What do you think of this puppy's meerkat impression? Pretty amazing, right? Too funny!
What do you think of this puppy's meerkat impression? Pretty amazing, right? Too funny!
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An explosion struck an Israeli-owned cargo ship sailing out of the Middle East on Friday, an unexplained blast renewing concerns about ship security in the region amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The crew and vessel were safe, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy. The explosion in the Gulf of Oman forced the vessel to head to the nearest port. The incident recalled the summer of 2019, when the same site saw a series of suspected attacks that the U.S. Navy blamed on Iran, which Tehran denied. Meanwhile, as President Joe Biden tries to revive nuclear negotiations with Iran, he ordered overnight airstrikes on facilities in Syria belonging to a powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi armed group. Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, identified the stricken vessel as the MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship. Another private security official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, similarly identified the ship as the Helios Ray. Satellite-tracking data from website MarineTraffic.com showed the Helios Ray had been nearly entering the Arabian Sea around 0600 GMT Friday before it suddenly turned around and began heading back toward the Strait of Hormuz. It was coming from Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and still listed Singapore as its destination on its tracker. Israel’s Channel 13, in an unsourced report, said the assessment in Israel is that Iran was behind the blast. Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Iranian government did not comment on the blast Friday. The blast comes as Tehran increasingly breaches its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers to create leverage over Washington. Iran is seeking to pressure Biden to grant the sanctions relief it received under the deal that former President Donald Trump abandoned nearly three years ago. Iran also has blamed Israel for a recent series of attacks, including a mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program two decades ago. Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv told the AP that the Israeli-owned vessel had left the Persian Gulf Thursday bound for Singapore. On Friday at 0230 GMT, the vessel stopped for at least nine hours east of a main Omani port before making a 360-degree turn and sailing toward Dubai, likely for damage assessment and repairs, he said. The vessel came loaded with cargo from Europe. It discharged vehicles at several ports in the region, Raja added, including in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with its last port of call at Dammam. While details of the explosion remained unclear, two American defence officials told the AP that the ship had sustained two holes on its port side and two holes on its starboard side just above the waterline in the blast. The officials said it remained unclear what caused the holes. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss unreleased information on the incidents. A United Nations ship database identified the vessel’s owners as a Tel Aviv-based firm called Ray Shipping Ltd. Calls to Ray Shipping rang unanswered Friday. Abraham Ungar, 74, who goes by “Rami,” is the founder of Ray Shipping Ltd., and is known as one of the richest men in Israel. He made his fortune in shipping and construction. According to the Nikola Y. Vaptsarov Naval Academy, where Ungar provides support and maritime training, he owns dozens of car-carrying ships and employs thousands of engineers. The U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said it was “aware and monitoring” the situation. The U.S. Maritime Administration, an agency of the Transportation Department, issued a warning to commercial shippers early Saturday acknowledging the explosion and urging ships to “exercise caution when transiting” the Gulf of Oman. While the circumstances of the explosion remain unclear, Dryad Global said it was very possible the blast stemmed from “asymmetric activity by Iranian military." As Iran seeks to pressure the United States to lift sanctions, the country may seek “to exercise forceful diplomacy through military means,” Dryad reported. In the tense summer of 2019, the U.S. military blamed Iran for explosions on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most strategic shipping lanes. The U.S. also had attributed a series of other suspected attacks to Iran, including the use of limpet mines — designed to be attached magnetically to a ship’s hull — to cripple four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah. Since the killing of Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian nuclear scientist, last November, Israeli officials have raised alarms about potential Iranian retaliation, including through its regional proxies like Lebanon's Hezbollah and Yemen's Houthi rebels. Over the years, Iran has been linked to attacks on Israeli and Jewish civilian targets in Latin America, Europe and Asia. Israel has not commented on its alleged role in the scientist's killing. Friday's incident also follows normalization deals between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. The agreements, met with scathing criticism from Iran, solidified an emerging regional alliance against the Islamic Republic. __ Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman in Tel Aviv, Israel, Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report. Jon Gambrell And Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies gradually ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec The province's proposed order of priority for vaccination according to its website is those in residential and long-term care centres, workers in the health and social services network, followed by those in isolated and remote communities, people 80 years or older, and then the general population in 10-year increments. Health officials launched an online and telephone system for vaccine registrations on Feb. 25 and will begin vaccinating people aged 85 years and older in Montreal on March 1. Officials said that while residents across the province aged 85 and older can register for a vaccine, priority will be given to people in the greater Montreal area, which has the highest active COVID-19 case count in Quebec. On Feb. 26, officials opened registration for Montrealers as young as 80 years old. It has not yet been announced when the next age group can begin to register for vaccines. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province has mapped out a three-phase approach to its rollout. Phase 1, which is still ongoing, reserves shots for those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers, and people who live in congregate care settings. All Indigenous adults, people aged 80 and older and adults receiving chronic home care will be next in line. The province says it will begin vaccinations among the 80 and older age cohort starting the third week of March. Vaccinations will begin for people 75 and older starting April 15. The province will then move to offer shots to those 70 and older starting May 1; 65 and older starting June 1; and 60 and older the first week of July. Indigenous adults and patient-facing health-care workers will receive vaccinations as the province works through those age groups. The government is still finalizing the list of essential workers who will receive vaccinations in May if supply is available. The province has not detailed when people younger than 60 can expect to be vaccinated. Appointment bookings can be made online and by phone starting March 15 for those in eligible age cohorts. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. They say most people over 80, and First Nations individuals over 60, could be eligible in early March. The province plans to have all personal care home residents vaccinated with two doses by the end of February, and has started sending team to other congregate living settings such as group homes and shelters. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, say inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if new vaccines are approved and supplies are steady. The plan does not include a separate category for essential workers — something that Reimer says will be considered as vaccine supplies increase. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. When bookings opened to this age group Wednesday, the website was temporarily overwhelmed when more than 150,000 people tried to get access. Within a day, 100,000 appointments were booked. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. Some 28,000 seniors in long-term care have already been vaccinated. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia The first phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign launched in December and focused on health-care workers in hospitals, paramedics, residents and staff at long-term care homes, and remote Indigenous communities. The second phase set to wrap up in March includes people aged 80 and above, Indigenous elders 65 and up, Indigenous communities that didn't receive vaccine in the first phase, as well as more health-care workers and vulnerable populations living and working in certain congregate settings. The third phase of B.C.'s immunization campaign is set to start in April and last until June, reaching people between the ages of 60 and 79, along with those who are highly clinically vulnerable, such as cancer patients. B.C.'s plan for the general population is based on age, with the oldest residents first in line. --- Nunavut Nunavut's vaccination rollout is underway, with vaccine clinics for the general population scheduled or completed in all 25 communities. In Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, a general vaccination clinic is underway for priority populations, including staff and residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. Starting March 1, the vaccine clinic will be extended to all adults in Iqaluit ages 45 and up. Nunavut still expects enough vaccines to immunize 75 per cent of its residents over the age of 18 by the end of March. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories says it has vaccinated 42 per cent of its adult population since its vaccine rollout began in early January. Vaccine clinics are either completed or underway in all 33 of the territory's communities. In Yellowknife, residents and staff in long-term care homes are being prioritized for the vaccine. Vaccination of Yellowknife's general population will begin in late March. The N.W.T. still expects to receive enough vaccines to inoculate 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
HOUSTON — President Joe Biden heard firsthand from Texans clobbered by this month's brutal winter weather on Friday and pledged to stick with them “for the long haul” as he made his first trip to a major disaster area since he took office. Biden was briefed by emergency officials and thanked workers for doing “God's work.” He promised the federal government will be there for Texans as they try to recover, not just from the historic storm but also the public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “When a crisis hits our states, like the one that hit Texas, it’s not a Republican or Democrat that’s hurting," Biden said. “It's our fellow Americans that are hurting and it's out job to help everyone in need." With tens of thousands of Houston area residents without safe water, local officials told Biden that many are still struggling. While he was briefed, first lady Jill Biden joined an assembly line of volunteers packing boxes of quick oats, juice, and other food at the Houston Food Bank, where he arrived later. The president's first stop was the Harris County Emergency Operations Center for a briefing from acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton and state and local emergency management officials. Texas was hit particularly hard by the Valentine's weekend storm that battered multiple states. Unusually frigid conditions led to widespread power outages and frozen pipes that burst and flooded homes. Millions of residents lost heat and running water. At least 40 people in Texas died as a result of the storm and, although the weather has returned to more normal temperatures, more than 1 million residents are still under orders to boil water before drinking it. “The president has made very clear to us that in crises like this, it is our duty to organize prompt and competent federal support to American citizens, and we have to ensure that bureaucracy and politics do not stand in the way,” said Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall, who accompanied Biden to Houston. Biden was joined for much of his visit by Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, both Republicans, four Democratic Houston-area members of Congress and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. The president also stopped by a mass coronavirus vaccination centre at NRG Stadium that is run by the federal government. Biden on Thursday commemorated the 50 millionth COVID-19 vaccination since he took office, halfway toward his goal of 100 million shots by his 100th day in office. That celebration followed a moment of silence to mark the passage earlier this week of 500,000 U.S. deaths blamed on the disease. Democrat Biden suggested that he and Republicans Abbott and Cornyn could find common cause in getting Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible. “We disagree on plenty of things,” Biden said. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are plenty of things we can work on together. And one of them is represented right here today, the effort to speed up vaccinations." Texas' other U.S. senator, Ted Cruz, an ally of former President Donald Trump and one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who had objected to Congress certifying Biden’s victory, was in Florida Friday addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference. Cruz, who has been criticized for taking his family to Cancun, Mexico, while millions of Texans shivered in unheated homes, later said the trip was a mistake, but he made light of the controversy on Friday. “Orlando is awesome,” he said to laughs and hoots. “It’s not as nice as Cancun. But’s nice.” At the peak of the storm, more than 1.4 million residents were without power and 3.5 million were under boil-water notices in the nation's third largest county. Post-storm debate in Texas has centred on the state maintaining its own electrical grid and its lack of better storm preparation, including weatherization of key infrastructure. Some state officials initially blamed the blackouts on renewable energy even though Texas relies heavily on oil and gas. In Washington, Biden's climate adviser said the deadly winter storm was a “wake-up call” for the United States to build energy systems that can withstand extreme weather linked to climate change. “We need systems of energy that are reliable and resilient,” Gina McCarthy said in an interview with The Associated Press. The White House said Biden's purpose in visiting was to support, not scold. Biden was bent on asking Texans "what do you need, how can I help you more," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “And what can we get more for you from the federal government.” Biden has declared a major disaster in Texas and asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to aid the recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent emergency generators, bottled water, ready-to-eat meals and blankets. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said in an interview that he didn't know what more the federal government could do to help because the failures were at the state level. But Henry, a Republican who is the highest county official in the suburban Houston county, said that if Biden “thinks it's important to visit, then come on down.” Biden wanted to make the trip last week, but said at the time that he held back because he didn’t want his presence and entourage to detract from the recovery effort. Houston also was the destination for Trump's first presidential visit to a disaster area in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding that August. Trump, who is not known for displays of empathy, did not meet with storm victims on the visit. He returned four days later and urged people who had relocated to a shelter to “have a good time.” —- Associated Press writers Juan Lozano in Houston, Aamer Madhani in Chicago, and Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed reporting. Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is getting hit with tough questions about investigations into sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. David Akin explains what kind of investigation Opposition leader Erin O'Toole, an Air Force veteran, is calling for.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Residents and politicians are speaking out about the possible health and safety risks posed by a new meat processing plant set to open on Monday in a west-end Toronto neighbourhood. TruHarvest Meats, at 70 Glen Scarlett Rd., is set to open March 1 in Toronto's Stockyards District. The space, located near Weston Road and St. Clair Avenue, was previously occupied by Ryding-Regency Meat Packers before the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) cancelled their operating licence in 2019. David Beveridge said he and other residents living near the site believe the reopening of the new slaughterhouse will make the area "unsafe." "The big problem in the neighbourhood is right smack in the middle of all of this is a couple of slaughterhouses," Beveridge said. The new facility also has additions that will make it one of the largest meat processing plants in Ontario. According to federal records, there were numerous food recalls related to E.coli in various products coming out of the former plant. During the investigation, it was noted that the company was non-compliant and provided false or misleading information to investigators. CBC Toronto reached out repeatedly for comment from both TruHarvest and Ryding Regency on Friday, but has received no response. TruHarvest Meats will process beef and veal in the former Ryding Regency facility, which was shut down over food safety violations in 2019. Beveridge moved his family to the area just four years ago. He said he was drawn to the neighbourhood by its affordable housing at the time. He bought a house during the winter and quickly discovered with warmer weather, also came an "unreasonable" smell. "The smell of blood, the smell of the cattle being driven through the neighbourhood," he said. WATCH | Residents are concerned about a meat processing plant set to open Monday in their west-end neighbourhood "It's not a farm smell, it is a slaughterhouse smell." While the foul smell is a common complaint amongst residents, Beveridge said the real concern is the safety risk the new plant imposes on many families in the neighbourhood. Beveridge is worried about the effect the plant on his two kids: a four-year-old and an 18-month-old. "They have been cited in the past and they tell us they have filters on the smoke stacks coming out of it, but I don't know what's coming out of that and how far it's drifting," he said. "It's becoming unsafe, the way it is right now." Beveridge said tractor trailers turning onto residential streets and parking on sidewalks pose a risk for families with young children in the area. David Beveridge, who has a four-year-old and an 18-month-old, moved into Toronto's Stockyards neighbourhood four years ago and says the new slaughterhouse poses a safety risk to the community. Coun. Frances Nunziata, who represents Ward 5, York South-Weston, said she is also concerned by TruHarvest taking over the plant. "This is a privately-owned facility on private land and my office has not been involved in any conversations about the use of this site as is currently permitted," Nunziata said in a statement dated Feb. 19. Nunziata said it is unfair that residents were not consulted. "With the federal government and provincial government, they can issue licences and there's no consultation, which is unfortunate because I don't think that's fair. But that's what's happened," Nunziata told CBC Toronto on Friday. The land has been in the process of being rezoned for years, she said, but its use must be discontinued in order to proceed. Faisal Hassan, NDP MPP for York South-Weston, echoed those concerns, saying residents are "disturbed" after learning the news. "Our office has been inundated with emails and calls objecting to this facility," Hassan said Thursday at Queen's Park. He questioned why residents were not consulted before the company took over operations at the facility. According to federal records, there were numerous food recalls related to E.coli in various products coming out of Ryding Regency Meat Packers, the company that formerly operated out of the facility. "The previous slaughterhouse was closed and had its licence revoked due to many health and environmental violations. An environmental compliance approval was granted to the former owners despite nearly 100 complaints and public consultations in 2018," he said. "How did this new facility get approved and why was the community not consulted?" Animal rights activists, who are calling for the the plant to be shut down, plan to hold a a vigil outside the plant Monday morning and a demonstration outside CFIA offices following that. "During this time of global uncertainty, it's more important than ever that elected officials consider the best interests of the population, taking the necessary steps to reduce the impact of this global health emergency and prevent future illness," said Jenny McQueen, organizer with Animal Save Movement, in a statement Thursday.
Chief executives of the nation's largest passenger and cargo airlines met with key Biden administration officials Friday to talk about reducing emissions from airplanes and push incentives for lower-carbon aviation fuels. The White House said the meeting with climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also touched on economic policy and curbing the spread of COVID-19 — travel has been a vector for the virus. But industry officials said emissions dominated the discussion. United Airlines said CEO Scott Kirby asked administration officials to support incentives for sustainable aviation fuel and technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere. In December, United said it invested an undisclosed amount in a carbon-capture company partly owned by Occidental Petroleum. A United Nations aviation group has concluded that biofuels will remain a tiny source of aviation fuel for several years. Some environmentalists would prefer the Biden administration to impose tougher emissions standards on aircraft rather than create breaks for biofuels. “Biofuels are false solutions that don’t decarbonize air travel,” said Clare Lakewood, a climate-law official with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Real action on aircraft emissions requires phasing out dirty, aging aircraft, maximizing operational efficiencies and funding the rapid development of electrification.” Airplanes account for a small portion of emissions that cause climate change — about 2% to 3% — but their share has been growing rapidly and is expected to roughly triple by mid-century with the global growth in travel. The airline trade group says U.S. carriers have more than doubled the fuel efficiency of their fleets since 1978 and plan further reductions in carbon emissions. But the independent International Council on Clean Transportation says passenger traffic is growing nearly four times faster than fuel efficiency, leading to a 33% increase in emissions between 2013 and 2019. The U.S. accounts for about 23% of aircraft carbon-dioxide emissions, followed by Europe at 19% and China at 13%, the transportation group's researchers estimated. The White House said McCarthy, Buttigieg and economic adviser Brian Deese were “grateful and optimistic” to hear the airline CEOs talk about current and future efforts to combat climate change. Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group Airlines for America, said the exchange was positive. “Airlines are ready, willing and able partners, and we want to be part of the solution" to climate change, Calio said in a statement. “We stand ready to work in partnership with the Biden administration.” David Koenig, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia health officials say the federal government's approval of two new vaccines is encouraging news and one more layer of protection to help get the province through the pandemic. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a statement that approval of the vaccines by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Verity-Serum Institute of India is an "exciting" step forward.The statement says the new vaccines are "fridge stable," making them easier to transport and distribute across the province.British Columbia announced 589 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday along with seven more deaths.But the statement cautioned that the case numbers are considered provisional, due to delays in its lab reporting system.More than 250,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., while roughly 73,000 of those are second doses.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A man who once sat on the advisory board to WE Charity's American affiliate told a parliamentary committee he believes two different groups of donors were told they'd raised the money for the same school building in Kenya. Reed Cowan testified on Friday that he started raising money for Free The Children, as WE Charity was known at the time, after his son Wesley died in an accident at age four. He said he wanted to give Wesley a legacy and turn his "pain into purpose," but now feels like his son's grave has been robbed. He said he discovered that a plaque on a school building that once bore Wesley’s name now carries the name of another WE donor. “I saw that the school that we had opened and put our plaque on with Wesley's name and his motto was no longer on his school," Cowan said. One of the names now on the plaque is the Howie Stillman Foundation, he said. On the foundation's website, he found a video of an “opening celebration, where they opened the very same building less than two weeks before we arrived there. We went to Kenya thinking we were opening that building for Wesley," he said. "The ceremony was re-cued for us, same people, same songs, same everything, different plaques.” For Cowan, knowing he'd build a specific school was important. He said he was told by Roxanne Joyal, the wife of WE founder Marc Kielburger and the current CEO of its for-profit affiliate ME to WE, that the school was "Wesley's school." "When you give money to an organization a continent away, you wonder if it's real, and then I put my hands on the brick and it is," he told the committee. He said thinking about children in Kenya studying at the school helps him deal with the loss of his son. It “gets me through a lot of nights,” Cowan told the committee. Money raised by Cowan's group, the Wesley Smiles Coalition, went directly to WE Charity. He said he believes it raised hundreds of thousands of dollars directly and that his efforts for the organizations, including speaking across the U.S., may have helped raise millions of dollars. Now, he wants to know where it went. “I’ve repeatedly asked for an accounting of all monies raised connected to Wesley Cowan’s legacy and as of this date, I’ve not been provided that accounting,” he told the committee. "I’d like it." In an email, WE Charity said it's working to give Cowan the information he requested. WE said Cowan misunderstood what was happening in the video he saw and that it was a "welcome ceremony" at the unfinished school for volunteers arriving to help build it. "There was only one opening ceremony for the schoolhouse and it was for Mr. Cowan," the organization said in the unsigned email. It said two of the four schoolhouses Cowan funded had plaques with Wesley's name. "One was removed in 2009 and WE regrets that it inadvertently failed to notify Mr. Cowan," it said, adding that the plaque has now been returned. WE said the Howie Stillman Foundation provided funding for other programs in the community, including a clean water program. WE said its projects in Kenya were reviewed by forensic accountant Al Rosen, "who confirmed that projects such as schoolhouses were not 'double matched.'" WE has previously said that review was commissioned by the Stillman Foundation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
Iqaluit city Coun. Simon Nattaq’s comments about Black taxi drivers at Tuesday’s meeting led councillors to pause the session to consider whether he violated their code of conduct. Nattaq singled out Black taxi drivers for “constantly” talking on their cell phones “in their language.” He made the comments during a discussion about a report on road safety in the city. Nattaq was speaking in Inuktitut, and his comments were translated by an on-site interpreter at the meeting. “I have nothing against them but there’s been a lot of complaints from local people,” Nattaq said in Inuktitut. After the comments, deputy Mayor Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster asked council to discuss the issue privately. The vote was unanimous, said Mayor Kenny Bell. Council’s public session was suspended for approximately 20 minutes. When it resumed, Bell gave Nattaq the opportunity to apologize for his statements, but he indicated, through an interpreter, that he didn’t know what to say. “If you don’t know, then it’s definitely not a sincere apology,” Bell said, adding that council had moved on from the issue but “will deal with [it] at a later date.” Brewster told Nunatsiaq News she plans to follow up with the mayor, and that she still expects Nattaq to apologize. She said the comments “unnecessarily racialized” the issue of people talking on their cell phones while driving. “The impact of casual racism is no less than the impact of overt racism,” she said in an interview. When Brewster asked that council discuss Nattaq’s comments privately, she referred to the councillor code of conduct bylaw, which states that councillors must act in a way that is not discriminatory and to treat community members “in a way that does not cause offence or embarrassment to individuals or groups.” “As an employer, and as a council, [we] must provide [a safe workplace] as well as a safe environment for all of our citizens,” Brewster said in an interview. A statement from the City of Iqaluit to Nunatsiaq News said Nattaq’s comment doesn’t represent the values of city council. “Councillors are accountable as individuals to follow the city’s code of conduct and human rights and anti-harassment policy,” statement reads. Nunatsiaq News emailed Nattaq in Inuktitut on Thursday, requesting an interview to clarify his comments, but has not received a reply. In a phone call, Nattaq said he only speaks Inuktitut. Iqaluit council has a history of punishing members for controversial comments. Last October, a then-councillor Malaiya Lucassie was asked to resign after she replied to a Facebook post by a Nunavut cabinet minister that seemed to criticize Black women who get abortions, and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. Lucassie apologized once on Facebook and again in a statement to Nunatsiaq News. She resigned following council’s demand on Oct. 13. The motion to call on Lucassie’s resignation was moved by Coun. Romeyn Stevenson and seconded by Nattaq. David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
(CBC - image credit) Alberta Health confirmed two more deaths linked to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Olymel meatpacking plant in Red Deer on Friday, bringing the total to three. Henry De Leon, 50, who worked at the plant for 15 years, died on Wednesday after spending three weeks on a ventilator, his family told CBC News. The other Olymel outbreak-related death reported by the province on Friday was a woman in her 60s, who died on Sunday. Alberta Health does not report the identities of people who die of COVID-19. The first COVID-19 death linked to the outbreak was Darwin Doloque, 35, who died on Jan. 28 There are 500 cases linked to the outbreak at the Red Deer meatpacking plant, according to the most recent update from Alberta Health. Of those, 156 are considered active. Alberta reported 356 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and three more deaths from the illness, the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the province in a single day since October. There are 4,505 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, an increase of 21 from the day before. All three deaths announced Friday were from the Central health zone. Hospitalizations from the disease continue to decline — there are 269 people being treated in hospital for COVID-19, including 55 in intensive care beds. Hospitalizations are a key metric in determining whether the province will choose to ease more restrictions next week. The province has already met the hospitalization thresholds for both Step 2 and 3, and could choose to move to Step 2 of the phased reopening plan as early as Monday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the government will also consider leading indicators like R-value, new cases and positivity rate, when deciding to move to the next phase of reopening. The regional breakdown of active cases is: Calgary zone: 1,523 North zone: 1,016 Edmonton zone: 908 Central zone: 722 South zone: 327 Unknown: 9 The province's COVID-19 vaccination rollout has now seen 207,300 doses of vaccine administered. That number includes 82,989 Albertans who are fully immunized with two doses of vaccine.
ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif. — With short, sure strokes of a flathead axe, firefighter Cole Gomoll methodically chopped along the edge of the SUV’s broken windshield as golf icon Tiger Woods — tangled up in his seatbelt and covered in a sheet to avoid shards of glass — waited in shock inside the mangled wreck. When Gomoll had cut a long, continuous line to the end of the glass, he and another Los Angeles County firefighter peeled back the windshield. The 6-lb (2.7-kilogram), 36-inch-long (91-centimetre-long) axe went down, and the backboard was swapped in. Within minutes, the ambulance had raced away, bound for the trauma centre with its famous patient in the back. It would be hours before the news broke around the world but for Gomoll and the other nine members of Fire Station 106 in Rolling Hills Estates, California, Tuesday’s call — initially reported as a traffic collision with a person trapped — lasted just 12 minutes. “He’s just another patient," Gomoll told The Associated Press on Friday at Fire Station 106. The 106’s firefighters, from Gomoll up to Battalion Chief Dean Douty, stressed that anyone in Woods’ dire situation would have received the same care from them. “I didn’t know who was inside the car,” Capt. Joe Peña said, until a sheriff’s deputy told him. And anyone else would get the same privacy, too — the firefighters declined to recount the athlete’s conversations and condition at the scene to preserve patient confidentiality. “His identity really didn’t matter in what we do,” Capt. Jeane Barrett said. Even so, those minutes marked a milestone in Gomoll’s career: It was the first time the 23-year-old Marine Corps veteran had performed an extrication like that in the field. Gomoll joined the fire station, located about a mile (1.6 kilometres) away from the crash site, in August as a probationary firefighter. Just three weeks ago, he’d practiced similar moves with one of his superiors, Barrett. “We’ve trained for stuff like this,” Gomoll said. Woods was transferred from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on Thursday to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for “continuing orthopedic care and recovery,” hospital officials said. He had shattered the tibia and fibula bones of his lower right leg in multiple locations. Those injuries were stabilized with a rod in the tibia during a long surgery. Additional injuries to the bones in the foot and ankle required screws and pins. Woods had been driving a 2021 Genesis SUV on a downhill stretch of road known for wrecks when he struck a raised median in a coastal Los Angeles suburb, crossed into oncoming lanes and flipped several times. The crash was the latest setback for Woods, who has won 15 major championships and a record-tying 82 victories on the PGA Tour. He is among the world’s most recognizable sports figures, and at 45, even with a reduced schedule from nine previous surgeries, remains golf’s biggest draw. He was in Los Angeles last weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Monday and Tuesday had been set aside for him to give golf tips to celebrities on Discovery-owned GOLFTV. The Los Angeles County sheriff has called the crash “purely an accident” and says drugs and alcohol did not appear to be a factor. Everyone says Woods is lucky to be alive — and “if nothing else, it’s a good PSA for wearing a seatbelt,” Barrett added. The first responders did, however, correct previous reports that said they’d used the Jaws of Life and a pry bar called a halligan tool to free the celebrity. Barrett, a 25-year fire service veteran, and her fellow firefighters know the dangers of the eponymous rolling hills in the area and have cut many drivers out of their twisted cars. They initially had three plans for Woods’ SUV: First, try the axe on the windshield. If that didn’t work, see if going through the sunroof was a possibility. A third option would be to cut the entire roof off. The firefighters and paramedics spoke to Woods — who introduced himself as “Tiger" — throughout, reassuring him through a hole in the windshield that he’d soon be free. “You can tell he was in pain,” firefighter Sally Ortega said, but he was still responding to their questions and clearly anxious to get out. “Luckily, our first plan was the one that worked,” Barrett said. As the ambulance pulled away, Barrett surveyed the SUV to see what lessons her crew might be able to apply to save a future driver. “No car is ever crumpled in the same way,” she said. The firefighters later debriefed together around their station’s kitchen table, then ate salads for lunch in a nearby park — savoring the last of the quiet as the news finally made its way around the world. Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press
Two Ontario regions struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks will be moving back into lockdown next week, while public health restrictions will be loosened elsewhere in the province. Local leaders in Thunder Bay - a hub for travel in northwestern Ontario - had been calling for assistance as COVID-19 outbreaks were declared at correctional facilities, among the homeless population and at number of local schools. Simcoe Muskoka, which has also been hit with several outbreaks driven by infectious virus variants, will also be placed on lockdown. Health Minister Christine Elliott said recent projections on the pandemic in Ontario "(show) us that we must be nimble and put in place additional measures" to stop the spread of the virus. "With COVID-19 variants continuing to spread in our communities, it is critically important that everyone continues strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures to help contain the virus and maintain the progress we have made to date," Elliott said. Meanwhile, restrictions will loosen Monday in Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce. The government lifted a stay-at-home order for most of the province two weeks ago and moved the majority of health units back to its colour-coded restrictions system. Data has shown the stay-home order and strict public health measures imposed in January brought cases and hospitalizations down but they have since started to trend upwards again. In Thunder Bay, the local public health unit has recorded more COVID-19 cases in February than throughout all of 2020, the city's mayor said Friday before the lockdown was announced. "We're in a difficult spot right now," Bill Mauro said in a telephone interview. "Clearly there is a situation here that we don't see ending in the near term." The mayor has been calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide financial and human-resources assistance in health care. The only isolation centre in the city of over 121,000 people is on the "verge of failing," he said. Ontario's top doctor recommended Thursday that the city be moved to lockdown because the virus could spread to remote communities with scarce health-care resources. Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health for Thunder Bay District Health Unit, welcomed the lockdown announcement. "These enhanced measures are needed to get COVID in our community under control," she said in a statement. A New Democrat legislator who represents the northern city in the provincial parliament said the government waited too long to help the city avoid a lockdown. “It’s been like watching a car crash in slow motion,” Judith Monteith-Farrell said Friday. Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler had also requested support from Ottawa and the province, saying the region was grappling to keep up with the growing case load. The chiefs pointed to inadequate resources for people released from correctional facilities who are being sent to isolate in hotels in Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins. “Thunder Bay is in a precarious situation, and there is growing concern as government ministries, health organizations and health units struggle to contain the spread of this virus," Fiddler said. "Moving back to lockdown across northwestern Ontario will be painful, but is necessary as COVID-19 cases continue to rise." One northwestern Ontario First Nation declared a state of emergency after several members living off-reserve in Thunder Bay tested positive for COVID-19. Neskantaga First Nation Chief Chris Moonias said at least 12 members had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday. There was also news Friday of more infectious COVID-19 variants detected for the first time in the northwestern part of the province. The local health unit that covers the Kenora, Ont., area, reported its first case of a COVID-19 variant. It said a person in the Dryden, Ont., area has tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the U.K. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford welcomed the news that Health Canada had approved a third COVID-19 vaccine – from AstraZeneca – for use in Canada, saying it would speed up Ontario's vaccine rollout. "We're geared up, we're ready to go and just can't wait to get the third vaccine," he said. The province plans to offer shots to people aged 80 and older starting in the third week of March, though the timeline is subject to change. Some local health units will start inoculations in the broader community earlier based on their progress vaccinating the highest-priority groups first. Vaccinations for those 80 and older are to begin at Windsor-Essex County clinics on Monday. The City of Ottawa will deliver shots next Friday at a pop-up clinic open to those born in 1941 and earlier, adult recipients of chronic home care and residents of high-risk neighbourhoods. York Region will also allow residents aged 80 and older to book appointments Monday, with vaccinations to start possibly the same day. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
ST. LOUIS — Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has been buried in a private cemetery in St. Louis, his family announced Friday. Limbaugh's widow, Kathryn, and his family said a private ceremony with close family and friends was held Wednesday, but they did not say where he was buried. The family said additional celebrations of Limbaugh's life are planned in the future, both virtually and in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, The Southeast Missourian reported. Limbaugh died Feb. 17, a year after announcing he had lung cancer. The fiery Limbaugh was a leading voice of the Republican party and conservative movement for decades with a daily radio show that was broadcast on more than 600 U.S. stations for more than 30 years. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Friday that Iran should view his decision to authorize U.S. airstrikes in Syria as a warning that it can expect consequences for its support of militia groups that threaten U.S. interests or personnel. “You can't act with impunity. Be careful,” Biden said when a reporter asked what message he had intended to send with the airstrikes, which the Pentagon said destroyed several buildings in eastern Syria but were not intended to eradicate the militia groups that used them to facilitate attacks inside Iraq. Administration officials defended the Thursday night airstrikes as legal and appropriate, saying they took out facilities that housed valuable “capabilities” used by Iranian-backed militia groups to attack American and allied forces in Iraq. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, said members of Congress were notified before the strikes as two Air Force F-15E aircraft launched seven missiles, destroying nine facilities and heavily damaging two others, rendering both “functionally destroyed.” He said the facilities, at “entry control points” on the border, had been used by militia groups the U.S. deems responsible for recent attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq. In a political twist for the new Democratic administration, several leading Congress members in Biden's own party denounced the strikes, which were the first military actions he authorized. Democrats said the airstrikes were done without authorization from lawmakers, while Republicans were more supportive. “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. And Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said lawmakers must hold the current administration to the same standards as any other. “Retaliatory strikes not necessary to prevent an imminent threat,” he said, must get congressional authorization. But Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, backed the decision as “the correct, proportionate response to protect American lives.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that Biden used his constitutional authority to defend U.S. personnel. "The targets were chosen to correspond to the recent attacks on facilities and to deter the risk of additional attacks over the coming weeks,” she said. Among the recent attacks cited was a Feb. 15 rocket attack in northern Iraq that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops. At the Pentagon, Kirby said the operation was “a defensive strike” on a waystation used by militants to move weapons and materials for attacks into Iraq. But he noted that while it sent a message of deterrence and eroded their ability to strike from that compound, the militias have other sites and capabilities. He said the strikes resulted in “casualties” but declined to provide further details on how many were killed or injured and what was inside the buildings pending the completion of a broader assessment of damage inflicted. An Iraqi militia official said Friday that the strikes killed one fighter and wounded several others. Kirby said the facilities hit in the attack were near Boukamal, on the Syrian side of the Iraq border, along the Euphrates River. “This location is known to facilitate Iranian-aligned militia group activity,” he said. He described the site as a “compound” that previously had been used by the Islamic State group when it held sway in the area. The Iraqi militia official told The Associated Press that the strikes against the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, hit an area along the border between the Syrian site of Boukamal facing Qaim on the Iraqi side. The official was not authorized to speak publicly of the attack and spoke on condition of anonymity. Speaking to reporters Thursday evening shortly after the airstrikes were carried out, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “I’m confident in the target that we went after. We know what we hit.” Biden’s decision to attack in Syria did not appear to signal an intention to widen U.S. military involvement in the region but rather to demonstrate a will to defend U.S. troops in Iraq and send a message to Iran. The Biden administration in its first weeks has emphasized its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China, even as Mideast threats persist. The U.S. has previously targeted facilities in Syria belonging to Kataeb Hezbollah, which it has blamed for numerous attacks targeting U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq. The Iraqi Kataeb is separate from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the war in Syria, said the strikes targeted a shipment of weapons that were being taken by trucks entering Syrian territories from Iraq. The group said 22 fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi umbrella group of mostly Shiite paramilitaries that includes Kataeb Hezbollah, were killed. The report could not be independently verified. In a statement, the group confirmed one of its fighters was killed and said it reserved the right to retaliate, without elaborating. Kataeb Hezbollah, like other Iranian-backed factions, maintains fighters in Syria to both fight against the Islamic State group and assist Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in that country's civil war. Austin said he was confident the U.S. had hit back at “the same Shia militants” that carried out the Feb.1 5 rocket attack in northern Iraq. Kirby credited Iraqis with providing valuable intelligence that allowed the U.S. to identify the groups responsible for attacks earlier this year. The U.S., he said, then determined the appropriate target for the retaliatory strike. He said the U.S. also notified Russia shortly before the strike as part of the ongoing deconfliction process of military activities in Syria. “The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel,” Kirby said. Syria condemned the U.S. strike, calling it “a cowardly and systematic American aggression,” warning that the attack will lead to consequences. U.S. forces have been significantly reduced in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and no longer partake in combat missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations against the Islamic State group. Lolita C. Baldor, Robert Burns And Qassim Abdul-Zahra, The Associated Press
A Kamloops man facing murder and attempted murder charges stemming from a violent altercation inside a North Shore apartment in March 2020 will undergo a psychiatric assessment. During a preliminary inquiry in Kamloops Law Courts this week, the court ordered that Michael Wayne Palmer undergo the examination to determine his mental fitness for trial. Preliminary inquiries are hearings at which a provincial court judge determines whether there is enough evidence for an accused person to stand trial in B.C. Supreme Court. Evidence presented at the hearing is protected by a court-ordered ban on publication. Palmer, 44, has been in custody since the early-morning hours of March 29, 2020, not long after Kevin White was stabbed to death inside a Carson Crescent apartment. Palmer is accused of killing White, 59, and stabbing three other men inside the suite — a pair of brothers, ages 62 and 58, and a 21-year-old man. Palmer has said he wishes to represent himself at trial and has elected trial by judge and jury in B.C. Supreme Court. White was a celebrated author who wrote of his tough times and he was working on his second book at the time of his death. He left behind a daughter and two grandsons who had only recently begun to know him. He is also charged with assaulting a corrections officer with a weapon at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre while in custody — a file for which he will be in court on March 1 to confirm a trial date. Palmer will also be in court on that date for an update on his psychiatric assessment. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
EDMONTON — A group of health professionals is urging the Alberta government not to ease COVID-19 restrictions next week and to instead toughen measures for bars, restaurants and pubs. Two doctors who co-chair the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association's pandemic committee made the plea in a statement released Friday. "The health care system and the population, after having been stressed for so long, really can't tolerate another surge before the end of our vaccination campaign," said Dr. Noel Gibney and Dr. James Talbot, noting it will be months before all at-risk Albertans are inoculated. "Any further easing of COVID-19 restrictions should only be undertaken when all high-risk individuals in the province have been immunized. We have a short window remaining to prevent another surge and protect Albertans, but it is rapidly closing." Gibney and Talbot said that new daily active cases have stopped decreasing and the number of new infections that result from each case is growing. A new, more transmissible variant first found in the United Kingdom could cause rapid increases if it becomes the dominant strain, they said. The doctors added the province should close bars, restaurants and pubs to indoor service, or at least put a meaningful cap on capacity and enforce the current restrictions. "It is clear that many bars, pubs and restaurants are not obeying the current restrictions that are in place. They are overcrowded, not enforcing same household rules and are over safe capacity at peak times," they said. "This is an extreme risk for a third wave with the original COVID-19 strain and is even higher risk for the more transmissible U.K. variant." The doctors also note it will be months before all at-risk Albertans are vaccinated. The Alberta government could as soon as Monday ease restrictions on retail businesses, banquet halls, community halls, conference centres, hotels, indoor fitness and children's sport and performance activities. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital has to be below 450 in order for the next reopening phase to go ahead, and numbers have been below that for under a month. But the province's chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has said the next reopening phase is not a done deal because the test positivity rate and other so-called leading indicators are rising. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the province still needs to review the latest data before making a decision, but new daily cases have so far not been rising at a rate that would raise alarm. Nor has Shandro seen anything that would warrant clamping down on eating and drinking establishments. "But if that ever was brought to my attention by Dr. Hinshaw, of course we would want to work with her in being able to address any community spread that we have in the smartest and most targeted, narrow way that we can." Alberta on Friday recorded 356 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths. There were 269 people in hospital, including 55 in intensive care. The test positivity rate was 3.9 per cent. — By Lauren Krugel in Calgary This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
“The connection is me,” said Tsuut’ina Nation artist seth cardinal dodginghorse, linking his work for Contemporary Calgary and his protest at the opening of the southwest Calgary ring road last October. dodginghorse spoke virtually yesterday, the final speaker for Contemporary Calgary’s Water Event. His exhibit, entitled The Glenmore Rezerveoir, is a water jug with a label made from elk hide parfleche. Writing is painted on the inside of the label and can only be read if it’s “really bright out” and the jug is angled. The label reads: “You drink Tsuut’ina land.” dodginghorse said he was approached in August by the gallery to be one of six Indigenous artists to produce a water sculpture as part of political activist Yoko Ono’s exhibition, Growing Freedom. Two months later, he stood at the opening of Tsuut’ina Trail, unofficially called Calgary’s southwest ring road, and cut off his braids, offering them to the portion of the road that displaced his family six years earlier from their generations-held land. “The connection is story-wise and intent behind making the work. They weren’t directly related at all. But a lot of my intent … all my own personal experiences, traumas informed making this work and those were the same things that informed me speaking out at the opening … (and) resulted in me cutting my hair and everything. It’s more like the connection is that I made the artwork and the connection is that I ended up cutting my hair. The connection is me,” said dodginghorse. dodginghorse’s family was forced off their land in 2013 because of the ring road. That land had been in the family since his great-great grandmother. His mother and her siblings had grown up there. Many Tsuut’ina people beyond dodginghorse’s family members had connections to that land. When living there, dodginghorse said the water they drank was “some of the most beautiful, delicious water you could drink.” His family moved to another piece of land on the Tsuut’ina reserve. They were told not to drink the water from the tap because of numerous environmental concerns, including nearby fracking. His family had to drink water from jugs. “We didn’t grow up having to purchase water. We didn’t grow up having to be afraid of what was coming from our tap. We’ve been drinking from these water bottles for quite a bit now and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just use one of these and highlight the issue of drinking water and where does the water I’m purchasing come from?’” he said. In 1932, dodginghorse said Tsuut’ina Nation was “pressured” by Calgary and the government to sell 400 acres of reserve land to the city. That land became the Glenmore reservoir and provides safe drinking water for Calgary residents. “There’s just so much loaded history behind Glenmore reservoir and my family as well ... It’s very strange and very ironic that my family, once we moved, in order to drink water we had to drink water from land that was originally part of Tsuut’ina. That was like essentially purchasing water back from ancestral lands,” said dodginghorse. Having to be concerned about safe drinking water is not unique to Tsuut’ina, said Dodginghorse, noting that boil water advisories are common in many First Nations communities right across the country. While some artwork takes time to conceive and time to determine the medium, this piece was readily conceived, dodginghorse said. “It was very easy to make but then thinking about the history behind the objects, behind my family’s history, all of these connection, is one of those really nice pieces in a way where I made this and then afterwards I started thinking and analysing and really understanding what I had made,” he said. dodginghorse said he prefers his work to be “blunt and in your face.” He wants people to “get” what he is saying with his art and not have to ponder it for “three hours” before the message sinks in. dodginghorse has been showing his work in Calgary galleries for about six years. He said he understands that this venue only reaches “a certain crowd.” “A lot of the people that were involved in a lot of these decisions historically that are still here, aren’t really the type of people that go to galleries. With this type of work has like the focus on reaching out to the average white Calgarian that goes to galleries,” he said. Ryan Doherty, chief curator of Contemporary Calgary, who hosted the virtual talk, said dodginghorse’s piece was popular with gallery goers, many of whom came after dodginghorse cut his braids at the ring road opening. “That seemingly mundane container is in fact so loaded,” said Doherty. When Contemporary Calgary was tasked with asking a new group of artists to collaborate with Ono in this iteration of Water Event, Doherty said he knew it had to be a group with which water had an “enormous significance.” “When you consider the long history and impact of the Bow and Elbow rivers to the Indigenous population past and present it seemed the best thing would be to invite artists for whom that connection would resonate in the collaboration with Yoko,” said Doherty. The other Water Event collaborators are Adrian A. Stimson, Faye HeavyShield, Jessie Ray Short, Judy Anderson and Kablusiak. In 1971, Ono held her first museum exhibition, Water Event, in which she invited over 120 participants to produce a water sculpture. “As Yoko herself noted to us, (this) was one of the best iterations to date,” said Doherty. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Richard Gray is warning Indigenous communities against signing confidentiality agreements with the government as they reclaim authority over their child welfare systems under Bill C-92 — also known as the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. Gray is the social services manager with the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC), which monitors and provides oversight to ensure Indigenous groups and communities have access to “culturally-appropriate and preventive health and social services programs,” according to their website. “This is a huge problem and we can’t allow the feds to utilize these confidentiality agreements in negotiations or discussions,” he said at a virtual gathering focused on the implementation of the Act, hosted on Feb. 9 by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). The Act establishes a framework for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to exercise their authority and create their own child welfare laws. Through the Act, Indigenous governing bodies can either notify the federal government of their intent to establish their own laws, or they can request to “enter into a tripartite coordination agreement with [Indigenous Services Canada] and relevant provincial or territorial governments” — as previously reported by IndigiNews. Gray says he knows of at least one instance where a confidentiality agreement was signed as part of a coordination agreement — between Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Canada and the province of Ontario. He says he’s worried that confidentiality agreements could “really put a damper on our ability to share information and to give strategies and to advise and counsel First Nations communities that are interested in following this road.” “Canada will have all the information, and once again, First Nations are left stuck on their own.” ‘Stuck on their own’ Since the Bill came into force on Jan. 1, 2020, nine Nations have sent notice and 17 Nations have requested to enter into coordination agreements discussions, according to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). In an interview with IndigiNews, Gray says the practice of signing confidentiality agreements is “almost a bit of a contradictory approach” because the government is “supposed to be working with the First Nations at a national level and regional level to support the implementation of coordination agreements.” “If you sign one of these things, you can’t share any information with the AFN [and] you can’t share any information with a First Nations community about things that are happening in terms of your coordination agreement discussion,” he says. As part of the Act’s development, the AFN and ISC signed a protocol agreement in June of 2020. The agreement established a structure to support the implementation of Bill C-92, according to a news release by the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and FNQLHSSC. “This agreement is a crucial step that should allow First Nations to develop effective long-term plans. This protocol ensures that Canada will work with our governments, but that the implementation of Bill C-92 will be led by First Nations,” says Ghislain Picard, regional chief of the AFNQL. But for Gray, not being able to share how nations are doing at coordination tables puts them at a disadvantage. He says that the federal government knows everything that nations are sharing while the nations themselves, if they sign a confidentiality agreement, cannot speak with each other on how they are working to exercise jurisdiction. “Collectively, this is something that affects First Nations all across Canada. Why would we get into these processes where we’re hiding our discussions? Or not showing any transparency about how we’re going to work with our communities?” asks Gray. “First Nations are going to try to get the best deals possible,” he says. “I think that one of the ways to achieve that is by sharing as much information as possible amongst First Nations.” Gray says he wants the federal and provincial governments to respect this, “rather than trying to impose their processes on us.” “We’ve got to break these cycles or these patterns that [Indigenous Services Canada] uses and open up new processes and new ways of doing things to help one another.” IndigiNews followed up with both Indigenous Services Canada and Wabaseemoong Child Welfare Authority for comment, but did not receive a response by the time this article was published. The virtual gathering is part of a series on sharing best practices for implementing the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, also known as Bill C-92. Anyone can register to attend and there is no cost. The next session is March 2, 2021. Anna McKenzie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Senior officials from Europe have urged the World Bank's management to expand its climate change strategy to exclude investments in oil- and coal-related projects around the world, and gradually phase out investment in natural gas projects, according to three sources familiar with the matter. In the six-page letter dated Wednesday, World Bank executive directors representing major European shareholder countries and Canada, welcomed moves by the Bank to ensure its lending supports efforts to reduce carbon emissions. But they urged the Bank - the biggest provider of climate finance to the developing world - to go even further.
Canada's vaccine rollout received a boost Friday with the approval of a third COVID-19 inoculation, giving the country another immunization option at a time when case counts remain nearly 75 per cent higher than they were at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic. Health Canada approved a vaccine from AstraZeneca, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said jabs will keep arriving "faster and faster as we head into the spring." While numbers of cases and hospitalizations have dropped from all-time highs just weeks ago, variants of concern are rising in parts of the country. Canada's top doctor Theresa Tam said nationally there are 964 reported cases of the variant first detected in the U.K., up from 429 reported two weeks ago. There were also 44 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa, and two cases of the version first found in Brazil. "The risk of rapid re-acceleration remains," Tam said. "At the same time new variants continue to emerge ... and can become predominant." Tam added that average daily case counts in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have increased between eight and 14 per cent over the previous week. Thunder Bay, Ont., will move into lockdown on Monday after community leaders called for government action following a recent spread of COVID in the city. Outbreaks have been declared there at correctional facilities, among the homeless population and at a number of local schools. Ontario's Simcoe Muskoka region will also go into lockdown next week after a spike in infections, but restrictions will loosen in seven other areas in the province. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, said the country's vaccine rollout will be just one method in slowing the spread of new variants and avoiding a third wave. He said public health measures aimed at halting transmission such as physical distancing and limiting contacts remain important, adding that jurisdictions that have recently reopened need to keep a keen eye on transmission rates. "Certainly if there's any indication that the case rates and ... the emergence of variants are increasing, we would need to adjust as appropriate," he said. "But the vaccinations, and certainly the introduction of more vaccines coming to Canada is very, very good news." Experts advising the Ontario government said this week more contagious variants of COVID-19 are expected to make up 40 per cent of cases by the second week of March. Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 more deaths linked to the virus on Friday, with 362 of them in Toronto, 274 in Peel Region and 104 in York Region. Parts of Atlantic Canada have also seen rising case counts. Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases of COVID-19 while Nova Scotia added 10 more to its tally. Of the new Nova Scotia cases, the province says two are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. Prince Edward Island, which reported an outbreak of three cases earlier this week, had one more new case Friday that does not appear to be directly linked to the others. Quebec, meanwhile, reported 815 new COVID-19 infections and 11 more deaths. Health officials in the province said hospitalizations have dropped by 13, to 620, while intensive care also decreased by three to 119. Saskatchewan health officials announced 153 new cases and no new deaths, while in Manitoba there were 64 new infections and one additional death. In Alberta, with 356 new infections and three more deaths, doctors with the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association's pandemic committee urged the province to hold off on possibly easing more restrictions next week. They said they are concerned that new daily active cases have stopped decreasing and the number of new infections that result from each case is growing. As of Thursday evening, federal data showed there have been 858,217 COVID-19 cases in Canada, including 21,865 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic. While Tam warned that COVID-19 variants can spread more quickly and easily become dominant, progress on the vaccine front is a source of optimism, she noted. "To date, over 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across Canada. And there are early indications of high vaccine efficacy." Trudeau also announced on Friday a partnership with Mississauga, Ont.'s Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India that will deliver two million more doses of the AstraZeneca jab — in addition to the 20 million doses Canada already secured with AstraZeneca. Trudeau said as vaccinations ramp up across the country, many provinces have expanded the number of health professions able to administer a COVID-19 vaccine, and he asked dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians and retired nurses to lend a hand in the rollout. "Job 1 remains beating this pandemic," Trudeau said, adding the federal government will continue to send rapid tests to provinces in hopes of getting more Canadians tested. "We still have to be very careful, especially with new variants out there. We all want to start the spring in the best shape possible." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press