Beginning the week of July 19, Ward 3 residents will start to receive their Vote-By-Mail kits to cast their vote for the 2021 Ward 3 byelection. Resources for voting, including a video on how to complete the Vote-By-Mail kit, is available on our website at https://www.welland.ca//Elections/ElectorsResources.asp.
NIAGARA FALLS, ON– The Niagara Falls Illumination Board will be illuminating both the Canadian Horseshoe and American Falls in rainbow colours for 30 minutes tonight at the top of each hour at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00pm in celebration of Pride Month.
Today’s date holds significance to the LGBTQ2S+ community as the anniversary of the Stonewall riots that took place on June 28, 1969 in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York City, with members of the gay community protesting a police raid at the Stonewall Inn. The events of this day are widely considered a watershed moment in the awareness and progress of gay rights, with the first gay rights marches taking place in major American cities one year later on the anniversary.
When I heard of the passing of Rene Robert, Tuesday, June 22, aged 72, I automatically thought of the “French Connection”. No, not the Oscar-winning movie titled “The French Connection” but the explosive and magical line the Buffalo Sabres assembled in the 1970s and terrorized NHL goaltenders and teams from coast to coast in both the United States and Canada.
Robert, a right winger, was one third of that famous line along with centre Gilbert Perreault and left winger Richard Martin. Perreault was the first player ever drafted by the expansion Sabres in 1970 and Martin was drafted the following season.
Robert came to the Sabres via the trade route in March 1972 from the Pittsburgh Penguins for the fan favourite Eddie Shack. It wasn’t a popular trade, at first, with the fans as Robert arrived in Buffalo with only having played 54 games. But once the line started to click it was only the beginning.
All three players were born in the province of Quebec so once the line took over and dominated on the ice it was only a matter of time before it would be labelled with a name. And it was Lee Coppola, a news department writer with the Buffalo News who came up with the name. He also handled the slogans for the moving message board at all Memorial Auditorium games. During one game which the line was dominating, Coppola flashed the name French Connection on the board and it stuck.
It was fitting as all three not only hailed from Quebec but spoke French. They made the Sabres an instant contender with the magic the trio performed on the ice. Perreault was the cornerstone and lifted everyone out of their seats every time he picked up the puck and zipped down the ice. Martin with his booming shot was a goal scorer and Robert was a playmaker who could dig the puck out of the corners and produce some goals at opportune times.
He was the typical pro hockey player. When he first arrived in Buffalo he was on the quiet side. If he had a productive game, he was willing to talk. If he didn’t you were lucky if he acknowledged the press in the room. It took some time but once he was familiar with the media members he did open up a little more. And when I went on some road trips and flew on the team charter and stayed at the same hotel I found him to be more open when it came to interviews.
The Sabres qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in only their third year of existence only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in six games. Down 3-0 in the series, Buffalo rebounded at home to send the series back to the Montreal Forum where Robert scored the game-winner in overtime to force game six. Back in Buffalo the Habs prevailed 4-2 to advance but what still sticks out 48 years later is the fans chanting “Thank you Sabres” over and over in the closing moments.
Two years later Buffalo would gain revenge on Montreal. The Sabres evened the series at 3-3 in Buffalo and Robert was the hero again scoring in overtime. Then in game seven in Montreal the Sabres prevailed 4-3 to advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time.
In the finals against the Philadelphia Flyers the “Broad Street Bullies” won the first two games on home ice but Buffalo prevailed in the friendly confines of the Aud. In game three which was labeled “The Fog Bowl” Robert delivered again this time beating goalie Bernie Parent in dense fog in overtime.
The Sabres evened the finals at two apiece but the Flyers would win the next two to clinch their second straight championship.
The “French Connection” would electrify fans around the NHL for four more seasons. October 5, 1979, Robert was traded to the Colorado Rockies and January 30, 1981 he went to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he would complete his 12th and final season in the NHL. He compiled 284 goals and 418 assists in 744 regular season games. In 50 Stanley Cup games he scored 22 goals and added 19 assists. Twice with the Connection, he had 40-goal seasons.
A statue of the Sabres French Connection stands as the centre piece of the Alumni Plaza near the home arena of the Sabres.
Perreault remains the sole survivor of the French Connection as Martin died in 2011 at the age of 59.
(Note: Wayne Redshaw covered the Sabres for over 40 NHL seasons and served as a voting delegate for the NHL awards. He was named a Life Member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association in 1987 and was inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.)
Seasons on the trail: Recently it came as bit of a surprise to be reminded I have three seasonal photos in my archive showing a favourite piece of the lower trail on Merritt Island. It’s where a large limb extends from one side of the beautiful walkway across to the other, and it is visible from a distance, becoming after so many walks down the trail, something to look forward to. I like thinking of it as a landmark, of sorts, letting walkers know where on the trail they are. But I was missing one seasonal photo: summer. So I went to the island Thursday, June 24, to walk this part of the trail and to photograph the section with the tree limb extending across it, thereby to complete the seasonal compilation, even if it was by circumstance more so than long-term plan or design. This is a charming stretch of trail, serpentine in part, always with great visual appeal, partly because of the palette of hues depending on season and of course that landmark limb. For this four-season visitor, a favourite feature of the lower trail. The photos, clockwise from top left: summer, autumn, winter, spring. (Text, photos by Joe Barkovich)
In 2017, Niagara Catholic installed a turf field at Saint Paul Catholic High School, in a partnership between Niagara Catholic, the Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education, the City of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Falls Soccer Club.
During the June 15, 2021 board meeting, trustees voted in favour of investing approximately $3 million to install turf fields at Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School and Notre Dame College School. The projects will be funded through the Board’s School Condition Improvement funding, as well as School Renewal Allocation and other community partnerships. Trustees also approved a plan to include funding in annual budgets moving forward, with a goal of ensuring all eight Catholic high schools in the Board have turf fields in the future.
In his report to the Board, Controller of Facilities Services Clark Euale pointed out the benefits of turf fields over traditional grass, including increased playing time, fewer injuries, lower maintenance costs (including no need for pesticides or irrigation), opportunities for community partnerships and less downtime on the fields due to inclement weather.
“Turf fields provide school boards with the opportunity to build relationships with the community, and recover the initial investment through fees and lower maintenance costs over the life of the field,” said Euale. “We are extremely pleased that our Board of Trustees has supported this initiative, which will level the playing field for students over time.”
Larry Huibers, Chair of the Board, said this decision ultimately benefits students.
“By making an investment in turf fields, we are ensuring that students coming to our high schools will find facilities on par with other schools in their communities,” he said. “We know that safety on the playing field is a key concern for students and their families, and providing them with safer, state-of-the-art facilities sends our communities the message that student safety is our number one priority,” said Chair Huibers.
Planning for the fields at Blessed Trinity and Notre Dame College School will take place during the 2021-2022 school year, and construction will take place next summer, in time for use in the 2022-2023 school year.
Flora spotted while on my early afternoon walk today on the lower trail at Merritt Island. There are probably others but they will have to wait for discovery on my next trek in days ahead. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)
(Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog. The focus is on randomly selected or recommended garden spaces in the city. Do any sights or sites come to mind as photo suggestions? Contact Gadabout Gardener at email@example.com.)
“Reaching (this) milestone is meaningful for all of us at NC,” said College president Sean Kennedy. “It underscores our growth and success as a college over the past 53 years while highlighting the ever-expansive reach of our global alumni community, which, including our Spring 2021 graduates, will now stand over 100,000 strong.”
The significance of the moment wasn’t lost on Gushue, who was made aware of her status before the ceremony. She appeared briefly on camera celebrating in front of a lawn sign announcing the milestone at her home in Ridgeway.
“I have goosebumps right now,” she said when learned she was lucky No. 100,000. “I definitely was not expecting this at all.”
In addition to Gushue, the spotlight was on nearly 800 students from the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, School of Allied Health and School of Justice and Fitness, who joined in the celebrations on June 22 and received their degrees.
They are among the nearly 4,000 students graduating from NC this spring.
As Fiona Allan, vice-president Academic noted, the Class of 2021 completed their studies in a way unlike any class before it.
“Our Class of 2021 graduands are the first in our College’s history who have completed over a year of their studies under the extraordinary circumstances presented by the pandemic,” Allan said. “Almost everyone needed to adapt to completing their studies at least partially online. Some of our graduands even completed their entire program remotely without stepping foot on our campuses or meeting with their faculty or classmates in person. You all put the NC in the words ‘perseverance’ and resilience.’”
Student success in the spotlight
The afternoon ceremony saw James Casselman, Governor General’s Award recipient, graduate from Police Foundations. Casselman earned the prestigious recognition for achieving the highest grade point average — 98% — of any NC graduate. The Niagara resident also received the Dean’s Award for the highest grade point average in his academic school.
“The Governor General’s Award means something to me beyond words but it really pales in comparison to what we’ve all accomplished through the adversity of the pandemic,” Casselman said to students during the ceremony. “As the old saying goes ‘Character is what you accomplish when nobody is looking,’ and we all accomplished so much without anybody looking.”
“I am so honoured to be receiving the Dean’s Award,” Stefanac said. “I have always tried hard to succeed as my grades are important to me, but I never would have thought I would have achieved this accomplishment.”
Niagara College’s June Virtual Convocation ceremonies, which kicked off on June 21, will continue twice a day – at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – up to and including June 25. The ceremonies include an address and performance by guest speaker Sarah Blackwood, the Canadian singer, songwriter and musician from the Juno-award-winning band, Walk Off the Earth.
The Hungarian Self Culture Society of Welland, founded in 1921, is marking its 100th anniversary and is feeling the community’s love. On Saturday, the Main Street Bridge was illuminated in Hungary’s colours, red, green and white as a tribute to the major milestone. And one of Welland’s decorative floral beds has a gorgeous display in honor of the anniversary. The bed, at the intersection of Prince Charles Drive and First Avenue, has a floral replica of the Hungarian Hall on Hellems Avenue, the Society’s headquarters, as one of its features, shown top right. Pandemic protocols muted activities this year – no banquet with guest speakers and course after course of superb Hungarian cuisine, for example – but anniversary celebrations may be held in the next. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)
After a year like no other, graduating students from Niagara College’s Class of 2021 are poised begin the next phase of their lives in a world forever changed from the impacts of a global pandemic –but, this week, they celebrate.
The College kicked off its five-day Virtual Convocation week on June 21, by shining the spotlight on 800 new graduates from its schools of Business and Management, and Hospitality, Tourism and Sport. Two highly interactive virtual ceremonies were broadcast live from NC’s Welland Campus – each celebrating different academic areas of study – thanks to a crew of students and staff from the College’s Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film program working behind the scenes to bring the livestream into the homes of viewers around the world. The first day’s virtual events received more than 4,115 live views.
Special guest speaker Sarah Blackwood – Canadian singer/songwriter/musician from Juno-award-winning band Walk Off the Earth – addressed graduates with an inspiring speech, including a powerful wake-up call that the road of life is constantly changing.
“Welcome to the rest of life. It doesn’t matter when or where you are, your journey will always be unpredictable,” said Blackwood, who was honoured with an honorary diploma in Media Studies. “There’s no big light at the end of the tunnel … it’s ever-changing. And the first thing I suggest for all of you is to get comfortable with uncertainty and get excited about not knowing exactly where you go from here. Get comfy living with a giant question mark over your head at all times.”
Blackwood encouraged them to “say yes to everything,” to focus on positivity and their own evolution.
“Life is not about one big defining moment. It’s about all the small things that you experience and live through so you can allow your soul to grow and guide you.”
Following her speech, Blackwood treated the graduates to a melodic solo performance, singing to them as she played her acoustic guitar. NC’s Class of 2021 will also receive a special gift: an exclusive video of Walk Off the Earth performing Farther We Go which will be emailed to them on Friday after the final ceremony concludes.
College president Sean Kennedy – who will be presiding over all 10 ceremonies from the Welland Campus during convocation week, along with vic- president, Academic, Fiona Allan – also shared words of wisdom with the Class of 2021, encouraging them to embrace challenges ahead with enthusiasm and positivity.
“Always remember that the bigger the challenge, the more your skills, creativity and determination will be tested,” said Kennedy. “These challenges may leave you exhausted and uncertain. All of them will be opportunities for growth and the seeds of good memories and stories down the road.”
Student success in the spotlight
Two Niagara residents were announced as the recipients of dean’s awards during Monday’s afternoon ceremony for achieving the highest GPA in their academic school.
St. Catharines resident Stephanie Peters, 40, who graduated from Office Administration – Executive (Co-op) program, received the Dean’s award from the School of Business and Management. Peters was a university graduate working in retail position she no longer enjoyed before she made the difficult decision to return to school as a mature student and make a positive change in her life. Now, she not only graduates at the top of her class but with a full-time position, which arose out of her program’s co-op placement.
“As a single mom, I wanted to work hard and demonstrate that, at no matter what your age, if you are determined and hardworking, you are able to accomplish great things,” she said. “Going back to school, and now graduating, has refreshed my love of learning. It also means that all of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices have been worth it.”
Welland resident Connor Joliffe, 21, graduated from the Sport Management program with a Dean’s Award from the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Sport.
“I always give 110% effort into all the tasks and, being a major sports fan, coming to Niagara, I was just very excited and motivated to learn about the sport industry from a business perspective,” said Joliffe, who also played varsity men’s basketball for NC. “One of the main reasons I chose Niagara College was because I knew I would be able to complete a full term field placement, as well as get a more personal and integrated learning experience.”
Joliffe has received a full academic transfer scholarship to pursue a Sport Management degree at Niagara University this fall.
Virtual Convocation Week
Through its interactive virtual ceremonies, the College aims to celebrate the graduating class in a memorable way before they embark on the next chapter in their lives, while bringing the college community ‘NC together.’
As they watched their livestream ceremony take place in real time – which included many traditional elements such as speeches and the reading of each graduate’s name aloud – graduates connected with their classmates through pre-organized Zoom program parties. They also had an opportunity to make a virtual appearance onscreen during the ceremony broadcast as clips of graduates cheering and waving from their Zoom parties were incorporated into the livestream.
Virtual convocation also taps into the power of social media, incorporating posts and tweets using the hashtag #NCGrad2021 into the ceremonies.
The live ceremonies also incorporate video well-wishes from the college community and beyond. Videos from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, regional chair Jim Bradley, NC Board of Governors chair Del Rollo, a roster of distinguished alumni, and several members of College faculty, staff and administrators have been woven into this week’s ceremonies.
Almost 4,000 students will graduate from Niagara College during its June Virtual Convocation ceremonies, which will continue twice a day – at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – up to and including June 25.
This convocation week will also mark a highly anticipated historic milepost for the College: its 100,000th graduating student, whose identity will be revealed at the moment the College hits the mark during one of its 10 ceremonies when the graduate’s name is about to be read aloud. The Class of 2021 will bring NC’s global alumni community to more than 100,000 strong.