Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister told reporters Thursday that no curfew is on the table at this time, saying that health officials say it’s “premature" to consider such a move at this time.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister told reporters Thursday that no curfew is on the table at this time, saying that health officials say it’s “premature" to consider such a move at this time.
BUENA VISTA, Ga. — Across the grounds of a south Georgia courthouse, scores of masked and socially distanced voters bowed their heads in prayer for the 260,000-plus Americans who have died from the coronavirus.Then Democratic Senate hopeful Raphael Warnock took the microphone, promising to push for more economic aid for businesses and people affected by the pandemic and touting Democratic plans to combat long-standing racial and wealth disparities highlighted by the crisis.A day earlier, Vice-President Mike Pence campaigned with Warnock’s opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and her fellow Republican senator, David Perdue. But in heavily Republican north Georgia, there were only scant mentions of the public health calamity that helped lead to President Donald Trump’s defeat: aid programs that passed Congress months ago and a vaccine that is still weeks — or months — from mass distribution.“Before the end of this year, we’re going to see 40 million vaccines all across America,” Pence predicted, attributing the possibility to “the leadership of President Donald Trump.” His crowd -- distanced only in certain seating sections and many not wearing masks -- roared as the vice-president added a kicker: “We’re in the miracle business."It's two starkly different worlds on display in Georgia, where the national political spotlight is shining on twin Senate runoffs that will determine which party controls the chamber at the outset of President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic administration. Republicans need one more seat for a majority; Democrats need a sweep on Jan. 5.For Republicans, the pandemic is secondary in a runoff blitz defined by dire warnings about what it would mean if Warnock defeats Loeffler and Perdue falls to Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Democrats, meanwhile, are more than eager to discuss COVID-19 and its economic fallout. The messaging differences bleed over to the two sides’ public health protocols, as well. The approaches largely track the fall presidential campaign, when Trump wanted to talk about anything but the virus, while Biden centred his pitch around Trump’s handling of it.The November results in Georgia explain why neither side is deviating. Biden clipped Trump in the state by fewer than 13,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast. But Perdue led Ossoff by about 100,000 votes, finishing just short of the outright majority Georgia requires to avoid a runoff. Warnock led Loeffler in a separate special election. Both sides share a common conclusion: Each party has a pool of potential voters approaching 2.5 million. It’s just a matter of which side can coax more to cast ballots in a second round.Republicans’ reprisal will depend again — in part — on generating enthusiasm via in-person campaigning, even as coronavirus cases spike nationally. Trump has announced plans for a Dec. 5 rally in Georgia, after weeks of speculation about whether he’d come amid his continued refusal to concede to Biden. As with the president’s October blitz of rallies, there’s no suggestion that his Georgia event will include social distancing or require masks, as recommended by public health officials.Neither Perdue nor Loeffler echoes the president’s mockery of public health standards. But so far in the runoff campaign, they’ve held multiple indoor events with no social distancing and without compulsory masks. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, appearing with Loeffler, drew hundreds of suburban Republicans to the Cobb County GOP headquarters, surprising organizers and crowding the facility to the point that some voters left without attempting to enter.Florida Sen. Rick Scott drew a similar throng to a restaurant in suburban Cumming for an event with both Georgia incumbents. Days later, Scott said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been exposed the same day he travelled to Georgia. Loeffler later announced her own positive test, as well, though consecutive negative tests followed in subsequent days, leading her to end a brief quarantine.Loeffler acknowledges the pandemic in her standard speech by highlighting her and Perdue’s votes for the spring economic relief package.Warnock and Ossoff counter with almost exclusively outdoor or virtual campaigning. Warnock has, however, held outdoor photo lines that do not involve social distancing.“We’ve seen no real national public grieving because it is the kind of death that doesn’t show up in one fell swoop,” Warnock said in Reynolds, where he campaigned under an outdoor picnic canopy. “We see no real recognition of what is happening. ... Meanwhile, we’re having a debate about science. Wearing a mask is somehow a political statement? No, it’s not a political statement. It’s common sense.”Ossoff launched the second round of campaigning with a statewide tour of drive-in rallies similar to those Biden used after Labor Day. Ossoff went into isolation in July after his wife, an OB-GYN, contracted COVID-19. His ads frequently show him greeting voters in masks.The two Democrats have also criticized Loeffler and Perdue for well-timed stock trades after a series of private congressional briefings on the then-burgeoning pandemic.“While you were sheltering in, she was sheltering her investments,” Warnock said in Buena Vista.A recent Ossoff ad says Perdue “profited from the pandemic” instead of “preparing our country.”Senate ethics officials and the Justice Department have found no legal wrongdoing in either Georgia senator's financial activity.Ossoff also has sought to tie Perdue’s loyalty to Trump back to the pandemic. The president has spent weeks asserting baseless claims of voter fraud in Georgia and other battleground states Biden won, without Perdue disputing the claims.Trump's foot-dragging on an orderly transition, Ossoff said in an interview, has hampered Biden’s ability to organize a governmentwide coronavirus response.“What Sen. Perdue should be doing, if he had the people’s best interest at heart and not just his own,” Ossoff told The Associated Press, “is encouraging the president to recognize reality.”___Associated Press writer Ben Nadler contributed to this report from Atlanta.Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Brandon Sun readers requested specific questions be asked at COVID-19 news conferences with chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer with Shared Health. QUESTION: I’ve heard that home care attendants from a small rural community in the Prairie Mountain Health region will be forced to go to Brandon to help at Fairview Personal Care Home. These attendants will apparently be living at a nurses’ residence for a period of time — two weeks. These same attendants visit actual homes in their community, rather than facilities. Can you confirm this is this the new plan and, if yes, how is this protective for those who need home care? SIRAGUSA: I know conversations have been going on with the Prairie Mountain Regional Health Authority. I know that they were trying to find a way to have home care support the personal care home, which is not an unreasonable place to redeploy them. Also, as you know, being from Brandon, the travel distances are challenging, so trying to accommodate work at a different place and provide accommodations or support the workers’ family life and work life. I think those conversations continue to happen. I haven’t received formal confirmation that a decision has been made at this time. QUESTION: Why have officials shut down outdoor activities for kids such as sledding and skating on outdoor ponds, especially if they were sticking to small groups of two-to-three kids? ROUSSIN: Outdoor group sizes are five. So if you were out on a pond with less than five people or going for walks or anything … We shut down recreational facilities, outdoors, right now, just because we wanted to decrease the risk of large amount of people gathering. If you had an outdoor hockey rink we would expect only five people to be on it at a time, right now. So outdoor recreation facilities have been shut down just for the short period. But, still, there’s a lot of outdoor recreation that can occur. The group size limits are five. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The federal government is laying plans for the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, inking contracts with seven potential manufacturers and saying six million doses could arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2021. The most recent development from Ottawa came Friday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the national distribution effort. But various provinces have started spelling out their plans as well. Here's a look at what they've said so far: —Nova ScotiaThe province's chief medical officer of health says he will release a detailed plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once Ottawa shares more information. Dr. Robert Strang said Friday there is no certainty yet about the availability of a vaccine, but expressed hopes an initial supply will trickle into Nova Scotia early in the new year.Strang said a detailed provincial plan, to be released once the federal government has shared more specifics on its end, will include tight control of the supply and clear rules dictating who can be first in line for immunization. He said he's waiting for more federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and storage logistics. —QuebecThe province will be ready to start rolling out its vaccine plan as of Jan. 1, say senior politicians. Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that public health officials have already settled on the list of priority vaccine recipients, but did not release details. Legault said the province is also working to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support a vaccine rollout. That includes obtaining fridges capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures needed by one of the most promising potential vaccine options, currently in development through pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.Quebec has also tasked assistant deputy health minister Jerome Gagnon, and former provincial public health director Dr. Richard Masse to oversee the province's vaccination effort. —OntarioPremier Doug Ford is among those leaders calling on Ottawa to provide more clarity as officials scramble to develop a provincewide vaccination strategy.Early speculation on the number of doses the province could receive was put to rest earlier this week when federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such details were still in the works. But Ford has forged ahead, naming former chief of national defence Gen. Rick Hillier to oversee the province's vaccine rollout. Hillier said on Friday he hopes to have a plan developed by year's end, while Ford urged Ottawa to provide detailed information on potential vaccine delivery. "We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said.—AlbertaThe province's top medical official has said she expects to receive 680,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine early in the new year, a figure not yet confirmed by the federal government. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has also said a number of hurdles and unknowns remain as the province works to devise its vaccination scheme. "These (vaccine) numbers, of course, depend on many factors,'' Hinshaw said on Nov. 18. "They depend on the final pieces of the trials that are underway going well. They depend on ensuring that the safety and the effectiveness of the early vaccines can be assured. All of those checks and balances must be cleared."On Friday, Hinshaw said the province is working with Ottawa to get vaccine, but it is "a bit of a moving target" on when vaccines might be available."But our goal is that whenever vaccine is available, we will be ready to start immunizing individuals on that highest priority list."—British ColumbiaProvincial health officials announced on Wednesday that a vaccine strategy for the province is already in the works. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's top doctor, said Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines.Henry said front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations.She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing."It's very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best," Henry said. "There's a lot of discussion that needs to happen."Henry said the province hopes to have vaccines in hand by January.—YukonPremier Sandy Silver told the legislature on Wednesday that the territory has been in discussions with various levels of government on a vaccine rollout plan. He said the goal will be to provide vaccines to elderly people and health-care providers.Silver said rural and remote communities should also get priority status in northern regions, a fact he said he's emphasized with federal authorities. The premier said he has joined the other provincial and territorial leaders in pushing for a national strategy to distribute the vaccine. “How confusing would it be for 13 different strategies right across the nation?” he said. Silver said the Pfizer vaccine could cause logistical problems for remote communities because of its cold-storage requirements, but those issues may not apply to other vaccines under development. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.The Canadian Press
Gambler First Nation first came to The Brandon Sun’s attention in May. An off-reserve member, Darlene Gerula, sent the Sun an email describing a variety of issues with leadership she felt placed on-reserve members’ lives at risk. Among these concerns was the use of Akwaton multipurpose wipes, the product of a company the leadership at Gambler was hoping to purchase. Health Canada recalled the wipes in late June because the product both expired in 2015 and contained polyhexamethylene guanidine hydrochloride, an ingredient not approved for use in Canada. In the months since Gerula’s email, the Sun has met and spoken numerous times with several Gambler members and heard their stories. This is part one of a three-part series. GAMBLER FIRST NATION – Gambler First Nation is in the midst of an ongoing and ever-growing invisible crisis. “If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it,” said band member Darlene Gerula in one of many interviews with The Brandon Sun. Gambler First Nation has a membership of just under 300 people, of whom roughly 70 live on reserve. There are 42 houses. Two of those houses were built this year – the first builds the reserve has seen in eight years. Approximately two dozen long-time on-reserve band members — elders and young people alike — have reported mistreatment at the hands of a leadership that includes Chief David Ledoux, his wife Rose and their daughter, Kellie, one of two councillors. This leadership has refused to answer any questions from members or from the Sun. Allegations of mistreatment include homes being padlocked, homes left for years in disrepair (making them essentially unlivable), water withheld, threats of electricity withheld, health services withheld and repeated attempts at seizing houses to offer them to off-reserve members and supporters. Gambler has hired a team of lawyers to handle its court actions. Both prior to and after receiving Gerula’s email, the Sun repeatedly attempted to contact the band to visit and learn about the community. When we did place a call, we were told to communicate by email. Six emails have gone unanswered. We also communicated by Facebook Messenger, to no avail. For a brief time, we received statements from a marketing firm that acted as liaison. That firm is no longer involved with Gambler. The leadership has actually been in question for two years, with current Chief, David Ledoux, remaining in power against the band’s own custom election laws. The band has its own electoral process under the First Nations Elections Act, rather than the Indian Act. Gordon Ledoux, who won the second 2018 election as called by the band’s election committee, died Nov. 8 in hospital, while the matter remains in a judicial review before a federal court. Indigenous Services Canada continued to deal with David after Gordon’s election. “Because Gambler First Nation’s custom code process is outside of the electoral provisions of the Indian Act, the department does not play a role as to how the community’s leadership is selected or how governance disputes are resolved, although the department can offer support through mediation or facilitated meetings on request,” stated Indigenous Services Canada spokesperson Leslie Michelson. “When a governance dispute arises in a community that selects its leadership under its own community (or custom) process, the dispute must be resolved in accordance with the community’s own rules, or through the courts. If ISC receives conflicting governance reports, it will record election results by community agreement or at the direction of the courts.” On paper, and in public, all appears right at Gambler. The First Nation is developing an urban reserve in Brandon and has a settlement of more than $300 million with the federal government coming down the pike. Gerula and her husband, Greg Wakin, first met David and Rose at an NDP fundraiser and were initially impressed. “He was a Christian. We thought, pillar of the community,” Gerula said, adding it was her brother, Vern Kalmakoff, who arranged for the couple to attend, as he was unable to. That original meeting took place shortly after Gerula’s treaty status was reinstated in 2015 — her grandmother had married a non-Indigenous man and was stripped of her status. Kalmakoff and Gerula are John “Falcon” Tanner’s direct descendants. That ancestor was a white man, kidnapped by an Ojibwa tribe, who then married two Indigenous women during his lifetime, history tells. He is an integral part of Gambler’s origin story. A Falcon grandson, Atakawinin (”The Gambler”) Tanner is the First Nation’s namesake. The Gambler’s brother Joseph Tanner is Kalmakoff and Gerula’s great-grandfather. Another grandson, John Tanner, established Tanner’s Crossing, which is now known as Minnedosa. David came to power at Gambler in 2012 after he transferred back to the reserve. He took over from his brother, Gordon, who had to resign for health reasons. By several accounts, David arrived at Gambler with very little, his family in tow. During the summer of 2014, 14 band members occupied the band office following a meeting that saw a quorum of on-reserve band members vote to oust David. At the time, band member Donna McGillivary said, “We want to be heard and bring it into the open about how we are being treated here.” There is a culture of nepotism on the reserve, McGillivray said at the time, and David is using intimidation tactics to silence people who oppose him. Concerns about using off-reserve members — who were unaware of what was taking place on the reserve — for votes surfaced then, as they did during the 2018 election. The band office is now in Russell, inaccessible to band members without vehicles. McGillivary declined to speak with the Sun for this story. When Gerula’s great-grandfather, Joseph, died, Kalmakoff and Gerula’s great-grandmother married Felix Ledoux. David Ledoux’s mother, Nellie, was also a first cousin to their grandmother. The families at Gambler are so interlinked that the band’s custom election laws once stated only a blood descendent of John “Falcon” Tanner could be elected chief. A Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision in 2015 abolished that practice after Sharon Tanner, who married into the family, filed a complaint when she was barred from running for chief. That decision also found that David firing her from her position as an economic development officer with the band was an act of retaliation. Gerula and Wakin knew nothing of what was happening on the ground at Gambler. Gerula and Wakin are linked to the Brandon land project, an urban reserve project along 18th Street North in Brandon. The couple said David and Rose asked for help to form businesses and generate some revenue for Gambler. The couple found the properties and developed the relationship with the City of Brandon, they said. In 2019, the couple accepted an invitation from David and Rose to head out to Gambler to work. Wakin, retired from 30 years as a Winnipeg Police Service officer and a former owner/operator of two restaurants, took on the role of health director in May of last year. Gerula — herself a businesswoman who successfully owned a trucking company with her former husband of almost 30 years — volunteered at the health centre. The experience was intended to be a return home of sorts for Gerula, and her little grandson joined them. Her son, an information technology professional, also joined them during the summer and volunteered his services. “It’s Darlene’s family,” Wakin said. “It’s her family place of origin. We thought it would be good to get to know the community — try to fit in.” A house David promised was not forthcoming and the couple spent their first month living at a hotel nearby, at their own cost, then above a woman’s garage in neighbouring Russell, 15 minutes away. They continued to eat out, as they did not have access to a kitchen. Luckily, they kept their place in Winnipeg, Gerula said. On the reserve, Gerula and Wakin soon became concerned about the misappropriation of funds, the public shaming of staff and general conditions they witnessed at the reserve. “We kept thinking it would turn around, but every day it just got worse,” Wakin said. As an example, Gerula offered the story of a school bus. Using federal funding, David bought a full-sized 72-seat school bus, which he then traded in for a semi-truck. There are approximately 15 school-aged children at Gambler who attend school in nearby Binscarth. The semi now sits unused. Gerula also recounted how she came across a grant for a couple hundred thousand dollars to bring fibre-optic internet to the reserve. The area sometimes goes days without connectivity or with poor connectivity. But the deadline was short. “I’d asked Kellie and Rose for information. Then they disconnected my email. I called them. ‘I have a proposal I’m working on. The deadline is now tomorrow.’ They said, ‘Yeah, yeah we’ll get it up and running,’” Gerula said. At a staff meeting where staff members reported on what they were doing, Wakin mentioned the proposal Gerula had worked on and how the opportunity was now lost. “Rose started yelling at me. I’d never been treated with such disrespect or abuse in my life. And my life as a child was no walk in the park. I’ve never in my life been treated like this,” Gerula said. “She started yelling that I had no right to be sending emails, who do I think I am. We’re talking — yelling and spitting. Yelling at the top of her lungs in front of the entire staff. When she was done yelling at me, her daughter-in-law started yelling at me.” Gerula looked over to her husband and told him she couldn’t do it anymore. “I left. I was crying. I can’t do this. I’m volunteering.” Wakin immediately resigned. The couple left the reserve in September of last year. They’ve since been advocating for Gambler members. As has Kalmakoff. “I just want what’s right for the members,” Gerula said. “The homeless to have a home. Those with medical conditions to have their needs met. Those hurting to get help. I know you can’t help everyone, but those who want help.” A visit to the reserve by the Sun on Oct. 16 painted a picture starkly and shockingly different from the public image. On the drive to Gambler from Brandon, Kalmakoff, who is an off-reserve band member and long-time Brandon businessman, owner of Vern’s Appliance Sales Service & Parts Ltd., spoke of the travails many members are experiencing. His greatest concerns were Gordon, who at the time was extremely ill, growing more ill, and had been refused health care on the reserve, and Sean Ledoux. Both are David’s brothers. He also had concerns about Roxanne Brass, a sister to all three. Gordon also won a human rights case against Gambler First Nation in 2018, for which David testified as Chief, and retaliation was one element cited in the decision. Gordon’s story, “Housing feud between brothers at Gambler First Nation,” appeared in the Sun on Oct. 3. Gordon suffered from many ailments, even as he had been couch surfing with relatives on the reserve for several years. He had severe diabetes, with ulcers in his feet and legs. He had five heart attacks. Half his stomach was removed at the age of 17. “He is often comatose when he goes into hospital and doctors expect him never to make it,” Brass said in October, weeks before her brother’s death. “Gordon always surprises the doctors and miraculously survives. He is the strongest man I know that keeps surviving.” Gerula said Gordon and Brass called her when Gordon was denied foot care on-reserve. “I spoke with the nurse. She told me she did do his feet, and Mackenzie (Olynyk, health director) told him not to come back,” Gerula said. “The nurse said if anyone at Gambler needed foot care it was Gordon.” With the refusal of medical care he had no way to get to dialysis, Gerula said. “We have two medical vans that are supposed to transport members to their medical appointments. He was denied that. With no way to get to dialysis, he stopped the treatments. He could be a burden. Roxanne works a couple hours away. She couldn’t drive him.” Gerula, to whom Gordon gave permission to advocate for him specifically, said Gordon was mortified the last time he went to get foot care on the reserve. “With the health director telling him not to come back, telling him she could and would refuse all his health care needs … he didn’t want to be a burden on everyone. Treatment would be two-to-three times a week. With no treatment or help from Gambler … how does he get there,” she said. “The nurse was also setting up physio so he could walk. The health director denied that. He was tired of fighting for everything.” Gordon’s death gutted Kalmakoff. He’d come to admire Gordon, and Kalmakoff couldn’t believe Gordon was giving up. “I didn’t know that the end was so close. Friday (Nov. 6), I went to see him. I heard he was really, really sick. He was beat. They beat him. They friggin’ beat him. They have two $80,000 health vans that are sitting there most of the time,” Kalmakoff said, adding David used them as his personal van. “I used to see him all over the place and they weren’t on health business. That’s what they’re designed for, to take people to the medical centre or to the hospitals, run them back and forth. For him (Gordon) to be denied that, it’s nothing short of a crime.” Gerula and Brass told Kalmakoff that Gordon planned on stopping treatment and just go to the other side. “They said that he wanted everybody to accept it. He was worried about what I thought, what I was gonna think.” Kalmakoff feels he could have turned it around, told Gordon to snap out of it. “Then even bring him home. I would have kept him at home. Gave him a ride myself,” he said. “He was too good of a person. Not only that, he was so valuable to our cause. It doesn’t have to be that way on Gambler. It really doesn’t. A little bit of decency ... If David had a little bit of decency, it would be a lot different. But he just has none. Now, he’s putting the boots to Sean. And there’s nothing we can do about it.” Kalmakoff appeared uncomfortable speaking negatively about anyone during his conversations with the Sun. He winced as he tried to explain what he knew of how David treated people, especially David’s own family. But his anger at how many on-reserve members are being treated proved greater than his discomfort. Parts two and three of this series on Gambler First Nation will appear in the Sun in the coming weekMichèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
LONDON — Teams from Britain and the European Union resumed face-to-face talks on a post-Brexit trade deal Saturday, with both sides sounding gloomy about striking an agreement in the little time that remains.EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier returned to London to meet his U.K. counterpart David Frost. Talks have been held virtually for the past week as Barnier completed a spell of self-isolation after a member of his team tested positive for the coronavirus.COVID-19 is just one complication in negotiations that remain snagged over key issues including fishing rights and fair-competition rules. Barnier said Friday that the remote talks had made little progress and the “same significant divergences persist.”The U.K. left the EU early this year, but remained part of the bloc’s economic embrace during an 11-month transition as the two sides tried to negotiate a new free-trade deal to take effect Jan. 1. Talks have already slipped past the mid-November date long seen as a deadline to secure a deal in time for it to be approved and ratified by lawmakers in Britain and the EU.If there is no deal, New Year’s Day will bring huge disruption, with the overnight imposition of tariffs and other barriers to U.K.-EU trade. That will hurt both sides, but the burden will fall most heavily on Britain, which does almost half its trade with the EU.While both sides want a deal, they have fundamental differences about what it entails. The 27-nation EU accuses Britain of seeking to retain access to the bloc’s vast market without agreeing to abide by its rules, and wants strict guarantees on “level playing field” standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU.The U.K. claims the EU is failing to respect its independence and making demands it has not placed on other countries with whom it has free trade deals, such as Canada.To reach a deal the EU will have to curb its demands on continued access to U.K. fishing waters, and Britain must agree to some alignment with the bloc’s rules — difficult issues for politicians on both sides.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Irish leader Micheal Martin on Friday that he remained committed “to reaching a deal that respects the sovereignty of the U.K.,” Johnson’s office said.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
England needs tough restrictions after its current lockdown ends if hospitals are not to become overwhelmed, a senior minister said, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote to lawmakers to say the measures would end in February to try to quell opposition. Britain upped preparations for a vaccine roll-out on Saturday as Johnson named Nadhim Zahawi as a new health minister to oversee its deployment and the Financial Times reported that the UK is set to approve the BioNTech Pfizer vaccine next week. Sky News reported that Johnson wrote to lawmakers ahead of their vote on the new measures on Tuesday to say that the tiered approach has "a sunset of 3 February" and they will be reviewed every two weeks before then.
Friday’s provincial COVID-19 update held a sweet spot, despite the sad news 14 more Manitobans, aged 50 to 110, succumbed to the virus. Once chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin completed his somber announcements of yesterday’s numbers and repeated his daily messaging that Manitobans need to follow public health orders and stay home, Lanette Siragusa shared a story and images with the press and other viewers. Students from two schools showered health care workers in their area with messages of appreciation this past week. “I would like to begin today by thanking the Grade 8 students at H.C. Avery Middle School in the Seven Oaks School Division, who are led by their teacher Caitlyn Bartecki. I also want to thank Linda Andres’ Grade 3 class at Happy Thought School in Lord Selkirk School Division,” said Siragusa, provincial lead of health system integration and quality and chief nursing officer with Shared Health. “These messages provide a much-needed boost to staff morale, at a time when they are feeling stressed and tired and sometimes scared. Knowing their work is appreciated by some of our youngest Manitobans is a great motivator. I would like to sincerely thank these students for the creative way that they’re showing their support for health care workers, and please know that we love it very much. Meanwhile, Roussin was eyeing the weekend with concern. “The weekend is coming up,” he said. “There’s always those urges to get together with others or to run non-essential errands. My ask to you is to stay home.” Roussin said his message has been clear and unwavering. “We need to stay home as much as possible. This is the only way to ensure we’re decreasing our amount of contacts. We have to ensure we’re going to bring these case numbers down.” He said it’s not forever, but it’s what we need right now to reduce the strain on the healthcare system. “Pandemic exhaustion is very real, and it can exasperate feelings of anxiety and stress and depression,” said Siragusa. “We want Manitobans to know that we continue to do everything possible that we can to support support these issues, including expanding our virtual appointments. We are here to help if you need us.” Roussin also announced a new contact-tracing tool. “This is a form that will be available at the testing site to Manitobans to list their contacts at that time,” he said. The form can be filled out at the time of testing so that there isn’t a delay in recalling contacts. “For those who do end up testing positive, we’ll have a record already in place, which will expedite further the contact investigation. It will help Manitobans track who they came into contact with, as well,” said Roussin. Another bit of sweet news is that due to the critical red public health orders in place, the early worst-case scenario projected by the province is not happening. “Those projections were calling for 800 cases a day starting November 22nd and 1,000 cases a day in the first week of December. So we can see that the restrictions have changed those outlooks,” said Roussin. “We’re going to continue to rerun the modelling over time.” New projections for December, based on the current context, are not yet available. “I can say, I think it was December 6, we were projecting 1,000 cases a day, under those old models. We were tracking at the worst-case scenario. We were tracking as if we had no public health restrictions on and no-one was adhering to public health messaging,” Roussin said, “We can see our numbers now — certainly not where we need them to be — but they didn’t grow at that worst-case scenario amount.”Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
An animal rescue shelter is trying to find a home for a special puppy with special needs — Willow the dog.Morgan Deboon, manager of Klassic Kennels located near Red Deer, is Willow's foster mom. Deboon says the pup came to stay with her when she was just two weeks old."She was totally normal. Then she turned about seven weeks old, woke up one day and could not use her back legs at all," she said.Despite several visits to vet clinics, no one could figure out what was wrong with her and what could have happened to make her this way."She has regained movement in her back legs, but it's never going to be totally normal," Deboon said."So we're basically just trying to find a way to give her the best quality of life for what she's given and what she's able to do."Because of the poor function in Willow's back legs, the Canine Fitness Centre in Calgary constructed a wheelchair to help the puppy walk and run."Certain vets did tell us … to just put her down and nobody wants a dog like that," she said."We disagree. Her quality of life is still great. She can still eat. She can still go to the bathroom on her own."Willow is now six months old and is happier than ever."She's very high-functioning. We go on walks all the time. She does really well in a wheelchair," Deboon said.However Deboon said she is still only Willow's foster mom. Deboon said she is currently searching for a family that's able to give Willow the life she deserves."She just needs someone who is willing to be patient with her and have kindness toward her because she will give it all right back to you," she said."We haven't had any interest in her … I guess she's staying at my house until she finds a home."Those interested in adopting Willow can send in an application to Paws and Claws Animal Rescue.
Stephen Kozmeniuk knew there was something special when he met Dua Lipa several years ago, even though the British artist was virtually unknown at the time."A lot of it is connection, and whether or not you believe in them," Kozmeniuk said from his studio in Toronto."With Dua, it was just so apparent really early on that her voice is just so distinctive ... she just had something different from everybody else."Lupa has been nominated for six Grammys this year, including record of the year for Future Nostalgia.Kozmeniuk said he has been working on that record for months, starting with a songwriting session in Jamaica. Even though that session didn't produce any tracks that made it on to the final record, Kozmeniuk said everyone could tell they were on to something at that early stage. "It was this spirit that came out of that trip to Jamaica," he said. "It had to be a fun record. It was the antithesis to everything else that was going on, that was so dark and down. She just captured the zeitgeist of where everything was going."Kozmeniuk grew up in Whitehorse and launched his music career as a solo artist but soon found he had a knack for producing. That has led him to work with some big names in the music industry.This is the second time Kozmeniuk has been part of the Grammys. He won an award four years ago when he was part of the team that produced Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly record.This time around, it's a bit sweeter, he said, because he's been involved in the record since the beginning. He likened the experience of being part of Dua Lipa's team to being in a band."When you have worked with somebody so long and you value what they do, you're just extra proud," he said. "And I just know how much work it was for everybody, and it's a good group of people. When you can have a little win with these really talented people, and its always a good time with and you're in the trenches with, it's just extra special."The Grammys will be handed out on January 31.
Fay Munro is terrified. She's been evicted from her Regina-based supportive residential program in what she believes is an act of retaliation. "In the middle of this pandemic, I have nowhere to go. I don't have outside support. I don't have family," Munro said, dreading the colder days to come. She doesn't allow herself to have friends outside of her program because she fears relapsing. "I'm not ready to go out there; if I go out there, I know I will fail."Munro joined Raising Hope Moving Families Forward residential program in January after struggling with crystal meth addiction. She has a nine-month old daughter in her care. The program is unique because there is no time limit on how long women can stay at Raising Hope so long as they follow the rules. "I'm starting to kind of panic," she said. "I don't have transportation to even look for homes ... if I get sick, I don't have anybody to help me." The 28-year-old was told verbally she had to be out by Dec. 31. She said management told her it was because she was doing well, but she said it's much too soon to leave. "The first thought that pops into my mind as they're telling me my eviction day was maybe if I relapse and I could stay, but I don't want to do that because I've been working so, so hard and I'm trying to get my oldest daughter back." She said the residential program has helped her find stability and the apartments aren't at capacity.Program was a blessingHer whole life seemed to fall apart after a traumatic car accident when she rolled her SUV and then spent a month in hospital in 2016. She said she lost her home, her oldest daughter, her vehicle and turned to crystal meth. Munro said she has been diagnosed with a brain injury from it, but that diagnosis didn't happen until this year — four years after the accident. "I need this place to be my foundation," she said. "I really want to break this cycle, and I don't want my kids to have to grow up and heal from the trauma the way that I am."She relies on her therapist, her addictions counsellor and the other women in the program. The housing and supports program is designed to help new moms or moms who have lost custody who struggle with addictions, homelessness or are deemed at-risk. She said the program was a blessing earlier this year but then there were changes in high-level staffing and it started to feel more like "an institution than a recovery home" where women were treated like inmates. > I really want to break this cycle, and I don't want my kids to have to grow up and heal from the trauma the way that I am. \- Fay MunroMunro said she fears she is being evicted in "retaliation" for being vocal about issues with management. "There's other women who are scared to say anything. I can't just sit here and not say anything. It feels like they just want me to leave because of that." Munro recently advocated for one woman who said she was denied the opportunity to return to the program because of medicinal cannabis use. Munro wrote to the executive director on behalf of the women about her own experience of using CBD and THC to reduce her anxiety. Time is running out, says MunroThe Raising Hope non-profit is run by Street Workers Advocacy Project. SWAP executive director Barb Lawrence declined an interview about Munro's situation and issued a written statement in response to questions. She did not address why Munro was evicted. "The transition or discharge of residents from Raising Hope are made on a case by case basis," the statement read. "It is the goal of Raising Hope to assist women and families to have improved independence, and gain personal stability. Transitions are planned and support residents on their journey toward independence."Lawrence wrote that "transitioning from the program can cause anxiety for some participants. This is quite natural as most participants feel safe and have access to many practical supports while at Raising Hope."She said people in the program are encouraged to access supports beyond Raising Hope like "self- help support groups, cultural connections and addiction supports" and that "women are asked to engage in a support plan that will help them maintain their stability." Munro said her fears aren't being heard by Lawrence or other Raising Hope staff and time is running out.She has contacted the Ministry of Social Services for help and to date has only received confirmation that the email was received. She believes women at Raising Hope, like herself, need more support so they can become "success stories rather than statistics."
SRINAGAR, India — Hundreds of thousands of people in Indian-controlled Kashmir voted Saturday amid tight security and freezing cold temperatures in the first phase of local elections, the first since New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s semiautonomous status. Nearly 6 million people across the region’s 20 districts are eligible to elect 280 members of District Development Councils in a staggered eight-phase process that ends Dec. 19. Authorities deployed thousands of additional soldiers in the already highly militarized region to guard the vote. Government forces laid razor wire and erected steel barricades on roads around many of the 2,146 polling stations set up for the first phase. Election Commissioner K.K. Sharma appealed to residents to cast their vote and “participate in the biggest festival of democracy.” Officials said voter turnout was about 52% out of the eligible 700,000 voters for Saturday’s ballot. As standard protocol for the coronavirus pandemic, authorities placed hand sanitizers, face masks and thermal scanners at the polling stations, where voters cast their ballot in freezing cold across the region. India says the polls are a vital grassroots exercise to boost development and address civic issues and will uproot corruption from the region. Separatist leaders and armed rebel groups that challenge India’s sovereignty over Kashmir have in the past called for a boycott of elections, calling them an illegitimate exercise under military occupation. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has fiercely campaigned for the election in the Muslim-majority region in a bid to replace local Kashmiri pro-India parties that had formed an alliance. The Kashmiri alliance has vigorously opposed Modi’s government after it revoked the region’s semi-autonomous status in August last year, annulled its separate constitution, split the area into two federal territories — Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir — and removed inherited protections on land and jobs. The Indian government imposed sweeping restrictions, ranging from curfews to communications blackouts, arrested thousands, including pro-India Kashmiri leaders opposed to the move and enacted new laws in measures that triggered widespread anger and economic ruin. The current voting is part of a three-tier process in which residents directly elect their village representatives, who then vote to form development councils for clusters of villages called “Block Development Councils.” Members for the larger, third and top layer “District Development Councils” are also directly elected by the residents. The elected members have no legislative powers and are only responsible for economic development and public welfare of the region. Officials are also simultaneously conducting the election for hundreds of vacant seats in village councils that remained uncontested during 2018 polls. The BJP has a very small base in the Kashmir valley, the heart of the decades-old anti-India insurgency, but has significant support in four Hindu-majority districts in the Jammu area. The Kashmiri alliance has accused the government of interfering with their campaigning, a charge denied by the Election Commission. The alliance also accused authorities of putting its top leader Mehbooba Mufti, a former top elected official and ally of Modi, under house arrest on Friday. Police denied Mufti was restricted to her home. Waheed Ur Rehman Parra, Mufti’s colleague and a candidate in the election, was arrested by India’s National Investigation Agency on Wednesday for alleged links with Kashmir’s main rebel group. Many of the 296 candidates up for election Saturday have been lodged in hotels because of security concerns. In the past, militants have targeted candidates. Some Kashmiris view the polls cynically as a move to create a new political elite loyal to the Modi government. “This is an ideological vote,” said Najeeb Khan, a voter in Srinagar, the region’s main city. “People are considering it a referendum against the BJP.” Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both rivals claim the region in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. New Delhi calls Kashmir militancy Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris call it a legitimate struggle for freedom. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict. Aijaz Hussain, The Associated Press
In a small multi-purpose room in a west Edmonton condo, Renee Vaugeois moves quickly, placing cans of food, bags of chips, juice, fruit, meat, whatever she has on hand into boxes. She dashes out the door, her dolly stacked precariously. Two volunteers are on their way to deliver the emergency hampers and she doesn't want to make them wait. The small room has become a food hub, created out of necessity nine months into the pandemic. It's one of many hubs that have come out of the YEG Community Response to COVID19 Facebook group, set up by Vaugeois at the beginning of the pandemic. "It's been like an emergency response effort ever since, constantly evolving and growing, Vaugeois told CBC News. "But it's really grown," she said. "I don't think we ever expected to be doing the amount of gap filling and support to the community that we are doing on this page." Wednesday was Cindy Walker's second night volunteering to deliver the hampers, loading her SUV for deliveries in three communities. Walker helped out a few times at the beginning of the pandemic, but after seeing the need grow online in recent weeks she decided it was time to step up again. "I've been out of work since really COVID hit and the lockdown started, so it feels good to give back and to be doing something productive and helping other people. It's incredibly rewarding." She takes off with a wave and a word of gratefulness from Vaugeois. Last week, 181 of the emergency hampers were dispatched from the room feeding dozens of desperate people. Food comes from the Edmonton Food Bank and from various donations from the community. "It's nourishment." Vaugeois says about the Facebook page. "It's not just about providing canned foods or pasta. Food is part of your heart and soul, it makes you feel human." Vaugeois tears up as she describes some of the people who have been helped: A single father who is visibly starving, his children so grateful for the box of food, an undocumented person who feels they have no other way to access what they need, a woman who began selling her body to be able to eat. "The more I think about it these people are in their homes and they're out of sight, out of mind. And yet they're so deeply in struggle." An army behind her Vaugeois is also the executive director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, so she is able to use her connections under the umbrella of the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights. Her partners, which include the Elizabeth Fry Society, Self Advocacy Federation, Voices of Albertans with Disabilities, the John Humphrey Centre and the Edmonton Food Bank help keep the movement going. Then there is an army of volunteers who not only help with deliveries, but also staff food hubs in different areas of the city. In the past month, a free food pantry was set up in the Bethel Gospel Chapel in the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood. Vaugeois, along with the neighbourhood empowerment team, the City of Edmonton and Arts of the Ave came up with the idea to address an area of the city that experiences more food insecurity. "We wanted to create a space that was really super accessible for people," Vaugeois said." "People can come in and pick what they want. It helps reduce waste, but it also gives a bit of dignity in that people actually access the food that they eat and that they want and that they need versus kind of just getting a hamper." It runs every Monday. This past week, 148 people came through the pantry in two hours. No ID is needed to access food. Several groups have begun using the Facebook page to let people know where they can access help such as the Glengarry Child Care Society, which operates a small food hub out of their space, or several postal workers, who have been handing out food hampers since the beginning of the pandemic. It's also become a place to mobilize. On a day when someone asked for volunteers to help make sandwiches to feed the homeless, 29 women stepped up. As Vaugeois talks about how the community has really come through, there's concern in her voice. "I think people's mental health and anxiety is increasing a lot. I can feel it on the page already. I don't know what to expect." She says she hopes that the pandemic will help to remove the barriers for basic human needs. "It's binding people and breaking down barriers," Vaugeois said. "How people are connecting and working with each other, and holding each other and supporting each other, it gives me a lot of hope that we can do this."
Mount Sima ski hill in Whitehorse is weaning itself almost entirely off diesel power after receiving $5.4 million from the federal and territorial governments to convert its snow-making operations to electric power.The hill's general manager, Sam Oettli, said Friday at the ski hill that the snow-making system was installed for the Canada Winter Games in 2007."It was done in a time when diesel was cheap and people weren't looking at the environment quite as much as they maybe should have been," said Oettli.Diesel is used to generate power for the water pump system and for the snow-making equipment. That includes hauling four diesel generators and fuel up the hill.Oettli said that system has not sat well with him since he began working at Mount Sima 10 years ago.The pump house is being converted to electric power and underground electricity cables will be installed right up to the top of the hill."So this, as we are about to shut down snow-making here pretty soon, will hopefully be the last time that we need to tram fuel up the mountain for this, which is awesome," Oettli said.The Whitehorse area generally does not get much snow, Oettli said, so the ski hill cannot operate without snowmaking.He said Mount Sima has been using about 110,000 litres of diesel each year. Electrification will reduce that by about 90 percent, Oettli said.The public funding will also allow the ski hill to install LED lighting. Oettli said that will increase safety on the hill, allow for more events during the evenings, and mean a wider strip of the hill will be lit up.
Alberta school boards are calling on the government to reinstate Program Unit Funding (PUF) — aimed at providing early intervention for children with disabilities and delays as they enter the school system — to its previous format and dollar amount. At the recent meeting of the Alberta School Boards Association, a motion was passed to lobby the government to "ensure that all students with mild/moderate disabilities/delays who require specialized early intervention provided by Program Unit Funding are able to receive it.""We've heard concerns from our boards that changes to the PUF model are having a significant impact on services they're able to provide for students with disabilities or delayed learners," said association president Lorrie Jess. "Other concerns we heard were [that] moving from a three-year to a two-year model for PUF means that kindergarten children previously quoted as eligible for PUF will no longer qualify for the funding."And Jess said that while those students may have to access services funded through the new Specialized Learning Support grant (SLS), that funding is not comparable to what the PUF funding was."The new funding framework does not provide any family-oriented support funding, which basically has resulted in the suspension of early intervention programming support for families." The motion will also see the association fight for PUF program funding to be restored to the equivalent per-student amount as 2018 levels, including Family Oriented Supports."Allowing [early childhood services] providers to offer fully funded half-day programming, and that the program funding be extended from two years to three years to include supports for kindergarten."The motion was brought forward by the Edmonton Public School Board."The heart of that motion and what compelled my board to bring the motion forward is the stories that we heard from families," said Trisha Estabrooks, chair of the Edmonton board."Since the announcement last fall of these drastic cuts to program unit funding, trustees here in the city of Edmonton, and clearly trustees across the province, have been hearing on a regular basis from families who are directly impacted by these cuts."The motion was supported by about 80 per cent of Alberta school boards, representing approximately 88 per cent of Alberta students. "We are asking government to reverse the cuts and return the funding to 2018-19 levels, and so that would also come as a reversal of some of the restrictions that have been put in place," said Estabrooks. "The [new grant] falls far short of what we received under the previous funding arrangement."She said her district was hit "really hard" by these changes and cuts."We would have served 1,040 students. This year we served 600 students. We went from $39 million down to $9.5 million. We had to completely reorganize how we offered supports to kids," said Estabrooks."We had to close 22 of our satellite locations as of this September. That's enormous. That is a massive, massive cut to a division like ours. Those are 600 students that aren't receiving the support that they need."Chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas with the Calgary Catholic School District said it's committed to providing supports for early learners through the Specialized Learning Support funding, and continues to provide services to students in need and prioritize early interventions within the constraints of what's available."There is definitely a decrease of funding in that area. There's no doubt that additional funds would help us meet more needs that exist with students, especially very young children in kindergarten," he said. "We continue to address the needs of our students here in Calgary Catholic with the means that we have."In an emailed statement to CBC News, Alberta Education said the new K-12 funding model continues to protect the most vulnerable children."Including children with severe disabilities, and Alberta continues to have the earliest education programs for children in Canada at 2 years, 8 months," wrote ministry spokesperson Colin Aitchison. He said that under the old model, there was a significant drop in supports for students entering Grade 1."The new funding model closes that gap by providing a consistent level of support for K-12 students through the new Specialized Learning Supports grant, while continuing to prioritize early intervention for pre-K children through Program Unit Funding," said Aitchison."This new structure, on top of a $120-million increase that every single school authority received this school year, ensures that school authorities have the resources they need to support all of their students, including students with disabilities."Autism advocacy organizations in the province say they've been hearing from their clients that the funding changes for the specialized services their children need aren't working out as well as PUF previously did. "[The government] restricted the hours. They give a certain amount of dollars for up to 400 hours worth of programming, and then they give another certain amount of dollars for up to 800 or more hours worth of programming," said Catharine Dietzmann, a family support co-ordinator with Autism Edmonton.Dietzmann said kindergarten falls in-between that range."It's over 400 hours. It's usually 475 hours. So when you divide the amount of money that's given, it's less than it used to be. You can barely afford an EA [educational assistant] for that, let alone the speech pathologist, the occupational therapist (OT), the physical physiotherapist (PT), the psychologist, the behavioural intervention," she said."The money doesn't go very far, especially when they put the restrictions around the amount of hours."Dietzmann said if the school boards could have PUF reinstated, then it would have clearer, more defined rules about how the funding would work."They would have a clearer picture of that funding again, because when it got switched to the Specialized Learning Support grant, I feel that schools are kind of confused as to where that money can go, how much they're going to get and how they can spend that money," she said. Lyndon Parakin with Autism Calgary said that because the Specialized Learning Support grant allows for more flexible use of the funds, school boards are choosing to use it for things like managing their growth in population across all grades."It therefore is no longer providing that directed funding that is tracked individually to disabled students since kindergarten, so we see kindergarten programming becoming a lot more like what they're doing in grade school levels," he said. "It isn't giving that direct individually focused programming to kids."Essentially, Parakin said it's removed evidence-based early intervention targeting the acquisition of early learning skills."It is putting children behind and they're going to have trouble picking up," he said."We're losing all the benefits of what early intervention research says that when we do targeted specific early programming to elevate the learning levels and learning capabilities of children, they do much better along their lifelong development path. So we are putting children backwards."Morine Rossi, program lead with Autism Edmonton, said she knows personally — from experience with her now 10-year-old son — how kids can benefit from PUF when administered how it previously was.She said that because of PUF, through pre-school and kindergarten, her son was able to access well-rounded supports that he needed in order to keep on track with his peers."He was involved with speech, behaviour, OT and PT. They made visits to him in order to cover all of the bases and give recommendations to those kindergarten teachers to help support him in the classroom, as well as to his EA," she said. "He had full, one-to-one support from an EA with the help of PUF funding so that he could have that hand holding in the early years. And at this point now, when he went into Grade 3 and now into Grade 4 and 5, he went completely unsupported because he had that early access to therapy and to help."
The province's largest school outbreak is taking place in a Windsor neighbourhood that faces a number of social barriers known to facilitate the spread of COVID-19. Forty-nine cases of COVID-19 — 40 students and nine staff members — are now connected to the outbreak at Frank W. Begley Public School in Windsor's downtown. According to a map on the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's website, the area surrounding the school has some of the highest active cases in the city, with a case rate ranging from 9.1 to 49 per 1,000 people. The school, which closed on Nov. 17, remains shut until further notice. The community surrounding the school is known to be home to a demographic that is diverse and of low-income. As for Begley itself, Windsorite Leslie McCurdy, a member of the Black Council of Windsor and a local performing artist, says what she's noticed from performing in the school is it's "probably one of the most multicultural schools in the city." These factors suggest, according to experts, that people in this area may struggle with a language barrier and are possibly working frontline, low-paying jobs that prevent them from being able to work from home.While these issues are known to exist, its unclear how much information the school board and public health have on the population they are serving and how well equipped they are to address these challenges. Both the board and local health unit have deflected questions on the demographics of the school population and have not outlined the steps they have taken to help families cope. "If you don't have the data then you don't know what to do," said McCurdy, who lives relatively close to the school's neighbourhood. "When you have the information that you need, then you can answer the questions as to what that need is and that tends to be something that's not done well in this area — proper studies and research and data on how things should function and the impact of things on all of our communities." COVID-19 discriminatesWhat we do know, says University of Windsor associate law professor and director of the Windsor Law Centre for Cities Anneke Smit, is that COVID-19 impacts populations differently. "What is clear is COVID doesn't hit everybody in the same way," she said. "I think there have been challenges publicly discussed by those in government and public organizations in terms of their ability to tailor responses to the communities in question." Low-income populations tend to have a number of barriers working against them, including living in smaller and more dense areas, working front-line jobs, a lack of child support and a dependency on public transit. Some of these factors mean they aren't "able to isolate as effectively," if need be, nor take time off of work to stay with their children, United Way's Windsor-Essex director of continuous improvement and advocacy, Frazier Fathers said. Fathers added that many newcomer families are also multigenerational, meaning everyone from grandparents to grandchildren live under one roof. "So what you see there is they're just larger family units and so if one person happens to get sick, the multiplier effect is a bit bigger there because you have maybe four or five, six people in a household," he said. And when it comes to language barriers, Fathers said he can understand how that makes things even more difficult. He noted that the people in the Begley area speak a range of languages, including Arabic, Spanish and Chinese. "One of the challenges is just getting that information out there in the appropriate language and ... that's really difficult to do ... in an ideal world you would want to go door-to-door or something like that but you're not going to because it's COVID," he said. In an email to CBC News Wednesday, the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) said in terms of supports and resources, "teachers are in contact with students / families. All the available supports are being provided to students and staff." Lack of demographic dataWhile dealing with the outbreak, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said what's been challenging are some of the social barriers the school community faces, including a low socioeconomic status and language barriers that affect public health literacy. "There are a lot of issues there that have always been there, but I think because of the spread, it is just now showing more and more evident in terms of how some of these families are impacted more than the others," medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Monday. Chief Nursing Officer of the health unit Theresa Marentette said during Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing that the health unit has been able to provide specific resources and supports to the community based on demographic data provided by the public school board. But when CBC News asked the board for the demographic profile of the school, they said they don't keep that information. In an email to CBC News Wednesday, the board said they cannot share information on how many families require help with technology, such as wifi access or laptops.But earlier this week, the board wrapped up a technical needs survey to know families' "technology needs for home learning." According to the board, 391 students were attending Begley in person. Meanwhile, 146 others were in online learning or with paper packages and that based on these numbers, it's one of the schools with low virtual or paper enrolment. Aside from the hospital providing testing and the school board offering support, Ahmed said he's not "aware of any other agencies or any other departments who are supporting these families."He added that they haven't heard any specific concerns at this point. "To what degree is there actually consultation with the folks that are the most affected at this point," Smit said, adding that she presumes the board is talking to the families. "Decisions don't need to be made without them at the table ... so if the data isn't there then figuring out the best way to talk to parents and again that may well be happening, the board is best placed to do that." Pandemic has exacerbated social inequities Should this continue more long-term, Fathers said one concern would be children's education suffering due to a lack of technology or ability to learn online. He's also worried about parents being unable to go to work and losing a job or getting sick themselves. "COVID has really exacerbated the existing inequities in our society in many ways and so those who were in precarious positions are more precariously placed now," Fathers said."There's a lot of potential downstream impacts and it'll take time for those to play out ... The longer that they're sort of in their own sort of mini lockdown, with that school being out, it has more and more impacts [that] sort of begin to compound." Due to where the school is located in the community, sometimes it's thought of as a "disadvantaged school," but McCurdy said she hopes that label isn't placed on the children. "I'd hate for them to be labelled in some way as disadvantaged because again that's a single story about who they are and they're so much more than that," she said. "We really need to make sure that we're putting the resources into giving them the best opportunities to show that and the first thing is to keep them healthy."
British and EU Brexit negotiators remain sceptical about the chances of a breakthrough in talks on a follow-on agreement, which are still stalled over fishing rights and fair trade rules.
Migrant advocates in Quebec say they are dismayed by the province's assertion that it will not expand a program to grant residency to asylum seekers who've been working in the health-care system through the pandemic.The program was announced this summer as a deal between Quebec and the federal government to allow asylum seekers who worked directly with patients during the pandemic to stay in the country. But many criticized it for excluding the hundreds of other asylum seekers in essential jobs — from food processing, to transportation, and those who cleaned the rooms of patients with COVID-19. "How can I explain to the lady or the guy who is cleaning the room full of COVID that they cannot have the visa, but the other one was taking care of the person who is sick can?" said Marjorie Villefranche, executive director of Maison d'Haiti, who met with Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault earlier this month about the possibility of expanding the program. The deal with Ottawa, brokered in September, had followed months of reports about asylum seekers working essential service jobs while many other Quebecers stayed home. Several of the migrant workers were infected by the coronavirus and some died.Columnists, immigration advocates and politicians pointed out Premier François Legault praised long-term care workers as "guardian angels," while failing to acknowledge that hundreds were asylum seekers whose status remained in limbo. At first, Legault said the provincial government's position on the program granting some of the migrants residency was staunch: "Where do we draw the line?" he'd told reporters in August. But as a second wave of the pandemic wreaks havoc on Quebec's health-care system once again, and the Immigration and Refugee Board hearings of many asylum seekers in essential jobs have been pushed further into 2021, calls to expand the program have resurfaced.Earlier this month, Legault said he would consider it, but Villefranche says Girault was inflexible in their meeting. "Her position is still the same. She said it's only for those who directly work giving care to the people," Villefranche said. Villefranche and others, such as AQAADI, the Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association, say they won't back down. Delays creating 'extreme distress'Guillaume Cliche-Rivard and Stéphane Valois, respectively president and vice-president of AQAADI, published an open letter Friday, calling on Quebecers to raise awareness about the plight of asylum seekers in the province.In an interview, Cliche-Rivard noted that many have been separated from their families in their home countries for years as they await a decision in their files. "If your family is waiting for you to get status, to be able to come in Canada, this means that you probably won't see your child for four or five, six, maybe more, seven years," he said. "That's a whole life that's been missed. So, those delays are creating extreme distress on those people. And even through this distress, those people have been fighting back, those people went to work. They have cared for our elderly population and they did everything they could just to make good around them." Cliche-Rivard says he's hopeful the Quebec government will change its position. For Villefranche, too, the fight isn't over. "We still need those people, they are still working with us. They are still taking care of our society, doing the jobs that nobody wants to do. After after the pandemic and are we just going to tell them: 'OK, thank you very much. Go back home,'?" Villefranche said."For us, it's not over. It's not over. We are still going to ask and to act."
Making it in the music world is tough, but Elijah Bekk has already fought battles that would force a lot of people to give up."When I was 19, I got injured really bad," he said. "I actually lost the use of my hands for a couple of years. I was in my second year of school and I ended up having to move home because I couldn't open and close my hands at all and my family had to take care of me."Bekk says he suffered what is called a non-freezing cold injury, a repetitive stress injury he suffered while working in cold water."It affects the way your brain talks to your hands," he said. "When I get tests done, it says that my hands are completely fine, but my brain is telling my arms and hands that they're in pain all the time. It feels like my arms are on fire and I have a hard time feeling a couple of my fingers."Something like that would have ended the musical dreams of most people, but Bekk grew up wanting to be a musician and wasn't about to let that stop him.> One day I was told if I kept trying to play I would never be able to use my hands again. \- Elijah Bekk, Yukon musicianHe grew up in Faro, a small, tight-knit community in the central Yukon. Once home to a bustling mine, people in the town have to be resourceful when it comes to making a living and keeping busy.Bekk is from a large, musical family. They actually had a family band that would play at local music festivals and other events over the years.After being coerced into backing his older brother on drums, Bekk discovered the joys of playing guitar and singing. He decided that's what he wanted to do.Forced to put the guitar awayBekk left home in Grade 12 to finish high school in Alberta and take advantage of scholastic music programs. He was studying music at Selkirk College in B.C. when he was injured a little more than three years ago."One day I was told if I kept trying to play I would never be able to use my hands again," he said. "We actually put my guitars in their cases and put them away so I couldn't touch them."I never thought about anything else for a minute. I thought, 'This is what I'm going to do. We just have to find a different way to do it.'" One specialist suggested he could pick up the guitar again, but he had to limit his playing to brief periods."That was tough, having to put the guitar down even though it hurt," said Bekk. "But I never thought about doing anything else, and writing songs was a huge part of what helped me emotionally getting through all that."Now he spends his time rehabilitating his injured hands, playing music when he can, and writing and recording his own songs.Earlier this year, he decided to submit one of those tunes to the RBC Emerging Musician Program, run by Canada's Walk Of Fame.Bekk was one of of more than 1,400 people across the country to apply for the program, and was recently named a third-place finalist. That earned him a prize of $4,000 and mentorship sessions with industry professionals."[Bekk's] submitted track Be Alright impressed our judging panels with its distinct warmth, heartfelt melodies and a dreamy soundscape that perfectly encapsulates the Yukon," said Griffin Sokal, director of creative, brand marketing and partnerships with Canada's Walk of Fame."We couldn't be more thrilled that this ambitious and driven young performer was chosen. We look forward to working with him."Bekk said the awards and recognition are great, and a good boost for his career. But these days, nothing beats being able to simply play."It means more now," he said. "Before I kind of took it for granted.... [Now] it feels so good, you have no idea."
NEW YORK — “Jeopardy!” record-holder Ken Jennings will be the first in a series of interim hosts replacing Alex Trebek when the show resumes production next Monday.Producers announced Monday that Jennings, who won 74 games in a row and claimed the show's “Greatest of All Time” title in a competition last year, will host episodes that air in January.A long-term host to replace Trebek, who died of cancer on Nov. 8, will be named later.“By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers,” the show's executive producer, Mike Richards, said.The show is in its 37th year of syndication. It is still airing shows that Trebek filmed before his death.Art Fleming hosted earlier editions of the game show, including the original “Jeopardy!” that debuted in 1964 on NBC and aired for a decade.Richards said “Jeopardy!” will air repeat episodes for the holiday weeks beginning Dec. 21 and 28, meaning Trebek's final week of shows will air starting Monday, Jan. 4.Jennings’ episodes begin on Jan. 11.—In an earlier verisons of this story, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Alex Trebek was the show’s only host. Art Fleming was the first host.The Associated Press
When Alestine Andre and Ingrid Kritsch started work on a small archeological project in Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., with Jean-Luc Pilon for the Gwich'in Tribal Council in 1992 to document Gwich'in place names, elders asked them to expand it to cover the entire Gwich'in settlement region.The elders were concerned that the Gwich'in names for places were being lost.The group agreed and travelled all over the Gwich'in settlement region in the N.W.T. and Yukon, working with 74 elders and traditional land users to document the names and create an inventory of heritage sites."They traveled a lot on the land back in that time with elders. They used to do boat trips or Skidoo trips and just do research with elders," said Sharon Snowshoe, the director of culture & heritage with the Gwich'in Tribal Council.The community-based project, Gwich'in Goonanh'kak Googwandak: The places and names of the Gwich'in, resulted in the creation of an online atlas and place name maps launched in 2015. It also resulted in the official recognition of Gwich'in place names.Snowshoe said the government of the Northwest Territories accepted and approved 414 Gwich'in place names while the Yukon government has approved 60 names of 237 that have been submitted. Snowshoe said the council is waiting for the other names to be approved.Governor General AwardThe project also garnered a Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Community Programming, which it accepted during an online presentation Friday.In a press release, Kritsch thanked several of her colleagues from the Gwich'in Tribal Council, Carleton University and MDT Communications who helped create the online interactive atlas and maps."Talk about teamwork and the power of people from different walks in life and skills coming together for a common goal - to ensure Gwich'in knowledge such as this is shared and carried forward into the future," she said.The governor general's site for the award states the project "serves as an important legacy for future generations and provides inspiration for other Indigenous communities who are looking to officially recognize Indigenous place names."Stories behind namesThe online atlas shows the different places in the Gwich'in settlement region and pronounces them when users move their cursor over them.When users use the search function of the website to find places, it provides the background for how the place got its name.One of Snowshoe's favourite is about Vittrekwa River."Vittrekwa River means 'don't cry' [River]," she said.She explained that Neil Colin, a well-known elder in the community who passed away a few years ago, told the story that Old Vittreekwaa cried all the time, day and night after he was born. He and his parents were going through what's now called Vittrekwa River and other people were moving with their dog teams. Old Vittreekwaa's parents saw a medicine man and asked for his help. The medicine man told them, "Right now, I'm calling this river 'Don't Cry Creek.''' "And right there, the kid stopped crying," said Snowshoe.She said the community-based project is very valuable because it uses the language and teaches young people to learn the place names and the history behind them."[It's] a gift from the elders to the young people," she said.