Looks like this friendly deer wants a bite of that apple! Filmed in Dryden, Ontario, Canada.
Looks like this friendly deer wants a bite of that apple! Filmed in Dryden, Ontario, Canada.
BUENA VISTA, Ga. — Across the grounds of a south Georgia courthouse, scores of masked and socially distanced voters bowed their heads in prayer for the 260,000-plus Americans who have died from the coronavirus.Then Democratic Senate hopeful Raphael Warnock took the microphone, promising to push for more economic aid for businesses and people affected by the pandemic and touting Democratic plans to combat long-standing racial and wealth disparities highlighted by the crisis.A day earlier, Vice-President Mike Pence campaigned with Warnock’s opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and her fellow Republican senator, David Perdue. But in heavily Republican north Georgia, there were only scant mentions of the public health calamity that helped lead to President Donald Trump’s defeat: aid programs that passed Congress months ago and a vaccine that is still weeks — or months — from mass distribution.“Before the end of this year, we’re going to see 40 million vaccines all across America,” Pence predicted, attributing the possibility to “the leadership of President Donald Trump.” His crowd -- distanced only in certain seating sections and many not wearing masks -- roared as the vice-president added a kicker: “We’re in the miracle business."It's two starkly different worlds on display in Georgia, where the national political spotlight is shining on twin Senate runoffs that will determine which party controls the chamber at the outset of President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic administration. Republicans need one more seat for a majority; Democrats need a sweep on Jan. 5.For Republicans, the pandemic is secondary in a runoff blitz defined by dire warnings about what it would mean if Warnock defeats Loeffler and Perdue falls to Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Democrats, meanwhile, are more than eager to discuss COVID-19 and its economic fallout. The messaging differences bleed over to the two sides’ public health protocols, as well. The approaches largely track the fall presidential campaign, when Trump wanted to talk about anything but the virus, while Biden centred his pitch around Trump’s handling of it.The November results in Georgia explain why neither side is deviating. Biden clipped Trump in the state by fewer than 13,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast. But Perdue led Ossoff by about 100,000 votes, finishing just short of the outright majority Georgia requires to avoid a runoff. Warnock led Loeffler in a separate special election. Both sides share a common conclusion: Each party has a pool of potential voters approaching 2.5 million. It’s just a matter of which side can coax more to cast ballots in a second round.Republicans’ reprisal will depend again — in part — on generating enthusiasm via in-person campaigning, even as coronavirus cases spike nationally. Trump has announced plans for a Dec. 5 rally in Georgia, after weeks of speculation about whether he’d come amid his continued refusal to concede to Biden. As with the president’s October blitz of rallies, there’s no suggestion that his Georgia event will include social distancing or require masks, as recommended by public health officials.Neither Perdue nor Loeffler echoes the president’s mockery of public health standards. But so far in the runoff campaign, they’ve held multiple indoor events with no social distancing and without compulsory masks. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, appearing with Loeffler, drew hundreds of suburban Republicans to the Cobb County GOP headquarters, surprising organizers and crowding the facility to the point that some voters left without attempting to enter.Florida Sen. Rick Scott drew a similar throng to a restaurant in suburban Cumming for an event with both Georgia incumbents. Days later, Scott said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been exposed the same day he travelled to Georgia. Loeffler later announced her own positive test, as well, though consecutive negative tests followed in subsequent days, leading her to end a brief quarantine.Loeffler acknowledges the pandemic in her standard speech by highlighting her and Perdue’s votes for the spring economic relief package.Warnock and Ossoff counter with almost exclusively outdoor or virtual campaigning. Warnock has, however, held outdoor photo lines that do not involve social distancing.“We’ve seen no real national public grieving because it is the kind of death that doesn’t show up in one fell swoop,” Warnock said in Reynolds, where he campaigned under an outdoor picnic canopy. “We see no real recognition of what is happening. ... Meanwhile, we’re having a debate about science. Wearing a mask is somehow a political statement? No, it’s not a political statement. It’s common sense.”Ossoff launched the second round of campaigning with a statewide tour of drive-in rallies similar to those Biden used after Labor Day. Ossoff went into isolation in July after his wife, an OB-GYN, contracted COVID-19. His ads frequently show him greeting voters in masks.The two Democrats have also criticized Loeffler and Perdue for well-timed stock trades after a series of private congressional briefings on the then-burgeoning pandemic.“While you were sheltering in, she was sheltering her investments,” Warnock said in Buena Vista.A recent Ossoff ad says Perdue “profited from the pandemic” instead of “preparing our country.”Senate ethics officials and the Justice Department have found no legal wrongdoing in either Georgia senator's financial activity.Ossoff also has sought to tie Perdue’s loyalty to Trump back to the pandemic. The president has spent weeks asserting baseless claims of voter fraud in Georgia and other battleground states Biden won, without Perdue disputing the claims.Trump's foot-dragging on an orderly transition, Ossoff said in an interview, has hampered Biden’s ability to organize a governmentwide coronavirus response.“What Sen. Perdue should be doing, if he had the people’s best interest at heart and not just his own,” Ossoff told The Associated Press, “is encouraging the president to recognize reality.”___Associated Press writer Ben Nadler contributed to this report from Atlanta.Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Nunavut’s COVID-19 active caseload edged upward Friday but was almost offset by news that three people previously diagnosed have recovered. Eight people in total have recovered since the territory’s first case was reported on Nov. 6. The territory had 151 active cases as of Friday, including four new ones reported in Arviat, the community hardest-hit since the new coronavirus was first detected in Nunavut in early November. No deaths have been reported in Nunavut. Friday’s single-digit increase followed the first day in several weeks that no new cases were reported. Nunavut had been adding double-digit increases in confirmed cases in mid-November. The territory reported its first case on Nov. 6 in Sanikiluaq, but after that the caseload grew quickly with cases confirmed in Rankin Inlet, Arviat and Whale Cove. Nunavummiut who were initially infected with COVID-19 had been visiting Winnipeg. As cases continue to rise in southern jurisdictions, Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said on Friday at a news conference that his office is “taking a closer look at every exemption request, whether critical worker or compassionate.” Patterson said it would be harmful to increase the isolation period in southern hotels beyond 14 days. However, he did say that when the resources are available, that isolation period will also include tests. The increase of COVID-19 cases across Canada reinforces the need for Nunavummiut to “really consider if travel is essential before they go south,” Patterson said. “The more people who go south, the higher the risk of introducing COVID-19 back into the territory is going to be.” Nunavut is heading into the second weekend of a government-imposed lockdown that took effect on Nov. 18 and is to remain in place until Dec. 2. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, the GN has enacted a public health emergency every two weeks. It allows the government to limit the sizes of gatherings and close businesses, gyms and schools. It’s also what allowed the GN to impose a lockdown across the territory for two weeks, starting on Nov. 18. Patterson emphasized the public health emergency is not the same as the current lockdown, but it is what allows the GN to order the lockdown. As the lockdown draws to an end next week, the GN will adjust measures for each community based on the level of COVID-19 in the community at the time. Even once the territory-wide lockdown ends, strict measures will remain in place in locations with evidence of community transmission, which has so far only included Arviat. For the rest of the territory, businesses will be open and gathering sizes will be limited — similar to restrictions that were in place in June and July, Patterson said. Patterson was to meet with the Department of Education Friday afternoon to discuss how schools will reopen after the lockdown. Schools will be in a different position when reopening happens, he said, “based on what we know of the increased risk of COVID-19 coming into the territory in all communities.” The school reopening plan will likely be announced on Monday, Patterson said. Along with nearly $19 million in federal funds to help with COVID-19 relief, Nunavut is also getting support in other ways. Four infection experts with the Red Cross were to arrive in Arviat Friday or Saturday, Patterson said. They will help with assessments. They are not isolating before entering the territory, and Patterson said they will wear masks and isolate when they’re not working. There will also be a liaison officer in Iqaluit from the Public Health Agency of Canada, who will “help streamline requests for support from the federal government and provide additional assistance on the ground,” Patterson said. Across Canada, as of Nov. 26, more than 353,000 cases have been reported since March when the pandemic began. More than 11,700 people have died.Meagan Deuling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
Peterborough County politicians are shocked by the tragic death of a one-year-old baby boy who was fatally shot on Thursday after being abducted by his father from a home in Trent Lakes. “There’s now a mother out there without a little boy and I would expect grandparents without a grandson … it’s just a tragic series of events,” said Joe Taylor, former warden of Peterborough County and mayor of Otonabee-South Monaghan Township. The incident began at about 8:48 a.m. Thursday when Peterborough County OPP officers were called to a location northeast of Bobcaygeon in Trent Lakes after a 33-year-old father abducted his son in what police called a domestic dispute involving a firearm. The baby was found dead of a gunshot wound in his father’s pickup truck after it collided with an OPP cruiser on Pigeon Lake Road, east of Lindsay, which was followed by altercation in which three officers shot at the man. Emily Poulin, executive director at Victim Services of Peterborough Northumberland (VSPN), said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a huge increase in the need to help high-risk victims of domestic violence. While there are many tools the agency offers, as well as several service providers that do work in tandem to try and support these high-risk individuals in both Peterborough city and county, Poulin said there also needs to be prevention of domestic violence. “With COVID, we’re seeing a lot of differences in the way people are arrested and released, because they don’t want to overcrowd the jails, but when you’re talking high-risk offenders, more has to be done on that end,” she said. “It can’t all be on the victim to try and stay safe. There should be more measures put in place to try and keep offenders from doing this in the first place.” Lisa Clarke, executive director at the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, said in just six months of the pandemic, their crisis services at the centre have doubled those of the MeToo movement in 2017 and 2018. “There are alarming rates of sexual and gender-based and internet-partner violence happening in this community, and the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre encourages all families and friends to check in and support and listen without judgment, to those who may be experiencing family violence in the home,” she said. There are many barriers for people living in rural areas to seek services, Clarke said. “Everybody knows everybody and so it can feel like reaching out means that family and friends will know what’s happening in the home. Our services are confidential and can be anonymous. We recognize that those are the types of services needed for people in rural areas to reach out and we have many survivors each year reaching out from more rural areas of our region,” she said. What happened is incomprehensible, Poulin said. “I mean it’s an absolute tragedy what happened and my heart goes out to the family and friends,” she said. The loss of a life, but particularly the loss of a young life, is heartbreaking, said Andy Mitchell, deputy warden of Peterborough County. “It’s a really, really tragic event and my heart is heavy and sorrowful for all of the folks that are being impacted by this,” he said. Trent Lakes Mayor Janet Clarkson said the outcome of Thursday’s incident is extremely unfortunate. “It’s hard to say when it all comes out, just exactly what happened,” she said. Taylor said he believes the community is going to do what they can to support the family in this time of need. “There’s no point in trying to understand it, or rationalize it, or explain it, or make any sense out of it,” he said. “It’s just really, really sad.” The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre’s 24/7 crisis phone line is 1-866-298-7778. Their new 24/7 crisis text line is 705-710-5234. VSPN’s toll-free number is 1-888-822-7729 and its website is at victimservicespn.ca/. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
A Calgary playwright is the winner of a prestigious national theatre award that comes with a prize of $100,000 to split between her and her chosen protege.Tara Beagan, who is a member of the Ntlaka'pamux Nation, has been named the 2020 laureate of the Siminovitch Prize, which recognizes excellence in theatre and the importance of mentoring upcoming playwrights. "I really feel like this is a celebration of the brilliant and beautiful Indigenous theatre community that I have the privilege of working with," she told The Homestretch."It's an exciting thing to suddenly have (Indigenous playwrights) be on the radar. Even to my experience it wasn't something I paid attention to too often because we're seldom acknowledged in this enormous of a realm."As part of the prize, Beagan has been awarded $75,000."The enormity of this prize makes me take a look back at, you know, the 32 plays I completed and the seven that I still have in the works. [It] made me go, 'OK, now that's all paid work.'"She was also able to pick a protege and award them $25,000 for their efforts."There are so many up and coming artists right now in the Indigenous community who are just making the world a better place."Beagan says she selected Joelle Peters, a Toronto-based Anishinaabe and Miami performer and playwright. Peters is currently part of the Animikiig Creator's Unit at Native Earth Performing Arts."She's one of these young people who is so incredibly bright and she also has that rare gift that becomes rarer, it seems, by every passing moment — but she has such humility," Beagan said."So this is a little boost for her during a time when everybody really needs one." Inspired by ancestral storiesBeagan says storytelling has always occupied her mind, and that once she committed to writing them as a craft, she found ancestral stories began to speak to her."I collaborate very closely with family members, who hold our stories, and always reach out to the brilliant artists to embody those roles as actors," she said.Beagan was recently chosen as the playwright in residence at the Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg, and says her production combines the issues of climate change and missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW)."A lot of the teachings that I have been fortunate enough to receive over the years is that the state of the land is directly relational to the state of Indigenous people and especially Indigenous women and girls," she said."My play looks at the impact of climate change and how that's reflected in the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls problem — an enormous, ongoing tragedy in this country."Beagan also co-owns a theatre company called Article 11. After a recent partnership with the theatre project, Making Treaty 7, they plan on holding a variety of productions at The Grand theatre in March."There's going to be all kinds of brilliant performers in it — all Indigenous, all powerful and motivated by love."And if you can't catch any of her show's in-person, you can also download her play The American from Veritgo Theatre.With files from The Homestretch.
MIAMI — South Florida Congressman-elect Carlos Gimenez has tested positive for coronavirus, his campaign announced Friday. The former Miami-Dade County mayor and his wife, Lourdes, tested positive Thursday for COVID-19 after having mild symptoms, according to a statement. They said they're self-isolating at home, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and advice from medical professionals. Gimenez served as Miami-Dade mayor from 2011 until this month. The Republican won his congressional race in the Nov. 3 general election, defeating a single-term Democrat. He is set to assume office Jan. 3. “I will continue attending New Member Orientation virtually and preparing our office to serve the people of Florida’s 26th Congressional District from Westchester to Key West until I can resume my normal schedule,” Gimenez said in a statement. "I am extremely grateful for all of the incredible health care workers who are tirelessly dedicated to their patients.” The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A spokesman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his office accidentally sent out an account of a phone call with Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole that hadn't happened yet.The premature account of the call Friday said Trudeau chided O'Toole about Conservative MPs downplaying the deaths of Albertans and comparing the novel coronavirus to the flu.Alberta MP Rachael Harder shared a newspaper column on her Facebook page this week that pointed out provincial statistics saying that just 10 of 369 Albertans who had died of COVID-19 as of mid-November were otherwise healthy. And Ontario MP Dean Allison described COVID-19 as "influenza" in a talk-radio interview.After the call, the Conservatives said Trudeau raised neither of these incidents with O'Toole.And a second read-out of the call from the PMO, after the call had actually taken place, dropped all mention of the matter.It said simply that the two leaders had discussed "the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as vaccine distribution in Canada," along with issues related to president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration in the United States.The Tory leader went into the conversation with proposals for how Canada can improve its relationship with the U.S. under Biden.In a letter to Trudeau, O'Toole said responding to the COVID-19 pandemic must be the first priority, including ensuring a continent-wide response to vaccine supply, the production of personal protective equipment and managing the border.O'Toole said after that must come dealing with the threat posed by China, and that Canada should seek to join an existing dialogue among the U.S., Australia, India and Japan to oppose Chinese military expansionism. The letter also talks about the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project that outgoing President Donald Trump approved but Biden opposes. O'Toole said it must be made clear to Biden the project is important to Canada's view of the bilateral relationship with the U.S.The letter cites a need for a collective effort on combating climate change, and a call to modernize the binational defence agreement known as Norad, which would include having Canada join the ballistic missile defence program. A copy of O'Toole's letter to Trudeau was obtained by The Canadian Press."This period of transition to the incoming Biden administration represents a unique opportunity to advance Canada's interests and values on the world stage," O'Toole wrote in the letter. "It is my sincere hope the Canadian and U.S. governments can work together for the mutual benefit of both our peoples who have endured so much this past year."A Conservative read-out after the call said the two leaders concluded their chat by mutually "reaffirming the importance of eliminating COVID-19 and by wishing their families well."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Business is booming for professional Christmas light installers as people search for a bit of brightness during the pandemic.
Selwyn Township council members unanimously decided they want to create more parking spaces as part of the planned project to reconstruct Water Street in Lakefield. Angela Chittick, the township’s manager of community and corporate services, told councillors Tuesday that they have two options to consider for the street which runs along the Otonabee River. “One is to extend the trail from the dam to the bridge, that would create about 16 parking spaces. The other option would be there would be no bridge extension, and with that you would be creating about 21 parking spaces there,” she said. Some residents that provided feedback were interested in the trail connection, while other individuals, particularly from of the business community, were more concerned about parking spaces, Chittick said. Coun. Gerry Herron said he’s all for having additional parking spaces. “We need as much traffic down in the economic engine of Selwyn as we can get. I’ll give you a quick example; when Sears was in operation in Peterborough, each parking spot was about $200 an hour. So, if we factor that down to these five spots, if we’re gaining say $20 an hour and it’s an eight-hour day, it’s $800 per parking spot put into the local economy there,” he said. “We’ve set out on a mission to support our local businesses and I think we need to continue that trend.” Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis said lack of parking in Lakefield has been a perennial issue, so now that there’s the opportunity to add space, they should jump on it. “The parking spaces on Water are invaluable,” she said. “I also presented the options to the economic development business committee last night and their consensus was more is better. So, they also favour option two.” Adding more parking spaces isn’t leaving out the trail connection, Senis added. “There’s still the connection to the trail at the bridge, and it will still accommodate the concrete pad to do any bike repairs that we had heard about,” she said. Chittick said council’s decision will get incorporated into the final design for Water Street. “Then, moving forward from there, we’ll get the concept tidied up, sent back out to the residents and those that provided feedback on the design concepts, and we would post it online,” she said. “That would allow us to get the final engineered drawings prepared and ready for tendering and the hope would be that we could get this tendered in the new year and bring that price proposal back to council with some funding options as well as some staging options, depending on what the quoted amount is.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is for now staying out of a dispute involving the state of Louisiana and a Baton Rouge-area pastor charged with violating state coronavirus restrictions by repeatedly holding large church services. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday evening turned away a request from Life Tabernacle Church pastor Tony Spell to get involved in the dispute. Alito denied the request himself, without asking Louisiana officials to respond and without referring the matter to the full court as often happens when a case is particularly significant or contentious. Spell sued state and local officials in May after being charged with violating state restrictions. Lower courts ruled against him. The Associated Press
Vancouver’s council made history this week by asking the federal government for an exemption from Canadian drug laws to decriminalize possession of drugs for personal use. Council voted on the motion the same day the BC Coroners Service reported 1,386 people have died so far this year of an overdose, with deaths increasing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. So what happens now? The day after the vote, Mayor Kennedy Stewart met with Dr. Patricia Daly, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, and Adam Palmer, Vancouver’s police chief. In both meetings, the mayor spoke about “next steps on decriminalization and how we would begin to gather critical local input into our request for the federal government,” Alvin Singh, the mayor’s chief of staff, told The Tyee via email. When the motion was being discussed Wednesday, people who use or have used drugs told council over and over again “nothing for us without us,” emphasizing that people who use drugs need to be part of the conversation. “This input is critical both now, before we send the official request, and afterwards if we get a positive answer,” Singh said. Stewart plans to “touch base” with Patty Hajdu, the federal health minister, sometime in the next few days. But getting federal approval could be a tough sell. In September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he doesn’t support decriminalization as a solution to the overdose crisis. Hajdu took a similar position earlier this year. The city will ask the ministers of health and public safety and the attorney general for an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act’s provisions on possession of drugs for personal use within the city. Section 56 of the act grants the health minister the power to issue an exemption from any part of the legislation “for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest.” It is the same mechanism the city used to establish North America’s first supervised injection site in 2003 and, more recently, to allow health-care providers to prescribe alternatives to street drugs as a part of safer supply measures. Guy Felicella spent 30 years in the Downtown Eastside addicted to heroin before entering recovery in 2013. He’s now a drug policy advocate and a peer clinical advisor for the BC Centre on Substance Use. He said decriminalization has “been pushed for decades, but to actually have some momentum — it’s a powerful moment in Canadian history.” For decades, Canadian society has been moving towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. But despite that shift, people who use drugs are still being charged with offences like possession or possession for the purposes of trafficking — even for relatively small amounts of drugs — and serving jail time. The Vancouver Police Department says officers now rarely charge people for possession, and the force’s chief, Adam Palmer, has publicly supported decriminalization. However, people who use drugs say police continue to regularly confiscate illicit substances. Felicella said it all has to stop. As Vancouver moves forward on getting an exemption, Felicella warned of “criminalization by another process,” such as fines, alternative charges like possession for the purposes of trafficking, or drug confiscation. “Maybe they don’t arrest people for simple possession 97 per cent of the time, but they sure take their drugs,” Felicella said. “They’ve been doing this for decades.” The Vancouver Police Department says it is not “general practice to seize drugs from people using them,” but officers must confiscate drugs if they find them during a search for an investigation. However, people who use drugs and advocates who work with drug users say police constantly take drugs away from people. To replace the drugs, people are making risky choices, like sex work or committing petty crimes like shoplifting or car break-ins. Criminalizing people also pushes drug use into the shadows, Felicella said, and with a poisoned drug supply, that’s putting people’s lives at risk. “It’s so freaking stressful when you’re down there and you have cops following you around,” Felicella said. “It’s just a mental toll, physically, emotionally and mentally.” An option known as drug court — where people charged with drug-related crimes can avoid jail time by entering a drug treatment program — also needs to stop, Felicella said. “Having a judge sentence you to go to drug court is really putting treatment in the [category] of punishment,” Felicella said. “When that fails, and the treatment fails as well, it sure doesn’t make you want to go back the second time to try it again.” In opposing decriminalization, Trudeau has said it’s not “a silver bullet” and his government is prioritizing other interventions, like expanding safe supply — prescribing drugs to people to replace tainted illicit drugs. Felicella said decriminalization needs to go hand in hand with more access to safe supply and treatment options for people who want to stop using drugs. Currently in B.C., there’s a six- to eight-week wait to get into a treatment program if you or your family can’t afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars, Felicella said. He said his own journey to recovery only happened after he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and was able to get therapy to deal with trauma. Felicella still goes to a therapist regularly, but he said it’s not an option available to people who can’t pay out of pocket. Karen Ward, a drug policy advocate who works with the City of Vancouver, told council that decriminalizing drug possession could also help break down barriers that still exist with prescribing safe supply. “Doctors... are going to feel a little bit more able to prescribe [safe supply],” Ward said. “There’s hesitation there, despite all the power they have in society — they’re hesitant to be associated with drug users.” Felicella said safe supply takes people out of the constant grind of having to hustle to find the money to buy illicit drugs. The relationship between the police and Downtown Eastside residents is as bad as it’s ever been, said Felicella. He called on police to “stand down” in the neighbourhood, where many residents use illicit drugs regularly while also living in poverty and with chronic health conditions. “People still feel the same fear of the police,” he said. “Police show up in the alleys and people are like, ‘Oh, my God. What’s gonna happen?’” The VPD says it devotes special resources to keep people safe in the neighbourhood, connect homeless people with housing and provide support to sex workers. “There continue to be calls for service from citizens and businesses for police help for violent crime and property crime,” spokesperson Simi Heer wrote to The Tyee in an email. “We expect officers to deal with property crime, street disorder and violence.” While the department supports decriminalization and chief Palmer wrote a message of support for the mayor’s motion, Felicella said he is at times confused by the force’s decisions. “One minute they’re creating a task force to make sure people are safe, and then the next thing they’re harassing people on the street and moving them along. And then the next thing, they wanted to decriminalize drugs,” he said. “Hopefully, if this passes at a federal level, we can change the direction for many people.”Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Trafficking charges are pending for a male adult and a male youth after Behchokǫ NT RCMP seized more than 90 grams of pre-packaged illegal cannabis and trafficking paraphernalia, it said in a news release Friday.Behchokǫ̀ RCMP started the investigation last Sunday, Nov. 22.Police said they believe the illegal cannabis they seized was for the purpose of trafficking."We listen to our community and work with them to reduce and prevent the harm from the sale of illegal drugs," said Sgt. Ryan Plustwa, detachment commander of the Behchokǫ̀ RCMP, in the release.Behchokǫ̀ RCMP are asking residents who have information about suspicious activity to call the detachment at 392-1111 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. People can also text "nwtnutips" plus a message to 274637.
Beset by ongoing questions about Canada's COVID-19 vaccine strategy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to assuage the public with assurances most Canadians could be inoculated by September 2021, with distribution led by a former NATO commander. Trudeau faced a barrage of questions about when and how such a rollout would unfold at a morning press conference on Friday, acknowledging public anxiety amid alarming infection rates and hospitalizations that have already scuttled holiday hopes for much of the country. But while promising vaccine news offered "light at the end of the tunnel," Trudeau said "we must hold on a little longer." "What really matters is when we get across the finish line ... The fact that the doctors highlighted that if all goes according to plan, we should be able to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September, puts us in very good stead," he said, offering the government's most specific timeline yet. "We're going to continue to do everything we can to deliver for Canadians, listening to experts working with top people to make sure that we're doing this right, and quickly and safely." Trudeau said Canada has turned to Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead distribution and handle logistics that include cold storage requirements, data sharing, and reaching Indigenous communities. He insisted Ottawa was committed to working with the provinces and territories on securing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible. That wasn't good enough for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who later Friday roasted Trudeau for failing to give provinces and territories specific information they need for a potential vaccine launch. Ford said a conference call Trudeau held with premiers Thursday night was sorely lacking. "I didn't get the answer we wanted to hear, none of the premiers got the answer they wanted to hear," said Ford, who appeared at a Friday press conference alongside the new head of the Ontario's vaccine distribution task force, retired Gen. Rick Hillier. "I can't emphasize enough to the prime minister: The clock is ticking. We're going to be hopefully getting these vaccines sometime — again, hopefully — in January. I asked him the three simple questions: When are we getting it? What type of vaccine are we getting? And how much of that vaccine are we getting? To have Gen. Hillier make a proper plan, we need to know." Ontario called on the federal government to immediately disclose its allocation plan, noting reports that other countries have already announced plans to receive doses. U.S. officials have said 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine could reach some priority citizens within 24 hours of regulatory clearance, while Moderna's vaccine could be available by the end of the year, although the general public likely wouldn't get doses until the spring. No matter when a vaccine arrives in Canada, Hillier said Ontario's vaccine distribution plans would be ready on Dec. 31. In Ottawa, Procurement Minister Anita Anand also faced questions over a precise delivery date but insisted she is in constant contact with suppliers to make sure they can be deployed as soon as they are approved for use. "This is a complex process. This is an uncertain environment. But we are on top of it," said Anand. "I personally will make sure that we have vaccines in place in Canada when Health Canada has provided the regulatory approval." Trudeau's September timeline was echoed by deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo, who had last week suggested the possibility of a fall goal line for vaccinating the majority of Canadians. Njoo said Friday the Prime Minister's prediction is "in the same ballpark" as previous rollout plans, and a good target to work toward. But he cautioned there are still "a lot of unknowns." "Certainly we've always been sort of optimistic, cautiously optimistic, about what the vaccination rollout will look like," said Njoo. "Right now it's a bit of a moving target. We have two vaccines which are very promising but they're still in the process of going through the regulatory process. If all goes well, and they are approved, then they're the first two out of the pipeline." The news follows more alarming daily COVID-19 case numbers from Ontario, which reported a record 1,855 new cases, and 20 more deaths on Friday. Quebec reported 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked to the virus, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours. Federal data shows that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people. Manitoba and Nunavut were close behind. The Nunavut government said it plans to spend $1 million towards community food programming, including extra funding for communities affected by the pandemic. Ottawa has finalized agreements with five vaccine makers and is in advanced negotiations with two more. The deals would secure 194 million doses with the option to buy another 220 million, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada. British Columbia announced a single-day record on Friday with 911 cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 30,884 cases. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry appealed for people to respect store and restaurant employees as she raised recent confrontations by aggressive customers who refuse to wear masks at indoor public places. "If you are opposed to wearing a mask then I ask you to shop online, order takeout or stay outside or stay home and not put other people at risk," she said. Eleven more people have died in B.C., bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Cassanda Szklarski, The Canadian Press
In the Rotundo household in Buenos Aires, the spirit of Diego Maradona has a living tribute: twin nine-year-old girls, Mara and Dona, named after the soccer legend who died this week. The diminutive playmaker, one of the world's best ever who led Argentina to World Cup glory, inspired avid support through his magic on the pitch and his charisma off it, despite a turbulent personal life dogged by addiction. The naming of the twins was never in doubt, said their dad, Walter Rotundo, who has a tattoo of Maradona on his back and proudly shows a photograph of the soccer star holding a picture of the two girls as infants.
Residents of a house in East York were left with minor injuries after an explosion Friday evening. Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Peter Chow said crews were called to the area of Woodbine and Lumsden avenues shortly after 5 p.m. following reports of a small fire in the basement of a residence.Soon after fire crews arrived, they quickly put out the small fire, Chow said.Chow told reporters that a family of four lives in the basement but were able to make it out. He also said three men live on the second floor and one woman lives on the first floor.Wendy Giera, an area resident, said she saw "the front windows blown out of the house, there was smoke pouring out."Police say people were treated for "non life-threatening" injuries at the scene. Chow said crews are waiting for engineers to arrive and inspect the building before they go back in. Investigators have also been called to the residence."We have to wait until the building is actually deemed safe," Chow said.He said a hazardous materials truck has also been called to the scene to do air monitoring to ensure the building is safe for crews to re-enter. Chow said there is also a strong odour coming from the residence.Toronto police aren't sure what caused the blast, spokesperson Laura Brabant said.Roads in the area have been closed and police are asking people to avoid the area.
A new North West Company store in Pelican Narrows is opening Saturday in partnership with Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. The new store will include grocery and pharmacy services, a Tim Hortons coffee shop, quick stop confectionary and a gas bar. Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Vice Chief Weldon McCallum, of Pelican Narrows, said the community has been without a general store since the old one burned down in a 2015 grass fire. He said the new location will allow residents to shop in their own community and avoid long grocery runs to Flin Flon, Manitoba or Prince Albert amid the pandemic. “A lot of our people are really anxious and are very happy to see the northern store open again,” McCallum said Friday. “Especially the elders. The elders were the ones that were the driving force behind the northern store before it burned down, because a lot of our elders have accounts there. There's a Cree name that they have for the store and it's called Kompanik. It means a general store.” “The elders are very happy. And so, tomorrow, when the store opens, it's going to be a really slow, grand opening. They'll be following social distancing. Elders will be given priority to enter so that they're not out in the lineup. They will be priority and everybody knows that in the community, with our respect for Elders.” As well as providing safe access to food, the store will take a load off health workers, who are stretched dealing with the pandemic and the community’s medical needs. “We won't have to rely on our local health center for pharmacy anymore. We've had PBCN health services in partnership with their pharmacy. That way it frees up our registered nurses’ time so that they're not busy handling medication anymore or having to deliver medicine. People will just go to the pharmacy like any other pharmacy in an urban center,” McCallum said. The pharmacy and fuel aren’t scheduled to open until Dec. 8. “They'll be holding off on the Tim Hortons for a while just until things settle down,” McCallum said. “We want to try and avoid developing big groups or gatherings.” The store will also bring much-needed employment to Pelican Narrows. “With everything from the grocery to the quick stop, to the Tim Hortons, to the gas station, over 40 employment positions were created through the North West Company,” McCallum said. But the prospect of a Tim Hortons coffee shop in town has people especially excited. “They're ecstatic… Everybody's been talking about it. Pelican would be the first PBCN community to have a Tim Hortons on our reserve. There’s not even a Tim Hortons in La Ronge. Not even in Flin Flon, Man. So we’ll be ahead in that area,” McCallum said. North West Company spokesperson Ellen Curtis explained that while a grand opening is usually celebrated with an Elder’s prayer, ribbon-cutting, speeches and presentations, this one will be different. “This is the first grand opening I can remember where we’ve done everything we can to avoid having a crowd,” Curtis said. Any activities that could pose a potential risk, especially to Elders, will be deferred to a safer time. Instead, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and Northern are jointly presenting every household in the community with a holiday food hamper to celebrate this milestone event. “Our goal right now is to make sure people in Pelican Narrows have safe access to food in the community,” Said Rob Thursby, director of sales and operations. “We’ll have plenty of time to celebrate later.” The North West Company said development of the store was made possible by working closely with the community of Pelican Narrows and PBCN Chief and Council. “The community of Pelican Narrows has been underserved,” said Mike Beaulieu, Vice President, Canadian Store Operations. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation to open a new Northern store. Now more than ever we are reminded of the importance of communities having access to a safe and secure source of healthy food... A lot of effort and hard work through very challenging conditions has brought us to this memorable opening day.” McCallum said after the store burnt down in 2015, negotiations and talks continued until the spring of 2018 when plans started to become concrete. The North West Company agreed to return land to the community, which is important because the store has a history that dates back to the time of the Hudson Bay Company. The North West Company began as a fur trading enterprise in Montreal from 1779 to 1821 and competed violently with the Hudson’s Bay Company until the British Government forced them to merge. Outposts were often built and land appropriated without full and informed consent of the Indigenous communities where they continue to operate. In 1987 the northern trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company were bought by an employee consortium who brought back The North West Company brand in 1990. It now operates as a grocery chain out of Winnipeg with outlets in northern communities across Canada. “The relationship between the North West Company and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, Pelican Narrows has been strengthened. There are things that we have agreed upon that help make that relationship stronger. And one area is that the North West Company has agreed to turn over all of their property, their land within our community. That was one of my biggest arguments at the table. I wanted to see their lands given back to the community,” McCallum said. “It wasn't right that Hudson’s Bay established this store… There's a long history with Hudson’s Bay and some that's not really bright but the future is looking brighter, and the relationship is there, the connection is there. So I'm really happy to see that.” He said the North West Company has shown that it is committed to Pelican Narrows. “They've understood both the size and population of our community, and they knew the situation that we were in. They knew how vital their grocery store was before it burnt down,” McCallum said. “Being a company based out of another province to come in and provide that service and that much-needed help. It really goes a long way. It gives our community a sense of relationship.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor has a message for people who don't follow a provincial order to wear a mask in indoor public spaces: order takeout, shop online or stay home.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday she was saddened after hearing about store and restaurant employees facing aggressive customers who refuse to wear masks as COVID-19 numbers rise."I remind all of us about the severity of this illness and the fact that we have people who are suffering in our hospitals right now, and their families are suffering too," she said. The RCMP say they arrested a shopper at a Walmart in Dawson Creek this week after he allegedly assaulted an employee who asked him to wear a mask.B.C. set another single-day record with 911 cases of COVID-19, Henry said, adding that a total of 30,884 cases have been diagnosed in the province.Eleven more people have died, bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital.Some faith leaders have questioned Henry's order to ban even limited gatherings at churches, temples and other faith locations while restaurants and bars remain open.Henry said outbreaks have occurred in multiple faith locations despite safety measures in keeping with what is happening around the world."I'd like to be clear that these locations are not doing anything wrong," she said, adding COVID-19 precautions were being followed at the majority of worship places."These are not decisions that we make lightly," she said."We are facing a storm surge, and that is something we are facing globally."Henry said events that were safe even a few weeks ago now threaten the most vulnerable people who attend them as well as entire communities.However, she said most faith leaders understand the measures as they support their congregants from a distance."It is a cruel irony in many ways that when we most need to be with people, that is the most dangerous thing that we can do with this level of transmission we are seeing in communities across the province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
The federal government is laying plans for the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, inking contracts with seven potential manufacturers and saying six million doses could arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2021. The most recent development from Ottawa came Friday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the national distribution effort. But various provinces have started spelling out their plans as well. Here's a look at what they've said so far: —Nova ScotiaThe province's chief medical officer of health says he will release a detailed plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once Ottawa shares more information. Dr. Robert Strang said Friday there is no certainty yet about the availability of a vaccine, but expressed hopes an initial supply will trickle into Nova Scotia early in the new year.Strang said a detailed provincial plan, to be released once the federal government has shared more specifics on its end, will include tight control of the supply and clear rules dictating who can be first in line for immunization. He said he's waiting for more federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and storage logistics. —QuebecThe province will be ready to start rolling out its vaccine plan as of Jan. 1, say senior politicians. Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that public health officials have already settled on the list of priority vaccine recipients, but did not release details. Legault said the province is also working to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support a vaccine rollout. That includes obtaining fridges capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures needed by one of the most promising potential vaccine options, currently in development through pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.Quebec has also tasked assistant deputy health minister Jerome Gagnon, and former provincial public health director Dr. Richard Masse to oversee the province's vaccination effort. —OntarioPremier Doug Ford is among those leaders calling on Ottawa to provide more clarity as officials scramble to develop a provincewide vaccination strategy.Early speculation on the number of doses the province could receive was put to rest earlier this week when federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such details were still in the works. But Ford has forged ahead, naming former chief of national defence Gen. Rick Hillier to oversee the province's vaccine rollout. Hillier said on Friday he hopes to have a plan developed by year's end, while Ford urged Ottawa to provide detailed information on potential vaccine delivery. "We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said.—AlbertaThe province's top medical official has said she expects to receive 680,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine early in the new year, a figure not yet confirmed by the federal government. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has also said a number of hurdles and unknowns remain as the province works to devise its vaccination scheme. "These (vaccine) numbers, of course, depend on many factors,'' Hinshaw said on Nov. 18. "They depend on the final pieces of the trials that are underway going well. They depend on ensuring that the safety and the effectiveness of the early vaccines can be assured. All of those checks and balances must be cleared."On Friday, Hinshaw said the province is working with Ottawa to get vaccine, but it is "a bit of a moving target" on when vaccines might be available."But our goal is that whenever vaccine is available, we will be ready to start immunizing individuals on that highest priority list."—British ColumbiaProvincial health officials announced on Wednesday that a vaccine strategy for the province is already in the works. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's top doctor, said Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines.Henry said front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations.She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing."It's very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best," Henry said. "There's a lot of discussion that needs to happen."Henry said the province hopes to have vaccines in hand by January.—YukonPremier Sandy Silver told the legislature on Wednesday that the territory has been in discussions with various levels of government on a vaccine rollout plan. He said the goal will be to provide vaccines to elderly people and health-care providers.Silver said rural and remote communities should also get priority status in northern regions, a fact he said he's emphasized with federal authorities. The premier said he has joined the other provincial and territorial leaders in pushing for a national strategy to distribute the vaccine. “How confusing would it be for 13 different strategies right across the nation?” he said. Silver said the Pfizer vaccine could cause logistical problems for remote communities because of its cold-storage requirements, but those issues may not apply to other vaccines under development. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
The grey clouds above Vancouver sent down the cold heavy rain of November Monday morning. In an industrial corner of the Downtown Eastside, Bill S. had left the tent he’d pitched against the side of a building to go have breakfast at the city’s Evelyne Saller Centre, which serves low-cost meals. When he returned, his tent and all his belongings were gone — taken, he assumed, by city workers, who had told him to pack up at around 8:30 that morning. “Where do they expect us to go?” asked Bill, who requested The Tyee not use his last name because of the stigma of being homeless. “We’re people too.” A health worker who Bill spoke with that day called Sarah Blyth, the founder of the Overdose Prevention Society on East Hastings. People donate sleeping bags and blankets to the society all the time, so Blyth was able to set Bill up with a new sleeping bag and a blanket. But it just kept raining, and the Overdose Prevention Society had no tents to give out that day, so Bill spent Monday night in a makeshift shelter that wasn’t up to the task of keeping the weather out. “Everything in it was in a puddle, including me,” Bill said, calling the experience “the worst alarm clock ever.” Precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on the Downtown Eastside. The number of people living on the street has grown as many housing providers limited or banned visitors to their buildings. Meanwhile, many drop-in spaces are closed or have reduced capacity. There are 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter in Vancouver than in 2019, because shelters need to limit the number of people allowed inside. Still, every day, city sanitation workers, often accompanied by police officers, spend their days scooping up homeless people’s belongings with pitchforks and dumping them into trucks. Overdose Prevention Society staff give people new sleeping bags and blankets, knowing the replacement items could very well end up in the back of a city sanitation truck the next day. “It’s a terrible cycle and it’s wasteful in a lot of ways,” Blyth said, adding she’d rather see city workers employed trying to help people find housing or make their lives on the street a little more comfortable. “I can’t imagine it’s a very fun job for whoever’s doing it — whether it’s a city worker or the police,” she said. “It can’t be rewarding at the end of the day to go home and say ‘I threw a bunch of homeless people’s stuff out.’” The city says sanitation crews “only clean up what is determined to be garbage,” and work with police to ask people to remove structures that have been put up on city property. Crews ask people who are camping on the sidewalk to “move along” and “will remove structures and material that is clearly garbage but not personal possessions,” the city said in a statement. But both Blyth and Andrew Ledger, the president of the union that represents city sanitation workers, say that’s not what happens. Blyth said she’s watched people cry as the only bedding they have is taken away. “I wouldn’t say we’re forcibly removing things, that’s not the case, but it’s not just unwanted debris that gets removed,” said Ledger, the president of CUPE 1004. “It could be someone’s life in a shopping cart that they’ve left somewhere, and all of a sudden it gets removed — those are the instructions that our members are given.” The Tyee caught up with Bill on East Hastings Street on Tuesday, the day after he’d had all his stuff taken away. Sheltering from the rain under a large black umbrella, Bill said he was planning to sleep outside again that night. Two small bags wedged between a railing and a building wall held all his possessions. Bill has been homeless since August. He can’t stand being in a shelter because of psychological problems that stem from once being in a coma, he said. Staying in a shelter with a lot of other people also brings up the trauma of losing his young son, who was apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. “I was a single father for nine months, and after I lost my place I lost control of my depression,” he said. “Being indoors made me think of my son too much. I can’t be indoors, I cry the whole night and I can’t deal with it.” Bill tries to find an out-of-the way spot every night, somewhere he won’t be blocking the sidewalk or the entrance of a building. “You don’t want to impede on somebody’s business because if you’re setting up on a sidewalk, what if you impede customers going in and out, so you’re costing them money,” Bill said. “You’re taking food off their kid’s plate.... It’s hard to find a spot that makes you comfortable and you’re not going to make someone and their business feel uncomfortable.” The place he’d found at Railway Street and Jackson Avenue ticked all those boxes. But he won’t go back there now. Bill said he tries to have good relations with the city sanitation workers, but he admits he’s yelled at them in the past when they tried to hurry him along as he tried to pack up. Then he apologized. “I shook his hand man-to-man and said sorry I was just having a bad day,” he said. “So there weren’t any hard feelings.” Ledger said the job city workers do is challenging, and they’re following instructions from the City of Vancouver to enforce existing bylaws. He said the real problem is that senior levels of government have not done enough to house people who are homeless. But Ledger said even before COVID-19 there weren’t enough spaces for people who are homeless to go during the day. For instance, the Drug Users Resource Centre — a low-barrier gathering place — was closed by Vancouver Coastal Health three years ago, Ledger said. “You could access laundry services, you could access food, washrooms and showers — you could just be in a space and not have to be on the streets all day.” Now because of COVID-19 precautions, there are even fewer places for people to go. “There is nowhere for homeless people to be except on the street,” Ledger said. “To continue to enforce a bylaw, when folks don’t have any other option of where they can be, is a questionable piece.” Ledger added that the city is likely trying to find a balance between the needs of people who are homeless with complaints from business owners and residents about street disorder. Earlier this fall, tenants of a rental building on West Hastings complained they couldn’t access their building because people were always in the entrance way. For several months Canada Post stopped delivering to over a dozen Downtown Eastside buildings because of crowding and blocked doorways. Blyth said it’s common to find a lineup of people waiting to get into the overdose prevention site when she opens the doors in the morning. Recently, staff helped a woman who was so cold that she was shivering uncontrollably. “I see people in the morning when I go in to open up, shaking and sleeping in doorways. People in wheelchairs, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues sleeping outside,” Blyth said. “It’s as bad as you can imagine."Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
VANCOUVER — The Mountie who says he warned against arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou by boarding her plane when it landed in Vancouver says he made his own decision to come into the airport and help that day. Sgt. Ross Lundie agreed under cross-examination at a B.C. Supreme Court hearing Friday that the RCMP members making the arrest in December 2018 did not ask him to be present that day.But he said when the arresting officers called him the night before the incident asking for advice, he suggested they arrange a meeting with Canada Border Services Agency officials for the next morning and decided he would attend."It was obviously very important from what I'd heard," Lundie testified."Were you concerned that by asserting yourself, that would assist in avoiding some kind of major problem between CBSA and RCMP?" Meng's lawyer Richard Peck asked."I wanted to ensure that went smoothly as well, yes."Lundie, an officer with national security experience based at the airport, said he believed it was important to keep CBSA in the loop because he understood they had their own mandate and responsibilities.His testimony is part of an evidence-gathering hearing in Meng's extradition case where her lawyers are gathering information to bolster their allegations that Canadian officials improperly collected evidence against her.Meng is wanted on fraud charges in the United States that both she and Huawei deny. Meng's lawyers allege that an early plan to arrest her aboard the plane was changed to allow for a "covert criminal investigation" under the guise of a routine immigration exam at the behest of U.S. authorities. Ultimately, Meng would undergo screening by border officers for nearly three hours before she was informed of her arrest and right to counsel.Border officers working at the airport that day have testified they had their own concerns about Meng's admissibility to Canada and deny the allegations made by her lawyers. Lundie told the court that he always discourages his officers from conducting arrests aboard flights unless there is an immediate public safety concern. Meng herself didn't pose any risk to his knowledge, he said, but planes are tight spaces and there can be dangers. It's safer to conduct an arrest in the gate, border screening area or elsewhere, he said. Lundie testified the arresting officers phoned him the night before the arrest while they were driving to the airport to confirm if Meng would be on the flight. That's when he learned of the plan to board the plane, he said.Peck suggested that couldn't be. Phone records show that the arresting officers' boss, Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf, phoned them later that night after speaking with her own superior, whom court has heard was the source of the plane-arrest plan. If Vander Graaf's records are correct, then Lundie couldn't have learned the arrest plan when he said he did, earlier that evening, Peck suggested. "My final suggestion is that you're confused in your memory," Peck said. "OK," Lundie said. Court has also heard that phone records suggested Lundie did have three-minute phone call with a national security Mountie in Ottawa with knowledge of the case that night. Lundie said he has no memory of the call.The hearing will continue on Dec. 7. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
This week over 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and representatives from across the country convened to work on setting the stage for systemic change in Indigenous land-based education. The Actua network, a self-professed leader in land-based STEM education, hosted the gatherings. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied way. As parents and educators nationwide struggle with how to make education work in a pandemic environment, Indigenous students, particularly in northern remote parts of the country, have headed back to the land. “We really found that there is a national consensus on the importance of bringing this into the school system. Certainly there are challenges, but the benefits far outweigh those challenges and that there is huge opportunity here for Indigenous learning to actually really contribute to the future classroom,” Doug Dokis, Actua’s Director of Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) program, said. According to Dokis, grounding lessons in Indigenous knowledge provides Indigenous students with a sense of pride in their identity and shows them that their cultural perspectives are valued. A press release said that as Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers take the lead, there is an opportunity to work with Indigenous communities, education authorities, industry and post-secondary institutions in reshaping the classroom of the future for Indigenous youth and for all Canadian youth. Dokis explained that with COVID-19 shutting down schools and creating other problems the education system is scrambling to find ways to create safe classrooms. “A lot of those conversations are revolving around more outdoor experiences for kids and what we are saying is that Indigenous land-based … models are ideal for aligning with school systems and existing programming and building that out,” Dokis explained. “It would be beneficial not only to Indigenous kids but all kids.” Actua is a national non-profit whose membership consists of 42 universities and colleges across Canada. “We deliver our STEM outreach through those networks of undergrad students at those universities an colleges. So we are present in all of these regions and territories across Canada,” Dokis said. The member organizations in the province include the University of Regina who hosted through their EYES (Educating Youth in Engineering and Science) program; the other member organizations are the University of Saskatchewan and First Nations University of Canada. Actua works with over 200 Indigenous communities, also building partnerships with the local education sector. “I reached out to a lot of the contacts that I have at a national level in these high level Indigenous or education portfolios and began to build a list of people that were and are actively involved in Indigenous education at the provincial level. From there we also got suggestions from existing relationships,” Dokis explained. The national forum set the groundwork for what is hoped will result in vastly improved educational outcomes for Indigenous students and a real path forward towards reconciliation. “We looked to address some of the systemic problems and challenges within the education system,” Dokis said. “Part of that is that Indigenous knowledge is not recognized or included in or inclusive of mainstream education systems. So we wanted to create an opportunity to better integrate and align Indigenous knowledge and education within the whole system across the country,” Dokis explained. Typically teams from Actua go to communities and work on coding or robotics or other STEM activities. With land-based STEM they work with what is happening at the cultural level around things such as land management. “We would build STEM activities to support the local cultural knowledge and cultural aspects (such as) harvesting fish or harvesting game. Then we would build activities to support that within the land programming.” Students that participate get high school credits. “That helps address high school graduation rates and encourages more Indigenous youth to participate or to follow into STEM careers.” The program has been working in Indigenous communities for over 25 years and the credit component has been around for four years. A national forum held this week presented the outcomes of a series of seven regional roundtable events on Indigenous land-based STEM education. “Part of our outreach consists of Indigenous communities doing workshops in school programs. So the roundtables were primarily focused on Indigenous leadership, Indigenous educators, education authorities, school boards and regional or provincial or territorial ministries that are responsible for that segment of education,” Dokis said. “We are producing a discussion paper from all of these roundtables and the national forum and this discussion paper will be circulated widely across the country. And then we are moving towards the next steps of facilitating some of the conversations that would need to happen around curriculum development, curriculum assessment, all of those kinds of things,” Dokis said. He explained that he didn’t know how long the process would take. “We really are wanting to see systemic change and systemic recognition that this is valuable to the education system in this country,” Dokis said there needs to be recognition at all levels of government in order to make these ideas spread through the education system. “We will continue to advocate and continue to build out this at a local level with the idea that we have recognized through these conversations that these can move quite quickly in the sense of how systems typically move. Certainly the COVID situation with the classroom has kind of opened the door and the conversation more targeting outdoor education or land based learning opportunities,” Dokis said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald