Inspired and motivated by his grandmother to push for change, Jacob Callender-Prasad decided to mobilize and organize the first of many anti-racism rallies last May in Vancouver. Thousands of people attended.
Inspired and motivated by his grandmother to push for change, Jacob Callender-Prasad decided to mobilize and organize the first of many anti-racism rallies last May in Vancouver. Thousands of people attended.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
De retour en zone orange, le Cinéma Gaieté rouvrira ses trois salles le vendredi 26 février dès 18 h 30 ou 19 h 30 avec la présentation de trois films sur grand écran et le comptoir de grignotines sera ouvert. En raison de la pandémie de la COVID-19, les spectateurs et spectatrices devront porter un masque médical pendant toute la durée de la projection. Aussi, ils devront respecter la distance des deux mètres dans des salles dont la capacité maximale sera réduite de moins de la moitié. Il sera interdit d’emporter toute nourriture provenant d’ailleurs du cinéma.Des films destinés à un public plus familial À l’affiche pour la réouverture : trois productions destinées à un public plus familial. D’abord, le film de super-héros américain Wonder Woman 1984, puis la comédie américaine d’aventures animée Tom et Jerry, et enfin, le long métrage québécois d’animation pour la jeunesse Félix et le trésor de Morgäa. La réouverture des salles de cinéma en zone orange avait déjà été annoncée, mais le fait que les régions en zone orange représentent à peine 15 % du marché rendait difficile la sortie de nouveaux longs métrages. Réouverture du Cinéma Gaieté à MataneTous les distributeurs ont des films à offrir depuis des mois. Il y a des trésors qui attendent d’être révélés au public. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Many people dream of their retirement day, and finally find time to pick up new hobbies or travel but for Dr. Robert Lidkea, it is the last thing on his mind. Lidkea was born in North Bay and came to Fort Frances after he graduated from university. He said he would have stayed in North Bay but there were no openings for an optometrist and he was forced to find a job elsewhere. Lidkea came to Fort Frances in 1952 to become part of the Fort Frances Clinic. At the time the clinic only had two M. D’s, a dentist, an optometrist who was looking to retire and a pharmacy. In 1952 Lidkea was the youngest practicing optometrist in Ontario and now in 2021, he is the oldest optometrist at 90. He graduated as a registered optometrist in 1952 from the College of Optometrists in Toronto and in 1957, he returned for his post graduate studies and earned his doctor of optometry. Lidkea said jokingly he continues to work because he needs the money, but in reality he said he could not stay home all day. Lidkea said he officially retired on Jan.1 and went back to work on Jan. 21. “I just enjoy doing what I’m doing, that’s all,” Lidkea said. “I’m happy to come to work.” It may only be for one day a week, but Lidkea said he always looks forward to it. Lidkea was president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists from 1975 to 1976. He was accepted as a fellow in the American Academy of Optometrists in 1983 and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Waterloo in 1987. Lidkea said when he first began practicing, an eye exam was $3. “It’s quite a long stretch since then,” Lidkea said. “A lot of knowledge and a lot of changes, knowledge and training, everything’s changed.” Lidkea said he has been learning all his life as the training never stops. “When I graduated there was not even such a thing as calculator so it’s been a very long learning process but it’s not all at once, it’s been very gradual,” Lidkea said. He adds that is has been helpful working with his son Bruce who has been able to coach him through all the new technology. Bruce is now the primary practitioner. Lidkea has also been an active member in the community, through clubs and volunteer work. He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Fort Frances since he came in 1952 and has 60 years of perfect attendance. He became president of the club in 1961 and was elected Lt. Governor in 1973. He has now been the secretary for many years. Lidkea was also elected to town council for two terms and has served on many local boards. In 2004, Lidkea was honoured with the Ontario Association of Optometrists 2004 Milenium Award for Public Service. The award recognizes a member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists who has performed extraordinary public service in either a professional or non-professional capacity. In 2007, Lidkea received the Fort Frances Citizen of the Year award. Lidkea said his favourite part of the job is interacting with people in the community, adding that in some families, he has cared for five generations. “It’s been an interesting life,” Lidkea said. “My wife and I have been blessed with good health and we’re getting by quite well.” Lidkea said he gets to see his two sons quite often and has coffee with his friends every morning at 10 a.m. sharp. The secret to a long career, according to Lidkea, is being passionate about what you do. “If you’re eager to get to work in the morning, you’ve got the right job,” Lidkea said. “If you aren’t happy going to work, you got the wrong job.” Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Après avoir omis d’appliquer sa propre Loi sur les espèces en péril (LEP) dans le dossier du chevalier cuivré en 2012, le gouvernement fédéral a corrigé la situation la semaine dernière. Mais parallèlement, Ottawa serait tout de même sur le point de donner son aval au projet d’agrandissement du terminal à conteneurs du Port de Montréal dans sa forme actuelle, et ce, malgré les risques que ce dernier pose pour la survie du poisson en danger d’extinction. Ciblé par une action légale intentée par des organismes voués à la protection de l’environnement, dont la Société pour la nature et les parcs du Canada (SNAP), Ottawa a publié vendredi un projet d’arrêté ministériel afin d’officialiser l’obligation de conserver intact l’habitat essentiel du chevalier cuivré. Ce dernier se limite à une portion du fleuve Saint-Laurent et de la rivière Richelieu. En vertu de la LEP, Ottawa aurait dû poser ce geste dans les 180 jours suivant le dépôt du texte définitif du programme de rétablissement du chevalier cuivré dans le registre public des espèces en péril, dépôt qui a eu lieu le 20 juin 2012. Une action concrète aurait donc dû être posée avant le 17 décembre 2012, mais pour une raison toujours inexpliquée, cette démarche n’a pas eu lieu plus tôt. Quoique tardive, une telle décision devrait, selon toute logique, avoir des conséquences sur l’agrandissement du terminal à conteneurs du Port de Montréal à Contrecœur. Or, les représentants fédéraux ont également annoncé « qu’on ne s’attend pas à ce qu’un promoteur de projet ait à supporter une charge administrative accrue à la suite d’un arrêté du conseil sur l’habitat essentiel », une remarque qui a de quoi laisser perplexe les électeurs préoccupés par la protection de l’environnement et la transparence de leurs représentants. Le gouvernement libéral a par ailleurs réitéré que le décret ne devrait pas avoir de répercussions considérables sur l’examen du projet présenté par l’Administration du Port de Montréal (APM) pour son terminal de Contrecœur. Rappelons que ce projet de plus de 750 millions de dollars a reçu l’appui du gouvernement fédéral via un investissement de 300 millions de dollars de la Banque de l’infrastructure du Canada. On peut donc se demander à ce stade comment l’administration Trudeau parviendra à respecter son engagement environnemental et sa promesse faite aux administrateurs du port. « Ça semble arrangé à l’avance avec le gars des vues », a affirmé Alain Branchaud, directeur général de la Société pour la nature et les parcs (SNAP) lors d’un entretien accordé à La Presse. Le décret couvre tout l’habitat essentiel. C’est solide, ça correspond à ce qu’on s’attend. Mais en même temps le gouvernement dit à l’avance qu’il va autoriser le projet de Contrecœur avant même qu’on lui ait fait la demande! » Le biologiste met par ailleurs en doute la validité du plan proposé afin de compenser la perte d’habitat du chevalier cuivré. « On dit qu’on va compenser, mais on n’a aucune expertise scientifique pour le chevalier cuivré, a poursuivi M. Branchaud. Ce n’est pas sérieux! On est dans une crise de biodiversité et on fait encore des niaiseries comme ça, ça n’a pas de bon sens. » Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
TORONTO — A new report says Canada’s small businesses now collectively owe more than $135 billion as they struggle to survive the pandemic, a staggering amount experts say could hurt the country's economic recovery. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the average small business owner has accrued $170,000 in debt, with businesses in the hospitality, recreation and service sectors most indebted. Laura Jones, CFIB's executive vice-president, says the amount of debt being racked up by businesses has grown significantly over the last six months. She says the second wave of COVID-19 and the restrictions that came with it are putting a massive wrench in an already slow recovery for small businesses. The CFIB report says that three-quarters of business owners who have taken on debt say it will take them more than a year to repay loans, with 11 per cent expressing concern that they may not be able to repay their COVID-19 related debt at all. Taylor Matchett, a research analyst at CFIB and the lead author of the report, says businesses are more fragile now than at the beginning of the pandemic, and that every effort should be made to keep businesses open while managing the health implications of the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb, 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
Hospitality industry veteran Ken Loudon will be the new executive director of the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association (GPRTA), the organization announced last week. Loudon will begin in the position March 1. “I’m excited to take on the leadership of a vital organization,” Loudon said. “This position enables me to serve our community at a greater level and be part of a team that’s here for the betterment of our region, businesses and area residents.” GPRTA in a non-profit marketing group intended to promote the Grande Prairie area and support local businesses. Beaverlodge, Sexsmith, the city and county of Grande Prairie, the Municipal District of Greenview and Saddle Hills County are GPRTA members. The municipalities pay a $2.25 per capita annual membership fee, said Johnathan Clarkson, GPRTA board president. The previous executive director was Terry Dow, who stepped down in December, Clarkson said. Previously, Loudon was the regional manager of the Grande Prairie/Wood Buffalo YMCA of Northern Alberta for five years. Loudon is a city resident, Clarkson said. Loudon also worked in the hotel and casino industries and served as a director on the Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce board, Clarkson said. As well, Loudon is a past president and board member of GPRTA in the 2000s, according to the group. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic appears set to force a modernization of Canada's justice system. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has introduced a bill the government says will make targeted and permanent changes to the Criminal Code to give courts flexibility. Among them are clarifying the law to allow the accused to appear remotely in certain criminal proceedings and providing for remote participation for jury selection.The government says that even with the proposed changes, in-person proceedings would remain the norm, but the new provisions would ensure a remote approach remains an option. Canada's justice system was already wrestling with case backlogs in the courts when the pandemic hit last year, closing courthouses and pausing many trials.Courts were forced to look at different ways of working and accelerate steps toward modernization that many felt were long overdue.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The exclusion of The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights" at the 2021 Grammy Awards shocked many, but he's in good company: Prince's “When Doves Cry" never scored a nomination either. Here's a look at every Billboard No. 1 hit of the year since 1958, Grammy-nominated or not. NOTE: Songs with an asterisk represent tracks that earned a Grammy nomination; songs with two asterisks won a Grammy. ______ 2020: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” 2019: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2018: Drake, “God’s Plan” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2017: Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2016: Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself” (asterisk) 2015: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2014: Pharrell Williams, “Happy” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2013: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz, “Thrift Shop” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2012: Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2011: Adele, “Rolling In the Deep” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2010: Kesha, “Tik Tok” 2009: Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2008: Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, “Get Low” (asterisk) 2007: Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable” (asterisk) 2006: Daniel Powter, “Bad Day” (asterisk) 2005: Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2004: Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Yeah!” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2003: 50 Cent, “In Da Club” (asterisk) 2002: Nickelback, “How You Remind Me” (asterisk) 2001: Lifehouse, “Hanging by a Moment” 2000: Faith Hill, “Breathe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1999: Cher, “Believe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1998: Next, “Too Close” 1997: Elton John “Candle In the Wind 1997” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1996: Los del Río, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” 1995: Coolio, “Gangsta’s Paradise” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1994: Ace of Base, “The Sign” (asterisk) 1993: Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”(asterisk)(asterisk) 1992: Boyz II Men, “End of the Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1991: Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1990: Wilson Phillips, “Hold On” (asterisk) 1989: Chicago, “Look Away” 1988: George Michael, “Faith” 1987: The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian” 1986: Dionne Warwick & Friends, “That’s What Friends Are For” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1985: Wham!, “Careless Whisper” 1984: Prince, “When Doves Cry” 1983: The Police, “Every Breath You Take” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1982: Olivia Newton-John, “Physical” (asterisk) 1981: Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1980: Blondie, “Call Me” (asterisk) 1979: The Knack, “My Sharona” (asterisk) 1978: Andy Gibb, “Shadow Dancing” 1977: Rod Stewart, “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” 1976: Wings, “Silly Love Songs” 1975: Captain & Tennille, “Love Will Keep Us Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1974: Barbra Streisand, “The Way We Were” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1973: Tony Orlando and Dawn, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” (asterisk) 1972: Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1971: Three Dog Night, “Joy to the World” (asterisk) 1970: Simon & Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1969: The Archies, “Sugar, Sugar” 1968: The Beatles, “Hey Jude” (asterisk) 1967: Lulu, “To Sir with Love” 1966: SSgt. Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Berets” 1965: Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, “Wooly Bully” (asterisk) 1964: The Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (asterisk) 1963: Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” 1962: Acker Bilk, “Stranger on the Shore” (asterisk) 1961: Bobby Lewis, “Tossin’ and Turnin’” 1960: Percy Faith, “Theme from A Summer Place” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1959: Johnny Horton, “The Battle of New Orleans” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1958: Domenico Modugno, “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” (asterisk)(asterisk) Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
The majority of Toronto public school students aren’t worried about catching COVID-19 in the classroom. But new survey results reveal this may be at the expense of staff’s well-being. A survey of Toronto District School Board (TDSB) students, staff and parents released Wednesday, shows that 81 per cent of students say they feel protected from contracting COVID-19 in the classroom due to health and safety measures in place, and 90 per cent of students feel supported by their teacher. That confidence, however, shrinks dramatically among Toronto public school staff — only 20 per cent say they feel safe at work from contracting COVID-19, and only 30 per cent say they’re satisfied with safety procedures put in place to protect their health and the board’s communication on these policies. A majority of staff respondents — 70 per cent — admit to feeling burnt out, and less than 30 per cent say they are able to predict the amount of work they must do on any given day. Many expressed “problems at work have kept them up at night, and that they have little energy left at the end of the day.” More than 6,000 staff members responded to the survey in December, the TDSB said. The board employs 42,000 people in total, according to its website. Students from Grades 6 to 12 were surveyed in January, with 36,000 students accessing the survey across those grades. There are about 247,000 students in total in the TDSB. Some 96,500 parents completed the survey as well. The majority, 89 per cent, say they feel their child is protected from catching COVID-19 at school. Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the TDSB, said the results show that while staff are “integral to providing those supports to students, which are going over well,” teachers and staff themselves are reporting high levels of burnout and stress. “You have an overwhelming majority of students and parents feeling that students are protected from getting COVID-19 because of health and safety precautions in place at the school, and 70 per cent of families report coping well during this pandemic,” Bird said. “At the same time, I think much of that success is thanks to the commitment of our staff, but it’s having an impact on our staff.” In response to the survey results, Bird said the TDSB will be launching a newsletter for staff that will communicate the board’s decision-making process on how and why COVID-19 safety precautions are implemented. “That’s a minor thing, but an important document,” Bird said, that will help keep staff more informed about decisions that directly affect them. But with respect to mental health and burnout, Bird said the board is still determining what next steps it should take to address those issues. He pointed to existing supports, such as employee assistance programs. Other resources available on the TDSB website include wellness modules and links to Wellness Canada, which offers free counselling, and Anxiety Canada, which offers group counselling for a fee. “Students and staff are struggling with mental health — that feeling of being burnt out is very real, and we’re trying to acknowledge that,” Bird said. “Now that we have this information, how can we better support them?” Jennifer Brown, president of Elementary Teachers of Toronto, said immediate steps can be taken to help alleviate some of the stress on teachers and staff. “Now that they have this information, they need to address it,” Brown said of the TDSB, the largest school board in the country. She said the TDSB can immediately decrease the workload of teachers, and offer some time throughout the day for teachers and staff to participate in wellness activities and for their own mental health and well-being, instead of directing them to yet “another website” to read something, Brown said. “If it really is a priority, then fund it as such,” she said. As for overall results of the survey, Brown said they are a testament to “how much the teachers do for the students, so that they feel safe, so that there is some standard of normalcy at such a time of chaos and despair.” Teachers, Brown added, continue to feel heightened levels of anxiety due to class sizes they feel are too large in comparison to general limits on gathering in the city of Toronto, and due to public health messaging that is constantly changing. “The workload hasn’t changed,” Brown said. “It has increased on top of the pandemic, on top of the lack of resources.” Other notable survey results include 70 per cent of teachers revealing they don’t have adequate tools, resources or training to do their jobs safely, and 80 per cent of staff reporting they’ve taken on additional cleaning responsibilities in the classroom, especially elementary teachers. A number of safety measures have been implemented in schools to protect staff and students from COVID-19, including wearing masks, frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, and consistent cleaning of surfaces and shared spaces. The spread of COVID-19 continues to be a concern in Toronto classrooms, especially with the emergence of new virus variants that are more contagious. On Wednesday, the province reported 623 school-related cases within the last 14 days, including about 140 cases at Toronto schools. At least eight Toronto schools have identified variant cases, Toronto Public Health reported on Wednesaday. In response to the survey, Caitlin Clark, the spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, said the ministry is aware of ongoing COVID-19 risks and has responded with enhanced safety measures in classrooms. “We have stepped up access to asymptomatic testing, enhanced the requirement and quality of masks, and stricter screening before students and staff enter our schools,” Clark said Thursday. “We will continue to invest in the safety of our schools and the mental health of our students.” Nadine Yousif is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering mental health. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Follow her on Twitter: @nadineyousif_ Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
BALA — When Linda and Jack Hutton opened Bala’s Museum nearly 30 years ago, they never dreamed the year a pandemic occurred would be good for business. Bala’s Museum — with memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery is tucked away on Maple Avenue, but for a slew of new and returning customers this summer, its location is on Facebook. Adapting to a digital-friendly operation during the COVID-19 lockdown has turned a stressful year into a record-breaking one thanks to worldwide sales from a converted home office. The museum has always had a loyal following on social media, said Linda, who — stocked up on memorabilia for the museum’s gift shop — turned to the social platform to see if there might be interest in purchasing items there. On the heels of the cancellation of the biennial Lucy Maud Montgomery conference held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, messages from fans and collectors started pouring in. “All of a sudden they have some extra money and they were really willing to support our museum because they realized what a tenuous situation we were in,” Linda said. Because the museum is such an interactive experience — visitors can dress in costume, participate in re-enactments from Anne of Green Gables and children’s games — coronavirus was a real cause for concern. As well, the Huttons are seniors and more vulnerable to the virus. With the help of their son, who taught them how to read Facebook’s analytics, Linda began posting items for sale. Buyers have appeared from as far away as Argentina, Australia, the Philippines and Poland. “They all realized how vulnerable we are since we don’t get any government money and never have,” Linda explained. “Every single sale, whether it’s just five dollars and I have to mail it, it’s another five dollars in the pot.” International connections are nothing new for the museum, it is outfitted with Japanese translation and the Huttons have welcomed more than 120,000 guests from 30 different countries over three decades. Still, the transition to e-commerce has been a “huge learning curve” said Linda, as she manages international shipping and how to gauge the growth of the business through Facebook. Jack admits he was skeptical at first, unsure at just how many bites they would get online. According to stats he compiled, the museum’s Facebook page saw a 459 per cent jump in likes during May. Before coronavirus the average post reached 400 people; it now reaches an average of 700 users. “We had the best financial return we have ever had for the month of May thanks to Linda’s idea,” he said. As for the museum, the Huttons anticipate opening by appointment only when COVID restrictions lift. There have been disappointments, including a group of women from Arkansas unable to cross the closed border. “I’m very thankful,” Linda said. “I feel very blessed and very honoured that people who have known about our museum are looking in on us every day. It is a huge help.” Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press
PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA — Camp Ooch Muskoka isn’t your typical summer camp and this year isn’t your typical summer. Since COVID-19 arrived, it has dramatically changed the way people live, work and socialize. For the non-profit oncology camp that welcomes families affected by childhood cancer, the challenges have been no different. But, while many summer camps and programs have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium has developed virtual programming to keep its community connected. “We want people to know that we’re still here and we’re still programming,” said Melanie Lovering, director of marketing and communications for Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium. To date, the camp has offered more than 2,000 virtual experiences for its campers and their families with content ranging from interactive games, songs and dance to entertainment from program specialists. “Families who have a child with cancer are, at the best of times, isolated,” Lovering explained. When deciding how to proceed this year with a camp for so many immune-compromised guests, she said cancelling just wasn’t an option. “We couldn’t do that to our families because they need us more than ever.” Ooch Muskoka, the last year has been one of growth as its location in Rosseau where Path to Play, a $35 million expansion is now primed for further construction to render the camp more accessible, building outdoor paths that can accommodate wheelchairs and accessible boating facilities. The goal, Lovering said, is to make Ooch Muskoka the kind of place where kids using assisted devices can navigate the campus fully independently. Ooch Muskoka is the only oncology camp in Canada that provides on-site IV chemotherapy and blood transfusions thanks to a team of pediatric oncologists and nurses on call 24 hours a day. “No matter the depth of their illness we’re there for them,” Lovering said. “They come to camp and they’re just like every other kid. There’s a lot of comfort and a lot of acceptance and a sense of community and a sense of belonging. It’s like a lifeline for them.” Many people think Ooch Muskoka is an overnight camp only, but Lovering points out the philosophy is more that of a social support system for families affected by childhood cancer across the province. “We really want the Muskoka community to know what we’re up to,” she said. The camp currently serves 1,900 kids from approximately 750 families. However, the goal is to reach 100 per cent of the more than 4,000 kids in Ontario currently experiencing cancer. The ripple effects of COVID however, have left Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium with “a major downturn in our revenues,” Lovering said so fundraising is particularly vital this year. To that end, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium is hosting a virtual campfire chat June 25 at 12:30 p.m. to keep its supporters, donors and extended community, updated. “We’ve been so busy actually building this,” said Lovering, “we’ve had limited opportunity to tell our community what we’re doing.” To join the virtual chat RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guests will also be sent an outlook invitation with the following zoom details: Zoom online: https://ooch.zoom.us/j/8658057056 Zoom phone-in: 647-374-4685, enter meeting # 8658057056. This story was altered at 3:25 p.m. on June 23 to reflect the full name of the camp as Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium and to clarify $35 million of the construction is now complete and does not include the future modifications to make the camp accessible. Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
LONDON — Britain announced further sanctions Thursday against members of Myanmar’s military for their part in the coup that ousted the country’s elected government. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said six more top generals face sanctions for serious human rights violations, in addition to 19 others previously listed by the U.K. The new round of sanctions targets Myanmar’s State Administration Council, which was set up following the coup to exercise state functions. The measures immediately ban the generals, including Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, from travelling to Britain and will prevent U.K. businesses and institutions from dealing with their funds or economic resources in Britain. The British government added that it will ensure U.K. businesses do not trade with Myanmar’s military-owned companies. The government has said it was ending aid programs that sent money to the Myanmar government but that aid would still reach “the poorest and most vulnerable in Myanmar.” The U.K. is the ex-colonial ruler of Burma, as Myanmar was formerly known. The Myanmar military seized power on Feb. 1 and detained national leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy figures. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A new estimate suggests the move to a hybrid Parliament could save as much as $6.2 million a year. The system — which sees some MPs and senators participate in person and most others logged in remotely — has been in place since April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the nuances of how MPs and senators participate have changed since then, the parliamentary budget officer's report suggests the primary driver of savings is reduced travel. The report notes that a decrease in travel also has the effect of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by about 2,972 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The budget watchdog says the financial savings offset the increased costs of running a hybrid model, which include the required technology and a major increase in interpreters' services. The provision of those services has been a sore spot in recent weeks as some parties say not enough resources have been allotted to ensure enough interpreters are available and can work safely. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Facebook Inc on Thursday launched a campaign to explain to users how small businesses depend on personalized advertising, ahead of upcoming plans by Apple Inc to prompt iPhone users to allow apps to use their data for ads. The campaign called "Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found" highlights several advertisers that have grown their business on Facebook and Instagram, such as Houston-based fashion brand House of Takura. A commercial will air on TV, including during the Golden Globe Awards this Sunday, Facebook said.
Hawksbills are the most beautiful of the sea turtles, and this video is proof! Check it out!
People 95 and older, as well as First Nations people 75 and older, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. "I’m personally very excited to be announcing that we’re expanding into general population, and I’m looking forward to decrease the age of eligibility continually over time," said Dr. Joss Reimer at Wednesday’s news conference. Calls for the newly eligible can be made beginning this week, with vaccines beginning next week. The vaccine call centre, at 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222) now has 2,000 lines, with more than 370 trained agents. The online booking self-serve tool is in its pilot phase, but will not replace the call centre. "We do know it’s possible the call centre will receive an overwhelming number of calls. We know Manitobans have been eager for this moment, and many of you are going to want to call right away," said Reimer. She asked that only eligible people, or the people calling for an elderly person, ensure they fit the criteria. These days, the wait time is less than a minute on the booking line, with a call-back option. If the wait time does increase, people can opt to have their call returned rather than waiting on the phone. Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead for the First Nation Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, explained that in the coming weeks, people who call to make an appointment and self-identify as First Nations would be transferred to a member of a specialized team. "These specialists will have additional training and cultural safety to ensure that they support callers and facilitate access to an appointment for those who are eligible," Anderson said. At first, self-identification will be the method by which First Nations can access the vaccine. But, in the future, because some people do falsely identify as First Nations — called "pretendians" — the system will be tightened up over time. "This is a phenomenon that I have been aware of and had to work through in multiple different contexts, but I never imagined that one of the harmful ripple effects would be that non-registered or non-status First Nation people would face the risk of not being able to get a vaccine at a time when they rightly should be able to," said Anderson. In the future, First Nations people in Manitoba will be asked to verify their identity, she added. "We want to make sure that this is done in a way that is safe for people and does not exclude our First Nations relatives, that because of the complicated and various processes of colonization, do not have Indian status cards," she said. If a First Nations person does not have a status card under the Indian Act, there will be an escalation process to deal with the more complex cases in a trauma-informed and culturally safe way. Anderson reported that, as of last Friday, 7,023 doses of vaccine have been administered on-reserve — four per cent of the eligible population received first doses, while .08 per cent are fully vaccinated. Off-reserve, 2.96 per cent of the population have received one dose and .07 per cent are fully vaccinated. Of Manitoba’s eligible population, 2.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. As Anderson explained, First Nations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — making up 54 per cent of new cases in the overall Manitoba population and 70 per cent of active cases, and the virus does affect them more harshly, as demonstrated by hospitalization rates. The median age of death in Manitoba is 83, while in First Nations it is 66. Meanwhile, full two-dose vaccination at personal care homes is set to wrap up this week. "This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Reimer, adding results are already showing. "While we are seeing decreases in rates in the community overall, and we know that there are strong public health measures still taking place in personal care homes, we’re also seeing quite a sharp drop in the number of outbreaks happening in personal care homes." Additionally, the focused immunization teams began first doses at congregate living sites in Brandon and Winnipeg on Feb. 19, with regional health authorities scheduling high-priority congregate living sites starting this week. There are 1,400 congregate living sites in the province. A list of those sites can be found at bit.ly/2P9KaWX The vaccination task force has looked ahead in terms of doses coming to Manitoba to the end of March — which Johanu Botha, co-lead for the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said will be 15,000 Pfizer doses weekly, up slightly from the roughly 12,000 doses it is receiving currently. "These are not large quantities," said Botha, adding all Pfizer doses go to supersites due to the storage requirements. There are currently two supersites — in Winnipeg and Brandon — with two more scheduled to open. The plan is to open Selkirk’s site in early March and Morden/Winkler’s in mid-March. Apart from the doses received from Moderna this week, next shipments of that vaccine are unknown. "We have just over 8,000 doses on hand remaining," said Botha, who added that those are tagged to complete vaccinations at personal care homes and support the congregate living campaign. Moderna is the vaccine of choice for First Nations, due to its less stringent storage requirement. That’s concerning, said Anderson. "We certainly want to respond to the data and have everybody — First Nations people living both on and off reserve — vaccinated as quickly as possible, especially as we start to think about heading into flood season, fire season, and what a large-scale evacuation at the same time as we’re dealing with the pandemic would mean," she said. But Anderson referenced Reimer’s news that Pfizer is looking into changing some of its shipping and storage restrictions. That may mean Pfizer can be used at First Nations in the future. "And I would say my experience has been both our provincial and federal counterparts are very willing to have that dialogue," she said. Anderson said it’s hard to calculate First Nation uptake of the vaccine at this time. "In general, in 61 of the 63, the anecdotal feedback that we got was that uptake was very high among those who were eligible. In one community, some further communication was needed, and support. Then uptake improved," she said. Anderson said the experience is much more in line with H1N1, which was higher than usual vaccine uptake. "We’re very encouraged by this progress." It was also revealed at the news conference that the Manitoba Metis Federation continues to be in conversation with the province for a vaccine program targeting vulnerable Métis populations. Reimer suggested Manitobans monitor the eligibility criteria website. The eligibility criteria will expand — sometimes quickly — by decreasing age, and can be found at bit.ly/3ssXBQb Additionally, 213 pharmacies and doctors across the province have signed up to deliver vaccines when more, with less stringent storage needs, are approved. The Wednesday technical briefing for media, which preceded the news conference, can be found at bit.ly/37LRuhP Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The Township of Muskoka Lakes voted this week to stall the reopening of its community centres, electing to assess the situation in 30 days time. The Township’s municipal buildings have been closed to the public since March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Municipal services are available as staff work from home, but groups like the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) chapter that meets weekly at the Milford Bay Community Centre have suffered with the loss of the physical space. “I think that this group needs to be given a priority so that they can restart their meetings,” Coun. Gordon Roberts said during the meeting, suggesting they meet in the evenings to allow time for the building to be empty and cleaned. This is health-related programming and needs to be addressed soon, he added. A staff report outlined three options for reopening the buildings that included adjusting hours of operation and rotating the use of specific locations in a phasing process. Councillors Ruth Nishikawa and Frank Jaglowitz expressed support in a model that would slowly see priority community centres opened, particularly those with early-years child care and wellness programming for seniors. “There’s an awful lot of depression going on right now,” said Coun. Nishikawa. Doug, who asked we not publish his last name due to the anonymous nature of the organization, is the co-ordinator of the 20-odd person AA group that meets weekly at the Milford Bay Community Centre. Disappointed, he understands the decision, but feels council is being too cautious. For nearly 25 years Doug — 30 years sober himself — has led the meetings at the community centre and cannot recall a time when in-person meetings were outright cancelled like they have been during the pandemic. “From an AA point of view,” he said, “online meetings just don’t cut it. AA meetings are a very personal thing.” Some of the group have continued to connect via Zoom meetings or by phone. But not everyone has the resources, he pointed out, nor does he feel virtual replacements are sufficient. There is an important social element to the meetings, he explained. “Rural-wise, we’re already isolated somewhat, so all these community centres become very focal as a meeting spot.” This has to be a no-brainer, Coun. Glenn Zavitz said during the meeting, stressing he would not vote in favour of opening any of the township’s 13 community centres. “I can’t imagine we could entertain letting people in there now,” he said. Currently, a maximum of 50 physically-distanced people adhering to hygiene requirements may gather in an indoor space, according to the provincial government. Part of the staff report determined the cost to maintain cleaning and sanitation protocols which could run as high as $9,100 weekly if all 13 community centres reopened at 50 per cent utilization. On the same day as the Aug. 12 council meeting, the provincial government announced the Safe Restart Agreement. The $695 million investment with the federal government will “address operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.” In the first round of funding, $660,000 is slated for the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Adhering to COVID-19 requirements is fine with Doug, who also welcomes moving the group to a larger room within the community centre in order to physically distance and accommodate new members. A spokesperson for Alcoholics Anonymous said there has been an influx of calls from people seeking meetings across Muskoka. Doug’s phone has also been ringing. “A newcomer in the throes of serious alcoholism, they need the one-on-one connection,” he said. “That’s something that is seriously lacking right now.” At the start of the pandemic, both alcohol sales and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were deemed essential services. The liquor store never did close, said Doug. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, stress and boredom have driven a rise in alcohol consumption during the pandemic. More than 20 per cent of Canadians who drink alcohol reported an increase in consumption since the start of the pandemic. “All you have to do is go into town and look at the lineup at the beer store or the liquor store,” Doug said. “(There are) a lot of people.” Ultimately, council voted 8-2 in favour of postponing the return to community spaces, directing staff to return to council with a new report in September. STORY BEHIND THE STORY Long-term community centre closures are having an impact on the groups who use the space. Research shows those who struggle with substance issues are uniquely challenged right now because of isolation and the loss of in-person contact for support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, so we reached out to them to explore that. At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Before COVID-19, visits to Greece's paper-strewn labour offices were a ordeal of queues and case files, often for basic matters that in less than a year have moved online as the pandemic upended old administrative routines. "Essentially overnight, two thirds of the visits were no longer necessary," said Spiros Protopsaltis, head of OAED, the Organization of Employment and Unemployment Insurance. Crammed with thousands of folders and blue OAED registration cards spilling out onto desks and floor space, the corridors of the building where he spoke still offer a daunting vision of the challenge to overhauling public services in Greece.