Learn how to make these amazing flaky pastries from Paris with a mouth-watering chocolate side. Enjoy!
Learn how to make these amazing flaky pastries from Paris with a mouth-watering chocolate side. Enjoy!
The Burmese-Canadian community is calling on the federal government to provide more material support to anti-military protesters after a week that saw some of the deadliest clashes between police and demonstrators in Myanmar since the military coup in that country. The Burmese Canadian Action Network (BCAN) sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Marc Garneau this week, just one day after police killed 18 people and wounded 30, according to the United Nations. "We, Burmese Canadians across Canada, are calling on the Government of Canada to provide tangible support for Burmese people struggling for freedom and democracy," the letter reads. The crisis began after Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide re-election as state counsellor of Myanmar — a position equivalent to a prime minister -- on Nov. 8 last year. The military questioned the results, accusing the winning party of fraud, before seizing power and placing Suu Kyi and other senior members of her government under arrest on Feb. 1. Since then, dozens of protesters have died -- 34 on Wednesday alone -- at the hands of police and more than 1,000 civilians and elected officials have been arrested. Anti-coup protesters maintain their position behind a barricade despite smoke from tear gas in San Chaung township in Yangon, Myanmar, on Friday, Mar. 5, 2021. Demonstrators defy growing violence by security forces and stage more anti-coup protests ahead of a special UN Security Council meeting on the country’s political crisis.(The Associated Press) From pot-banging to protesters taking to the streets clad in hard-hats and goggles to protect themselves from assaults by police, the demonstrations are happening daily, in spite of bans on political protests and on social media. The letter to Trudeau and Garneau says Canada should take further action, including helping people who are now struggling with food scarcity. The civil unrest has caused major shutdowns in the country and interrupted the people's daily lives, especially those who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). BCAN appealed to Canada to send food and material support via UN agencies and civil society organizations. "We encourage you to find ways to provide such essential assistance urgently," its letter reads. The letter also calls on Canada to officially recognize the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Htaw (CRPH). The CRPH, which was created soon after the coup with the support of 400 elected MPs, combines the Lower and Upper Houses of Myanmar's parliament. Protesters hold up placards demanding the release of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Naypyidaw on March 4, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images) According to Tin Maung Htoo, spokesperson for the BCAN, the CRPH is currently working underground in defiance of the police and supporting the demonstrators under the radar, by releasing information and making announcements to the public. "We are quite encouraged by the [Canadian] government's stand and this stand and actions from the government is very encouraging for people on the ground in Burma, especially," he said, referring to a move by Canada and Britain to impose economic sanctions on Myanmar. The two countries made the move under the Special Economic Measures Act on Feb 18 after police violence escalated against demonstrators. We don't want to go back 20, 30 years -- back to the dark age. That is why this is the time for us to do whatever we can. - Tin Maung Htoo Maung Htoo was a student when he fled Myanmar during in 1988 after organizing protests against the military dictatorship. "More than 3,000 people, mostly students, were killed in the streets," Maung Htoo recalled. "There was no freedom of expression, association, student unions were banned." The regime lasted over 20 years, finally ending when Myanmar achieved partial democracy in 2010. Tin Maung Htoo, with the Burmese Canadian Action Network, says the people of Myanmar 'are showing their strong stand and support for democratization in the country.'(Submitted by Tin Maung Htoo) Two years before the country opened itself to the world, the military wrote a new constitution, which allowed it to keep some of its former powers, including 25 per cent of seats in parliament and control of the defence, border affairs and home ministries. When the military moved to take power in February, General Min Aung Hlaing announced the removal of 24 democratically elected ministers, naming 11 replacements.. Maung Htoo said he believes the coup is an act of desperation. He said the the military was gradually losing not only political control under Suu Kyi's leadership but also economic power, since big business organizations are military-backed and military-owned. "People are showing their strong stand and support for democratization in the country." Maung Htoo said. "We don't want to go back 20, 30 years ... back to the dark age. That is why this is the time for us to do whatever we can."
Siksika Nation members will have more recreational options next year, with the addition of a new outdoor rink funded through a partnership between The Calgary Flames Foundation and Siksika Health. The new rink, to be called The Calgary Flames Outdoor Rink, will be constructed over the spring and summer to become operational sometime next winter, either in late 2021 or early 2022. According to Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot, the rink will provide new opportunities to local athletes. “Siksika has many young athletes who love participating in sports, but often don’t have the means or opportunities to do so,” he said. The rink will help to develop and enhance players skills, but also serve as a new and safe environment for new skaters, said Ethan Yellow Old Woman, a Siksika Nation member, in a video posted to Twitter. “This will bring more youth and families together and give them an opportunity to create new, lasting memories,” he said, adding the closest outdoor rinks are 30 minutes to one hour away from Siksika Nation. “That just isn’t an option for most members.” The rink will be located to the southeast corner of the Deerfoot Sportsplex Arena parking lot, allowing it to be maintained by the Zamboni there, explained Richard Running Rabbit, program coordinator with Siksika Health Services. Siksika Nation is investigating other winter recreation amenities in the area, including tubing, and fire pits with seating, he said. The rink will also provide recreation throughout the year, with the addition of basketball hoops, ramps for skateboarding and lacrosse nets in warmer temperatures. “It’s not only going to serve just for hockey and skating,” said Running Rabbit Once the weather warms up and the snow clears, new asphalt will be added to the area and graded. This will be done to allow proper site drainage in the spring. After that, boards will be installed, as well as attachments, such as a players’ box, caging and lighting. The rink will provide more recreation opportunities outside, when COVID-19 is limiting indoor activities, said Running Rabbit. “We’re going to have more recreational options for young people, as well as families who can book as cohorts,” he said. “We don’t know what’s in store for next year, but this will definitely be something we can look forward to using.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
VANCOUVER — A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has reserved his decision on a request from three churches to throw out provincial health orders that prevent them from holding in-person services. Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson said Friday he doesn't want to delay unnecessarily and he appreciates the urgency of the matter from the petitioners' point of view, but he must give the case careful thought. "You've presented me with very difficult issues to resolve and I will take the time necessary to try and resolve those issues fairly." Hinkson gave no date on when he would release his decision. Jacqueline Hughes, a lawyer for B.C.'s attorney general, told the court the orders by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry do not single out or ban all in-person religious services and Henry has invited exemption requests. The petitioners include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack. Hughes said the churches are now permitted to hold in-person services of up to 25 people, outdoors and with safety measures in place, through a "variance" to Henry's orders granted late last month. Individual worship and drive-in events are also permitted under the orders, subject to conditions, she said, while weddings, funerals and baptisms may include no more than 10 guests. Henry has the statutory powers during an emergency to issue orders she reasonably believes are necessary to prevent and mitigate further harm from a health hazard, including restricting entry to a place, said Hughes. The province's top doctor has made efforts to consult faith leaders while weighing their charter rights against data about COVID-19 cases in B.C. and explaining her reasoning in public briefings and in writing, she said. Paul Jaffe, legal counsel for the petitioners, has argued Henry's orders reflect a value judgment. On Friday, he said his clients have been subjected to discriminatory treatment compared with other groups. Orthodox Jewish synagogues were granted variances to hold indoor services on the Sabbath around the time Henry and the attorney general sought an injunction to stop his clients from worshipping in person, Jaffe said. Hinkson dismissed the province's injunction application last month, saying the provincial health officer has means under the Public Health Act to enforce the rules without a court order. Jaffe told the court on Friday there has been no change in the degree to which Henry's orders arbitrarily infringe on his clients' charter right to freedom of religion from the time they were made last November to now. "All the Crown has been able to show you are the opinions of Dr. Henry," he said. "But opinions aren't evidence. You need cogent, persuasive evidence to justify those opinions and there simply isn't any." He told the court earlier this week that his clients have adopted safety measures similar to those approved by the provincial health officer in places that remain open. Jaffe works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy group that's also asking the court to dismiss tickets of up to $2,300 each for alleged violations of the public health orders. Hughes told the court on Friday "there's no absolute rule that constitutionally protected interests must be preferred to those that are just pressing and substantial" in matters such as the petition at hand. The only requirements, she said, are that any balance struck is reasonable, that "sincere religious practice" is accommodated where possible, and that religious and non-religious beliefs are treated neutrally. "We say Dr. Henry understood these requirements and applied them to best of her ability," Hughes told Hinkson. Henry's mandate to protect public health is a balancing exercise, she said, and "charter rights do not trump the public health mandate that she has and is continuing to exercise over the course of this pandemic." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 85,376 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,253,514 doses given. Nationwide, 561,238 people or 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,946.061 per 100,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,622,210 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 85.94 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. In the province, 1.61 per cent (8,427) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. In the province, 3.32 per cent (5,273) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,657 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 38,676 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.631 per 1,000. In the province, 1.48 per cent (14,395) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. In the province, 1.56 per cent (12,142) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 19,975 new vaccinations administered for a total of 510,479 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.659 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 35,886 new vaccinations administered for a total of 820,714 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.872 per 1,000. In the province, 1.83 per cent (269,063) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,358 new vaccinations administered for a total of 84,937 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 61.682 per 1,000. In the province, 2.17 per cent (29,847) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 124,840 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,789 new vaccinations administered for a total of 86,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.679 per 1,000. In the province, 2.37 per cent (27,945) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 116.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 9,488 new vaccinations administered for a total of 275,719 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 62.634 per 1,000. In the province, 2.06 per cent (90,486) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 100.3 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 12,357 new vaccinations administered for a total of 311,208 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.646 per 1,000. In the province, 1.69 per cent (86,865) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,279 new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,437 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 465.769 per 1,000. In the territory, 17.00 per cent (7,093) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 102.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. In the territory, 10.10 per cent (4,558) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,911 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 359.216 per 1,000. In the territory, 13.28 per cent (5,144) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 58.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccination program is being extended into pharmacies, but only in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer for now. All Albertans aged 75 and older can book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. In addition to Alberta Health Services (AHS) sites, a list of participating pharmacies is available through the website of Alberta Blue Cross (ab.bluecross.ca). Appointments at participating pharmacies are starting this week. As more doses become available, more pharmacies will begin to offer the vaccine, including in more communities. “As the vaccine supply increases in the province, we look forward to expanding the program to include all community pharmacists in pharmacies across the province,” said Margaret Wing, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association CEO, in a Feb. 24 government news release. By providing flu and other vaccines in the past, pharmacies have the skills needed to safely provide COVID-19 vaccines, according to the government. Albertans are being encouraged to have both doses of vaccine at the same location, so any first doses booked at a community pharmacy will be followed by the second dose at the same place. The pharmacies must be called directly to book an appointment through them. Residents must select the pharmacy that is located closest to them. No walk-ins are permitted. Booking for vaccination at AHS sites can still be made online (albertahealthservices.ca) or by calling 811. On Feb. 25, the government announced more than 100,000 Alberta seniors and 22,000 other seniors in congregate care settings have booked for a vaccination appointment. Combined with the 28,000 seniors in long-term already vaccinated, over half of Alberta’s 75-plus population either have already been vaccinated or are scheduled to receive a first dose. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Trustees in the River East Transcona School Division have approved a $201.8-million budget for the upcoming school year that takes into account the impact COVID-19 has had on student well-being. The budget has few changes in store for 2021-22, aside from a modest increase of 5.1 new full-time equivalent resource teacher and clinician positions. “This health crisis has thrown everything upside down, and we know come the fall, there are going to be a lot of children, a lot of families, who are going to require a lot more support from education — academically, and for their mental health and well-being,” said Jerry Sodomlak, chairman of the board. The province has allocated $98.9 million in operating funding, the equivalent of a 0.6 per cent increase, for the Winnipeg-based division next year. Divisions have been directed to freeze property education taxes, with the province instead offering one-time grants the equivalent of a two per cent hike; in River East Transcona, that means a resident with an average home valued at $287,500 will see an approximately $27 decrease on their tax bill. Sodomlak said revenues don’t keep pace with inflation and growing enrolment costs, and could result in larger class sizes next year. “The government has dropped the ball… but I believe that we have an extremely capable and strong senior administration team in our division and teaching staff who will be able to continue our programming,” he said Wednesday, adding the division has strong inclusion supports, unique bilingual programs and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) offerings. Trustee Brianne Goertzen, chairwoman of the finance committee, echoed those sentiments Wednesday: “We’re looking at trying to maintain a status quo.” Not unlike other boards, staffing and benefit costs in the River East Transcona account for nearly 90 per cent of its total budget. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Golden Hill School Division (GHSD) held a board meeting on Feb. 23, focusing on a range of topics, including setting next year’s budget, this year’s election, enrolment trends and changes to its transportation program. Budget development The government of Alberta released its 2021 budget on Feb. 25, which will shape GHSD’s budget next year. According to the province, funding for kindergarten to Grade 12 is being maintained, despite lower-than-expected enrolment. However, GHSD will review the specifics of the budget in developing its own budget for next year, through a multistep process. At this time of year, the board is focused on its overarching budgeting principles, explained superintendent Bevan Daverne. “One of those principles is that we live within our means and make (GHSD’s budget) work within the funding we receive,” he said. While GHSD may access reserve funding for its budget, it is not permitted to run an overall deficit. Another principle is ensuring GHSD’s priorities continue to align with its overall education plan. “We’ll continue to focus on those things that matter most for learning,” said Daverne. Once the budget is released, the province’s minister of education calls all the division chairs across Alberta to communicate the highlights of the budget, explained Laurie Huntley, GHSD board chair. The board will later receive the budget in its entirety for review. “That’s when the rubber hits the road and our people start crunching the numbers and comparing things from last year to this year,” she said. The board will review the specifics of the provincial budget and its impact during the next meeting in March, added Daverne. Election 2021 This year, a provincial school board of trustee election will be held on Oct. 18. Trustees are responsible for setting school division goals and priorities, developing a budget and policies, ensuring communication with residents, advocating for the division and evaluating the superintendent. GHSD has six trustees, each representing a different ward. One of the changes to this year’s election was the nomination period, which started on Jan. 1, earlier than previous years. During the Feb. 23 meeting, the board passed an updated bylaw outlining the identification requirements of nominees. The current trustees on the board have been “outstanding,” said Daverne. “They think about what’s best for students as a whole, they are very good listeners and they are very considerate in the decisions they make.” Advocacy is a key part of trustee’s work, including advocating for changes to funding, regulations and rules with provincial decisions makers, he added. Huntley (Ward 5, Carseland and Wheatland Crossing), Rob Pirie (Ward 4, Strathmore) and Jennifer Mertz (Ward 4, Strathmore) are all seeking reelection. Enrolment changes During the Feb. 23 meeting, GHSD’s headcount was shown to have increased from December 2020 to January 2021 by 135 students. This trend was driven by increases in its online learning programs, including 127 added to its Golden Hills Learning Academy and 26 to its NorthStar Academy. The jump was due to the pandemic, said Huntley. “We think you can sum up the reason in five letters: C-O-V-I-D,” she said. But this increase is not due to children in the division moving from learning at school to learning at home, she explained. Instead, these programs are offered to students throughout Alberta, so the increases are due to students from other jurisdictions entering the program. From the start of last year, these programs have doubled in size, noted Daverne. To meet this new demand, GHSD has had to make some quick adjustments, such as hiring more teachers. But within the division, the opposite trend is being seen, where students are moving back into schools from at-home learning. “Our families have been really happy to be able to get back to face-to-face classroom learning,” said Daverne. Transportation monitoring report GHSD’s yearly transportation monitoring report was also discussed during the Feb. 23 meeting, focusing on GHSD’s school bus program. A new operating training program has been implemented, called mandatory entry-level training (MELT), established in March 2019 as a provincial requirement for large vehicle operators. The training requires set hourly training requirements for drivers (53.5 hours total), including increased requirements for classroom, in-yard and on-road training. Existing GHSD policies already required 62 hours of training, with some of the training performed over a year. But the change with MELT is the training is required up front. This is not necessarily an improvement, because drivers require regular supervision, ride alongs and support to develop, said Daverne. “We’re going to help you continue becoming a better driver, and we’re going to continue to supervise over time,” he said. GHSD is also pursuing several initiatives for its transportation program, including ongoing efforts to implement online attendance tracking systems, new cleaning protocols and adding live cameras to the buses. “We’re looking at ways to monitor students’ attendance on a bus automatically – where they get on and where they get off,” he said. Each of GHSD’s buses has GPS tracking, which will be considered in a review of the department’s inclement weather policy. The buses also each have WiFi for students, providing a filtered internet from which they can access their Google Classroom. “School bus transportation is very different today than it once was,” said Daverne. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
This spring, Winnipeg’s civil service will unveil its new master plan for public transit, coming on the heels of Ottawa’s announcement to shovel billions of dollars into programs across the country over the next decade in an effort to lower emissions from the transportation sector. This convergence of public money and planning seems to offer Winnipeg a chance to reimagine what is possible in the realm of transit — what the system could be going forward, despite past failings. However, it is quickly becoming clear there are no visions of streetcars or light rail dancing in their heads. Dreams for Winnipeg’s transit system are much smaller, even among its biggest proponents, which speaks to how far the system still has to go in order to meet a threshold of service that would successfully convince people to leave their cars at home. Or, even more radically, not buy a car in the first place. Breaking people of their car-driving habit is a key aspect of national and municipal climate plans. More than 40 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions in Manitoba came from the transportation sector in 2018. Of the emissions from transportation, about 37 per cent comes from vehicles classified as light-duty cars and trucks. Electrification will help lower passenger-vehicle emissions, but prospective civic policies also rely on getting more people out of their vehicles altogether and on to bikes, buses and trains. “Investments in public transit will also require some behavioural changes on the part of commuters,” declared the Senate’s 2017 report on decarbonizing the transportation sector. “Unless taking transit is easier, faster and cheaper than taking a car for one’s daily commute, investments will not result in the desired emission reductions.” Ideally, all of the pieces are meant to come together to help solve the emissions problem. But in Winnipeg, the road forward is shaping up to be a long, slow one. ● ● ● Coun. Vivian Santos grew up getting around the city by bus, accepting the hour-long commute between her Southdale home and downtown that would otherwise take 15 minutes by car. As she got older, a bike became a better alternative to the bus, cutting her commute time in half. “I stopped taking transit because it was just, to be honest, a waste of my time in the morning,” she says. In the decades since, bus service hasn’t really improved, but her financial flexibility did, plus she added kids to the mix. And so, the Point Douglas councillor made the same choice most Winnipeggers who can afford it make, and she bought a car. There are now two in her household to shuffle her family around the city. Her children are getting to the age where they could start taking transit on their own — and she’d like to encourage them to do so — but it’s not realistic, based on where they live in the northwest part of the city. “There’s actually no transit service out here, to be honest with you. So if my son were to take transit, he would actually have to walk 10 minutes to McPhillips. Or he’d have to walk maybe seven minutes the other way down towards Pipeline and Templeton. So we’re really kind of outside of the transit system,” she says. Winnipeg has some of the lowest transit use rates per capita in the country, according to a recent report from Climate Reality Canada, the Canadian arm of former U.S. vice-president Al Gore’s international environmental non-profit organization. Among large cities with more than 600,000 residents, Winnipeg came in last, with an average of 67 transit trips per person annually. The next lowest was Calgary with 84. The Canadian leader in transit trips per capita is Montreal, with 236. Nationally, transit ridership has increased from roughly 1.8 billion regular service trips in 2009 to 2.1 billion in 2017, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association. But in Winnipeg, ridership stalled and even declined in that same time period, according to city statistics. The last census revealed Winnipeg was the only Canadian city where commuting by public transit had declined over the preceding 20-year period. Santos believes getting more people on transit isn’t about building rail lines or any other flashy, grand plans. To her, it’s much more simple — it’s about making transit more frequently accessible and reliable, and charging less money to use it. “I think a good balance of both should be done,” she says. “They need to be done together. Because I understand that if we lower the fees, we’re going to have more people come on, we’re gonna see an uptick rate of people taking the transit. So obviously, we need to increase purchasing buses, and we need to better our frequency.” To that end, she put a motion before the city’s public works committee in February to study what the impact of lower fares might be in Winnipeg. It was rejected in a 2-2 vote. Curt Hull, director of Winnipeg’s Climate Change Connection, agrees with Santos’s evaluation of what’s needed to bring the transit system up to speed, and explains why aiming higher at this point isn’t practical. “Implementing rapid transit by rail is really a long ways further from where we are. You don’t start with that. You start with building the demand with things like developing frequent service, and then once you get enough demand, enough ridership on a particular route, then you make it rail. So we’re a long ways away from that,” Hull says. Efforts to regenerate the transit system with rapid bus instrastructure — the second leg of the Southwest Transitway was completed last spring — have proven lacklustre, Hull says, but he is hopeful new, less capital-intensive improvements will help deliver more riders. In addition to Santos’s hopes for more frequent, cheaper service, Hull adds a couple of things to the wish list. The routes need to be simple, he says, and access to lines criss-crossing the city needs to be easy. He envisions something like an on-demand service for suburban neighbourhoods, where a small van or a similar vehicle shuttles a rider to the main bus lines. Having regular but empty buses running through those neighbourhoods doesn’t make sense, he says, but you can’t cut them off from the network, either. “The issue is the availability of funding for it,” he says. ●●● Winnipeg relies more heavily on the fare box to fund transit than any other city in the country on a per capita basis, which pins the system’s progress directly to ridership. It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario — the system can’t be improved until ridership increases, but that won’t happen without system improvements. It also puts the system at risk for ridership fluctuations, as was the case for most of last year because of the pandemic. Across the country, transit ridership fell by more than 60 per cent in 2020, according to Statistics Canada. While it rebounded somewhat in the summer months, those minor gains were lost again amid the second wave in late fall and early winter. “That hits our system that much more than other systems,” says Coun. Matt Allard, chair of Winnipeg’s public works committee. Winnipeg’s reliance on fare-box revenues was cemented in 2017 when the provincial government moved away from its 50-50 funding agreement with the city. In 2019, fares represented 45 per cent of total expenditures on transit, which amounted to $91.7 million of $204 million. At the public works committee meeting in February where Santos put forward the idea of free or lower-fare transit, the conversation quickly turned from one that was simply about buses and dollar figures to a much more complicated question: is public transit something Winnipeggers consider to be a public good? Taxpayers who are childless or do not have school-age children still contribute money to the education system. Taxpayers who do not borrow books from the library still pay to keep the lights on and the shelves stocked. Those who do not drive still pay to keep the roads maintained. And all of those services are free of direct costs to the user. Winnipeggers have come to an implicit agreement that some things are in the public’s interest to fund. But so far, Winnipeg and its residents have yet to bring public transit under that umbrella. As long as the system relies heavily on the fare box, it will not be viewed as a public good. At least not to the same extent that other services are. Much like parents not bringing their children to a park with broken swings and garbage strewn everywhere, a neglected transit system will not yield higher ridership. It will not be a civic source of pride, as it is in many other cities. “Convenient access to public transit” is among the United Nations’ indicators for sustainable development goals. Yet, Winnipeg fails to meet measures of success that were created as goals in developing countries. International Institute for Sustainable Development targets for appropriate wait times and distance to the closest bus stop are unattainable for a third of Winnipeggers. Transit investments have been found to have significant positive spillover effects in economic development, especially in sectors such as tourism. It also stands to reason riders save money that would have otherwise have been spent on a car. Then there’s the significant shared benefits between climate interests in transit and equity policy across different socio-economic classes. “If you see transportation as a way of participating in society — which it certainly is — the more accessible transit is, the more people can easily get around and the more their experience becomes comparable to somebody who owns a vehicle, who’s more economically advantaged,” Allard says. The push for change has become louder as the urgency of climate action increases. Carolyn Kim, the director of transportation at the Pembina Institute, argues that making the decision as a city to invest in transit would be transformational, in itself. “If you’re able to increase the level of service, and people can ride a bus that is more frequent, it’s more reliable. It’s affordable,” Kim says. Also critical to the conversation is deliberately targeting dense housing and business development along the main transit arteries, she adds. Getting people onto transit is about making it a more convenient, cheaper alternative to driving. So the flip side of the equation, though often unpopular politically, is to find ways to increase the cost of driving through increased parking rates, lowering parking availability and other planning tools. It’s another avenue to pursue transformational changes, Kim says. Take London, as an example. The British city has created an “ultra-low emission zone” where, depending on how much your vehicle pollutes the air, you are charged a daily fee to drive in certain areas. Cities are free to get creative with policies and find solutions that work for them, Kim says, but they have the power to set priorities and pathways that change residents’ behaviour. ●●● Winnipeg is also contemplating where the electrification of buses fits into the picture. A pilot project for the use of both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell buses will be considered by council this spring. Allard says he’s looking forward to debate on the topic, but to him, more buses on the road — regardless of how they’re powered — is the priority, since the transit fleet is responsible for such a small fraction of emissions in the city compared to personal passenger vehicles. Joanna Kyriazis, a senior policy adviser with Clean Energy Canada, warns against that kind of thinking, pointing out that electric buses actually stand to save cities money, since operation and maintenance costs are so much lower, even if up-front costs to purchase the vehicles are still higher. “The life of a bus is 12 to 18 years. And so if we keep making diesel bus purchases today, that that decision has consequences for another two decades,” she says. And the added allure of electric buses might be another way for the city to persuade drivers to park and ride, she says. Along with electrification, the new buses also come with GPS to track where they are on routes, and that information can then be sent to users. Generally, they also come with electronic-pass scanners, so riders don’t need to fumble with correct change and tickets. All of these upgrades make the transit experience better, she says. Plus, no more diesel fumes. “It’s also a great way for people to experience an electric vehicle for the first time. And the more we see them on our streets, the more we ride them, the more we see how many benefits they deliver, the more likely those riders are to go and buy an electric car themselves. So there are these spillover effects,” Kyriazis says. “Doing the same thing we’ve always done isn’t working. And so modernizing and connecting these vehicles is going to help improve the rider experience.” In Winnipeg, transformational changes might not be as big and headline-grabbing as they are in other cities, but this city is coming from behind and has more ground to make up if transit is going to become a priority. Rail lines or a world-class network of multi-modal transit aren’t on anyone’s realistic wish list. But perhaps Winnipeg is on the verge of a different radical change. One where transit isn’t looked at as a lost cause, but rather something to be invested in for the good of the community. Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
A U.S. agency investigating Facebook Inc for racial bias in hiring and promotions has designated the probe as "systemic," attorneys for three job applicants and a manager who claim the company discriminated against them told Reuters on Friday. The EEOC typically resolves disputes through mediation or allowing complainants to sue employers. Facebook operations program manager Oscar Veneszee Jr. and two applicants denied jobs brought a charge last July to the EEOC, and a third rejected applicant joined the case in December.
The Town of Strathmore and Siksika Nation are continuing their efforts for shared understanding and collaboration among residents of the two communities to combat racism. Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule and Siksika Nation Councillor Rueben Breaker provided an update of the work the two communities are leading together, via a Facebook Live address on Feb. 25. Representatives from each community started working together in 2019 to ensure First Nations people visiting and living in Strathmore have positive experiences in town, said Fule. “It’s all about creating a safer and more welcoming community,” he said. This is being done because First Nations people have experienced racism in Strathmore. “I’ve heard some quite serious and harrowing stories from people, as far as things yelled at people (and) comments made to them,” said Fule, adding the problem needs to be addressed. “We have to be willing to own it and admit that there could be a problem. This should not be happening in our community.” The COVID-19 pandemic sidelined these efforts, but now the initiative is being restarted. “Now we’re back at the table and we’re going to go hard at this, because racism is not going away,” said Breaker. The group is generating ideas to present to Golden Hills School Division (GHSD) and Christ the Redeemer (CTR) Catholic Schools to make the education lives and experiences of Siksika students “more smooth and more meaningful,” said Fule. Another focus of the initiative is policing. This follows Strathmore RCMP together with representatives from Strathmore and Siksika Nation signing a shared letter of understanding in October 2020 to develop more trust between them. “It was perfect timing, because it’s no secret that the topic of systemic racism within the RCMP is prevalent all over Canada,” said Breaker. “We want to make sure that even at the law enforcement level, that our people are treated fairly and just have that basic understanding.” Also being considered is how to improve affordable housing, social services and employment for First Nations people in town, said Fule. But these efforts are not focused on Strathmore alone, said Breaker. Strathmore and area sports teams visiting Siksika Nation to play should be welcomed there too, he said. To reach some of these goals, representatives from Strathmore and Siksika Nation are considering forming a formal anti-racism committee. To support this, town administration is looking to create terms of reference to follow, said Fule. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Frances Wesley said a sense of relief could be felt in the room at the first vaccine clinic held for off-reserve First Nations members living in Thunder Bay. The smell of sage burning from the smudge bowl used to bless the Pfizer COVID-19 doses and the nurses administering them also filled the room with reassurance as a lineup formed outside of people scheduled to get their first shot. Ms. Wesley, the executive director of the Matawa Health Co-op, an organization that serves nine First Nations communities in Northern Ontario, said close to 200 doses were administered to its off-reserve members in a clinic that first opened this week. She said the Matawa group prioritized vulnerable people including those older than 60, the homeless or precariously housed and those with mental-health illnesses. Thunder Bay moved back into the province’s grey lockdown zone last week as it continues to struggle to get a handle on the virus, which has spread significantly among the city’s homeless and precariously housed, many of whom are Indigenous and First Nations. Chief Chris Moonias from Neskantaga, one of the Matawa First Nations, declared a state of emergency last month after an outbreak infected 12 members living in the city. Chief Moonias said most of those cases have been resolved, however one of his nephews remains in the ICU. According to a 2018 community report, close to 500 people are in homeless situations, such as couch surfing or accessing emergency shelters in Thunder Bay. Ms. Wesley said the doses for Matawa’s clinics are being provided by the Thunder Bay health unit based on how many people register. She said Matawa was able to move quickly because it has extensive health care resources, including nurses and physicians on staff. She said Matawa worked with health directors from each of their communities to get a list of those living in the city for registration. There are about 4,000 members from the nine Matawa First Nations who live in Thunder Bay, according to Ms. Wesley. “Some people will say no,” she said. “Others are so excited they can hardly wait.” She said they’ve already been approached by other First Nations and groups about holding clinics for their off-reserve members and communities accessible by road. Remote Indigenous communities were given immediate priority because of their isolation and inadequate access to health care. Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization representing 49 mostly remote First Nations, said more than 9,000 members living in remote communities have been vaccinated so far as Operation Remote Immunity nears completion. Meanwhile, public-health units and regional health authorities are leading the rollout in urban Indigenous and road-access communities. Nishnawbe Aski Nation noted there’s a sense of urgency for those close to hot spots such as Thunder Bay as COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in the city continue to put lives at risk. Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald is a member of the provincial vaccine task force and says the goal is to vaccinate all First Nations in Ontario by April 30. She said clinics to vaccinate people 55 years and older have already begun in some urban locations such as Anishnawbe Health Toronto and Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre in Sudbury. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says it’s already vaccinating the homeless population in the city with partners at different clinics and that many road-access communities in the district have received their first doses. The health unit said it is still in the planning stages with Indigenous organizations for vaccinating off-reserve members in the district. Ontario announced Friday its plans to move to Phase 2 of its vaccine rollout plan based on age and risk, focusing on ages. Indigenous communities and people were identified as a priority group at the beginning of the pandemic and vaccine rollout because of higher rates of poorer health outcomes and higher risk of COVID-19 infections and transmission. Thunder Bay wasn’t listed as a COVID-19 hot spot region slated to get additional doses in the province’s transitional plan. Dr. Dirk Huyer said it was based on historical, not current, data of hot spots such as Peel and Toronto. Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 9:15 p.m. ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. There are 881,761 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 881,761 confirmed cases (30,146 active, 829,423 resolved, 22,192 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,370 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 79.32 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,214 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,888. There were 41 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 277 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 40. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.39 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,938,790 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,003 confirmed cases (117 active, 880 resolved, six deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 22.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 27 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. 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 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 200,703 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 139 confirmed cases (24 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 15.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 18 new case. 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 zero per 100,000 people. There have been 110,916 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,651 confirmed cases (31 active, 1,555 resolved, 65 deaths). There were two new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 3.17 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 356,686 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,447 confirmed cases (34 active, 1,385 resolved, 28 deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 4.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 240,032 tests completed. _ Quebec: 291,175 confirmed cases (7,290 active, 273,430 resolved, 10,455 deaths). There were 798 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 85.02 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,030 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 719. There were 10 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 83 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.93 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,397,936 tests completed. _ Ontario: 306,007 confirmed cases (10,378 active, 288,583 resolved, 7,046 deaths). There were 1,250 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 70.44 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,438 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,063. There were 22 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 102 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.82 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,082,737 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,104 confirmed cases (1,133 active, 30,067 resolved, 904 deaths). There were 53 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 82.15 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 55. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 539,166 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,432 confirmed cases (1,507 active, 27,532 resolved, 393 deaths). There were 212 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 127.85 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,088 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 155. There were two new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 13 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.34 per 100,000 people. There have been 584,905 tests completed. _ Alberta: 135,196 confirmed cases (4,639 active, 128,644 resolved, 1,913 deaths). There were 411 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 104.91 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,408 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 344. There were two new reported deaths Friday. 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 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,434,748 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 83,107 confirmed cases (4,975 active, 76,752 resolved, 1,380 deaths). There were 634 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 96.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,767 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 538. There were four new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 25 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.81 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,959,060 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. 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 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,216 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (one active, 41 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,790 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 373 confirmed cases (17 active, 355 resolved, one deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 43.2 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,819 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Major League Baseball teams in California can welcomea limited number of fans back to ballparks on April 1 under new state rukes announced Friday that will also let Disneyland and other theme parks reopen for the first time in more than a year. The changes allow people to attend other outdoor sporting events and live performances in limited numbers that go into effect on baseball's opening day, when the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A's all have home games. The A's confirmed they will have fans in the stands. Disneyland officials did not say when the park would reopen. But when it does, only people who live in California can buy tickets. The same goes for MLB games and outdoor performances, as public health officials try to limit mixing while continuing to roll out coronavirus vaccinations. Indoor events such as NBA games and concerts are not included in the new rules announced by the adminstration of Gov. Gavin Newsom. The state is acting because the rates of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are declining while the number of people receiving vaccines is increasing, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s top public health official. “Today’s announcement is focused on building in some of the compelling science about how the virus behaves, and how activities when done a certain way can reduce risk,” Ghaly said. California divides its counties into four colour-coded tiers based on the spread of the virus. The purple tier is the most restrictive, followed by red, orange and yellow. Attendance limits are based on what tier a county is in. Outdoor sports are limited to 100 people in the purple tier. The limits increase to 20% capacity in the red tier, 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier. Teams and event organizers can only sell tickets regionally in the purple tier. In the other tiers, teams and organizers can sell tickets to anyone living in California. No concessions will be allowed in the purple tier, while in others, concession sales will only be available at seats. Enforcing the rules will be left to venues. Ghaly and Dee Dee Myers, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, said organizers will have to sell tickets in advance and can cross-check to confirm hometowns to help with contact tracing if needed. Myers acknowledged that some people will try to beat the system, but she said officials hope people will respect the guidelines. The Oakland A’s announced rules that give a glimpse of what life will be like for fans during the pandemic. They will be seated in pods of two or four seats, and tickets will only be available on the MLB Ballpark app. Fans can order concessions on their phones and have them delivered to their seats. No tailgating is allowed, and teams will not accept cash inside the stadium. People who don’t have debit cards can purchase one with cash at a limited number of locations inside the venue. “We are excited to safely welcome fans back to our ballpark for the upcoming season,” A’s President Dave Kaval said. Theme parks can open in the red tier at 15% capacity and boost attendance limits as virus rates decrease. Again, only people who live in California can buy tickets. Indoor rides at outdoor parks will be allowed because they are typically short and can allow for proper spacing. “We can’t wait to welcome guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon,” Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement. Disneyland employees have been furloughed or out of a job for nearly a year. Andrea Zinder, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents Disney workers, said employees are “excited to go back to work and provide Californians with a bit more magic in their lives." Disney fan Kenny King Jr.said he became an annual Disneyland passholder a decade ago and typically takes his family there five times a year. King, 38, and his family, who live in Pleasant Hill, last went to Disneyland in February 2020 for his birthday. He's excited to return with his 8-year-old daughter, who had just started enjoying rides such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, and to take his 2-year-old son, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds when he went to the park last year. “We’ll sit there at the house sometimes and we’ll be like man, I just miss Disneyland,” King said. He said he's confident Disney will take appropriate safety measures. “They’ve had plenty of time to game plan on that,” he said. Adam Beam And Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
A local family with deep ties to the Rockyford area is being honoured for best representing the values of the family farm within their rural community. Gordon and Darlene Koester and family, with Koester Cattle Co. Inc., was a recipient of the BMO Farm Family Award, presented by the Calgary Stampede and BMO Bank of Montreal. This awards program was created to promote a renewed urban-rural relationship and to recognize outstanding southern Alberta farm families who best typify the value of the family farmer to society. The Koester’s local ties started in 1928, when the family moved from Iowa to Rockyford. Joe, one of nine children, and his wife, Tillie, purchased their own farmstead in 1950, raising eight children. Their son Gordon and his wife Darlene took over the family farm and raised four children. Sons Matthew and Adam became an integral part of the family farm operation, but in 2015, they decided to pursue their off-farm careers on a full-time basis. Bradie, one of the couple’s two daughters, and her husband, Dan, then jumped at the opportunity to come home and farm, and are now at the helm of the operation. The family winning the award was a surprise, said Gordon, in an interview. “I was taken back by the nomination, thinking there’s a lot of deserving people out there,’ he said. “I was humbled to be chosen, that’s for sure.” The Koesters have been an integral part of their community. Gordon is the past president of the Rockyford Lions Club and past chairman of the Rockyford Agricultural Society, Hall Board, Curling Club, Parish Council, Knights of Columbus and Minor Hockey, and is also a 25- year member of the Seed Growers Association. Darlene helped establish ringette in the Rockyford Community 30 years ago, and was a coach and manager throughout the years while her daughters played. She was also the Rockyford Rodeo secretary for 25 years in addition to driving a school bus for three decades. Dan and Bradie belong to the Rockyford Minor Hockey and Ringette Association as coaches and board members, in addition to Rockyford’s Ag Society, Lions Club, Rodeo Committee, Parish Council and Knights of Columbus. They also coach their girls’ fastball teams as well as play ringette and hockey on adult teams. Dan belongs to the Strathmore Seed Cleaning Plant and is entering his second year as chairman. Being established for multiple generations has helped the Koesters make such an impact in their community, said Gordon. “My father and mother taught us to be part of the community and make sure things work,” he said. “We’re a small enough community that everybody can take a turn.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The Strathmore Overnight Shelter is tweaking its yearly March for Cold fundraising event by providing both virtual and in-person events to raise operating funds. Through this event, the organization usually raises between $5,000 and $10,000, about 10 per cent of its yearly operating budget, explained Carrilyn Fisk, a member of the shelter’s board of directors. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is taking a different approach this year. A virtual event is being held the week of March 13 to 20, in which participants step up to walk or run two to five kilometres wherever they want that week. To raise funds, participants can donate or garner pledges for them braving the cold, explained Fisk. Donation forms are available through the shelter’s Facebook page. Once complete, these forms can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to the Harvest Healing Church. Participants are being encouraged to post photos of their activities to social media, using the hashtag #strathmorecoldmarch. They can also be emailed to Carrilyn_f@hotmail.com, to be posted to the shelter’s Facebook or Instagram pages. But for anyone still wanting to participate in person, the shelter is also holding the March for Cold at Kinsmen Park at 5 p.m. on March 20. But due to COVID-19, there will be no opening ceremonies and the registration and start will be staggered for participants. The registration and waiver are also available on the shelter’s Facebook page or its website, strathmoreovernightshelter.com/march-for-cold/. Once they are received, each participant will be given a start time for their walk. The registration table and start point will be in the parking lot of the new Strathmore town hall. All proceeds will go to the Strathmore Overnight Shelter, which was stretched thin this year, with many businesses and facilities closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During some of the colder winter days, the shelter started opening 24-hours per day, requiring extra staff and increasing costs. Holding the event to help meet some of these costs is essential to the shelter, said Elizabeth Karp, the shelter’s director. “It’s one of our bigger fundraisers that we have throughout the year, helping us to pay our utilities and bills, and cover all the needs we have in the shelter.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 7:20 p.m. B.C. is reporting 634 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 83,107 cases since the pandemic began in the province. There have also been four new deaths, pushing the death toll from the virus to 1,380 in B.C. Four new cases have been confirmed to be variants of concern, bringing the total to 250, of which 222 are the strain first found in the U.K. and 28 are the variant first detected in South Africa. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say this has been a week of progress, as the province gets ready to begin age-based immunizations and integrate the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine into its program. Henry and Dix say the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be another tool in its program that will help accelerate protection of people in B.C. --- 6:15 p.m. Alberta is reporting 411 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths due to the virus. The province says 22 cases are of the more contagious variants. There are currently 243 people are in hospital with COVID-19, and 44 of them are in intensive care. --- 4:40 p.m. Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says word of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being approved is just more good news. Shandro's response came on the one-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 being identified in his province. He announced this week that all Albertans who want a vaccination will be able to do so by the end of June. Shandro said there is still no schedule or any word on how many more doses will be available from J&J but assumes it could accelerate the vaccination process. --- 4:25 p.m. Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the case involves a man in his 50s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. P.E.I. has 24 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 3:50 p.m. Indigenous Services Canada says there were 1,300 active COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities as of Thursday and 21,836 cases since the pandemic began. There have been 245 deaths in First Nations communities. The department says more than 127,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in over 480 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities as of Thursday. It says about 40 per cent of people in those communities have received at least one dose. --- 2:50 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting 207 new cases of COVID-19. The province also says two more people have died from the illness. There are 138 people in hospital with the virus, and 22 of them are in intensive care. --- 1:50 p.m. Ontario's updated vaccination plan will see shots administered based on factors including age, neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home. The province notes, however, that the plan doesn't factor in the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot and additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Shots will go to seniors 75 and older starting in April with a goal of offering first shots to everyone 60 and older by the end of May. Doses will also be offered starting in April to people with specific health conditions and some caregivers, including those in congregate settings. Thirteen public health units, including Toronto, Windsor, York and Peel, will receive additional doses for hot-spot neighbourhoods between April and June. Essential workers who can't work from home will be offered doses at the end of Phase 2, while adults 59 and younger are expected to receive the shot in July, though the timeline is subject to change. --- 1:40 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 53 additional COVID-19 cases and one death. The province is also reporting one new confirmed case involving the variant first seen in South Africa. The percentage of people testing positive continues to drop, with the five-day average at three per cent. --- 1 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19, three of which are in the Miramichi region. Health officials say the province has 33 active reported cases and three people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. New Brunswick is announcing it will ease public health restrictions across the province as of this Sunday because COVID-19 infections are on a steady trend downward. The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says the decision to shift to the lower, yellow pandemic-alert level will be revisited if there is a spike in cases over the weekend. As well, Russell is confirming that with the expected arrival of the first shipment of the two-dose Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine later this month, the province is pledging to provide one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every New Brunswicker before the end of June. --- 12:50 p.m. A stay-at-home order will lift next week in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay Parry Sound. The three Ontario regions were the last ones still under the order, while most of the province transitioned back to the government's colour-coded pandemic response framework last month. Toronto and Peel will go into the strictest "grey lockdown" category of the framework, as recommended by public health officials in those regions. The province says North Bay will be placed in the red zone, the second most restrictive level of pandemic measures. --- 12:45 p.m. There is one new case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. The figures released today bring the total number of active cases in the province to 113. Health Minister John Haggie said he was feeling optimistic and said the province is on track for a "new summer" where residents can travel around the island. The province is inviting people who are asymptomatic to seek testing to see if there are any pockets of COVID-19 still undetected in the province. --- 12:05 p.m. Pfizer has told Canada it will speed up delivery of the shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 1.5 million additional doses are coming in March. He says another one million doses will come ahead of schedule in both April and May. Trudeau says that means there will be eight million doses of the Pfzier-BioNTech vaccine in Canada by the end of this month. --- 11:55 a.m. Nunavut is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today for a total of 17. All the new cases are in Arviat, the only community in Nunavut with active cases of COVID-19. Despite the rise in cases, chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says the outbreak in Arviat is contained. Arviat has been under a strict lock down for 112 days, with all school and non-essential businesses closed and travel restricted. --- 11:45 a.m. Nunavut's health minister says the territory is on track to receive 38,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by mid-March, enough to vaccinate 75 per cent of the eligible population. Lorne Kusugak says there will be at least one vaccination clinic in all of Nunavut's 25 communities by the end of March. Kusugak also announced a mass vaccination clinic will launch in Iqaluit on March 15. Starting March 10, residents ages 18 years and up can call Iqaluit Public health to book an appointment. --- 11:10 a.m. Quebec is reporting 798 new cases of COVID-19 today and 10 more deaths linked to the virus. Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by nine, to 617, and that 111 people were in intensive care, a drop of four. The province says it administered more than 18,000 doses of vaccine, for at total of 510,479. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,250 new cases of COVID-19 in the province. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 337 of those new cases are in Toronto, 167 are in Peel Region, and 129 are in York Region. The province also reports a single-day high of 35,886 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered since Thursday's update. Ontario also reports 22 more deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:35 a.m. Nova Scotia is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the new cases are in the health region that includes Halifax. They say one case involves a close contact of a previously reported infection and the other is under investigation. The province has 31 active reported cases of the disease. --- 10:20 a.m. The Manitoba government is now predicting it will be able to provide all eligible adults with a first dose of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of June. Officials say it might even be as early as mid-May, depending on the flow of supplies. The timeline has been moved up by months as more vaccines have been approved by the federal government. --- 10 a.m. Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson, saying it has the evidence showing the vaccine is both safe and effective against the novel coronavirus that causes the disease. It is the fourth vaccine to be approved in Canada and the first and only one Canada has purchased that requires just a single dose. Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses, with options to buy another 28 million. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Pope Francis is on a historic visit to Iraq despite the global pandemic. After a year of laying low in Vatican City, he's resumed his travels with a message of unity for a country ravaged by religious violence.
Booking a provincial campsite is a high-stakes venture — like getting a front row seat to a concert. Everyone goes in with a plan, refreshing and calling furiously just to snag a coveted spot. And now, some worry about another parallel: campsite scalpers. Alberta Parks acknowledged the concern Friday on its social media channels after receiving several reports and complaints from campers. "We're committed to ensuring access to camping in Alberta Parks is fair and equitable," read a statement from Alberta Environment and Parks. While the ministry told CBC News that reselling is rare, it has posted a reminder on social media because it's something it wants to prevent. "We had some social media followers reach out to us today saying there were a couple of resale ads online," the Facebook post says. "We ask Albertans if they see any ads or posts attempting to resell reservations to call our Contact Centre at 1 (877) 537-2757. We will cancel the reservations of those trying to resell their campsites." By the time staff were able to look into reports, the solicitations had already been pulled, Parks told CBC. For many, May long weekend is the kickoff of camping season in Alberta. They take a chance on spring weather to secure a spot. With all the competition, it can be tough to land a site that weekend. Camping enthusiast Lisa Gabruck said she's already seen at least one for sale on Facebook groups. "The non-refundable reservation fee is too low at the moment," Gabruck said. "Most resellers are willing to take the hit as they will make it back on other sites they are reselling." According to the Alberta Parks website, changing a reservation costs $5, the campsite reservation fee is $12 and non-refundable. 'I have an extra site' Last year, Nathan Larson missed out on reservations and saw upselling behaviour first hand. He wanted a site and messaged a couple of people advertising provincial sites for sale. He said they were looking for $20 to $30 on top of the typical cost of the site. This year, he's turned to private sites to avoid the hassle and the crowds. But on opening day this week, Larson was curious if the Alberta Parks reservation system had improved this year. He hopped on Facebook groups to see what campers were saying. What he saw on some social media groups was frustrating. "I kept seeing people saying, 'I have an extra site here, I have an extra site there,'" Larson said. "It just seemed a little odd you would spend all this time and effort, frustration, to book multiple sites and immediately go online and try to offload them." Booking should be fair, says camper Opening day 2021 produced 23,830 bookings by the end of the day, compared with 11,628 reservations for last year's opening. By Friday at 1:30 p.m., there were 27,538 bookings. This flood of activity came with issues. Alberta Parks' reservation site crashed, and people were repeatedly told to be patient. Larson isn't sure how the reservation system can improve, but it's frustrating enough for him to avoid the provincial park system altogether. "It's supposed to be a fair site for everybody to use," he said. Alberta Parks says there has been a surge in demand over the past couple of years — people aren't able to book vacations so they are exploring parks instead.(CBC) When she first moved to Alberta from Ontario years ago, Tamara Higgins said she was surprised at how difficult it can be to get a provincial campsite. She has also decided to primarily book through private campgrounds because of repeated issues and frustrations. The problem, Higgins said, is a complicated combination of a poor booking system, desperation to get a site, and little enforcement of the rules. Higgins doesn't believe people are making extra cash from the practice. Many, she thinks, are prone to overbook to secure a spot for themselves and a group before their plans have firmed up, and sometimes plans change, or life happens. The overbooking then leads to those who genuinely want a site for a certain time and date missing out, and those who have sites to spare with a place to make an arrangement. "Because of the rush to book, they just book a whole bunch and then they start selling them off as they realize they are not able to go," Higgins said. In the past, despite the warnings that sites aren't transferable, Higgins said she's been able to pick up a stranger's reservation. Alberta Parks told CBC News there has been a surge in demand over the past couple of years — people aren't able to book vacations so they are exploring parks instead. "We encourage those who aren't able to use their sites to please let us know because there are a lot of people who could use them," read the statement from Alberta Environment and Parks. "Albertans can get a full refund, minus the reservation fee, three days ahead of their arrival date."
Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. residents are hunkering down at home as they face a blizzard, but thankfully, their internet has been restored. "This the longest [internet outage] it's been," said Ulukhaktok Mayor Joshua Oliktoak. "I guess it was getting hard for some people, so I'm very thankful that it was resolved so people are able to get what they need before they have to stay in … everything is shut-down except for the stores." The internet was in and out for nearly eight days before Northwestel fixed the issue Thursday evening, the company confirmed. It said a "technical issue" had caused "internet network congestion" in the community. Residents had been trying to alert the company to the internet problem, but, said a Northwestel spokesperson, during the outage period "data was still flowing in and out of the community and we did not fully realize the impact it was having on customers." The internet outage was so widespread that it even affected residents' ability to pay for groceries and gas. Oliktoak said Friday afternoon that the internet returning meant community members could pick up groceries and supplies before the blizzard got too bad. "We are fortunate it got fixed before the weekend," said Oliktoak. "Right now it's real bad. Some people can't see across the road."
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's bid for a second full term in 2022, continuing their yearslong alliance in a move to strengthen ties with the early-voting state that Trump won twice. In a statement through his Save America PAC, Trump commended McMaster's efforts on behalf of the military, veterans and law enforcement, saying the Republican “has my Complete and Total Endorsement as he runs for re-election!” The endorsement, along with other recent moves, continues to signal Trump's desire to maintain ties with South Carolina, home of the first presidential primary votes in the South. Earlier this week, Trump formally endorsed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in his own 2022 reelect bid, also complimenting Scott’s work on behalf of the military, law enforcement and veterans. Last month, Trump gave backing to Drew McKissick for a third term as chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, signalling a desire to wade not only into state-level politics but also to play a role in maintaining the local party framework in places that backed his presidency and where his support remains steady. But the former president’s relationship with McMaster goes deeper, predating either man’s administration. In early 2016, then-Lt. Gov. McMaster threw his support behind Trump’s presidential bid, becoming the first statewide-elected official in the country to do so. That summer, McMaster was one of two speakers to formally nominate Trump at the Republican National Convention. The move helped boost Trump to a double-digit victory in South Carolina’s early primary. It also surprised many allies and friends of McMaster, a longtime member of South Carolina’s establishment GOP circles. But McMaster’s wager paid dividends a year later, when Trump picked Nikki Haley as his U.N. ambassador, allowing McMaster to ascend to the governor’s office, a post he had long sought. In 2018, as McMaster sought his first full term in office, Trump campaigned for his ally roughly 12 hours before polls opened in a GOP runoff race, which McMaster ultimately won. ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press