The developers of Canada's COVID Alert app fixed a glitch last week that left some users without exposure notifications for much of November. Users are urged to update the app.
The developers of Canada's COVID Alert app fixed a glitch last week that left some users without exposure notifications for much of November. Users are urged to update the app.
There was no distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine set up by the Trump administration as the virus raged in its last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on Sunday. "The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under Trump’s watch.
After a five-year hiatus marked by grievances over their rival claims to Mediterranean waters, Turkey resumes talks with Greece on Monday in the first test of its hopes to reverse deteriorating relations with the European Union. While diplomats say that rebuilding trust will be a hard slog, the talks follow Turkey's decision to stop its search for gas in disputed waters which angered Greece and Cyprus and a cooling of rhetoric around Ankara's wider disputes with the EU. They could also pave the way for an imminent visit to Turkey by EU leaders.
OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site that sits in quiet contrast to Ottawa's peppy ByWard Market nearby. Users filter into the brick building — dubbed "the trailer," a nod to the service's former digs — offering up greetings and grins en route to 16 basement booths, each furnished with a chair, a shatter-resistant mirror and a needle disposal box. The injection facility halved the number of booths to ensure distancing when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, resulting in a "huge increase" in overdoses in the surrounding community, says Muckle, who for 20 years has headed Ottawa Inner City Health, which provides health care for vulnerable populations. She restored full capacity in response to the spike in overdoses but many services remain reduced or accessible only virtually. “We've seen a really frightening, rapid increase in the number of people using drugs in this pandemic," Muckle says. "I think people feel like maybe they just aren't going to make it through this one." Drug users face greater dangers as the second wave forces harm reduction sites and outreach programs to curtail their services, leaving at-risk communities out in the cold. Shorter hours, physical distancing measures and a curfew in Quebec, combined with a more lethal drug supply due to border closures, have sent addictions services scrambling to help users across the country as opioid overdoses and the attendant death toll continue to mount. In British Columbia, fentanyl-related deaths had been on the decline for more than a year until April, when monthly numbers routinely began to double those of 2019. Deaths linked to fentanyl, a lethally potent synthetic opioid, reached 360 in B.C. between September and November compared to 184 in the same period a year earlier, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Opioid-related deaths countrywide could climb as high as 2,000 per quarter in the first half of 2021, far surpassing the peak of nearly 1,200 in the last three months of 2018, according to modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada. It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply and users turning to substances as a way of coping with high stress. Social services have limited capacity or shut down communal spaces, while programs from meal provision to laundry — some of which are near injection sites, encouraging their use — are now tougher to access. Canada's ongoing border shutdown has disrupted the flow of illicit drugs, and dealers looking to stretch their limited supplies are more apt to add potentially toxic adulterants. Benzodiazepines, or benzos, have been detected in drugs circulating in parts of several provinces. Users can be difficult to rouse and slow to respond to naloxone — the drug that reverses opioid overdoses — and more likely to overdose when fentanyl or other opioids are also in the mix. “With the benzodiazepine, there is no antidote for that," said Paula Tookey, program manager for consumption and treatment at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Toronto. "People are sedated deeply for hours, often 10 hours or even more," forcing workers to turn away other users who then may shoot up alone, she said. The Riverdale site saw 42 out of 1,110 visitors overdose last month — none fatally — compared to just two overdoses in 700 visits in December 2019, Tookey said. Pared-down services have also diminished harm reduction sites' role as de facto community spaces, cutting off a key point of social contact. "We used to have memorials, which were super important for people because we have constant deaths," Tookey said. “A lot of our folks don't have families ... The community and other people in their situations and the workers are kind of the informal family that people have." Limits on gathering in the pandemic have also closed off a critical source of knowledge sharing. "There’s no people to say, ‘Hey, that’s really, really strong, don’t use that much,'" said Karen Ward, a drug rights advocate as well as a drug policy and poverty reduction consultant with the City of Vancouver. "Those facts, that social information, is really, really important to have. You know, ‘Hey, there’s a bad batch,’ that sort of thing.” Health authorities run alert systems for poisoned drugs across B.C., but their patchwork structure leaves lives in jeopardy, she said. In Quebec, Montreal's four supervised consumption sites have seen visits drop sharply since the 8 p.m. provincial curfew came into force earlier this month. Even a mobile unit has reached far fewer users, says Kim Charest, outreach program coordinator at L'Anonyme, which runs the portable site. "Unfortunately, people are less likely to go outside their door basically past 8 p.m.," she said. "But we do know that people don't necessarily stop taking drugs." Even before the curfew, the number of EMS calls where paramedics administered naloxone to opioid users in Montreal and the suburb of Laval nearly doubled last year, reaching 270 compared to 146 in 2019, according to the Urgences-santé ambulance service. Another danger lies in sharing needles — injection sites provide clean ones — and the risk of blood-borne infections. Advocates, outreach workers and users are calling for better drug alert systems and broader support services in the short-term. However, nothing short of decriminalization of possession of small quantities of drugs — requested by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart to the federal government — and more stable housing will help beat back the tide of overdoses, Muckle says. "At the end of the day, if people are unhoused, all of the things that you're doing really have a marginal benefit," Muckle says. "You cannot heal in a shelter .... A home is such a fundamental part of our health." Meanwhile, the social isolation and unsupervised consumption of tainted drugs ratcheted up by the pandemic bode ill for vulnerable Canadians. "We had a pretty significant problem with addiction when this pandemic started. We're going to come out of it way worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country. The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
What reason did the federal government give for denying funding to a local Somali centre? Which neighbourhood is in line for a $129-million revitalization? And why is a 13-year-old boy and his surveillance cameras being feted by his neighbours? These are just a few of the questions designed to vex and perplex you in this week's CBC Ottawa news quiz. On a desktop computer? For the best quiz-taking experience, click on the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner of the quiz widget to expand it.
For two Virginia police officers who posed for a photo during the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection, the reckoning has been swift and public: They were identified, charged with crimes and arrested. But for five Seattle officers the outcome is less clear. Their identities still secret, two are on leave and three continue to work while a police watchdog investigates whether their actions in the nation's capital on Jan. 6 crossed the line from protected political speech to lawbreaking. The contrasting cases highlight the dilemma faced by police departments nationwide as they review the behaviour of dozens of officers who were in Washington the day of the riot by supporters of President Donald Trump. Officials and experts agree that officers who were involved in the melee should be fired and charged for their role. But what about those officers who attended only the Trump rally before the riot? How does a department balance an officer's free speech rights with the blow to public trust that comes from the attendance of law enforcement at an event with far-right militants and white nationalists who went on to assault the seat of American democracy? An Associated Press survey of law enforcement agencies nationwide found that at least 31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behaviour in the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for participating in the riot. Officials are looking into whether the officers violated any laws or policies or participated in the violence while in Washington. A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building and many other officers were injured. A woman was shot to death by Capitol Police and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos. Most of the officers have not been publicly identified; only a few have been charged. Some were identified by online sleuths. Others were reported by their colleagues or turned themselves in. They come from some of the country’s largest cities — three Los Angeles officers and a sheriff’s deputy, for instance — as well as state agencies and a Pennsylvania police department with nine officers. Among them are an Oklahoma sheriff and New Hampshire police chief who have acknowledged being at the rally, but denied entering the Capitol or breaking the law. “If they were off-duty, it’s totally free speech,” said Will Aitchison, a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, who represents law enforcement officers. “People have the right to express their political views regardless of who’s standing next to them. You just don’t get guilt by association.” But Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a professor at Case Western Reserve University law school, said an officer’s presence at the rally creates a credibility issue as law enforcement agencies work to repair community trust, especially after last summer's of protests against police brutality sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Communities will question the integrity of officers who attended the rally along with “individuals who proudly profess racist and divisive viewpoints,” she said. “It calls into question whether those officers are interested in engaging in policing in a way that builds trust and legitimacy in all communities, including communities of colour.” In Rocky Mount, a Virginia town of about 1,000, Sgt. Thomas Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker were suspended without pay and face criminal charges after posting a photo of themselves inside the Capitol during the riot. According to court records, Robertson wrote on social media that the “Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem … The right IN ONE DAY took the f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” Attempts to contact the pair were unsuccessful and court records do not list lawyers. Leaders in Rocky Mount declined to be interviewed. In a statement, they said the events at the Capitol were tragic. “We stand with and add our support to those who have denounced the violence and illegal activity that took place that day,” said Police Chief Ken Criner, Capt. Mark Lovern and Town Manager James Ervin. “Our town and our police department absolutely does not condone illegal or unethical behaviour by anyone, including our officers and staff.” On the other side of the county, five Seattle officers are under investigation by the city’s Office of Police Accountability. Two officers posted photos of themselves on social media while in the district and officials are investigating to determine where they were and what they were doing. Three others told supervisors that they went to Washington for the events and are being investigated for what they did while there. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said his department supports officers’ freedom of speech and that those who were in the nation's capital will be fired if they “were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.” But police leaders need to evaluate more than just clear criminal behaviour, according to Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a policing research and policy group. They must also consider how their actions affect the department credibility, he said. Officers' First Amendment rights “don’t extend to expressing words that may be violent or maybe express some prejudice,” Wexler said, “because that’s going to reflect on what they do when they’re working, when they’re testifying in court.” Through the summer and fall, Seattle police — along with officers elsewhere — came under criticism for their handling of mass protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. The city received more than 19,000 complaints against officers, most for excessive use of force and improper use of pepper spray. Andrew Myerberg, director of the Seattle Office of Police Accountability, said none of the officers now under investigation were involved in those cases. But Sakara Remmu, cofounder of Black Lives Matter Seattle/King County, said the officers should be fired regardless. Their public declarations of solidarity with Trump fosters not just community distrust, but terror of the entire department, she said. “It absolutely does matter when the decorum of racial peace cracks and racial hatred comes through, because we already have a documented history and legacy of what that means in this country,” Remmu said. In Houston, the police chief decried an officer who resigned and was later charged in the riot. A lawyer for Officer Tam Pham said the 18-year veteran of the force "very much regrets” being at the rally and was “deeply remorseful.” But many chiefs have said their officers committed no crimes. “The Arkansas State Police respects the rights and freedom of an employee to use their leave time as the employee may choose,” department spokesman Bill Sadler said of two officers who attended the Trump rally. Malik Aziz, the former chair and executive director of the National Black Police Association, compared condemning all officers who were in Washington to tarring all the protesters who took to streets after the killing of George Floyd with the violent and destructive acts of some. A major with the Dallas Police Department, Aziz said police acting privately have the same rights as other Americans, but that knowingly going to a bigoted event should be disqualifying for an officer. “There’s no place in law enforcement for that individual,” Aziz said. Martha Bellisle And Jake Bleiberg, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan's premier says the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline isn't over yet. In a recent interview with CBC's Rosemary Barton, Premier Scott Moe says conversations around the TC Energy project are ongoing, despite U.S. President Joe Biden's recent cancellation of the pipeline's permit by executive order. "I wouldn't say this project is over by any stretch. There is a lot of conversation to have on KXL," Moe said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. The 1,897-kilometre pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from oilsands in Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, connecting to the original Keystone pipeline running to the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. A portion of the project would have crossed into southern Saskatchewan. Moe, along with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, has pushed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government to take action against the pipeline's halt. That could include economic sanctions, Moe suggested — a possibility also raised by Kenney. "I haven't said that we should go to sanctions and sanctions should be utilized first," Moe said in his interview with Barton. "But sanctions are always on the table in any conversation or any challenge that we may have with our trading relationship with our largest partner." The project, originally blocked by U.S. President Barack Obama, was then approved by President Donald Trump, who wanted to negotiate the terms of the project, before ultimately being blocked again by Biden in the first days of his presidency. Federal Opposition leader Erin O'Toole has also expressed frustration over the cancellation of the project, saying in a statement it "will devastate thousands of Canadian families who have already been badly hurt by the economic crisis." Trudeau's government has repeatedly said that it supports the project and has made that clear to the new U.S. administration, but both the prime minister and Canada's ambassador to the U.S. have said it is time to respect the decision and move on. Speaking on Friday morning, Trudeau reiterated his disappointment with the cancellation and said he would raise the issue during his phone call with Biden scheduled for later in the day. "Obviously the decision on Keystone XL is a very difficult one for workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan who've had many difficult hits," he said. "Over the past years we have been there for them and we will continue to be there for them and I will express my concern for jobs and livelihoods in Canada, particularly in the West, directly in my conversation with President Biden." Trudeau stressed he and the new president are on the same wavelength on fighting climate change and middle-class job creation, as well as the "values of Canadians." Moe called the cancellation a "devastating blow to North American energy security," and said in the interview with Barton he'll continue to advocate for the pipeline, which he says has both economic and environmental benefits for Canada.
Jody Vance said her heart skipped a beat when she got an unexpected phone call from the long-term care facility where her elderly father lives. She braced herself for bad news, but instead the voice on the other end told her something so many Canadians would love to hear: a dose of the Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccine was being set aside for her. "It was kind of was a little bit surreal," she said. "It felt like hope." Vance got the shot because staff at the long-term care facility in Delta, B.C., declared her an "essential" visitor for her 82-year-old father. Driving him to emergency cancer surgeries during the pandemic made her eligible for such status. To Vance, the main benefit of being vaccinated is that her dad won't need to be isolated from her for his own protection. B.C. is one of the few provinces — Ontario and Nova Scotia are taking a similar approach — ushering essential visitors to the front of the vaccine line as a priority group. It's up to the discretion of each facility to determine who is considered essential. There is no cap in B.C. on the number of approved essential visitors, but only one will be allowed at a time with exceptions made for end-of-life care. Those left to wait say they are also left to wonder if the delay could ultimately be too long. A frustrating process "I don't know how long she'll be with us," said Niovi Patsicakis, speaking about her 98-year-old mother, who lives at Evergreen Long-Term Care in White Rock. Patsicakis said her mom has been mostly confined to her room in the facility for nearly three months, and Patsicakis hasn't been able to visit since before Christmas. She said she fears the lack of in-person mother-daughter visits has affected her mom's health. But unlike Vance, Patsicakis said she has not been deemed essential by her mom's long-term care facility. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), essential visits include those for compassionate care reasons such as critical illness, hospice care, end of life and medical assistance in dying. They can also include visits by a person who assists with feeding, mobility and communication needs. WATCH | British Columbians with loved ones in long-term care talk about their experiences trying to get vaccine priority: The B.C. Health Ministry has also said a clergy member can be designated as an essential visitor. Health authority and facility staff, in collaboration with the long-term care resident, determine who gets essential visitor status, according to BCCDC in guidelines published on Jan. 7. Patsicakis' visits in the past have tended to be social in nature, but Patsicakis said her mother's health seems to be deteriorating since their loss of contact. "I can see a huge difference in how mom has gotten much worse," said Patsicakis. "Her language skills have weakened as well as her mood. Sometimes, she's confused or doesn't want to get out of bed." Trying to get an essential designation has been difficult and frustrating, she said. Patsicakis said essential visitors to Evergreen are evaluated by a group that includes facility faculty and a representative from the local health authority, Fraser Health. She said she wrote Evergreen administration three times to plead her case and filed a complaint with an advocate at the health authority's patient quality care office. She said she requested Evergreen's decision be sent to her in writing in November and never received it. As of Jan. 20, she said hadn't heard anything from Fraser Health either. "I know so many people are devastated," she said, adding she is part of a social media group of others like herself who are supporting one another as best they can. The National Institute on Ageing said families in British Columbia are enduring the most restrictive long-term care home visitation policies in the country. B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the lack of an association that represents residents and their families at the 300 care homes in B.C. means they don't have a voice in policy discussions between the government and care-home operators. She said care home operators seem to be arbitrarily deciding who qualifies as an essential or designated visitor. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, provided the latest numbers of people who had qualified as essential visitors during a press event on Jan. 18. Henry said about 8,000 people have met the criteria and will receive a vaccination during the province's first phase of a four-phase immunization program, which is underway. There are approximately 30,000 people living in long-term care facilities "The default, we believe, should be that every person, every resident who has a person who can care for them, should have a designated essential visitor, but that has been a challenge to operationalize," said Henry. Applications for essential status are available on the provincial health ministry's website. There is an appeal process for people who do not like the initial decision. One Abbotsford long-term care home operator said the more people who are designated essential, the better. "Because of staffing levels, this gives us that extra layer of assistance — they are doing things like supporting their loved one with feeding or mobility," said Dan Levitt, executive director of Tabor Village. "So they need that vaccine, and that'll make a big difference for all of us." During a Friday press briefing, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed the frustration felt by people disappointed to hear they are not considered essential. "Everyone should feel that their participation, their social life, their visiting of their loved ones is essential," he said. Dix said vaccinating residents and staff in long-term care and assisted living facilities now could lead to eased restrictions around social visits by March, when all residents and staff are expected to have received both doses of their vaccines. "It's going to allow a lot of things to happen, including more visits from family members and loved ones and friends," he said.
The Burin Peninsula has always had very close relations with the nearby French islands of St-Pierre-Miquelon. These ties have even grown stronger in recent years as many of the French residents now vacation and shop in Newfoundland and Labrador, and an increasing number of them are purchasing summer homes in this area. During the summer, hundreds of tourists find their way to the French archipelago via a ferry service from Fortune. However, for more than 100 years, St-Pierre-Miquelon — especially from October to December, encompassing Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations — has meant something much more than a tourist attraction to many Newfoundlanders. Until just a couple of decades ago, much of the liquor consumed in southern Newfoundland came illegally from the French islands, and many a tin of alcohol and 60-ounce bottles of over-proof rum found their way into St. John's via the Burin Peninsula highway. Even as far back as the mid-1800s, Newfoundland customs officials estimated that the then independent country was being robbed every year of about $50,000 in taxes as a result of smuggling from the French islands. Many a tale can be told of Burin Peninsula rum-runners in their little fishing dories and skiffs eluding RCMP patrol boats while returning from St. Pierre with a load of booze. There were times, however, when they would be forced to dump their liquor overboard as a police cutter speedily approached; their cargo was safe in bags packed with heavy salt that would dissolve, allowing it to float back up to the surface, where it could be picked up later. Over the years, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, the amount of liquor and cigarettes coming illegally from St-Pierre-Miquelon increased at an alarming rate, with more Newfoundlanders getting involved in the very profitable but risky activity. It finally became such a big commercial operation that laws were enacted for it to be treated as a major crime, with the courts increasing fines and confiscation of property and often jail time for many of those caught and convicted. A 1994 RCMP raid at Terrenceville, code-named "Operation Bacon," resulted in contraband and assets being seized with a total value of over $300,000. An increased permanent police presence on the Burin Peninsula, coupled with faster boats and those tougher laws, meant Burin Peninsula smugglers had to face the possibility of losing everything they owned, and the movement of illegal liquor and tobacco from the French islands today is only a shadow of what it once was. Throw in strict COVID-19 travel restrictions, and 2020, as one gentleman told me, "was a very dry Christmas as far as cheap liquor is concerned." Seven decades of soccer history Not all of the kicks shared between the islands have been illegal. From 1906 to 1978, Burin Peninsula and St. Pierre soccer teams made many reciprocal visits that helped strengthen the ties between our two countries. In 1906 Grand Bank played its first game of international football, against the ASSP club from St. Pierre. On July 14 of that year the tug St. Pierre left the French islands for Grand Bank with the team and several dozen supporters aboard. According to a newspaper clipping of the day, datelined St. Pierre, "the welcome was beyond anything we ever expected." The game was played the next day. "After a rather rough and hard fought contest the French team scored one goal, a few minutes before the finish, to win 1-0. The French boys were then taken to the Masonic Hall to enjoy a very nice lunch." Later that summer, on Aug. 29, the Grand Bank team visited St. Pierre for a return match. A newspaper clipping from the next day, datelined Grand Bank, explained that the St. Pierre carried 36 passengers, including the football team, out to the French islands. "We were welcomed very cordially by our French friends, and were soon supplied with comfortable boarding houses. On awaking on the morning of the 29th, it was felt by all that an eventful day had arrived, and we were not mistaken. We can truly say that the day was 'Unprecedented in its Enjoyment' in the history of Grand Bank. "'What made it so?' some ask. We answer, 'The royal and welcome way in which we were received by the ladies and gentlemen of St. Pierre.' No praise of our reception can be too complimentary. In the morning we were taken out for a drive by the members of the French football team, in wagons which were decorated with flags to suit the occasion. At 2 o'clock the football match was played. The British Consul at St. Pierre acted as referee. "The St. Pierre brass band marched with us to the football grounds treating us with some lively music on the way. The match was very exciting from beginning to end, but it proved to be a one-sided game, the score being three to nil in favour of the French. However, we expect to do better next summer." Over the years the visits between the French islands and Grand Bank were much more than soccer games. Usually two or three dozen fans would accompany the players. It was one of the highlights of the year for both communities. Lavish banquets, dances and renewing old friendships were the order of the day. Photos of both teams had to be taken and it became a tradition that at least one photo had to be taken of the players from both teams posing together, often with their arms interlocking each other. Life on the nearby island The tidal wave that struck the 'the boot' of the Burin Peninsula on Nov. 18, 1929, killed 28 people and left hundreds more destitute. People in Burin, St. Lawrence, Taylor's Bay, Point au Gaul and Lamaline could only watch helplessly as their fishing boats and gear, stages and flakes were destroyed or washed out to sea by the giant tsunami that crashed ashore there. Their means of earning a livelihood was gone and in many cases families had no choice but to leave. Meanwhile the economy in nearby St-Pierre-Miquelon was doing quite well, thanks to Prohibition in the U.S. At least 15 men from St. Lawrence decided to move to the French Islands to sign on as crew members on rum-running vessels, ferrying contraband liquor to a rendezvous point just off the American coast. Most of the men and their families eventually did return to St. Lawrence but several, including John and Nora Cusick, put down their roots at St. Pierre and remained there. The Cusicks had six children, who were all born and grew up in St. Pierre. One of the children, Therese, moved to St. Lawrence when she married Herb Slaney in 1952. Adjusting to a different lifestyle and traditions in St. Lawrence "was a culture shock," said Slaney, now 87. Doing her best to communicate in her broken English in the early years and also missing her family were huge challenges for her, she explained. Even though St. Pierre was nearby, having eight children to raise meant that trips there were limited. However, her husband's deep involvement in soccer meant that some of her family and friends would visit when the French team came each year to play in St. Lawrence. The French dance music known as musette — mostly a rapid waltz or other kind of two-person dance played with the accordion — has always been very popular at St. Pierre. Therese's late husband Herb was noted for his love of music and his ability to tickle the ivories. Often when they visited the French islands he would be called upon to play. "Growing up we were very close to our grand-mère," Therese's daughter, Lisa, told me. "She always came to visit in September, and when we girls got older we went ourselves to spend a month in the summer with her. We had a lot of French cousins, aunts and uncles, who we are still in touch with." Grand Bank native Holly Penwell moved to St. Pierre in 1995, and two years later married her French boyfriend, Jean Marc Briand. Doing her best to adjust to an entirely different culture while trying to learn a new language proved to be quite a challenge. To talk to each other, the couple at first used an English/French dictionary; for Penwell to communicate at all with others, like when she would answer the phone, she would memorize some common French sentences. Coping with isolation on the small island was also difficult, especially during the winters in the early years when there was no regular ferry service. However, well qualified with her previous teaching experience as well as her bachelor of education and a master's in education administration from Memorial University, she earned a diploma in teaching a second language and started teaching at MUN's campus on the French island in 1997. Four years later Penwell went to work for the St-Pierre-Miquelon government in a music and arts school where she remained for 16 years, until she and her son, Luc Briand, moved to France proper in 2017. Penwell recently passed France's national exam — placing 43rd out of the 350 people who wrote it at the same time — qualifying her to teach in that country. She is teaching in France and her son, Luc, is attending university there; both of them now hold dual Canadian/French citizenship. Many people from St. Lawrence to Point May on the Burin Peninsula can trace some of their ancestry to St. Pierre, no doubt because of their closer proximity to the French islands than towns like Grand Bank, Fortune and Garnish. Lisa Loder, Therese Slaney's daughter, is among them, with a strong attachment to the French islands. "We all loved St. Pierre — the chocolate, pastries and bread, and the friendliness of the people on the island," she told me. "It was a special unique little place with a different culture that holds many wonderful memories as a child, and when I visit any time as an adult I still get that excitement." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
COVID-19's disastrous effects on Canada's hotel industry are well-documented, but as owners struggle to survive the pandemic, they are also battling a second crisis: skyrocketing insurance rates. It seems counterintuitive, since hotels are serving fewer guests and many of their restaurants and lounges are closed, but hospitality insurance rates across the country have increased dramatically in the past year, putting more pressure on an already pinched industry. Michael Mazepa, who is part of an ownership group for the St. Albert Inn and Suites, the Continental Inn and Suites in west Edmonton, and a Best Western in B.C. said rates doubled at two of the hotels, with insurance for each now costing more than $135,000 annually. "It's a lot of money and you don't have the money rolling in," Mazepa said. Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association, said in the past year, members have reported insurance increases of 100 to 300 per cent. Most of the association's members were part of a large group of businesses from British Columbia to Ontario that pooled their resources to help stabilize rates. The system worked well for years, Kaiser said, but this year, the group failed to find an insurance company that would insure this kind of model. The group turned to traditional insurance, but premiums went up, and in some cases, hotels failed to stay in the group or find insurance at all. Jay Deol, who owns the Westgate Motor Inn in west Edmonton, said his annual insurance rate quadrupled this year, rising from about $8,600 to $34,000. He can't afford the hike and said he was baffled because he has never made a claim. Deol said he tried shopping around for another option, but could not find a company that would even give him a quote. Why did rates rise? Industry experts say hospitality insurance has become more expensive for several reasons. The first is there have been more claims and losses in recent years. A recent report by Deloitte, relying on statistics from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, found that over the past 15 years, insurance loss ratios have climbed faster than premiums have. On the property insurance side, water damage and catastrophic weather events like hail in Calgary and flooding in Fort McMurray have been costly for insurers. On the liability side, slips and falls have led to expensive lawsuits. Recognizing this, some companies have stopped offering hospitality insurance, with the result being fewer players in the market and higher rates for hotels and restaurants. The pandemic is exacerbating the problem. "The lower the interest rates, the higher the insurance premiums because insurance companies can't make money on the investment behind the scenes," explained Brett Kanuka, marketing director for CMB Insurance Brokers in Edmonton. Pandemic-related closures and suspensions in the hospitality sector have also meant fewer hotels and restaurants are paying into the pool of money that covers losses. Experts say the issue is global and goes beyond hospitality insurance — condominiums, shopping malls, recycling plants and school districts are also struggling to pay for higher rates. "We're not immune to some of the events that are happening around the world," said Rob de Pruis, a director of consumer and industry relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Some hotels ditch property insurance Some hotel owners who can't afford the increases are choosing to accept the risks that come with reducing coverage. Kaiser said he is aware of hotels foregoing property insurance and only paying for liability. "To me, that's very scary," said Nona McCreedy, owner of Aurora Underwriting Services in Edmonton. "It must make it difficult for them to sleep at night because they're suddenly taking on that risk themselves." Though hotel owners cannot do much to prevent catastrophic weather events, they can ramp up their risk management systems in an effort to avoid making claims. At Mazepa's hotels, staff are checking rooms for damage weekly, even if they are not occupied, and Kaiser said risk management education and training will be a key focus for the hotel association going forward. Helping businesses find insurance In the meantime, there are efforts underway to help companies that have been unable to find insurance. The Insurance Bureau of Canada launched a business insurance action team in December to help connect hospitality businesses in Ontario with insurance companies. The pilot project may expand, if demand persists, to other parts of the country. For companies like Echelon Insurance, the problem presents an opportunity. In the fall the company expanded its commercial insurance offerings for small and medium-sized hospitality businesses in Ontario and as of Jan. 1, it has made those available to companies across Canada. "We are definitely hearing the noise from some businesses and brokers, which tells us that there's a need for this particular coverage because there's a gap in the industry," said Echelon Insurance president Robin Joshua. Experts say that with rates likely remaining high for at least another year, business owners should scrutinize their policies, go over them in detail with brokers and look for opportunities to reduce coverage or increase deductibles. "Most of us are really trying to do the best we can for the insured and get them the fairest price possible," McCreedy said.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s thousands of rotational workers are once again at the top of the province’s policy discussions, this time in relation to the timing of the provincial election. In a release Saturday, Chris Tibbs, a Progressive Conservative candidate in central Newfoundland, says a snap election called in the middle of winter makes it tough for rotational workers to vote. His concerns are echoed in a local Facebook group for rotational workers, which began in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when health authorities were rolling out special quarantine rules for people regularly travelling back and forth to other provinces for work. Many in the group are sharing information on how to vote by mail, urging their fellow rotational workers to be sure they get a ballot. In an interview, Gillian Pearson, who co-chairs a local group supporting women and gender-diverse people in politics, says snap elections can also make it harder for women to run, as they are often in charge of child- or elder-care and must make arrangements. According to the province’s election rules, Liberal leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey had to call an election before August 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Former President Donald Trump considered replacing the acting attorney general with an official willing to pursue unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, and he pushed the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate President Joe Biden’s victory, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal said the efforts in the last weeks of Trump's presidency failed because of resistance from his Justice appointees who refused to file what they viewed as a legally baseless lawsuit in the Supreme Court. Other senior department officials later threatened to resign if Trump fired then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, several people familiar with the discussions told the Journal.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 24, 2021. There are 737,407 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 737,407 confirmed cases (65,750 active, 652,829 resolved, 18,828 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,957 new cases Saturday from 101,130 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 174.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 41,703 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,958. There were 206 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,100 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 157. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 50.09 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,996,450 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (10 active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Saturday from 146 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.68 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.92 per 100,000 people. 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 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,472 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 418 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 88,407 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,570 confirmed cases (22 active, 1,483 resolved, 65 deaths). There were five new cases Saturday from 721 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.69 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 200,424 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,087 confirmed cases (332 active, 742 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 30 new cases Saturday from 1,031 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 42.74 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 203 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 29. There were zero new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 133,199 tests completed. _ Quebec: 250,491 confirmed cases (17,763 active, 223,367 resolved, 9,361 deaths). There were 1,631 new cases Saturday from 8,857 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 209.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,746 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,678. There were 88 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 423 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 60. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.71 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 110.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,695,925 tests completed. _ Ontario: 250,226 confirmed cases (25,263 active, 219,262 resolved, 5,701 deaths). There were 2,662 new cases Saturday from 69,403 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 173.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18,918 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,703. There were 87 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 412 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 59. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 39.14 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,895,862 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,260 confirmed cases (3,261 active, 24,204 resolved, 795 deaths). There were 171 new cases Saturday from 1,998 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 238.12 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,118 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 160. There were two new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.05 per 100,000 people. There have been 448,638 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,643 confirmed cases (3,196 active, 18,200 resolved, 247 deaths). There were 305 new cases Saturday from 1,326 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. The rate of active cases is 272.12 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,928 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 275. There were eight new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 37 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.45 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.03 per 100,000 people. There have been 327,151 tests completed. _ Alberta: 119,757 confirmed cases (9,987 active, 108,258 resolved, 1,512 deaths). There were 643 new cases Saturday from 12,969 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 228.47 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,387 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 627. There were 12 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 110 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 34.59 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,061,844 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 63,484 confirmed cases (5,901 active, 56,455 resolved, 1,128 deaths). There were 508 new cases Saturday from 4,088 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 116.36 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,367 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 481. There were nine new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,044,931 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from six 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 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,216 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 105 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 9,064 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 267 confirmed cases (one active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Saturday from 62 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been one 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 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,241 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
A U.S. aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to promote "freedom of the seas", the U.S. military said on Sunday, at a time when tensions between China and Taiwan have raised concern in Washington. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement the strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday, the same day Taiwan reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defence identification zone in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands.
Canada has a patchwork of different policies in place regarding the public disclosure of COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces, and expert opinion seems as divided as the regulations on whether making outbreaks public helps or hinders the spread of the virus. Earlier this month, the city of Toronto moved to publish the names of companies seeing multiple COVID-19 infections, even though the province of Ontario doesn't disclose outbreaks. "Across Canada, workplace reporting is not being done nearly enough," said Joe Cressy, the chair of Toronto's Board of Health and a councillor in Ontario's capital. In Quebec and Ontario, workplace outbreaks surpassed those in long-term care facilities for a time before the new year arrived. Recent Ontario outbreaks at a 9-1-1 dispatch centre and a Canada Post distribution facility, plus outbreaks at industrial settings in Alberta and B.C., and others at food processing plants and warehouses late last year have renewed concerns about workplace spread. CBC News looked at how provincial and territorial governments disclose COVID-19 workplace outbreaks across the country — and the pros and cons of making them public. Who names companies and who doesn't In Newfoundland and the rest of Atlantic Canada, workplaces are only named publicly if health officials cannot identify and contact people who may be at risk of infection and should isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms or get tested. This means workplaces that are not open to the public are rarely named, while grocery stores and transportation services, such as ferries and flights, for instance are common on Nova Scotia's published list of exposure risks. Newfoundland does publish a list of workplace outbreaks at industrial sites in Alberta and B.C., because so many of its residents travel for work to those provinces. In Canada's North, territorial governments will publish the locations where there was a risk of public exposure, which can include workplace names. Manitoba's policy mirrors the practice in Atlantic Canada, with businesses named only if health officials are not able to complete contact tracing. Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. all publish the names of workplaces with outbreaks. Canada's largest provinces Quebec and Ontario, however, do not publish the names of specific workplaces experiencing outbreaks. WATCH | Why Toronto has decided it needs to disclose workplace outbreaks: In a statement, Ontario's Ministry of Health said disclosing the names of companies or workplaces "is within the purview of local public health units." Though Toronto just began publishing workplace outbreak names, Hamilton has been doing so since last spring. Meanwhile, some disclosures come from companies themselves, or from workers or union officials publicizing the issue. Naming brings accountability While standard public health practice is to only name outbreak locations for communicable diseases when there's a risk of exposure for the public, Cressy believes the best way to make government and companies accountable for protecting workers is to name every workplace outbreak, everywhere. "COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting low income frontline workers," he said. "In a pandemic, information is power. And information can also provoke change." Dr. Nitin Mohan, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Western University in London, Ont., thinks naming workplaces could lead to changes that would protect essential workers. "Understanding how government is responding to a once-in-a-generation pandemic requires us to have the available data. So if we're seeing workplace outbreaks, and we know that a government is not supportive of providing paid sick leave, essentially, folks are armed with more information for the next election cycle." For Mohan, naming workplaces would also "provide us with a lot of data about community spread." However, he said the privacy of individual workers must be protected, which would mean some small companies couldn't be identified. Naming could backfire Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist with Epi Research Inc. of Winnipeg, says naming businesses could backfire. She says it could actually scare employees into not reporting feeling sick if they fear being blamed for bad publicity from an outbreak. At the same time, she worries it could create a stigma around businesses that might have good safety practices, but still had an outbreak. "My concern is always that we don't make that mistake of equating shaming with accountability. It's not the same thing." Carr supports public health transparency when it helps give people the power to make choices or take action. Publicizing outbreaks at long-term care facilities and hospitals, she said, "has an associated action people need to understand," like: "I can't visit my loved one." She thinks workplaces should be named when COVID-19 could be spread in the community, but naming every single workplace with an outbreak doesn't give the public useful information about whether they need to self-monitor or go for testing. Keeping workers safe In Alberta, where workplace outbreaks are published, a union spokesperson says the naming policy is mostly a public relations issue for employers. "On the ground, on the shop floor, in the workplaces ... it hasn't meant a whole lot," said Micheal Hughes of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 401. "Certainly not enough to stop outbreaks from happening." Before Alberta started naming workplaces, it was workers and UFCW that exposed what became the largest COVID-19 workplace outbreak in Canada at the Cargill meat packing plant in High River, Alberta. WATCH | Family of Cargill worker who died of COVID-19 pushed for police investigation: At least 950 workers, almost half the plant's staff, tested positive for COVID-19 by early May 2020. Recently, the RCMP launched an investigation into possible criminal negligence by the company in the death of Benito Quesada, a 51-year-old Cargill worker who died from COVID-19. Hughes believes the best way to keep workers safe is to have "a worker-centred, robust kind of regulatory system" including clear and mandatory guidelines for workplaces and more inspections by labour officials. In the fall, Ottawa began giving cash to food processors across the country to help them deal with COVID-19. The $77.5-million emergency fund is meant to help the sector implement measures to fight the coronavirus, including acquiring more protective equipment for workers. Epidemiologists say meat plants present ideal conditions for the COVID-19 virus to spread, because workers are in close contact, windows can't be opened for fresh air and the temperature is cool. Hughes said while naming businesses as workplace outbreaks continue may help "motivate a company to do things," the focus of the UFCW is to continue the push for safety measures and benefits like paid sick leave.
Eleven workers trapped for two weeks by an explosion inside a Chinese gold mine were brought safely to the surface on Sunday.View on euronews
New U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during his first phone call with his Japanese counterpart, reaffirmed America's commitment to Tokyo to defending a group of East China Sea islets claimed by both Japan and China, the Pentagon said. Austin, in talks with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, confirmed that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which stipulates U.S. defence obligations to Japan, covers the uninhabited islands, the Pentagon said in a statement.
DENPASAR, Indonesia — A Russian social media celebrity was being deported from Indonesia on Sunday after he held a party at a luxury hotel on the resort island of Bali attended by more than 50 people despite coronavirus restrictions. The party held on Jan. 11 violated health protocols put in place to fight the spread of the virus, said Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. Sergei Kosenko, who has more than 4.9 million followers on his Instagram account, arrived in Indonesia in October on a tourist visa. Immigration officials in Bali decided to examine Kosenko’s activities after he posted to social media a video of him driving a motorcycle with a female passenger on the back off a pier into the sea in December. The stunt was condemned by many Indonesians as reckless and a potentially hazardous to the environment. Manihuruk said the immigration investigation found Kosenko took part in activities that violated his tourist visa, such as promoting companies and products. After the announcement of his deportation, Kosenko told reporters at the immigration office in Bali that he was sorry. “I love Bali. I am sorry and I apologize,” Kosenko said. The deportation comes just days after Indonesia deported an American woman who had been living on Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated the island as a low-cost, “queer-friendly” place for foreigners to live. Her posts were considered to have “disseminated information disturbing to the public,” which was the basis for her deportation. Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreigners from coming to the country since Jan. 1 to control the spread of COVID-19, and public activities have been restricted on Java and Bali islands. Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights recorded 162 foreigners have been deported from Bali in 2020 and 2021. Most of them are being deported for violating the visit visa. Firdia Lisnawati, The Associated Press
On her journey to find a suitable therapist, Edmontonian Odion Welch spent 15 minutes of an hour-long counselling session explaining to her white psychologist about plantain — the fried banana common at the dinner table in her Caribbean household. She went through seven counselors before finding the right one because of the barriers of cost, accessibility and most importantly — finding someone who understood her Black culture. "Who do you talk to about that experience?" asked Welch, a mental health youth coordinator with the Africa Centre. Welch is now part of efforts at the Africa Centre that will make it easier for other Black Albertans to find a therapist who can better relate to their experiences. The organization has launched a free counselling clinic to support Albertans of African descent dealing with the impact of COVID-19. "There's a safe one hour conversation that someone can have that's either going to be a safe venting session or a place where they leave with resources and that almost kind of virtual hug that someone gets it," Welch said. In partnership with Alberta Black Therapists Network and funded by United Way, the program is the first of its kind in Western Canada to provide free, culturally-relevant counselling services for Black community members. With many appointments available on evenings and weekends, the sessions are solely virtual right now due to COVID-19 with future plans for in-person sessions. The team of all-Black therapists speak a total of nine different languages. Access to multilingual Black therapists is just one of the ways the program aims to reduce barriers identified during consultations to accessing mental health support. As well as having therapists who better understand the cultures or systemic racism, their lived experience also makes them more sensitive to the reality of microaggressions, pre-migration or intergenerational trauma clients may face. "The most common microaggression that I feel like Black people talk about is the hair, petting the hair and 'Oh I can't believe it feels like this'," Welch said. "We have so many of our youth talk about — they still have teachers say to them, 'You're smart for a Black person'." 'Rocking your natural hair' Welch, an entrepreneur who overcame her own struggle with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, self-published a best-selling book on Amazon: Breakthrough: A Courageous True Story of Overcoming Depression and Anxiety. She highlights the pressures Black women feel whether it's being a good spouse, parent and career woman; fulfilling family expectations; sexual trauma and body image; or concerns about coming across as the "angry Black woman" or "rocking your natural hair." Current events such as the video repeatedly played of the murder of George Floyd can add to that trauma, said Welch. She pointed out that the last segregated school in Canada only closed in the 1980s and noted Edmonton's history of white supremacy lives on today, with racist eruptions repeatedly grabbing headlines. "So if you're a parent, there's only two generations before me that went through those things and saw the segregation and heard the comments and came from a time where, you know, 'If it's Black, it ain't right' kind of thing," Welch said. Jasmine Duncan, an entrepreneur and single mother of three children who struggled to find a Black therapist for her own family, welcomed the new program. "I think it's important, especially for our children to see somebody who looks like them, kind of representing them and understanding what it's like for them," Duncan said. "Even for myself, when I get therapy it's hard to really explain some of the things that you're going through or that you feel if somebody has never experienced anything like it, and it's not something you can really read in a textbook." "When it comes to racism, you can express the things that you have been through or the way you've been treated. But because somebody hasn't had an experience, something to that level, it's kind of like, 'OK, but was it really that bad?' "Unless you've actually really been in those shoes, it's really hard to give the advice that's needed for somebody to work through it." Duncan hopes other parents will see the value of Black children seeing a therapist as a sort of mental health hygiene much like going to the doctor or dentist. "We need to teach them how to take care of themselves once they do leave the home," Duncan said. "So you need to know that if you are struggling with something, you reach out and you ask for help." 'Re-traumatized' Noreen Sibanda is the executive director of the Alberta Black Therapists Network formed last year to offer services for individuals with an understanding of lived experiences of the Black community. The network aims to offer services coming from an anti-oppressive, decolonizing and trauma-informed space that destigmatizes mental health within the Black community. "It's something that people would sort through in isolation," Sibanda said. "But individuals were not seeking out supports one, because they didn't know and two, they were afraid that if they do connect, they are going to connect with someone that would not understand their lived experience and they would have to be re-traumatized by retelling of their story." She said the launch of the program in partnership with the Africa Centre is especially important now because of the pandemic. "So having the Africa Centre partnered with the Alberta Black Therapists Network is saying, we recognize that we cannot think of mental health as something that we'll deal with later, but something that has to be part of the already existing programs," Sibanda said. "We cannot connect individuals with education, employment if we're not taking care of their mental health because they will not succeed. They would run into different areas, or they would come back and feel like they're not being successful because their mental health is not being addressed."
Britain has detected 77 cases of the South African variant of COVID-19, the health minister said on Sunday, also urging people to strictly follow lockdown rules as the best precaution against Britain's own potentially more deadly variant. Matt Hancock said all 77 cases were connected to travel from South Africa and were under close observation, as were nine identified cases of a Brazilian variant.