s like discovering you were adopted, but it’s different because it wasn’t a choice. It’s a blunder with irreversible consequences.

“It was definitely life changing,” said Avery. “You grow up with a family for 56 years and then all of the sudden you learn that that’s not your family. Your parents are gone. They’ve passed on and they didn’t know nothing about it. It’s a lot of sleepless nights.”

In the early-morning hours, his mind still swims with unanswerable questions.

“You always think about, ‘Where would I be today? How would I have grown up?’ There’s always what-ifs.… How would your life have been different if you’d grown up with the family that you should have grown up with? What were your real parents like?” 

It’s been a hard road. A very, hard road.– Craig Avery

With both men’s parents gone, that last question can never be answered — and that’s the hardest part, said Avery.

“It’s been a hard road. A very, hard road. What hurts a lot is knowing that your parents are gone to their graves and they had no idea, and they never will, and we never, ever got to meet our parents or grandparents,” he said. “This deprived us of our families for 56 years.”

It has caused a lot of agony — pain that persists.

Avery and Hynes are suing Eastern Health, claiming negligence. The health authority says it ’empathizes with the individuals and families involved,’ and is reviewing the statement of claim before the courts. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

“Some of my family are still dealing with it now. It’s very hard,” said Hynes.

It’s so hurtful. It’s like your heart is broken all of the time.– Craig Avery

Avery said it’s hard to describe to someone who has always known their parents what it’s like to learn that you never met your birth parents.

“It’s so hurtful. It’s like your heart is broken all of the time. Every day, no matter what you are at, you’re always thinking about this,” he said. “When I wake up in the morning, this is the first thing that’s on my mind. When I go to bed at night, this is the last thing that’s on my mind before I go to sleep.”

Sometimes those thoughts turn dark.

“Was it done intentionally? Was it an accident? You’ve got a million questions that you’ll never have an answer to. Is there anybody else out there like us? How many are out there like us?”

There’s anger too

There’s more than just wonder. There’s also disbelief.

“I can’t believe that you put your trust in a hospital, and you go in and have a baby, and they send you home with somebody else,” said Avery.

There’s also anger. Both men feel the health-care system failed them.

The DNA tests set off powerful emotions, but also triggered a call to lawyers.

Suing for damages

“In the beginning, I didn’t even want to talk about it, but when [my] DNA results came back, I called Craig and we went from there,” said Hynes.

They claim provincial health authority Eastern Health was negligent by failing to provide accurate identification processes for newborns in its care and failing to discharge newborns into the care of their biological families.

Both Hynes and Avery said a legal settlement won’t change what happened to them — or take away the pain — but the hospital should be held accountable for what happened.

“They should be made to be more careful to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Avery. “There could be a lot more people who are in the same situation as us.”

The claims by Hynes and Avery haven’t been proven in court.

Better to have never known?

What they learned sent shock waves through many generations of both their families.

“It’s pretty life altering and it’s affected a lot of people. Sometimes I wonder if I should have said anything or [if] I should have just kept it to myself,” said Tracey Avery.

She’s asked both her husband and Hynes if they wish she’d never said anything.

“The two of them said, ‘No, not at all,’ because, you know, you’ve got family out there — you’ve got to know that, right?”

Christmas times 2

It’s complicated, but Hynes and Avery are trying to move forward by focusing on what they’ve gained.

“I didn’t want to go to my family and tell them that I wasn’t their brother. My sisters had a very hard job of it. I guess they felt they were losing me, but they didn’t lose me; I just gained another family,” said Hynes.

This year will be the first Christmas with their newfound families.

“I had a happy childhood, and I had happy teenage years, and growing up everything was good. They’re still my family. You know, I got two big families now and, hopefully, one day it will all be one big family,” said Avery.

Eastern Health confirmed in an emailed statement that it has received a statement of claim alleging two infants were discharged to the wrong families at the former Come By Chance cottage hospital in 1962.

“Eastern Health empathizes with the individuals and families involved,” the statement reads. “We are currently reviewing the statement of claim which is before the courts.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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This new shelter hopes to give addicts with no home and no support a fighting chance

To get an idea of just how different this new shelter program is, you need to ask Salvation Army Centre of Hope executive director John DeActis about the chocolates. 

“I have some chocolate downstairs in the shape of a Salvation Army Shield and I’m going to come up on Friday and put them on all the beds,” he said, laughing.

It’s not exactly the Fairmont Hotel, but DeActis is welcoming 22 important guests to the Salvation Army Centre for Hope on Monday.

They’ll be the first people in Canada to live at a Recovery Community Centre. It is a new type of shelter that’s designed to give people who want to get clean, but have no support and nowhere to live a fighting chance at staying sober. 

Clients can stay for up to 4 years

Each occupant will get a single bed with a dresser, window and their own shower. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

“It really is about recovery,” DeActis said. “They can live here for up to four years.”

During those four years, participants will have the stability they need to be actively working on their recovery, engaging in such things as group therapy sessions, alcoholics anonymous, and relapse prevention, DeActis said. 

The facility will have 24-hour staffing, on-site student social workers from King’s College and a volunteer nurse to help clients through their recovery. 

It will also include a games room, activity room, computer lab, communal kitchen and dining room, places where clients can hopefully foster a sense of community. It`s something DeActis said is crucial to a successful recovery. 

‘Every city is dealing with the tent issue’

John DeActis is the executive director of the Salvation Army Centre of Hope in downtown London, Ont. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

“In recovery it’s about community, so it’s about bringing folks together in the community and to support one another and help one another,” he said. “We always say the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connecting with people. The more you connect with people, the better your recovery is going to be.”

There are no studies to say this approach works because as far as he knows, it’s never been done before. 

“Turning shelter beds is something very new. We’re not aware of this happen ing anywhere in Canada,” DeActis said, noting that new approaches are urgently needed to help stem the tide of drug addiction and homelessness that’s causing so much suffering across Canada. 

 “I’m hoping this is part of the solution,” he said. “We know how hard it is with affordable housing today. Every city is dealing with the tent issue.” 

DeActis hopes that the people who stay in the recovery centre will not only get clean, but stay clean, find work and start paying their own way. 

If successful, program could expand

Garbage is piled up in a makeshift camp built by people sleeping in the rough in downtown London, Ont. not far from the CN tracks. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

“Our hope down the road is we convert all 90 of our private rooms into our recovery community centre,” he said, noting that the Salvation Army Centre of Hope will still offer beds to anyone who needs them. 

The program will be closely studied in its first 18 months, so that it can be fine tuned as it goes in order to help even more people. 

London has been mired in a housing and drug crisis for months. DeActis believes that, to stop it, the city needs the same thing a recovering addict needs: stability and a sense of community. 

“It’s about connectiveness,” he said. “What we need to know as a city, as a community, is that these folks are our community. We need to take care of them. We need to help.”

“It’s pretty easy for us to think as we drive by ‘oh my gosh, what is going on there?’ But if we drive by and say ‘this is my community these people are part of who I am in the city,’ I think we drive by with different eyes and a different heart.” 

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Canadian breakthrough that became the world’s most expensive drug, then vanished, gets second chance

A made-in-Canada medical breakthrough that disappeared from the market because it wasn’t profitable is being revived by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

It’s the latest chapter in the saga of Glybera, the world’s first approved gene therapy, which also became the world’s most expensive drug after it was licensed to a Dutch company and priced at $ 1 million for a one-time dose.

Glybera treats a rare and potentially deadly genetic disorder called lipoprotein lipase deficiency, or LPLD. Canada has the world’s largest population of LPLD patients clustered in the Saguenay region of Quebec, where an ancestor with the genetic mutation settled several hundred years ago.

People with LPLD lack a critical enzyme that helps their bodies process the fat from food. There is currently no available treatment and no cure. Those with LPLD must avoid most dietary fat to try to prevent painful and dangerous attacks of pancreatitis. 

The decision to re-develop a Canadian version of Glybera is the result of a serendipitous series of events, beginning when the NRC’s director of research and development for translational bioscience happened to be watching CBC’s The National  last November. 

Dr. Danica Stanimirovic was in the process of selecting the first project for a new federally funded program aimed at bringing rare gene and cell therapies to Canadians at an affordable price. Then she saw CBC’s feature report telling the story of how Glybera was pulled from the European market after only one commercial sale. The drug was never offered for sale in Canada or the U.S.

Dr. Danica Stanimirovic is the director of research and development for translational bioscience at Canada’s National Research Council. She selected Glybera as the first project for a new federal program to develop affordable versions of gene therapies after seeing a CBC News report on Glybera’s commercialization failure. (NRC)

“That really sparked some thinking,” she said. “We really have the ability to advance that.”

So she picked up the phone and called Dr. Michael Hayden in Vancouver. He’s the scientist at the University of British Columbia and the BC Children’s Hospital whose team developed Glybera. Hayden said he was happy to get the call. 

“I was thrilled because this represented a unique response to solve a big Canadian problem, particularly for families in Quebec. And I was just thrilled that we could do something as a national effort to achieve this.”

Made-in-Canada medical breakthrough

The Glybera story started at UBC in the early 1990s, when Hayden and his team discovered the first genetic mutations that caused LPLD. The researchers then developed a method to fix the malfunctioning gene and allow patients to live a nearly normal life. 

After doing the preliminary research, the Canadian discovery was licensed to a Dutch company called uniQure, which took Glybera through the rigorous clinical trial and approval process.

When the treatment was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2012, it made headlines as the world’s first gene therapy — the first treatment that could repair a faulty gene.

When it went on sale in Europe in 2015, Glybera quickly made headlines again, this time as the “world’s most expensive drug,” priced at $ 1 million for the one-time dose.

Dr. Sander van Deventer, uniQure’s chief scientific officer, told CBC News last year that the price was a business calculation based on the price of other drugs that treat rare diseases. Many of those drugs cost more than $ 300,000 per patient per year. Because Glybera is a one-time treatment that keeps working for years, the $ 1-million price seemed reasonable, he said.

Less than two years later, the drug was pulled from the market after only one commercial sale. uniQure has no plans to revive the therapy.

Dr. Michael Hayden, director of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at the Child & Family Research Institute in Vancouver, will be leading the Canadian scientific team as they re-engineer Glybera. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Although Hayden discovered the gene mutation and developed the early phase of the treatment, he had no role in the commercialization of his discovery. And that meant he also had no control over the price.

“You don’t determine the outcome, you don’t determine its costs,” he said. “I’d say what went wrong is that it was very hard to be able to make sure that this got to patients at a reasonable cost.”

Stanimirovic said the fact that Canada has such a large population of LPLD patients was an important factor in deciding to give Glybera a second chance. 

“This gene mutation is very prevalent in Canada compared to other places in the world,” she said. “For us, it was almost calling us to do something on the manufacturing side for this particular gene therapy.”

LPLD is rare, affecting one or two out of every million people around the world. But in the Saguenay region of Quebec, where the gene mutation has been passed down through generations, the numbers are 30 times higher. Up to one in 50 people in some communities are carrying the gene mutation. Both parents must have the mutation for a child to inherit the disease.

‘Astronomical’ price in ‘pharma-driven model’

The ultimate goal of gene therapy is to fix a genetic problem by giving the patient a new gene. Specially engineered viruses are used to deliver the repair gene to the patient’s cells. The cost of manufacturing those viruses is often cited as one reason for the high price of therapies. The need to generate pharmaceutical shareholder profits is another factor. 

“[Gene therapies] are usually targeted to very small patient populations,” Stanimirovic said. “It’s hard to make them in a typical pharma-driven model because it drives the price of these therapies to astronomical levels.”

The NRC has developed expertise in manufacturing viral vectors to deliver gene therapies. (NRC)

At its facility in Montreal, the NRC has already developed expertise in producing viral vectors that act as the delivery system for gene therapy. Because the scientists will be re-engineering Glybera using new viral vectors, and improving the therapy, any remaining patents will not be an obstacle, Stanimirovic said. 

The ultimate plan is to develop public sector manufacturing capacity to create not just an affordable version of Glybera but other gene and cell therapies as well. The total federal funding for six projects including Glybera is estimated at about $ 80 million over seven years.

“Our goal is to create new partnership models that will create therapies that are more accessible and more affordable,” said Stanimirovic. “We hope we can do that through public partnership or public/private partnerships. So the end goal is to really, through this project, develop Canadian capacity to take on subsequent gene therapies.”

Hayden called the plan a “beautiful Canadian story.”

“Now we have to translate this into something that will truly be effective for patients in a limited time frame and I’m so excited to do this.”

We’ve been fighting for 10 years with doors closed. The possibility that something is coming is encouraging, but yes, it’s long.– Brenda Potter, mother of a 10-year-old with LPLD

For patients suffering from LPLD, the wait is frustrating.

Felix Lapointe, a 10-year-old from Repentigny, Que., was five weeks old when his mother learned the terrible news that her son had the potentially deadly genetic disease.

Brenda Potter helps her 10-year-old son Felix Lapointe assemble a jigsaw puzzle. Felix has LPLD, a potentially deadly genetic disease that currently has no available treatment and no cure. Potter is encouraged that the NRC is planning to re-invent Glybera, but she says it’s still going to be a long wait, at least five years, before the first clinical trials. (CBC)

Because there is no treatment available right now, he’s managing the disease through a strict diet to reduce the risk of dangerous pancreatic attacks. He will have to wait another five years for the first clinical trials of the re-invented Glybera.

“We’d like it to happen tomorrow morning,” said Brenda Potter, Felix’s mother. “Still, we’re a little used to this. We’ve been fighting for 10 years with doors closed. The possibility that something is coming is encouraging, but yes, it’s long.”

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