At times, stories about Calgary and its people beg for depth, context and understanding. Global News Off Script endeavours to do just that.
Reporter Jill Croteau and photographer Nate Luit refashion stories first broadcast on Global News in Calgary, customizing their storytelling for Global News Radio 770 CHQR.
Jill and Nate strive to delve into the issues of today, drawing the listener in for stories that matter and highlighting the people that make a difference in our community.
Episode 36: Thank You
It’s how they found hope out of tragedy. It’s been nearly five years since a horrible tragedy in Calgary’s community of Brentwood took the lives of five young people. Now their families are inspiring healing with the city’s first dedicated musical garden. A reflective space in honor of their kids and a gift back to Calgarians who helped them through their darkest days.
Watch the story below or click here to read more.
Episode 35: Trained to Kill
It’s a blood sport, a fight to the death. Dogs pitted against each other in a makeshift torture arena while spectators gamble on which breed will triumph. It’s an underground crime that rescue organizations say the public needs to know about. It’s brutal, uncomfortable and disturbing, but those on the front lines say it’s time to lift the veil on this well-kept secret.
Episode 34: The Albatross in the Room
More Albertans than ever before are choosing medically-assisted death. Among them, a former nun who wasn’t waiting for God to decide when she died, she wanted to make that decision all on her own. In this episode we explore the controversy and conflict between religion and medically assisted death…and uncover a beautiful and friendship between faithful friends and how they helped their terminally diagnosed friend in her final journey of life…fulfilling her final wishes.
Episode 33: Hug It Out
Experts have studied the evolution of human conditioning and found that because of technology, real connection is absent from our daily lives. There can be deprivation of the human touch. Single, married, young and old — the need is universal. And professional cuddlers have found a way to restore and nurture therapeutic touch. It’s a form of therapy growing in popularity.
Episode 32: Kickstart My Heart
This is a story about all the stars aligning. Some even calling it a miracle. Every thing and every one working together perfectly when seconds count. This is the story about how an 11 year old girls’ life was saved by her school principal and teachers. They went above and beyond. Just one month after being trained in first aid, their grade 6 student collapsed on the schoolyard, her heart stopped and she wasn’t breathing. Knowing what to do allowed them to become heroes…rescuing their student from a tragedy.
Episode 31: Big Girls Don’t Cry
A Calgary woman who created a meetup group for women who are big in size and abundant in personality has created a movement. She’s defied all the stereotypes and has a refreshing outlook in this world where people often don’t think they’re good enough. This fearless group of women are embracing body positivity.
Episode 30: Sisterhood
It’s a lifeline for some vulnerable youth. A very unique program designed specifically for young Indigenous girls. Stardale brings together these female teenagers who share a common experience. Many come from broken homes, suffered abuse, exposed to addiction, struggle with suicidal thoughts. But in this one space once a week they can be as vulnerable as they want to be. Nate Luit and Jill Croteau discover the very real impacts of this charity.
Episode 29: The Last Shift
An unusual change to the criminal code has been sitting dormant for over a decade. It’s a law designed to be applied when there’s negligence on a job site. But when a worker dies in this country because safety is ignored, it’s rare anybody is held to account. Nate and Jill uncover how one police jurisdiction is paving the way for the rest of Canada to ensure people go home at the end of their shift.
Episode 28: Show & Tell
It’s a very unique experience being offered to women in their journey with breast cancer. An opportunity to see the options for breast reconstruction. The intimate experience allows women to see real-life surgical results and gain a better understanding from women who have undergone breast surgery. Nate and Jill bring the audience the show and Tell lounge. It’s a brave, compelling, heartfelt and emotional experience.
Episode 27: The Calvary’s Base Camp
Over the last decade, a selfless contingent of people volunteer hours of their time to erect a symbolic cemetery in Calgary. A 5-acre grassy field along Memorial Drive is transformed into “The Field of Crosses.” Every Remembrance Day, 3400 crosses grace this vast space honoring the southern Albertans who died on the battlefields of war. But there’s an especially unique brigade of bikers — veterans — who spend exhausting days implanting the metal bases for the crosses to stand proud. These people are the foundation for a humbling sight, It gives thousands the chance to pay their respects to the soldiers who never made it home.
Episode 26: Paging Dr. Bob
Do you believe in ghosts? It’s a fascinating question that attracted Nate and Jill to a heritage home in Drumheller. The original owner lost his life inside the home, but appears to have never left. The man who now lives in this century-old character home doesn’t mind sharing his space with the spirit of Dr. Bob. We went in with open minds to take a tour of this haunted home in the days leading up to Halloween.
Episode 25: The Doctor will see you now
A unique medical clinic is the first of its kind in Alberta. After having navigated the intimidating health care system herself, the mother of a transgender teen created a non-profit foundation designed specifically for transgender youth. Skipping Stone is saving lives and making a profound difference in the community. From humble beginnings it’s now become a critical service for trans youth and their families.
Episode 24: Little Church on the Prairie
For nearly 140 years it stood as an historical landmark, but in May 2017, the McDougall Memorial United Church was reduced to rubble. Jill and Nate returned to the destruction one year later. Among the charred wood and ashes there is an effort to take the scorched remains and rebuild it to its former glory.
Episode 23: Lightning Ant
A Calgary family is striking the right chord with their rock and roll band. Their musical roots run deep, bonded by blood. They’ve come together to form a family band, Lightning Ant. Their music is bringing them together to take to the stage for their debut gig. Nate and Jill are there in the front row to witness the true harmony between this family of 8.
Episode 22: I Will Remember You
They are often abandoned and disconnected from relatives. When someone from the homeless community passes away there is rarely a location for their “street family” to go to mourn the loss. Often they don’t know where the gravesite is for their homeless companions. But on this episode off ‘Off Script’ Nate and Jill profile a group behind a project to create a permanent place of remembrance.
Episode 21: Remember Me
Those living on the streets of Calgary are dying decades earlier than the life expectancy for the average person. Often they are alone, without a family to support them in the final days. They are sometimes judged for how they’ve lived but a dedicated medical team is ensuring dignity in the way they’re dying. They tirelessly devote themselves to providing end of life care to the homeless. Jill Croteau and Nate Luit follow this mobile palliative care team as they treat the terminally ill on the streets of Calgary.
Episode 20: Suit Up
There’s something about a suit and how it commands respect and power. Being dressed for success can make a world of difference. It’s that sentiment that moved a Calgary police officer to go beyond the call of duty and collect hundreds of gently used suits from his policing colleagues. The suits are destined for men who have overcome homelessness and addictions and they’re also being gifted to newcomers, men who come to this country with very little.
Episode 19: Music Box
In the face of tragedy families search for ways to honor and pay tribute to their loved ones. In this episode we hear from 2 parents who suffered the heartbreak of losing their children and how they found a way out of the darkness to give so much of themselves and give others a chance at a future their kids will never have. The legacy of Kaiti Perras was an accomplished dancer and Josh Hunter a talented musician. On this episode of Music Box how their families are providing artistic opportunities for young men and women inspiring them to follow their path.
Episode 18: The Trojan Horse
Graduation day is a momentous occasion for anyone. A symbol of accomplishment and pride, marking the end of a 12 grade journey. But a Calgary graduate from Bowness High School wanted to make this day unforgettable for all his fellow Trojans. The teenager had been keeping a secret from them for months….and he was ready to reveal something remarkable. His high school diploma acceptance had the entire auditorium on their feet with tears streaming down their faces.
Episode 17: My senior roommate
It’s a University program crossing generations and it’s changing people’s lives and perspectives. Students are paired with senior living in a retirement home. The concept is to chronicle the senior’s life and write their story. Nate Luit and Jill Croteau met one student was so overwhelmed at the experience she moved in to the seniors home. She discovered she was learning more about life than she ever would in the classroom.
Episode 16: An Atheist and a Hindu walk into a Church
It’s a brave and courageous step into the spotlight. People in the LGBTQ community will be sharing their experiences of how their identity and faith collide. They perform in front of a church congregation. For the religiously devout they may see this as a contradiction – but The Coming Out in Faith Monologue explores how the two can exist together.
Episode 15: Moved by Music
A unique program in Calgary is using music to help people with spinal cord injuries and those living with neurological conditions. Music therapy is being used to stimulate their senses and their recovery back to a life they thought was lost forever. The music is feeding their soul, their mind and their body.
Episode 14: The Skateboarder’s Ball
They might be the most unlikely group to round up donated graduation dresses, but that’s why what they’re doing is so profound. On the next episode of Off Script, we meet these preteen and twentysomething young men who spend most of their time on a board and four wheels, plunging down ramps and balancing on edges. But these skateboarders are doing something pretty gnarly: They’re bringing a couple hundred ball gowns to deserving young girls in Mexico.
Episode 13: Faces in the Crowd
How do you face a world that doesn’t really know how to face you back? People born with facial differences navigate life feeling “not so ordinary.” Some spend their life hiding. But Wonder, an inspiring Hollywood movie based on a best-selling book, has motivated Calgary families to come out of the shadows and reveal their own stories. On this episode of Off Script, Nate and Jill explore stories of how people who were born a little bit different can teach others about kindness and acceptance.
Episode 12: Where are they now?
On the one-year anniversary of Off Script, Nate and Jill decided it was time to update what’s changed with some of the people profiled. So much has happened. A death, a birth, a pregnancy and the rebirth of the human spirit.
Episode 11: Kidnappers’ Apology
It’s a dark chapter in Canadian history that’s rarely talked about. Over three decades, Indigenous children were apprehended from their homes on reserves and placed into the care of non-Indigenous foster families. Many endured physical, sexual and emotional abuse. What resulted was a generation of children who felt isolated and stripped of their identities. But now they’re starting to reclaim their purpose, fighting for an acknowledgment of the sad legacy of the Sixties Scoop.
Episode 10: I’ll be Homeless for Christmas
Family and friends along with the comforts of home are what most people crave during the holidays. But what if you didn’t have all of those things? A Calgary-based charity, Make It Merry, created an idea to give something very simple to those who have so little. Through it all, the creator discovered something that doesn’t cost a thing can bring someone else richness beyond words.
Episode 9: Midfield of Dreams
Families young and old have been slowly vacating the Midfield Mobile Home Park. An eviction notice informed them they had to be out by Sept. 30. But a handful remain clinging to the hope of a looming court date that may give them a chance to stay or be compensated. This Global News Off Script episode “Midfield of Dreams” explores how those impacted are coping. Jill Croteau and Nate Luit talk to those who are staying and those who left.
Episode 8: Prison pen pals
Bad choices can cause irreparable loss, remorse and regret. But convicts serving time behind bars are finding a sense of salvation by connecting with strangers on the outside. On this episode of Global News Off Script, Jill Croteau and Nate Luit profile a program that links prisoners to volunteer pen pals.
Episode 7: The High Life
With a country in the midst of an opioid crisis, desperate parents are doing all they can to keep their addicted kids clean and sober. One Calgary mom has created a program that parallels addiction. She’s guiding her own teenage daughter, and other youth in recovery, to train for the race of their lives. They tackle grueling triathlons while fighting their addiction demons and soon start to discover a potential that nobody thought they were capable of.
Episode 6: An Open Book
For decades, the adoption process was shrouded in secrecy and shame – often leaving a child on a desperate search for his or her biological family. But the concept of “open adoption” allows birth moms to not only choose parents for their unborn babies, but to remain in their lives. Mothers who choose open adoption don’t ever lose a child, instead they gain a family.
Episode 5: Moments Like This
They became accidental role models to an entire generation living on a native reserve. A punk band from Siksika is breaking down barriers and stereotypes and these four young men are inspiring youth to follow their dreams. They’re proof of what can happen when you find healthy distractions and resist falling into the trappings of addiction and crime.
Episode 4: Make a Wish
A Calgary veteran deserving of one final wish had his dream come true. He wanted to travel halfway across the world to meet part of his family for the very first time.
Episode 3: The Rosebud Project
It’s a play that’s become one of the most produced in the world – and it hit the stage in small town Alberta. The production exposes some touchy subjects that don’t typically get discussed in rural communities. On this episode of Off Script, Jill Croteau and Nate Luit take an in-depth look at why this play about gay rights and intolerance came to the Christian community of Rosebud, Alberta.
Episode 2: A Boy Named Paul
One homeless man’s death defied societal barriers. His funeral was filled with an extraordinarily diverse collection of people. For one hour in one Calgary church, there was proof that lines can be blurred between privilege and poverty.
Episode 1: Dying Alone
The moment you discover you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, life is forever changed. At the crossroads of life and death, a spiritual care coordinator is there as a guide to help you cope. But the Tom Baker Cancer Centre has decided to remove the role. We look at the fallout and uncover the reasons why.