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Tragedy stole Aly Jenkins from her family, the sport she loved is helping them heal

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — It was supposed to be Aly Jenkins’s moment.

The promising Saskatchewan curler so badly wanted to wear her provincial colours one day and play in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada’s crown jewel for women’s curling.

But on that first Sunday of competition at this year’s tournament it was Jenkins’s husband, Scott, and their three children who stood at ice level inside Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw, Sask. 

Aly Jenkins wasn’t there. But her presence could be felt by everyone inside the arena.

“It was a tough decision to come,” Scott said this week. “I think she’d be proud. I think she might think I would just fold maybe and not come. But she always pushed me to do these things so that’s why I’m doing it.”

It had been just four months since Aly had died giving birth to the couple’s third child. She had suffered an amniotic embolism, a rare complication during childbirth and almost unthinkable for a healthy 30-year-old.

It sent a chill through the curling community.

  • Watch Devin Heroux’s feature about Aly Jenkins Friday on The National at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and 10 p.m. local time. You can also watch The National online on CBC Gem

In the days that followed, people from across Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world rallied around Scott and his family, doing whatever they could to help him make it to the next day.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Scott said. “I wish there was a way I could thank every single one, and help them with something they’re struggling with.”

This past Sunday, at the opening weekend of this year’s Scotties, Curling Canada honoured Aly.

WATCH | Tribute for Aly Jenkins:

Saskatoon curler Aly Jenkins is honoured at the  Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. Jenkins died in October from complications during the birth of her third child. 2:45

In front of a capacity crowd, Scott, his four-year-old son Brady, one-year-old daughter Avery, and new baby Sydney courageously walked out onto the ice surface area in front of a crowd of thousands.  

Scott held Brady, with Aly’s former curling teammates holding Sydney and Avery nearby. They played a video tribute honouring her, highlighting Aly’s love of curling, zest for life and infectious smile. Tears streamed down their faces as photos of Aly flashed across the screen inside the arena.

A competitive curler, Aly Jenkins dreamed of competing in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Submitted by CurlSask)

It was devastating and beautiful.

Scott had to be there. For Aly. For his healing process. And to help his kids know their mom.

“Just trying not to let them forget. That’s my biggest worry right now is them forgetting her,” Scott said. “They ask about mom. Not as much lately which scares me.”

The ‘miracle’ baby

October 20 was supposed to be the perfect day.

It was Scott’s birthday. It was also the day Aly, a physiotherapist, went into labour.

Scott enjoys a moment at home with Sydney, who he calls his “miracle baby” after she survived some life-threatening moments shortly after she was born. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

Scott doesn’t want to revisit it. But all he does is revisit it, over and over in his mind — their drive to the hospital, being in the delivery room and then the chaos that followed.

“We were joking and laughing when we arrived. It was my birthday. So we were talking about having the same birthday and all the stuff and trying to have this baby on the same day. She was all excited for that,” Scott said.

“Everything switched in a hurry.”

Aly was in a lot of pain. She quickly got an epidural. But nothing was getting rid of her severe pain. Her heart rate started dropping. Aly was having trouble breathing.

“All of a sudden in the blink of an eye everything just dropped,” Scott said. “She had a seizure and all the machines were dinging and ringing. They grabbed me and I went out to the hallway and I collapsed. They had nurses on me and then I saw them take her away.”

“It was the last time I saw her,” Scott said.

One doctor came in and told me when Aly passed away, for some reason, everything started to change with Sydney.– Scott Jenkins

For hours doctors tried everything to save Aly, pumping litre after litre of blood into her. Nothing worked. While that horrifying situation was unfolding doctors were also trying to save the baby.

“Sydney wasn’t breathing for the first two minutes or three minutes,” Scott recalled.

Sydney had no brain function. Her lungs weren’t working. It wasn’t looking good.

“I was running up and down floors to try to meet doctors,” Scott said. “I remember every second of it. It’s crazy.”

And then a miracle moment.

“One doctor came in and told me when Aly passed away, for some reason, everything started to change with Sydney,” Scott said.

Sydney started breathing.

WATCH | Curling helping Aly Jenkins’s family ease the pain:

Saskatchewan curler Aly Jenkins, who died during childbirth last October, is having her legacy carried on by her husband Scott and their three kids, as she was honoured at the Scotties tournament of Hearts. 1:51

Doctors thought Sydney would be in the hospital for at least 30 days recovering, hooked up to machines. Scott left the hospital nine days later with a healthy “miracle baby.”

“She’s the last person that was with Aly. I see so much of her in Sydney. She’s a fighter like her mom,” he said.

Picking up the pieces

Scott and his children at home in Warman, Sask. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

Scott, 31, is now adjusting to life as a single father, on leave from his sales job with a construction company.

In his Warman, Sask., home he’s filling bottles, changing diapers, playing mini sticks, trying to maintain normalcy for kids who need love and fun. The routine of parenthood, but underlying it all, his grief. 

There are two TVs, one for Avery’s cartoons and one for Brady’s shows. Sometimes Scott is able to watch sports late at night if he doesn’t fall asleep on the couch after another exhausting day.

He’s finally getting a routine down, but wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of his parents and Aly’s parents who drop by the house on a daily basis.

“They’ve been amazing. I couldn’t have done without them. Just the daily challenges,” Scott said. “I can’t just curl up in bed and sulk. We have three kids so I keep pushing.”

But he has his moments. When all he wants to do is cry. Avery is too young to know what’s happening right now. But Brady is acutely aware of his dad’s feelings, stepping up to help as much as he can.

Scott with Brady at their local curling rink. He says the sport will always be the childrens’ connection to their mother. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

“He’s an eight-year-old in a four-year-old body. He doesn’t complain about anything. He’ll help me with the bottles and diapers. He cleans up. Avery is my little Aly. She’s feisty just like her mom,” Scott said.   

“We have our moments. I try to keep it away from them as much as possible when I’m upset.

“Brady knows. He always says we’re okay, and gives a hug. It’s special.”

Back to the Scotties

Everywhere Scott turns he’s reminded of his high school sweetheart.

The two met when they were in Grade 11 during a golf tournament in Waskesiu, Sask. They immediately fell in love.

Scott and Aly on their wedding day. (Photo courtesy the Jenkins family)

For the next number of years, Scott would drive four hours almost every week from Prince Albert, Sask. to Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., where Aly grew up, to spend the weekend with her. They had been inseparable ever since.

“We were drawing up something pretty perfect,” Scott said.

Five years ago, in February 2015, the two made the drive together from Warman to Moose Jaw and dreamed of their future.

It was the previous time the Scotties was held in Saskatchewan. Scott remembers the drive along the expansive prairie landscape with Aly like it was yesterday.

“She was so excited. Her dream was to make it and I knew she would have one day for sure,” he said.

They spent that week in the Mosaic Place stands together, laughing, cheering, and imagining Aly being on the ice one day.

“I know exactly where we were sitting,” Scott said, pointing to the spot. “Across the rink. Right over there.”

This week, Scott had to make the drive without her. As he walked up to the arena with Avery in his arms and Brady walking beside him holding his hand, Scott shared memories with them of that time with Aly.

“That connection to curling is going to keep it together for sure,” Scott said. “It’s forever going to be attached with mom and curling,”

Not long after Scott and his family arrived, he was met by Rachel Homan, the three-time Scotties champion from Ottawa.

She gave birth to her first child, a baby boy, this past summer, and news of Aly’s death hit her in a visceral way. She immediately reached out to Scott and the pair had remained in contact, Homan offering whatever support she could.

On this day, the two hugged each other on the Mosaic Place concourse with their two babies in their arms.

“It’s devastating and emotional so I just wanted to reach out to see if there was anything I could do to support or help,” Homan said.  

“Being through a similar experience but obviously a different ending.  I just can’t even imagine going through that.”

Homan is the skip of Team Ontario. They decided to put stickers with Aly’s name on their brooms to honour her throughout this year’s tournament.

It’s little things like this that keeps Scott going.

“The curling community is quite amazing and I’m so grateful to be a part of it,” Scott said. “We’re all a big family.”

Aly’s teammates were her second family.

Nancy Martin and Sherry Anderson were two of the last curlers to be on the ice with her. They came within a shot of making it to the Scotties in 2019 — they so badly wanted to play a role in helping Aly achieve her dream.

“I think you saw probably on our faces when we lost last year she was down and beside me and the tears were rolling,” Martin said. “It was heartbreaking to lose that game. You always think there’s another year.”

You wanted her to experience the joy of the win and getting to go and play in the Scotties.– Sherry Anderson, Jenkins’s former teammate

Anderson has been to the Scotties a number of times; she knows what it takes to win at that level. And she knew Aly was good enough to one day be there.

“You wanted her to experience the joy of the win and getting to go and play in the Scotties because that is every female’s dream in Canada, to go to the Scotties and perform. So, it was hard.”

The two have kept in touch with Scott and the kids, helping out as much as they can. And like Scott, Martin and Anderson have been overwhelmed by how the curling community has rallied together in the wake of this tragedy.

“I think the one thing that blew me away was it was curlers. Friends of friends of friends curlers who didn’t know Aly that reached out to us and it really made me realize what a small community we have really,” Martin said.  

“We all have each other’s back.”

Keeping Aly’s memory alive

In Scott’s bedroom, in the corner beside the bed, sits a duffel bag.

Scott points to it, the emotions beginning to bubble up inside him.

“She packed that before going to the hospital,” he says.

Aly’s previous two deliveries were lengthy and so she wanted to be prepared for her third.

Scott can’t bring himself to open the bag to see what’s inside.

Some days are better than others. But there are these daily moments, out of nowhere, where he’s hit by the reality that Aly isn’t there to watch their three beautiful children grow up.

“Every day it’s something. And that’s what hurts. Avery started to talk a lot more and little things like that set me off because it’s just stuff that I wish Aly could have witnessed.

“I see them growing up and doing things their mom would’ve been so proud of.”

He has her phone. Aly recorded moments together with Brady and Avery — at the park, at the curling rink, in the kitchen with the kids. Scott will watch those videos from time to time to remind him of her.

Aly loved being a mom.

“She kept the family together. I have to learn so many new things now. She took care of everything around this family.”

And in some ways she’s still taking care of them, through the community she leaves behind, and the rinks that were her second home.  

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CBC | Sports News

Online claims that Chinese scientists stole coronavirus from Winnipeg lab have ‘no factual basis’

The Public Health Agency of Canada is denying any connection between the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, two scientists who were escorted out of the building last summer, and the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Baseless stories claiming that the two scientists are Chinese spies and that they smuggled the coronavirus to China’s only Level 4 lab in Wuhan last year have been spreading on all major social media platforms and on conspiracy theorist blogs. One article from a conspiracy blog was shared more than 6,000 times on Facebook on Monday. 

The story even made its way on Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, where a video pushing these claims was watched more than 350,000 times.

“This is misinformation and there is no factual basis for claims being made on social media,” Eric Morrissette, chief of media relations for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada said in response to queries by CBC News.

The conspiracy theory seems to be based on a distorted reading of reporting from CBC News published last summer. One of the first mentions occurred Saturday on Twitter, where businessman Kyle Bass claimed that “a husband and wife Chinese spy team were recently removed from a Level 4 Infectious Disease facility in Canada for sending pathogens to the Wuhan facility.”

The conspiracy theory seems to be based on a distorted reading of reporting from CBC News published last summer. One of the first mentions occurred Saturday on Twitter, where businessman Kyle Bass claimed that ‘a husband and wife Chinese spy team were recently removed from a Level 4 Infectious Disease facility in Canada for sending pathogens to the Wuhan facility.’

In the tweet, which was shared over 12,000 times, he linked to a story CBC News broke in July, revealing that a researcher, her husband, and some of their graduate students, were escorted out of the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg amid an RCMP investigation into what’s being described as a possible “policy breach” and “administrative matter.” 

The RCMP and Health Canada have both stressed that there was no danger for public safety.

CBC reporting never claimed the two scientists were spies, or that they brought any version of the coronavirus to the lab in Wuhan.

Experts like Fuyuki Kurasawa, director of the Global Digital Citizenship Lab at York University, say disinformation about the coronavirus is creating a ‘social panic’ online. (Derek Hooper/CBC News)

Experts say the disinformation is creating a “social panic” online.

“We’ve seen already on Twitter and Reddit and other platforms that there have been calls to ban travellers from China from entering North American or Europe — that there have been individuals targeted to be supposedly pulled off flights or stopped at the Canadian border or the U.S. border,” says Fuyuki Kurasawa, director of the Global Digital Citizenship Lab at York University. 

“The broader damage is that there grows a mistrust toward both government authorities, public health officials, the media, authoritative sources of media, and there there becomes a social media environment where speculation, rumour and conspiracy theories take over and wash out the factual information that is being promoted online.”

This claim that China smuggled the coronavirus out of a Canadian lab has been circulating on Twitter. (CBC)

Kurasawa is already seeing that spread from the online world to the real world.

“Individuals will take it on themselves to become vigilantes, where they’ll try to spot someone who supposedly is either holding the truth about some hidden truth about the coronavirus or a person who may be a carrier or supposed carrier of the virus because they appear to have certain symptoms, and then they’ll ask the general public to take matters into own hands,” he says.

Kernels of truth in disinformation

Dr. Xiangguo Qiu is a medical doctor and virologist from Tianjin, China, who came to Canada for graduate studies in 1996. Qiu is still affiliated with the university there and has brought in many students over the years to help with her work. She helped develop ZMapp, a treatment for the deadly Ebola virus which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014-2016.

Her husband Keding Cheng works at the Winnipeg lab as a biologist. He has published research papers on HIV infections, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), E. coli infections and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. 

One month later, CBC discovered that scientists at the NML sent live Ebola and Henipah viruses to Beijing on an Air Canada flight March 31. The Public Health Agency of Canada says all federal policies were followed. PHAC will not confirm if the March 31 shipment is part of the RCMP investigation.

This social media posting appeared on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. (CBC)

Contrary to posts on Twitter, the coronavirus was not part of this shipment. And there is no confirmation Qiu or Cheng were the scientists behind the shipment.

In another followup story using travel documents obtained in Access to Information requests, CBC reported that Qiu made at least five trips to China in 2017-18, including one to train scientists and technicians at China’s newly certified Level 4 lab.

She was invited to visit the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences twice a year for two years, for up to two weeks each time. The lab does research with the most deadly pathogens.

Heidi Tworek, assistant professor in international history at University of British Columbia, says governments and public health agencies have to be more effective at communicating to the public because disinformation will spread faster than facts. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC News )

PHAC has denied any connection between the RCMP investigation, Qiu’s visits to Wuhan or any Canadian research, with the coronavirus outbreak. 

However, PHAC would not comment on the current status of Qiu and Cheng, citing privacy reasons.

Communicate more effectively

Heidi Tworek, assistant professor in international history at the University of British Columbia, says governments and public health authorities need to do a better job of communicating facts at times like this, including in the languages of the communities impacted.

“It’s incredibly challenging during fast-moving outbreaks of any disease to balance between information to keep the public safe and prevent something from becoming a massive epidemic and also trying to provide truthful information and also providing enough so you don’t end up with a vacuum, which is where disinformation can flourish,” Tworek says.

“We’ve seen in previous outbreaks it’s been difficult to get this right, but I’d emphasize this is actually a crucial element of what we need to be thinking about into the future — how do we actually communicate well and swiftly with general public with all types of health scares? This will not be the last time we face disinformation during a potential epidemic.”

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CBC | Health News

Lil Wayne's Outfit Stole the Show at the National Championship Halftime Show

Lil Wayne made a guest appearance at the College Football Playoff National Championship halftime show on Monday night, and the rapper’s uniquely fascinating outfit stole the spotlight.

The “Love Me” artist donned a long black, white and blue fuzzy full-length fur coat, a black-and-white striped scarf, fingerless gloves, rhinestone-encrusted sunglasses, massive boots and a floppy hat.

All together, it definitely made for an interesting look, and fans online had a lot of thoughts about the style choice, comparing the 36-year-old rapper’s onstage ensemble to everything from the McDonald’s mascot The Hamburglar to Darkwing Duck to the scene from ET: The Extraterrestrial, when Drew Barrymore’s character dressed up the eponymous alien as an old lady.

While Imagine Dragons were technically the headliners for the show (and the Clemson Tigers’ 44-16 trouncing of the Alabama Crimson Tide was technically the main point of the National Championship) it’s clear that Lil Wayne’s indefinable, eye-catching costume was the real star of the night.


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Gal Gadot Calls Out Ryan Reynolds for Ripping Her 'Wonder Woman' Pose: 'Dude Stole My Look!'

It’s a battle of the superhero wits! 

Gal Gadot seems to have spotted a strikingly familiar gesture in the new Deadpool 2 trailer. In the latest teaser for the upcoming Marvel film, Ryan Reynolds can be seen posing with his arms crossed — an iconic move that was consistently seen in Gadot’s Wonder Woman movie when she wanted to unleash the power of her gold cuff bracelets.

“Dude stole my look!” the 32-year-old actress jokingly stated on Instagram, tagging Reynolds. 

Dude stole my look!! ??‍♀️? @vancityreynolds

A post shared by Gal Gadot (@gal_gadot) on

Always armed with a clever comeback, Reynolds quipped in response, “Imitation is the sincerest form of larceny.”

This isn’t the first time the stars have engaged in a bit of friendly competition. After 2017’s Wonder Woman grossed more than 2016’s Deadpool, the 41-year-old actor was quick to congratulate the warrior princess on her box-office success.

“The Merc May Be Filthier, but Her B.O. is Stronger,” Reynolds wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of the mercenary’s hands forming a heart around a Wonder Woman necklace. “Congrats #WonderWoman #BoxOfficeBoss.”

The Merc May Be Filthier, but Her B.O. is Stronger. Congrats #WonderWoman #BoxOfficeBoss

A post shared by Ryan Reynolds (@vancityreynolds) on

For more on the highly anticipated Deadpool sequel — in theaters May 18 — watch the video below.


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