In 1965, The Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr married Maureen Cox, with an eventful, fan-filled honeymoon to follow. (Feb. 12)
In 1965, The Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr married Maureen Cox, with an eventful, fan-filled honeymoon to follow. (Feb. 12)
WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
(Terri Trembath/CBC - image credit) A historic courthouse building in Fort Macleod is soon to get a new lease on life. The nearly 120-year-old building, which is a designated historic property, is featured in both the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain and Emmy Award-winning TV series Fargo. Sue Keenan, the town's chief administrative officer, says they have had a number of offers and are close to a deal. "We've had people come through that want to use it as a personal residence, bed and breakfast, wine — like a wine store, wine cellar, wine tasting," Keenan said. Keenan said they even had one offer to use the old courthouse for a marijuana business. "I thought, how ironic is that," she said. "All the judges must roll over in their graves." The historic courthouse building in Fort Macleod has been up for sale at $225,000 and the town says it is close to a deal that will allow the building to remain in the public eye. Built in 1902, the building served as a courthouse and offices for the North-West Mounted Police. In the late 1970s, the town's administration moved in and maintained occupancy until the building went up for sale two years ago, listed at $225,000. "When you look at what you're going to get for that, it really is a good deal," Keenan said, adding that they want to keep the designated historic property a public space. "The consortium we're dealing with out of Calgary have done a lot of historical buildings in Calgary, so they're familiar with all the hoops they have to jump through, and they're committed to keeping this building public," Keenan said, adding she could not give more details just yet. "I want to make sure when we have an announcement to make to our residents and the province, that the deal is a done deal." Keenan is hoping to make a formal announcement next week. This holding cell in the basement of the Fort Macleod courthouse building is the only one that still has a door. The building has 2,000 square feet of original flooring, beams, a hot water boiler and two heavy vaults. There is historic woodwork framing all the old doors and transom windows. "This is old, old, old," Keenan said as she toured the CBC's Terri Trembath through the building, showing off the original hot water boiler from the early 1900s. The basement, with its sandstone and exposed brick walls, is equipped with holding cells for the courthouse. "It would make a great wine cellar, if you ask me," Keenan said. The old courthouse, designed by architect David Ewart from Ottawa — who also designed the Canadian Mint — has been deemed an historic landmark by both the provincial and federal government. Eventually, the cost of upkeep and the daunting cost of renovations to a heritage building proved too much for the town. As for the new deal, Keenan is optimistic. "I am very confident that they will do this building justice, and the residents of the town of Fort MacLeod will be very pleased with the direction that it's going to head."
At his wits end with the province and in fear for his most vulnerable people, David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, is approaching COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in the hopes of purchasing doses directly. "I’m sending a letter out to every one of them pleading with them to consider allowing me to buy direct, that my people are going to die and likely probably going to continue to suffer mental anguish and everything else that comes with it," Chartrand said. In British Columbia, Métis and other Indigenous people are eligible to get their shots sooner and at 15 years younger than the rest of the population, meaning they can get their shot at 65 when 80-year-old residents are being called. Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, the deputy provincial health officer for Indigenous Health, said they’ve been working hard to make Métis people "feel seen" during the vaccination process. Alberta is taking a similar approach and the Métis Nation Saskatchewan is working with the provincial government to work out a vaccine rollout. Here, in Manitoba, the age differential is 20 years — when eligibility for the vaccine is at 95 for the general population, it is 75 for First Nations. That does not include Métis. When asked by The Brandon Sun for the rationale for Manitoba not engaging with Métis in similar ways, when the conditions, vulnerabilities and disproportionate effect in the Métis population are the same, if not worse, than First Nations, Dr. Joss Reimer spoke about data. "Our initial decisions were based on the epidemiology and the data that we had in front of us. The data was very clear that our First Nations, the First Nations people in Manitoba, were experiencing worse health outcomes and at younger ages," said Reimer, medical lead for the vaccine implementation task force. She said the province does not have the same access to data when it comes to the Métis population in Manitoba. When asked if the task force would consider the same age differential for Métis, Reimer said nothing is off the table. "If we have data to demonstrate that something is essential to provide the best possible care for Manitobans, we absolutely move in that direction. Right now, we don’t have that data to depend on. But that’s something that we’re trying to work on together," she said. Chartrand said that’s false. He said the federation has been making efforts to resolve the matter since the summer, to no avail. Further, he says the government is in possession of a four-year study that clearly shows the health vulnerabilities of Métis. "We started asking, why are you not signing one (data sharing agreement) with us? They just basically said, well, we’ll get back to you. And nobody had an answer. We had nowhere to turn. Everybody we turned to said, we’ll get back to you. We’ll get back to you. I can go through emails and letters and meeting minutes. They’re all gonna give you the same response, we’ll get back to you," said Chartrand. "Nobody ever gets back to you. No reason whatsoever. Not to say, it’s complicated. Not to say, can’t be done. Not to say, we don’t have any data in our own health system." Chartrand said the federation has plenty of data it can provide. "We could provide you with ours, and give you a really good surface view of where we’re stating our position and even the health state of our people. We can share that with you. We have sufficient data that any statistician would have been embracing and kissing you for it, because it would (be) such a valuable tool of information. They still wouldn’t work with us. They never provided an answer why," he said. When Pine Creek First Nation, which is between the Métis villages of Camperville and Duck Bay, saw two cases of COVID-19 in January, Chief Karen Baston put the area on lockdown. Chartrand told his people to stay put for two weeks. "We delivered hampers to every house whether they were First Nation, whether they were Métis, whether they were not Indigenous. We took hampers to every house. We told them, don’t go out and shop. Stay locked up for two weeks, and we’ll bring more supplies. Whatever you need, contact us. We delivered to 275 houses," Chartrand said. "Those are some big families. Some are $400 hampers some $150 hampers for a smaller family." Currently, the federation is delivering 40,000 pounds of fish through its partnership with Freshwater Fish. These actions are possible with financial help from the federal government. Chartrand said, while there have been COVID-19 cases and death in the Métis population, so far the federation’s pandemic action plan has been minimizing spread. There have been no outbreaks in Métis communities. The federation even recently set up its own testing site for its citizens, to collect its own data. Acquiring vaccines independently is the next step. – with files from the Canadian Press Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. By the time that dose is injected, it has travelled to at least six different cities in four countries, across the Atlantic Ocean twice, and monitored by a 24-hour watchtower in Iceland every step of the way. A marvel of both science and supply-chain heroics takes the vaccine from the factory floor to the arms of grateful patients all over the world. "It's really very complex," said Germain Morin, Pfizer's vice-president in charge of global supply chains for the company's rare-disease medications and vaccines. The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines being made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, as well as Moderna, are a novel technology that before COVID-19 had never been approved for widespread use in humans. While DNA is the large and complex molecule that stores all of genetic coding that makes us who we are, RNA carries individual pieces of that code out into the body with the instructions on how to carry out the body's work. In the case of mRNA vaccines, they are carrying the genetic code for part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which teaches our bodies to mount a defence against the virus. A year ago, the materials for these vaccines were being made for research purposes only, enough for maybe a few hundred doses at a time. Now Pfizer expects to pump out two billion doses by the end of this year. It has made scaling up the manufacturing process a herculean feat, said Morin. There are 25 different suppliers involved, spanning 19 different countries. Some of them, said Morin, were making milligrams of liquid at the start. Then they were asked to make kilograms of it, and finally hundreds of kilograms. The 475,000 doses Canada received last week began their lives before Christmas. Morin said it used to take four months to make a single dose of the vaccine, which is officially called BNT162b2. Morin said the process has recently been streamlined to half that time. Every dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is born in a Pfizer lab in Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. That's where small DNA molecules called plasmids are made with the beginnings of the code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It takes about two weeks, followed by a quality assurance process. Every step of production has quality checks and rechecks, from the bags and boxes used to store and transport the vaccine components to the temperature in the lab and the protective clothing worn by any workers. Then comes the first major chill, as the plasmids are put in bags and frozen to that famous ultralow temperature Pfizer's product needs: -80C. From Missouri, the plasmids are shipped to two labs, one a Pfizer facility in Andover, Mass., and another a BioNTech facility in Germany, where they are used to make the mRNA. A single batch of mRNA takes about four days to make, in a high-tech process with numerous enzymes and chemicals. The mRNA is then frozen again and shipped off for finishing. In the U.S. that happens in Kalamazoo, Mich., and for Canada's doses, currently made in Europe, they go to Puurs, Belgium, Pfizer's biggest plant in the world. Messenger RNA is not a very stable product and will disintegrate quickly if not protected, so every bit of mRNA is encased in a tiny amount of fat called a lipid nanoparticle. "Imagine a very, very small egg, so a very small eggshell of lipids that would protect the mRNA," said Morin. "This is part of the magic of making this vaccine as well." Over the course of three or four more days the mRNA gets its lipid coating, and is filled into vials containing enough vaccine for six doses. The vials are then packed into boxes, and immediately put into "those famous freezers" which turn the lipid-coated mRNA molecules into mini blocks of ultracold ice. "This was, by the way, one of the challenges," said Morin. "You can imagine that those freezers are not very common in the world. Laboratories buying them would typically buy them one or two at a time. We went to the suppliers and the first time we've asked for 650 of them in one shot, and then we went for more after that." The vials stay in those freezers for two to three weeks, while every lot is tested with more than 40 different quality-control measures. Then come the thermal shipping boxes Pfizer and BioNTech developed for this vaccine. Each vial is packed into a tray about the size of a pizza box with 195 vials total. Five trays are packaged together into the special box, which is filled with dry ice, and sealed. Every box contains a tracking unit to know its location and internal temperature at all times. A control site in Iceland monitors the boxes, which are all uniquely labelled. If any box records a problem between Belgium and the delivery site, it will be investigated and most likely discarded. Morin said at first there were many concerns about the complexity of the freezer requirements but the supply chain has been so successful that only one per cent of the product around the world has been lost because of temperature concerns. Pfizer contracted with UPS to deliver the boxes. Those are picked up by UPS in Belgium, and sent through Germany and Kentucky on their way to Canada. UPS delivers the batches to dozens of delivery sites in each province, where provincial health officials take over possession and prepare to inject them into arms. Moderna hasn't released as many details about its manufacturing process, but has said the vaccine is largely produced for Canada in Switzerland, sent to Spain to be mixed with a diluent and filled into vials, and then shipped to a warehouse in Belgium. Canada has hired FedEx and Innomar Strategies to manage the shipping and distribution of Moderna's and all other vaccines except Pfizer-BioNTech's. Guy Payette, the president of Innomar, said they too use specially designed boxes. Moderna's vaccine doesn't have to be frozen as deeply but does have to be kept at about -20C. The other vaccines Canada is likely to get will mostly need to be kept at about 6 C. Payette said each box is also labelled and tracked with a GPS and thermal sensor. The shipments arrive at Innomar's warehouse, where workers repackage them to match the quantities being sent to each province. He said except for one spot in northern British Columbia, the trackers have worked beautifully. Where they did not, due to the altitude, boxes are equipped with a second device with data that can be downloaded later. He said so far, the temperature has been fine and all products delivered successfully. Those involved in the vaccine process have expressed awe at the speed with which everything turned around. Moderna's vaccine was in clinical trials less than two months after the SARS-CoV-2 virus was fully sequenced. Pfizer and BioNTech signed a partnership agreement in March 2020, and 266 days later the vaccine was approved in the United Kingdom. More than 50 countries have since followed suit and more than 100 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine have now been distributed. It's a pace of development the company has never seen in its 173-year history. "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, not even close," said Morin. He said most products take three to five years to get this far. "We're very proud," he said. "Every new market that we launch is a celebration." He said when the first Canadian was vaccinated on Dec. 14, "I had goosebumps." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
(Chantal Dubuc/CBC - image credit) He's a cat with an attitude and familiar to anyone who has visited the NWT SPCA in Yellowknife the last few years. After being fostered three times and spending 1,259 days at the shelter, Harrison the cat has finally found a permanent home. You couldn't walk in the SPCA shelter without seeing "do not touch Harrison" posters or get a verbal warning from staff to keep your distance and give him space. Harrison's a cat with a rough past and was reactive, not giving much warning before he would strike. Shelter staff affectionately called him Dirty Harry for his sometimes mean streak. A softer side It took Eileen Hendry to show that Harry also has a soft side . "I was thinking I was maybe ready for another cat and I was starting to kind of watch what the SPCA had available for pets. And, you know, Harrison kept popping up in the feed and stuff and he's quite well known around town." When she finally met him at the SPCA, they sat quietly together in the cat room and she was able to pet him for about 15 minutes. She talked to the staff about what his needs were and where he was happiest and thought maybe that she could be a good fit. "I was really looking for easier pets," she said with a laugh. "I went actually to meet the other cat [Fritz] that I had originally seen. And after I met [Harrison], I just couldn't stop thinking about him." She ended up bringing both cats home because she wasn't sure if Harrison would ever really be happy with just her for company. "And they did tell me that he really likes other cats," she added. It took four days but Harrison the cat finally jumped on Eileen Hendry's lap after he was in his new home with her. 'He was definitely showing that he was interested in having me for company and getting close to me,' she said. Given up hope Dana Martin who's the NWT SPCA vice-president remembers when Harrison first arrived at the shelter. "Harrison arrived in a crate, a woman from his neighborhood found him and boxed him up into a cat carrier and brought him in. He was very frightened and underweight, very matted, very aggressive. We learned quickly that he was a biter and we needed to be careful with him." He was moody with people but he liked other cats. He would navigate around and be attracted to the cats that were under stress. "He'd sit by them or, you know, in the bottom kennels in the room. He'd go and sit by the cats that were hiding and a little bit stressed." Harrison the cat gets comfortable with his new housemate, Fritz, aka Sir Pounce a lot. The staff had all but given up hope to find Harrison the perfect home. They had accepted that he was going to be their cat at the shelter until Eileen scooped him up. Martin says that in another shelter, Harrison's story might have ended quite differently. Cats with behavioural issues are often the first to be euthanized.The SPCA in Yellowknife is a no-kill shelter and this offered time to build a positive association with people again. "I think he had been here long enough [to] learn from everybody that people are OK again. I think that that allowed him to connect with her. It really is a happy ending for Harrison. And it's a new beginning for him." 'This is forever' Hendry says that after four days of being in his new home, he finally jumped on her lap. "I sat on the couch and he came over and kind of draped himself over my lap. So he was definitely showing that he was interested in having me for company and getting close to me. He just wasn't quite sure how to do it at that time," said Hendry. She says that she's learning his subtle cues when he's moody and knows when to leave him alone. "This is forever," she said. "The day I brought him home, I signed the adoption papers. I didn't say I was just going to foster him or anything. So it is a long-term commitment, and I'm looking forward to having him around for a long time." Hendry even started an Instagram account so the shelter staff who miss him can keep up with Harry's new life with his new buddy Fritz, aka Sir Pounce a lot.
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
(Leanne King Photography - image credit) Members of Saskatchewan's horse-racing community are devastated after the cancellation of the 2021 season at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon. They say more could have been done to save the season and that the cancellation could cause long-term damage to the sport in Saskatchewan. Horse-racing at Marquis Downs, a racetrack operated by Prairieland Park, was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Earlier this week, the organization announced the 2021 season would be cancelled as well. The news is a heavy blow for many in the industry. Some claim Prairieland Park has been keeping them in the dark about plans for the season after a deal to lease the facility to Pan Am Horse Racing Inc. for 2021 was unsuccessful. "It seems to me that they haven't put forward the effort that one would expect from an organization that is in the business of running horse-racing and promoting agriculture," said Nicole Hein, an apprentice jockey and one of the only female jockeys in the province. Hein is spearheading a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the short- and long-term effects the cancellation will have on the horse-racing industry in Saskatchewan. She said many in the community are upset, as there's been "silence for months'' from Prairieland Park, leaving many who depend on the racetrack in limbo. Hein was one of the organizers of a small demonstration at City Hall on Friday aimed at making more people aware of the situation. She said organizers feel their voice has not been heard and that Prairieland Park needs to do more to support the sport. "They just sat silent for months and then made this decision," she said. A small group of people gathered at Saskatoon's City Hall this week to raise awareness of the cancellation of the 2021 horse-racing season at Marquis Downs. Mark Reiger, CEO of Prairieland Park, said the organization was still making efforts to run races in 2021 until three days before the cancellation. He said the pandemic hit Prairieland Park hard and presented issues for a potential 2021 season. He pointed to both recruitment of international jockeys — a process with extensive COVID-19 protocols — and a lack of agreement with the Saskatchewan's Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association (HPBA) representing owners and trainers as factors. "The fact is, the horsemen haven't agreed to 20 days of racing, which is a problem in itself. If they refuse to race, then we have no horses, so we're done," he said. "The bigger issue is the jockey situation. If we had an agreement with the horsemen and we could get jockeys in, we might consider this." Prairieland Park put forward an offer to run 20 days of races, but the HPBA wanted to see a 24-day season to ensure the costs of running are covered. Regier said the issue comes down to finances. "We invest large amounts of money to make it operate and there's limits as to what we can do," he said. "With the shutdown of our whole operations here, Prairieland could be losing as much as $3 million this year. So that poses a big challenge for us too. How many days are enough? What are we supposed to do? We try our best here to make it work, but there are limitations as to what we can do." He said Prairieland not having applied for permits as usual a "non-issue," saying they could have been acquired quickly if needed. We try our best here to make it work, but there are limitations as to what we can do. - Mark Reiger, CEO of Prairieland PArk Sport will suffer from cancelled seasons Eddie Esquirol, President of the Saskatchewan HPBA, said owners and trainers countered with the 24-day season because cash streams from gate admission and concessions would likely be off the table due to COVID, so they would be relying on revenue from wagering and race takes alone. "Keep in mind the care of the animals, the care of the horses, is 365 days a year," he said. He said some racetracks have had success broadcasting their globally via simulcast, which allows people in international markets to bet on live races even if physical attendance is limited. While you can wager on horse racing at Marquis Down through a smartphone app, the software is based out of Ontario, meaning some money made from Saskatchewan betters won't stay in the province, Esquirol said. He said Prairieland Park needs to invest in a global simulcast, and the marketing and planning required to make it successful. He also said he's "at a loss" as to why Prairieland Park leadership won't join the HPBA's efforts to lobby the provincial government for funding, which he said could be one avenue to saving the struggling industry. He's not sure Saskatchewan's horse-racing industry will be able to survive without provincial intervention. "There's 500 people that are affected directly and there's another 500 plus that are affected indirectly," he said. "So for Prairieland not to conduct horse racing in Saskatoon for the summer of 2021, you have many people that are either going to be forced to relocate to our neighbouring provinces or find some other form of employment in Saskatoon." Praireland has no interest in further lobbying efforts Reiger said Prairieland has invested millions in the sport of horse-racing over the years and is not interested in asking the province for money alongside the HPBA. Although Prairieland supported a petition lobbying the province for funding in the summer, he said it has no interest in continuing lobbying efforts. "That's their initiative, it's in front of the table and we'll let them talk to the government," he said, noting there wouldn't be thoroughbred racing in the province at all if not for Marquis Downs. Asked about criticisms that Prairieland isn't doing enough, he said, "that's their opinion and I appreciate that." On Friday, CBC reached out to Prairieland Park with follow up questions about the 2021 horse-racing season, including questions about a global simulcast, but a response was not received by deadline. Marquis Downs is the premier horse-racing track in Saskatchewan. A news release from Prairieland Park said its revenue is derived from "trade shows, banquets, agricultural exhibitions, and the Exhibition itself," all of which have been unable to open due to COVID-19. "The effect of that has been a significant reduction in revenues. To help maintain its strong balance sheet, Prairieland Park has been forced to make many difficult decisions over the last year," the statement said. "The primary commitment is opening operations when safe to do so." Kristy Rempel, marketing manager with Praireland Park, told CKOM that the park understands the cancellation of the 2021 season "does effectively end horse-racing in the province." Esquirol said he's reached out to the province in hopes of meeting to discuss further options. He said he's yet to get a response. Hein, who wants to see horse-racing grow and thrive in Saskatoon, said leaders at Prairieland need to do their part to make sure the sport survives. "Everybody needs to pull up their bootstraps and get to work and not hide behind a desk and just decide the fate of an entire industry from your chair," she said.
(Submitted by Kayel Lewis - image credit) A P.E.I. woman has a new side-hustle with a few different missions: to keep pets warm, to make a little extra money and to upcycle old sweaters that might otherwise be thrown away. Kayel Lewis of Rice Point started altering vintage human sweaters for her dog last winter and enjoyed it so much, she turned it into a small business and Hand-Me-Down Hound was born. "I've always been a bit of a thrifty person and I couldn't find other jackets and sweaters [for him], so I bought a sweater and turned it into a dog sweater," Lewis said. "I think for the most part people just think it's cute to see a dog in clothing!" Lewis's dog Exi is an integral part of the story: she adopted Exi from Spain last year through an agency called Extraordinary Galgos and Podencos. Exi in the very first sweater his human Kayel Lewis made him. Galgos and podencos are ancient breeds of Spanish hunting dogs and like racing greyhounds in the U.S., many are often seen by their owners as having outlived their usefulness so are given up for adoption or abandoned on the streets. Extraordinary Galgos and Podencos is one of several agencies that now help rehome the dogs, which like greyhounds can make excellent pets. Also like greyhounds or whippets, the dogs are very sleek, without much hair to keep them warm in colder climates. "It started cause I wanted him to be warm!" she said with a laugh. Great excuse to go thrifting Lewis is a lifelong thrift-store enthusiast, sewer and crafter, so the idea of repurposing vintage sweaters was natural for her. Louis the pug shows off his new duds from Hand-Me-Down Hound. "I kind of realized it was a niche thing that people seemed to really like, and I really like finding sweaters — so it gave me an excuse to buy sweaters that I've found. It's kind of just a satisfying thing for me." She moved from British Columbia and said she appreciates the abundance of beautiful handmade sweaters she has been able to find in P.E.I. thrift stores. Lewis said she is excited to make sweaters for all animals people consider pets, including goats, pigs and chickens too. This podenco looks cosy in her new sweater, which Lewis called the Oh My Heart. She will alter sweaters customers already have, or they can choose from her collection of vintage sweaters she has thrifted. She has made about 20 so far, and is excited to grow her business. The one-of-a-kind creations cost $35 to $50, less if customers provide their own sweaters. "I'm just starting, and I'm more excited just to get sweaters out there than to try to make a big profit," Lewis said. She sells on Facebook and on the online maker marketplace Etsy, but said she'd prefer to keep most of her sales local, since it is more sustainable not to ship and "because it would be fun to see the dogs wearing the sweaters — it feels good," she said. 'He's very proud' Exi loves wearing his sweaters, she said. Seeing the dogs in sweaters 'is pretty entertaining!' says Lewis. Here, Silver models a sweater with rosebuds. "He kind of struts around, it's very cute, he's very proud," she said. Lewis has a day job on an organic farm and said she's enjoying growing Hand-Me-Down Hound as a side job, for now. For the month of February, she donated 10 per cent of her sales to Extraordinary Galgos and Podencos, and plans to make donating to her favourite causes part of her business model. More from CBC P.E.I.
Archaeologists have unearthed a unique ancient-Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD. The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, around 700 metres (yards) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii. Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area, which had so far yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not for ceremonies.
(© Disney/Chelsea Klette - image credit) A Saskatoon artist is joining the elite ranks of those who bring the magic of Disney to life. Denyse Klette is the first Canadian to be signed by Collectors Editions as an officially published creator of Disney fine art. "It's magical," Klette said. "My mom and dad had Sunday nights as a special evening where … they'd make us hamburgers and French fries and we'd watch The Wonderful World of Disney. So I absolutely grew up on this." Denyse Klette is a painter and sculptor based on an acerage outside of Saskatoon, Sask. The Collectors Editions is not a Disney Corporation, but it's the only independent company in the world with rights to produce and publish Disney fine art. "They have a small group of artists from around the world that they've selected and we get to design and create Disney art," Klette said. "The originals are sold in different Disney galleries and also they have reproductions done." The painter and sculptor lives on an acreage just outside of Saskatoon and has a style that combines her mediums. Klette paints an image, then sculpts around the edges to give it a 3D aspect. Denyse Klette's work combines painting with sculpture work around the edges. Klette said she is allowed to base pieces on almost any of Disney's animated works. She first produces a full-colour concept drawing on her iPad then uploads it to the Collectors Edition team. The team sends it to the Walt Disney Company, which then reviews it and makes any corrections on proportions or colours. Disney then sends it back to the Collectors Edition, which gives her the go ahead. So far she has created artwork inspired by Beauty and the Beast, Moana, Tangled, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Frozen, The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch and Mulan. Denyse Klette is authorized to produce work based on animated characters from Disney. She paints the picture then adds sculpted frames for a unique piece of art. Her work is mainly on display at the Disney art gallery at the Epcot Centre in Florida, but she's allowed to sell in Canada through her website. Her originals or reproductions can also be found at galleries authorized by Collector's Editions. "It's so much fun. I get to walk into my studio and paint Mickey Mouse," Klette said. "I still do like my non-Disney, but to do Disney art, it's such a magical and close-to-the-heart experience." Klette said she has an extensive library of Disney books that she collected over the course of almost 40 years. "It really is a dream come true." Noka Aldoroty, the director of Disney fine art at Collectors Editions, said in a statement that Walt Disney's ability to inspire others to create was his greatest talent. "It amazes me that even to this day his legacy is still inspiring artists to invent new ways of reimagining and interpreting Disney stories through their own creative lens," Aldoroty said. "We saw in Denyse a truly unique point-of-view artistically, and we could not be more excited to share her talents with Disney fans and art collectors around the world." One of Denyse Klette's pieces is a Moana-inspired painting with a custom-sculpted frame. Klette's work can be found in hotels, resorts, private collections, home decor products, bags, puzzles and more. She also signed a book deal in 2016 with Macmillan Publishers for a whimsical series of adult colouring books distributed worldwide. Klette is currently working on pieces inspired by Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations and Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian refused to fire the head of the country's armed forces on Saturday, intensifying a standoff between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the army over what Pashinyan said was an attempted coup to remove him. Pashinyan dismissed Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan on Thursday, but his sacking needed the formal approval of the president - who rejected the move as unconstitutional and said the army should be kept out of politics. Hundreds of opposition supporters, who had been rallying in the centre of the capital, Yerevan, welcomed Sarkissian's decision with cheers and applause after it was announced by the president's office.
New numbers on the state of the Great Lakes shows a rise in water temperatures for winter 2021, including for Lake Huron. Environmental experts in the Georgian Bay area say the warming of Lake Huron can have significant effects on the weather, environment and wildlife. The latest data from the Great Lakes Environment Research Laboratory (GLERL) shows Lake Huron's water volume temperature sitting at 4.3 C for Feb. 5. That's compared to this time last year, when the water temperature was at 3.9 C, and the year before, at 3.2 C. David Bywater, a conservation program manager with Georgian Bay Biosphere Mnidoo Gamii, said GLERL's latest data is consistent with the pattern of ice loss coverage they've seen in data dating back to the 1970s. A report the Biosphere published in 2018 details a steady decline in ice coverage for Lake Huron from 1973 to 2016, using data from the Canadian Ice Service. It adds the average water temperature is increasing at a rate of 0.9 C every decade. It links both these phenomena to climate change. "It can affect weather: if you have open water instead of ice, that's going to affect the amount of precipitation that you're going to be seeing, both rain and snow," he said. This is because ice coverage prevents further evaporation. Rupert Kindersley, the Georgian Bay Association's executive director, said the warming waters are a concern for that reason: he noted the damage done to structures, docks and businesses near the Georgian Bay shoreline over the years as a result of flooding. "It's one of the features of climate change that we're getting these warmer winters and less ice cover," he said. There are also ecological impacts: according to Samantha Noganosh, a councillor with Magnetawan First Nation and lands manager, many community members have seen a decrease in the number of fish coming through Magnetawan River — which is connected to Lake Huron — over the years, meaning less yield during fishing season. Community members also use the river as a water source for recreational activities and ceremonies. "(Magnetawan River) is the lifeblood of the First Nation," said Alanna Smolarz, a species-at-risk biologist working for the First Nation. "It's an incredible resource." According to Noganosh, the First Nation is closely monitoring the situation with Lake Huron's warming waters. Bywater said the community partners with the Georgian Bay Biosphere to collect data and exchange information to aid in raising awareness. "That's part of the climate change challenge: making it local and making it meaningful when it's such a big issue," he said. Kindersley said the Georgian Bay Association is also working to inform members of the water level concerns, but added what they can do to tackle this problem is minimal. "There's not a lot we can do about climate change and global warming other than persuade people to adopt individual behaviour that will help to reduce CO2 emissions and other things," he said. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Unidentified gunmen stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Jangebe and took the girls away, say police.View on euronews
LONDON — A World War II-era plane flew Saturday over the funeral service of Captain Tom Moore to honour of the veteran who single-handedly raised millions of pounds for Britain's health workers by walking laps in his backyard. Soldiers performed ceremonial duties at the service for the 100-year-old Moore, whose charity walk inspired the nation and raised almost 33 million pounds ($46 million.) Captain Tom, as he became known, died Feb. 2 in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. The private service was small, attended by just eight members of the veteran's immediate family. But soldiers carried his coffin, draped in the Union flag, from the hearse to a crematorium and formed a ceremonial guard. Others performed a gun salute, before a C-47 Dakota military jet flew past. “Daddy, you always told us ‘Best foot forward’ and true to your word, that’s what you did last year," Moore's daughter, Lucy Teixeira, said at the service. “I know you will be watching us chuckling, saying ‘Don’t be too sad as something has to get you in the end.’" A version of the song “Smile," recorded for the funeral by singer Michael Bublé, was played, as well as “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, as requested by Moore. A bugler sounded “The Last Post” to close the service. Moore, who served in India, Burma and Sumatra during WWII, set out to raise a modest 1,000 pounds for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his backyard by his 100th birthday last year. But his quest went viral, catching the imagination of millions stuck at home during the first wave of the pandemic. His positive attitude - “Please remember, tomorrow will be a good day” became his trademark phrase - inspired the nation at a time of crisis. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described him as a “hero in the truest sense of the word.? He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July in a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London. The Associated Press
(Brian Chisholm/CBC News file photo - image credit) Mount Allison University's decision to launch an internal review following complaints about the personal blog of one of its professors is an "egregious" violation of academic freedom, a group dedicated to the protection of free speech and scholarship says. Earlier this week, Mount Allison announced it was conducting an internal review after receiving complaints about an associate psychology professor's blog. In a statement, the university said "serious concerns have been expressed" about posts related to systemic racism, sexual violence, gender, and colonization. "We neither support nor agree with the inappropriate comments that have been posted to this blog," the university said. On Wednesday, the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship rallied to the professor's defence. The society, a group of Canadian professors headed by philosophy professor Mark Mercer, sent a letter urging Mount Allison to rethink its decision. "The professor alluded to in the tweet is Rima Azar, associate professor of health psychology, and the comments Dr. Azar posted on her blog "Bambi's Afkar" concern matters of public and academic importance, such as freedom of expression, university policies, the existence of systemic racism in Canada and teaching in a multi-cultural society," the group said in a letter to Mount Allison. "SAFS is concerned that Mount Allison's [statement] violates Dr. Azar's academic freedom and will function to suppress discussion and inquiry" at the university. Mark Mercer, president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, says Mount Allison has "no legitimate reason" to look into Azar's postings. In an interview, Mercer said Mount Allison has "no legitimate reason" to look into Azar's postings, and said he sees its decision to do so as a response to public pressure. "It's an expression of cancel culture and it perpetuates cancel culture," Mercer said. "As soon as the investigation is called, that's an act of cancelling." Azar declined to comment on the internal review or on the society's response. Mount Allison acknowledged Friday that it has received the letter, but did not respond to questions about whether it will continue with the review. "We have no further comments at this time," communications officer Aloma Jardine said in an email. Mercer said he has not heard back from Mount Allison yet, but that he is hopeful the university will change its position and use the controversy as a "teachable moment." "When we're confronted with positions that we think are false or dangerous, we should analyze them, discuss the arguments for and against," not shut them down, he said. Mount Allison University should be using the controversy around the complaints as a teachable moment about the academic values of free speech and discussion, Mercer said. No topics should be off-limits, Mercer says Earlier this week, Jonathan Ferguson, president of Mount Allison Students' Union, said it received multiple complaints about Azar's blog. The complaints were not about any one post specifically, he said, but rather about "what this professor was saying throughout her blog … denying systemic racism in New Brunswick or in Canada, talking about BIPOC students in unkind ways, labelling Black Lives Matter a radical group — stuff that doesn't run in line with the values of our institution at all." Husoni Raymond, a St. Thomas University graduate who was mentioned in Azar's blog, tweeted: "So one Black person wins an award and that means there's no racism? Disappointing to see a professor who's still ignorant to what racism is and will be using her power within the institution to uphold racists ideologies. Racism IS in Canada. Racism IS in NB." Raymond was responding to a post by Azar in which she said, in part: "NB is NOT racist. Canada is NOT racist. We do not have 'systemic' racism or 'systemic' discrimination. We just have systemic naivety because we are a young country and because we want to save the world. "Oh, one quick question to Mr. Husoni Raymond: Upon your graduation from St. Thomas University, you have been named the 2020 recipient of the Tom McCann Memorial Trophy for your 'strong leadership and character' ... "If NB is as racist as you are claiming, would one of its prestigious universities be honouring you like that?" Mercer said no topics should be off-limits. "The point of freedom of expression on campus is to remove impediments from discussion ... so that people can say what's on their mind," he said. "So when a university says it doesn't support this view, then that's the institution saying there's a party line. And then when they say they're investigating, then they're saying there are some things that cannot be said."
(Souta Calling Last - image credit) If you've driven down any of the highways in southern Alberta, you've likely passed by a Blackfoot historical site, such as an eagle catch, without even knowing it. But Souta Calling Last hopes to change that. Calling Last, who is from both the Kainai and Southern Piikani First Nation, runs an educational, non-profit organization called Indigenous Vision. She has spent the past four years designing an interactive map depicting hundreds of Blackfoot historical and sacred sites in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The Blackfoot Confederacy includes the Siksika, Kainai and Piikani Nations, representing more than 23,000 members in Alberta and another 19,000 in Montana. "The amount of history we have, we cannot walk around with our heads down, shoulders slumped, because it's just so expansive and so beautiful and so powerful," said Calling Last. Calling Last says she sees a lot of potential uses for this map project, including teaching, city planning, environmental assessments and ecotourism. She plans to launch a mobile app that would ping a user as they neared a historical site, and then provide an audio and/or video recording about the place with the story behind it, and in some cases, directions to get there. For example, she says, history buffs could plot out all the Blackfoot battle sites to visit during summer vacation. Calling Last plans to share the full interactive map with tribal leaders, cultural leaders and academics. But she says not all of the sacred sites will be made available to the public. "We walk that fine line of keeping a site sacred and also educating about that site so that it's not at risk from development or getting destroyed or, you know, losing the site." Several teepee rings are clearly visible in this satellite image. Teepee rings, eagle catches Calling Last says the Blackfoot map includes 108 dots, which represent more than 500 sites, some of which date back thousands of years. Calling Last says each of these locations was discovered through conversations with her family, tribal elders and community members, as well as archeological surveys and studies. "I take the source and I look for paralleling stories," said Calling Last. "Usually the way oral stories and history is handed down is each member or area or society is given a portion to remember." She says some items can be spotted in satellite images. In one image, a teepee ring, which is a circle of stones that holds down the canvas of a teepee, appears as a little white shadow. Other sites, such as eagle catches, are harder to spot, she says, because they appear as nothing more than a pile of rocks and sticks and are located high up on the land. She calls one of the two that are plotted on the map "Calling Last Eagle Catch," because it was passed down to her by her family. She says eagle catchers were men or women. She says the catcher would dig a pit to sit in and then cover themselves up with sticks and some type of decoy such as a dead rabbit. She says that when the eagle landed, the catcher would then have to quickly grab the eagle's legs, to either pluck a feather or to harvest the whole animal. She says the process would also include a ceremony. "The impression I got was that it was almost a warrior's job or a coming of age type thing where you were able to go and you were trained," said Calling Last. Satellite images of two Blackfoot Medicine Wheels in Alberta and Wyoming. Calling Last says the map also includes the stories behind the names of locations such as the Crowsnest Pass, historic events, including the first fur traders location, burial grounds, petroglyphs and different band leaders. Lived beyond the reserve Piikani elder Harley Bastien, who worked on the map project, believes the map will help the Blackfoot people reconnect to the expanse of land they once called home before reserves were established. "Some of the youth grew up thinking this is it, so many miles by so many miles is where we always called home, but that's the farthest from the truth," said Bastien, who is president of Indigenous Vision. He also hopes this map will also be used to better educate Canadians about the country's pre-settlement era. "If nothing else, [it will] give them some sort of an education that these aboriginal people didn't just generate and originate from a reserve," Bastien said. He said their homes and highrises were "built probably on the history and the blood and bones of the aboriginal people who lived there." A static map representing roughly 500 Blackfoot historical and sacred sites collected by Souta Calling Last. Calling Last has already worked with other First Nations communities to develop their own historical maps. In one case, it was with respect to mapping missing and murdered Indigenous women. In another, it was mapping the location of traditional pigments used in traditional pottery and painting. She says collecting and mapping these stories and historical data allows First Nations to have sovereignty over their past, and therefore, their future. Calling last has provided a static version of the map to CBC News. She is hoping to launch the app within the year.
Milan — Alors que le gouvernement souhaite doubler les coupes forestières au Québec d’ici 60 ans, les acériculteurs installés en terres publiques craignent le pire. Déjà, le propriétaire de l’Érablière Lapierre déplore des coupes qui arriveront bientôt à isoler entièrement son site de production de Milan en Estrie, et qui, en plus d’empêcher son expansion, ont déjà causé leur lot de désagréments. Des couloirs qui laissent entrer le vent et qui font tomber les arbres en « dominos », parfois directement sur les tubulures, des ornières à même le sol de l’érablière, des populations d’écureuils qui migrent et endommagent le matériel : toutes des conséquences de récentes coupes orchestrées par le ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, analyse le propriétaire Donald Lapierre, dont trois des cinq sites acéricoles sont situés en terres publiques estriennes. Celui qui produit à Milan depuis 1985 a toujours été témoin de coupes dans les environs, mais les choses se sont mises à s’accélérer à proximité en 2018. En bordure de ce site de 110 000 entailles, La Tribune a pu observer ces fameuses coupes sélectives, de même que les sentiers de débardement dénudés les accompagnant. Parfois la zone de coupe s’arrête à quelques pieds des tubulures, d’autres au dernier arbre entaillé. Plus loin, un secteur qui a déjà fait l’objet d’une demande d’agrandissement de l’érablière est aujourd’hui clairsemé et presque sans érables. « Une érablière, ça grandit tout le temps. J’ai un quota et si jamais j’ai des pertes dans mon érablière, le Ministère aurait pu me louer d’autres entailles. Mais là, ils ont tout enlevé », s’indigne M. Lapierre. « C’est difficile de penser que ce n’est pas fait par exprès », estime Philippe Breton, directeur des ventes pour l’Érablière Lapierre. Couper dans l’érablière Même si l’érablière possède un bail, renouvelable tous les cinq ans, le bois des arbres à l’intérieur de celle-ci est en partie promis à l’exploitation : lorsque le producteur remplace sa tubulure, il se doit de permettre une coupe de jardinage acérico-forestier, qui implique le prélèvement 15 à 25 % des arbres sur place. « Sauf que la prescription de l’ingénieur est faite pour revenir dans 20 ans. L’arbre pourrait être bon à entailler 15 ans encore ! » dit M. Breton. C’est ainsi que l’érablière a perdu 2000 entailles à l’automne 2019, dans le cadre d’un projet-pilote visant à étudier les possibilités de prélèvement à travers une production acéricole. Et cette opération, quand elle est réalisée par une forestière, aurait de grands impacts. « Pour quelqu’un qui ramasse le bois tous les 20 ans, ça n’a pas d’importance. Mais pour nous, des ornières de quatre pieds de profond, quand vient le temps d’aller entailler, de retirer des entailles ou juste de courir les fuites, c’est très difficile de naviguer le territoire », déplore M. Breton, qui n’hésite pas à parler de « favoritisme », considérant les contraintes environnementales auxquelles les acériculteurs doivent se plier de leur côté. L’équipe est néanmoins consciente que les coupes visent également une régénération de la forêt et des érables, « mais c’est environ 60 à 70 ans entre la petite tige et l’arbre qu’on peut entailler, commente M. Lapierre. Moi je n’aurai pas ça. Mes enfants n’auront pas ça. » Place à l’amélioration La Table de gestion intégrée des ressources naturelles et du territoire de l’Estrie (TGIRT) est bien au fait des préoccupations d’Érablière Lapierre, et s’est même rendue sur place en 2019. La coordinatrice de la table, l’ingénieure forestière Manon Ayotte, affirme que les coupes du secteur sont planifiées et réalisées dans les règles. « Mais il y a toujours place à amélioration. Par exemple avec la problématique des écureuils, on n’a aucune idée si c’est causé par les coupes adjacentes. C’est possible qu’elles aient des effets qu’on ne connaisse pas ou qu’on ne prévoit pas. C’est important de faire de la rétroaction. » Les coupes planifiées par des aménagistes du MFFP doivent passer par la TGIRT, puis par des consultations publiques avant d’être mises en branle. « On s’en va là où les travaux sont dus pour être faits, là où on ne veut pas laisser mourir les arbres et où on a une maturité pour intervenir, avance Mme Ayotte. L’idée n’est pas nécessairement d’aller accoter l’érablière. Par contre, ce n’est pas nécessairement une problématique de le faire. Au contraire, dépendamment des traitements, ça peut susciter une entrée de lumière et favoriser la régénération et le développement de la couronne de l’arbre qui va être à proximité. » L’ingénieure forestière rappelle également que de s’installer en forêt publique implique l’harmonisation de différents usages... publics. « Il ne faut pas se cacher que les acériculteurs ont investi dans des installations en terres publiques en espérant pouvoir compter sur des agrandissements. Est-ce que l’erreur découle de là ? Est-ce qu’au départ, les investissements auraient dû se faire uniquement avec ce qui était alloué au niveau des entailles pour éviter les sentiments de droits acquis sur les peuplements ? C’est sûr qu’ils sont déçus si jamais ils se sont fait des projets de génération en génération. C’est un des inconvénients de s’installer en terres publiques. Il y a des avantages financiers très intéressants, mais ça vient avec certaines contraintes. » Celle-ci tient également à apporter des nuances quant à la dégradation du terrain causée par les machineries sur le site. « Le secteur où il y a eu de l’orniérage, ça a été mentionné que c’était trop humide et que ça nécessitait des travaux d’hiver. Il y a eu un refus du producteur. C’était trop contraignant pour remettre les tubes et ça mettait la production en retard », mentionne-t-elle. Le MFFP maintient de son côté que « la planification des activités de récolte forestière doit (et tient) compte des autres usages de la forêt et les autres utilisations de la forêt doivent aussi tenir compte des activités récoltes, sans primauté d’une activité sur les autres ». Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
(Kyle Mandeville - image credit) The Northwest Territories' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) is investigating after complaints of caribou carcasses found along the ice road to the Diavik Diamond Mine. Officers with ENR say they can't disclose the specifics of the investigation but are looking for the public's help to catch the culprits. Adrian Lizotte, wildlife and environment manager for the department in the North Slave region, has been working along the ice road this winter. He says they've received several reports of abandoned wildlife bodies, along with increased activity this year on the north end of Mackay Lake. "Some of the reports are [of] waste of caribou, failure to retrieve an animal, also, hunting in a mobile zone, and harvesting with no license," he said. The department has two check stations that have been established for a few years — one at the south end of Gordon Lake and one on Mackay Lake. With the increase in activity they added a third check station, which will be mobile, with a camper towed behind a pickup truck. Areas with increased activity of harvesting will be focused on, whether inside or outside the mobile zone. An image submitted by a hunter shows a caribou with only some of its organs removed. Illegal meat sales Lizotte says the department is also getting complaints about people trafficking wildlife. The dry meat trade on social media sites like Facebook has been huge and a contributor to over-harvesting. But Lizotte warns against selling the meat to others. "There are no commercial licenses for caribou, so anything that is used for caribou should just be used for personal purposes to feed yourself or your family," Lizotte said. "It's not for sale.… If you are caught trafficking wildlife, it's a $949 fine." There have been reports of caribou bodies being wasted after being hunted. Lizotte says that before going hunting, inexperienced hunters should familiarize themselves about the edible parts of the animal so there isn't any wastage or fines. "The main message is respect. You know, you've got to respect the wildlife, respect the land and the water," he said. "Take what you need to go feed your family."
A military guard of honor and Royal Air Force fly-past marked the funeral on Saturday of Captain Sir Tom Moore, the World War Two veteran who raised millions of pounds for Britain's health service during the coronavirus pandemic. By the time he finished, on April 16, he was being willed on by millions in Britain and beyond, and the total raised was heading toward 39 million pounds ($54 million). Moore was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in recognition of his efforts, while the White House said after his death that he had "inspired millions through his life and his actions".
(Photo: Jay Legere - image credit) It started with a Facebook post back in April 2020. "We will be making a batch of fish sauce and salad dressing for sale," it said. Three hours later ... more than 250 bottles were sold, and Yellowknife's Bullocks Bistro was in business. "This was incredible," said co-owner Joanne Martin. "It reaffirmed that this was a viable product for us," she said. Joanne Martin had no idea when she started selling her salad dressing and fish sauce it would turn into a full scale business. Martin says the salad dressing and fish sauce has always been popular; people would go to the restaurant with their own bottles to fill up. But when COVID-19 hit, people weren't able to get it and they were needing a fix. Once word got out they could get it in local stores, people were pretty much lining up for the stuff. "We've sold so much of it, we can't keep it on the shelves," said Yellowknife Co-op deli manager Megan Marks. Marks says they've sold close to 7,000 bottles … since May. Megan Marks says Bullocks Bistro salad dressing is very popular at the Yellowknife Co-op. They get orders twice a week and they are almost always sold out. "We get a shipment from them twice a week and we get people that come and they send it to family in Newfoundland and Ontario … it's so popular," Marks said. The dressing and sauce are being sold in stores in four communities across the Northwest Territories. Now the restaurant is about to make a big step up in production in hopes of getting their product out to the rest of the world. "By the end of June we realized that we are going to need something bigger … we can't do the restaurant and this as well," said Martin. Joanne Marting says her products are made with love and it will remain that way when they open the processing facility. So they purchased a spot in the Kam Lake area of Yellowknife and construction of a processing facility will begin in May. "We will probably start out with three to six staff [and] we should be able to put out around 6,000 bottles a day." Martin says her sauce and dressing is made with love and expects that selling it as a northern product will be a huge marketing tool for them. If all goes according to plan, the new salad dressing and fish sauce plant will be open in August.