• Cree Cabaret performing at the Aboriginal Pavilion at Toronto's Fort York on July 14, 2015.Cree Cabaret performing at the Aboriginal Pavilion at Toronto's Fort York on July 14, 2015.

    The executive producer of the Aboriginal Pavilion, a partner celebration of the Pan Am Games, says low attendance, which has resulted in a slew of media attention, is simply the result of growing pains.

    “We’re the new kids on the block,” Cynthia Lickers-Sage tells Yahoo Canada News. “This is the first time the Pan Am Games have ever embraced an Aboriginal Pavilion and we’re working through all the kinks and bumps.”

    Reports have focused on disappointed vendors, who’ve come from across Canada and shelled out big bucks to sell their wares at the 10-day Toronto event, only to be disappointed by a low turnout.

    Along with an artisan market, the Aboriginal Pavilion features hours of nightly performances along with food vendors. A concert by electronic group A Tribe Called Red attracted 1,400 people to the pavilion, making it the most popular event of the festival. Pavilion officials are hoping a powwow on Saturday will also draw big crowds. 

    Some blame a lack of advertising, competition from

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  • Illicit drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines from urban wastewater, could be contaminating Canadian rivers and the drinking water we draw from them, a new study finds.

    A team of researchers at McGill University tested water in municipal wastewater treatment plants located along the Grand River watershed in southern Ontario. They also tested water downstream from the plant, as well as the raw and treated water from a drinking water treatment plant 19 kilometres further along the river.

    These tests showed for the first time that illicit drugs are present in rivers where treated wastewater is discharged.

    The researchers found cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, ephedrine, morphine and opioids, albeit in low concentrations. The study is being published this week in the scientific journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

    The levels of those drugs did not decline further downstream and many were not removed completely during standard treatments meant to clean drinking water.

    “We proved

    Read More »from There are drugs in our drinking water, new study says
  • The cover of the December issue of Canadian Geographic showing a 3D model of HMS Erebus.Click here for high-resolution versionThe cover of the December issue of Canadian Geographic showing a 3D model of HMS Erebus.Click here for high-resolution version

    Canadian Geographic magazine, run by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, denies it has allowed the energy industry to interfere in the content of its educational materials that reach thousands of students across Canada.

    “The society has never relinquished control of and pride of authorship in the content of Canadian Geographic and the educational resources created by Canadian Geographic Education,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday.

    The comments were in response to a new investigation that charged CanGeo allowed representatives from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to edit parts of its Energy IQ program, which is available online and distributed free to 13,000 public school teachers.

    Calgary-based CAPP lobbies for the natural gas and oil sectors, and says its 90-plus members account for about 90 per cent of the industry in Canada and generate revenues of about $120 billion a year.

    “We enable the responsible growth of our industry and advocate

    Read More »from Canadian Geographic denies oil lobbyist influenced its educational materials
  • A new app feature in My Surrey powered by IBM's Watson is being touted as the Siri for cities.A new app feature in My Surrey powered by IBM's Watson is being touted as the Siri for cities.

    The City of Surrey in British Columbia is testing a new app feature that allows residents to find city information using IBM’s Watson, the supercomputer that outperformed its rival contestant on Jeopardy in 2011 to take the $1-million prize.

    The new feature, which is being hailed as a “Siri for cities,” was added to the existing My Surrey app and is able to process voice requests submitted via cellphone, laptop or Apple Watch.

    Watson, a cognitive computing platform created by IBM, is able to interact with natural language, analyze huge volumes of data and respond to complex questions with concise, evidence-based solutions.

    Developed by Ottawa software developer Purple Forge, the app allows users to ask Watson questions about a variety of municipal services. In turn, Watson has been trained to provide answers on bylaws, animal control, parking, waste collection, emergency services, utilities, property taxes and more.

    Among the questions the City of Surrey and Purple Forge predict

    Read More »from Surrey rolls out ‘Siri for cities’ app powered by IBM’s Watson
  • Kids can be expensive – costing more than $240,000 to the age of 18 by some estimates. But there’s money in those gurgling bundles of joy too, thanks to government programs that help parents out with everything from grants towards Liam’s future post-secondary education to money for childcare to tax breaks for Shannon's ballet lessons.

    Funded as they are out of the country’s tax base, there are those without kids who complain they are forced to contribute to programs that only parents can benefit from. They ask, why should they keep paying and covering at work for someone else while yummy mommy’s off on mat leave? That ignores the fact that society as a whole benefits from children who are well-supported as they grow up, says Nora Spinks, CEO of the Ottawa-based Vanier Institute of the Family.

    “From an economic perspective it’s an essential thing to do,” Spinks said.

    “Investing in children and families is an investment in our own collective future … I may have a child I raise and that

    Read More »from All the "free money" Canadian parents get - and why
  • (Photo via CBC)(Photo via CBC)

    We all know that texting behind the wheel is illegal and potentially dangerous or even deadly. So how do you get drivers to realize that the rules apply to them, too?

    The CAA in Manitoba would like the government to make the penalty for distracted driving even tougher for new drivers. Their rationale? It’s easier to teach new drivers to keep their hands off their phones, instead of trying to break bad habits later.

    “It is harder to break a habit than to prevent it from starting in the first place,” says CAA Manitoba CEO Mike Mager. “We can’t just penalize people, we need to do things to get their attention, to understand this is not an acceptable behaviour, and they should stop it.”

    The company says that 96 per cent of CAA Manitoba members would support a zero-tolerance policy for distracted new drivers. Currently Saskatchewan and British Columbia both ban new drivers in their graduated licensing programs from using hand-held and hands-free devices.

    Mager likens distracted driving

    Read More »from Everything you ever wondered about Canada's distracted driving laws
  • A screen shot of a Canadian Tire commercial.A screen shot of a Canadian Tire commercial.

    A television commercial poking fun at potholes in the Quebec town of Pincourt has turned into a $65,000 lawsuit against retail giant Canadian Tire.

    While such legal cases usually involve a person or business being wronged, in this case the lawsuit claims the town’s reputation was damaged because the ad suggested Pincourt is full of potholes.  

    A court will decide in August whether Pincourt was defamed. But one of the side effects of the legal action is fame of a different kind, putting the small town on the outskirts of Montreal on the map.

    The dispute started in the spring because of a French TV ad in Quebec. While Canadian Tire often uses humour in its commercials, Pincourt officials weren’t laughing.

    The commercial opens with the name of the town over a snowy backdrop that includes a shot of Cardinal-Léger Boulevard, one of the town’s main roads. Over and over, the commercial shows the reaction of drivers as they hit potholes.

    “Here, the winters are hard. And that means potholes.

    Read More »from Pincourt sues Canadian Tire over pothole commercial
  • Urban agriculture may nothing new, but these days it can get a lot more complicated than the basil plant on your windowsill.

    Up on the roof of the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, about 300,000 bees bed down each night in six purpose-built hives, their presence hardly a secret, but perhaps something that would be disquieting to the guests asleep just a few feet below them.

    Not far away, there are other hives at Fort York, and the CBC recently installed hives on the rooftops of its headquarters in Toronto and Montreal. On the other coast, Vancouver Police said last month it will build two hives at its headquarters.

    Surely fire stations are next. If you can handle a foul-tempered Dalmatian, surely a few thousand bees can’t be a problem.

    Urban beekeeping has been, to put it mildly, trending.

    It’s tough to peg down the numbers, but local apiarists (bee-keepers) say the ranks of the hobbyists are growing.

    “There’s been a tremendous increase in the last couple of years. It’s unbelievable,”

    Read More »from Urban beekeeping: why there’s so much buzz about it now


    In March 2013, Alex MacLean was a 21-year-old student at Acadia University studying marketing when he was given a project for his entrepreneurship class. The assignment was to create a business concept.

    Wanting to create a product that would represent what he loved best about Nova Scotia, he bought 30 hoodies and emblazoned them with a sleek, hip-hop-inspired nautical design meant to represent the surfing and snowboarding lifestyle of the east coast. His initial $800 funding came from his father.

    Those hoodies sold out immediately and he used the proceeds to immediately buy another 60. When those sold out, he bought 100 more and began hawking them out of the trunk of his car and from his mom’s front lawn in Halifax.

    Within a few months he had deals to sell his clothes in national chains like Pseudio and Below the Belt.

    Along the way, the class project to sell 30 hoodies to friends transformed into East Coast Lifestyle, a fast-growing fashion brand that has sold more than 500,000

    Read More »from East Coast Lifestyle's latest collaboration coup is with Ghostface Killah
  • Robotics researcher Edgar Simo-Serra before and after working on the algorithmRobotics researcher Edgar Simo-Serra before and after working on the algorithm
    Two computer science professors at University of Toronto may have caused mild panic among stylists last month when they announced the results of their latest research: an algorithm that analyses fashion choices in a photograph and makes suggestions to up a person’s chic factor.

    Sanja Fidler and Raquel Urtasun created the system using two main technologies, graphical modelling and something called deep learning, a subcategory of machine learning, or artificial intelligence, pioneered by University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton. Deep learning allows a computer to “think” for itself using complicated artificial neural networks, or “neural nets”, that function in a similar way to the human brain’s neural connections.

    To school itself in the ways of sharp style, the professors’ prototype algorithm—a kind of “thinking” robot—collected data from more than 100,000 photos posted to the website Chictopia, an Instagram-like digital billboard where users around the world upload images of

    Read More »from The algorithm that judges your fashion sense will soon be an app


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