WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
GEORGETOWN – Holland College needs to have more of a presence in Kings County, a member of the Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce said. "I think it is important, particularly for the development of the rural communities," Alan MacPhee said. MacPhee is on the chamber's board, which invited Holland College to offer a presentation at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown on Jan. 12. College president Sandy MacDonald presented mostly on the college's new strategic plan, but discussion afterward focused on its role in Kings County. While the college's Georgetown centre is operational, its adult education centres in Montague and Souris were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "(So) you can't get adult education in Kings County now," MacPhee said. "It's all virtual." He notes that people in rural communities can have a harder time accessing virtual classes due to internet issues or technology limitations. He believes it would be mutually beneficial for the centres to be reopened and for each to have a staff member for locals to go to if they need guidance and support. "To have that connection, you have to have some sort of presence," he said. MacDonald is all for working more closely with rural communities and for taking suggestions on how to do it. The services Holland College offers ultimately come down to the population's demand, he said. "(Which) depends very much on where the industry goes." For example, discussion was raised toward some programs the college has cut or suspended in recent years due to low attendance rates, such as photography, theatre and dance performance, and commercial diving. While some are available in different forms, others simply can't be provided if they aren't sustainable, MacDonald said. Much of his presentation was framed around how Holland College is working to counter labour shortages on P.E.I., which both he and MacPhee see as prevalent in rural communities. Rural Islanders who can't find work often move away or off P.E.I. altogether. Doug Currie, the college's vice-president, also attended the presentation and said population retention is one of the first steps, as well as focusing more on P.E.I.'s international communities. "We need to think about what we're doing and how we're doing it," he said. "And we can't rely solely on the domestic (population)." The chamber recently secured funding to conduct a two-year study on what P.E.I.'s population and labour market needs to become more sustainable, which may prove a helpful resource for it and the college, MacPhee said. "We both have a problem, but we don't have the solution yet," he said. "The fact they came out here and engaged is really what we were looking for." Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
TORONTO — The Canadian Premier League is targeting the Victoria Day long weekend in May as the kickoff for its third season. However, the league acknowledges that will ultimately depend on local government and health authorities. "Our plans call for the start of play this spring — while recognizing that a major factor will be our nation's progress against this pandemic," commissioner David Clanachan said in a letter to fans. "Based on where we are right now, if health authorities say it is safe to do so, we are focused on targeting a start date of the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22, 2021) — Canada’s 'unofficial start of summer.' To that end, we will remain flexible but also adaptable in our planning. To be clear, our ultimate goal is to see our supporters in the stands as we take to the field." The league acknowledges opening the doors to any number of spectators again is a decision that will be made by others. The hope is to have each of the eight teams play a normal 28-game season. The league is currently looking at a number of scheduling models. The 2020 season was originally slated to run from April 11 to Oct. 4. The pandemic shelved that plan with the league eventually playing the Island Games, a truncated tournament in Charlottetown, from Aug. 13 to Sept. 6. The 2019 inaugural regular season ran April 27 to Oct. 19, divided into spring and fall campaigns. Hamilton's Forge FC won the league title both years. The CPL has also announced that young Canadians will see more action in 2021 with clubs now required to give at least 1,500 minutes of combined playing time to domestic players under the age of 21. The requirement previously for U-21 players was 1,000 minutes (pro-rated to 250 minutes at the Island Games). As before, CPL clubs must have at least three U-21 Canadian players signed on their rosters. The rule covers player born Jan. 1, 2000 or later. The league says the U-21 minutes requirement was met or exceeded by all clubs. In 2020, Winnipeg's Valour FC led the way with a total of1,532 minutes. In 2019, Pacific FC recorded 13,532 minutes. The league says it provided 43,000 minutes of playing time to young Canadians across its first two seasons. “Part of the mission of the Canadian Premier League is to foster the growth of young Canadian soccer players," James Easton, the league's vice-president of football operations, said in a statement. "The success to date of our under-21 player minutes is a testament to the quality that exists across Canada, which is now being served in a meaningful way by the opportunities provided by the CPL and is why we have decided to increase the minutes for young Canadian players.” --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Val-Brillant, l’école en musique La petite école primaire de Val-Brillant (95 élèves) va rejoindre un cercle très fermé : celui des établissements scolaires offrant un programme Arts-études en musique. Pour l’instant, seules neuf écoles primaires le font au Québec. Val-Brillant va donc devenir la dixième dès l’année scolaire 2021-2022, et la première dans l’Est. Il s’agit d’une progression logique pour cette école, qui proposait depuis une douzaine d’années déjà un programme de concentration en arts : des cours de musique étaient donnés sur les heures scolaires en partenariat avec le Camp musical du lac Matapédia. Mais la fermeture de ce dernier, couplée à la décision du ministère de l’Éducation de mettre fin à ce type de programmes en juin 2021, a poussé la direction de l’école à envisager un virage. « On était rendus à la croisée des chemins, explique la directrice Renée Belzile : on avait le choix de redevenir simplement une école avec un programme particulier en musique, ou de faire le grand saut vers un programme Arts-études officiel avec toutes les balises du ministère. » C’est la deuxième option qui a été retenue, en partenariat cette fois-ci avec l’École de musique du Bas-Saint-Laurent à Rimouski. Jusqu’à présent, les enfants pouvaient suivre des cours d’instruments (seuls ou en petits groupes) ou de chant choral. Bientôt, ils auront accès à de la formation auditive et des cours de musique d’ensemble. Pour obtenir la reconnaissance Arts-études, l’école doit permettre aux élèves inscrits de bénéficier d’un minimum de 20 % d’enseignement en musique par semaine durant la plage horaire scolaire. Bons pour les élèves… et les parents Selon Mme Belzile, le passage par l’école de Val-Brillant a été marquant pour de nombreux jeunes, certains étant depuis devenus enseignants de musique. Mais sans aller aussi loin, étudier la musique et devoir faire des prestations sur scène devant les amis et les parents permet d’améliorer confiance et estime de soi. « La fierté d’avoir accompli un gros projet qui sort des matières scolaires, comme par exemple une comédie musicale, ça va chercher des élèves qui ont parfois peu de valorisation au niveau des notes », ajoute la directrice tout en précisant qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un « programme élitiste » mais qu’au contraire, tout le monde est accepté. La moitié des élèves de l’école de Val-Brillant viennent déjà d’autres municipalités. Avec ce nouveau programme, Renée Belzile espère attirer de nouvelles têtes, tout en assurant que cela ne crée pas de conflit avec les autres écoles primaires du coin. « Plus on aura d’élèves, plus l’offre de cours va être diversifiée et intéressante », déclare-t-elle. Les parents y trouvent aussi leur compte, puisqu’ils n’ont pas à amener leurs rejetons à des cours de musique après les classes ou en soirée. Pas besoin non plus d’acheter un instrument sans savoir si l’enfant va apprécier en jouer, puisque l’école en prête des petits (violons, ukulélé…) qu’on peut ramener à la maison.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
Adam Grant, who first began working for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) in 2007 as the assistant director of the engineering and public works department, now gets a turn at the helm. Grant was appointed as the department’s new director at the RQM council meeting on January 12. He has been in the role of acting director since the retirement of Brad Rowter in December 2020. Rowter worked for the municipality for 24 years. He began his career at RQM as an engineer and was appointed Director of Engineering and Public Works in September 2003, after being in the role of acting director for about a year. “We are pleased to have Adam take on this important role with Region of Queens Municipality. With 14 years’ experience as an engineer with the municipality, we are confident Adam can lead the Municipality in our continued growth and continue to advance important infrastructure projects,” Darlene Norman, RQM’s mayor, commented in a press release. As director, Grant will be responsible for overseeing the management, maintenance and development of municipal infrastructure of two sewer systems, its water system, Queens Solid Waste Management Facility and Materials Recovery Facility, streets in Liverpool, parks and green spaces throughout Queens County, as well as the operational components of Queens Place Emera Centre. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
If you’ve been to a farmers’ market lately, then the reality of seasonal cooking in the middle of winter has plainly revealed itself to you. Tis the season for root vegetables, and not a whole lot else. But there is beauty to cooking with the season, not just because it feels in sync with the planet, but also because it compels you to make the most of what is available, whether those ingredients are familiar … or not so much. Root vegetables are pretty much what they sound like: vegetables that grow under the earth and must be dug up to be harvested. In cold weather, from late fall to early spring in temperate climates, root vegetables are pretty much all that’s seasonally available, other than some late-summer crops that are hardy enough to store. Since root vegetables grow underground, they absorb a lot of nutrients from the soil, and so are nutritional powerhouses, usually also high in starch. Root vegetables include potatoes, yams and Jerusalem artichokes (all of which are also tubers), as well as beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, yuca, kohlrabi, the onion family, garlic, celery root (or celeriac), turmeric, jicama, radishes (including daikon and horseradish), and ginger. Some root vegetables get sweeter once the first frost hits. The cold causes the roots to work hard to prevent the plants from freezing, which causes the natural starches to convert to sugar. Carrots, turnips, rutabagas and beets are good examples. So as we head into the belly of winter, it’s the perfect time to explore the world of root vegetables. As Robert Schueller, head of marketing at Melissa’s Produce, a specialty produce company based in California, puts it, hardy root vegetables are ideal for “comfy foods; warm meals during the cooler time.” Schueller says that in recent years, specific varietals of root vegetables are having a moment. In the world of potatoes, for instance, baby potatoes are especially popular, including Dutch yellow, ruby gold, red, mixed fingerlings and gemstone. He calls parsnips “the new carrot.” Parsnips are related to both carrots and parsley, and look much like a large, pale carrot with a squattier base. The flavour, when cooked, is like a sweeter carrot, and parsnips can be used in pretty much any recipe that calls for carrots, when you want a heightened level of sweetness. They are common in traditional Jewish chicken noodle soup, and can be mashed with potatoes or on their own, as well as roasted. Kohlrabi has also become trendy, Schueller says. It looks a bit like a UFO with a bunch of stems sticking out willy nilly, in shades of pale green to purplish, with a pale interior. Kohlrabi can be eaten cooked or raw; raw, it's flavour and texture are reminiscent of peeled broccoli stems, with a bit of peppery radish thrown in. Radishes are popular not just for their spicy flavour but for the visual pop they give to salads and other dishes. The watermelon radish continues to trend, Schueller says, for its dramatic look: green on the outside, hot pink on the inside. And multi-colored carrots are gaining traction because of how beautiful they look on a plate, in hues of purple, red, orange and yellows often combined in a bunch. They can be used just as regular orange carrots are; try them cut lengthwise and simply roasted with olive oil and salt, perhaps served with a condiment or dressing like tapenade or pesto vinaigrette. Celery root, horseradish, sweet potatoes and shallots are other root vegetables Scheuller sees gaining in popularity because of their use by restaurant chefs. Some tips on root vegetables: STORAGE Different root vegetables have slightly different preferences, but in general, store them in a cool, dark place with ventilation. Carrots, celeriac, parsnips, turnips and radishes do well in the fridge, preferably in the crisper drawer. Store onions separately from other root vegetables, as they emit gases that will accelerate the spoiling of other vegetables, especially potatoes. Alan Spaulding, who sells vegetables at the Union Square Farmers’ Market in New York City, says he keeps most of his root vegetables in the fridge. If he runs out of space, he stores them in the coolest, darkest place in his apartment. Remove any fresh greens from the tops of root vegetables before storing them. Wrap the greens in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge; use them as you would use any cooking greens, like kale or spinach. Spaulding offers this tip for reviving carrots that have softened: Place them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge overnight, “and they will firm right up.” SELECTION Choose root vegetables that are hard, without blemishes or signs of decay. They should have firm roots and feel heavy for their size. COOKING As with any vegetable, the best and most common methods for cooking root vegetables are steaming, sauteing, baking, roasting, braising and grilling. Most root vegetables need to have their tough outer skin removed before cooking, especially because they sometimes have a waxy coating added to slow down spoilage. Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife. Some vegetables, such as carrots and Jerusalem artichokes, may just need a good scrub to remove dirt and any unwanted bits and bobs from the skin. Most root vegetables are best diced, sliced or cubed before cooking, to speed things up and, in the case of roasting, to get those nice caramelized surfaces. Root vegetables also can be added to soups, stews and casseroles. For casseroles, you might want to cook them at least partially first since they may take a little longer to become tender than the other ingredients. Root vegetables are inexpensive, nutritious, readily available and flavourful. So while we await the season of asparagus and strawberries, dig deep and make them part of your diet. Root Vegetable Recipes: Spicy Roasted Root Vegetable Soup with Parmesan Croutons Roasted Winter Vegetables with Sriracha Honey Glaze Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables Parsnip and Golden Beet Soup Sweet Potato Spoonbread ___ Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com. Katie Workman, The Associated Press
Veterans Affairs Canada hasn't gone far enough in reversing restrictions on mental health counselling for the families of former soldiers, sailors and aircrew, the county's new veterans ombudsman says in a hard-hitting report. The federal government imposed constraints on access to mental health counselling for families of veterans almost a year ago. The policy shift was a response to a political embarrassment — the case of convicted killer Christopher Garnier, a son of a veteran who obtained taxpayer-funded post traumatic stress treatment. While Veterans Affairs never formally amended the family care policy, it began using a much stricter interpretation of it — which had a direct impact on some veterans' families. "There was also a lack of transparency with respect to how these significant changes in interpretation were implemented," Nishika Jardine, a retired colonel, wrote in her report released today, her first since being appointed veterans ombudsman last fall. "The lack of clear communication caused confusion and frustration among some veterans and their families, especially since some family members only found out about the changes during their mental health appointments." Late last winter, CBC News documented several cases of families who had seen services reduced or halted because of the stricter interpretation of the policy. Federal officials responded by denying that families had been "cut off" from care. But as of mid-March 2020 — just when the pandemic was getting started — the department had notified 133 families in writing that their counselling benefits were in danger of being discontinued. Jardine's investigation noted that the restrictions were revised, but not reversed. 'I walk on eggshells' It's not good enough, she concluded. "The [Office of the Veterans Ombudsman] believes this guideline continues to be too narrow and that families should receive better access to the mental health supports that they need," says her report. The investigation heard from some of the families directly affected by the service change and quoted them anonymously in the report. "I barely survive. I walk on eggshells and try to smooth things over," one unnamed spouse told ombudsman's office investigators. "This is not fair to take away these kinds of services from our children. I will try to manage and deal with him the best I can. My kids should not be cut off from support. They did not ask for this, they did not ask for a broken father. All they often want is a dad who is not sick, a normal dad." The ombudsman was moved. "It's heartbreaking," Jardine told CBC News. "It's heartbreaking when you see the impact that can be experienced." While the majority of military families are resilient, she said, every family "is unique in their dynamics ... We now understand how difficult it is to deal with mental health issues if you don't have access to support and professional mental health services." The department's policy ties family access to mental health treatment to the individual veteran and is meant to aid veterans themselves in their recovery. The ombudsman argues that the families enduring the pressures of military life — the frequent moves, the isolation and the stress of knowing a loved one on deployment is in harm's way — deserve their own unfettered access to taxpayer-funded treatment. Stung by scandal "In the OVO's assessment, when a family member suffers from an illness or injury related to the unique conditions and challenges of military service, they should have access to mental health treatment, independent of the veteran's treatment or rehabilitation plan," said the report. The department tightened its rules governing when families can receive subsidized counselling in the wake of the Garnier case. Stung by public criticism over that case, then-veterans minister Seamus O'Regan ordered a review and public servants began pursuing a stricter interpretation of the rules. The current minister, Lawrence MacAulay, asked his officials to be as flexible as possible in deciding whether family members qualify. In a written response to the report, Veterans Affairs gave little indication that it would accept the ombudsman's recommendations — which, among other things, call for veterans families to be given separate legislative treatment so they can access services more smoothly. "In short, while the existing Veterans Health Care Regulations do not provide the department the regulatory authority to offer funding for treatment benefits for a veteran's family member in their own right, Veterans Affairs Canada will continue to offer alternative resources resources where it cannot provide mental health support and to be as flexible as possible where it can," said the department's response letter. MacAulay did note, however, that his recently updated mandate letter from the prime minister instructs him to focus on mental health services for families and their primary caregivers. He said he intends to launch a review of the issue but did not offer a timeline. Jardine said her office can make recommendations but "it is up to politicians to hear, it's up to the government to hear the distress that exists in these families." Jardine would not say whether she agrees with some veterans' families who have claimed they were made to pay the price for bureaucratic overreaction to the Garnier case.
Like many in Saskatchewan, Regina homeowners Loretta and Blair McClinton are still cleaning up after last week's big winter storm. Last Wednesday night, their decades-old backyard spruce tree snapped in the 100 km/h wind gusts. "All of a sudden I heard a loud cracking noise. My husband was still sleeping and I said, 'I think something's hit the house,'" Loretta remembered. "Then we looked [out the window] and we just went, 'Oh, my God!' We just couldn't believe what we saw." She said they first checked the attic to make sure the tree didn't go through the roof — and, luckily, it didn't. "It's just astonishment, really. It was unbelievable. The tree's 80 feet tall [about 24 metres]," Loretta said. "I've had thoughts in my mind that if it ever fell over, what would happen? So to see it actually blow over was just incredible." Loretta said it's "an immense relief" their home and fence weren't damaged at all by the tree; only a gas line, which was disrupted by its roots, had to be repaired. "We were so lucky that it basically landed on our elm tree, which held it up. If it had came down, it probably would have crashed on the side of our house and probably our neighbour's house," she said. "Who knows what could have happened? It was a pretty traumatic event." On Thursday, the McClintons brought in a crane to remove the spruce. "It's going to be a loss because it was such a beautiful tree. Now, it's so open," Loretta said, noting they have plans to landscape their backyard in the spring. "It's kind of a good thing that this happened before we accomplished that."
Yukon conservation officers euthanized what they're describing as an "emaciated" grizzly bear in Braeburn, a small community about 110 kilometres north of Whitehorse on the Klondike Highway, on Jan. 15 after it was found breaking into structures looking for food. It's the fourth bear to be euthanized since November. A written statement posted to the Yukon Conservation Officer Services Facebook page on Jan. 18 said officers located and tracked a "large, male bear that was in poor condition" after receiving reports about the break-ins. Along with being emaciated, the bear had "extreme tooth wear" as well as "multiple injuries to the face and paws" it likely received while breaking into structures, according to the statement. "The bear's poor condition is likely why it either did not den, or came out of denning to find food to prevent starvation," the statement says. "The bear had been active and roaming the area, indicating that it was food stressed. The bear demonstrated willingness to break into structures in search of food — a behaviour that would have likely continued — creating a significant public safety hazard." 'Last resort' Euthanasia is seen as a "last resort" when it comes to dealing with bears, Environment Yukon spokesperson Diana Dryburgh-Moraal told CBC on Jan. 18, but a high risk to public safety has been a factor in all four cases so far this winter. "The bears have been in extremely poor condition," she said. "They have in common the fact that their teeth have been extremely worn down, they've been emaciated and they're sick, and that puts them at a higher risk of being a danger to humans." The three other bears were in the Haines Junction area, about 150 kilometres west of Whitehorse. While Dryburgh-Moraal acknowledged there have been more bear advisories than usual this winter, she said that "it's not actually that unusual for bears to be out and about throughout the year, whether it's July or January. "The most likely reason that bears are still active in the winter is that they haven't built up enough body fat to survive hibernation, and there's a couple of reasons that that might happen," she said. "The most important one is food availability — if there aren't enough berries or salmon available on the land, they will be motivated to stay longer to meet their food needs. Following that, their body size becomes really important, especially with older bears, because they are bigger and so their energy needs are that much (larger) as well." She added that Yukoners should remain "bear-aware" all year round and take safety measures like carrying bear spray — keep it tucked in your jacket or someplace warm — and securing attractants even during the winter. Bears or any wildlife posing a risk to humans can be reported to the TIPP line at 1-800-661-0525.
Katie Green has been interested in art since she could hold a pencil. Originally from Maryland, she describes herself as having lived “kind of all over the place.” For the last seven years she’s called Richmond home, and is perhaps best known as a caricature artist who goes by the name “Cartoon Katie.” Green’s parents were very supportive of her desire to have a career as an artist. “They were always getting me the little ‘how to draw Mickey Mouse’ books,” she says. As an art student, she studied visual effects and animation, but was doing caricature art on the side. The style appeals to her partially because of its similarities to animation. “I really like being a little sillier with the drawing,” she says. “I can take a picture of stuff, or I can spend a lot of time rendering perfect details. Mimicking life is impressive, but for me it’s not as fun, not as creative—I want (my art) to express something a little different than what you can normally see.” After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Green worked at a Los Angeles studio as a visual effects artist. And when that studio opened a branch in Vancouver, she was moved up north, still taking caricature gigs occasionally on the side. Eventually she decided to leave the film industry and pursue caricature art full-time. First looking up what kind of city permits she would need to be a caricature artist, Green says the City of Richmond suggested she contact the Harbour Authority. When she did, she was given a patch of grass outside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery to sell art from. “I do a bunch of markets and things, and what I primarily do are events—like Songs in the Snow, or people’s birthday parties, or charity things,” says Green. “(At events) I’ll go and perform, and rather than have people pay to get each drawing like at a market, I’m just drawing as many of the guests as I can in a set amount of time, like an entertainer.” Now an independent business owner, Green covers events from birthday parties to dry grads to business holiday parties. Sometimes she works with other artists at larger events, and she also teaches some classes at local community centres. Many of her gigs come through networking, where someone sees her at an event or market and asks her to work their event or activity as well. “At any kind of celebration party, caricature can fit right in because it’s a customized souvenir,” she says. Green has a process with each drawing: she begins by imagining a person’s head shape, trying to decide how much space it will take up. But usually, while the face shape is the first thing she thinks of, it’s the last part she draws. “People always say I start with the nose, but in my brain I’m starting with a lot of other shapes and things first,” she says. “The nose is in the middle, so if I get it down first I don’t have to draw on top of something to get it the right shape.” Sometimes when she sees people in public, Green imagines how she would draw them. “It’s a thought process that I can’t turn off,” she says. For instance, she might see someone on a bus with an interesting face, or have a conversation with someone who makes a noticeable facial expression. But because she knows she can’t whip out a sketchbook and start drawing without permission, she tries to remember shapes to recreate later. “Inspiration strikes when I see certain faces or certain features, (even) when I’m not drawing,” says Green. Her own personal style has changed over time, depending on what she’s interested in and what she feels like making. The COVID-19 pandemic has totally changed her style, for instance, as well as the way she’s been drawing. “I don’t really feel like I have one specific style, I’m just always trying to be funny, I want it to look good, and I want people to like it,” she says. Because of the humorous nature of caricature, Green says sometimes people don’t respond positively. She describes her art as an illustration rather than a recreation of a photograph, and always tries to have samples available so people know what to expect. “Even though I’m doing art every day, every day seems to be different, I have different challenges to problem-solve, I’m coming up with a new way to deal with something,” she says. One of the challenges this year was the pandemic, of course, which created a distinct lack of work opportunities for many artists. “Everyone was out of work—we had our livelihoods cancelled for some unknown amount of time,” says Green. Some artists created virtual set-ups, including Green. She began with free virtual caricature parties, then began networking with other artists on big virtual events. “There’s been a lot of trying to keep the art community lifted up, while also trying to figure out how to keep my business going.” Virtual events have become more successful and consistent, although not without some technical challenges. Green says as well as doing art, she also provides some technical support to people who may not necessarily know how to turn on their camera, for example. After the events, she emails out drawings so people can access them. During online drawing events, Green uses a tablet and stylus to create her art. She usually shares her screen so people can see what she’s drawing as it’s being created, while also seeing her face as she draws. Normally, she balances drawing on paper and drawing digitally, as she recognizes the complementary skill sets. But despite the challenges, Green is still optimistic. She says inspiration comes from everywhere, especially laughter and “anything fun.” “I don’t feel that it’s making fun of somebody. I know people get that mentality with caricature, with the editorial side of it where you’re usually making fun of politicians, but from a retail and event standpoint it’s more a celebration of what makes people unique rather than making fun of them,” she says. “When I see a unique face, it’s definitely fun—but it’s fun in a positive way, not in a negative way.” Over the years she’s worked on some interesting projects, including children’s storybooks, logos for businesses, and orders for board game or card game art design. But one project that stood out to her was an ongoing collaboration with a Danish man who wanted to create a book of idioms. “They were all in Danish, so he was using Google Translate to help communicate with me,” says Green. “But I had to be illustrating the imagery that would be associated with it, not the meaning.” The language barrier created some communication challenges, but also yielded some fun drawings. “That project was super fun, the guy was really nice and I work with him all the time—but it was one of those cases where every day was a different joke we were coming up with because it made no sense to the project,” she says. When she’s not drawing, Green likes to play video games to hang out virtually with friends, or watch movies with her husband. As a freelance artist, she appreciates being able to work on whatever she’s interested in. Recently, she’s been making a lot of tutorials to help other artists. “The cool part about being freelance and working independently is that I don’t have to dream about a project—I get to work on it when I want to, as long as I don’t have too much other work at the same time.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
L’Académie de danse de Forestville s’est tournée vers le Web pour poursuivre ses activités malgré le reconfinement obligé par la pandémie de COVID-19. Au lieu de mettre un frein à ses cours, l’organisme offre ses services via la plateforme numérique Zoom. « Au printemps dernier, nous sommes vraiment tombés des nues quand on a appris que nous devions cesser nos activités. On ne voulait pas que cela se reproduise, alors on a demandé à notre professeure de danse de suivre une formation pour donner des cours en ligne », affirme la présidente de l’Académie de danse de Forestville, Ruth Villeneuve. À l’automne, quand les cours ont recommencé au local du Complexe Guy-Ouellet, l’organisme avait déjà un plan B s’il se voyait contraint d’arrêter ses services. « On se doutait bien que la pandémie ne se règlerait pas en quelques mois », soutient Mme Villeneuve, qui s’implique pour l’Académie depuis bientôt quatre ans. Stéphanie Lessard, professeure de danse de l’Académie, a toutefois dû adapter ses exercices afin qu’ils soient réalisables chacun chez soi. Le temps des cours a aussi été raccourci pour faciliter l’apprentissage. « Les plus jeunes se réunissent à raison de 30 minutes et les plus âgées s’exercent pendant 45 minutes, au lieu d’une heure », indique-t-elle. Le manque d’équipement électronique a aussi fait diminuer la participation des élèves à 75 %. « Certains désirent attendre à la reprise des cours au local », mentionne Mme Lessard. Quant au nombre de danseurs inscrits, il est aussi en baisse cette année en raison de la situation sanitaire. « Nous avons entre 70 et 80 élèves, ce qui est une petite diminution comparativement à l’an dernier, mais ce n’est pas si mal », de commenter la professeure. Toutefois, pour la présidente, il était important d’offrir l’opportunité aux jeunes de s’occuper et de garder un lien avec l’enseignante. « La plupart des élèves sont contents de se voir, même si ce n’est que par visioconférence, selon Stéphanie Lessard. Ceux du primaire ont recommencé l’école, mais le groupe de danse n’est pas composé des mêmes amis que dans leur classe. » Spectacle En ce qui concerne le traditionnel spectacle de fin d’année, qui se tient habituellement en avril, le conseil d’administration de l’organisme attend les consignes gouvernementales. « On se prépare en fonction qu’il y en aura un, mais on ne sait pas comment vont se traduire les règlements sanitaires à ce moment. On travaille donc sur des plans B et C pour ne pas l’annuler complètement comme l’an dernier », dévoile Ruth Villeneuve. Les réseaux sociaux pourraient faire partie des solutions. « On pense à une nouvelle formule comme faire des directs sur la page Facebook de l’Académie pour chaque groupe », explique la professeure de danse. Toutefois, rien n’est décidé pour l’instant. Rappelons que depuis la fermeture de l’auditorium de la polyvalente des Rivières, les spectacles de l’Académie de danse se déroulent au Complexe Guy-Ouellet. Les danseurs pourront peut-être utiliser la scène du tout nouveau Pavillon des arts, si la situation sanitaire le permet.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Senate organized a Republican majority as the new legislative session got underway Tuesday, with Soldotna Republican Peter Micciche elected Senate president. Micciche told reporters plans for the majority were made official Tuesday, ahead of the session's start. He said the majority would include all 13 Republican members. Committee assignments were expected to be announced later in the day. His election as Senate president was held by voice vote, with no one dissenting. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich, in a statement, said Democrats had “many conversations with Republican members of the Senate, but unfortunately, some of those members will not put party politics aside in favour of working with Democrats in a bipartisan fashion for an Alaska agenda that seeks to help all of us recover from the difficulties of this past year.” He did not specify which members he was referring to. The House has not yet organized a majority. The first day of a new Legislature is typically one of pomp, but Tuesday's start was muted amid COVID-19 concerns. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
Steve Fortin and his family survived a harrowing COVID-19 infection and he wants to share it with everyone “because it may save a life.” Fortin, a trucker and musician, said he and his wife started to notice mild symptoms Dec. 22, three days after exposure. “Sniffles, slight cough, and a dry, sore nose,” he wrote, but they weren’t sure if it was sinus problems or a cold. “Here is our mistake, we should have immediately been tested,” Fortin said, adding they were being careful in case they were infected that they wouldn’t spread it. “We are new to the area so we didn't really go anywhere to spread it but I did go to work and went to the store but wore a mask and sanitized regularly and kept a safe distance at all times,” he said. By New Year’s Eve, he and his wife “became terribly ill” with the full laundry list of symptoms. “We couldn’t get off the couch the pain was so bad, fevers and chills almost unbearable,” he wrote, with “stomach ache and diarrhea with no appetite at all. “My wife was vomiting and I was lucky enough not to vomit,” Fortin wrote. “Then we got the call, a friend of ours who works in the medical field tested posted for COVID-19. “Immediately we called the North Bay COVID centre for testing and our results came back positive as well. “My wife, kids, and myself all had COVID-19,” he said, explaining the children had no symptoms. “They didn’t even know they had it but my wife and I were very ill. “Public Health and I back-tracked all our steps to make sure we didn’t come into contact with anyone. They called my work and had employees that were around me tested and thank God they were all negative,” Fortin said. See: Some provinces see positive signs in COVID fight See: Two new COVID cases “My stupidity could have made a lot of people sick. I became so ill I should have been hospitalized but was afraid that I may never see my kids again,” he said. A Public Health nurse called to check and suggested they be hospitalized for treatment and to be more comfortable, he added. “I had every symptom possible and by the second week it started to affect my lungs, nose, and bronchial tube,” Fortin said. “It burned to breathe. One night, I woke up and asked my wife to talk to me because I was sure it may be our last conversation.” Things started to improve after being sick for three weeks and the Fortin family cases were considered resolved Sunday. “I feel much better but still a little weak,” he said, adding praise for the support they received. “As sick as we were, our neighbors were amazing with support and help. My closest neighbor Marcel did our grocery shopping and his wife made our family an amazing meat pie,” he said. “Neighbors were calling to check on us and to offer their help and I must say thank you so much to them” for being there in their time of need. “Sturgeon Falls is the most amazing community we have ever lived in and thank you for accepting us and making us feel so welcomed,” he wrote. He suggests people be diligent and follow Public Health advice: “If you show any cold or flu symptoms don't assume it is. Go get tested, it’s easy, painless, and fast. “Always keep your mask on and practice safe distancing in public. It’s so easy to spread this virus. When you go through a drive-thru or use a debit machine, sanitize immediately before they hand your stuff to you. “When grocery shopping, ask if your cart was sprayed before you use it and if not clean it yourself or request it to be and the most important thing when you’re around friends or family you don't live with, WEAR YOUR MASK. “I made one mistake and almost lost my life so I feel very lucky to be here and just want to help this amazing community in any way I can. Thank you,” he wrote. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick will move to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan at midnight tonight. Health officials are reporting 31 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and one additional death. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Premier Blaine Higgs says the province will consider imposing a lockdown with more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
GEORGETOWN – Holland College's president recalls a time when he struggled to find a job because for every job there was a surplus of workers trying to get it. "I can tell you without any degree of uncertainty that that is not the case anymore," Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald said. These days, industries such as early childhood care, resident care and correctional policing need workers, but either there aren't enough available or there are barriers keeping people from attaining the necessary skills, he said. "I can't think of a single industry on P.E.I. that isn't short on labour." MacDonald is hopeful that the college's new strategic plan will help to counter this with its four guiding principles, which he outlined during a presentation at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown on Jan. 12. The principles are innovative and flexible programming, support and inclusion, environmental leadership and corporate innovation. "Our budget (will be) framed around these four things," he said. The college has already adapted some of its programs around the first principle. Last year, the college's early childhood care program partnered with workplaces so students could start the program and learn the basics, then jump into work while still enrolled in the two-year program. Similarly, students pursuing a Red Seal apprenticeship would normally have to take time off work to attend the college's programming, which could be a deterrent for students who have to prioritize a steady income. Moving forward, Red Seal students will be able to continue working while taking part in virtual education. "(Now) they're earning and learning at the same time," MacDonald said. "It's not that there's anything new in the content, it's just in how we deliver it." As well, the college's bioscience program has partnered with UPEI via a joint program that mixes the college's expertise in applied learning with the university's focus on theory. In addition, an entry-level cook position was added to the college's culinary program as many restaurants don't need a fully-trained chef, MacDonald said. The second principle is about better supporting the college's diverse student base, such as people of ethnicity, people with learning disabilities or people with past traumas or addictions. About $300,000 has been set aside toward one day constructing a student support centre. "We have four counsellors now," MacDonald said. "We probably should have eight." The third principle pertains to responding responsibly to the impacts of climate change, such as by reviewing all programs to see about using greener techniques or by reassessing the possibility of including a transit pass in student union fees. As well, the college recently submitted a report to government outlining a potential centre that would act as a headquarters for P.E.I.'s 24 watershed groups, MacDonald said. The fourth principle, which involves the intent to invest in effective partnerships, opportunities and technologies, has proven challenging. That’s because it requires the college to change or restructure how it operates, such as by framing its budget around the four principals. "Because we want to make sure we're spending every nickel as efficiently as possible," he said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
La Ville de Forestville dénonce des actes de vandalisme perpétrés en fin de semaine dernière dans les sentiers de la Baie-Verte. Une passerelle, nouvellement aménagée, a été volontairement saccagée par des vandales. « Je trouve cela vraiment désolant et déplorable, c’est un manque de respect à l’ensemble de la collectivité », commente la mairesse de Forestville, Micheline Anctil. La Ville ne peut toutefois pas encore chiffrer à combien s’élèvent les dommages, mais une somme de 27 800 $ a été investie récemment dans les sentiers. « Nous investissons temps et argent, nous nous battons pour obtenir des subventions pour que les citoyens soient aidés financièrement. Mais un sans conscience vient briser et on recommence deux fois », d’ajouter Mme Anctil. La mairesse est claire : « quand on refait la même chose deux fois, on n’améliore pas d’autres espaces et équipements, et la deuxième fois, ce sont les citoyens qui paient ». Quiconque a des informations sur cet événement est invité à joindre la Ville de Forestville.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says all long-term care and high-risk retirement homes will receive vaccinations by Feb. 15 despite a shortage of Pfizer vaccines. As Morganne Campbell reports, the backlog is causing a delay in the province's rollout plan.
OTTAWA — Canada’s veterans ombudsman is calling on the federal government to reverse restrictions on mental-health services for veterans' families. Ombudsman Nishika Jardine’s demand is in a scathing report released today, a year after Ottawa cut off this federal funding for veterans' families, even when the family member needs treatment because of their loved one’s military service. That move followed outrage over Veterans Affairs Canada having paid for Christopher Garnier’s PTSD treatment while in prison because he was the son of a veteran, even though Garnier had been convicted of killing police officer in Halifax. Jardine’s report quotes several veterans and their family members about the harm those restrictions have done to them and their children, most of whom were receiving support before the change was made without notice. Some of those quoted also question how the government can justify the restrictions when Canadian Armed Forces commanders have repeatedly stressed how supporting military families at home contributes to successful missions abroad. Jardine says reversing the restrictions is a matter of fairness given the unique challenges facing veterans' families, including constant moves, long periods of separation and the stress of living with someone suffering from physical and mental injuries. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) is moving along with its COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan. First Nation communities along the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast are receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. According to a WAHA notice, the plan in the region is divided into three phases. Receiving the vaccine is voluntary. Those who can get vaccinated include adults over 18 years old; residents, staff and essential caregivers including family caregivers and other employees in congregate living settings for seniors, and healthcare workers including hospital employees, staff who work or study in hospitals and healthcare personnel. Tomorrow, Jan. 20, 50 people who meet the eligibility criteria will receive the vaccine at clinics in Fort Albany and Attawapiskat. Jan. 20-22, people meeting the criteria as well as elders and vulnerable patients in congregate living settings will be vaccinated in Moosonee. Phase three of the roll-out plan will begin next Tuesday, Jan. 26, with mass immunization vaccination clinics set up in all communities. Mass vaccination clinics are tentatively scheduled for Peawanuck on Jan. 26, Kashechewan on Feb. 1, Attawapiskat on Feb. 8, Fort Albany on Feb. 15, Moosonee on March 1 and Moose Factory on March 1. Clinics will be held over multiple days. According to WAHA, the goal is to have the first dose phase of the mass clinics completed in the region by March 12. Phase two will take place over next several weeks and will allow the rest of the community members in the James Bay and Hudson Bay region to get vaccinated. WAHA will be working with a team, assembled by the province, using ORNGE paramedics to visit each community. WAHA or local public healthcare providers will deliver the program after the team visits. No dates are yet available for the phase two plan. The first phase of the plan started on Jan. 6 when the first COVID-19 vaccines were delivered by ORNGE to Moosonee. Phase one priority groups included elders living in congregate setting in Moose Factory, Attawapiskat and Fort Albany; healthcare providers in patient care areas and elders in Complex Continuing Care and Alternate Level of Care (CCC/ALC) beds. Moose Cree elder Gertrude Johnstone was the first one to receive the vaccine at the Weeneebayko General Hospital (WGH) in Moose Factory. Since Jan. 8, a total of 81 people in the phase one group have been vaccinated in Moose Factory, according to WAHA. The vaccination clinics then moved to Attawapiskat, where three elderly inpatients and seven staff at the Attawapiskat Hospital were vaccinated, and to Fort Albany, where five elders and five staff received the vaccine. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com