Season 4 of The Crown has proven popular with viewers, but because it is based on relatively recent history it’s facing more criticism for distorting real-life events.
Season 4 of The Crown has proven popular with viewers, but because it is based on relatively recent history it’s facing more criticism for distorting real-life events.
WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The N.W.T. Housing Corporation on Wednesday said it was providing a total of more than $300,000 to projects in Nahanni Butte and Colville Lake. The corporation's Community Housing Support program will give $50,000 to the Nahɂą Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte to fund emergency repairs to homes in the community. A 2019 GNWT housing report identified Nahanni Butte, one of the smallest N.W.T. communities, as having among the highest proportion of houses requiring major repairs. The Behdzi Ahda First Nation in Colville Lake will receive $264,000 to help construct four log homes providing affordable housing. Materials are scheduled to arrive in April 2021. The First Nation will provide the labour to complete the project. "Log homes are an important part of Colville Lake’s history and the look and feel of our town,” Chief Wilbert Kochon of Behdzi Adha First Nation is quoted as saying. “This project will also provide the community much-needed economic development, jobs and training.” The same 2019 housing report said Colville Lake, another of the territory's smallest communities, had the N.W.T.'s highest proportion of dwellings with housing issues. Ninety per cent of Colville Lake's homes had problems at the time of the report. Some community members said last year they were planning to make their own homes to address the community’s dire need for adequate and suitable housing.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
April McCormack was always passionate about health, urging people to get vaccines and never missing a chance to belly dance, disco or waltz at the care centre where she spent her final year.When the vegan senior was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, she fought it hard. So, her family held out hope she'd beat COVID-19.But the 74-year-old died on Nov. 26, just eight days after first feeling fatigued, two weeks into an outbreak at the Belvedere Care Centre where she lived."We had some glimmer of hope because my mother was a fighter," said McCormack's eldest daughter, September Stokes.She's sharing her mother's story so people realize that COVID-19 is real and refusing to wear a mask or take precautions can have a devastating effect on others."She loved to zoom around with her walker to Bruno Mar's 'Uptown Funk.' It was her favourite," said Stokes.When she first heard that her mother had tested positive for COVID-19 she said she was "terrified."She says her mother never left the centre where she lived in Coquitlam for the past year-and-a-half."COVID was in there. She knew it. It spread through there really fast," said Stokes.McCormack was diabetic and had an autoimmune disease but you'd never know it, her family said. She ate a plant-based diet for 15 years and loved exercise.After testing postive for COVID Nov. 20, Stokes said her mother went from "happy and smiling" to unable to breathe in days."It hit really fast," said Stokes."[COVID-19] is real and it's not something you can just say I'm young I'll get over it. You don't know what impact you are going to have."Stokes said her step father Rob McCormack had cared for her mother at their 20-year home in Port Moody after the diagnosis of Parkinson's 11 years ago.But the Parkinson's symptoms became unmanageable, so she moved to a care home."When COVID first started we were like, we need to get her out of there. Care homes are being hit the worst."More than half of the COVID-19 deaths in B.C. have been linked to long-term care homes. As of Sept. 10, 2020, there have been 156 deaths related to B.C. care facilities, according to public health data collected by the Canadian Medical Association Journal.Stokes praises the centre where her mother lived for its efforts to prevent the virus spreading. She said her family trusted that her mother was safe and could not provide the intense 24-hour care she needed, as her Parkinson's progressed.Her family says she seemed to thrive there, sending them videos of herself dancing or in her favourite hat.Family only saw McCormack through a window or via video chat. Caregivers wore full protective gear. But she became ill, first feeling fatigue on Nov. 18. By Nov. 22, family were trying to help get her to eat, and she was admitted to hospital on the 23rd. Three days later, she was gone."After everything she fought through — it's shocking how fast it happened," said Stokes.She said her mother had four children and three grandchildren who dubbed her "Gaga.""She was fiercely independent, tough as nails, sweet as honey, and she loved our family more than anything," reads her obituary, where her husband described their 34 years of marriage as an "adventure."
MULGRAVE – “This year with COVID, people have been struggling lately, some people have lost their jobs in the community. It is a tough time for everyone. I figured why not change it up to help the people in our community,” Town of Mulgrave Recreation Director Heather Brennan told The Journal regarding the new spin they put on its annual Festival of the Trees. This year, instead of dressing a tree to the nines, festival participants were asked to build a tree, or any Christmas-themed art piece, out of non-perishable food items to be donated later to the recently created food pantry. First, second and third-place winners will be selected through online voting. For residents not online, they can cast ballots at the town office. While a prize will be awarded, Brennan said, “Everybody is a winner.” The response to the competition was greater than Brennan had expected with 10 entries and a great amount of food donated to the food pantry. “I am pleasantly surprised by how many people have done it and the amount of food taken in has surpassed what I thought,” she said. Participants taking part in the festival include local businesses Mulgrave Machine Works and DSM, along with the Town of Mulgrave, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 37 Mulgrave, Mulgrave Heritage Centre, Atlantic Association of CBDCs and several groups of friends. Along with the food used in the displays, Brennan said community members have been dropping off food at the Mulgrave Memorial Centre, where the Festive of Trees is set up in the hallway, for the food pantry. The food pantry is an initiative of the Mulgrave Medical Centre Board that got off the ground this past summer. Board chair Al England told The Journal that the project has been a “greatsuccess to date; a lot of people are supporting it financially and with goods.” The pantry consists of a locker and a cooler constantly restocked with food. It is being moved from the medical centre to the vestibule in the Superport building where the East Coast Credit Union has an ATM. “They were gracious enough to allow us to use that space and we are very thankful and appreciative of that,” said England, adding that the location was temporary for the winter months and the pantry would return to the medical centre, when weather allowed. England said of the pantry project, “It has been an excellent project and it has been well received. We are grateful that it is being supported in the manor that it is and hopefully it is providing some help and assistance to those that really need the help at this time of year.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Yukon has confirmed three new cases of COVID-19 in the territory.The territorial government posted two updates to its website Wednesday to say Yukon's new total case count is 50, with 20 active cases.The first update, which is dated Dec. 1, announced two cases, but does not specify where the cases are. The second update, dated Dec. 2, was posted shortly after and announces the third case with no details about where it is located.Later on Dec. 2, authorities sent a release identifying two new possible locations of exposure.Health authorities say anyone at the Winter Long Brewing Co. on Friday, Nov. 27 between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., or at Whiskey Jacks Pub & Grill on Wednesday, Nov. 25 between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. should contact the COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre at 867-393-3083 to arrange for testing, if they are experiencing symptoms. To date there have been 29 cases in the territory that have recovered, and there has been one death.Mask regulations came into effect this week, as the territory has seen a dramatic increase in cases in the past month.One new case was announced on the territorial government's website on Monday in an unspecified location, and one new case was announced in Whitehorse Sunday. The territory also added a new public exposure notification over the weekend: Baked Café and Bakery on Nov. 21 between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.Three other cases were also confirmed in Whitehorse on Friday. The Yukon government also listed potential exposure notices for specific bus routes, the Better Bodies gym, the Canada Games Centre Wellness Centre and Sakura Sushi at certain times.
OTTAWA — The federal government says it will not meet a marquee pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lift all boil-water advisories in First Nations communities by March 2021.Indigenous Services Canada says at least 22 long-term water advisories in 10 First Nations communities will remain in place beyond that deadline, which was set following an ambitious 2015 Liberal election promise to lift them all within five years."What communities want is not an Ottawa-imposed deadline," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Wednesday during a news conference in Ottawa."It’s a long-term commitment to access to clean water."The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into efforts to upgrade water systems and carry out on-site training, with supply chains snarled and construction put off as some reserves opted to restrict travel, the department said at an earlier briefing."COVID has really changed everything," Miller said. “Because of COVID, many projects lost a full construction season."The complexity of projects, which can include infrastructure overhauls and depend on increasingly unreliable winter roads, contributed to the delay even before the pandemic, he said. Hiring and retaining qualified operators for water and wastewater treatment plants on remote sites has posed another challenge.Miller, who has held the Indigenous services portfolio since November 2019, sought to shield Trudeau from blame for the failed goal."Ultimately, I bear the responsibility for this, and I have the responsibility and the duty to get this done," he said, calling the continued lack of access to reliable drinking water "totally unacceptable."The department says 97 boil-water advisories have been lifted since 2016, while 59 remain in place — about three-quarters of them in Ontario — in 41 communities.In late October, about 250 residents of Neskantaga First Nation in northern Ontario, which has had a boil-water advisory in place for 25 years, were evacuated from their homes following the discovery of an oily sheen in its reservoir.Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Wednesday he was frustrated but not surprised by Ottawa's shortfall."First Nations have good reason to be disappointed by the federal government’s announcement that after more than five years in office, it will miss its own target to provide safe drinking water to all Indigenous communities across Canada," he said in a statement."While there has been significant progress in recent years, it clearly is not enough."Miller acknowledged that initially, communities were not “sounded” out on whether the March 2021 target was reasonable.He said he hopes up to 20 more advisories will be lifted by year's end, but expects at least a dozen communities will still not have access to potable water by the spring."You come down to about 12 or a few more communities, some of whom have seen serious delays due to COVID — and they’re working hard to clear them — and others that have priorities that they want addressed before they lift their water advisories," he said, noting that communities make the call on whether to lift advisories, not Ottawa."I think we didn’t appreciate the state of decay of water systems when we came into power in 2015," he added, pointing to "decades of neglect."Opposition parties slammed the federal government for falling short of its goal."We weren't totally surprised by this, but at the same time, there's a pretty significant disappointment in it being actually acknowledged and outright spoken ... by the minister today," Conservative MP Gary Vidal, his party's critic for Indigenous services, said in an interview.In a separate statement, Vidal called for a more commercially driven approach that draws on the "brightest business minds and entrepreneurs" to get taps flowing safely.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the problem "disgusting" and "inexcusable.""Imagine Minister Miller going to his riding in Montreal: 'I apologize, but we missed our deadline to get you clean drinking water.' Would he ever think it was appropriate?" Singh asked at a news conference.“This is not a broken promise. This is a betrayal of trust, and it sends a message that Indigenous people don't matter."In its fall economic statement Monday, the Liberal government pledged to invest $1.5 billion this year to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, on top of $2.1 billion already committed since 2016.More than $1.65 billion of that has already flowed to 626 water and wastewater projects, including 348 that are now completed, according to Indigenous Services.The beefed-up funding reflects a long-term commitment, particularly to operations and maintenance, so that communities can continue to tap into clean water indefinitely, Miller said.Under current funding policies for operations and maintenance on reserves, Ottawa typically provides about 80 per cent of the cash while First Nations have to float the remaining 20 per cent.Miller said Indigenous Services is still hammering out a policy adjustment, "but my full expectation is that will move to 100 per cent."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.— with files from Maan AlhmidiChristopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
SÉCURITÉ. L’Opération Nez rouge s’adapte à la situation sanitaire actuelle et à ses impacts logistiques en offrant une campagne de sensibilisation numérique du 1er au 31 décembre sur le thème : Prenez les rennes de votre sécurité! «L’Opération Nez rouge fait partie du paysage du temps des Fêtes. Depuis 1984, des centaines de communautés se mobilisent pour leurs localités. Cette année, nous comptons sur vous pour perpétuer cette tradition de décisions éclairées. Planifiez vos déplacements en toute sécurité et devenez des porte-voix de l’Opération Nez rouge auprès de vos collègues, de vos amis, de vos parents. Ensemble, prenons les rennes de notre sécurité!», invite Jean-Marie De Koninck, président fondateur de l’Opération Nez rouge. La campagne de sensibilisation virtuelle sera jumelée à une campagne de dons. «Les dons amassés lors des raccompagnements permettent le développement de projets liés à la jeunesse et au sport amateur localement, et ce, depuis 1984. Dans le contexte sanitaire actuel, cette source de financement ne sera pas disponible cette année, mais l’Opération Nez rouge souhaite pouvoir continuer à soutenir ses maîtres d’œuvre. Une plateforme de dons en ligne, prenez-les-rennes.com… a donc été créée pour cette 37e édition», ajoute-t-on. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
As COVID-19 cases soar in Alberta and hospital capacity is stretched, the province has reached out to the federal government and the Canadian Red Cross for help, CBC News has learned.A federal source with direct knowledge of the situation says Alberta has asked the federal government and the Red Cross to supply field hospitals to help offset the strain COVID-19 is having on the health-care system.The source said Alberta would likely receive at least four field hospitals — two from the Red Cross and another two from the federal government. The source, speaking on condition of confidentiality, said there was no request for human resources to staff the hospitals and no request for support from the military. The source said a formal request has still not been sent by the province, but officials have been discussing in detail the level of support Alberta could receive. Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu is scheduled to speak with Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro on Wednesday to discuss the requests and what other supports Ottawa can offer the province during the pandemic. A provincial government official confirmed to CBC News that a request had been made for field hospital help, but said the request represented contingency planning only at this point.The official said Alberta Health Services is gathering resources and materials it may need, but there is no plan yet to staff or construct the hospitals.'Responsible planning'Alberta Premier Jason Kenney dismissed a suggestion that the requests indicated failure by the province to manage the pandemic effectively."No, I think it's a sign of responsible planning on our part for [a] potential extreme scenario," Kenney said at a news conference Wednesday.With around 8,500 beds at 100 hospitals, Kenney said the province can likely dedicate 2,200 to 2,300 of those to COVID-19 patients. There are a little more than 500 patients in beds at this time."The reality is we have and can continue to create capacity as we expect, quite bluntly, the hospitalization numbers to go up, given the new cases in the last few weeks," Kenney said."But that demonstrates that we're not anywhere at the point of having to call on that kind of overflow capacity."An official from Public Safety Canada said they have not received any requests for field hospitals from any other provinces or territories.Infection recordsAlberta continues to set new daily COVID-19 infection records and leads the country in the number of active cases per capita. It has also sometimes led the country in total active cases. For example, on Tuesday, there were 16,628 active cases in Alberta, compared to 14,524 in Ontario — a province with more than three times as many people.On Wednesday, the province reported 1,685 new cases. Alberta has reported more than 1,000 cases each day for nearly two weeks. There were 504 people in hospital and 97 in ICUs on Wednesday. A total of 561 people in the province have died from the disease since the start of the pandemic.Edmonton NDP MLA and former Alberta health minister Sarah Hoffman said she was frustrated and angry about how the situation in the province had progressed."It's just so incredibly disappointing, when we knew this was coming. It's one of the reasons why we've been asking for modelling data, since September," Hoffman said. "It's beyond irresponsible."Provincial restrictionsThe last time Kenney appeared at a COVID-19 update was on Nov. 24 when he introduced new restrictions on social gatherings, among other measures, in an attempt to stem the rising tide of cases while continuing to focus on the province's economic health. The heightened restrictions, which were to remain in place for at least three weeks, included limiting indoor social gatherings to members of the same household, limiting outdoor gatherings to 10 people, stopping group activities like fitness classes and team sports, and moving all students in Grades 7-12 to online learning until the new year.Kenney also announced that masks would become mostly mandatory in indoor workplaces in the two largest cities, although not in rural areas — but the municipal governments in Calgary and Edmonton had already imposed similar mandates.He said those restrictions would be revisited on Dec. 15 and stricter measures could be imposed if cases continue to rise. However, critics called those measures insufficient, pointing out that restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, many stores, places of worship and elementary schools remained open, albeit with restrictions.Since then, doctors have warned of overburdened hospitals and ICUs and the province has taken the step of double-bunking some patients in ICU rooms as part of its plans to deal with a surge. On Nov. 27, Alberta Health Services sent a memo to staff asking them to conserve oxygen supplies as demand increases.
As the death toll from illicit drug overdoses continues to mount unabated in B.C., advocates want more specialized services and harm reduction measures to help protect young people. Another 162 fatalities occurred in October due to toxic drug supply, for a total of 1,386 deaths in 2020, according to the BC Coroners Service's most recent figures. Of those killed this year by the overdose crisis, 19 per cent, or 269 deaths, were young people aged 29 years old or younger, with 14 of the dead under the age of 19, the coroners service figures show. Kali Sedgemore, a youth outreach worker and peer harm reduction advocate in Vancouver, said the ongoing public health emergency is in its fifth year, and COVID-19 is only exacerbating the harms. “We don’t even have time to grieve because we know we will hear about another (death) the next day,” Sedgemore said. The dangers of the toxic illicit drug supply are being compounded as people following pandemic protocols use illicit drugs alone and as harm reduction services have been reduced, or wait times have increased at overdose prevention sites (OPS) during the pandemic, Sedgemore added. Youth do not make up the largest number of fatalities, but all overdose deaths are largely unnecessary and preventable, Sedgemore said. In 2020, 70 per cent of those who have died from the toxic drug supply fall between the ages of 30 and 59, and males account for 80 per cent of the deaths to date. Most overdose fatalities involved people dying alone indoors. One immediate way to reduce the harms from toxic illicit drugs to youth is to provide harm reduction and OPS services dedicated strictly to their demographic, Sedgemore said. “Youth are vulnerable to manipulation by adults,” Sedgemore said, adding young people are at risk of being exploited sexually or for money or other reasons. Specialized harm reduction services are already hard to come by in urban areas such as Vancouver but are even more scarce in smaller communities and rural areas, Sedgemore said, noting they originally came from a small community from the northern part of Vancouver Island. Plus, young people — especially those under the age of 18 — are often deterred from using harm reduction services or supplies by providers due to their age, or can come under increased scrutiny from staff at these locations, they said. Both of these situations make youth uncomfortable, Sedgemore said. It’s also critical that medical professionals, social workers or other service providers don’t push youth into treatment before they are ready, Sedgemore stressed. Doing so only puts youth at increased risk, forcing them to be more secretive about any illicit drug use and increasing the unwillingness to use harm reduction services or call emergency services in case of an overdose. Research shows abstinence education, or the "just say no to drugs" approach, is not as effective as talking openly about illicit drugs, the associated risks and, if youth should choose to use them, how to do it safely, Sedgemore said. However, there is also the need for more youth treatment beds and shorter wait-lists for youth seeking help, Sedgemore said, especially closer to their own communities. “I don’t think it’s great sending a youth away from their own hometown and the people youth are used to seeing every day.” The B.C. government plans to double the number of treatment beds for youth aged 12 to 24 who are struggling with substance use. A total of 60 young people under the age of 24 lost their lives to fentanyl poisoning from toxic street drugs from January to June 2020, according to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The province committed $36 million to create another 123 treatment beds for young people, in addition to 20 beds recently established at a new youth facility in the Fraser Valley. Prior to the recent announcements, B.C. had 103 treatment beds for youth. The new beds are part of a broader continuum of care the B.C. government is planning for young people that will include culturally safe, youth-specific services in both rural and smaller city centres, the ministry stated. Building on its network of youth-specific mental health and substance use services, the province will develop eight new Foundry centres, for a total of 19 youth hubs. Foundry centres provide primary care, youth and family peer supports, walk-in counselling, mental health and substance use services and social services all under one roof. Steve Ayers, program manager for the Foundry located in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, agreed that youth benefit from specialized services and being in charge of any decisions about their drug or alcohol use. “If a counsellor is going to really be impactful, they have to let the client drive the process of making changes around substance use,” Ayers said. “The objective of substance use counselling is to help youth have a better life, and what are some concrete ways that might happen, depending on their choices of course,” he said. Many youth use substances to deal with trauma or anxiety, so alternate tools or strategies need to be developed to help young people deal with that suffering, he added. It’s dangerous to assume youth overdoses due to illicit drugs are only a big-city problem, Ayers said. “It’s absolutely a misconception,” he said, adding the issues that fuel youth substance use exist in every community across Canada. However, youth generally don’t tend to be as entrenched with illicit hard drugs as some other age demographics, especially in rural areas where supply might be limited, Ayers said. “If there’s no supply (of illicit drugs) kids will find other things to do to cope with what they are struggling with,” he said. However, kids and families in rural or remote communities such as the Discovery Islands or small communities across North Vancouver Island can face additional challenges or gaps in accessing supports, Ayers said. Many Foundry services are now available online to try to mitigate the challenges for youth living in more isolated communities who need support, especially with travel limitations due to the pandemic, he said. The youth hub also works with schools to meet with students during class time for those who have to bus in and out of Campbell River. Young people and their families just need to reach out and the Foundry will try to find a fix for any stumbling blocks to service, Ayers said. “We always seem to be able to find them and reach them with help,” he said. “Unless they're just not reaching out at all. And honestly, those are the people that we’re scared for most.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
As Vopak Development Canada’s proposed fuel storage facility and export terminal near Prince Rupert, B.C., enters its final public comment period, environmental groups say the project fails to address risks associated with marine and rail transport. If approved, the Vopak Pacific Canada facility would bring up to 240 rail cars carrying fuels like diesel, propane, methanol and gasoline through northwest B.C. every day. The fuels would be shipped on the CN rail network from sources in B.C. and Alberta to Ridley Island, an industrial site near Prince Rupert. The terminal would also bring up to 171 tankers to the Skeena River estuary annually. “Vopak brings the risk of a spill of highly toxic diesel oil and gasoline from train derailments, tanker accidents and spills at the offloading facility,” Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, told The Narwhal. “Such spills are very difficult to clean up once they enter the river or marine environment.” Retired biologist Dawn Remington with Friends of Morice-Bulkley said the project poses a risk to communities along fuel transportation routes and not enough information about how these communities will be protected has been made available to the public. “We’re going to be a corridor for hazardous petroleum products. And if this is the case, I want it to be done safely,” Remington told The Narwhal, adding her concerns aren’t about trying to stop the project. Remington said the Vopak project presents an opportunity to address the risks of rail transportation associated with several projects in the region, including another proposed fuel export facility and one that’s already under construction. Vopak recently submitted its application for an environmental assessment certificate along with its report on the project’s potential environmental impacts to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. The public can now review and comment on those documents until Dec. 30. During the initial public comment period in 2018, members of the public and environmental groups asked that increased rail traffic associated with the Vopak project be included in the facility’s review. And during the First Nations consultation process, each of the six nations involved flagged increased rail traffic as an important issue that should be addressed as part of the environmental assessment. The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office said it would not include rail traffic in the assessment, deferring to Transport Canada, the federal agency responsible for regulating the rail network. “Concerns of potential spills from train derailments are not being assessed in the environmental assessment and are being completely ignored by CN, Vopak and the provincial and federal governments despite strong public concern,” Knox said. CN’s rail accidents have been steadily increasing, according to a 2019 Transportation Safety Board of Canada report. Last year, there were 169 accidents involving dangerous goods, like the ones that would be shipped to the Vopak facility. Eight of those accidents resulted in spills, twice as many as the previous year. In March, a train carrying coal and propane derailed near an elementary school east of Prince George, B.C., spilling coal into a creek and causing an emergency evacuation of the school. Other derailments in the region over the past few years have resulted in coal and wood pellets spilling into creeks and rivers. Remington has been working with communities along the rail corridor in northwest B.C. to formally request Transport Canada conduct a risk assessment of rail traffic in the region. Even though the potential for a rail accident resulting in an explosion or deadly spill is low, Remington worries a single event could have catastrophic effects. Propane — also referred to as liquified petroleum gas — is a highly-combustible fossil fuel captured as a by-product of fracking for natural gas. More propane travelling through the region means more risk, she said. “Risk is the probability of something happening times the severity of the consequences if it happens,” she explained. “So even if the probability is low, the consequences are enormous.” She stressed that without knowing the risks, the communities along the rail corridor aren’t equipped to deal with an emergency should one arise. “How do you evacuate this entire town if people have no idea?” The concern is shared along the transportation corridor, even in towns hundreds of kilometres from the proposed Vopak facility. In a recent public comment on the project, Jeanette Weir, from Hazelton, B.C., said the threat the export terminal poses to communities along rail lines has effectively been overlooked. “This project is completely ignoring the communities through which an enormous increase of rail transport of explosive dangerous goods is proposed. It should not be evaluated for the sole risks at the Prince Rupert storage facility because it will affect all of us living along the rail line.” In a document provided to First Nations outlining the potential effects of increased rail traffic, Vopak said the project would contribute to an incremental increase in the risks associated with rail transportation, including moose strikes, collisions and derailments. It also stressed that all regulations related to rail safety fall under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada. Public requests that the environmental impacts of marine traffic be included in the projects assessment were also denied by the Environmental Assessment Office, leading to lingering concerns the project will harm marine ecosystems. The proposed facility would include a number of holding tanks for fuel and a marine berth where tankers would be filled over 40-hour periods. Vopak would only be responsible for products during storage, unloading and loading. For nearly 50 years, a now-shuttered pulp mill near Ridley Island discharged contaminated materials into the marine environment, much of which is now sequestered in a layer of sediment on the ocean floor — including where Vopak would provide mooring for tankers. Although Vopak scrapped its initial plan to dredge up the contaminated sediment to make way for a permanent jetty, many worry the current plan to leave sediment — which contains highly toxic dioxins and furans as well as copper and arsenic — undisturbed is unrealistic. According to Luanne Roth, north coast campaigner for the T Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, the new plan was submitted after the initial public comment period, so any public concerns about the redesign have yet to be addressed. “Before, with the big dredge, all of that contaminated sediment would have been gone from the area,” she said. Now the issue is what happens to the sediment when tankers are mooring. “When the boats are docked, they’re docked by really powerful tugs, so there’s going to be really powerful propeller wash,” she said. The effects of propeller wash, the movement of water by ships’ engines, on the sediment have not been studied for the Vopak project, but they were when the Pacific Northwest LNG terminal was on the books for neighbouring Lelu Island. Roth said those studies estimated five centimetres of sediment would be resuspended every day. All of that toxic sediment would then be distributed by tides and currents within the surrounding marine ecosystem. Opposite Lelu Island, and within sight of the proposed Vopak project, is Flora Bank, which has been noted as a critical juvenile salmon habitat. Given the dramatic declines in Skeena salmon populations, the effects could be felt throughout the entire Skeena watershed. Roth said there may be solutions to the problem, but the absence of any mention of the effects of propeller wash in Vopak’s environmental effects evaluation is troubling, especially because the chemicals are known to have negative effects on human health, including increased risk of autism, cancer and diabetes. “There’s a tremendous amount of food gathering in the Skeena estuary, so it’s a really big concern,” she said. In an emailed statement, Vopak communications director, Stefany Cortes, told the Narwhal “the tugboat propulsion is focused higher in the water column and, therefore, is not expected to resuspend sediment during mooring.” Roth also raised concerns about the increased marine traffic and the potential for a catastrophic spill. As The Narwhal previously reported, many of Prince Rupert’s designated anchorages are situated in water that lies atop a thin layer of mud and sediment on smooth rock. In high winds — very common during fall and winter — a ship can drag its anchor and potentially end up smashing against coastal rocks. Even just one ship spilling its fuel, not to mention its cargo of fuel, would have catastrophic effects on the marine ecosystem. According to a T Buck Suzuki study, between 2004 and 2017, the Prince Rupert port had three times as many anchor-dragging incidents as the Port of Vancouver despite having 86 per cent less vessels. This works out to 2,360 per cent more incidents per visit. Roth said there were 29 incidents in Prince Rupert last winter. Earlier this year, T Buck Suzuki commissioned an independent report to assess the safety risks associated with anchoring in the Prince Rupert area. Prepared by Ivan Todorov, a master mariner and former senior officer on oil tankers, the report noted a need to ensure that “loading be delayed when storm/hurricane warnings have been issued in order to limit the need for anchoring laden tankers in poor holding ground.” Todorov added that the Vopak project should be subject to a formal risk assessment of grounding and collision incidents. The Prince Rupert Port Authority, which is responsible for federal lands and waters in the area and is the coordinator of the environmental assessment for the proposed project, recently commissioned an independent navigational risk assessment. But when The Narwhal asked to review the document, the port said it would not make the report available to the public. Port communications director Monika Cȏté told The Narwhal in an emailed statement that the port authority has strict policies and procedures in place for the movement and anchorage of ships coming and going from the Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal, of which Vopak is part owner, and similar policies and procedures would be implemented for the proposed facility. Those procedures include port-assigned pilots and tugboat assistance. “Procedures vary depending on vessel, cargo and terminal they are going to, and what is required to mitigate navigational risk,” she wrote. “Vopak-specific procedures will be determined through a multi-agency effort that includes vessel simulation trials.” She said it is uncommon for ships to remain at anchorage once they’re loaded. “In the very rare circumstance that a loaded vessel would move to anchorage, the tug would remain in attendance with the vessel while it is at anchor,” she wrote. Roth said if the port is not able to prevent fully loaded ships from anchoring during storm events, Vopak could contractually refuse to fill a tanker if extreme weather was in the forecast. “That’s something we’d really like them to address,” she said. In the new year, Vopak Development Canada will compile all of the comments received during the public comment period and submit them to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. The office will then consult with the province, the port authority, local First Nations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada and other stakeholders to resolve any outstanding issues. If no red flags are identified, the stakeholders will sign off on the project and a final decision will be made by provincial ministers. Vopak projects it will start construction in late 2021.Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, is launching her bid for a third two-year term heading the GOP's governing organization after the party’s stronger-than-anticipated showing in November’s election, even though President Donald Trump lost. In a letter Wednesday to the 168 members of the RNC announcing her candidacy, McDaniel said she has the support of Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader McCarthy of California, as well as a supermajority of committee members — all but assuring her victory. McDaniel was selected by Trump for the role four years ago and he endorsed her for a new term about a week after the Nov. 3 election. That could give the outgoing president additional sway over the party as he ponders his own future, including a potential presidential run in 2024. McDaniel, in her letter, echoed Trump's rhetoric about the election and said she would step up the RNC's voting-related litigation efforts and form a committee on election integrity "to continue battling the Democrats’ unprecedented attempts to change election laws." While she did not repeat Trump's false claims that he won the election, McDaniel said the GOP continues “to fight for President Trump" as he makes legal challenges across the country. McDaniel also promised “to explore ways to transition” from what she called the “biased” Commission on Presidential Debates.” Trump has vented about the nonpartisan commission, which instituted tight safeguards against the coronavirus after Trump came down with COVID-19. Trump refused to participate after the commission decided the second debate would be virtual; it ended up being cancelled. Despite Trump's musing about running again in four years, McDaniel pledged to uphold the party's neutrality in primaries. The GOP "will remain neutral and focus on laying the groundwork," she wrote. “I will work to ensure that all Republican candidates can be successful.” Under McDaniel, the GOP deployed the largest field operation in politics, including more than 3,000 staffers and 2.6 million volunteers, and raised more than $1.3 billion for GOP candidates. Republicans restored much of their field program this summer despite the pandemic while Democrats largely kept to all-virtual voter contacts. Republicans believe that helped them outperform expectations by retaining vulnerable Senate seats and narrowing Democrats’ majority in the House. “President Trump earned more minority votes than any Republican candidate in decades, and a record number of women, minorities and veterans were elected to office,” McDaniel wrote. “This is a legacy our Party can be proud of, and we must continue to build on this historic momentum.” Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Memorial University will delay the beginning of its virtual winter 2021 semester, while the College of the North Atlantic is pushing on with its plan to bring 50 per cent of students back to the classroom in January.In a news release issued Wednesday, MUN says the beginning of the winter semester will be pushed back five days, with online classes set to begin Jan. 11.The move will affect the St. John's and Grenfell campuses along with the Marine Institute, except for Marine Institute diploma of technology and technical certificate students who face a different academic schedule.The new date also doesn't apply to medical, nursing or engineering students, who will return on Jan. 6.Provost Mark Abrahams said he hopes the delay will help reduce stress for students and give teachers more time to prepare for the upcoming semester."I know that right now many of you are exhausted and feeling strain," Abrahams wrote. "I heard concerns during our employee town hall in late November, and received comments along the same vein from students."'The right direction'The delay to the start of the winter semester is being welcomed by some students, including Jasper Pritchard. "I think it's a good step in the right direction," he told CBC News on Wednesday. He says the year so far has been a struggle, noting it's been a big adjustment moving to online learning and he isn't doing as well as he had hoped academically. But, if there is a bright spot, Pritchard said it's been most of the professors. "The profs have been super helpful … and as much as they've been struggling, they've been very open and honest with us, and I think when we have had struggles most of my profs have been really, really forthcoming with trying to help us out," he said. The announcement marks the second time the school has delayed a return as a result of the pandemic, as the school altered the plan to bring some non-academic staff back to campus last month due to rising COVID-19 cases.In an email to CBC News, MUN says that delay will continue through the holiday break with a decision pending in the new year. The plan to keep students learning online during the winter semester will also continue, with the school hoping to bring some students back to campus in the spring semester.CNA welcoming half of students backMeanwhile, the College of the North Atlantic is starting 2021 with a very different plan — and will welcome back over half its student body for in-person learning this winter, barring changes to public health orders.According to an email to CBC News, the school's academic learning plan will see about 50 per cent of students on campus in the next semester, including programs in the schools of engineering technology, health sciences and industrial trades.40 per cent of students will remain online, with seven per cent of students receiving a combination of in-person and online classes.As part of the return to in-person classes, a mask or face shield will be required on all campuses with COVID-19 screening protocols at all entrances. Access to facilities will be limited, with use of buildings by outside groups not permitted for the time being.Campuses with residences will be limited to single occupancy with enhanced cleaning and visitor restrictions in place."As long as conditions permit, we look forward to welcoming more of our students back to our campuses in the new year and will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Community Services and Chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure our procedures are as up to date as possible when it comes to public health guidelines," CNA spokesperson Michelle Barry wrote.While CNA is moving ahead with bringing students back to campus, MUN says it is not considering the idea as the two schools can't be compared in terms of campus density."It is not feasible at this time for us to bring more than 50 [per cent] of our students to our campuses," the school said in an email.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Known Terror Squad gang member Kevin George Ackegan pleaded guilty in Prince Albert Provincial Court to weapons and drug-related charges avoiding a trial. Forty-year-old Ackegan was arrested by Prince Albert RCMP Integrated Crime Reduction Team during a traffic stop on Feb. 26, 2020. When police searched the vehicle they found two firearms, ammunition, a machete, a knife, bear spray, hydromorphone, methamphetamine, and Gabapentin pills. They also found U.S., Jamaican and Canadian currency. On Nov. 30 Ackegan changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. Before Ackegan’s trial, his lawyer Dale Blenner-Hassett, filed a Charter application asking the court to exclude the evidence seized during the traffic stop. Blenner-Hasset challenged whether the arresting officer had a reasonable belief that an offence was being committed. The court heard that the arresting police officer was working for the RCMP Integrated Crime Reduction Team that investigates gangs, guns and drugs. At about 8 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2020, the officer got a call from a source that told him Ackegan was in possession of guns and told him where he was in Prince Albert. The officer had used the source on eight previous occasions. The officer testified that the source has a criminal record. The court heard that the arresting officer also knew Ackegan. He had charged Ackegan previously in 2017 with breaching his parole by associating with known gang members and at the time of that arrest, Ackegan was a member of the street gang Terror Squad. On Feb. 26, 2020, when the officer received the information about Ackegan, he conducted surveillance at a residence on the 800 block of 14 Street West in Prince Albert. Another officer testified that he watched the residence for about three hours and at about 11:20 a.m. Ackegan came out of the residence and started loading several bags into the back seat and trunk of a vehicle. A woman was driving the vehicle and Ackegan was the passenger. Both officers testified that in their experience, guns could be concealed in bags. The officer who took the call from the informant testified that he conducted a CPIC inquiry on Ackegan, which confirmed he was prohibited from possessing firearms. The woman and Ackegan drove a few blocks before stopping at another residence. At this point the officers made a traffic stop and arrested Ackegan. One of the officers drove the vehicle to the police station where it was searched and police found guns in the bags, ammunition, drugs, and a cell phone. Crown Prosecutor Andreanne Dube argued that the search of the vehicle was justified as a search incidental to the lawful arrest of Ackegan. During cross-examination, Blenner-Hassett asked one of the officers the identity of the confidential informant. Judge H. M. Harradence, however, said the informant’s identity shouldn’t be disclosed and the court must ensure confidentiality is maintained. Judge Harradence dismissed the defence’s Charter application to have the evidence thrown out. He said he accepted that the arresting officer had information from a source that the accused was in possession of guns and that the information was current and firsthand because the source actually saw what was reported. Judge Harradence said there was some indication of past credibility of information from the source, three hours of surveillance that corroborated Ackegan was at the residence and was loading bags into the trunk and back seat of the vehicle. Judge Harradence also said that police testified they have investigative experience that guns have been concealed in bags and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of Ackegan’s history with illegal firearms and association with known gang members. “I find a number of factors persuasive of a strong connection between Ackegan and the illegal possession of firearms,” said Judge Harradence. Judge Harradence ruled that Ackegan’s rights weren’t violated. “In these circumstances, I find that the arrest and search of this accused and the vehicle was reasonable and lawful.” Ackegan will be sentenced in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Feb. 2. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
CANSO --There’s some good news coming out of the latest meeting of the Canso & Area Stakeholders Group held on Nov. 30, 2020; in this second wave of COVID-19, there have been no positive tests in the Eastern Zone. This news comes from notes provided to The Journal by group co-chair Susan O’Handley from the meeting Monday night. She also wrote that physician coverage will be supplied steadily up to the end of December at Eastern Memorial Hospital in Canso and the hospital is now fully staffed with nurses. In the continued effort to recruit permanent physicians to the area, a webpage is under development and housing has been located in Philips Harbour, if needed. The process for booking lab appointments has changed from calling the Eastern Memorial Hospital to calling a central intake number (1-855-867-8821) or booking online at booking.nshealth.ca. This system was adopted, wrote O’Handley, to reduce the amount of time lab staff were spending on the phone making appointments instead of being in the lab. The next meeting of the group will take place in mid-January. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
GUYSBOROUGH – There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree. But if you don’t get one soon, you might not get one at all. The first thing on your Christmas shopping list this year should be the tree, according to the buzz on the lot at the Northeastern Christmas Tree Association (NECTA). Norman MacIsaac, the association’s manager of marketing, told The Journal last week that they will soon stop shipping because they are getting low on trees. And, while the association ships to the United States and doesn’t sell locally – when they can’t find enough trees to ship, that indicates a shortage in supply across the entire market. The NETCA, located on South River Lake Rd. near Goshen, procures trees for the U.S. market mainly from growers in Guysborough, Antigonish and Pictou counties. The association has 100 members and markets trees for approximately 60 of those members. This year, MacIsaac said, there is a big demand for trees,but not much of a supply. But that, according to him, has nothing to do with the pandemic; it’s due to competition and the plight that faces most of the agricultural sector – the demographic involved in the industry. “The average age of the grower is between 65 and 70 years old; people are getting out of it.” And the competition, that’s coming from below the border. “There are buyers from the U.S. coming in offering more money in some cases,” said MacIsaac. The draw for U.S. buyers is profit, of course. MacIsaac told The Journal that “prices are going up definitely; probably about 10 per cent more than last year and last year was probably about 10 per cent more than the year before.” The actual price per tree varies based on size and grade,but MacIsaac said, “If you’re dealing with premiums, you’ll get a pretty good dollar for them … a 7-8-foot tree of the highest grade would probably get $18 or more [wholesale].” MacIsaac said he isn’t seeing any difference in the tree business this year as far as COVID-19 is concerned, but he does expect it will be a good year for retailers. “I think there is going to be a big demand because people are going to be stuck in their homes because they can’t travel. Retailers are going to do really well, I think.” And he’s not the only one who’s predicting a good season. All over North America the Christmas tree market is booming. Shirley Brennan, the executive director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association told Global News, “People realize ‘I’m not going away for Christmas this year, so I am going to get a real tree.’ Families want a tradition and want to embrace this holiday season because they missed so much this year because of COVID.” While the pandemic might be making you rethink your holiday traditions, it might make you rethink your career choices as well. If that’s the case, here’s some potential advice from MacIsaac. “There are some young people in it, and they are going to reap the benefits of the low supply. They are doing a lot of planting and a lot of grooming. I think they are going to be set up pretty good. Any younger people that manage a Christmas tree farm properly will do well.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The city of Pasadena has kept outdoor dining open despite Los Angeles County restricting restaurants to takeout to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. A surge of virus cases last week in the county led to a three-week end to outdoor dining. (Dec. 2)
Another 12 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. and 834 new cases have been confirmed, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Wednesday.There are now 8,941 active cases across the province, and the number of patients in hospital has risen to another new high of 337, including 79 in critical care.Henry acknowledged that many British Columbians are feeling worn down by the pandemic and feeling fatigued by months of restrictions on daily life."COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us," she said. "I am asking you all to continue and do a little bit more."To date, there have been 34,728 confirmed cases of the disease in B.C., including 469 people who have died. A total of 10,201 people are currently in isolation because of contact with known cases of the virus.New sports banWednesday's update also includes a new ban on indoor adult team sports, including everything from basketball and hockey to cheerleading and combat sports. Children's sports are returning to Phase 2 guidelines, which means no contact, no travel and modified training.Henry said she knows some sports teams have ignored her order against travelling, and that ended with an old timers' hockey team in the Interior bringing back the virus from games in Alberta, resulting in dozens of cases in their local community.Henry declined to identify the community, but said the returned players infected family members and co-workers. She also said that the situation is not unique in B.C.'I'm asking you to stay home'Wednesday's update included two new community outbreaks — one at the Cove Shelter in Surrey and another at Millennium Pacific Greenhouses.There are also three new outbreaks in the health-care system, including two hospital outbreaks announced by Island Health on Tuesday. Currently, there are 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and seven in hospitals.Though case numbers remain highest in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the pandemic has caught up to the rest of the province. In the past three weeks, COVID-19 cases have stayed steady in Vancouver Coastal Health and doubled in Fraser Health — but they've gone up by nearly 500 per cent in the rest of B.C.As B.C.'s caseload continues to grow and hospitalizations creep ever higher, Henry said everyone needs to stay within their local communities when it comes to sports and recreational travel."I cannot order you not to get into a car or get onto a plane, but I'm asking you to stay home," she said.All community events and social gatherings involving anyone outside someone's immediate household remain banned as well.The current orders restricting social interactions, recreational activities and events are set to expire on Dec. 7. Henry said health officials will be reviewing them and looking at the evidence right up until the deadline to determine if they need to continue.Despite the grim news on the pandemic coming out of every daily briefing on COVID-19, Henry pointed to the U.K.'s approval of the Pfizer vaccine as a sign of hope."This is, of course, very exciting news for all of us … but it's going to be some time before we get there," she said.She added that while approved vaccines may arrive in Canada within weeks, in the meantime, B.C. continues to lose people to the disease every day and transmission is unchecked.Asked about whether the vaccine should be mandatory, particularly for those who work in the health-care system, Henry said Canada has never had mandatory vaccinations and that isn't going to change because of COVID-19.However, she said that anyone thinking of working in health who doesn't believe in vaccines or objects to immunizations should choose a different career.She was also asked about recent demonstrations by those who believe COVID-19 is a hoax and say she is hiding the truth. Henry said that those people represent a small minority in B.C., but it does make her angry to hear those things."This is very real. Ask anyone who has lost a loved one how real it is," she said.
The future of health education is here, and it's at Seven Generations Education Institute (SGEI). SGEI campuses in Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout are rolling out their brand-new Health Disciplines Simulation Labs in order to provide their students in various programs like nursing, paramedics and support worker with a top of the line and state of the art learning facility. The tools and technologies at their disposal will help to ensure each student hits the ground running when they get a job in their desired field, whether in a hospital or at the helm of an ambulance. In Fort Frances, the simulation lab takes up the entire back half of a classroom, purposely designed to simulate a real hospital setting with lifelike patients to get students comfortable with some of the things they will be doing on the job, according to SGEI Health Disciplines Coordinator Taylor Noble. “It's very unique and it's such a good learning experience for the students,” Noble said of the lab and tools within. “It helps because it gives [students] that ability to try to critically think and decide on the spot, in that moment, but also be in a stable controlled environment where they have that support from an instructor... but also prepares them for a real-life situation in the hospital.” The simulation lab contains three medical-grade hospital beds that each feature a Laerdal mannequin that is designed to be as life-like as possible. Each mannequin has several fully articulated joints and areas on the body that can be swapped out for different wounds or conditions. The lab also has an infant/child mannequin for modified procedures. The mannequins are so advanced that students will be able to check their pulse and blood pressure, listen to their heart and lungs for irregularities and administer mock medication through real syringes and IV needles. Taking things up another notch, the mannequins also have the ability to cough, wheeze and scream at the behest of an instructor who controls all of their functions via a tablet, ensuring the students can hone their skills in a safe but ultra-real environment. “We can monitor the carbon dioxide saturation, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure,” Noble explained. “We can actually connect fake blood concentrate in there, so they can actually inject the needles and get bloodflow back so they know they've hit the veins. Students are able to use the exact same equipment they would have access to in the hospital to practice.” In a room full of impressive and cutting edge tech, however, one item reigns above all. Tucked away in the far corner of the simulation lab is an unassuming white table that hides a staggering secret. The table, called the Anatomage Virtual Dissection Table, is like something out of Star Trek, a futuristic learning tool that turns anatomy lessons from the textbook into a 3D render right at their fingertips. Giving a demonstration, Noble showed how the table, functioning like a human-length iPad, can take a realistic image of a human body, with options to modify body type and gender, and strip off layers of skin, muscle, bone and more to display or highlight different parts of the body, like internal organs, the nervous system or more than 1,500 other systems the table is programmed for. It's a high definition look inside the human body and the level of detail that can be explored, along with some of the options for doing that exploring, might make it a tough sell for the squeamish. Staff at the school are still learning how to use all of the functions of the Anatomage, but even with their current understanding of what it can do, it gives SGEI students the opportunity to see and explore parts of the human body that wouldn't be possible outside of a morgue setting, a donated cadaver or other specialized education materials.“This provides more of that visualization aspect for the students” Noble said. “So for students who learn more visual, hands-on, they can come to this table and they can learn. They can cut, look at all the different organs. Anatomy and physiology is a huge concept, there's just so much content for them to have to learn, so for them to be able to learn not only the muscular-skeletal system but all the nerve pathways, lymphatic system, and so many students go throughout their schooling not actually being able to have that visualization piece, so they have this right at their fingertips to be able to utilize.” The Anatomage table is also fairly unique in the region, with only the SGEI's Kenora and Sioux Lookout campuses being the other two education facilities that have one in northwestern Ontario, according to Noble. Taken as a whole unit, the Health Disciplines Simulation Lab sets SGEI's health programs leaps and bounds apart from other health programs. The ability to practice in a hospital-like setting on “patients” who can give realistic feedback gives students a chance to get comfortable with their skills and knowledge in a safe place, long before ever setting foot in a professional medical building. “It allows Seven Generations Education Institute to enhance that learning experience and to give the most optimal experience, with all the equipment that we have, to make sure it's high functioning for students to be able to really learn,” Noble said. “And again, just to help them use this equipment to build that confidence, to feel comfortable, we tried to have the simulation lab really mimic the healthcare settings with the same types of equipment just to build that confidence and security for when they go into the clinical setting.” Currently SGEI has a cohort of seven students enrolled in its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program here at the Fort Frances campus, but the school will also begin taking applications from students for its Paramedic, Practical Nursing and Personal Support Worker programs “very soon,” according to Noble. Each of those programs are scheduled to begin in September 2021 and will also make use of the simulation lab to enhance their learning. For more information on Seven Generations Education Institute or any of the programs they offer, visit their website at www.7generations.org. Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Families across the County of Grande Prairie can benefit from a diaper drive running now until Dec. 10, courtesy of county Regional Enforcement Services. During the campaign the county will collect disposable diapers and cash donations to assist residents in need during the Christmas season. The campaign marks the first diaper drive held by Regional Enforcement Services, but it will hopefully become an annual effort, said peace officer Lindsey Hennigar. “Being a mom of three, I know first-hand diapers are not cheap,” Hennigar said. “It touches every parent’s heart to think how worrisome it would for another parent to wonder, ‘Do I have enough diapers to change my child this day?’” Hennigar said she came up with the idea after considering how food banks have food drives and other organizations collect hygiene necessities and toys. She thought Regional Enforcement Services could fill a gap with a diaper drive, she said. “We’re a family-oriented department and we thought this would be a great way to help residents in need of diapers,” she said. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.” Disposable diapers, related products like wipes and diaper cream and cash donations can be made at numerous locations. These are the Beaverlodge, Wembley, Valhalla, Sexsmith, La Glace and Elmworth libraries, Clairmont’s Wellington Resource Centre, Hythe’s village office and Bezanson’s Knelsen Centre. Monetary donations can also be made online at www.countygp.ab.ca/diaperdrive. The diapers will then be distributed by the Sexsmith and Area Food Bank. While the Sexsmith Food Bank is distributing the donations, Hennigar said families in the west county can also benefit from the program. The drive began last Thursday and she said so far there’s been a lot of interest. During COVID people may not be able to easily access stores to purchase diapers to donate, but Hennigar said Regional Enforcement Services staff will buy some with the cash donations.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
The Dehcho First Nations is bringing back a familiar face to its executive team.Michael Nadli, who served as grand chief during the beginning of the Dehcho Process, was named as the First Nations' new chief negotiator according to a news release on Wednesday.The Dehcho process is a land, resource and self-government project. It began in 1999 and since 2019 has focused on self-government.The Dehcho First Nations call Nadli, a fluent speaker of Dene Zhatié, a "champion for Dene rights.""Michael ... is no stranger to the issues and challenges in negotiations," said Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian in a statement."Through his past roles in leadership and ability to speak our language, he has a strong connection to our culture and elders."Before his new role with Dehcho First Nations, Nadli was "helping build capacity in his home community" with the Deh Gáh Got'ıę First Nation (Fort Providence), the release says.He also served two terms as Deh Cho MLA from 2011 to 2019, was CEO of the Dehcho Land Use Planning Committee from 2007 to 2011, and was grand chief of the Dehcho First Nations from 1997 to 2003.His time in the public spotlight has not been without controversy. Nadli spent time in jail in 2015, when he served eight days of a 45-day sentence after being convicted of assault after breaking his wife's wrist. He had a similar conviction in 2004, when he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault against his spouse and was put on probation."I feel I can be a positive asset to the Dehcho First Nations," Nadli said in a written statement on Wednesday."At a deeper level my work is driven by a passion for justice and fairness. Negotiations is a common day occurrence."