Natalie Sideserf of Sideserf Cake Studio creates a hyperrealistic cake that looks just like a real cauliflower. So cool!
Natalie Sideserf of Sideserf Cake Studio creates a hyperrealistic cake that looks just like a real cauliflower. So cool!
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Jihadis linked to the Islamic State group attacked the northeastern Nigerian town of Dikwa and humanitarian posts there, security officials said. The attack in Borno state that began late Monday night came about 48 hours after the governor of Borno state, Babagana Zulum, visited the community along with other officials, to distribute cash and food to displaced families there. The assailants arrived in trucks and motorcycles, surrounding residents and people staying at a camp for people who are displaced within Nigeria, residents said. The member representing Dikwa at the Borno state House of Assembly, Zakariya Dikwa, said they burned down the police station, the primary health centre and attacked humanitarian offices and left with their vehicles. “The attack was massive because the Boko Haram fighters went there with over 13 gun trucks — all of which had their bodies pasted with mud,” he said. The military later confirmed the fighters are with Boko Haram offshoot The Islamic State of West Africa Province, known as ISWAP. It said in a statement Tuesday that the military had routed the jihadis from Dikwa with heavy bombardment and firepower. The jihadis tried to invade the town after hearing of the food distribution. The U.N. co-ordinator of humanitarian affairs in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, also confirmed an attack on humanitarian facilities in Dikwa, saying several aid facilities were directly targeted, in a statement released by the UNOCHA office in Nigeria. “The attack started last night and, as information is still coming through, I am outraged to hear the premises of several aid agencies and a hospital were reportedly set ablaze or sustained damage,” he said. “I strongly condemn the attack and am deeply concerned about the safety and security of civilians in Dikwa, including internally displaced people inside and outside camps and thousands of people who had returned to the community to rebuild their lives after years in displacement.” The attack “will affect the support provided to nearly 100,000 people who are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic risks spreading in Borno State,” he said. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said “the humanitarian hub was managed by the International Organization for Migration," the U.N. agency that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. ISWAP split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has become a threat in the region. Nigeria has been fighting the more than 10-year Boko Haram insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions. Haruna Umar, The Associated Press
While many things were shut down due to the pandemic, Tabitha McLoughlin and her team responded to increased demand in their community for fresh food by opening another farmers market. McLoughlin is the executive director of Grow Local Tricities, which manages the Port Moody and Coquitlam farmers markets. In June, the organization started its Port Moody summer market as an emergency response for farmers in their area. “We did it in response to knowing that we had farmer vendors who were losing contracts to restaurants and losing contracts to food suppliers, because those guys were shutting down or being closed down, and they had crops in the ground,” she said. “And it was well enough attended that we’ll continue to do it again this year.” McLoughlin has worked with Grow Local for 15 years and said she wasn’t surprised the new market was so well-received. She has seen a steady interest in farmers markets over the past five to eight years, and COVID-19 has only fast-tracked it. “I think the media really started to push ‘buy local’ ... because, as much as we have preached it for years, the importance of the economic impact that is generated by buying from places within your own community is now being seen on such a massive scale,” she said. McLoughlin said it was interesting seeing farmers markets being used in such a utilitarian manner during the pandemic, after trying on so many different hats to appeal to consumers. “What we saw was people coming specifically to buy at the market ... We have spent years building the farmers markets to be these destinations where you and your kids can do a craft, watch a food demonstration,” she said. “We had to throw all that out the window and be like, 'OK, we need you to come in and shop as fast as you possibly can.'” Jen Candela, communications manager with Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) since 2007, said the last decade has seen a lot of growth on their end. The VFM has operated markets since 1995 and now supports 280 small farms and businesses. “I think people are a lot more concerned about where their food comes from than they were 20 years ago,” she said. “Vancouver is also a health-conscious city, so people want the freshest, healthiest food they can find. Unless you grow your own food, farmers markets are the best place to find that.” There is little data on farmers markets in Canada. The last nationwide survey was done in 2009 by Farmers Markets Canada, a now-defunct organization. Even then, total direct sales from farmers markets across Canada was estimated to be $1.03 billion. Although the markets may be expanding and growing, McLoughlin said the sentiment behind them remains the same. “I think (people’s reasons) for putting these things together was always greater than just simply bringing the food into the community,” she said. “Now as it's become more and more common, it's not just like the hippies in the parking lots anymore. It's way more mainstream, to the point where it's almost become trendy.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
There still isn’t a trial date one year after a Kindersley mom was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the death of her infant daughter. In Saskatoon Provincial Court in November 2020, Teenie Rose Steer elected to be tried by judge alone without a jury. Her case was then moved from the provincial court level to Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench. Her matter was on Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench pre-trial list Nov. 13, 2020, to set a trial date. That pre-trial conference was adjourned to Dec. 18, 2020, and then it was adjourned to Feb. 12, 2021. The matter has now been adjourned to March 31. Pre-trial conferences are closed to the public and media. They are informal meetings in chambers between the Crown and defence. Steer was arrested 13 months ago. According to the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Jordan Rule, once charges are laid provincial cases must be heard within 18 months and superior court cases within 30 months or the charges can be dismissed. RCMP arrested steer February 2020 and charged her with killing her one-month-old infant three years ago. On Sept. 27, 2018, police responded to a home after receiving a report of a baby in cardiac arrest. First responders and doctors at the Rosetown hospital attempted life-saving measures but the infant was pronounced dead in hospital. A September 2018 autopsy revealed information that led investigators to believe the baby’s death was suspicious and RCMP Major Crimes took over the investigation. RCMP didn't reveal details of that information. The charges against Steer haven’t been proven in court. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A man accused of cyberbullying the parents of a missing Nova Scotia boy on social media said Tuesday a Facebook group devoted to the child's case started with good intentions but spiralled out of control. Tom Hurley is one of the administrators of a Facebook group where people shared information and theories about the case of Dylan Ehler, a three-year-old boy who went missing in Truro, N.S., last year and has not been found. The Facebook group was one of several that became a source of anguish for Dylan's parents, Ashley Brown and Jason Ehler, after participants began accusing them of negligence and even murder. But Hurley said the group was originally meant to assist in the search for the boy. Three-year-old Dylan was last seen near Queen and Elizabeth streets in Truro, N.S., last May. Search and rescue teams have focused their efforts in and around Lepper Brook and the Salmon River, where they found a pair of the boy's boots.(Town of Truro/Facebook) "Our intentions were to try to help them find Dylan," Hurley said. "And it was going good from the beginning. And then something turned somewhere, somewhere along the line, it got turned around." Dylan was playing at his grandmother's house when he disappeared on May 6, 2020. His boots were located nearby shortly afterward, but no other trace of the toddler has ever been found. Police have said they do not believe there was any foul play in the child's disappearance. There were about 13 Facebook groups devoted to the case, Hurley said, but his is the only one that has ended up in court. Hurley said he deleted some posts, but they continued to circulate because users took screenshots of them. The boy's parents are using the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act to attempt to have Hurley's group permanently deleted. They are also seeking punitive damages. Lawyer Allison Harris, who is representing the boy's parents, said no monetary value has yet been set for those damages. Group's admin calls for apology 'on both sides' During an interview with reporters Tuesday, Hurley at one point said he didn't see any posts in the group that constituted cyberbullying or harassment, but at another point said "everybody was doing it." "We're not the only ones doing it. The only reason we're here today is because we didn't hide behind fake accounts like everybody else is doing," he said. Hurley also said Jason Ehler cyberbullied and issued threats in a Facebook group. "I think a sorry should be good on both sides," Hurley said. Father of missing boy says damage is done Ehler acknowledged he did make a threat once, but apologized right after. "You guys can't even imagine what they've said about us, you know? So try to sit there and not say anything, sometimes you slip and you say things," he said. Dylan's parents said the accusations in the group have caused them fear and anxiety, but they also worry the posts have distracted people from "the most important thing" — the search for their son. Ehler said an apology from Hurley would be nice, but "the damage is already done." The active search for Dylan was called off on May 12, 2020, 6 days after his disappearance.(Submitted by Ashley Brown) "How do you take that back?" said Ehler. "How do you take Ashley waking up every morning crying, you know, how do they take back us being nervous to go to the store because everybody looks at us like we could be murderers or we can be this or we could be that? "How do you take back the impact they put on my son's searches? How do they take back any of that? They can't take back any of that. What's done is done." The cyberbullying case will be back in court on April 6. Ehler and Brown said the police investigation into their son's disappearance is ongoing, and they will be meeting with police soon to talk about renewed searches this spring. MORE TOP STORIES
All Northern Manitoba First Nations youths can now take a survey by the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. to determine their needs during the COVID-19 crisis. To be conducted until until March 16, the survey sets to gain insights on potential programs the MKO can develop to support the youth from First Nation communities in Northern Manitoba as the pandemic continues. “Children and youth have shown a lot of resilience during this difficult time, and as leaders, it is important we acknowledge the strain this pandemic has had on our young people,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee during the survey launch on Tuesday. “Ages 12 to 18 are the demographic that somehow seems to be forgotten, but that is something we want to address.” Settee noted that solutions are often laid upon youths without their input on the matter. MKO wants to empower them through the findings of the survey. Survey results on the youths’ concerns and needs will be used to inform the next steps in the development of the organization’s child and youth mental wellness strategy. “We want to let them know that they are not alone and that there are people who are listening to them and care for them,” said Settee. The survey can be accessed online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/mkoyouth. It is also available for downloading and printing on MKO’s website. When the survey ends, gift cards worth $50 each will be distributed at random to 10 lucky youths who complete the survey. The winners will be chosen through a draw. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Wildfires may not be on your mind as you trudge through snow at this time of the year. But with the official start of wildfire season on March 1, and the ongoing goal of mitigating negative effects of the mountain pine beetle on forests, Parks Canada and the Municipality of Jasper are getting ready. In October 2020, Seamus O'Regan, federal minister of Natural Resources, announced federal funding of $68.4 million over three years to help control, research and mitigate the impacts of the mountain pine beetle on Canada's forests. The funding includes $60 million to the Alberta government for forest management and research; $6.9 million to Parks Canada to mitigate mountain pine beetle impacts, including wildfire risks in the Rocky Mountain National Parks; and $1.5 million to Natural Resources Canada to enhance its core research program. “The majority of the $6.9 million came to Jasper for the Firesmart (program) and the hazard tree removal in Wapiti and Wabasso (campsites),” said Steve Young, spokesperson for Jasper National Park, in an email. Parks Canada moved forward with projects in Jasper National Park where the impacts of the mountain pine beetle are most significant. The majority of work has been associated with minimizing wildfire risk caused by the mountain pine beetle. Parks Canada and the municipality conducted community protection and wildfire prevention work in areas surrounding Jasper. Trees killed by mountain pine beetles are being removed in the temporarily-closed Wapiti and Wabasso campgrounds. Removing dead trees in mountain pine beetle-affected forests reduces the risk of trees falling, the amount of fuel surrounding campsites and the risk of wildfire spread. Planting replacement trees in areas where trees have been removed for public safety assists with restoring forest habitat in Jasper National Park. Each year, the park transplants thousands of local native trees from FireSmart-maintained areas. Transplanted trees are primarily Douglas fir, which have strong fire-resistant qualities and provide important habitat structures in popular spaces like the park’s campgrounds. In Jasper National Park, as part of ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of large wildfires around affected communities, Parks Canada will purchase a high volume sprinkler system. Used in strategic locations, such as along the community fireguard in Jasper, this system will enhance community protection, helping ensure the safety of people and critical infrastructure. “The Municipality of Jasper works very closely (year round) with Parks Canada in wildfire preparedness and mitigation, as well as major emergency planning, evacuation planning as it relates to a wildfire event threatening the community,” said Greg Van Tighem, director of protective services, in an email. Van Tighem said the municipality has reviewed and/or updated its emergency plans, evacuation plan, emergency social services plan as well as the wildfire preparedness guide and the wildfire tactical response plan. “The fire department has been upgrading its wildland urban interface fire (WUI) response resources and training over the past few years and over the next two months we will be bringing these resources into service and initiating WUI response training,” he said. “In early May we will start up our Firesmart Canada Community work bee program once again and will be hosting educational work-bees throughout the community in efforts to assist residents in making their home and property Firesmart.” With the municipality spending a great deal of time in managing the forest fuels around the community, Van Tighem outlined objectives of the Firesmart forest fuel reduction program: The municipality allows small recreational fire pits in private residential properties, provided that they are safely contained in a non combustible fire pit and a safe distance away from any other combustibles. However, the municipality may at any time initiate a fire ban, which would prohibit the use of residential fire pits. “We are currently on track with the current forest fuel reduction program, however the forecast is for continued warmer weather and rain over the weekend which may put the program on hold until we receive more snow cover and colder temperatures,” Van Tighem said. Van Tighem encourages everyone to adopt Firesmart Canada home-safety guidelines that can be found at firesmartcanada.ca Residents can also find information on the municipality’s website. Questions or concerns can be directed to the Jasper Fire Department at 780-852-1595. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
BERLIN — Jadon Sancho scored to send Borussia Dortmund into the semifinals of the German Cup with a 1-0 win at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Tuesday. The game's buildup had been overshadowed by Gladbach coach Marco Rose’s move to Dortmund next season, but it was the 20-year-old Sancho who emerged as the main figure in a cagey quarterfinal. Sancho made the breakthrough in the 66th on a counterattack after a Gladbach corner. Nico Schulz intercepted a Florian Neuhaus pass and played the ball forward through Erling Haaland and Marco Reus, who sent Sancho on his way. The England forward fired in off the left post. Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud, one of several players facing their former team, was sent off in injury time with his second yellow card for a dangerous lunge at Ramy Bensebaini, who was booked for his reaction. Dahoud will miss the semifinal. Reus, the Dortmund captain, also previously played for Gladbach, as did substitutes Schulz and Thorgan Hazard, while Gladbach’s Matthias Ginter and Jonas Hofmann previously played for their opponents. It was Gladbach’s fourth straight defeat across all competitions and it stretched to its winless run to six games – Rose’s worst stretch as a coach. Both sides missed good chances to score. Marcus Thuram should have scored early for Gladbach before Reus replied with another wasted opportunity at the other end. Dortmund suffered a blow in between with Raphaël Guerreiro going off injured. The Portuguese wing-back was lying down with his left shin-guard off after just three minutes played. The next big chance fell to Haaland, but Nico Elvedi got back and somehow did enough to just put the young star off in the 36th. Thuram had a goal ruled out for offside before the break, and Haaland had another ruled out through VAR after it. Replays showed the Norwegian caught Bensebaini, causing him to fall, before he swept in Reus’ cross. More chances went untaken after Sancho scored. Defender Stefan Lainer came closest for Gladbach when he fired just over with the final kick of the game. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
TORONTO — Ontarians should be encouraged to see friends and relatives outdoors in the coming months, some health experts said Tuesday in stressing the need for realistic pandemic guidance following a winter of isolation. Now that most of the province has emerged from the stay-at-home order imposed in January, it's crucial to give residents safer options to socialize to help prevent another spike in COVID-19 infections, particularly in light of new, more contagious variants of the virus, some experts said. "It's really important now that we find realistic solutions for people, and what we know is that we by all means should avoid ... that people now congregate inside," said Dr. Peter Juni, an epidemiologist and director of the province's COVID-19 science advisory table. "People are social animals. We need something to balance ourselves mentally, socially, and psychologically, and so we will need to find a good way forward." A simple message – that outdoor, distanced gatherings are safer, while any indoor gatherings with people from other households should be avoided – should help people make decisions based on common sense, he said. Juni said he felt the need to bring the issue to the science table after seeing photos of large crowds and lineups inside malls and big box stores over the weekend, which he said gave him "goosebumps." The group will discuss possible recommendations to the province regarding messaging related to gatherings over the next few weeks, he said. While being outdoors doesn't mean there is zero risk of infection, that risk becomes "minimal" if people also follow distancing and masking guidelines, he said. By comparison, congregating indoors is "playing with fire," he said. Dr. Nitin Mohan, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Western University, said switching the messaging to promote outdoor activities makes sense from a harm reduction standpoint. "Folks have been indoors for quite some time. We know the mental health and other psychological issues that are going to be a result ... of our lockdown and quarantine measures," he said. "So if folks can get outdoors and it's safe to do so, I think it should be encouraged." There is a risk people may get used to seeing their loved ones when the weather is nice, and then break the rules when it's too cold or snowy to meet outdoors, Mohan said. "Are you comfortable saying, 'hey we probably can't see each other today, let's wait until it gets warmer,' or does it become sort of a lack of compliance where 'hey, we've already seen each other outside, it's no big deal to come inside for a quick cup of coffee,'" he said. "And that's where it becomes problematic." People also have to be reasonable in terms of the kinds of gatherings they're having, Mohan said, noting it won't be safe to have "500 people in a backyard barbecue." Timothy Sly, an epidemiologist and professor at Ryerson University, echoed that warning. "In very general terms, 'outdoors' presents a huge reduction in risk, all other factors being unchanged. BUT this is NOT the time for throwing the masks away and getting into yelling at sports arenas or close-up BBQ parties," he said in an email. "Those will be super-spreader events for sure, especially with the new variants." Most of Ontario has returned to the government's colour-coded system of pandemic restrictions after weeks under an order that required residents to stay home except for essential activities. The government still advises all residents to limit close contact to those in their household. Restrictions regarding gatherings vary between the colour-coded zones, with the more stringent grey or lockdown zone prohibiting indoor gatherings and allowing outdoor ones of up to 10 people with distancing measures in place. Regions in the green, or least restrictive, zone permit private gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, along with events of up to 50 people indoors and up to 100 outdoors, all with distancing measures in place. Three regions -- Toronto, Peel, and North Bay-Parry Sound -- remain under the stay-at-home order that's set to last until March 8. When asked for comment on the possibility of updating guidelines on outdoor gatherings, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health said the province's top doctor will continue to consult with local medical officers of health and experts, and review data, to advise the government on "appropriate and effective measures" needed to protect Ontarians. Health officials in Toronto, meanwhile, said their guidance on socializing remains the same. "Our advice at this time is still to try to maintain as much distance and to not interact with people with whom you don't live," the city's top public health doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said earlier this week. "And if you have to be outside, to really keep your distance and to ensure that you're wearing your mask as much as possible." - with files from Denise Paglinawan This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — Vernon Jordan, who rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer, has died at the age of 85. His niece, Ann Walker Marchant, confirmed Tuesday that he died peacefully Monday night. Former President Bill Clinton remembered Jordan as someone who “never gave up on his friends or his country.” Jordan “brought his big brain and strong heart to everything and everybody he touched. And he made them better,” Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in the statement. His friendship with Clinton took them both to the White House. Jordan was an unofficial aide to Clinton, drawing him into controversy during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. After serving as field secretary for the Georgia NAACP and executive director of the United Negro College Fund, Jordan headed the National Urban League, becoming the face of Black America’s modern struggle for jobs and justice for more than a decade. He was nearly killed by a racist’s bullet in 1980 before transitioning to business and politics. President Joe Biden remembered Jordan as a foot soldier for civil rights. “Vernon Jordan knew the soul of America, in all of its goodness and all of its unfulfilled promise. And he knew the work was far from over,” Biden said in a statement. Former President Barack Obama said that “like so many others, Michelle and I benefited from Vernon Jordan’s wise counsel and warm friendship — and deeply admired his tireless fight for civil rights." Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday on Twitter that “Jordan’s leadership took our nation closer to its Founding promise: all are created equal.” Jordan's death comes months after the deaths of two other civil rights icons: U.S. Rep. John Lewis and C.T. Vivian. After growing up in the Jim Crow South and living much of his life in a segregated America, Jordan took a strategic view of race issues. “My view on all this business about race is never to get angry, no, but to get even,” Jordan said in a New York Times interview in 2000. “You don’t take it out in anger; you take it out in achievement.” Jordan was the first lawyer to head the Urban League, which had traditionally been led by social workers. Under his leadership, the Urban League added 17 more chapters and its budget swelled to more than $100 million. The organization also broadened its focus to include voter registration drives and conflict resolution between Blacks and law enforcement. He resigned from the Urban League in 1982 to become a partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld. Jordan was a key campaign adviser to Clinton during his first presidential campaign and co-chaired Clinton’s transition team. His friendship with Clinton, which began in the 1970s, evolved into a partnership and political alliance. He met Clinton as a young politician in Arkansas, and the two connected over their Southern roots and poor upbringings. Although Jordan held held no official role in the Clinton White House, he was highly influential and had such labels as the “first friend.” He approached Colin Powell about becoming Secretary of State and encouraged Clinton to approve the NAFTA agreement in 1993. Jordan also secured a job at Revlon for Lewinsky, a White House intern whose sexual encounters with the president spawned a scandal. Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr., was born in Atlanta on Aug. 15, 1935, the second of Vernon and Mary Belle Jordan’s three sons. Until Jordan was 13, the family lived in public housing. But he was exposed to Atlanta’s elite through his mother, who worked as a caterer for many of the city’s affluent citizens. Jordan went to DePauw University in Indiana, where he was the only Black student in his class and one of five at the college. Distinguishing himself through academics, oratory and athletics, he graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and went on to attend Howard University School of Law in Washington. While there, he married his first wife, Shirley Yarbrough. The young couple moved to Atlanta after Jordan earned his law degree in 1960, and Jordan became a clerk for civil rights attorney Donald Hollowell, who successfully represented two Black students — Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter — attempting to integrate the University of Georgia. In an iconic photograph, Jordan — an imposing 6 feet, 4 inches — is seen holding at bay the white mob that tried to block Hunter from starting her first day of classes. In 1961, Jordan became Georgia field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During his two years in the role, Jordan built new chapters, co-ordinated demonstrations and boycotted businesses that would not employ Blacks. Jordan moved to Arkansas in 1964 and went into private practice. He also became director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council. During his tenure, millions of new Blacks joined the voter rolls and hundreds of Blacks were elected in the South. Jordan considered running for Georgia’s fifth congressional district seat in 1970, but was tapped that year to head the United Negro College Fund. Holding the position for just 12 months, Jordan used his fundraising skills to fill the organization’s coffers with $10 million to help students at historically Black colleges and universities. In 1971, after the death of Whitney Young Jr., Jordan was named the fifth president of the National Urban League. The high-profile position landed him in the crosshairs of a racist in May 1980 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Jordan was shot with a hunter’s rifle outside his hotel after returning from dinner. Jordan had five surgeries and was visited by President Jimmy Carter during his 3-month recovery in the hospital. “I’m not afraid and I won’t quit,” Jordan told Ebony magazine after the shooting. Joseph Paul Franklin, an avowed white supremacist who targeted Blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980, later admitted to shooting Jordan. He was never prosecuted in Jordan’s case, but was put to death in 2013 for another slaying in Missouri. Jordan left the organization in 1981, but said his departure was unrelated to the shooting. Jordan’s first wife died in 1985. He married Ann Dibble Cook in 1986. In 2000, Jordan joined the New York investment firm of Lazard Freres & Co. as a senior managing partner. The following year, he released an autobiography, “Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir.” He has received more than 55 honorary degrees, including ones from both of his alma maters and sat on several boards of directors. “He became the model for boards of directors; sitting on countless boards," The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said Tuesday on Twitter. “He became a renowned international lawyer. I miss him so much already." ___ Errin Haines, a former staffer of The Associated Press, was the principal writer of this obituary. Jeff Martin And Errin Haines, The Associated Press
Yes, Michelle Obama's co-stars are a pair of puppets.
Toronto Community Housing has re-housed one of the five households it evicted for missed rent last fall, after a Star story that revealed one of the households landed in a homeless shelter. Those five evictions took place between the end of a provincial eviction moratorium in August and a motion from city council to halt arrears evictions in TCH in December. The day after the Star’s report, Mayor John Tory said he’d contacted TCH CEO Kevin Marshman, to confirm that no further arrears evictions would be taking place. “It shouldn’t have happened, and certainly today I had a conversation in light of this story,” Tory said at the time, while noting that the evictions had still been within the bounds of the law. “It was one of those things where it happened in kind of in a short gap that exists between one lockdown and another … I’m not making an excuse for it, I’m just staying that’s what happened.” Asked what would happen to the evicted households, Tory said he would ask Marshman to examine the cases “and see what the appropriate response should be.” During a committee meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Paula Fletcher asked for an update. “I know that at least one family was rehoused as a result of work we did with the shelter and the analysis that we did of their eviction,” replied Scott Kirkham, TCH’s manager of stakeholder relations. Asked by the Star to confirm whether the re-housed family was the one evicted into the shelter system, TCH declined to comment, saying it couldn’t reveal personal information. “We can confirm that, following a review, one of the five households was re-housed,” a statement read. Tory, in a statement Tuesday, said he was “pleased to hear” that an evicted family was re-housed in TCH. Wong-Tam said it seemed the agency had taken a “moment of self-reflection,” and credited its response to city officials’ requests about arrears evictions during the pandemic. “TCH seems to fully understand the severity of the issue,” she said. The housing committee on Tuesday voted to send a request to council on March 10 for TCH to extend its arrears eviction halt until at least June. With files from Francine Kopun Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
President Joe Biden on Tuesday withdrew the nomination of Neera Tanden to be his budget director after she ran into stiff opposition over tweets that upset lawmakers, in the first Capitol Hill rebuff of one of his nominees. "I have accepted Neera Tanden’s request to withdraw her name from nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget," Biden said in a short statement on Tuesday. The decision to withdraw Tanden's nomination reflected the tenuous hold his Democrats have on the Senate.
MONTREAL — Residential sales in metropolitan Montreal fell in February for the first time in six years as transactions plunged outside Quebec's largest city. The Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers says the number of sales decreased three per cent from a year earlier to 5,106 homes for the first February decline since 2015. Sales decreased 32 per cent in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, 14 per cent in Laval, 10 per cent in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and eight per cent on the South Shore. However, sales increased six per cent on the Island of Montreal due to the strength of the condo market. Sales of plexes with two to five units increased 19 per cent, single-family homes fell 14 per cent and condo sales were up eight per cent. The median price for single-family homes increased 28 per cent to $460,000. Condominium prices rose 24 per cent to $340,000 and plex prices climbed nine per cent to $650,000. Total sales in metropolitan Quebec City increased six per cent with condos up 50 per cent and plexes 48 per cent higher. Single-family homes were down 11 per cent. The median price of single-family homes grew 13 per cent to $295,000, plexes were up 16 per cent to $375,000 and condos were four per cent higher at $198,000. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — A Calgary man has admitted to slitting his girlfriend's throat and, days later, stabbing to death his mother and stepfather. Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said Tuesday that Dustin Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murders of Taylor Toller and Shawn Boshuk and the first-degree murder of Alan Pennylegion. An agreed statement of facts said Toller, Duthie's girlfriend of five years, was last seen on video footage from outside her condo unit about 4 a.m. on July 26, 2018. Duthie was captured on video leaving the condo alone about an hour later. Police found Toller, 24, five days later with her throat slit and "tucked into her bed as if she was asleep." The agreed statement of facts mentions a torn-up note in which Duthie explains why he killed Toller, but the document does not detail the note's contents. On the same day Toller was found, Duthie stabbed Boshuk, his mother, six times in their home and covered her with a plastic sheet, the statement said. Boshuk had messaged Toller's grandmother a day earlier, concerned about how her son would react to police contacting him about Toller's disappearance. The statement said Pennylegion witnessed Duthie cleaning his mother's blood in the kitchen and Duthie attacked his stepfather, stabbing him eight times. Duthie and his stepfather had a tense relationship at the time and Duthie had threatened violence against Pennylegion over the years, the statement said. One of Duthie's pit bulls was stabbed but survived with surgery. Pennylegion's pet dog, Odie, found with his owner in the main floor bathroom, was also stabbed and died. The statement said Duthie shaved his head, showered, and changed his clothes after killing his mother and stepfather. About 10:50 a.m. on July 31, he called 911 and confessed to the killings. The document said he was "contemplating 'suicide-by-cop.'" A sentencing date has not yet been set. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. Kachman did not provide details on his death but noted French "will be remembered by many for his passion for the arts, his commitment to his craft, and his vibrant personality." French played high-school student Dave Turner on the Toronto-shot teen series "Degrassi: The Next Generation." In a statement, "Degrassi: The Next Generation" co-creator and executive producer Linda Schuyler said she was "heartbroken" to hear the news Tuesday. "Jahmil was an extraordinary talent and a bright light on and off the screen," Schuyler said. "He was a joy to work with on 'Degrassi: The Next Generation.' "He brought an authenticity and burst of life to every scene he was in and infused his character 'Dave' with an airy lightness. Off screen Jahmil would always make me smile. He will be deeply missed.” French's other credits include the Netflix series "Soundtrack," the Pop TV show "Let's Get Physical," and the Canadian film "Boost," for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination for supporting actor. According to various bios online, he was 29. Fans and friends of the performer shared tributes on social media Tuesday, including fellow "Degrassi" alum Annie Clark, who tweeted she's "heartbroken over the loss." She also posted a video of him dancing on a stage, noting that's how she'll always think of him. "So full of energy and fun. He was always dancing. A true talent and a great friend. We will all miss you so much Jahmil," Clark wrote. Dylan Everett, who also acted on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," tweeted that French was "kind, funny, and talented." "One of the first people I met on 'Degrassi,' he immediately made me feel welcome," Everett wrote. "He disarmed you with a smile and his confidence and energy was infectious. You’ll be missed, brother." Toronto-based Salvatore Antonio tweeted French was a longtime acting student of his, his mentee and "a special human." "He was fearless and brilliant in his pursuit, and I’m so sad we won’t get to see more of his gift," Antonio wrote. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press