HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
TORONTO — The man who drove a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk and killed 10 people said his actions are "99 per cent irredeemable" after turning to the bible in jail, court heard Thursday.Alek Minassian made the comment on Dec. 12, 2019, to Dr. Alexander Westphal, a psychiatrist retained by the defence."I think it would be considered probably extremely irredeemable, like 99 per cent chance irredeemable," Minassian said in his orange jumpsuit while in a Toronto jail.Crown attorney Joe Callaghan argued the 10-minute video clip should be put into evidence as it shows a different side of Minassian than the one portrayed thus far by psychiatrists who say he lacks empathy, shows no emotion and has no insight into the minds and feelings of others.Callaghan said the clip shows Minassian engaged in conversation while answering questions at length and shows insight into the thoughts of others.Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder. He argues he should be found not criminally responsible due to autism spectrum disorder.After admitting to planning and carrying out the attack, his state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial.Justice Anne Molloy, presiding over the case without a jury, allowed the video into evidence.Molloy said this appears to show a different Minassian, not baffled and unresponsive and stuck in a concrete way of thinking as others have previously testified."This is not concrete, this is very esoteric, philosophical almost — not almost, it is," the judge said.Minassian, an atheist, told Westphal he began reading the bible while under suicide watch at the Toronto South Detention Centre.He said the bible gives him a "sense of hope." During breaks at the trial, which is being held by videoconference due to the pandemic, Minassian can be seen flipping through a red bible in the small room at the jail where he watches the proceedings.He told Westphal he reads it every day. He said he can see how the bible can be used to help change people's lifestyles as a path to redemption. "A preacher, let’s say he tells his nephew God is very disappointed about what you're doing and the nephew might realize he's saying, really, your family is disappointed," Minassian said to Westphal.The Crown said that passage shows Minassian's insight into the perspective of others. Westphal disagreed."I don't think him expressing an analogy the man is controlling his nephew by God is saying anything Mr. Minassian's overall understanding of morality," Westphal said.Minassian's lawyer had said Westphal would be the only expert to say the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., should be found not criminally responsible for his actions, but the psychiatrist has stopped short of making that conclusion. Westphal said Minassian does not truly understand the moral wrongfulness of killing 10 people, but said criminal responsibility is a legal opinion, not a psychiatric one.Earlier, court heard that Minassian said he had a strong desire to commit the attack. "I felt a strong desire to want to especially as the time ... approached, but I didn't feel compelled to do it, I didn't really feel I had to do it," Minassian said.While Minassian said he didn't feel he had to do it, the prosecution said those words seemed at odds with a report by Westphal that said Minassian felt he "had to go through with it" after making the decision to go forward with his plan. Under questioning from the Crown, Westphal said Minassian was not compelled to commit the attack. The Crown repeatedly asked why that was not in the report, a question Westphal seemed confused by."You only included facts that fit your narrative, you're not interested in an objective view," Callaghan said, his voice raised."I think I accurately captured that aspect I don't think he was compelled to do it," Westphal said.Court has heard that Minassian booked the rental van weeks earlier with the idea to use it as a weapon to strike people. He told Westphal that he knew it was wrong by "society’s moral standards, the most important one being that it is extremely wrong to kill people."He has told various people different reasons why he committed the attack including anxiety around a software development job that was to start a week after the attack.Westphal asked Minassian why he did it."An extreme desire to want to do it, the fact I already booked (the van) and was so close to going through with my plan, feeling social isolation and the nervousness about the job, socially and performance-wise," Minassian said.The Crown also pointed out all of Minassian's successes to the psychiatrist. He graduated from high school with a 76 per cent average and completed a software engineer degree at Seneca College. In his last year of college, Minassian achieved a 4.0 grade point average, the highest mark possible.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Seniors in British Columbia's long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized against COVID-19 starting in the first week of January with two vaccines, the province's top doctor says. Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna will be the first to be rolled out after approval by Health Canada. However, Henry said only about six million doses are expected to be available across Canada until March. "So we won't be able to broadly achieve what we call community immunity or herd immunity, but that will come," she said At least two other companies, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are in the process of submitting data to Health Canada and regulatory agencies around the world in hopes of getting approval for their vaccines. "Those ones we hope will be available sometime in the second quarter of 2021," Henry said. "We hope to have everybody done by September of next year," she said of the province's efforts through "Operation Immunize." "By the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized." Henry said B.C. health officials worked with their federal counterparts Thursday on ways to facilitate the delivery of vaccines as they anticipated various challenges that could come up in the immunization process. More details will be provided about the province's vaccine plan next week, Henry said. She reported 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 35,422 infections in the province. There have been 12 more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in B.C. to 481. Henry noted health-care workers are tired from the pandemic as everyone deals with an "anxiety-provoking time," but that it's important to stay "100 per cent committed" to getting through the next few months before vaccines are available. "We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said. Henry has banned all indoor and outdoor sports teams for adults, saying a team in the province's Interior recently tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Alberta. "What we have seen in the past few weeks to months is that 10 to 15 per cent of cases have been related to physical fitness and sports activities," she said, an estimate based on cases that have been linked. Most transmissions of COVID-19 among adult involved in sports have been through social activities related to the gatherings, Henry said. — By Camille Bains in Vancouver This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
Three women’s groups in the Downtown Eastside are calling for the immediate creation of a task force to end violence against women in the neighbourhood. The call comes after Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham wrote about a video which appeared to show a man sexually assaulting a semi-conscious woman in daylight on the sidewalk at Main and Hastings streets, while cars and pedestrians pass by. The Vancouver Police Department says it is investigating the footage. It’s not the only shocking incident in the neighbourhood. In April, when COVID-19 restrictions had closed many drop-in spaces and public bathrooms, a woman spent hours in a porta-potty in labour. No one apparently noticed she was in distress, and the baby did not survive. In May, a woman was held for hours in a tent in an Oppenheimer Park camp and repeatedly assaulted. Janice Abbott, the CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society, said the woman had been “held captive in that tent for 15 hours screaming,” but no one did anything to help her. “That’s how normalized it is.” WISH, a non-profit that supports sex workers, said a street-based sex worker called the organization’s bad date line last week after she heard a woman screaming in a car while other people walked by. WISH, Atira and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre are calling for an immediate emergency response to the escalating violence against women in the Downtown Eastside. “We want to see it happen right away,” said Alice Kendall, the executive director of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. “We want to see a crisis response, the same way that COVID has created a national, provincial, municipal kind of co-ordinated response to ensure that all of the aspects of COVID are addressed, the economy as well as health.” COVID-19 restrictions have reduced the number of spaces people in the Downtown Eastside can go to get warm and sheltered. Especially when it comes to spaces that are safe for women. Back in April, Kendall asked the City of Vancouver for help in creating a safe outdoor space as COVID-19 measures reduced capacity in the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. But it took eight months before the centre got permits and help from the city to set up a patio space that’s still smaller than it sought. This fall WISH opened Canada’s first shelter for sex workers, and efforts have been made to set up bathroom trailers in the Downtown Eastside. City facilities like the Carnegie Community Centre and the Evelyne Saller Centre also recently opened more drop-in spaces. The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre also opened a new space at 398 Powell St. But all the drop-in centres and shelters are full, while street homelessness has increased. “We have the drop-in open, but it’s at capacity,” Kendall said. “We have 398 Powell St. open, it’s at capacity. The shelter spaces are open, but they’re at capacity. We know that hundreds of women every day that used to come to the centre are not coming.” WISH, Atira and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre are calling for an immediate improvement in conditions. But they also want governments to adopt recommendations from other reports like Red Women Rising and the federal Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “Gendered violence continues, even within our own programs, because there are so few choices available for women and gender-diverse women in terms of housing, employment, income security, safe, appropriate services and other opportunities that allow women to keep themselves safe,” Abbott said in a press release.Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Perched on top of a hill near the Wedzin Kwa river in Smithers, B.C., is the town’s first multi-unit passive house building. The Harding Heights affordable housing complex is an example of B.C.’s commitment to encouraging net-zero new buildings and other energy-efficiency initiatives. That commitment earned the province top spot on the Canadian Provincial Energy Efficiency Scorecard for the second year in a row. Passive house buildings, which are certified by the Passive House Institute, must meet a series of strict requirements to minimize energy consumption. They may have heat pumps, triple-glazed windows and insulation that nearly eliminates heat loss. “It’s definitely the most energy-efficient building in town,” said Judy Hofsink, building manager of Harding Heights, which opened in 2018. Hofsink said Harding Heights is so efficient at trapping solar heat, some tenants need to open their windows even though there’s snow on the ground. “It might be a little bit too warm because of the passive energy, but it is a really great building,” Hofsink said. The scorecard, compiled by Efficiency Canada, rates the provinces on their energy-efficiency policies, programs and plans. Quebec came in second followed by Nova Scotia, while Saskatchewan came in last. The territories weren’t rated due to a lack of publicly available data. Despite B.C.’s successes, it only earned 58 out of a possible 100 points. The evaluation was done on a provincial level because each jurisdiction has control over energy-efficiency policy areas such as public utility regulation and building energy codes. “With climate change, energy efficiency is a huge part of the solution that is often neglected by policy leaders,” said Brendan Haley, policy director at Efficiency Canada and co-author of the scorecard, which was released on Nov. 17. “It’s not as flashy as batteries and solar panels and that’s really why we do this — we’re trying to put energy efficiency on the map as a really important policy solution. It’s one that everyone can participate in, in every single province.” The building sector is responsible for more than a quarter of Canada’s energy demand, according to the International Energy Agency. By constructing energy-efficient buildings and retrofitting existing buildings, the country can eliminate up to 28 per cent of its total energy needs, the agency says. But to do so, experts say the provinces need to modernize building codes, which are standards builders must meet when constructing new buildings or renovating existing ones. In 2017, B.C. introduced the voluntary BC Energy Step Code to encourage builders and local governments to adopt energy-efficient construction techniques. The step code provides five tiers builders can choose to meet. At level one, the building is slightly more efficient than the mandatory building code and at level four it is 40 per cent more efficient. Level five, which will be mandatory in 2032, is net-zero energy ready. In other words, builders don’t have to install the solar panels, but they have to design for their future installation. “Traditionally, building code is just a minimum standard — the worst house you can legally build,” Haley said. “The step code created a series of steps, or performance tiers, signaling where the market needs to go.” Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze, director for buildings and urban solutions at the Pembina Institute, called the step code “an elegant solution to a log jam that all building codes have.” He explained that the step code is designed in a way that creates space for builders to reach energy-efficiency targets by whatever innovative methods they choose. Instead of a code that “tells you the inches of insulation and how long the screws need to be,” the step code says, “how you get there, we don’t really care, we just want to make sure that you reduce energy [consumption].” Haley said B.C.’s step code is an example to the rest of the country. “We’re really hoping that we see all the other provinces adopting a kind of a B.C.-style building code in future years.” Frappé-Sénéclauze cautioned that the code, while encouraging, still permits buildings to have a carbon footprint. “The step code allows you to build new buildings that are connected to [natural] gas,” he explained. He would like to see the code include a target for eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions. “Lesson number one, we’re in a climate emergency. We’re in a hole — stop digging.” B.C.’s leadership on new construction will pave the way for reducing future provincial energy consumption, but the province has room for improvement in renovations and retrofits, according to the scorecard. Haley said the province can join other provinces — such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia — in supporting retrofitting financing. Property assessed clean energy financing allows the cost of an energy-efficiency renovation to be paid back over time through an increase in property taxes. According to a recent Pembina Institute report, provincial legislation is required to give local governments the authority to incorporate the energy-efficiency financing. “The whole idea there is that you can enable municipalities to use the property tax system to pay off building upgrades,” Haley said. “The benefit of doing that is that it’s really the building that is getting the benefit of those upgrades, regardless of who lives in it.” He gave the example of a homeowner who might be reluctant to upgrade a house in case they move. “You can tie that payment to the building itself, and then whoever happens to be using that building will pay it off over time, which will allow those energy upgrades to be financed over a much longer time period, perhaps even 20 or 30 years.” Haley added that the system enables “radical energy-efficiency measures [that] achieve the types of savings that we really need for climate change.” Frappé-Sénéclauze said implementing property assessed clean energy financing would be a positive step forward, but it needs to be paired with strict regulations to ensure buildings — especially large commercial and industrial buildings — reduce their energy footprints. “There’s no way that we’re going to see the kind of retrofits that we need to reduce our carbon pollution and protect our assets spontaneously just because we’ve made lending available to people.” B.C.’s commitment to electric vehicles also earned it top points on the scorecard. The province leads the country in new electric vehicle registrations, thanks in part to its progressive electric vehicle rebate program, investments in charging infrastructure and recent legislation that requires all new vehicles sold by 2040 to be electric. On Thursday, the province announced it had doubled the rebate for home and workplace charging stations. “B.C. has the strongest uptake in electric vehicle adoption across Canada, and we’re positioning ourselves to become leaders in the EV industry,” Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Bruce Ralston said in a statement. “We’re making it easier and more affordable for people to make the switch to electric vehicles and supporting new jobs for electricians and trades workers across B.C.” The province has also partnered with its two main energy providers, BC Hydro and FortisBC, on programs aimed at ensuring those vehicles have the required charging infrastructure. According to the scorecard, provincial programs have supported the installation of more than 1,300 public and residential charging stations to date. Haley also pointed to Vancouver’s recent Climate Action Emergency Plan, which was approved the same day the scorecard came out, as an example of commitment to energy-efficient transportation in B.C. The plan says the city will make it easier for residents to walk, bike or take public transit by encouraging neighbourhoods to be more self-sufficient and designing travel pathways that focus on these methods of transport. The city will also charge people to drive into the downtown core. According to the city, the same model in London, England, reduced vehicle traffic by 40 per cent and increased the amount of people coming into the city centre by nearly 25 per cent. B.C.’s investment in the Site C dam — which has experienced delays and cost overruns — lost the province some points on the scorecard, which suggests B.C. should prioritize energy reduction over building new infrastructure. Haley would like to see all provinces take this energy-savings approach before considering new energy-supply infrastructure, whether that’s a new dam or a natural gas pipeline. He pointed out that some U.S. states have even legislated this requirement. “Unfortunately, that was not done in B.C. to build the Site C hydroelectric dam and it was also not done in Newfoundland and Labrador to build the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam.” But, he added, there is hope. The Utilities Commission Act now requires BC Hydro to submit a plan explaining why it is unable to meet energy demands through energy-efficiency programs before it can develop any new infrastructure. Haley noted that provincial spending on Indigenous energy-efficiency programs was surprisingly low given the province’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The report includes a clear statement on the divide between settler and Indigenous communities: “Indigenous populations could not be receiving adequate and equal energy-efficiency services due to systemic racism and program approaches that do not consider specific community needs or the importance of negotiation and partnership with independent Indigenous nations.” The scorecard does acknowledge provincial programs like BC Hydro’s Indigenous Communities Conservation Program, which provides communities with training on energy-efficiency technologies, rebates on upgrades and free products like weather stripping and energy-efficient lightbulbs. But Haley said energy-efficiency initiatives should be more inclusive and could play a role in what he said should be the national agenda: “reconciliation and fighting colonialism.” The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative helps administer provincial and federal funds to Indigenous communities for energy-efficiency projects. But Cole Sayers, a member of the Hupacasath First Nation and director of the initiative, said communities face several barriers in accessing those funds. He said to receive funds, communities usually have to prepare a planning document, but many Indigenous communities face extreme poverty and are unable to finance the work required to prepare those documents. He also said there’s a lack of adequate funding to ensure communities receive the training necessary to maintain energy-efficiency technologies such as heat pumps and solar panels. “In our projects, we stress that there has to be that capacity training,” Sayers said. Another important factor is educating community members about energy usage and how not to be wasteful, he said. “A really important part of the conversation that often gets left out is altering behaviour. And that’s not just First Nations — it’s everyone.” Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Tofino, BC - Master carver Joe martin normally keeps an open-door policy. It’s been customary for people from different territories and nationalities to drop by Martin’s workshop in Tofino and soak in his teachings. Theatrically waving his hands through the air, Martin would tell stories of how his ancestors used to pierce a whale under its left front flipper by launching a harpoon from a canoe with the strength of one arm. “I’m well over my mid-life,” said the 67-year-old. “It’s the law of nature – one day I’m not going to be here. Having teachings and passing them on is a responsibility.” No longer able to host visitors due to the ongoing pandemic, Martin has turned to social media as a way of sharing his ancestor’s stories. By posting short videos of teachings to his personal Facebook page, the Tla-o-qui-aht elder is hoping to appeal to younger generations. “That’s where we have their attention,” he said of the youth within his nation. Martin thinks back on his childhood with fondness. Considering himself one of the fortunate ones, he didn’t go to residential school. Instead, his father and grandfather were his teachers. Spending their days out on the land, Martin’s father would recount teachings to him over-and-over. Through oral repetition, his family’s histories seeped into his psyche and became a part of his being. As the world changes, the way we interact has transformed. Oral stories are being disseminated online as a way to bring communities together because people are unable to gather. “We have to adjust,” said Martin. “And this is how we’re adjusting.” In trying to capturethe attention of Tla-o-qui-aht’s youth, Martin said that he has also connected with elders of his generation who were forced to attend residential school. Stripped of the teachings from their own grandparents, some have clung to Martin’s stories. During the first week of lockdown at the end of March, Cory Howard, Huu-ay-aht First Nations health and wellness coordinator, began posting live videos of himself singing his family’s songs. It is a practice he has continued every Tuesday evening, drawing in an average of 500 viewers. “People are loving it,” said Howard. “They say it’s medicine for them.” After his cousin was stricken with COVID-19 last week, Howard recorded a song and sent it to him. “It makes [people] feel better when they have culture in their life,” he said. “When they’re down, it lifts them up.” During lockdown in April, Joe’s daughter, Gisele, spent a lot of time connecting with nature and photographing the “beautiful biodiversity” near her home in Esowista. At the time, she struggled on whether to post the photos online, worrying how it might affect people who were confined to their city apartments. But after deciding to share them, she was met with gratitude. “Even though they couldn't be there, it helped them with their day,” she said. “Through social media, I’m connected to people in a lot of different territories and get to hear their stories – it helps me navigate how I do things here.” Gisele has been helping her father with his videos. The recordings extend beyond the technicalities of how to carve a traditional dugout canoe. Collaboratively, they try to weave in stories about how generations of salmon returning to a river system provide nourishment to the surrounding forests, making it possible for a canoe to come into existence. As a Nuu-chah-nulth language and culture educator, Gisele said she recognizes the benefits of social media as a way of increasing cultural awareness, but remains cautious. “I think part of the problem or challenge with sharing things online is that our teachings can get fragmented,” she said. Using plants as an example, Gisele said that she would never go to another nation’s territory to harvest. There are a lot of considerations to be made about the reciprocal relationship people have with plants, along with traditional protocols that might not come through in a video, she said. Being a gathering people, online platforms have provided a space for Nuu-chah-nulth members to come together. But, as important as it is to connect with people, Gisele said it’s equally vital to interact with the landscape around you. Pictures on Instagram may allow people to appreciate the wonders of nature, but Gisele argues it is impossible to interact with nature through a screen. And while the black mirrors are helping to fill the void during this time of social distancing, we need to connect to the places where we live and “support the health of those places,” she said.Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
Powerful gusts pushed flames from a wildfire through Southern California canyons on Thursday, one of several blazes that burned near homes and forced residents to flee. (Dec. 3)
A local trustee has been chosen as the vice-president of the provincial school board association. At last week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA), Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board trustee Jaimie Smith-Windsor was elected vice president. Smith-Windsor was recently re-elected to her fourth term as a rural trustee and was gratified to be elected by the association. “It’s very humbling and a very exciting opportunity to be entrusted to represent 27 school boards in Saskatchewan. I think we have got a long tradition in this province of providing a local voice in education and being able to represent the trustees and boards that are democratically elected is a real honour,” Smith-Windsor said. She she served two terms as the Central Constituency representative on the executive where she represents Saskatchewan Rivers, the North East School Division (NESD), Horizon School Division, North West School Division, Prairie Spirit School Division and Living Sky School Division. She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic offers challenges and opportunities for boards of education. “There is going to be the opportunity to innovate and do some really creative things. And I think boards are doing this at a local level. I think there is also going to be challenges in the areas of staff and student’s mental health and addressing some of the inequities that existed before the pandemic. Almost certainly there is going to be fiscal challenges. But I know that boards are going to continue to put the needs of their communities first and that is the power of a local voice,” Smith Windsor explained. She sees the role of the association as another voice for education in the province. “I think the SSBA is another strong platform to help the public connect to that idea that education does belong to communities. It is a real opportunity to have someone who is local to sit on the provincial executive in that role,” she said Shawn Davidson was returned as president for another term. “I have worked with Shawn for two terms now, we have been through a number of significant changes in education over the last four years and I am confident in his leadership and our ability to work together on behalf of boards,” she said. Smith-Windsor explained that she was the only nominee to come forward and was acclaimed to the position. With Sask. Rivers she has served on the Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change, Board Development committee Employee Bargaining Committees, as well as a number of ad hoc Board committees such as the recent election committee. “The local Board of Education appreciates Trustee Smith-Windsor’s strong voice, is proud of her election to the position of Vice President and looks forward to her continued advocacy for education and for students,” the division said in a release. Other SSBA officials elected were Davidson and Smith-Windsor, Catholic Constituency representative Jerome Niezgoda, Central Constituency representative Christine Grandin, CSF constituency representative Elizabeth Perrault, Indigenous Constituency representative Kimberly Greyeyes, Northern Constituency representative Nathan Favel, Southern Constituency representative Janet Kotylak and Urban Constituency representative Donna Banks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the AGM was held virtually this year. Smith-Windsor explained it was a total shift from having 227 trustees, directors, SSBA staff and others all in one room having a lively engaged meeting. “We do all of our voting on paper ballots collected in ice cream pails. And this time it was a complete shift to an online platform and electronic voting connecting to all of those people across the entire province through electronic means,” Smith-Windsor said. “It was quite an event to train for and to pull off and I think it went relatively well,” she explained. Each year the school divisions in the province have an opportunity to bring forward motions that are of interest to the AGM. The Saskatchewan Rivers board discussed these in meetings that took place before the AGM. “If there is agreement to take that to the provincial assembly then that goes forward to the provincial assembly and all of the boards have an opportunity to vote on that. If those resolutions pass than they become the work of the SSBA executive that essentially feeds forward into our work for the future years,” she said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Les conservateurs utilisent leur journée d’opposition à la Chambre des communes pour exhorter le gouvernement Trudeau à dévoiler son plan sur la distribution concernant chaque vaccin d’ici le 16 décembre. Les conservateurs veulent savoir la date à laquelle chacun des sept vaccins réservés sera distribué, et quels seront les taux mensuels de vaccination envisagés. « Alors que des pays entiers vont sortir du confinement, les Canadiens vont les regarder avec incompréhension. Pourquoi sommes-nous si en retard ? », a lancé le chef du Parti conservateur, Erin O’Toole, en conférence de presse. Il a reconnu la difficulté qu’Ottawa pourrait avoir à publier un calendrier précis, mais il pose des questions d’ordre logistique sur la suite du processus après les livraisons des doses de vaccin. « Quel est le plan immédiatement après ça ? Est-ce qu’on a des congélateurs pour les vaccins de Pfizer ? Quel est le plan pour les communautés rurales, pour les communautés autochtones, pour nos forces armées », s’est-il interrogé en conférence de presse. Le Bloc québécois s’est dit en accord avec le sens de la motion conservatrice. Une expérimentation humaine Le chef du Parti conservateur ne s’est pas prononcé sur la pétition parrainée par son camarade Derek Sloan pour critiquer les vaccins contre la Covid-19. Le député opposé au port obligatoire du masque soutient cette pétition selon laquelle « les vaccins contre la COVID-19 ne sont pas conçus pour empêcher l’infection ou la transmission » et qu’il s’agirait d’une simple expérimentation lancée dans la précipitation au mépris des protocoles standards. Erin O’Toole s’est contenté d’exiger la publication d’un plan détaillé qui permettra « d’éduquer » et que « l’information aidera à apporter une certitude à beaucoup de Canadiens ». La pétition ouverte de façon virtuelle jusqu’en février a déjà enregistré 24 000 signatures, dont environ 2000, au Québec. Les réfrigérateurs des vaccins En conférence de presse, le major général Dany Fortin qui coordonne les opérations de distribution des vaccins a annoncé que les provinces et les territoires recevront les réfrigérateurs consacrés dans les prochains jours. Le vaccin de Pfizer/Biotech sera livré directement par les firmes pharmaceutiques aux points identifiés par les autorités provinciales. Les réfrigérateurs devront être en place au plus tard le 14 décembre prochain selon le major général. Les vaccins doivent cependant être approuvés par Santé Canada. Plusieurs sources annoncent le délai d’une dizaine de jours. Le Canada devrait recevoir au moins six millions de doses du premier vaccin au début de la nouvelle année selon les autorités de la santé publique. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
Long-term care and assisted living facilities in B.C. are facing an increasingly deadly second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, while at the same time imposing restrictions that leave seniors increasingly isolated. And the province’s seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie says the government needs to overhaul the measures put in place in the pandemic’s early weeks and ease restrictions on visitors that are depriving residents of essential care and time with loved ones, and which could be costing more lives than they are saving. Mackenzie said this will be the last holiday season for about a quarter of residents, and the province needs to do everything in its power to support meaningful connection between residents and their families. “I don’t think it was ever intended that these measures would be in place for as long as they have been. I think it was intended to give care operators the opportunity to figure out how to manage these visits,” she said. “And we just got stuck in how we started out the visits in July, with how we’re doing the visits now, in December. We just need to shift that.” COVID-19 case numbers and deaths, the majority of which have been long-term care residents, have risen to unprecedented levels. About 35 people in long-term care died of the disease last weekend alone. B.C. introduced policies to limit the number and frequency of visitors quickly in the spring, also requiring staff to work at a single site to prevent spread between facilities. Each resident could have one 30-minute essential care visit per week. About half the people who applied to be designated as essential were rejected. The restrictions worked, quelling outbreaks that resulted in lower care-home deaths than in Ontario and Quebec. In June, B.C. announced each resident could have a designated social visitor as well, an expansion that rolled out slowly and inconsistently across the province. But after 10 months, the restrictions have devastated the physical and mental health of residents and failed to prevent outbreaks as community cases increase. There are now 54 active outbreaks in B.C.’s long-term care and assisted living facilities. “The challenge that we are facing right now, is that this surge in our communities has dramatically increased the risk in long-term care,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Wednesday. But earlier in the week Henry noted visitors are not causing outbreaks, which are more often caused by staff unknowingly spreading the virus. Mackenzie said health officials should allow more frequent and longer visits with the current designated visitors rather than increase the number of visitors per resident. When asked by The Tyee, Henry said the province is working to maintain and extend the current visitation level allowing one designated visitor. “But expanding to allow more social visits is not going to happen during this risky period right now,” she said Henry did not say when current visitors might be allowed to see loved ones more frequently. “I understand the reluctance,” said Mackenzie, who used to run care homes before being appointed B.C. seniors advocate by the government. “But increasing the frequency of visits, allowing their visits to happen in the privacy of the residence room, that’s not going to significantly increase the risk at all, and arguably could be decreasing the risk, because the care home is going to be able to rely on those family members to provide some help.” Current protocols that require visits occur in common areas also put strain on already overworked care workers and nurses by requiring them to transport residents from their rooms for visits. Visitors also need to be screened and escorted to the space, rather than finding their way to the residents’ rooms. “Irrespective of how meaningful visitors’ increased presence will be for the resident, their increased presence is going to help us as well,” said Mackenzie. “There’s going to be an extra pair of hands there to help with the feeding, to help with the toilet, to help with things that some of them were helping with before the pandemic.” And experts say the increased workload around visits and decreased family support has shed further light on the overworked and fragmented sector, where many care workers don’t have paid time off, sick days or health benefits. “Everything has changed, but nothing has changed,” said Joanie Sims-Gould, an expert in seniors’ health at the department of family practice at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine. “But everything’s changed in the wrong direction.” Research co-conducted by Farinaz Havaei at UBC’s school of nursing found that during the pandemic’s first wave residents’ direct nursing care plummeted by about 10 hours per month as facilities scrambled to control the virus. Nurses are responsible for just under 30 patients in an average shift, while care aides look after around 10 patients each shift. Havaei, who researches human resources in the health-care sector, said the pandemic placed alarming pressure on staff. “I even get goosebumps, because I think... it’s a very stressful context for long-term care staff.” Registered nurses recorded the largest decline in hours compared to licensed practical nurses. Their hours had already been in slight but steady decline since 2018. Meanwhile, the relative hours of care performed by care aides is steadily increasing, leading Havaei to ponder how care aides may be replacing nurses in some care situations. Based on research from her coming report, Havaei says supporting staff with flexible sick leave, paid time off and proper personal protective equipment can improve their lives, which in turn will improve the care residents receive. “If you think about the mental health implications of all of that (stress), and how that influences staff’s work behaviours and decisions when giving care, you can see that the implications are really huge,” said Havaei. The federal government announced $1 billion in funding for the long-term care sector, and B.C. has committed $44.1 million to hire more than 5,000 new health-care support workers. “Adequate resources translates directly to safe staffing levels,” added Sims-Gould. “The situation is so grave, and these facilities are doing the best they can.” Henry would not commit to a timeline when families could see visits expanded, but Mackenzie hopes the right balance will be found and implemented as soon as possible. “Time is marching on,” she said, noting residents won’t have access to a vaccine until February or March at the earliest. “Arguably, not only can we [expand visits] now, I think now makes it more important to do it, because the system is under more stress,” said Mackenzie. “And these family members can actually help us, in addition to visiting their loved one, and all of those positive quality-of-life benefits.”Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
A Liberal MLA wants to know if the province would consider creating supervised injection sites on the Island.Heath MacDonald raised the issue in the legislature Thursday. He said he's watched overdose deaths increase across the Atlantic region over the years, and thinks it's time to take a closer look at the supports being offered here.According to the province's opioid web page, there were 12 confirmed accidental opioid-related overdoses between April and September of this year in P.E.I., nine of which involved fentanyl."These sites provide a basic level of safety and dignity for those suffering from addictions and would help mitigate the number of overdoses," MacDonald said. He asked Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward whether or not establishing the sites here is something his department is willing to explore."Is it possible for you to put on your agenda to talk to your bureaucrats and those in charge about introduction of safe injection sites here on P.E.I.?" he said.Aylward said supervised injection sites are something his department is willing to look into."It's certainly a lens that we'll put on and take a look and do a jurisdictional scan," Aylward said.Many benefits Speaking to reporters, MacDonald said supervised injection sites can do more than just prevent overdose deaths, and help people connect with other important social services and supports. "They can access even additional programming and things like that, that they might not even be attempting to access now," he said. Green MLA Trish Altass agrees. She said in other places across Canada the sites also act as a safe community space and can often be the first step a person takes toward accessing mental health and addictions support. She said she hopes it's something government acts on soon."At those safe injection sites there's staff that are available to help guide people and to be there to listen and provide supports as a next step to get the treatment that people need when they are facing addictions," Altass said."It's really important that we have this discussion now and that action is taken as soon as possible," Altass said. Alyward said while his department is willing to study supervised injection sites across the country and look into how to establish one here, now is not the time."Safe injection sites is definitely not off the table, it's something that we'll certainly consider. But at this present time, [the Chief Public Health Office] and Health PEI, their main focus is on protecting Islanders from COVID-19," Aylward said.During question period, MacDonald asked the health minister if there could be space for a pilot project at the new mental health campus. Aylward said he doesn't think that would be the best fit. He said if a site were to be created he thinks it should be in a more accessible location like downtown Charlottetown. Overdose hotline in the worksAylward said while there are currently no supervised injection sites on P.E.I., the province does offer other resources and supports, including needle exchange programs and opioid reduction therapy.He said the province is working with PEERS Alliance to set up an overdose prevention hotline. People would be able to call in and speak with a peer — someone who understands substance-related issues and would stay on the line with them while they use to ensure they are safe as they use. If there was an issue, the person on the other end of the line would be able to dispatch first responders to that location.Aylward said there isn't a launch date for the hotline yet, but it will be available soon.More from CBC P.E.I.
RED DEER, Alta. — Alexis Lafreniere will not play for Canada in the world junior hockey championship.Hockey Canada said in a statement Thursday that the NHL’s New York Rangers will not loan Lafreniere to Canada’s team for the tournament in Edmonton.The Rangers selected Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick this year in the NHL draft.Lafreniere led Canada to a gold medal at the 2020 junior championship in the Czech Republic. He had four goals and six assists in five games and was named tournament MVP.All activity at Canada’s camp has been suspended from Nov. 25 until at least Sunday after two players and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.The Associated Press
A Regina teen has been digitally building the Queen City, block by block.Nicholas Fuzesy, 16, is part of the "Build the Earth" project in the incredibly popular video game Minecraft, in whichplayers can "mine" 3D objects in the game world to create new environments.The Build the Earth project started in March, with the goal of recreating the entire planet in the video game. Its relies on a modification that can track Google Earth data and put it into the Minecraft world, including streets and building outlines.Builders have to apply to be added to the server and then can pick a region to create. They'll eventually be merged together to create the entire world in Minecraft.For his application, Fuzesy created the Hill Towers. He was accepted immediately. "I didn't think many people would be working on Regina," said Fuzesy. "I wanted to sort of do it on my own."He's starting the job of creating the Minecraft version of Regina with the 12 blocks around Victoria Park. He's already created some of the city's most iconic buildings, like the Canada Life building, Blessed Sacrament and Hotel Saskatchewan.His favourite so far is the SaskPower tower on Victoria Avenue.The Grade 11 student, who attends Miller Comprehensive High School, said he first got into the game watching people play on YouTube. He decided to try it himself in 2014 and was hooked because of its versatility, he says.The game can be played online alone or with friends, in survival mode (where players have to battle computer-controlled characters while collecting resources and building structures) or in creative mode (where players can freely build with unlimited tiles and no real threats).At first, Fuzesy was joined by eight other builders from around the world working on creating Regina in the game world. But a system update wiped out their work, and Fuzesy was the only one who decided to start the city over again. He said it's rewarding work, because he sees it as a digital archive."It's surprising to look at what you've created and it's surprising to look at all the detail, and to mentally map it and say, 'Oh, … that's the building I've seen countless times in Regina," he said."And it's nice to be able to look at that and think that, like, you did it and and you're the person behind that."So far, Fuzesy said he's probably spent about 50 hours on the project. He's conscious of the time he spends on his computer, but his parents don't discourage his work on the project, because they see it as educational. "They weren't really surprised," he said. "I get passionate about something, and then I go for it."He's looking forward to creating other recognizable landmarks in the downtown area as part of the first leg of his project, including the public library and the Globe Theatre. "That location is sort of like the heart of Regina," Fuzesy said. "I feel like people [who] are joining the project would feel inspired to keep going because there's a significant portion of it done."He aims to finish the area around the park within a year, but is hoping for help completing the rest of the city."I estimate it'll take about 100,000 hours to finish the entire city.… And obviously I can't do that myself," he said."But if 100 people joined, it could maybe be done in, like, two years."Fuzesy hopes Regina residents will one day be able to find their street, their house and their favourite store in the digital world. As for whether Fuzesy sees this translating into a career in architecture, engineering or computer science when he graduates, he said he is considering coding — but is actually leaning more toward writing.
TORONTO — Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes says the much buzzed-about shower scene that opens his new Netflix documentary was a result of great trust between himself and the director.The singer-songwriter from Pickering, Ont., did a Q-and-A with director Grant Singer via video conference Thursday for members of the media to promote the "Shawn Mendes: In Wonder" film.Mendes said Singer spent a lot of time building their relationship and making him comfortable with having a camera around before filming.He said by the time they shot the hotel-room shower scene, which shows Mendes from the waist up and has generated a lot of chatter online, they had developed a good friendship."Grant, I've been asked so many times about the shower scene and how I felt about doing a shower scene," Mendes said, explaining that the deeper they got into filmmaking, the more they wanted to make it "vulnerable and raw" and develop a sense of closeness."If you were filming me for another year, it would have been like waking up in bed with me in the morning and being like, 'So how did you sleep?'" he added with a laugh.Singer noted they shot the scene on a day when Mendes was on vocal rest."It was like, the door was open and it just felt by that point we had this trust where you knew you were being filmed and there was something that, if it wasn't appropriate for me to be filming, I wasn't going to be in the room," he said."Also keep in mind, when we were shooting that, we didn't know it was going to make it into the documentary. We were just shooting. It just happened to resonate thematically because that was the day where you lost your voice, or the day after. So it narratively played a part and why it's in the movie."Mendes, who releases his fourth album "Wonder" on Friday, allowed Singer to follow him around on tour and in his personal life in the film. Cameras capture him in his childhood home in Pickering, east of Toronto, where he first got the world's attention performing in short videos on the now-defunct Vine platform. The 22-year-old, of course, has gone on to megafame with hits including "In My Blood," "Stitches," "Treat You Better" and "If I can't Have You.""In Wonder" also shows Mendes with his family and his girlfriend, fellow singer Camila Cabello, with whom he made the 2019 hit "Senorita.""As an artist, it's very easy to believe people want to take advantage of you and play into the sides of you that media wants to eat up," Mendes said. "But I know Grant and I know how he is about art."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
A young woman who lived through the difficult Grade 12 graduation season last spring wants to help other youth in Calgary by spearheading an online peer-to-peer support group.Isabella Burton, 18, says schools and the government are not offering enough mental health support for students, who are struggling under the COVID-related pressures of online schooling and uncertainty."There wasn't really enough resources provided by our schools and the government, as well that those services weren't readily available," Burton, who is now studying at the University of Calgary, told CBC.As Burton finished her final year of high school from home, she reached out to a group called Peerify youth, a startup non-profit out of Toronto. At Peerify, volunteers — mostly teenagers — become mentors and can offer online support through one-on-one calls and workshops.She spearheaded a Calgary chapter, which now has 40 local volunteers."With Peerify, you can have that same person talk to you a second time," Burton said. "So if you have to come back, talk to us a second time, you can talk with the same person who you talked with before, as opposed to having to explain your story all over again and then try and hope you find someone who understood as well as the last time."Burton says the free service is aimed at helping people between the ages of 13 and 23, an age group she says often feels too old to see a child psychologist, but don't feel comfortable in an adult setting. A recent report on the mental health of Canadian children found that suicide is now the leading cause of death among children age 10 to 14.The report, Raising Canada 2020, was published by the University of Calgary's O'Brien Institute for Public Health, the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, and Children First Canada, a national children's advocacy society.It concluded that poverty and food insecurity, child abuse, neglect, physical inactivity and instances of anxiety and depression among children may be increasing — or are in danger of increasing — because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, existing services are strained. Kids Help Phone, the charity that offers 24/7 counselling services to young Canadians in distress, has reported that demand for Kids Help Phone's services has been on the rise, with calls and text messages surging since the COVID-19 pandemic began."Currently, to speak with a Kids Help Phone representative, the wait is about 45 minutes," Burton wrote in an email. "Keeping this in mind, it will be no surprise when we see a sharp increase in mental health issues among youth. We acknowledge that these services are vital to the safety of Calgarians, however, there is a lack of free alternatives that will help prevent these calls in the first place."Peerify was founded by Karen Guan, 17 in Toronto. Guan said it's important for people her age to connect through a similar experience."You know having that unfiltered and casual talk, it eases that pain instantly, and for many people having someone they can relate to, is really a transformative experience."The group is holding a free virtual self-care workshop on December 9. For more information go to Peerify Calgary.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,583 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,621 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed._ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed._ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed._ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed._ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed._ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,482 tests completed._ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
Three Métis researchers have been directed by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) to undertake a “deep dive” into the communities the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has extended citizenship to as historic Métis communities. In a yet-to-be-released report, Will Goodon of the MMF, says work undertaken by researchers Darryl Leroux, Darren O’Toole and Jennifer Adese indicates the connections in the Mattawa/Ottawa River Métis community that the MNO claims as their own are actually ancestral connections to Algonquin and Nipissing First Nations. “So basically the MNO is claiming the same ancestors that the First Nations are claiming. It’s a bit of a mess. Actually quite a bit of a mess. And it’s a bit of a tangle as well to try and pull all these things apart,” said Goodon. In 2017, the MNO and Ontario government jointly released a statement saying that after studying historical reports and based on the criteria provided by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Powley decision, historic Métis communities went beyond Rainy River/Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. The MNO and Ontario government identified Sault Ste. Marie (where the Powleys resided), Northern Lake Superior, Killarney and Georgian Bay (which comprise the Great Lake Métis), as well as Abitibi Inland and Mattawa/Ottawa River as historic Métis communities. The Métis National Council (MNC) has accepted the Rainy River/Lake of the Woods Métis community as part of the Métis homeland, but they reject the rest. As far as the MNC is concerned, the historical Métis homeland includes the entirety of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and only parts of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and in northwestern Ontario. Their homeland map excludes the Powleys’ community, although it was the Powley decision in 2003 that affirmed Métis hunting rights were protected under Sect. 35 of the Constitution. The MNO helped advance the Powley harvesting case all the way to the Supreme Court. The map is in keeping with the MNC’s definition of Métis: “a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.” That definition was adopted in 2002 by the MNC. The MNO and the MMF, along with the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation-British Columbia, are the five Métis governments that comprise the MNC. In 2018, the MNC put the MNO on probation for accepting into its membership people from the Métis communities that resided outside of northwestern Ontario. Since then angry words have flown between MNO President Margaret Froh and various MNC representatives, including MNC President Clement Chartier and MMF President David Chartrand, who often serves as spokesperson for the MNC. Froh, however, does not stand alone. MNO has garnered the support of the presidents of the MNA and MN-S. The three Métis governments entered into a tripartite agreement in 2019. Goodon says the MMF has spent a lot of money and energy battling MNO. The research paper to be released in the coming weeks is the second such paper commissioned by MMF. He says while housing, his portfolio for MMF, and education are priorities, so is this. “To me it’s about the integrity of the Métis Nation. If MNO gets to decide who’s a citizen without the input from the rest of the Métis Nation then we have abdicated our rights to decide who we are,” he said. “Obviously Indigenous people have the right to self-determination, self-identification, and the Métis Nation have done that, but the problem is that the MNO is affiliated with the Métis Nation through the MNC,” said Goodon. Had MNO presented these additional communities to the MNC for political affiliation, that would have been a different matter, he said. “Even though we know they’re not part of the Métis Nation, they are a different people, but we will affiliate with them. They never asked us. They never asked the Métis Nation if that would be appropriate. “To me that would be one of the first things they do. To say, ‘We’re not you… we are our own peoples, but we want to be affiliated with you’,” he said. Presently, MNO is suspended from MNC. That decision was taken unilaterally by Chartier, says Froh, and should not have been made. Should MNO remove itself from the MNC and want a political affiliation instead, Goodon says that would be a difficult conversation “because there are some pretty hard feelings on both sides.” “I think if cooler heads were to settle down and say, ‘Hey, maybe we could have that conversation.’ Maybe. I think it could have been handled a little more properly on MNO’s side to say, ‘Look, we know, we understand nationhood. We understand who you are. This is us. Can we have a conversation?’ I think that could have happened and that still could happen if there’s good will. Good will is kind of hard to find at this point, I think,” said Goodon. However, a political affiliation is not what Froh is after. In an open letter on Nov. 27 to the Métis Nation leaders and citizens Froh addresses being “cut off” by the MNC. “It is apparent to the MNO that the current MNC leadership’s next steps will be to suggest that funding to the MNO and the Great Lakes Métis, including the Powley community, be cut off because of the new MNC map. “Let’s be clear, the MNO and Canada won’t allow for these types of crass political games, which disregard the Crown’s constitutional duties owing to the Powley community and other Ontario Métis communities, to happen.” In 2019, the MNO and Canada signed a Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement. At the MNO’s annual general meeting in November, the MNO informed membership of steps it was taking to implement that agreement. “The MNO will continue to represent, defend, and stand up for the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community, the Great Lakes Métis, as well as the other Métis communities it represents within Ontario as it has for the last 28 years,” Froh wrote in the November open letter. Goodon admits that MNO’s claims aren’t new, but MMF had its attentions focused on other matters. However, when MNO started accepting new communities, the issue was pushed. “We the Métis Nation decides who the Métis Nation is and a small part of the Métis Nation, maybe MNO, the small part of Ontario that is a part of the Métis Nation, maybe five, 10 per cent. That 10 per cent can’t decide they’re going to expand by 90 per cent. The Métis Nation should make that decision on who is the Metis citizen,” said Goodon. Froh points out in her letter that the MNC benefited from the Powley decision. “From 2003 to the present, Canada has provided well over $150 million… to the MNC and its Governing Members because of the Powley case to support Métis registries, Métis harvesting laws and policies, and research on other Métis Nation communities,” she wrote. As far as Froh is concerned, the MNC has “become dysfunctional … controlled by a few individuals.” MNO’s open letter is accompanied by a series of fact sheets, which Froh wrote are “to set the record straight ...(so) … people can make their own informed decisions.” She also wrote that the MNO would not be “engaging in a subsequent back-and-forth” with the MNC over what is presented in the letter. Windspeaker.comBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com