THUNDER BAY — A 26-year-old man facing a murder charge has been sentenced for his role in an unrelated, unprovoked attack of another inmate at the Thunder Bay District jail more than a year ago. Darren Steven Oombash, 26, appeared in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom on Monday, Nov. 30, and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault for his part in an assault of another inmate. Ontario Judge Chantal M. Brochu accepted a joint submission for Oombash of two years less a day minus pre-sentence custody. Crown counsel Katrina van Kessel read out facts relating to the Sept. 21, 2019 assault at the district jail involving Oombash and five others where they attacked another inmate who suffers from schizophrenia and mild intellectual impairments, court heard on Monday. “This was brutal, unprovoked six-on-one attack on a vulnerable person,” van Kessel, said, adding the victim still suffers from long term damage to his vision as a result of the attack. Court heard the complainant suffered several injuries after he was dragged out of his cell by Oombash’s co-accused, Jonathan Yellowhead into a corridor area of the jail where he was beaten by six other individuals to the point where he lost consciousness. The entire incident was captured on surveillance video at the jail. Some of his injuries included a concussion, a fractured and displaced orbital bone with hemorrhaging in his sinus which required surgery, a dislocated jaw, swelling, bruising and abrasions to his face. His left eye was also swollen shut. “At the time of his discharge from hospital on Sept. 27, 2019, swelling to his face was still so significant that the injury to his eye could not be assessed,” van Kessel said, adding the complainant has no memory of the attack. Court heard a few mitigating factors laid out by lawyers including Oombash’s limited criminal record which includes two convictions, one for mischief and one for resisting police. His guilty plea was also considered mitigating as it showed a sign of remorse. Defence counsel Mary Bird gave the court a brief background of Oombash's upbringing. He moved to Thunder Bay from Cat Lake First Nation to attend high school. “Unfortunately like many young people who end up in the city, they often end up without employment, without a place to stay and unfortunately he got himself into a little bit of trouble,” Bird said. The lawyer also highlighted Oombash’s parents and both sets of grandparents attended residential schools. Bird also said her client started drinking at the age of 13. “It has become part of his lifestyle unfortunately and certainly led him to be in custody and obviously he wasn’t intoxicated this day, but it has been an issue for him,” she said. Some of the others involved in the attack have already been sentenced according to court documents. Lennox Oren Atlookan was given a three-year jail sentence on July 23 and Brolin Ian Donald Ooshag was sentenced in June to a total of 540 days in custody. Both men received weapon prohibitions orders. Travis Jacob Loon, John Thomas O’Keese and Johnathon Joseph Yellowhead will appear in court next on these charges on Dec. 18. Oombash was also given a 10-year weapons prohibition order and is not to communicate with the victim. He was given credit at an enhanced rate for the time he spent in pre-sentence custody of 653 days which leaves 76 days left to serve. Oombash remains in custody for other outstanding matters including a charge of murder where he is co-accused with Marlene Lou Kwandibens and Terry Nicole Irene Michon. All three are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2018 death of Ashley McKay. All three co-accused have had their murder charge committed to stand trial in Superior Court and will appear in court next on Dec. 14 for a pre-trial, according to court documents. There is a publication ban on these matters.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
A former Barrie surgeon has given up his licence to practise medicine and has promised his regulatory body to never apply to register as a physician ever again, anywhere. The agreement arose following a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) disciplinary hearing last week. “The agreement to never reapply for registration… is the maximum level of punishment available in this situation,” said CPSO communications advisor Josh McLarnon. The college had earlier launched investigations into Dr. Emad M. Guirguis and his now-defunct Lakeview Surgery Centre on Dunlop Street following complaints. He was found to perform cosmetic surgery that was outside his scope of practice as a physician, not having the proper training and certification. He also engaged in unprofessional conduct through online advertising and communications with a specific patient. In addition to the practice ban, he was ordered to pay $6,000. “Dr. Guirguis has been brought forward to the discipline committee on a number of occasions,” McLarnon added. An investigation was first launched in 2015 resulting in a caution three years later. Another caution was later issued relating to his compliance of the first issue. In one complaint, Guirguis tried to perform bariatric revision gastric band surgery, but decided not to complete the surgery because he encountered extensive scar tissue from previous surgeries. According to documents from the college’s compliance and monitoring department, he perforated the patient’s bowel during the surgery, resulting in ongoing complications. The complainant said he did not communicate or follow up with her after the surgery or provide a refund of her fee. “The committee... was of the view that the respondent’s pre-operative assessment was insufficient,” the decision of the inquiries, complaints and reports committee found. In another report, an independent assessor concluded: “Dr. Guirguis did not meet the standard of practice of the profession in some of the cases reviewed; his knowledge was adequate but basic; his surgical skills were adequate for his limited scope of practice; his judgment was not always adequate, mostly because the brief documentation does not allow a full understanding of his train of thought and exposes omissions or incomplete assessments; and in the reviewed cases his clinical practice, behaviour, or conduct had the potential to expose one patient to harm.” Other assessors, it added, found broad deficiencies in Dr. Guirguis’s practice. In a report from Dec. 14, 2018, Guirguis was cautioned about not providing a full explanation of a procedure to a patient and ensuring the patient had full clarity about what was going to be done following a complaint to the college about the outcome of a cosmetic surgical procedure. According to CPSO documents, Guirguis agreed he has engaged in an act or omission relevant to the practice of medicine that would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional. He was ultimately found to have committed an act of professional misconduct. Dr. Guirguis’s certificate of registration expired Sept. 4, 2020. In addition to the clinic, Guirguis was also once a staff general surgeon at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. Guirguis did not respond to requests for comment, but according to his Facebook page he is studying for his master's degree in theological studies at Tyndale University College and Seminary.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
DURHAM: The Ontario provincial government is making more money available for school boards residing in the red-control zone of the province’s COVID-19 response framework. On Thursday, November 26th, provincial officials announced the government is “allocating $13.6 million for school boards in Durham, Halton, Hamilton and Waterloo Region in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in these communities.” A provincial press release explained these funds will go towards “promoting physical distancing with the hiring of more teachers and staff; increasing remote learning supports; and improving cleanliness with the hiring of additional custodians.” At a press conference on November 26th, Premier Doug Ford stressed the importance of supporting school boards in zones where COVID-19 cases are on the rise. “The higher transmission rates in some communities pose a real risk. So we have to be even more vigilant than ever,” he said. The Premier added schools in red zones “need extra support to keep students and staff safe.” Education Minister Stephen Lecce attempted to assure people that “Ontario schools remain safe.”Dan Cearns, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Standard Newspaper
The Orangeville Public Library has followed the trend of finding creative solutions to Christmas in 2020, — new ways to bring their usual festive activities to children in the community. Beginning on Dec. 4, children young and old will be able to tune in every Friday and enjoy a recording of Santa reading around the fireplace. Videos will be posted to the Orangeville Public Library’s YouTube channel at 10 a.m. on Dec. 4, 11, 18, and on Christmas Day. Additionally, the library will extend the festive fun through holiday-themed story time craft kits for families to enjoy together at home. These kits will be available for pickup from the Mill Street branch beginning on Dec. 4, and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Stories with Santa program has been a favourite at the library over the years, with one aspect of it being Santa’s annual gift of literacy. This facet of the festivities will not be forgotten with the virtual event. Beginning on Dec. 18, children will be able to pick up a wrapped picture book at the Mill Street Library. There is a limit of one book per child, and quantities are limited. Additional virtual programming is available online during the closures via the library’s YouTube channel. Notifications are available by subscribing to the channel. For more information visit www.orangevillelibrary.ca.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: Local communities continue to report a number of active COVID-19 cases. On Sunday, November 29th, the Durham Region Health Department reported the highest number of new cases of the virus in the region, at 130. As of press time, the Durham Region Health Department is reporting Uxbridge continues to have the highest number of active cases in North Durham, with five people listed in isolation. The Durham District School Board reports three cases have been confirmed at Uxbridge public school, with two classes listed in isolation. The Uxbridge community has had 131 confirmed cases to date, with 105 listed as resolved and 21 deaths. Scugog currently has one case listed in isolation, and 28 resolved cases. Brock Township also has one case in isolation, and 20 resolved cases. Meanwhile, the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health unit is reporting Kawartha Lakes currently has six unresolved cases of the virus, 174 resolved cases, and 32 deaths.Dan Cearns, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Standard Newspaper
ST. MARY’S – Stricter provincewide measures to protect people during the second wave of COVID-19 won’t derail at least some public displays of holiday cheer in St. Mary’s this year, say municipal officials. Plans are still afoot for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s Department of Community Development and Recreation’s annual carolling and fireworks event, though director Mallory Fraser says that could change at the last minute. “We will be monitoring the situation as it develops, and make a final decision closer to the date,” she says. For now, the event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Dec. 19, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy’s parking lot, followed by fireworks and hot chocolate at the Sherbrooke Ball Field. To ensure safety, carollers must register and maintain socially safe distances from each other – and each other’s respective bubbles – before heading through Historic Sherbrooke Village. Something new this year is the Holiday Light Extravaganza. Between Dec 1 and 15, St. Mary’s residents, after filling out an entry form, may submit photos of their home seasonal displays to the community and recreation department’s Facebook Page. Voting will begin on Dec. 10, and the winner will be announced before Christmas. “The Holiday Light Extravaganza will go ahead no matter what,” Fraser says. “This is something that people can do without having to worry about social distancing.” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald is not expecting trouble despite the worsening infection rate elsewhere in the province. “We haven’t relaxed our protocols here at the office,” he says. “We were going to look into opening the fitness centre at the school, but we’ve just put that back on hold until the new year.” As for the Recplex, he says it is operating for hockey and curling. “When we made the decision to open the rink, it was always based on the idea that if COVID heated up again, we would see how it played out. We’re going to keep the protocols we have in place. If the situation gets worse, we are either going to tighten the protocols, or close some facilities down. But, right now, we are just watching and monitoring.” MacDonald confirmed that the municipality has not reported any cases since the pandemic hit the province earlier this year. Last week, the provincial government introduced newer, tighter controls on public gatherings to staunch an increase in the rate of infection mostly in the Halifax area. “We must immediately change course on COVID-19. The virus is circulating rapidly in Halifax, and we must stop its spread across the province,” Premier Stephen McNeil says in a Nov. 24 news release. The new regulations in the capital include: limiting public gatherings to five people (or up to the number of immediate family members of a household); requiring masks in common areas of multi-unit residential buildings; restricting restaurants to take-out service; limiting the number of customers and employees of retail outlets to 25 per cent of their normal capacity; and suspending organized sporting, recreational, cultural and religious gatherings. On Nov. 29, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 125, up from 119 at the end of last week.Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Australia's economy grew by 3.3% in the third quarter, rebounding from its first recession in nearly three decades as it recovered from pandemic-related shocks, according to figures released Wednesday.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters the country still has a lot of ground to make up from the coronavirus downturn.“Australia’s recession may be over, but Australia’s economic recovery is not,” he said.Despite the latest quarterly rise, the economy contracted at a 3.8% annual pace. That's after GDP fell by 0.3% in the first quarter and then by a record 7% in the second quarter.“But the Australian economy has demonstrated its remarkable resilience and Australia is as well positioned as any other nation on Earth," Frydenberg said. “Today’s national accounts represent a major step forward in Australia’s economic recovery.”Before this year, Australia had managed to avoid a recession for 28 years. The economy grew even during the global financial crisis thanks to strong demand for Australia's mineral exports and a robust domestic sector.The better-than-expected figures were encouraging, economists said.“The rebound in Q3 GDP reversed around 40% of the decline during the first half of the year and we expect output to return to pre-virus levels by mid-2021," Ben Udy of Capital Economics said in a commentary.Now on top of the pandemic, Australia is enduring a spate of rocky relations with China, its biggest trading partner.Frydenberg said the situation with China is “very serious” but his government is focusing on striking deals with other countries in Asia and beyond.“We have great produce, and we have great services, and we have great resource sectors, and I’m very optimistic about the opportunities for our exporters around the world," he said.Australia's relationship with China worsened this week after a Chinese official tweeted a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat.Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the image “repugnant” and demanded an apology from the Chinese government. But China has not backed down.The post took aim at alleged abuses by elite Australian soldiers during the conflict in Afghanistan.Tensions have been growing this year since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. China has imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports.Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.MOVIES— Film history fans will get a meal out of David Fincher’s “Mank,” about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz who is masterfully played by Gary Oldman. Shot in gorgeous black and white, “Mank” transports you into the depression era studio system, Upton Sinclair’s bid for governor, William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies’s elegant parties and to that bungalow in Victorville where the first draft of the classic Orson Welles film was composed. Available on Netflix on Friday, “Mank” is one of the year’s very best films and both a tribute to and searing critique of Hollywood’s golden age. Amanda Seyfried, as Davies, is one of the great performances of the year.— Another film full of excellent performances is “Sound of Metal,” starring Riz Ahmed as a punk metal drummer who experiences sudden severe hearing loss. The film, which is captioned in English, dives into the world of the deaf community with Ruben (Ahmed) in a way you’ve never seen or heard before. It’s the directorial debut of Darius Marder (a writer on “The Place Beyond the Pines”), who assembled an crack team of sound mixers and editors to create a unique auditory experience to simulate what Ruben is going through as he loses his hearing entirely.— If $30 was a little steep for your tastes to rent the new live-action “Mulan,” it’ll finally be free for Disney+ subscribers Friday. From director Niki Caro, this adaptation of the Chinese folk tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the army, is breathtakingly beautiful, from the stunning landscapes to the colorful costumes. Although it may fall short on the kind of intoxicating story magic that the Disney label signifies, it is worth a watch and may just inspire some curious young viewers to delve into more Asian cinema classics. Also, if you find yourself missing the songs and Eddie Murphy, the animated 1998 version is also available on the service.— AP Film Writer Lindsey BahrMUSIC— A house is not a home during the holiday season if Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is not blasting – daily! During a normal, non-pandemic year, Carey and her Christmas craziness would be on a holiday tour, bringing joy to fans and lambs in-person. Because live shows aren’t really a thing in 2020, she’s launching a holiday TV special on Apple TV+ on Friday. “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” will includes a mix of musical performances and dancing with amination. Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Misty Copeland and Carey’s 9-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, will make special appearances.— Shawn Mendes released his debut album in 2015 and he’s dropping his fourth effort Friday. “Wonder” continues to showcase Mendes’ growth as a singer, songwriter and performer. The album features the singles “Wonder” and “Monster” with Justin Bieber, which debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot chart this week. Along with the album is the Netflix documentary called “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder,” which is available for streaming and follows Mendes’ rise and journey over the last few years.— Christmas came early when Carrie Underwood released her first holiday album in September, and on Thursday she’ll debut a musical TV special to accompany the album. On HBO Max’s “My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood” — conducted by award-winning musical director Rickey Minor — the country superstar is backed by a live orchestra, choir and her band. John Legend makes a special appearance and viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at Underwood’s 5-year-old son, Isaiah, recording his vocals for their version of “Little Drummer Boy.”— AP Music Editor Mesfin FekaduTELEVISION— “Selena: The Series” is described by Netflix as a coming-of-age drama that follows Selena Quintanilla from talented youngster to musical phenom, aided by her family. A breakthrough star in male-dominated Tejano music, the singer was just shy of her 24th birthday in 1995 when she was fatally shot by a former business associate. The two-part series debuts Friday with Christian Serratos (“The Walking Dead”) as Selena and Gabriel Chavarria (“East Los Angeles’) and Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) among the cast members.— The 11th and final season of the Showtime dramady “Shameless” debuts 9 p.m. EST Sunday, weaving the pandemic, urban gentrification and personal pressures into the lives of the Gallaghers of Chicago’s South Side. Aging patriarch Frank (William H. Macy) is facing the toll of longtime alcohol and drug abuse, while and Ian and Mickey (Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher) struggle as newlyweds. Deb (Emma Kenney) stands ready to give her all to single motherhood and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) feels the same about his nascent law enforcement career.— Two respected veterans are behind “A Suitable Boy,” a limited series directed by filmmaker Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake”) and written by Andrew Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “House of Cards”). An adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1,300-plus page novel of the same name, the 1950s, India-set drama revolves around a university student who’s shaping her identity as the newly independent country does the same. The all-Indian lead cast includes Tabu (“The Namesake,” “Life of Pi”) and Tanya Maniktala. The series debuts Monday, Dec. 7, on Acorn TV.— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber___Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.The Associated Press
Toronto poet and children's writer Dennis Lee is among the winners of this year's Writers' Trust career honours. The Writers' Trust of Canada doled out $25,000 apiece to four well-versed wordsmiths on Wednesday for their continued contributions to Canadian literature. Lee was named the winner of the Matt Cohen Award for a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer. His achievements include co-founding the independent publishing company House of Anansi Press in 1967, and penning the 1974 children's classic "Alligator Pie." Also recognized on Wednesday was Kerri Sakamoto, the Toronto-based author of three novels exploring the experience of Japanese-Canadians, who won the Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award honouring a mid-career writer for their contributions to fiction. Queen's University professor Armand Garnet Ruffo, who draws from his Ojibwe heritage in his genre-spanning works, won the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize recognizing a mid-career poet for mastery of the form. The $25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People went to Montreal-based Marianne Dubuc, a French-language author and illustrator whose picture books have been published in more than 25 languages. Organizers say the Writers' Trust Awards has given out a total of more than $300,000 to Canadian writers this year between its prizes for individual works, career achievements and emerging talent. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
Union representatives want to be involved in reforming a “toxic, racist” environment at York Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The Province is looking into allegations of harassment and racism, which surfaced this summer. In July, the government announced an operational review of YRCAS “Our government has been unwavering in our position that we have zero tolerance for racism, bullying and harassment. We want to ensure the health and well-being of staff at YRCAS. We also want to ensure that the children, youth and families of York Region are receiving the services they need and deserve.,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says front-line workers must have a real voice in finding solutions to address those toxic working conditions at York CAS. An independent probe has delivered a scathing review of the management at the CAS. Thomas says the society’s board of directors must include members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 304 in drafting a 30-day work plan ordered by the provincial government. "An independent review has made it clear: the leadership at York CAS has failed the organization and the children it serves,” said Thomas. “Thanks to the tenacity and determination of the front-line workers at the agency, those leadership failures have now been exposed and confirmed. “If the agency is going to heal and begin moving forward again, those front-line workers must have a real say in the reforms that are long overdue.” The independent report ordered by the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services found that senior management at York CAS has created a “toxic” environment in which a pervasive “culture of fear” and “racism and anti-Black racism” have left workers traumatized. The ministry ordered that report after the executive of OPSEU Local 304 did a survey of staff that found an overwhelming number were experiencing depression, panic, and emotional breakdowns because of the workplace culture. The agency now has 30 days to issue a work plan addressing the toxic workplace. The chair of the agency’s board of directors, Tahir Shafiq, held a meeting with staff about the report, but many were left disappointed. “For years, we’ve been telling the employer that we and the services we provide are hurting. And for months, the board has stood behind the senior managers,” said OPSEU/SEFPO Local 304 President Andrew Harrigan. “Even with this damning report in his hands, the board chair did little this morning to reassure us that the board is ready to take real action against the harassment and racism we face.” Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO first-vice president/treasurer said the board would be negligent not to involve the front-line workers in its plan for the future. “With courage and conviction, these front-line workers have been fighting for months to fix their broken agency,” said Almeida. “They’re a credit to children's aid because they're putting the families and children they care for above their own safety and security. “To not involve them in the needed reforms would be as shameful as the management malpractice that they helped expose.” Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
The Terrace RCMP have arrested Kenton David Fast Tuesday, Dec. 1, according to a media release. According to a Dec. 1 media release, police are were searching for Fast, who was unlawfully at large. Police said they could not share why Fast is at large. To report a crime, or have information regarding an ongoing investigation, call Terrace RCMP at (250) 638-7400 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-800-222-TIPS. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
LOS ANGELES — Native American tribes and advocates are condemning “Big Sky,” a Montana-set ABC drama, for ignoring the history of violence inflicted on Indigenous women and instead making whites the crime victims.They also have assailed the network and the show's producers for failing to respond to their complaints, which they first made known in a Nov. 17 letter. On Tuesday, the makers of “Big Sky” broke their silence.“After meaningful conversations with representatives of the Indigenous community, our eyes have been opened to the outsized number of Native American and Indigenous women who go missing and are murdered each year, a sad and shocking fact," the executive producers said in a statement to The Associated Press.“We are grateful for this education and are working with Indigenous groups to help bring attention to this important issue,” according to the statement. The producers include David E. Kelley ("Big Little Lies," “The Undoing”) and novelist C.J. Box, whose 2013 book “The Highway” was adapted for the series.Created by Kelley, “Big Sky” stars Katheryn Winnick and Kylie Bunbury as private detectives searching for two white sisters on a road trip who go missing and turn out to be part of a pattern of abductions.With a disproportionate number of American Indians among Montana’s missing and murdered girls and women, the fictional approach represents “at best, cultural insensitivity, and at worst, appropriation,” said the signers, including the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council that represents all of Montana’s tribal nations.“I’m not at all surprised that they’re doing this because Hollywood’s been appropriating our trauma and our lived experience for years and years and years,” said Georgina Lightning, an actor and longtime activist. “And we’ve always cried about it. We’ve always called it out. But nobody ever cared. Nobody ever listened and nobody cared.”In the November letter, ABC was asked to consider adding an on-screen message steering viewers to information about the entrenched peril facing Indigenous women in North America. They cited “Somebody's Daughter,” a documentary detailing the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls crisis, as it's known to those fighting the scourge.“This is such an easy fix for ABC to make,” the film's director, Rain, said in a statement. “Indigenous leaders are reaching out to ally and inform, to open a dialogue. They’re not asking for ‘Big Sky’ to be taken off the air,” he said, but instead be used to inform.When no response was forthcoming, the coalition took its effort public and enlisted support from other tribal organizations, including Canada’s Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association.“Two-thirds of this country doesn’t even know that Native Americans still exist," said Tom Rodgers, president of the Global Indigenous Council and a co-signer of the letter to ABC. “We thought, what a teachable moment.”In response to the producers' statement, a skeptical Rodgers said Tuesday he hadn't heard from anyone connected with the show and called for further details, including which Indigenous partners were being consulted.While more than 5,000 Indigenous women were reported missing in 2016 in the U.S., reporting by The Associated Press has shown the number is difficult to determine because some cases go unreported, others aren’t well-documented, and a comprehensive government database to track the cases is lacking.Advocates, including some lawmakers representing Native Americans, also link the long-standing problem to inadequate resources, indifference and a jurisdictional maze. The rise of the MeToo movement helped give the issue political heft, but Hollywood has lagged in paying heed.While Lightning said she was “a little bit shocked” when she saw a Native American tragedy mirrored in a story but without Native American characters, her years working in Los Angeles meant she wasn’t surprised. Now living in Alberta, she’s in the Canadian miniseries “Trickster,” about a dysfunctional Native family.“There's such resistance” to change in Hollywood, she said. "When you’re used to being one of the good old boys... there's no way they think they’re going to have to conform to the rest of society. It’s such an arrogance.”Native Americans are used to being routinely ignored by American popular culture, registering barely a blip on TV as they're usually seen on only one or two shows, such as Paramount Network's “Yellowstone.” A University of California, Los Angeles, study released this year found that Indigenous actors were cast in six of 1,816 broadcast and cable series roles for the 2018-19 season.But being slighted on the crucial issue raised by “Big Sky” is too bitter a pill to accept, said Rodgers, a Blackfeet Nation member whose Global Indigenous Council, an advocacy group for Indigenous peoples worldwide, helped organize the outreach to ABC.“The one thing we won’t be anymore is ignored. We’re not going to be made invisible, we will not be erased," he said.____Lynn Elber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.___This story has been corrected to use the accurate pronoun for filmmaker Rain.Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
Waterloo Region council will vote Dec. 2 on whether to get rid of the five child-care centres it operates. Parents and advocates say the move would harm quality of care and leave hundreds of children in the lurch. Tania Gonzalez said her son Marcus has been well cared for since going to Christopher Children's Centre in Cambridge in mid-2019, when he was an infant. Caretakers at the centre recognized when Marcus was behind on his speech and made her aware of it. Marcus started talking around March, said Gonzalez, just before the province declared a state of emergency and closed all child-care centres. When Marcus returned to Christopher in July, they “lost all the progress,” Gonzalez said. “Not for lack of trying at home, but again, we ... don't specialize in children's development,” she said, adding, since returning to Christopher, Marcus is using easily up to 50 words. “It's not just a daycare. It's not just a babysitter. It's a whole system looking out for my kids.” Tania Resendes said her kids Leo, three, and Matteo, one, really love seeing their teachers at Christopher. Matteo, who has hearing loss, could only speak around three words when he started out and saw a “significant difference” within a month of being at the centre, using over 12 words. Resendes said parents should have “options,” and believes it would be hard to find care of the same calibre in a private daycare system, especially for children with special needs. She said she has tried calling around to child-care centres, but it has been hard to find available spots during the pandemic, when child-care centres are operating at a around 70 per cent capacity. “The prospect of closing or off-loading child-care centres during a pandemic is absolutely shameful,” Carolyn Ferns, policy co-ordinator at the Ontario Coalition of Better Child Care (OCBCC) stated in a media release. “The regionally-operated child-care centres play an important role in the child-care system in the Region of Waterloo. “High-quality, public child-care centres are a benchmark for decent wages, pensions, and benefits for educators who are predominantly women.” With the closures, the region would lose around $2.2 million in fees from parents and would free up $4.3 million in provincial financing earmarked for child care, a consultation review found. Closure would also, it found, require the region to immediately shell out up to $6.4 million in severance pay as the region is projected to be $25 million in the red. CUPE Local 1883, which represents workers in each of the five child-care centres, said the move would leave parents, caretakers and the children in the cold. “Hundreds of working families in the region are already at their breaking point during this brutal pandemic,” says Noelle Fletcher, president of the local. “Losing public child-care spaces due to closures or off-loading them to the community will result in a destabilization of care. “Many parents and caregivers may have to quit their jobs and rely on unlicensed, private care with exorbitant fees or be placed on lengthy wait lists in community-based centres.” Staff recommend eliminating Cambridge Children’s Centre, Kitchener’s Edith MacIntosh Children’s Centre, Kinsmen Children’s Centre and Christopher Children’s Centre, both in Cambridge, by mid-2021. Elmira Children’s Centre is recommended to be closed at a future date. As a result, around 250 children would lose support and 62 full-time staff would be permanently laid off. In 2015, council voted against the closure of all five centres amid public pressure. This time, Resendes said, parents were given too little time to prepare. “From the moment that we found out to when it's going to vote, we've been given three weeks to try and advocate, do our research ... and figure out exactly what's going on.” The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 and will be livestreamed. Call 519-575-4400 to leave feedback.Swikar Oli, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times
BROCK: The Township of Brock is continuing its battle against a proposed supportive housing development in Beaverton. At a meeting on Monday, November 23rd, councillors voted to pass an interim control bylaw “to prohibit the establishment of Supportive Housing and Modular Construction, including Manufactured Dwelling Houses, for a period of twelve (12) months, in order to allow for the appropriate completion of further research and consultation.” The supportive housing project is being spearheaded by the Region of Durham, and was announced earlier this year as an expedited development project. According to the Region of Durham, the project is expected to include about 50 units, and will be designed as an apartment building for “single, bachelor-style living only.” The facility is also expected to offer “supports and wrap-around services to residents in the north and the greater Durham community.” But the project has been controversial within the Brock community, with several local residents and councillors recently speaking out against it. Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble stressed the importance of establishing this bylaw measure. “This is really just an important step in better preparing for the future of Brock Township, and making sure we do our due diligence in terms of the planning study, to make sure any supportive housing projects we choose to move forward with are done in a way that is setting them up for success,” she said. Ward 1 Councillor Michael Jubb also supported passing the bylaw. “This is a new reality of life that’s upon us, and it’s very important right now we get this right,” he said. But Ward 5 Councillor Lynn Campbell was concerned about the potential legal ramifications of the bylaw. “It’ll have a real financial impact on our taxpayers if it turns into a legal battle, so I can’t support this,” she stated. Regional Councillor Ted Smith said negotiations between the township and the Region of Durham will continue on this development. Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer called this new bylaw “good forward looking planning.” Dan Cearns, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Standard Newspaper
Nisga’a Nation declared a state of local emergency on Nov. 26 amid rising COVID-19 cases and an exposure in the Nisga’a Elementary Secondary School community. Six school aged children have tested positive for the virus. Other positive cases are linked to two family gatherings in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh). As of Dec. 2, Nisga’a Valley Health Authority (NVHA) has confirmed 32 positive COVID-19 tests. “We are all in this together,” said Eva Clayton, Nisga’a Lisims president in a media release. “We must follow all provincial and Nisga’a health orders to ensure we stop further spread of this serious virus.” Until Dec. 10, entrance to Gitlaxt’aamiks will only be allowed from 8:00 a.m. to midnight — security personnel are monitoring the entrance to the village and patrolling the village from midnight to 7:00 a.m. According to a Nov. 26 Gitlaxt’aamiks Village Government communique, family gatherings and house-parties are prohibited and all offices, churches, and the recreation centre are closed. Masks are mandatory in the village and visitors to Gitlaxt’aamiks are prohibited. The communique states that the majority of COVID-19 cases in the Nass Valley are in Gitlaxt’aamiks and that house parties continue to be a concern. READ MORE: Students at Nisga’a school test positive for COVID-19 “We are meeting regularly and undertaking comprehensive COVID-19 management action,” said Brandi Trudell-Davis, NVHA chief executive officer in the Nov. 26 release. “We look to our Nation, communities, families and individuals to actively take precautionary measures to stop the spread. We are all in this together and and it is the only way we will all get through this.” NVHA is working with the Northern Health Authority to monitor and trace COVID-19 cases.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Israel received its most advanced warship on Wednesday, describing the German-made vessel dubbed "Shield" as a bulwark for vulnerable Mediterranean gas rigs as tensions with Tehran soar over the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist. The Saar-6 corvette that docked in Haifa port, and three of the same model to follow next year, will bring to 15 the number of missile boats deployed by an Israeli navy which, while small, carries out missions as far away as the Red Sea and the Gulf. Israel also wants to protect off-shore natural gas fields close to Lebanon, an old foe with which it has held so far fruitless U.S.-mediated maritime border talks.
Following the province’s daily COVID Measures update on Dec 1, 2020, Big Lakes County has been upgraded to Enhanced Status. As the Towns of Swan Hills and High Prairie are within Big Lakes County; both communities have also been upgraded to Enhanced Status. This means, effective immediately and until at least December 15th, the following protocols must be followed along with all previous COVID social distancing measures. The following measures went into effect across Alberta on Nov 24, 2020: • No indoor social gatherings in any setting • Outdoor gatherings have a maximum attendance of 10 • Weddings and funeral services have a maximum attendance of 10, with no receptions permitted • No festivals or events • Working from home should be considered, where possible • Grades 7-12 will be doing at-home learning between November 30, 2020 to January 11, 2021 • ECS-Grade 6 at-home learning after break until January 11, 2021 The following measures for Enhanced Status regions now also apply to Swan Hills: • Places of worship must operate at one-third capacity with mandatory masking in place • Restricted access to some businesses and facilities Swan Hills currently has one active case of COVID-19. Detailed information about the restrictions to some businesses and facilities can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx.Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Like many academic programs, due to COVID-19 regulations, the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Indigenous Public Health certificate program, which works to include Indigenous perspectives into the healthcare system, has shifted online this year. There are eight one-week intensive courses. They are offered two at a time, twice a year, by the UBC’s Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health explains Program Manager Rhonda Carriere. The centre has a mandate to raise the health status and self-determination of Indigenous communities. For Carriere, who’s Métis from Red River, inclusion is an essential part of their work. “Our real aim is to make a bridge for people who maybe haven't had the same opportunities,” says Carriere. Normally, the program is held in person, at the UBC campus, but the Winter Institute 2021 will run online from February 15th to the 19th. The program works to decrease barriers Indigenous Peoples face when entering the healthcare field explains Carriere. The training also seeks to address multiple, intersecting Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, including number 23, which calls for increased numbers of Indigenous health practitioners. The program’s courses cover core disciplines in public health, but are approached through Indigenous experiences and perspectives. Students learn about the historic and ongoing health disparities and inequities faced by Indigenous populations, in order to build “applied and theoretical knowledge affirming Indigenous rights to self-determination in relation to health services, research and program development,” the program website states. “Pandemics in Indigenous Communities: Before, during and after COVID-19,” has been added to the curriculum, as well as revamped summer courses: “Introduction to Indigenous Health Research Ethics” and “Social Determinants of Indigenous Health.” Carriere says the program is one part of the vision of co-director Dr. Nadine Caron who’s an Anishinaabekwe (Anishinaabe woman) from Sagamok First Nation. Caron says the program is meant to bring Indigenous community members, leaders and health professionals together, to learn through dialogue and public health perspectives. “For our health care to be responsive to Indigenous peoples in Canada, I think we need our specific direction coming from Indigenous communities,” she says. This, just as a recent investigation confirms “widespread” racism in the B.C. healthcare system. “We need lndigenous leadership embedded within our healthcare system,” Caron adds during an address to the B.C. Patient Quality Council’s series of Health Talks. “This is needed in the evolution of healthcare in order for reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.” Caron says Indigenous communities will trust in the healthcare system, when they can identify with leaders in formal positions, that are Indigenous. “I tell my daughter, despite residential schools, assimilation policies, broken treaties, that we’re still here,” adds Caron. “We are still here, and we are expecting the results that generations before us fought for.” During a UBC Learning Circle, one of the program’s graduates, Linda Jones, from the ‘Namgis First Nation, echoes the idea that “inclusion matters.” “It creates this support system, you feel so included, everybody is so welcoming, and it’s just an amazing feeling. Because of that, now I’m on this clear path of what I wanted to do and how I needed to do it,” she says. Jones is in the process of becoming a doula, also known as a birth worker, for expecting parents. She says the Indigenous Public Health program helped her weave her previous education into something she could offer to Indigenous communities. Jones hopes this program will “get more people out there that'll help create change for all Indigenous people.”Odette Auger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
The Canadian government will be providing more than $1.5 billion to "accelerate" lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on Indigenous reserves, announced Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller on Wednesday. He said this is a "long-term" commitment and does not have an exact time frame on when all advisories will end.