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Depressed donkey now a happy hee-hawer thanks to new friendship with horse





The brutal Saskatchewan windchill didn’t seem to bother the donkey and the horse as they picked away at a bale of hay on a small farm northwest of Regina.

You’d never know the pair had only lived together for a couple weeks, or that they saved each other’s lives.

Pam Johnson’s niece had packed up her horses and moved them to Ontario on Oct. 11. Festus, the 13-year-old standard donkey, was left all alone. He was devastated, Johnson said. Think of Eeyore, but in real life.

“He was very lonely. He was mournful braying — 3, 4, 5 a.m., midnight,” she said.

Pam Johnson searched everywhere, without luck, to find a friend for her very depressed donkey, Festus. (Sam Maciag/CBC Saskatchewan)

Johnson tried to find replacements for Festus’s equine friends, but had no luck.

Meanwhile, DeLee Grant was in White City praying she’d be able to find a home for her 24-year-old horse, Peggy. Grant and her husband Larry were downsizing from a farm to a home in town. They had two horses. One had to be euthanized because he was old, arthritic and in poor health, but Peggy was still very healthy.

Grant wasn’t willing to sell Peggy for fear of her ending up on a slaughter line.

That’s when Grant and Johnson say fate intervened.

DeLee Grant was losing hope that she’s find a new home for her 24-year-old horse, Peggy. She had booked an appointment to euthanize Peggy when she met Pam Johnson. (Sam Maciag/CBC Saskatchewan)

Part of the downsizing for Grant included a big move. Grant ended up breaking a vertebrae in her back during the process and had to have surgery. After about a week she was feeling good enough to tag along with her husband into Regina one afternoon. They stopped at the Dollar Store and bumped into a woman named Yvonne Schalk.  

The whole move has been very stressful and this is the happiest moment of my entire life to find a home for Peggy.– DeLee Grant

“I told her that I was feeling pretty bad because I was going to have to put my horse down,” Grant said.

Schalk told Grant about Johnson and Festus. Grant and Johnson emailed back and forth a few times. After a visit out to Johnson’s farm, Grant decided Peggy would come to live with Festus.

Peggy’s new home looks like something on a Christmas card. There’s a big red barn, lots of trees covered in snow and dogs that greet you at the gate. 

Peggy and Festus now live happily on a farm northwest of Regina. Festus is no longer depressed and Peggy was saved from being euthanized. (Sam Maciag/CBC Saskatchewan)

Peggy wasn’t so sure about her new home at first.

“Festus came around the barn and kind of looked at her,” Johnson said. “And she backed up because she had never seen a donkey before. And he said, you know ‘Hi, I’m a nice guy to know.’ 

“He’s quite a handsome brute. They sniffed, as animals do, and they’ve been together ever since.”

Pam Johnson and DeLee Grant were both struggling to save their animals — one from depression, one from being euthanized — when a mutual friend connected them. Now the two women and their animals have bonded. 0:38

Grant and Johnson have known each other less than a month, but both agree they’ve formed a strong bond.

“The whole move has been very stressful and this is the happiest moment of my entire life to find a home for Peggy,” Grant said. 

Grant is already making plans to bring her granddaughter out to see Peggy at Christmas. Johnson likened the new friendship to a heartwarming Christmas story.

“She can still help me out with helping Festus out and he’s not lonely,” Johnson said.

Pam Johnson and DeLee Grant have become close friends after Grant’s 24-year-old horse came to live with Johnson’s 13-year-old depressed donkey. (Sam Maciag/CBC Saskatchewan)

The two women hug and smile constantly as they feed the animals on Johnson’s farm, indulging Festus and Peggy’s shared love of oats.

“We have become very good friends through this and she’s always welcome here,” Johnson said. 

“It’s just a beautiful story.”


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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla





Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm





Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover





KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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