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Lantern fest wrongly used Six Nations, Ont., land, community member says as organizer defends chaotic event | CBC News

Lantern fest wrongly used Six Nations, Ont., land, community member says as organizer defends chaotic event | CBC News

A resident from Six Nations, Ont., the First Nations reserve where a U.S.-based event company held a controversial lantern festival last weekend, says local laws around land use are different than other jurisdictions and need to be respected. 

“These organizers need to understand Indigenous lands are not to be seen as a wasteland [where] our territories and the safety of our people don’t matter,” Rick Monture, who is Mohawk with the Turtle clan, told CBC Hamilton on Thursday.

The Lights Festival was held on a farm in Six Nations on Aug. 20, despite community concerns around permissions and safety. Many ticket holders, some who came from more than 100 kilometres away, were turned back by Six Nations police, while others were able to reach the property and release lanterns. 

Monture said while some municipalities like Toronto have banned sky lanterns, Six Nations is among reserves that don’t have the same laws, which “creates a loophole” for event organizers. 

“They don’t care if it causes any potential harm or threat to the community … I would put the onus squarely on the event organizers,” said Monture, who is also a McMaster University associate professor in the departments of English, cultural and Indigenous studies.

Following calls from many ticket holders for a refund and fuller explanation, the festival’s organizer told CBC Hamilton this week it relied on the venue to ensure last weekend’s event could move forward.

“We did everything that the venue had told us to do,” said Drew Dunn, a manager with U.S.-based Viive Events.

The event, held on the same property in 2019, had prompted concerns from Six Nations community members before it took place again this year. Six Nations police, who called the event “unauthorized,” blocked the area and, according to one neighbour, it turned into “mayhem.”

“They said they were taking care of it,” Dunn said of the property owner. “I’m the first to admit it did not go how we wanted it to go.”

CBC has been unable to reach the property owner, and Dunn has not provided more information about the venue.

How the night unfolded

Viive Events is the Utah-based company behind the The Lights Festival, where people light a lantern and let it fly through the sky.

Festivals take place across the U.S. and Canada, and have triggered concerns before. The Six Nations event, marketed as taking place in the Toronto area on Aug. 20, was organized remotely, Dunn said.

The company held the event on private property, the Johnson Farm.

The First Nations reserve is also home to the the largest Carolinian forest in southern Ontario.

Rick Monture had strong words for the organizers of The Light Festival, which took place in the First Nations reserve on Aug. 20. (McMaster University)

Terri Monture lives next to the farm and described a scene of “mayhem” Saturday night — darkened roads lined with cars, with people trying to get to the location despite police blocking it off. 

She said she spoke to at least one person who wasn’t aware the area was a reserve. She told them they weren’t supposed to be there and “our band council and our hereditary council have condemned [the event].”

At least one formal letter from the community that was signed by Mark Hill, chief of the elected council, was sent to organizers before the event, saying it was too dangerous to release lanterns and that organizers had no authority to do so. 

When asked if Viive Events had made any contact with the elected council or the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) — the traditional, hereditary leaders on the reserve — Dunn said he wasn’t sure and needed to double check.

The HCCC declined to comment.

While there was an announcement from organizers on the day of the event asking the roughly 5,000 ticket holders not to fly the lanterns, some floated through the sky Saturday night.

Others were turned away by Six Nations police, who said this week it was investigating and may lay charges.

Dunn said the organizers didn’t know police had arrived at the event and were turning people away. He said the company couldn’t get in contact with police, which he said was the reason for their delay with a public statement. The company posted a note online Sunday evening apologizing “for any confusion and inconvenience.”

“We were confused as participants … no one would talk to me,” Dunn said, adding he hadn’t heard about any potential charges by police.

Six Nations police didn’t respond to questions from CBC Hamilton.

Event company says it follows ‘correct protocols’

In a statement released Tuesday, Hill said the event represented “a callous disregard for the safety and well-being of the people of Six Nations.”

One family had trouble driving to a relative’s wake because of traffic from the event, he said.

“It is unacceptable that outside organizations think they can exploit our sovereignty for their own benefit by hosting events on the territory that have little to no benefit to our community,” he wrote.

Rick Monture said he was particularly upset by one part of the organizers’ Sunday statement, which said they were happy for those who got to release their lanterns.

They were essentially saying “good for you people for disobeying the police and threatening the lives and well-being of people in the community,” Monture said.

When Dunn was asked about both community and ticket-holder concerns, he said there has never been a single fire throughout the five years the event has been in operation.

The company goes through “all the correct protocols,” he added.

A person releasing a lantern into the sky.
Lights Festival organizers say they’re setting another date for the event to make up for last weekend’s event in Six Nations that they say caused ‘confusion and inconvenience’ to ticket holders. (globetrotter.mitul.kathuria/Instagram)

“Not everyone loves the event, that’s just like anything in life … that’s part of doing a special event,” Dunn said.

“People don’t realize the thousands of people that are going there because they’ve lost a loved one or they’re starting to do a job … that’s what we give to people.”

He said the venue itself is private property and they can host an event when they want. He also said the event went well when it took place there in 2019.

Terri Monture previously told CBC that event raised some concerns.

Organizers issuing limited refunds

Dunn said Viive is working with customers to issue refunds to some with tickets, but not all.

“When a musician goes on tour and the artist loses their voice, they don’t refund everyone, they reschedule,” Dunn said. 

The company has 52 complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), many of them around accessing refunds and or events not taking place.

“The consumers reach out to the business for refunds and are unsuccessful in reaching them,” the website says.

However, Dunn said, “We’re not here to steal money, we’re not here to be a scam, we’re here to bring an awesome event to people.”

The festival’s frequently asked questions section says tickets are non-refundable unless the customer opts for the Refund Protection Plan.

The other chance at getting a refund is if the event is cancelled and a new date isn’t set within 90 days of the original event. 

Dunn said Viive hopes to have another Ontario event by October, but said it won’t take place at the Johnson Farm.

Instead, it will be in a municipality that supports the event, he said.

“We are working day and night to find another venue to do it the right way so these people can experience what a cool event it is.” 

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Formula E fan has ‘no faith’ in car race organizer, as city returns its $500K deposit for cancelled event | CBC News

Formula E fan has 'no faith' in car race organizer, as city returns its $500K deposit for cancelled event | CBC News

Vancouver is refunding the $500,000 deposit for a major international electric car race that was supposed to have happened earlier this month before organizers pulled out.

The two-day event was scheduled to start on July 2, and included a Nickelback concert, before being cancelled by its organizer, One Stop Strategy (OSS) Group, who have previously said it would be rescheduled to next year.

But four weeks after the cancelled event’s original date, ticket-holders have complained about not receiving refunds. The city said its repayment of the organizer’s performance security payment for the event is contingent on giving fans their money back.

It was to be the first Formula E event in the city, and promoted as an economic boon, selling thousands of tickets to the False Creek-area races.

One of those fans waiting for a refund is Andrew Chobaniuk, who said he could not get any response after repeated request from organizers and ended up reporting it to his credit card company.

It reimbursed him the $210 he paid for four tickets to see the Vancouver races.

“Absolutely no word from the Formula E organizers despite numerous emails to them,” he told CBC News in an email. “Received a refund from my credit card company pending an investigation.”

“It’s disappointing — you look forward to car racing finally making a return to Vancouver after all these years, and you’re left feeling swindled. Given the lack of communication from the organizers … I have no faith in OSS at all.”

One Stop Strategy Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment Friday.

Decision came ‘after intensive review’ with city

On Friday, the city said its deposit return would have “no financial impacts” on its budget, and was only made on the condition that “that the funds be used by OSS to pay its financial obligations” including refunding ticket-holders, suppliers, or event sponsors.

“Questions about funds being paid or refunded by OSS to ticket-holders, suppliers, sponsors, and/or other potential creditors should be directed to OSS,” the city said in a release.

An F1-style car sits in a showroom display.
An electric Formula E race car prototype is seen on a display stage at CeraWeek energy conference in Houston in this 2019 file photo. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

On April 22, the city announced that the event’s organizers called off the event, exercising their rights under the Host City Agreement. At the time, the city said in a statement it hopes “to announce a new date in the near future.”

At the time of the cancellation, OSS said the “incredibly difficult” decision came “after intensive review” with the city.

“Delivery of a world-class event is of the utmost importance” to the group, it said, promising to communicate with ticket-holders “to inform [them of] their options.”

Coun. Michael Wiebe co-sponsored a motion last year that supported hosting the event the city.

“I know the management company didn’t work here, but I still believe it can be a great event,” he said in an interview Friday. “It was going to be a big weekend, I’m disappointed because it’s an opportunity for Vancouver.”

He stepped aside from voting on the city-issued deposit refund because he himself bought tickets to the cancelled event, and is now among the thousands who have not yet received a refund.

“I haven’t yet, but I’ll wait in the back of the line,” Wiebe said. “I want to make sure the people that really deserve the funding are getting it.

“We’re saying, ‘If you are going to take the $500,000 return, there are certain people that need to be paid, and the funding can only go to specific things … That includes ticket-holders, suppliers and others.”

Controversial races

The Formula E races have been controversial in other cities. 

In 2017, Montreal city officials announced they would pull the plug on a Formula E race that was set to take place in that city the following year.

The mayor said the event was “headed straight for a financial fiasco,” and that taxpayers would be on the hook for $35 million. 

But one year ago, the City of Montreal agreed to pay a settlement of $3 million to Formula E Operations, which puts on electric car races around the world. It had sued the city for $16 million after the city cancelled their events in 2018 and 2019.

Formula E isn’t the organizer of the Vancouver event, though it appears to have a degree of oversight with regard to the OSS Group-promoted race, which is part of the Formula E series.

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Teen model in Cebu accuses manager, events organizer of sexually abusing her

Teen model in Cebu accuses manager, events organizer of sexually abusing her

CEBU CITY – A teenage model in Cebu accused her former manager and an events organizer of sexually abusing her.

“Hannah” (not her real name) on Wednesday, June 29 filed charges against the two suspects for violation of Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

The charges were filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office of Mandaue City.

The Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB) is assisting Hannah in the case identified the suspects as Wafer and Yosores.

“There is sufficient cause for us to believe that what there was connivance between Wafer and Yosores. All the circumstances point to the fact that Hannah was led to the lion’s den. She was in such situation where she can no longer resist an impending abuse. The prize dangled before her was a contract for a Bikini Open where Wafer was expected to get 50 percent of whatever she earns,” lawyer Kristine Marciana Laplana, legal officer of CLB, said in a statement.

The charges stemmed from an incident on September 2021 in a hotel in Mandaue where a supposed screening for a Bikini Open was set up by the manager but the model ended up being allegedly abused instead by the events organizer.

Hannah alleged that Wafer, her former manager, connived with the events organizer in setting her up to be sexually abused.

She narrated that in the evening of Sept. 13, 2021, Wafer called her to screen for a Bikini Open and was surprised to see Yosores, whom she said had made prior requests for hangouts which she turned down.

Hannah said her manager did not tell her whom she was meeting. She was not also informed that she was the only one to be screened in the supposed photo shoot.

According to Hannah, she wanted to back out but was unable to do so when Yosores set her up for a dinner. She was then led into his car and brought to a motel in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue where she was allegedly raped.

In a separate complaint for rape earlier filed by Hannah, she narrated that while inside one of the rooms, Yosores instructed her to wear swimsuit and flirt with him.

She said that he boasted of his other models competing for his attention. Hannah added that he promised her that he will give her money so her mother would no longer have to work hard, and that he would arrange for her to have “sugar daddies.”

CLB is assisting Hannah under its program Strength-Counter-Trafficking in Persons Project with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Partnership for Development Assistance (PDAP).

“This is not the first time that we learned that women and children are being lured into the glamour of the modeling and pageant world, only to be sexually abused and trafficked. We are glad that our client found the courage to pursue this case against her manager and the events organizer. She could have chosen to be silent, but she fought, not only for herself but also for others who were victimized by her perpetrators,” lawyer Noemi Truya-Abarientos, spokesperson of CLB, said.





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Singapore bounces back as global events organizer

Singapore bounces back as global events organizer
In this photograph taken on February 18, 2022, people take a boat tour before the Marina Bay Sands hotel and resort in Singapore. [Photo/Agencies]

Singapore’s reopening of its borders is jump-starting its once thriving corporate events sector, with the strong “pent-up demand” for face-to-face gatherings and networking seen to sustain the industry in the next two to three years, experts said.

“It would be very fair to say the recovery is very real. It’s real because people are coming back to conventions and exhibitions,” said Richard Ireland, president of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers.

The Singapore Tourism Board, or STB, forecast that the industry of Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions, or MICE, will enjoy full recovery in two to three years. Industry players are likewise optimistic, noting that after a two-year hiatus, the city-state is once again hosting some of the biggest international events. These include the Shangri-La Dialogue and the Food and Hotel Asia Food and Beverage trade event that will be held in September.

Ireland expects that full recovery is possible in less than two years, noting that there is strong “pent-up demand “for the desire of people to have face-to-face meetings and networking.

Lawrence Loh, director at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore, said the MICE sector might even “recover sooner than later” and “this may take place even earlier than two to three years’ time”.

“It is just like the aviation and hospitality industry right now when the recovery has been faster than anticipated. Many entities are currently facing severe crunches to even fill up job vacancies to cater to the sudden rise in demand,” Loh told China Daily.

As one of the world’s key financial centers and a global aviation hub, Singapore is home to the thriving MICE industry. The industry’s annual revenue hit S$3.8 billion ($2.73 billion) and accounted for 0.8 percent of the GDP prior to the pandemic.

The industry, however, is also one of the hardest hit by the pandemic as closed borders and social distancing measures hindered mass gatherings. But in October 2020, the STB started to accept applications for organizers to pilot MICE events of up to 250 attendees. The Singaporean government has also developed testing protocols for foreign delegates and other visitors.

Last year, Singapore hosted over 200 events. In the first quarter of this year, Singapore hosted more than 150 events attended by over 37,000 delegates.

Jean-Francois Quentin, the group CEO of events organizer Constellar, said the MICE sector has shown signs of recovery and accelerated growth ever since the government lifted travel and social gathering restrictions in April. He said for the second half of the year, Singapore has secured at least 66 international events and already has a number of events lined up for next year.

Ireland said the pandemic has encouraged event organizers to be “more mindful and well prepared for the safety of our customers”.



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‘Let’s Rock Together’ charity event pulled, organizer upset with Tiny CAO

'Let's Rock Together' charity event pulled, organizer upset with Tiny CAO

‘We deserve their level of trust’, event chair says; CAO counters managing risk, liability are simply municipal policy

It might seem like no one wins here, but at least no one is sued either.

Chair Diane Leblovic of ‘Let’s Rock Together’ contacted MidlandToday to express frustration in the finer details of the project prior to the withdrawal of its 2022 application to Tiny Township.

Let’s Rock Together (LRT) is a charity event, which was proposed for this summer in Balm Beach as a celebration of relief from pandemic frustrations and as a fundraiser for Parkside Drive.

LRT was first pitched to Tiny council in late November as “an evening of rock & roll, food, and fun” for an older Tiny audience of up to 500 people, who would appreciate the musical tastes of local classic band The Desotos. A beer and wine bar was also being considered by Leblovic and project manager Don Chapman.

At the November council meeting, Mayor and George Cornell Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma were absent leaving three councillors and staff to handle the proceedings; the smaller council supported the event in principle but requested unprovided financial details from LRT prior to approvals in the 2022 budget discussions.

In December, LRT presented the financing to a full council, confirming that alcohol would be served and asking for in-kind support from the township as given in previous charity events like Leblovic’s successful Balm Beach Family Fun Day. Leblovic urged expediency to council in hastening the pre-approval of financial support, which Mayor George Cornell informed Leblovic would be a matter of procedure for January.

CAO Robert Lamb spoke up in the closing moments of that meeting to clarify matters.

“I understand you’re looking for the municipality to front $16,000 to be able to enter into contracts,” stated Lamb in the meeting, “but who is signing those contracts? Are you looking for the municipality to sign it or are those contracts going to be signed by yourselves and some other organization? Who is getting the liquor licence?

“Those are important questions for council to understand from a liability and an ownership of the event perspective,” noted Lamb in advising why quick recommendations by staff were extremely difficult.

LRT responded that Tiny had signed responsibility for prior events, not acknowledging that those weren’t liquor licensed.

At council in January, a risk management report from staff recommended that LRT collaborate with a registered charity or not-for-profit organization, placing risks and liabilities with the third party.

Recreation director Bonita Desroches informed council that “a perfect partnership” did exist in the annual Festival du Loup event where council contributed support while the organizers signed on for all the risks; LRT would make Tiny take the risk.

Leblovic preempted council’s decision with an open deputation, insisting that the discussion of risk management and liability had not been introduced or addressed since planning had started in 2020. Council passed the staff recommendation.

“We’re very disappointed that, at the end of the day, they didn’t want to support us,” Leblovic told MidlandToday, insisting that CAO Lamb should have approached LRT before December and discussed risk management and liability issues instead of at the end of the council meeting.

“Then there was a total flip-flop. Total flip-flop. And I knew they didn’t understand any of the request around the line of credit, because it was never a grant. Never a grant. Ever. In every experience with the township, we never asked for a grant. It was always a line of credit, and we always got it. 

“And then the other part of this is that the council… didn’t demonstrate the well-deserved level of trust and confidence in (Chapman and myself) by committing to partner with us. We think we deserve their level of trust by the things we’d done as volunteers!”

She said that over the last number of years, they had given $27,000 towards helping with Tiny’s playgrounds.

“And then I think they tried to shift all this risk and liability in their suggestions to another party, a registered not-for-profit. Okay? They just tried to shift it somewhere else,” explained Leblovic.

When asked if the LRT had lost any personal money, Leblovic said no and noted that it was time that was lost.

CAO Lamb was contacted for a response.

“The event, as proposed, did not follow what council-approved policies were. And council’s resolution was – they actually still supported the event, but they supported the event under the aspect of it being of us partnering with somebody that was a registered charity (and/or) not-for-profit as was our policy.”

In speaking directly to LRT, Tiny staff continued to raise the question of what partnering meant with the organization.

“In the end, partnering meant we’d be taking on all of the liability and the signing of the contracts, and the taking of the liquor license for the event,” said Lamb.  “(This is) not traditionally a role that the municipality would play, and not a role that we played in the other great events that the association put on in the past to raise money.”

Lamb remarked that Orillia had held downtown events in the early 2000s and that after three years their business management group decided to move away from those events due to similar risk management and liability issues.

“Because there’s still a personal name on the liquor licence,” he stated, adding “a lot has changed in 20 years.”

Throughout the conversation, Lamb repeatedly praised the volunteer efforts made by Leblovic and Chapman and looked forward to the potential for more efforts ahead.

“This was simply about the structure of this event and nothing more,” Lamb concluded.

Leblovic admitted that although LRT had withdrawn the event for 2022, there was still a possibility, albeit a low probability, of having a Let’s Rock Together party next year.

The Let’s Rock Together presentations, correspondence to council, and municipal policies relating to special events can be found in the January agenda on the Township of Tiny webpage.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.