TORONTO — Esteemed Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is donating his archive to his Toronto alma mater, Ryerson University.Burtynsky, who has won world renown for his depictions of humanity's impacts on the natural landscape, has gifted 142 photographs from his early career to the Ryerson Image Centre.It's the first instalment of Burtynsky's multi-year donation to Ryerson, where he began his career in the late 1970s when the school was known as the School of Image Arts of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.The St. Catharines, Ont.-born photographer has gone on to see his works tour the globe, including his "Anthropocene" exhibition, which is part of a multi-disciplinary collaboration that produced a 2018 documentary of the same name.A selection of the photographs featuring some of Burtynsky's early explorations of society's attempts to control nature are available on Ryerson Image Centre's website.Burtynsky shot most of the images in Ontario and Western Canada between 1976 and 1989, and he plans to donate further selections from his storied career to Ryerson in the years to come."It was important to me that my life's work be housed in a Canadian institution," Burtynsky said in a statement Tuesday. "It felt like a fitting 'homecoming' to entrust these works to the same place where I first developed as a photographer."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
The May 16th Miracle has rippling effects. Not only did it inspire The Gift (see page 1) but it also inspired one community in Chatham-Kent to shine some light on businesses during the pandemic. Dresden lawyer Stuart Kiar was inspired after the May 16th Miracle and gathered the same volunteers to launch Dresden Shines. “And the day after I was thinking about all the good work being done and what can we do to sort of keep everybody involved,” he said. The initiative is a collaboration between multiple community groups and sponsors to decorate mainly businesses and also homes with Christmas lights. Normally Dresden hosts the Christmas Night Market, an event where a section of the downtown is shut to car traffic, and residents have a chance to browse local vendors for their holiday shopping. “The purpose is to lift community spirit and also to fill that (the market’s) void because it’s been such a big part of the community every year,” Kiar said He is also hoping the downtown Christmas beautification will attract nearby residents to visit Dresden and support local shopping. The market would normally attract 10,000 individuals to the community of approximately 2,500 people. Shops will remain open until 8 p.m. every Thursday. Kiar and his co-organizers are also encouraging Dresden residents to decorate their homes with a community “cup” to be given out a prize as a fun incentive to motivate neighbourhoods to work together. An Illumination Tour will be safely given to visitors in the form of a drive through event. More events will be released on the Dresden Shines Facebook page in the coming days. “When we work together Dresden Shines,” Kiar said.Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
WHITEHORSE — Residents of Yukon will be required to wear a non-medical mask in all public indoor spaces effective Dec. 1.Premier Sandy Silver made the announcement during the territory's regular pandemic briefing in Whitehorse.He says everyone who does not have a medical exemption and is over the age of two will be required to wear a mask. The territory has 38 cases of COVID-19, including 14 active cases related to what Yukon's top doctor says is the second wave of the pandemic, involving two separate outbreaks.Dr. Brendan Hanley says the illnesses have been linked, either directly or indirectly, to travel outside Yukon.The territory reintroduced COVID-19 control measures last week that include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for almost everyone entering or returning to the territory after travel outside its boundaries.Hanley says there is no plan to impose a lockdown, despite the arrival of the second wave, but he warned residents to prepare."Now, I don't mean, by preparation, you need to run out and buy toilet paper," he says."Prepare yourselves, more, that we may see more cases, perhaps many more. Prepare your mental health by being ready to see worse before we see better," he says.Hanley also urged residents to "start to think" about organizing virtual gatherings this holiday season.Silver reminded residents who must quarantine, or follow other public-health orders, that the restrictions are not optional.He says 26 charges have been laid under the Civil Emergency Measures Act, including the most recent charge last week against a person who failed to self-isolate.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
Medicine Hat Musical Theatre has made the decision to postpone its upcoming winter shows. The organization had multiple weekend showings planned for its radio play adaptation of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ but decided to push all shows back to a later, undecided date. “With numbers rising in the area for COVID-19, we started to feel like more enhanced measures would be coming to Medicine Hat,” said MHMT’s Lyn Weisgerber. “We talked it over a few times and we didn’t want to put people at risk. “We decided to play it safe and just postpone these shows until things are looking better in the province.” MHMT was asking patrons to be masked for the shows and had other safety measures in place, but still felt in was necessary to postpone the shows completely. “We’re going to talk at our next board meeting to see where we’ll go from here,” said Weisgerber. “We’re going to look at maybe the end of January or February to do a show, but we’ll have to see where everything is at. “We don’t have anything concrete yet, but we’re hoping to try again in the new year.” Weisgerber added that MHMT looked at options like streaming the performance, but says they just don’t work. “To stream it you need to buy streaming rights,” she said. “We think we’re at our best with a live audience, so we’re going to brainstorm to figure out where to go next.” A couple of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ showings had sold out, with around 70 per cent of tickets sold overall. Tickets can be converted into a gift card to use at a future show, or people can get a refund from MHMT. More information can be found online at http://www.mhmtheatre.com.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
MONTREAL — Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group says it has completed the sale company to a group of its creditors led by Catalyst Capital GroupThe company announced the closing of the transaction with its secured lenders and its emergence from court protection from creditors today. Cirque was forced to cancel its shows earlier this year and cut nearly 3,500 employees due to the pandemic.As part of the transaction, former MGM Resorts International chief executive Jim Murren and Catalyst Capital managing director Gabriel de Alba were named as co-chairmen of the company's board of directors.Daniel Lamarre will remain as president and chief executive, as well as continue to sit on the company's board. The new owners have also agreed to keep the company's headquarters in Montreal.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.
SALT LAKE CITY — Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah's red-rock desert lies a mystery: A gleaming metal monolith in one of the most remote parts of the state. The smooth, tall structure was found during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday. A crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air Nov. 18 and landed to check it out during a break from their work. They found the three-sided stainless-steel object is about as tall as two men put together. But they discovered no clues about who might have driven it into the ground among the undulating red rocks or why. “This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety. Still, it's clear that it took some planning and work to construct the 10- to 12-foot (3- to 4-meter) monolith and embed it in the rock. The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued. The monolith evokes the one that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey." Because it’s on federal public land, it’s illegal to place art objects without authorization. Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it's been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
The treatment, bamlanivimab, which was developed in partnership with Canadian biotech company AbCellera, will be supplied to Canada over a three-month period between December and February. The drugmaker said additional doses will be supplied to Canada on a monthly basis according to the medical need of the country and the availability of supply. Last week, Canada granted an interim authorization to bamlanivimab for treating COVID-19 in patients who are not hospitalized but are at risk of serious illness because of their age or other conditions.
Christmas tree producers in Lunenburg County, N.S., say it may be a little harder than usual to find a tree this year."We're getting asked for tree orders that are getting over what we can supply," said Andrew Crouse, president of the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Association.Growers in Lunenburg County cut about 500,000 trees each year. That's roughly half of all the trees cut in the province each November. Crouse said about 80 per cent of those are trucked out of the region into the United States and Ontario.The demand in the U.S. is stronger, he said, because the tree industry south of the border is spending millions more on marketing this year, specifically to millennials. And it's paying off.Crouse said his growers are getting requests both locally and from outside the region and he said they're unable to keep up.'They're all sold'Among those still looking is Tim Hines, manager at the Bedford Farmers Market on the Bedford Highway. Every year for the past 35 years he has ordered up to 350 trees from growers in Lunenburg County. This was the first year he came up empty handed."I've been trying now for the last three weeks, four weeks and everybody I talk to, it's the same thing. Nobody's got any trees left. They're all sold," he said."There's no trees left to buy, they're all gone. They're all going to the states, or Bermuda. Some of the other islands are taking a lot. If you go down (to Lunenburg County) you'll see lots of trees. But most of them are going on the back of tractor trailers heading south."On Monday, a container truck drove onto a tree lot in Lunenburg and collected 450 balsam firs. All of them were colour-coordinated according to height, and three-foot-tall trees were just as popular as those six or seven feet tall.Each tree was tossed onto a conveyor belt and packed upright into the container. Crouse estimated the trees will fetch about $12,000. The question is, with so many trees being shipped out of the region, will there be any left for Nova Scotians?"Perhaps in Halifax you may have to drive a little bit," Crouse said. "But I think we always have a supply in the rural area. I'm going to say that you should be able to get a tree — with a drive if you have to."Prices could be upKevin Veinotte, owner of U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm in Lunenburg, said cars line up on the street to get into his lot every year. Sometimes he said it can be overwhelming to see so many families waiting to get onto his property to cut their own tree. He expects this year to be the same.He's telling folks in the city to rest assured: they'll get a tree."We ourselves supply some trees into Halifax," he said. "Prices are going to be up a little bit, but not by much. And there will be trees available," he said. Both Veinotte and Crouse estimate a six or seven foot tree could cost you $50 or more. Bottom line, Crouse said, is this is a good year to be in the Christmas tree business."It's all over on Christmas Day. It's like an election. As soon as Dec. 25th goes through you start working toward the next one."MORE TOP STORIES
France will start easing its COVID-19 lockdown this weekend so that by Christmas, shops, theatres and cinemas will reopen and people will be able to spend the holiday with their families, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. In a televised address to the nation, Macron said the worst of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in France was over, but that restaurants, cafes and bars would have to stay shut until Jan. 20 to avoid triggering a third wave. "We must do everything to avoid a third wave, do everything to avoid a third lockdown," Macron said.
Young people from around the world, frustrated at yet another delay at the primary forum for global climate action, are creating their own legal document and asking world leaders to adopt it. “Our goal is for the world leaders to see what we’re doing, to see that we do not want them to delay climate action any longer, like they did with COP26. It’s just not acceptable anymore,” said Malaika Collette, a Grade 12 student near Peterborough, Ont., and one of the 18 student staffers putting on the Mock COP26. The 26th version of the UN climate change conference (COP, for Conference of the Parties, to the UNCCC) was due to take place in Glasgow this month, with 2020 also designated a “year of climate action” by the world body. But COVID-19 dashed those plans, and by May, the UN had decided that COP26 now won’t take place until November next year. Frustrated by the cancellation, Collette said the idea to put on their own version sprung from the U.K. educational charity Students Organizing for Sustainability’s Teach the Future program and grew from there. The two-week summit, which kicked off earlier this week, brings together more than 350 delegates from 150 countries, with a focus on amplifying the voices of the global south. “Climate change doesn’t get postponed, therefore, finding solutions shouldn’t be, either,” said Ottawa’s Sophie Price, a climate striking activist who also this year founded the Divest Canada Coalition. “Millions have died from COVID-19, but even more will die from climate change,” she said. Three delegates will attend on behalf of Canada and other countries in Europe and North America, while up to five are taking part from countries that are typically underrepresented in global fora. With a greater weighting of delegates from the global south, “they will have a more prominent voice, because we know their voices are often not prioritized,” Collette said. Some 800 young people applied to take part, with particularly strong interest from India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines, organizers said. Those taking part have been huddled in groups for a week or so now, Collette said, to work on high-level statements on behalf of their country’s youth, and will split into six time-zone groups this week. Those groups will debate policy initiatives and engage with a slate of mostly young speakers on climate education and justice, resilient livelihoods, health and well-being and the NDCs — Nationally Determined Contributions, a.k.a. each country’s climate commitment. “I am pretty sure that some of those countries will be including a just recovery, a green recovery, in these statements, because that’s certainly important right now,” she said. Everything is being livestreamed and also made available for later viewing on YouTube, except caucuses, where delegates meet and vote. The end result, a final statement outlining young people’s demands of world leaders, will be handed to the U.K.’s top sherpa for the 2021 talks at a closing ceremony on Dec. 1.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Anne Murray says she won’t be among the Canadian snowbirds migrating south this winter.While the celebrated singer has made a tradition out of packing her suitcase and setting forth to the Florida sun each year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic she's staying put inside her new Halifax home."If you have to be isolated, I'm in a great spot," the 75-year-old said in an interview over her iPad."I'm right on the water ... you really are in touch with nature. Lots of birds, changing of the trees and boats. I feel like I've won the lottery."After selling her place in Markham, Ont. and moving east last year, Murray is enjoying the rekindling of relationships with her friends and family, while making the briefest of forays back into the music industry, as she did this year with a new Christmas compilation album.Murray grew up a couple of hours from Halifax, in the mining community of Springhill, N.S., and while there was always an urge to return to her roots, her music career pulled her in another direction. But the calling eventually got the best of her — a feeling she believes other Maritimers who've moved away can probably understand.“There seems to be a huge magnet down here,” she said.“I thought about it for a long time ... and it felt like the right thing to do. Now that I've been here for a year and a half, I know it was.”Leaving the Toronto area was another step in Murray’s retreat from the music industry, where she once made history as the first Canadian female solo singer to top the U.S. charts and the first to earn a gold record for her song “Snowbird.”Four Grammy wins and a record-setting 24 Junos later, Murray famously hung up her microphone a decade ago, swearing off any possibility of a comeback attempt. She’s kept her word and insists she hasn’t second-guessed the decision for a moment.Sometimes she looks around at her contemporaries still playing in their later years and wonders what they’re thinking.“They don't sound that great, but they're still doing it,” she said.“People don't seem to mind. But I was one of those (singers) who couldn't. I have too much trouble settling for less.”She's often asked to perform live, but she shoots down those requests and says she declines the many advances made by other musicians asking for her to appear on their albums.Only when her record label Universal Music Canada comes calling does she deliver the occasional compilation. Her latest, “The Ultimate Christmas Collection,” released earlier this month, repackages 22 songs that made her part of the Christmas zeitgeist.Accumulated from her six chart-topping holiday albums, the tracks include her original song “Christmas Wishes,” a cover of Elvis favourite “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with Michael Buble.The album took shape during the summer as Murray pulled out her compact discs and dusted off videos of her old Christmas TV specials to remind herself of a period in her life that’s mostly a distant memory. She looks back fondly on those annual Christmas concerts because of the joy that radiated from the audience.“It was such a happy time,” she said. “People would sing at the top of their lungs and it was just fabulous, like a great big sing-along.”Her interest in listening to music has faded in recent years, Murray said. While she'll casually sing to herself while doing chores around the house, that's usually the closest she'll get to putting on a show.But a few months ago, Murray sat down with her old guitar to find out if her lush alto voice could still carry a tune. For the first time in a long time she revisited a few old songs, she said, just for the fun of it.“It does go if you don’t use it, but it’s still there,” she said. “And if I gave it some time, in a few weeks I could probably be singing.”Follow @dfriend on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published November, 24, 2020.David Friend, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Anxiety-ridden and overworked health-care workers say they feel abandoned in their increasingly desperate struggle to cope with COVID-19, a new small-scale study suggests.Interviews with nurses, personal support workers and others in hospitals and long-term care homes suggest chronic stress and burnout are common, but fear of reprisals is stopping them from speaking out."The knowledge that they are at increased risk of infection due to lack of protection has resulted in anger, frustration, fear, and a sense of violation that may have long-lasting implications," the paper states.The study, in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, was done by James Brophy and Margaret Keith, academic researchers affiliated with the University of Windsor and noted occupational hygienists.Health-care workers in Canada have contracted the novel coronavirus in far higher numbers relative to the general public, comprising almost one-in-five confirmed cases, according to a previous study. To date, COVID-19 has sickened close to 9,000 front-line health-care workers and killed 16.Only 10 workers — nurses, personal support workers and other staff — agreed to be interviewed for the qualitative study. Others refused to take part for fear of being disciplined or fired, they said.Despite the handful of interview subjects, the authors said their peer-reviewed findings reflect other larger-scale research and surveys, and its findings are valid.Those interviewed said they still lack personal protective equipment despite the very real risks of contracting COVID or spreading it — risks apparent from the early days of the pandemic. Some said they were warned by supervisors not to wear N95 protection, even if they had their own, Keith said.Others spoke of the constant grief and trauma they endure when patients or residents die, a situation only getting worse as new cases soar."Words on the page cannot convey the level of emotion we heard in the voices of the health-care workers we interviewed," Brophy said. "We did not expect to hear the degree of anger and desperation that came out."The vast majority of the front-line health-care workers are women, many racialized, Keith said. Many are part-time and vulnerable to job loss."Health-care workers are desperately in need of protection from COVID and from their often back-breaking and soul-crushing working conditions," Keith said. "But the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of health-care work contributes to (their) risks and adverse mental-health impacts."Despite the issues, the workers said the provincial government had let them down by failing to take action to deal with their health or labour concerns. Chronic understaffing and failing to keep them safe, the authors said, means the workers can't do their jobs effectively, putting everyone at risk."Health-care workers health and well-being are being sacrificed," Keith said. "We all need to pay attention to their pleas."There was no immediate response to the qualitative study from the provincial government, but Health Minister Christine Elliott praised the "tireless efforts" of front-line health-care workers during an announcement on Tuesday about the roll-out of rapid tests.Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said front-line staff in close contact with COVID-infected people still have no ready access to proper respirators. The Ministry of Labour has also rejected all 253 work refusals as valid. "This explains why people feel sacrificed and why they feel exploited and violated," Hurley said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro called the display outside his constituency office "offensive".
WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health will be providing a more detailed breakdown of COVID cases by community starting in December. This means case count will be shown in each municipality rather than just an overall number in Wellington County. WDG public health had previously said they would not release this data due to concerns over privacy and giving some communities a false sense of security. Danny Williamson, communications specialist with WDG Public Health, said by email that they have been reviewing how they release information and ways to make it more detailed. “Local level data has been a frequent request and public health has worked to validate a process that could deliver this information efficiently and protect individual privacy,” Williamson said. “We have continued to work on adding data to our public dashboard since the start of the pandemic and will seek to continue to add to and improve the dashboard.” Williamson said a breakdown by municipality will be added daily starting Dec. 1 and they hope to add additional information in the future. Minto mayor George Bridge said in a Monday Facebook video update that public health had given the town data they had formally requested in a letter sent from their council. They sent this letter as a response to a recommendation from their economic development committee. Some business owners were concerned about an assumption in their community that rising cases were predominantly in the southern parts of Wellington County. Williamson clarified that the Town of Minto did ask for this information but the decision to give a breakdown by municipality isn’t a result of that request. A news release from Minto shows, as of Nov. 23, they have six active cases and have had 20 in total, including the current cases. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Additional COVID-19 restrictions will be announced Tuesday morning and the final decisions around what those restrictions will look like are being made this afternoon. On Monday, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw had to keep her press briefing short as she was slated to discuss options for more strict measures during the Priorities Implementation Cabinet Committee Meeting. Hinshaw will be providing recommendations, but the final decisions will be made by government officials. Hinshaw was tight-lipped on her recommendation on Monday when asked by members of the press. The recommendations come after a weekend of new daily COVID-19 case highs, with 1,336 people diagnosed on Saturday, 1,584 people diagnosed on Sunday and another 1,549 cases on Monday. There are currently 13,166 active cases in Alberta with 101 of the 136 health regions in the province under enhances measures. Hinshaw said the effectiveness of the new measures being issued Tuesday will not be seen in the COVID-19 case count for two to three weeks and Alberta Health Services will have to manage the increasing number of COVID-19 cases being admitted to the hospitals and ICU, in expense of treating other conditions. In the past 24 hours, the province ran 19,500 tests with a positivity rate of eight per cent. There are currently outbreaks or alert status at 304 schools, about 13 per cent of schools in the province. In-school transmission occurred 182 times, and 99 of the cases only caused one other COVID-19 case in the school. There are currently 328 people in the hospital, 62 in ICU. Overnight, there were five new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of Albertans lost to the pandemic up to 476. “The number of fatalities from this virus is growing,” Hinshaw said. Alberta’s COVID-19 cases have increased so quickly that contact tracers have become backlogged and unable to complete contact tracing for all cases. This means that there has been a slowly growing backlog of cases over the past several weeks who have not yet had a call from AHS to do the case investigation, Hinshaw said. "To be clear, these have all received notification of their positive result. It is simply the investigation they have not had the opportunity to complete." Hinshaw said with cases over the past few weeks increasing so much, she has now ordered contact tracers to work backward from the current cases diagnosed as a temporary measure to help maximize the efficiency of the staff. Starting tomorrow, if 10 days have passed since the positive COVID-19 tests, AHS will not be calling that person for an investigation. “The team has not been able to keep up with the current demand,” Hinshaw said. “We must focus on looking forward.” Now, people will be receiving a text message rather than a phone call to provide them with guidance on if and when their isolation period has ended. Hinshaw asked the public for help in curbing the spread of the virus, by limiting social interactions. “I need your help and we all need to work together,” Hinshaw said. “This is a challenging moment but our province is strong and there is hope.”Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
RED DEER, Alta. — Hockey Canada announced Tuesday that two players at its national junior selection camp have tested positive for COVID-19.The organization said in a release that the players, who were not named, are in quarantine at the team's hotel.Hockey Canada said it is suspending all camp activities for the day, including a scheduled intrasquad game.Players and team personnel will be required to undergo a COVID-19 test before camp activities resume.Hockey Canada said provincial and local health authorities have been notified of the positive tests.The announcement of the positive player tests come three days after Hockey Canada said a "non-core member'" of the team's staff tested positive.Alberta reported 1,549 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. It was the fifth consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
SILVER SPRING, Md. — RadioShack, a fixture at the mall for decades, has been pulled from brink of death, again.It's the most prized name in the basket of brands that entrepreneur investors Alex Mehr and Tai Lopez have scooped up since the coronavirus pandemic bowled over the U.S. retail sector and sent a number of chains into bankruptcy protection.Mehr and Lopez plan to make RadioShack a competitive again, this time online, rather than on street corners or in malls. However, unlike RadioShack's glory years, it's Amazon's world now.The big question is: How much value does the RadioShack brand have when the prized target audience of millennials or Gen Z have likely never owned a radio, let alone stepped inside a store?“It’s a very thin line between being iconic and being dead,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys Inc., a marketing and research consultancy. “Being iconic a lot of the time just means people have a memory of it. I’m not sure that just remembering something is leverageable enough to be able to convert something into success.”Success is something that's been in RadioShack's rear-view mirror for quite some time. The company, which would celebrate its 100th birthday in 2021, appeared to be on top of the tech world in the pre-personal computer days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the place kids and hobbyist would go to buy radios, walkie-talkies and all the parts to fix them, or even build them themselves.Somewhere along the way, “The Shack” got lost. Unable to capitalize on the PC boom that began in the mid-eighties, it also found itself largely on the outside of the portable device revolution of the aughts and drifting toward irrelevancy. It booked its last profit in 2011. After store redesigns and other changes failed to draw customers, the Fort-Worth, Texas company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015 and then again two years later.Mehr and Lopez have no designs on rebuilding the brick-and-mortar RadioShack empire. But they say there is a path back to profitability, and it all starts with the name.“We bought the raw material to build a big business," Mehr said. "Brand means trust. And the brand is very, very strong. I have quantifiable data that the brand is very strong.”Mehr said REV's formula for measuring public opinion of a brand differs significantly from the way other experts value such things, including their own polling and analysis of how the company might work in a specific “ecosystem."The plan, in short, is to build a vast online marketplace on top of the RadioShack brand. Trust in that name will get consumers to the site, where the quality and variety of merchandise will dictate whether or not shoppers click the “Buy” button, they say.Since it was founded in 2019 REV has been in the hunt for other names that could once be described as “household.” It's snapped up Pier1, Dressbarn and Modell's, also turning them into online-first businesses.Other bankrupt retailers have found a second life online. The overhead is low and there are people who remain loyal to the brand, even after the store lights go out. But they are typically much reduced affairs. American Apparel, which went bankrupt and closed all its stores a few years ago, now sells hoodies and sweatpants online. Toys R Us, which closed its doors two years ago, opened a couple of small stores and it has a website. However, the Toys R Us site redirects those who want toys to Amazon.com.REV says that its much leaner RadioShack will sell from its own website and an Amazon storefront. RadioShack was the place to go for batteries, phone chargers and headphones. Those are products that Amazon sells under its own brand name in vast quantities.And therein lies REV's Sisyphean challenge. Megachains like Walmart and Target have been able to slow Amazon's encroachment, but Amazon is the ultimate disrupter. It has upended industries from tech and grocery, to global shipping.If Amazon is the biggest threat to some of America's largest corporations, what are the prospects for a relic from the 1980s?“Amazon is the Death Star,” said Allen Adamson, co-founder of the marketing strategy firm Metaforce. “They have everything and it’s easy and fast. There’s no need to go to your corner RadioShack to find something, or even to RadioShack online.”Yet Mehr doesn't look at Amazon as a competitor. Rather, he said, it's another channel where RadioShack can sell its products.“It’s like a big mall with a lot of traffic,” Mehr said. “So I think of Amazon as a partner, and I’ve done that in other brands, too. So this is yet another distribution channel for us.”REV bought RadioShack from General Wireless Operations Inc. for an undisclosed amount this year. The former owners have retained a minority stake, betting on the social media marketing expertise of Mehr and Lopez.The new owners say they hope to have RadioShack.com open for business by the end of the month. About 400 RadioShack locations remain open, but operate independently from the REV-owned parent company.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
With millions dining at home for safety and a swing to the spicier side in the U.S. in recent years, Cholula, the hot sauce with the distinctive wooden cap and a cult following, has become a very valuable brand.McCormick & Co., the spice maker that dominates U.S. grocery shelves, said Tuesday that it was buying Cholula for $800 million from L Catteron, a private equity firm.McCormick made a notable tilt toward the hot sauce shelf three years ago when it acquired Frank’s RedHot, the preferred fuel in Buffalo wing recipes, as part of its $4.2 billion acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser’s food business.“The sauce with the little wooden cap is, like Frank’s RedHot, well-known to ‘chilli-heads’ around the globe but its appeal is much wider,” said Dean Best, food editor of Global Data.The acquisition arrives with the pandemic warping how America and the rest of the world eats, meaning largely at home. There was evidence of that trend in recent regulatory filings from McCormick, a company in Hunt Valley, Maryland with a valuation of close to $25 billion.McCormick said in September that revenue surged 8% during the third quarter as people replaced the contents of outdated spice racks, or started one for the first time.And hot sauce is increasingly part of the pantry mix.The volume of hot sauce produced for North America has risen in each of the past five years by an average of 4.7%, to more than 127,000 tons in 2020, according to the data service Euromonitor. That production is expected to rise by 16% within the next five years, according to the group.“Hot sauce is an attractive, high-growth category and, as an iconic premium brand, Cholula is outpacing category growth," said McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius in prepared remarks Tuesday.Cholula has made its own adaptations during the pandemic to get the sauce to its cult followers.Earlier this month the company teamed up with simplehuman to create a touch-free Cholula dispenser for restaurants or other places that serve the hot sauce, allowing those eating out to bring the heat in relative safety.Shares of McCormick, which have hit an all time high this year, rose more than 2% Tuesday.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
Le Centre de dépannage des Nord-Côtiers, organisme desservant le secteur ouest de la Haute-Côte-Nord, ne peut organiser son traditionnel souper- spaghetti cette année pour amasser des fonds pour la campagne de financement des paniers de Noël. Il doit alors se tourner vers d’autres moyens de financement, dont une campagne de dons virtuelle. « Nous invitons la population à convertir le montant traditionnellement destiné à l’achat d’un ou plusieurs billets pour le souper-spaghetti en don de charité via la plateforme Facebook créée pour l’occasion », explique Nathalie Beaudoin, directrice générale. Un objectif de 5 000 $ a été fixé pour cette campagne en ligne, alors que le souper-bénéfice amassait 12 000 $. « Le manque à gagner devrait être comblé par les dons d’organismes comme les Lions et Desjardins », dévoile la directrice. Au moment d'écrire ces lignes, une somme de 1 790 $ avait été récoltée sur la plateforme web. De plus, la journée du 5 décembre, de 11 h à 14 h, sera consacrée à ramasser des denrées et dons en argent dans les rues des villages du secteur ouest. « Nos bénévoles seront sur place et les automobilistes n’auront qu’à tendre la main pour donner soit des denrées non périssables ou de l’argent », confirme Mme Beaudoin, qui est toujours à la recherche de bénévoles pour cette journée cruciale. Pour obtenir un panier de Noël, les familles doivent obligatoirement en faire la demande. Le formulaire d’inscription est disponible à la friperie, par courriel et messenger. Une preuve de revenus, une preuve de résidence et au besoin, une lettre explicative doivent être jointes au formulaire. Selon Nathalie Beaudoin, la demande devrait être plus forte qu’à l’habitude avec la précarité qu’a engendrée la pandémie de la COVID-19. « Nous espérons pouvoir faire 50 paniers comme l’an dernier, selon les dons que nous aurons reçus », conclut-elle.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord