Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Breaking the cycle of youth crime"/ 5 yr old birthday party

Aug. 20, 2016 "Breaking the cycle of youth crime": I found this article by Otiena Ellwand in the Edmonton Journal.  I found it inspirational to read people's triumphant stories as they turn their lives around:

Cameron sits around the house all day and waits. That’s almost all he’s allowed to do.
As a young offender serving the last third of his two-year sentence in the community for sexual assault, he can’t leave the small bungalow where he and his mother live.

The 18-year-old cannot be identified under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and neither can his mother. Both names are pseudonyms.
Cameron is not allowed to talk to anyone under the age of 16. He doesn’t go to school or have a job.
His day consists of heating up his frozen lunch and loading the dishwasher. He’s barred from using the Internet. He has lost most interest in television. He completes the list of chores his mother leaves for him, spending time gardening in the yard.
After that’s done, he waits. His house is his jail. His mother is one of his only friends.
“He says it’s almost easier at EYOC (Edmonton Young Offender Centre) to sit in that cell than to sit at home and make the day go by,” says his mother Samantha. “All the whole world is outside and he’s watching them go by.”
Sometimes after work, she’ll take him for a drive, just for something to do. On Sundays, they go to church. The older ladies surround him and pinch his cheeks.
“I was not hiding a monster in the closet,” Samantha says of her son.
“This is not Cameron. I know the old Cameron and I have seen glimpses of him here again.”

The Youth Criminal Justice Act came into effect in 2003, with an emphasis on rehabilitating and reintegrating young offenders. The Liberal government at the time acknowledged that the justice system can do more harm than good, and youth who commit minor offences between the ages of 12 and 17 should and can be effectively dealt with outside court.
As a result, there has been a steady decline in the number of youth facing charges and those sentenced to custody over the years, helping Canada shed its reputation as one of the western nations with one of the highest youth incarceration rates in the world.

Of the 92,000 Canadian youth accused of a crime last year, more than half were not charged. Of the 45 per cent who were, slightly more than 7,000 hailed were from Alberta. Of those, 1,800 faced violence-related Criminal Code offences, including homicide, sexual assault and firearms violations.
Last year, two of the highest profile Edmonton homicide cases involved youth. A 13-year-old boy was charged, along with two men in their 20s, with two counts of first-degree murder in the December slayings of two Mac’s convenience store clerks. In August, two 17-year-old girls were charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing of 32-year-old Shawn Richard, sparking the closure of an Alberta Avenue group home where one of them lived.
But that’s not the norm.  

The majority of youth commit petty offences. Many will be one-time offenders who go on to lead normal lives. Their identities are protected from publication under the act and their records purged from the police database if they don’t reoffend three to five years after their last conviction.
While the act’s lofty guidelines aim to keep youth from getting stuck in the spiral of the criminal justice system, it doesn’t always succeed.

The system can, and sometimes does, become a “catch-all” says Mark Cherrington, a front-line youth worker with Legal Aid Alberta in Edmonton.
“If child welfare isn’t providing the supports and services that are needed, if the health-care system is failing, if the education system is failing, well, there’s still the good old justice system. It will always be there and it’s more than willing to accommodate these kids, which is a tragedy,” he says.

Jayce Power once broke a stranger’s nose.
“I remember feeling her nose break on my knee. This is probably when I was 13,” Power says. “I did that for no reason and I regret things like that because I did a lot of things like that.”
It’s tough to think the bright, ambitious and friendly 21-year-old could have been capable of cruelty. 
“I was just not somebody that anybody should be around.”
Power’s father was absent for much of her childhood, her mother had alcohol issues that clouded her judgment and her older sister was the favourite, she says.

As a neglected adolescent, she was left to her own devices and began misbehaving. When her mother couldn’t care for her, she became a ward of the province, Power says. She bounced around group homes, becoming a chronic runaway.
“I remember always just wanting to be welcomed back at home and I never was, and that made me angry,” she says. “I was so angry at everything and I took it out on other people, which is really not fair.”
She dropped out of school at 11, started stealing cars at 12, and guesses she was sent to the Edmonton Young Offender Centre about 40 times throughout her teenage years.

The teen years are a tough time even for those who are loved, cared for and supported. Factor in poverty, racism, mental illness and the scrutiny and surveillance that comes with being on the margins of society, and life becomes even more challenging, says Joanne Minaker, a MacEwan University sociology professor who specializes in youth crime.

“That process (of becoming an adult) is full of struggle because the stability and the consistencies that we may presume all youth and children are supposed to have is missing,” she says. “And so crime becomes a strategy, crime becomes a resource, crime becomes a lifestyle.”
Getting pregnant at 19 forced Power to confront her issues, she says. She hasn’t re-offended as an adult, becoming an example of how rehabilitation and reintegration works for some young offenders.

It helped that Power is highly intelligent and never became dependent on drugs and alcohol, Cherrington says.
“Over the years, Jayce made small changes and … she drifted away from crime and began to focus beyond the corner of her horizon and disappeared off the radar,” he says in an email.

Power is on maternity leave from her job as a receptionist at a law firm and will begin this fall working toward a social work degree at MacEwan University. 
She lives a 25-minute drive outside Edmonton on an acreage she owns with her partner of three years in a sort of self-imposed exile. She doesn’t talk to her old friends. She has minimal contact with her mother and sister. She doesn’t want to get drawn into the vicious cycle she escaped.
She tends to her 11-month-old son, showing him the love she felt she never had.

“I’m on a straight path and I don’t want to get off of it. I want the best of life and I don’t want to do anything wrong anymore,” she says.
“I’m trying now to make new friends, mom friends, structured people. And I’m still struggling and I still feel sad some days, but it’s better than drunk.”

Throughout the year, when the boredom and loneliness became oppressive, Cameron wandered beyond his front door, breaching his court conditions four times by mid-July.

One time he took off to roam around downtown, riding the bus and bumming cigarettes off strangers.
While breaching his youth sentence, he was also charged for uttering threats and throwing a rock at someone. He pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence with 18 months probation. That will appear on his adult record now that he’s 18.

“He’s so desperate for a friend, for someone to laugh with,” Samantha says.

Each time he breached his conditions, he ended up back at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre, where he made enemies, Samantha says. He spent time languishing in isolation, she says, or “administrative placement,” as the government calls it.

A youth in Alberta may be kept separate from the main group for one hour to 72 hours. Confinement any longer than that is rare. “Administrative placement for more than 72 hours (is) only for the purpose of managing young persons who are highly suicidal or behaviourally pose a significant threat to staff or other young persons in the facility,” Alberta Justice spokeswoman Michelle Davio says in an email.

It’s unclear how long or how many times Cameron spent in isolation, but Samantha says he didn’t mature “one iota” in jail. So while he talks up being an adult, he still has the mentality of a 15-year-old, she says.

Cameron did not respond to written questions or a request for an interview sent to him via his mother.

It’s incomprehensible how, why or when the boy Samantha raised  — the skilled soccer player who loved building Pirates of the Caribbean Lego ships, who was fascinated by the universe and the ocean, and who doted on his two dogs — became a teenage criminal.

Samantha says she can’t understand who her son has become, but she is trying desperately to bring the old one back. She has struggled to get him the counselling he needs and to find someone committed to helping him.

There have been dozens of conversations with government agencies and workers, even a letter from Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir commending her for lobbying on behalf of her son, but she feels there has been little action, too many barriers and not enough answers.
“I’ve been nothing but screaming for help for him,” Samantha says.
“Do we quit trying? We leave him? What are we waiting for? He’s in jail until September, but he’s home with me. If we don’t do anything, what’s going to happen in September?”
The Edmonton Police Service’s Y: Five-O unit monitors the 50 highest risk, most prolific young offenders in the city. These are youth who are involved in serious “adult” crimes, such as shootings, armed robberies and homicide.

“They have no option whether we’re involved with them or not,” says unit Sgt. Greg Kitura. “The way we explain it to them is, ‘You’re attached to our hip for the rest of this year at least and even beyond, so how do we make this work?’”

It’s not easy. The unit deals with youth deeply entrenched in crime. They often come from violent upbringings, and have been traumatized and victimized themselves, says Michelle Fillion, manager of the youth services section.
“Not only do we have a goal of reducing youth violent crime, we want to reduce youth victimization because they are so tightly intertwined, all of our youth have been victims as well,” she says.
When these youth continue their criminal behaviour, the unit uses enforcement strategies to keep them in check, working with Crown prosecutors, probation officers and the Edmonton Young Offender Centre.

There are organizations in Edmonton dedicated to helping youth who have been involved in crime or who are at a high risk of being introduced to that lifestyle. WrapEd is a gang intervention and prevention program. Alberta Health Services Centerpoint provides treatment services to young offenders with mental health and behavioural problems. The Youth Restorative Action Project is a justice committee run by youth for youth that gives them an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and gives the victim a meaningful role in the process.

“Our job is to ensure the public safety, but also to help rehabilitate their needs and reintegrate them back into society,” Kitura says.
The unit tracks the youths’ crimes and involvement with police to see if there’s a decrease over the year and they assess whether they develop any skills or coping strategies. Some youth get themselves off the top 50 list, but their names are soon replaced by new ones.
Success for the unit varies: a youth says hello instead of giving the finger; calls one of the constables instead of their buddy. A youth starts making good decisions or gets involved in a recreational activity.
But Kitura says it’s naive to think that just because a youth is in Y: Five-O that they’re going to turn their lives around. “It’s a slow process for many of these youth to start to change,” he says.

On the top floor of the downtown Edmonton courthouse is courtroom 444, where dozens of youth matters are quickly dealt with over the course of a morning.

Lawyers come and go. Apathetic clients dressed in leggings, flip-flops, sweatpants and short-shorts slouch on benches waiting their turn. One young man rests his head in his arms and appears to doze off. Another is scolded by a sheriff for bringing a Tim Hortons coffee cup into the courtroom.
Now it’s Samantha’s turn to wait for Cameron.

“As repulsive as his crimes are, I didn’t quit loving him,” she says in an interview.
It takes about two hours for Cameron to finally appear via closed-circuit television camera from the Edmonton Young Offender Centre, where he was placed after his fourth breach.
He rocks side to side in front of the camera as Legal Aid lawyer Nathan Benron speaks to the judge. This is the fourth time Cameron has breached conditions, Benron acknowledges, but his client hasn’t been getting the counselling he needs.

Cameron’s eyes dart around, glancing at the ceiling, rarely looking directly into the camera. He speaks only once  when Benron says Cameron has basically been in custody, much of it spent on and off in isolation at EYOC, since he was 15.
“Fourteen,” Cameron interrupts.
The judge agrees to release Cameron into the community under supervision once again, but warns that while he understands how bored and antsy Cameron must get cooped up inside the house all day, if he breaches a fifth time, he’ll serve the rest of his sentence behind bars. The judge urges Cameron to “stick it out.”
On Sept. 10, his youth sentence will be over.
The future beckons.

By the numbers

(Statistics Canada, Alberta Justice, Edmonton Police Service) 
• 92,000 youth accused of a criminal offence in 2015, 2,700 fewer accused than in 2014
• The Youth Crime Severity Index, which measures the volume and severity of crime involving youth accused, declined by one per cent in 2015, making it the ninth consecutive decline since 2007
• The rate of youth accused of crime has fallen 40 per cent since 2005. 
• 150 — Average daily young offender population at Edmonton and Calgary young offender centres
• 156 — Total capacity at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre 
• 27.8 — Overall average number of days youth spend serving remand or sentence time in custody, according to 2011-2012 data 
• 3,517 — Youth accused of a crime in Edmonton in 2015 where charges may have been laid, according to police statistics

Oct. 7, 2016 Parole: Inside out: I found this huge article by Sean Fine in the Globe and Mail Focus section on Sept. 24, 2016.  It talks about inmates like Jason David who makes changes like getting a high school diploma while he's in jail.  Then he can go out and get a job and not go back to crime.

Here's an excerpt: "Do you they represent authority?  Do they feel the law doesn't apply to them?  Do they have a sense of entitlement?  Do they think working at a regular job is for suckers?" -Patrick Storey, a senior official in the Parole Boards's Pacific Region, outlining the questions officials ask when determingin if a candidate has criminal attitudes. 

My week:

Dec. 12, 2016 5 yr old birthday party:

There's no bigger heartbreak in the world than inviting all your would-be friends to your birthday party and having no one show. 
Now imagine you were 5 years old. Such a painful hypothetical became very real for Brianna Schermann's little sister Brooke.
Last week Brooke turned 5, a very important milestone to most preschoolers. 

When she celebrated the big day on Monday, Brianna tweeted that none of Brooke's classmates showed. Instead of pulling the "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" schtick, which we all would have definitely done in Brooke's position, she had a great time with her one true friend who came, Bryce. 

Brianna tweeted that Bryce was a friend from church and that his family came too.

My opinion: Aww... that's so cute.  This is a cute and funny picture.

Dec. 13, 2016 Cute cat typing on keyboard graphic:

Winter: Last week starting on Dec. 5, 2016, the temperature became -20.  On Tues. I was supposed to attend an event, and it got cancelled.  I was kind of happy because then I don't have to wait outside for the bus.  Then on Wed. there was an Alpha meeting.  I didn't attend it because it was too cold, and my friend couldn't drive me home because she was too busy to attend it.  I didn't go out except for work last week.

I'm going to wank it in my mind that we have snow and now it feels like Christmas.  I'm sure some of you guys are laughing at this part.

Job search: I'm looking for a job on a job site.  I am really thinking outside of the box because I see all these new companies. 

Vape stores: I see another trend with all these vape stores.  Is this a trend or will it last?

Justice store: I have never heard of this until now.

"Help us send 10,000 messages of holiday cheer to our patients!
Did you know that over 10,000 patients will visit Nationwide Children's Hospital this holiday season? With help from our friends at Justice, you can help us send our patients over 10,000 holiday-themes messages. Click on your favorite design below to get started!"

Spot Technologies: Have you heard of this company?

Spot Dog Walker
Spot Technologies - Edmonton, AB
Spot Dog Walking is a Calgary-based tech startup that has created a mobile app designed to make finding a quality dog walker easy. Spot launched in Edmonton this fall, and we are searching for trustworthy people who are passionate about working with animals, and have demonstrated exceptional customer service skills. As a Spot Walker, you will work as a third party contractor providing on-leash private dog walks throughout Edmonton and the surrounding communities.
As a Spot Walker, you will be entrusted with the safety and security of customers dogs and homes during the walk. You will be able to set your own schedule, working between 5 - 40 hours per week and will be able to accept or decline walk requests through the app, giving you the flexibility to work on a full or part-time basis. During the walk, the app will track your location providing customers with the peace of mind in knowing where their animals are at all times. You must be able to drive or commute to homes in your designated zone, provide free meet and greets, practice skill reinforcement with animals, and fill out detailed reports on the animals behavior and progress within the app.You will be responsible for ensuring on-leash safety of dogs, and must have excellent time management and navigational skills.
Preference will be given to candidates with experience working with a variety of breeds, who have flexible schedules, and who have access to a vehicle.
Must be 18+ and have a drivers license.
Please apply by filling out this form -
Job Type: Contract
Required license or certification:
  • Driver's Licence

Edmonton Joihn Howard Society: I found this charity:

Sumo Sumo Sushi Bar and Grill:

I dislike the gig economy: I'm saying this because these gigs like Uber, are only giving a bunch of temporary, part-time, and low paying jobs.  We (or the government) should be creating more permanent full-time jobs. 

I'm sure some of you guys are saying: "There are staffing agencies that have been here before those startups and apps come along to give temp jobs."

I have read a couple of articles in the business section of the newspaper about gig economies like how people are often hustling and cobbling together part-time jobs to make ends meet.  They want something more stable, instead of always on the internet looking for a few gigs here and there. 

Dec. 14, 2016 Autism: I see that I have wrote about this a lot on my blog.  I have been cutting out articles and putting them up on my blog.  I am trying to think outside of the box.  Should I get a career helping people with autism?  Medicine and education is mainly how.  There are charities that help them.

Alan Thicke's death:

Alan Thicke, the “Growing Pains” star who played one of the quintessential television fathers of the 1980s, died Tuesday. He was 69.
Thicke’s manager confirmed the actor’s death.
According to the website TMZ, Thicke, who was the father of singer Robin Thicke, suffered a heart attack while playing hockey with his son Carter. He was taken to Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., where he died.
Thicke remained a consistent presence on TV in recent years with guest appearances on NBC’s “This Is Us” and Netflix’s “Fuller House.” He also starred on the Pop reality series “Unusually Thicke,” which focused on his personal life.

12 hours ago
Oh my gosh...what shock this is! Alan was only 69, good actor, good guy, good Canadian...he will be missed

12 hours ago
He was playing hockey with his son, just how much more Canadian could we get...God Rest His Soul. He may have lived in Burbank...but the Canadian was always there.

My opinion: I am shocked and a little sad.  I was never really a fan of his, but I like his son Robin Thicke's music.  I did see Alan Thicke on the This is Us pilot where he plays himself and then a role on the fictional sitcom in the This is Us show.  He was 69, so he lived a long life.

Now I'm thinking about this song:

Dec. 15, 2016:

Robin Thicke paid tribute to his father, the former Growing Pains star Alan Thicke, who died suddenly on Tuesday at the age of 69.
In a conversation with the L.A. Times, the Blurred Lines singer called his dad "the greatest man I ever met," and "always a gentleman."

The soul-pop recording artist confirmed that his father suffered a heart attack while playing hockey in Los Angeles with his son Carter, and that one of his last words was to commend the teenager on a good shot.
The one-time Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping artist said he had "closure" with his dad, who was an inspiration and big supporter of Robin's career in music: "I saw him a few days ago and told him how much I loved and respected him."  At time of writing, Robin Thicke had yet to share memories of his much-loved dad on social media. 

"He said he had pain in his chest, but his color was not good. He was a little grey," he added. "When the ambulance got here they checked his vitals ... and they put him on the gurney, sat him up."

According to Mathewson, Thicke also asked his son to take a photo of him as he was being taken to the hospital. "On his way out he asked his son to take a picture. He goes, 'Ah, take a shot kiddo' and he did and off they went."
"He had Carter take a picture of him, and said, 'Make sure you get the rink in the background' as they were taking him out of here," he added. "When he went by us, he gave us the thumbs up, like, 'I'm doing good guys, I'm good.'"

22 hours ago
I've had a massive heart attack, and as can be observed from my comments, I'm still alive. The symptoms aren't always obvious, but if you're vomiting with chest pain, then you need to dial 911 immediately. I did within about 60 seconds of the onset of symptoms, and I chewed up an aspirin immediately to help thin my blood. The fire department arrived in about five minutes, I was in the hospital in 15 minutes, and I had open heart surgery to fix what turned out to be something called an aortic dissection.

Timing is everything when it comes to coronary artery blockages -- because the heart muscle quickly dies when deprived of oxygen, and after that happens, the dead tissue cannot be revived or repaired -- the damage is permanent.

Don't wait, don't joke, don't snap pictures -- this is not an Instagram moment! Take action immediately, because if you don't --'re dead -- plain and simple.

R.I.P. Alan. Condolences to family, friends and fans.

Dec. 14, 2016 "Backlash over bathroom sign": Today I found this article by Claire Theobald in the Edmonton Journal:

A new downtown Edmonton restaurant has drawn fire after images of a controversial gender neutral bathroom sign offended some people on social media.

A controversial bathroom sign inside the XO Bistro + Bar in Edmonton was taken down after receiving backlash on social media. Thuy Dinh, the restaurant owner, apologized, saying she didn’t realize the harm it could cause.

My opinion: I thought it was offensive.  I know it's a joke and all, but anything about race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation is usually going to offend people.

Dec. 15, 2016 Alpha meeting: Last night I went to the last meeting.  It seems like they will be holding another 3 month Alpha course next year.  I already went to it this year, so it's a low chance I will attend another one.
Last week I didn't attend because it was so cold out, and my friend couldn't drive me home.  It's still cold out, but I took the bus there.  My friend drove me home so that was good.

Feelings: It's often like this.  At the beginning of the week, I feel good.  By the end of the week (like on Thurs. and Fri.)  I'm tired of the routine of waking up early to look for a job and then working at my 2nd restaurant job.  The weekends I work on my 1st restaurant job.  There have been a few times I work at my 1st restaurant job on the weekdays.

Event Espresso: I found this company during my job search.  "Event Espresso is a top-of-the-line event registration and ticketing management plugin for WordPress."

Dec. 16, 2016 Filmmakers meetup: I went to the one last night.  I met a couple of new people.  I also learned a bit about an interpreter job from this East Indian guy P.  P told me of a job on the north side, but it was temporary part-time.  He got paid $20/hr because he can interpret Tamil.  The job was far away and there weren't a lot of hours, like 2 or 3 hrs of work at a time.

Ryan Reynolds gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

“I want to thank my wife, Blake, who is sitting right there, who is everything to me,” Reynolds, 40, said, later throwing in some jokes.
“You are the best thing, the best thing that has ever happened to me — second only to this star. …You make everything better, absolutely everything in my life better. You’ve made me the father of my dreams when I thought I only had fun uncle potential.” 

My opinion: Aw....


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