• Shoal Lake 40 residents haven't been able to do this for 18 years. (CBC)Shoal Lake 40 residents haven't been able to do this for 18 years. (CBC)

    When Winnipeg health officials announced a boil water advisory for the entire city on Tuesday, it was the Manitoba capital’s first-ever foray into the world of liquid terror.

    Residents were outraged upon learning that their access to clean drinking water had been potentially tainted by E. coli. Those who refused to drink boiled tap water rushed to stores, making bottled water an impossible commodity to keep stocked.

    Restaurants and businesses were forced to close or adjust their services – like those coffee shops that were only able to sell food and bottled beverages. Schools shut off drinking fountains and urged parents to send children to class with a supply of potable water.

    It was an unprecedented moment for Manitoba’s capital, but not an unprecedented moment for the province itself. The First Nations community of Shoal Lake 40, located at the source of Winnipeg’s water supply, has been under a boil water advisory for 18 years.

    The issue of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation is a

    Read More »from Winnipeg's water scare pales compared to First Nations' 18 year boil advisory
  • Olympic athlete Clara Hughes rode her bike 11,000 km to get people talking about mental illness.(CP)Olympic athlete Clara Hughes rode her bike 11,000 km to get people talking about mental illness.(CP)

    Today is the day when all across Canada, people make a big deal about mental health. The day when people gleefully post and retweet a corporate hashtag, dust off their hands and declare a job well done for another year.

    By now, most of us are aware of Bell Let’s Talk Day, the annual instance of corporate do-goodedness that generates an enviable amount of publicity for the company, in exchange for a five-cent donation to mental health groups for every appropriately-tagged tweet and Facebook post.

    Texts and calls made on the Bell system also secure donations, so it’s not all about leaving a virtual footprint. But you’d be forgiven for forgetting that.

    By 11:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, more than 25 million “interactions” had already been logged – which should work out to about $1.25 million in donations.

    It’s easy to be swept up in the enthusiasm of it all. Everyone from the Prime Minister of Canada to actor Jay Baruchel have joined the online cause, and rallied others to join as well.

    Read More »from #BellLetsTalk: Time for less talk and more action on mental health
  • Snow is cleared off the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo)Snow is cleared off the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo)

    American meteorologists may be apologizing for over-hyping the harsh winter storm that hit the eastern United States overnight, but the system’s impact on Canada has been no laughing matter.

    Environment Canada has leveled storm warnings across Atlantic provinces and Quebec, where wind is reportedly reaching as high as 100 kilometres per hour, more than 30 centimetres of snow is expected to dump on some locations and visibility is nearly at zero.

    We could see a full day of this fierce winter storm, and those living or attempting to travel through the area should prepare for the worst.

    The weather warnings and storm advisories leveled across the region are prompting local concern, wider flight cancellations and inevitable chaos.

    Toronto’s Pearson Airport was inundated with cancelled flights once destined for New York, Boston and Halifax, among other locations. Airports in Montreal and Atlantic Canada were no better off, meaning there will be scores of Canadians stuck in chaos rather

    Read More »from How Canadians should handle weather-related travel delays
  • Just west of Vancouver, British Columbia, Pacific Spirit Regional Park lures urbanites and adventurers to get lost in the woods.Just west of Vancouver, British Columbia, Pacific Spirit Regional Park lures urbanites and adventurers to get lost in the woods.
    There’s an amusing TV commercial for Subaru’s Outback that’s meant to poke fun at millennials and their unwillingness to brave a hiking trail once their smartphones lose reception.

    As they retreat from a trailhead, a couple in Subaru’s crossover wagon, bikes stowed on the roof rack, drive by headed for an authentic wilderness adventure.

    But the ad has an unintended message: Maybe those kids were right. They were ill prepared for a stroll in the bush, as visitors to Vancouver’s beguiling but treacherous North Shore mountains regularly discover.

    North Shore Rescue (NSR), the volunteer search-and-rescue service, finds between 80 and 100 people a year who have ventured into the back country just metres from suburban neighbourhoods or skied out of bounds on the three local mountains that you can reach by public transit.

    Though unprepared, local residents also get lost. The ones being plucked shivering from snowy drainage channels or clinging to rocky precipices after taking the wrong fork

    Read More »from Vancouver's tempting wilderness a deadly trap for the unprepared
  • Few elementary schools in Ontario have access to guidance counsellors. (John Moore/Getty Images)Few elementary schools in Ontario have access to guidance counsellors. (John Moore/Getty Images)

    We’re living in an age where the terms “arrested development” and “failure to launch” aren’t just titles of television shows and movies, but rather existential crises that face a generation of high school graduates yet to chart a plan moving forward.

    Whatever the cause – be it over-parenting, longer lifespans, laziness or simply more available leisure time – it would seem today’s youth are in less of a rush to join the “adult” phase of life.

    Not everyone, mind you. Not by a long shot. But living in your parent’s basement while you search for your life’s meaning is certainly more common now than ever before.

    And it may have something to do with a lack of guidance at a young age.

    A new report from People in Education indicates that an absence of guidance counsellors is a major deficiency in Ontario’s education system.

    The report finds that the vast majority of elementary schools have no guidance counsellors, and that the position is understaffed at higher levels.

    The findings were based

    Read More »from More guidance counsellors needed for Ontario students, study finds
  • Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric explains the history behind the sectarian discord between the warring Muslim factions in Iraq.Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric explains the history behind the sectarian discord between the warring Muslim factions in Iraq.
    If you pay attention to the debate over western involvement in the Middle East, you’ll eventually hear someone explain the United States and its allies have blundered into an age-old sectarian conflict between the Sunni and Shia strands of Islam.

    And then they move on, as if if that’s all we need to know. The rest, presumably, is inscrutable.

    But some knowledge of the roots of the Shia-Sunni divide and how it’s played out through history may be essential to understanding the complex situation today.

    For most of us, our knowledge of Islam doesn’t extend much past an awareness that it is divided into different sects, much as Christianity is.

    The schism between Sunnis, who make up an estimated 85 per cent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, and Shiites, dates almost to the beginning of Islam. It has always had both a theological and a temporal component because Islam extended religious principles to political control.

    According to an excellent overview produced last year by the Council on

    Read More »from Sunni vs. Shia: The religious rivalry behind the Middle East turmoil
  • Lift blood donation restrictions call as shortage continuesLift blood donation restrictions call as shortage continues
    Gay men who have been sexually active in the last five years are currently not allowed to donate blood in Canada—a controversial deferral that has riled some and inspired others to get involved in other ways.

    While sexually active gay men, or MSM (men who have sex with men) as they are known in Canadian Blood Services parlance, remain unable to help address the current blood supply shortage, they are able to help Canadian Blood Services in other ways.

    And a Vancouver blood research facility is reaching out to show them how—holding a Rainbow blood donor clinic to promote the fact that sexually active gay men who are not able to donate blood for surgeries or transfusions are still able to donate through them.

    The Rainbow Donor Clinic and Open House will be held at the University of British Columbia’s netCAD facility on Feb. 4, between noon and 7 p.m.

    “Sexually active gay men can donate there any time. We’re just having an event to celebrate that and raise awareness,” Dr. Tanya Petraszko,

    Read More »from Vancouver clinic offers sexually active gay men a way to join the blood donor system
  • Lang was accused of accepting speaking fees from RBC while passing editorial judgment on a related story.Lang was accused of accepting speaking fees from RBC while passing editorial judgment on a related story.

    Of all the grenades thrown at Canadian media personalities on the issue of journalism ethics in recent months, the one tossed at CBC’s Amanda Lang may have the most powerful aftershock.

    In the wake of allegations that the CBC business correspondent crossed ethical boundaries with how she handled her dealings with the Royal Bank of Canada, the national news network implemented serious changes – denying on-air personalities the right to accept payment for speaking appearances.

    With its credibility under attack, the CBC clearly felt strong measures were necessary. But have they gone too far? The CBC’s union seems to think so, claiming the network is wrong to implement a “blanket prohibition” and vowing to oppose the measure.

    "This new ban is a clear violation of our collective agreement, an infringement on our members’ rights and a dangerous precedent. The CBC took this unilateral decision without input and agreement from your union," the Canadian Media Guild said in a statement released

    Read More »from 'Why hurt everyone?' Union challenges CBC mandate to end paid speaking gigs
  • The City of Winnipeg had a bomb dropped on its reputation on Thursday when a national news magazine declared it the most racist city in Canada.

    And instead of hiding from the accusation or opposing the slight, Winnipeg’s leaders stepped up and announced it would confront the city’s growing ethnic divide.

    "We have a lot of work to do as a community," an emotional Mayor Brian Bowman said at a press conference. "A lot of work has been made in previous years and we’ve got a lot more work to do. We’re not going to end racism tomorrow, but we’re sure as hell going to try."

    The comments stem from a Maclean’s cover story released on Thursday, which claimed that Winnipeg was Canada’s most racist city.

    The Maclean’s article searches for evidence to back up its thesis in the fallout from the death of Tina Fontaine and the attack on Rinelle Harper, two young aboriginal girls attacked in Winnipeg.

    The 6,000-word feature article written by Nancy Macdonald begins there and touches on comments made

    Read More »from Maclean's article calling Winnipeg 'most racist city' receives mixed reaction
  • Winnipeg: My racist city

    Growing up safe and complicit in "Canada's most racist city"

    Leslie and Carol Chartrand's talk about the shooting of their son on Tuesday Feb. 1, 2005, in Winnipeg.Leslie and Carol Chartrand's talk about the shooting of their son on Tuesday Feb. 1, 2005, in Winnipeg.

    "What's the difference between a native and a bucket of crap?"

    I can't point to the first time I heard this joke, the punchline of which I won't include here. Nor can I recall every variation I heard; recounting all the junior-high "zingers" would result in a listicle of a length that would make BuzzFeed blush.

    I can't say I never repeated them. I'd like to, but that would be dishonest. There's a certain kind of one-upsmanship with "edgy" jokes that teenage boys, particularly of the privileged group (read: white, upper-middle-class) that I come from, tend to engage in. I was no exception. It's not a uniquely Winnipeg phenomenon by any stretch; the target may just be different elsewhere.

    You tell yourself you don't actually mean anything by the jokes, that the humour comes from the extremity of the offensiveness. That's what you try to believe. It's an easy trick to justify a poisonous behaviour that only serves to reinforce the barriers between the oppressor and the oppressed.

    Caesar Harper, father of Rinelle Harper, weeps at a press conference in Winnipeg. (CP)Caesar Harper, father of Rinelle Harper, weeps at a press conference in Winnipeg. (CP)Every

    Read More »from Winnipeg: My racist city

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