When asked who he doesn't like, Zarro shake his head to show how he feels about boys. Hilarious! @katrianalarae
When asked who he doesn't like, Zarro shake his head to show how he feels about boys. Hilarious! @katrianalarae
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
The Peace River Regional District will be going ahead with plans for a new public library in Chetwynd, after board directors voted in favour of issuing requests for proposals for design and construction at their Feb. 25 meeting. The new library is a joint effort between Area E and Chetwynd. A lean-to style building is being floated as one possible option. Costs are capped at $5 million. “This has been going on for awhile, we’re trying to get costs down to something we can afford,” said Director Dan Rose. “We’ve got floor plans and ideas of what it might look like, so they’re not starting from scratch.” He added the library has extensive experience working remotely as a satellite office. "We’re certainly willing to accommodate as many communities as we can, with our services. I’m sure we could make agreements with everybody on how to do that,” said Rose. Fort St John Mayor Ackerman agreed a regional approach could be a good move for libraries in the Peace. “I’m totally open to having that conversation, even though the library in Fort St John is not a municipal library,” said Ackerman. “If you’re suggesting a regional library, I’m on that bandwagon.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says the city will lend a hand if Chetwynd needs. “I appreciate how busy it is in Chetwynd right now. If they have any trouble at all in locating a site or land for this Chetwynd Public Library, we’d be happy to help facilitate that partnership with them, and construct it in Dawson Creek,” said Bumstead, jokingly. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
Many people have turned to outdoor activities to stay active during the pandemic, and according to cycling industry insiders, that's made it a challenging year to keep up with demand. Bike shops in Calgary are experiencing surging sales and low inventory, with some estimated delivery dates being pushed into 2022. Jeremy Cobb, who has been biking most of his life and struggling to order bike parts this year, said it's a bit exasperating as an avid cyclist, but not surprising. "It's been frustrating," he said. "[But] I think people are trying to be safe, and trying to find things to do as a family and outdoors." No seasonal sales slowdown Scott Clarke, the sales manager of Ridley's Cycle in Kensington, said this winter has been the busiest he has seen in what is usually a seasonal industry. In a typical year, students come to work at the bike shop in the summer before heading back to school in the fall; a few seasonal layoffs usually follow, he said. Scott Clarke, left, the sales manager of Ridley's Cycle, said this winter has been the busiest he has ever seen. Bow Cycle has one of the largest inventories of bikes in Calgary, and owner John Franzky, right, said they're running low. (Terri Trembath/CBC) But this year, there was no sales slowdown in August, and Ridley's Cycle actually did some hiring in the fall to keep up. "Right now, it's get what you can, for us. Get in stock what you can, and keep stock levels high," he said. "Bike companies are producing more than they ever have, demand is up over what they're producing, so things are pumping through much, much quicker. So, we're getting to the point where we're having a lot of bikes pre-sold." A new challenge to manage It's not only Ridley's Cycle that is struggling to keep stock levels high. Bow Cycle has one of the largest inventories of bikes in Calgary, and owner John Franzky said they're running low. "On the business side, it's kind of exciting to have those challenges at work, so it's a new challenge to manage," Franzky said. "The hard part is, [at] Bow Cycle, we're not used to saying no to people." The demand that has left the store low on just about everything has been a blessing and a curse, Franzky said. "You can't really compare a year like this. And let's be honest, hopefully we don't have to compare another year like this," Franzky said. "But what it's done in the outdoor business, the boom it's been seeing, bicycle industry included — it's pretty unreal."
SAN FRANCISCO — Financial technology company Square, Inc. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z. Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square, the payments company founded by CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder and chief executive of Twitter. Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its financial systems. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in the statement announcing the deal. . Jay-Z said in the statement that the “partnership will be a game-changer for many.” I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!" The Associated Press
The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation and the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark are researching the possibility of combining and streamlining the groups and their programs under one organization. No concrete decision or plan has been made yet, with an eight to 10 month discussion period underway. Museum General Manager Zena Conlin says an amalgamation taskforce has been created, with board members from each group meeting every month to map out the pros and cons. “We’re exploring all the avenues on the best way for everybody to work together,” said Conlin, “and to ensure sustainability for the organizations and for the area.” Geopark Executive Director Manda Maggs says the idea to combine the two was prompted by suggestions from the Peace River Regional District, which has funded the organizations in the past. “I know they’re keen to have us explore this, but both organizations have their own separate mandates, and their own separate memberships,” said Maggs of the regional district. “Right now we’re identifying what those advantages will be. There would obviously be some advantages, as we already work together closely.” Since 2014, PRRD has granted $660,000 to the Geopar,k and more than $1.3 million to the museum since 2013. Both organizations appeared before the regional board on Jan. 28, presenting year-in-reviews. email@example.com Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
Heart inflammation is uncommon in pro athletes who’ve had mostly mild COVID-19 and most don’t need to be sidelined, a study conducted by major professional sports leagues suggests. The results are not definitive, outside experts say, and more independent research is needed. But the study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology is the largest to examine the potential problem. The coronavirus can cause inflammation in many organs, including the heart. The research involved professional athletes who play football, hockey, soccer, baseball and men's and women's basketball. All tested positive for COVID-19 before October and were given guideline-recommended heart tests, nearly 800 total. None had severe COVID-19 and 40% had few or no symptoms — what might be expected from a group of healthy elite athletes with an average age of 25. Severe COVID-19 is more common in older people and those with chronic health conditions. Almost 4% had abnormal results on heart tests done after they recovered but subsequent MRI exams found heart inflammation in less than 1% of the athletes. These five athletes all had COVID-19 symptoms. Whether their heart problems were caused by the virus is unknown although the researchers think that is likely. They were sidelined for about three months and returned to play without any problems, said Dr. Mathew Martinez of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. He's the study’s lead author and team cardiologist for football's New York Jets. Two previous smaller studies in college athletes recovering from the virus suggested heart inflammation might be more common. The question is of key interest to athletes, who put extra stress on their hearts during play, and undetected heart inflammation has been linked with sudden death. Whether mild COVID-19 can cause heart damage ‘’is the million-dollar question,’’ said Dr. Richard Kovacs, co-founder of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports & Exercise Council. And whether severe COVID-19 symptoms increase the chances of having fleeting or long-lasting heart damage ‘’is part of the puzzle,’’ he said. Kovacs said the study has several weaknesses. Testing was done at centres affiliated or selected by each team, and results were interpreted by team-affiliated cardiologists, increasing the chances of bias. More rigorous research would have had standardized testing done at a central location and more objective specialists interpret the results, he said. Also, many of the athletes had no previous imaging exams to compare the results with, so there is no way to know for certain if abnormalities found during the study were related to the virus. ’’There is clearly more work to do but I think it is very helpful additional evidence,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president-elect of the American Heart Association. Dr. Dial Hewlett, a member of a COVID-19 task force at the National Medical Association, which represents Black physicians, said the study ‘’is extremely timely.’’ Hewlett is a deputy health commissioner for New York's Westchester County and advises high schools and colleges on when to allow young athletes to return to play after COVID-19 infections. ‘’I’m grateful that we are starting to get some data to help guide us in some of our decisions,’’ Hewlett said. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
NEW YORK — Even in a crazy year with so many ups and downs, consider the last 12 months of Aaron Tveit. The Broadway star was wowing fans in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” when it was suddenly shuttered by the coronavirus. Then he contracted COVID-19 himself. He recovered to lend his voice to relief efforts, got a few high-profile acting gigs and then landed his first Tony nomination. “It’s hard to have perspective,” he said. “I just think that’s going to need a little bit of time and a little bit of a 25,000-foot view to see what actually happened in the last year.” Two back-to-back blows came within weeks last March when his show was shuttered and then Tveit became one of the first Broadway actors to speak publicly about contracting COVID-19. "I wanted to kind of say, ‘Look, I’m somebody that really takes care of my health and I’d like to think I’m in good shape.’ I was basically trying to say, ‘This can affect anyone. Please take this seriously,’” he said. Tveit, 37, says he now suspects he was sicker than he thought at the time. For several weeks, he slept 13 hours a day but thankfully, his lungs weren't affected. “It was like a terrible, terrible sinus infection.” A few weeks later, he had a flare-up. “In terms of lasting effects, I think I’ve been OK,” he said. “I know a lot of people that really, really suffered. So I consider myself very lucky that I got by with as mild a case as I did.” Tveit summoned the strength to lend his support for out-of-work actors — joining stars like Sutton Foster and Jeremy Jordan for a benefit concert hosted by Rosie O’Donnell and later singing “Marry Me a Little” for a Stephen Sondheim birthday celebration. “It felt so meaningful to me to be included but also the message behind it: We can still be a community, we can still learn how to come together even under these circumstances," he said. With “Moulin Rouge!” grounded, Tveit found work elsewhere. Over the summer, he shot a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie with Laura Osnes and flew to Vancouver to work on the Apple TV+ series “Schmigadoon!” “Gratitude doesn’t even describe how I feel,” he said of the employment. “I think about it every day because I know so many people who have not been able to work at all. The question of paying rent, of being able to support families and pay bills — it’s it’s truly devastating.” Tveit's first big gig was in a “Rent” tour and he made his Broadway debut as a replacement in “Hairspray” and then “Wicked.” He then had three starring roles in “Next to Normal,” “Catch Me If You Can” and now “Moulin Rouge!” His film work includes the adaptation of "Les Misérables" and on TV he was in “Graceland,” “BrainDead” and “Grease Live!” A bright spot in a dark year was when “Moulin Rouge!” earned more than a dozen Tony nominations, which the company celebrated with a Zoom toast. “I’d like to think that our show would have done as well in any year. So I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done,” he said. Tveit was the only actor nominated in the category of best leading actor in a musical for his role as Christian and it marks his first nomination. Unopposed, he’s poised to win, as long as 60% of Tony voters vote for him in the category. “It’s the most wild thing that it just worked out that way. But I’m just so grateful and I take it as nothing but as a recognition of the hard work that I put into the show,” he said. Producer Carmen Pavlovic calls Tveit a unique musical theatre actor whose vocal talent “just blows you away,” spanning ballads and all-out rock numbers. "I’m thrilled he’s received his first Tony nomination for his performance, which reflects not only his work on ‘Moulin Rouge!’ but also Aaron’s vast body of work that brings his career journey to this special moment,“ she said. Tveit sees something of a silver lining in the Broadway shutdown: Long unaddressed social issues are being examined, top among them racial representation on both sides of the curtain. While urging donations to the national services group The Actor's Fund, he also champions Black Lives Matter groups, anti-racism organizations, bail relief and transgender resources. “I’ve done a lot of listening,” he said. “I've tried to just shut my mouth and listen to everything around me and what people need and what people feel and then look at how personally I may or may not be helping.” When Broadway restarts, he hopes the hard work can continue of ensuring all people have equal access to theatre work, not just friends or those recommended. “I think that if that means for a while making a concentrated effort to look beyond the norm, then maybe five or 10 years from now hopefully we'll be in a much better place,” he said. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Two projects at Queen’s University have received close to $10 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to significantly advance their research. This funding is part of an announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021, stating that more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding will support 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across Canada. Queen’s is also a collaborator on a third project, led by Carleton University. According to a release from Queen’s University, dated Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021, the funding will be used for infrastructure that will help to combat climate change, treat cancer, and understand the fabric of the universe. The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) and Queen’s researcher Annette Hay (Medicine) and Jonathan Bramson, of McMaster University, have received CFI support of more than $5 million for their project to develop a national cellular therapy translational research platform, the first of its kind globally, Queen’s said in the release. ExCELLirate Canada: Expanding CELL-based Immunotherapy Research Acceleration for Translation and Evaluation is a collaboration between Queen’s, McMaster University, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal, and Canadian Blood Services. CFI funds will support research activities from novel cell therapy development to point-of-care cell manufacturing and multi-centre clinical trial testing for cancer treatment. Queen’s says this project aims to develop cell therapies as safe and viable treatment options through identifying biological mechanisms affecting safety and designing cost-effective methods for the harvest, expansion, manipulation, purification, and delivery of the cells. The second project, which received close to $4.5 million in funding from CFI, has Queen’s civil engineering researchers Andy Take, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical Engineering, and Ian Moore, Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Engineering, aiming to improve the future resiliency of Canada’s civil engineering infrastructure in the face of climate change with their project CASTLE. The Climate Adaptive infraStructure Testing and Longevity Evaluation (CASTLE) Innovation Cluster is a collaboration between Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada. As Canada’s landmass spans diverse geographic regions, current and future infrastructure must be made resilient against the unique impacts of climate change affecting remote northern regions to southern urban centres, according to the release. Queen’s says the objectives for CASTLE are to improve storage of mine waste, ensure safety and improve resilience of transportation infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and pipes, and coastal defense structures, as well as ports and harbours, against the direct and triggered geotechnical hazards of climate change. In furthering Canada’s leadership in the field of dark matter, Queen’s is also a collaborator on a project to develop the next generation liquid argon dark matter detector and an underground argon storage facility at SNOLAB. Understanding the nature of dark matter, which makes up 85 per cent of the universe, is one of science’s unsolved mysteries, according to Queen’s. This project will include upgrades to the DEAP-3600 experiment, contributions to the Darkside-20k experiment, and the development of the ultimate ARGO detector at SNOLAB. By enabling further scientific discovery at SNOLAB, the location where Queen’s researcher Arthur McDonald conducted his Nobel Prize winning research, this project has the potential to develop technical and commercial innovations in digital light sensors and offer training opportunities to junior researchers and students, Queen’s said in the release. “This support will allow Queen’s to build on exceptional international strengths and have a direct impact on how we live and understand the world around us,” said Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “Thank you to the Government of Canada for investing in the tools that advance research.” For more information on projects funded through the Innovation Fund 2020, visit the CFI website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
DETROIT — General Motors says it's looking for a site to build a second U.S. battery factory with joint venture partner LG Chem of Korea. The companies hope to have a decision on a site in the first half of the year, spokesman Dan Flores said Thursday. Flores would not say where the company is looking, but it's likely to be near GM's Spring Hill, Tennessee, factory complex, which is one of three sites the company has designated to build electric vehicles. A joint venture between GM and LG Chem currently is building a $2 billion battery factory in Lordstown, Ohio, near Cleveland, that will employ about 1,000 people. The site is fairly close to GM's two other designated electric vehicle plants, one in Detroit and the other north of the city in Orion Township, Michigan. GM is likely to need far more battery capacity if it's able to deliver on a goal of converting all of its new passenger vehicles from internal combustion engines to electricity by 2035. LG Chem now has a battery cell plant in Holland, Michigan, that supplies power to the Chevrolet Bolt hatchback and the new Bolt electric SUV. Industry analysts have said that automakers face a global shortage of batteries as the industry moves away from gasoline powered vehicles. Most of the world's batteries are built in China and other countries. The Wall Street Journal first reported that GM and LG Chem are pursuing a site in Tennessee to build a new battery plant. GM's venture is risky, at least based on U.S. electric vehicle sales. Last year full battery electric vehicles accounted for only 2% of the U.S. market of 14.6 million in new vehicle sales. But automakers are set to roll out 22 new electric models this year and are baking on wider consumer acceptance. The consulting firm LMC Automotive predicts that U.S. battery powered vehicle sales will hit over 1 million per year starting in 2023, reaching over 4 million by 2030. Tom Krisher, The Associated Press
The young founders of Green Ummah had big plans for 2020, including a major push in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to get Ontario’s mosques and other Islamic institutions to think more about sustainability. The COVID-19 pandemic thwarted much of the newly formed non-profit’s ambition, prompting the law students and other young people involved to shift focus as they seek to build the green movement within Canada’s Muslim communities, which number around one million people. “For us now, it’s about uplifting our youth, youth of colour, Muslim youth, youth that haven’t always fit the narrative when it comes to the environmental movement,” said Aadil Nathani, a co-founder of Green Ummah (ummah is the Arabic word for community, and typically describes the global Muslim community). Environmentalism has long been dominated by mostly white conservationists, and the broader movement has only recently begun to directly engage with more marginalized communities, which are often most acutely impacted by climate change. “We’re trying to get Muslim kids of all racial and ethnic backgrounds and cultures outside and connecting with nature, because at the end of the day, if you have a connection with nature, you're going to be more inclined to act in a sustainable way and (an) environmentally friendly way,” said Nathani, who grew up in Toronto and last year graduated from law school at the University of Windsor. Green Ummah is being aided in that effort by Nature Canada, one of the country’s oldest nature conservation charities, which has in recent years turned its focus to a similar goal. “We are really trying to amplify the voices that are in the spaces already,” said Camille Koon, the organizer for Nature Canada’s NatureHood program, which works with Green Ummah and more than a dozen other groups across the country to help young people and their families in urban environments connect with nature. “Our organization is trying very hard to make sure that we are building towards a holistic and inclusive movement for climate justice,” Nathani said. To that end, Green Ummah will this weekend host what it is calling Canada’s first Muslim-led environmental conference, a digital event bringing together a range of scholars, experts and green practitioners sparking conversation about how Islam relates to the environment. The event, running from noon until 3:30 p.m. on March 6 and 7, is a pay-what-you-can affair that will feature U.S. imam Saffet Catovic, who contributed to the drafting in 2019 of a fatwa, or Islamic legal opinion, by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) on fossil fuel divestment. Around 80 people have so far registered to join, including people from the United States, South Africa, and Australia. Saturday’s panels and speakers will address Muslims directly on how to integrate green principles into their daily lives and the religious backing for environmental protection. “It’s a responsibility, according to the Qur’an, that God gave us to look after the planet, and to me, that’s also a huge burden and one that we’ve lost track of, we haven’t stayed on top of, but tides are hopefully changing,” Nathani said. On Sunday, the focus will turn to making sure the green movement makes space for marginalized voices and opportunities for Muslim/Indigenous solidarity. “It’s very important not to lose touch with the fact that we don’t only have these principles from Islamic traditions, we can also try to build bridges between Muslim groups in Canada and Indigenous people in Canada who have been taking care of Turtle Island for longer than we’ve been here,” Nathani said, noting the similarity between the Indigenous seven generations principle and exhortations in Islam for its adherents to act as khalifa, or guardians, of the planet. Mosques, as the central hub of a devout Muslim’s social life, can have an outsized influence on their congregation’s behaviour, Nathani said. “We need the mosques to really be more eco-friendly, and to really start pushing the environmental message, the green message,” he said. “If we can show that there is a religious backing, and we can get everyone to know their religious responsibilities, then Muslim people will be more inclined to act,” he said. Nathani said specific steps the community can take to lessen its environmental impact could be as simple as encouraging worshippers to use less water during the cleansing process conducted prior to praying, which observant Muslims do five times a day. Community leaders can also go further by, for example, creating community gardens or installing bike racks so those who live beyond walking distance from the mosque don’t have to drive, as well as including climate education in sermons, lectures and informal conversations. “The time to act is now, the time to act was actually yesterday, but it’s never too late to start changing your own habits, to start influencing your family and their habits and your wider community and their habits.” Green Ummah is also putting the finishing touches on a four-module curriculum it expects to test out in a handful of Islamic schools across the province starting in September. The courses provide an introduction to climate science and how to be more green, a deeper dive in the connection between Islam and the environment, a critique of environmental racism, and the relationship between Islamic and Indigenous green principles and the law. Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
NEW YORK — Composer Gene Scheer, whose song “American Anthem” was quoted by President Joe Biden during his inaugural address, is returning the favour. The picture book “American Anthem” will be released June 29, Penguin Young Readers announced Thursday. It will feature Scheer's lyrics and illustrations by 13 artists, including Fahmida Azim, Matt Faulkner, Veronica Jamison and Christine Almeda. While speaking in January, Biden cited Scheer's lyrics “Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, America, I gave my best to you.” “I was taken by surprise, and incredibly moved, when President Biden cited my song ‘American Anthem’ at the conclusion of his inaugural speech,” Scheer said in a statement. “When I sat down to write this song more than 20 years ago, I could hardly imagine where it would go. I can’t think of a better destination than in a book for children. When I think of this beautiful visual tapestry of the American story, created by a diverse team of talented artists, I am brought back to the original idea that inspired ‘American Anthem’ in the first place: We are all in this together.” Scheer wrote the ballad in 1998. It was later popularized by Norah Jones, whose version was heard in the Ken Burns documentary “War." The Associated Press
An afternoon traffic stop on Keith Ave. in Terrace led to the seizure of substances which police suspect are methamphetamine and purple fentanyl, according to an RCMP media release. On March 2, 2021, police received a report from a member of the public of a potentially impaired driver. RCMP located the vehicle on Keith Ave. and conducted a traffic stop. A roadside screening of the driver led police to believe the driver was impaired by drugs, and police observed the passenger trying to hide bags of a white substance between their legs. RCMP arrested the passenger for possessing a controlled substance and failure to comply with an undertaking. The vehicle was impounded and the driver was given a driving prohibition and several violation tickets. A search incidental to arrest turned up gloves, which contained suspected methamphetamine and purple fentanyl. The matter has been forwarded to court. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
TORONTO — About 13 years ago, screen acting coach Dean Armstrong got a phone call from a prominent talent agent asking him for a favour. The agent had come across "a very unique, very special, very exceptional" young actor from Toronto who needed monetary support to learn the craft, and Armstrong agreed to provide a rare scholarship for him at his Armstrong Acting Studios in the city. That actor was Jahmil French, who proved to be one of the "great ones," says Armstrong: a gifted performer with an insatiable appetite for deepening his skills; a bright light in any room he entered; a dance lover who busted a move virtually anywhere he went; and a supportive colleague who raised the bar for everyone around him. "He had such a raw, intuitive and natural ability for emotional access," Armstrong, director of the acting school, said in an interview. "There was a real physiological ownership of roles that he tackled." "It's very sad when someone like Jahmil, as young as he was, who truly hadn't reached his full potential, had it all disappear so quickly," he said. Armstrong is among many in the film and TV industry sharing fond memories of the actor who rose to fame on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," after news of his death at the age of 29. The circumstances surrounding French's death haven't been revealed by his representatives, but Armstrong says it happened last weekend. "He was very mature for his age but also very hungry to be challenged," said actor Salvatore Antonio, who started teaching French over a decade ago at Armstrong Acting Studios, which has had several "Degrassi" alumni as students. "After meeting with him, I saw almost instantly that he was above the rest in terms of his willingness to challenge himself." French grew up in Toronto with a single mom who was "very supportive" and "quite pivotal in helping to get him in acting classes," said Antonio. Those classes led to his role as high-school student Dave Turner from 2009 to 2013 on the Toronto-shot "Degrassi: The Next Generation," and a slew of other credits, including the Netflix series "Soundtrack," the Pop TV show "Let's Get Physical," and the Canadian film "Boost," for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination. When he was performing, French had instincts far beyond his years, said Antonio, artistic director at the school, which plans to create a scholarship in French's name. French once performed scenes from the film "Requiem for a Dream" in class, which sent chills up Antonio's spine and had the other students wiping away tears and watching "with their mouths agape." "I may have been in the role as a teacher, but he taught me a lot about acting, especially in terms of being brave and courageous in the choices that he made," Antonio said. "Some of the most beautiful work that I've seen done on camera happened in some of those classes in terms of what Jahmil did." French's vulnerability and magnetic energy in his acting elevated the work of his scene partners and inspired others "to bring their A-game," said Antonio. Toronto actor Craig Arnold, who played Luke Baker on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," was inspired by French's skills. "Everyone talks about how he was just so good. It really made me feel like, 'OK, this is possible, I can do this,'" Arnold said from the set of "The Expanse" in Toronto. "He was so supportive of me and nice to me, so open and wanted everyone to do well," said Arnold. "It really inspired me early on and gave me a lot of confidence." French was also an "amazing dancer" who could hardly sit still in a chair and would often display moves between takes, said Antonio. Arnold recalled dining out with French and others after an acting class and seeing him spring into action when music started playing. "He stood up and went into this huge dance routine in the middle of the restaurant," Arnold said. "Everyone in the whole place was smiling and loving it." French was also driven, intensely tuned in, and hungry to learn, said Antonio. "He wanted to be great. He articulated that more than once. He's like, 'I just want to be really, really good at what I do,' and I respected that," Antonio said from Montreal, where he's shooting the upcoming CW series "The Republic of Sarah." "He had an effortless charm to him, which I know a lot of people have spoken about. And he could have rested on those laurels, you know — good looking kid, natural charm, very outgoing. He could have rested on those inherent qualities and stayed in the same lane for the majority of his career. But he really wanted something more." Antonio stopped working with French as his teacher three or four years ago but they kept in touch regularly, seeing movies together and texting back and forth about acting questions French had. "I was so proud of what Jahmil had accomplished in such a short period of time, and I was really looking forward to more — and that's the part that is the saddest for me," he said. Armstrong last spoke with French in December, when the rising star reached out asking for advice on a confusing passage in one of the popular acting books by Konstantin Stanislavski. "It's interesting to have a talent — in his pastime, on the heels of so much wonderful success — to continue his development, his journey as an artist, by reading books about his craft," said Armstrong. "He was always hungry for insight, always hungry for thoughts, ideas on how to be better, and to better understand himself. A real sign of a true artist — never satisfied, always wanting more." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Jerty Gaa is one of the nearly 500,000 women in Canada who remain unemployed amid the pandemic. She found herself on hiatus from her job as a hotel attendant in Vancouver when lockdown measures were introduced last spring. Then, months later, another blow. At the end of July, she says she and most of the other staff at the hotel were let go. According to the most recent job numbers from Statistics Canada, as of the end of January, Canada's economy had 858,000 fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic. But those losses are not being borne evenly across the board Women — especially ones who weren't earning much to begin with — are bearing the brunt of the job losses, as they made up a majority of the work force in hard-hit sectors like hospitality, retail and food. According to a new analysis by RBC published Thursday, nearly 100,000 working-age Canadian women have completely left the workforce since the pandemic started, which means they aren't even trying to get a job any more. The figure for men is more than 10 times smaller — a sign that on the whole, they are not feeling quite so gloomy about their prospects. While some parts of the economy are reopening, public-facing, high-contact jobs — like those in the hotel industry — are still languishing, or at the very least trying to change the way they operate on the fly. That often means running with fewer staff, and the longer that goes on, the more likely it is those jobs are gone forever, according to Dawn Desjardins, one of the authors of the RBC report. "The longer these women are out of the labour force, the greater the risk of skills erosion, which could potentially hamper their ability to get rehired or to transition to different roles as the economy evolves," the report says. Structural change For Gaa, it's been almost a full year without a job. While she is hoping to go back once the hospitality sector opens up, she doesn't know when it'll happen or if she will manage to get her old job back once the sector recovers. A masked waitress moves among the tables on an outdoor restaurant patio in London, Ont. Women with jobs in the food industry have been particularly hard hit during this pandemic. (Colin Butler/CBC) Despite working overnight shifts for 11 years, Gaa only received eight weeks' worth of severance. She says she was told that was the maximum employees can get with the pandemic. "I expect that I'm going to retire there. I work so hard. I do what I can do and try to do my best, working overnight shifts. It's not easy," Gaa said. "We do our job and this is what we get. They don't care about us." She's still holding out hope she'll be able to get her job back once vaccines are distributed and things return to normal. The 54-year-old says she's taking things one day at a time and is hoping not to have to switch careers at her age. A job change at this point would mean a pay cut from about $27 an hour to something closer to the minimum wage of $15 an hour, she says. That's not enough for her to live on. Gaa said she's had to dip into her retirement savings and didn't want to tell her kids, as she thinks of herself as pretty independent. One of her daughters, who works in the casino industry, has also been forced out of work. Uneven recovery It's not just different industries being hit unevenly, either. The RBC report shows that the job losses are worse for members of certain demographic groups, too. Mothers, visible minorities, young people and new immigrants are all disproportionately impacted. Winny Shen, an associate professor at Schulich School of Business who studies inclusion in the workplace, worries career interruptions like the ones we're seeing now might signal to employers that women are less committed. She says that can have repercussions on a company's willingness to spend money on retraining. Coming out of the pandemic, there might also be a tendency for companies to tighten the purse strings in general, Shen says. There might be issues with understaffing — asking people to do more with fewer people as a way to cut costs. A long-term issue Almost a year since that initial lockdown, a sizeable number of Canadian women are at risk of their skills atrophying, Desjardins finds. "There could be changes underway that are more structural in nature, that are going to be more long-lasting," she said. She says economists even have a name for it — they call it the scarring effect. She says some of the skills you have diminish when you're not using them. "The longer you're out, the harder it is sometimes to get back into those networks— to hear this place is happening or these are the jobs that are in demand," Desjardins said. Valentina Dzeoba, who lives in Thunder Bay, Ont., was downsized from a manufacturing job before the pandemic hit and has since decided to retrain as a hairdresser. (Valentina Dzeoba) The economist points to a few areas of potential job growth, like child care, remote working or digital sales. "Knowing how to participate in the digital economy is really essential," Desjardins said, adding that both the government and business will have a role to play in moving people into training programs. Forced to pivot Valentina Dzeoba has also been unemployed for more than a year. The Thunder Bay, Ont. resident was let go due to downsizing at the local Bombardier plant before the pandemic. For a while, she was working one day a week helping people retrain to find work, but says jobs in the community are hard to come by. Like many people, Dzeoba has pivoted, going from manufacturing to retraining as a hairdresser. She says it's something she's always been interested in, and that the change has been beneficial. "I'm in the business of making people feel good," said Dzeoba. "I love it." Desjardins said the country needs everyone to continue working to ensure a prosperous economy. She said that if women participated at the same rate as men, it would add $100 billion to Canada's GDP every year. To find secure jobs, women will likely need more digital skills or look in fields like child care, suggests economist Dawn Desjardins. (Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images) She said that as a result, everyone enjoys a bigger piece of the economic pie. "We want everyone who wants a job to have a job." Jerty Gaa said she's happy to have received the Canada emergency response benefit as well as unemployment insurance. But at the same time, she said, "people are going to be happier if we keep our jobs." She wants to know what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier are doing to prevent permanent layoffs. Hairdresser-in-training Dzeoba says she was nervous about starting over. But it turned out everyone in her program was nervous, too. When she's done training, Dzeoba thinks she'll be able to get a job — hopefully under a senior stylist, so she can keep learning. For other women considering a major shift, she suggests networking and reaching out to employment centres. "There's a lot to be depressed about, but there is help out there," said Dzeoba.
A Prince County man opted to go to trial on disturbance and weapons charges. Adam Joseph Pitre, 43, pleaded not guilty in Summerside provincial court recently to charges of causing a disturbance and possession of a weapon - a knife - for a dangerous purpose. The charges stem from an incident on Sept. 13. Pitre then failed to appear in court on Nov. 18 resulting in a third charge, to which he also pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled for April 30. A Prince County man was high on methamphetamines when officers pulled him over back in June. Colin Alexander McAssey, 24, pleaded guilty in Summerside provincial court recently to possession of illegal drugs and driving while impaired. In Rosebank on June 10, RCMP saw a pickup truck driving on the shoulder of the road for several kilometres. Officers pulled the vehicle over and found McAsssey at the wheel, he was shaking and sweating. The officer asked if he was on any medications and McAssey said he wasn’t. McAssey passed a roadside screening test for alcohol and officers asked him to perform a field sobriety test, which he failed. He was then arrested for impaired driving. While under caution, he told officers he had consumed methamphetamine. Officers seized three grams of crystal meth as well as pills and paraphernalia at the scene. A blood test was sent to the national lab and came back positive for methamphetamines. McAssey had no previous record and hasn’t used drugs since the incident back in June. For driving impaired, Judge Krista MacKay sentenced McAssey to three days in custody and a $1,500 fine. For possession of meth, he was sentenced to one day, to be served concurrently as well as $100 in victim surcharges. McAssey must also pay $450 in victim surcharges and will be under a driving prohibition for 12 months. A Wellington woman told Summerside provincial court recently that she drove drunk because there were no taxis to get her home. Annik Vaillancourt, 36, pleaded guilty to failing to provide a breath sample after police arrested her for impaired operation of a vehicle. At 1:25 a.m. on Dec. 5, police on patrol in New Annan saw a vehicle travelling very slowly in a 90 km/hr zone. The vehicle weaved into the shoulder and then across the centre line several times. Officers then pulled over the vehicle and found Vaillancourt at the wheel. She appeared intoxicated and the officer could smell alcohol. Vaillancourt, who is a francophone, became resistant when officers tried to get a breath sample, saying she didn’t understand what was going on. Officers tried to find someone to communicate with her in French, and got someone on the phone from New Brunswick, but Vaillancourt continued to resist providing a sample. Police kept her in custody overnight. Judge Krista MacKay sentenced her to one day in custody which was served the night of the offence. Vaillancourt was also fined $2,000. She’ll be prohibited from driving for 12 months and must pay $600 in victim surcharges. A Charlottetown man under a driving prohibition was fined after officers discovered him behind the wheel. Derrick Kasirye, 24, pleaded guilty in Summerside provincial court recently to driving while prohibited. On Nov. 21, Kasirye drove into the checkpoint at the Confederation Bridge. He had no identification on him, but officers were able to determine who he was and that he was under a driving ban from Oct. 13. Judge Krista Mackay fined Kasirye $1,000 and handed down a further one-year driving prohibition. He must also pay $300 in victim surcharges. Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer
Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip has had a 'successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition.' Meanwhile, Prince Harry's wife, Meghan, has accused Buckingham Palace of 'perpetuating falsehoods' about the couple.