Alberta briefs – December 21

Canada’s oldest surviving female war veteran has celebrated her 105th birthday.

War veteran is 105 years old

LETHBRIDGE — Canada’s oldest surviving female war veteran has celebrated her 105th birthday.

Fay Meikle enlisted in the Women’s Royal Naval Service in 1943.

She served on a number of ships throughout the Second World War.

People swamp Calgary flu clinics, more nurses needed to ease crunch

CALGARY — Alberta Health Services is boosting the number of nurse stations at its three remaining H1N1 mass clinics in Calgary after residents flocked to get the shot on the weekend.

Lengthy lineups resulted in hundreds of Calgarians being turned away hours before the clinics were set to close on the weekend.

AHS spokeswoman Erin Marteniuk said there has been an increase in the number of people coming to the clinics for the vaccination.

Dr. Trevor Theman, registrar for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, said some physicians who have applied for the H1N1 vaccine are offering it at their offices.

He’s encouraging all Albertans to get the shot, saying it’s not too late and could prevent a third wave of the virus, which has been projected by health officials.

Whether the mass H1N1 flu clinics will reopen in the new year remains to be seen.

“The potential for another wave depends on what proportion of the population gets vaccinated,” said Theman.

More than 460,000 Albertans have been vaccinated while at least 66 people in the province have died from the virus.

The increase in demand came after the deaths of otherwise healthy 16-year-old Calgarian Mike Gorbous and a 35-year-old city man, although health officials weren’t able to say if there was a direct correlation.

Man who plays Santa Claus disappointed by theft

EDMONTON — A man who plays Santa Claus says he’s disheartened after someone swiped his wife’s wedding ring at a charity Christmas party.

Cam Fraser has been Jolly Old St. Nick at the Uncles and Aunts at Large Christmas party for the past 25 years.

He says he had his wife’s wedding ring in his pocket when he changed into his Santa costume on Dec. 6.

The ring was in a small bag from Independent Jewellers, and he said he was about to take the damaged ring there for repairs.

After Fraser finished entertaining the Uncles and Aunts and Large crowd — a mentoring program similar to Big Brothers and Big Sisters — he changed and headed straight for the jewelry store.

But when he reached into his pocket, the ring was gone.

“I was in denial … I replayed everything in my head.”

But the ring never turned up.

Now the jewelry store is working with the couple to try and get the ring back.

An ad with the store’s phone number was posted on Kijiji online classifieds Dec. 15.

The ring bag had the store’s logo on it, so hopes are someone will call it in.

The couple hasn9t reported the loss to police.

Fraser said he’s willing to pay a reward to get the ring back.

“It’s not a $4,000 ring or anything,” said Fraser. “The design of the ring, it was just very unique. It had meaning.”

The gold and white gold ring is set with five diamonds surrounded by five smaller diamonds.

One smaller rock is missing. The diamonds are set in gold Xs.

Charge upgraded

EDMONTON — A decision from the Supreme Court of Canada is a strange kind of Christmas present, but the mother of the victim in a notorious Edmonton sex killing will take it.

“We’re going to have a good Christmas,” said Peacha Atkinson after the top court boosted the conviction against Stephanie Rosa Bird for the killing of her daughter Nina Courtepatte to first-degree murder from manslaughter.

Bird was one of five young self-described “mall rats” who lured Nina from West Edmonton Mall with the promise of a bush party in the early hours of April 3, 2005.

Instead, Nina — just 13 at the time — was taken to a golf course, raped and beaten to death.

Prosecutor Susan Hughson said the court’s unanimous decision was a vindication of the argument that the Crown had used all along.

Bird’s case will go back to the original trial judge for sentencing.

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