Attorney General William Barr is coming under criticism from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are demanding a full review of the presidential election won by Joe Biden. (Dec. 3)
Attorney General William Barr is coming under criticism from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are demanding a full review of the presidential election won by Joe Biden. (Dec. 3)
Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
East Ferris is pulling the plug on its community centre rink and curling ice in Astorville due to the uncertainty of escalating provincial restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jason Trottier, chief administrative officer, said Thursday that the ice will come out Monday following discussions during their community emergency management meeting. “We tried to make it work,” Trottier said about the decision to open the rink this winter despite not knowing if groups would be able to rent enough hours to justify the expenditure. “But it doesn’t make sense now,” he added, noting the provincial restrictions extending the shutdown until Feb. 10 was only leaving a month or so of hockey. And Trottier said there’s no guarantee there won’t be further extensions. The cost of keeping the ice plant running without customers and prospect of more dead time without revenue left little recourse, he said. George Suszter, president of East Nipissing Minor Hockey Association, said the decision isn’t surprising considering the complexity of the pandemic restrictions, cost and unknown timeframes. “I understand their decision because the taxpayers will have to pay the brunt of the cost,” he said, although as a sport program administrator it “would be nice to have had an option.” Suszter said it is “kind of sad to hear because even if the players are not able to play hockey right now they had hope in a month it would come back.” The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit was telling municipalities Thursday to close their outdoor rinks as well to further protect from viral transmission. The province had said Tuesday that outdoor rinks could stay open if protocols and limits on numbers were maintained. And Trottier said East Ferris was going to keep their Corbeil rink in the Bill Vrebosch Park open before hearing the health unit edict. Suszter said they actually had almost 90 percent of their membership totals from the previous year even though it was under modified playing rules. Hockey was giving the youth and the parents an opportunity for in-person interaction that’s important for mental health, he said. “It brought joy and happiness to the kids, it was a glimmer of normality” in unprecedented times, Suszter said. “People need to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Mankind is not made to isolate from others.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Jean-Pierre Morin a annoncé jeudi qu’il quittait ses fonctions de Pro et directeur général au Club de golf de Sept-Îles. Une première expérience enrichissante qu’il aura accomplie avec passion et dévouement. Il venait tout juste de terminer ses études et s’est présenté motivé, prêt à donner son maximum pour les membres. Au cours de ces 9 années, il aura réussi à accomplir sa mission et peut partir sans malaise, fier de ce qu’il a accompli. Il laisse en héritage un club en santé, plus inclusif, et plus diversifié. Le Club a fait la manchette jusqu’à Montréal, grâce à une vague de jeunesse incomparable qui s’est mise à la pratique du golf à Sept-Îles. Jean-Pierre part de la région pour se rapprocher de sa famille, mais également pour se remettre à sa passion qu’est le golf. Dans ses nouvelles fonctions, au Club de golf de Victoriaville, il quitte le chapeau de directeur, pour devenir simplement un Professionnel et pourra avoir davantage de temps pour jouer des tournois. La prochaine année s’annonce tout autant positive pour le Club de golf Sainte-Marguerite, juste à voir le nombre de certificats cadeaux qui ont été distribués lors de la période des Fêtes. Jean-Pierre Morin n’est pas inquiet de s’en aller, car il sait que l’équipe de bénévoles est solide et dévouée. Il encourage les membres à s’impliquer, afin que l’organisation continue à progresser.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
CBC "acted improperly" by firing a reporter who leaked to a news site that the network forced him to take down a tweet criticizing broadcaster Don Cherry, an arbitrator has ruled. Ahmar Khan, who worked in CBC's Manitoba newsroom as a temporary reporter/editor for a year before his termination in December 2019, is now entitled to be reinstated for a minimum of four months or receive four months of compensation, arbitrator Lorne Slotnick wrote in his ruling. "His chosen method of publicizing an internal CBC decision ordering him to take down a tweet was, in my view, like other public comment from CBC employees, not intended to harm the CBC or its reputation, nor is there any evidence that it did so," Slotnick wrote. CBC had said Khan was fired — not because of the tweet — but for both the leak and for homophobic and other disparaging remarks he was found to have made online. But Slotnick ruled those reasons "amounted to, at most, a minor indiscretion" and were "far overshadowed" by a breach of privacy that uncovered Khan's activities. "Consequently, my conclusion is that the CBC acted improperly by dismissing him for cause," Slotnick wrote. Khan declined to comment about the decision when contacted by email. He tweeted one word — "Vindicated" — early Wednesday. Meanwhile, in a statement, CBC restated that its actions against Khan "were not related to his tweet regarding Don Cherry." The network added: "As was noted in the ruling, our actions were not considered discriminatory and there was no breach of Human Rights law." Cherry was fired in November 2019 after an outburst on Hockey Night in Canada in which the controversial commentator spoke about Remembrance Day and his outrage over "people that come here" — referring to immigrants — and don't wear poppies. Khan was offended by Cherry's remarks and tweeted that his Coach's Corner segment should be cancelled. He said Cherry's "xenophobic comments being aired weekly are deplorable." When CBC management learned of Khan's tweet, he was told it violated the policy on reporters expressing opinions, according to Slotnick's ruling. Khan, who was 23 at the time, was asked to delete the tweet, which he did, reluctantly, and he wasn't disciplined for his actions, the decision says. But Khan also told management that he believed CBC's policies were being applied selectively, and in a way that was harmful to journalists of colour, according to his testimony, which ran for seven days over several months last year. He testified he wasn't satisfied with the answers he got from management and decided to leak what had transpired to the news site Canadaland, which published the story on Nov. 14. Khan testified he was conflicted about telling Canadaland, but felt a discussion was necessary about race and the CBC and about how its journalism policies were, in his view, silencing employees of colour. Later that November, another CBC reporter, Austin Grabish, using a shared company laptop that Khan had used, discovered Khan's personal Twitter and WhatsApp accounts were still logged in, and found messages that included an admission that Khan had contacted Canadaland. "I noticed a WhatsApp screen that I was unfamiliar with and opened it," Grabish said in a statement to CBC on Thursday. "I was shocked and disappointed to see both a thread of misinformation about the CBC and several homophobic messages. "As a gay man, I know what it's like to be marginalized and grew up repeatedly being the subject of regular homophobic slurs and bullying because of my sexual orientation." However, Slotnick found that Grabish had conducted a search of Khan's WhatsApp account to find some of these messages. In another message, Khan referred to management as "assholes" for accusing him of violating CBC journalist policies. Khan had also sent a message to Andray Domise, a columnist with Maclean's magazine, who subsequently posted a tweet saying that CBC had made Khan take down the original tweet. Grabish relayed what he found to management, who took screenshots of some of the messages. Khan was fired on Dec. 3, 2019, in part, according to the decision, for "contacting external outlets about the order to delete the Cherry tweet, and for making disparaging comments about CBC management and its policies." He was also cited for making a homophobic slur on WhatsApp where his profile identified him as a CBC employee, says the ruling. Khan testified the alleged slurs were a joke among friends, according to the ruling, and reiterated that position Thursday in an email to CBC. "A friend and I were mocking a friend who uses that word in an effort to tell him to not use that language as it's derogatory and hurtful," he wrote in reference to the homophobic slur cited by Grabish. Grievance filed The union representing Khan, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), filed a grievance on his behalf, alleging the CBC violated the collective agreement, the Canada Labour Code, the Privacy Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It argued Khan had a reasonable expectation that his messages, even though they were on a company laptop, were private and that they should not have been used by management in the decision to fire him. The union also claimed that Khan was not seeking vengeance or to embarrass someone, but was calling for a public discussion about CBC's journalism policies and how they were silencing employees of colour. In his ruling, Slotnick said Khan had a reasonable expectation of privacy for his messages and that his right to privacy was violated, which "tainted the entire process that led to the termination of his employment." He said it was clear that Grabish could not have found what he did without conducting a search and that any suggestion that all the messages were on the screen when Grabish opened the laptop defies logic, given that some of them were months old. Slotnick also said he agreed with the union that "if employees could lose their jobs for privately criticizing their bosses — even if in crude terms — this country would be facing a severe labour shortage." WATCH | Cherry says he regets choice of words: He also rejected the notion that the CBC's reputation had suffered. "In an institution and an atmosphere where controversy is inherent in the nature of the product, my view is that it is an unfounded leap of logic to suggest that Mr. Khan's actions regarding a tweet somehow affected the CBC's reputation," he wrote. Kim Trynacity, CBC branch president of the CMG, said the union is extremely pleased with the ruling, which "upheld the reasonable expectation of personal privacy" for employees. "In trying to settle this grievance, it must be noted CMG has always focused on how management treated Khan, and how it dealt with a situation of a racialized temporary employee," she said in a statement. "Management failed to respect Khan's reasonable expectation of privacy which is a clear violation under our collective agreement."
When Maria Campbell's mentor, lovingly referred to as Old Man, asked her where she was born, his response to her answer shook her. “Without missing a beat, I said, ‘Park Valley,’ and he said, ‘Hmm, so you’re a white woman.’ And I was really disoriented by what he said to me. And I said, ‘I don’t understand. Why would you ask me if I was a white woman? You know I’m not.’ He said, ‘Indians are born in Indian places and white people are born in white places,” she said. Campbell is Cree/Métis. His observations forced Campbell on a journey of self-discovery and decolonization. “I can’t have conciliation ... I can’t go out and educate everybody else. I can’t do anything. I can’t even work with my family right away. I have to set things right for myself first and understand and then I begin with my family, and then I begin with my community and my nation. And then I can do all these other things with white people, with non-indigenous people because I have a place I can begin from,” Campbell explained. Campbell presented virtually on Jan. 13 as part of the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Knowledge public lecture series. The series is part of UCalgary’s larger strategy towards reconciliation and meeting the Calls to Action directed to post-secondary institutions as set out in the 2015 final report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of residential schools. Campbell is a much-credentialed scholar, the recipient of honourary doctorates, a published author and playwright, fluent in four languages, and Officer of the Order of Canada. “I’m not going to speak about reconciliation and transformation. I have difficulty with those words. I stopped being a Christian a long time ago and for me those are Christian concepts,” said Campbell. “I want to speak from the place that I come from and how I came to this place.” Coming to that place embraced putting things right and coming home, she said. Old Man triggered in her the desire to get answers. She had left northwestern Saskatchewan where she had been born and raised, had travelled to Vancouver and was settled in Edmonton when Old Man spurred her on. When she left home, she swore she would never return to the community she saw as a place of death, a place falling apart like her family. “I wanted a better life for myself. I wanted it for my child. I wanted it for the siblings I had lost to social services. And I often used to think about what was I searching for. What was this good life? I think about what I thought a good life was, an apple a day, a toothbrush, and the search … ended so badly, here I was back at home again, in the place I had run away from trying to find myself,” she said. A couple weeks after Old Man posed the question, Campbell returned home. She was sitting with her father and asked him, “What did we call our land before it became Park Valley?” He told her it was called Neekiwin or “The Stopping Place.” Her father took her on a tour of the land and called the places by their Cree names and told her the stories. She had pushed those stories down, thought the memories of the names had been lost, but she found out that had not been the case. It was when they went to Omisi Pusqua or Oldest Sister Prairie, the place her father told her placentas were buried, a practice that continued until the women started giving birth in hospitals, that Campbell felt grounded. “Up until then for probably 15 years of my life I wandered around looking for something good and couldn’t find it. Not knowing what I was going to do. Coming home when (Old Man) asked me where I was born and I came home and I stood in that community and listened to those names and those stories. It was like I had sunk down into the ground somehow. Something happened in my way of seeing things or my way of knowing, although I didn’t have that language at that time. I just knew that I had come home…. I felt comfortable. I no longer felt that I had to be apologetic for the place I came from. If there was a shame or anger all of those things just seemed like they were gone. They were not there and I’ve never had to deal with that stuff again,” she said. Losing these stories and these memories is dangerous, said Campbell and quotes from Michel Foucault, who wrote that “memory is an important political resource” and used by the colonizer to control by replacing memories with other memories. “We start to believe whatever they tell us about ourselves,” said Campbell. Everybody’s story of where they came from or “their sense of place”, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, links them. Those stories are important, said Campbell, and they need to be honoured. But it also needs to be understood that every story comes with both a dark side and a beautiful side. “All of us suffer from those things. And if we’re going to change that we all have to be able to be honest with ourselves, come to terms with ourselves first before we can begin the work of someplace else,” she said. Understanding this, though, doesn’t mean she is above saying or doing hurtful things, said Campbell. “(What) I have to do is rejig myself a little bit and I’m able to very quickly get back to that Omisi Pusqua Older Sister Prairie and remember why I have to constantly work at … decolonization and conciliation. That I have to constantly remember that everything that I do is what’s going to be inherited by those seven generations ahead of us and that I can’t be busy trying to change lives for other people. I have to change my own life first and that’s a full-time job,” she said. CJWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CJWE
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan Rivers School Division trustees are continuing professional development despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually there are provincial gatherings to help trustees, but they've stopped since the start of the pandemic. Some discussion about that issue took place at the board’s regular meeting on Monday. Education director Robert Bratvold said they're really focusing on learning and development, even though the circumstances can make it challenging. The board will engage in a planning seminar on Jan. 15 and 16 to review and discuss a number of items related to effective governance and leadership. One topic of conversation will be a letter the board received from the School Community Council of Wild Rose School about their trustee representative in the school clusters. “It came as a correspondence item that the board was informed about and then further discussion about that will happen at the seminar,” Bratvold explained. The letter states that another meeting should be held between the parties on Jan. 19. “Obviously, there is some communication and some understanding of what the role of the school clusters are and what a role of a trustee is and those sorts of things, so (there are) lots of opportunities for communication,” Bratvold explained. Bratvold added that trustees will be participating in over 20 online modules scheduled in 90-minute blocks over the next month through the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). He said these sessions will support new and returning trustees in their role as educational leaders and as effective voices in local government. “I know there are going to be over 20 sessions on everything from legal aspects of being a trustee to student support services to anything you can imagine to make them a better trustee. Our trustees are taking part in those sessions in a big way,” Bratvold said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Toutes les régions administratives du Québec ont connu des changements démographiques importants entre le 1er juillet 2019 et le 1er juillet 2020. Selon l’Institut de la statistique du Québec, la Covid-19 a évidemment un lien, avec entres-autres, tous les décès, la fermeture des frontières, le ralentissement de l’immigration, ainsi que la diminution des échanges migratoires entre les régions.Alors que plusieurs régions éloignées, tel que le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie ont connu une croissance de leur population, la Côte-Nord est la seule où le nombre d’habitants a diminué, mais la décroissance aurait tout de même ralenti relativement aux années antérieures, avec une baisse de 1,9 pour 1000 habitants.C’est donc dire que la population actuelle de la Côte-Nord serait de 90 529 habitants, versus 92 713 en 2016, la classant au 16ème rang des 17 régions administratives du Québec.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
Karsen Roy has made her mark as a leader on the soccer pitch, on the ice, and within Country Day School. Last year, her work was recognized by the Town of Aurora with the 2020 Youth Volunteer Award, part of the Town’s Community Recognition Awards program. The Youth Volunteer Award is presented to a citizen up to the age of 19 who has made a significant contribution to the community through volunteerism and being a positive leader. “Karsen Roy is an exemplary youth who cares deeply about her community,” said Mayor Tom Mrakas, who presented the award virtually in June. “She has accumulated more than 220 community service hours by contributing to a variety of programs and projects. She is a high-level athlete who spends a lot of time volunteering with various groups like the Special Needs Soccer Program and the Younger Panthers Team. She has supported organizations like Me to We, Run for the Cure, and was one of the original members of the Country Day School Cares team. This group is [comprised] of students and faculty members who organize schoolwide food and non-food donation drives and deliver homemade lunches to the homeless.” She was also honoured for her work on Country Day School’s annual Terry Fox Run and efforts to underscore the immediacy of the annual event to her peers. “I wanted to express my gratitude in receiving this award as it truly means a lot to me,” said Karsen. “Thank you so much for the Town of Aurora for giving me a chance to volunteer in the community while bettering myself. Something else I would like to mention while I have the chance is that in my efforts to volunteer, it has always come from my sincere hope to make the community a more generous, genuine and inclusive environment. “Volunteering has taught me to trust the process, to reach out to those in need, to teach others, but not only to teach them but to learn from them as well. Just before I conclude my thank you, I want to explain that volunteering has never been about the award given to me in the end or reaching the 40 hours of volunteering community service required to graduate; it has always meant that the processes and lessons taught will carry a much greater value with me in the end.” Added Mayor Mrakas: “She spreads her sunshine and positivity wherever she goes. Not only is she a wonderful role model for young people, she reminds all generations that our hearts do not have a limit and giving is an action that never runs dry.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
The latest COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:50 p.m. Alberta is reporting 967 new cases of COVID-19. There have also been 21 additional deaths linked to the virus. The province says there are 806 people in hospital, and 136 of those are in intensive care. --- 6:45 p.m. Alberta is easing some of its public-health restrictions imposed in December to limit the spread of COVID-19. Health Minister Tyler Shandro says personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit of people attending funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. The changes are to take effect Monday. --- 6:15 p.m. British Columbia health officials say they have detected their first case of the South African strain of COVID-19. The province also has four cases of the U.K. variant of the virus. Officials reported 536 new infections and seven new deaths. This brings the total number of cases in B.C. to 59,608 and deaths to 1,038. So far, 52,605 have recovered from the virus and 69,746 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered. --- 5:05 p.m. Prince Edward Island has confirmed one new case of COVID-19. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the case involves a man in his 50s who arrived in the province following travel outside Atlantic Canada. After an initial negative test, he tested positive in routine testing and is self-isolating with no symptoms. P.E.I. has eight active cases of COVID-19 and has had a total of 104 cases since the pandemic began. --- 3:15 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 related to international travel. It says the case involves a man aged 20 to 39 in the eastern health region who is self-isolating at home. Health officials say there are currently four active cases in the province and one person is in hospital. --- 2:15 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today. Three cases were identified in the central zone -- one of which involved a student at Dalhousie University in Halifax who lives off campus. The other cases were identified in the northern zone and are connected to previously reported cases. Nova Scotia says there are 32 known active COVID-19 infections across the province. --- 2 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 261 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. That brings the death toll in the province due to the virus to 755. The province says there are 290 people in hospital and 37 of them are in intensive care. --- 2 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting 23 new cases of COVID-19 today. There are now 246 active reported cases in the province. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says more than 2,000 people in New Brunswick are in self-isolation. The province has reported three COVID-related deaths this week. --- 1:30 p.m. Quebec’s health minister says the province plans to wait up to 90 days before administering booster shots to patients who have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Christian Dube says the strategy will allow Quebec to vaccinate more vulnerable seniors and reduce the pressure on the health system. Dube says health officials will be able to reduce the interval between first and second doses once more vaccines are available. Canada's vaccine advisory committee has recommended the second dose of approved COVID-19 vaccines be given a maximum of 42 days after the first, but Dube says the committee has acknowledged that the interval can be extended when necessary, based on the disease's progression. --- 12:50 p.m. Canada has seen 7,727 cases of COVID-19 on an average day in the last week and hospitalizations and deaths are still increasing. In her daily national update on the pandemic, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the burden is worsening on hospitals and local health authorities. She says infection rates are highest among people older than 80, who are most at risk of serious illness. If there's good news, it's that no new cases of the so-called U.K. or South African variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 were detected in Canada yesterday. --- 12:30 p.m. Canada will have received a total of 929,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the week. Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, says that includes the delivery of 380,000 fresh doses this week alone. The shipment is set to include about 208,000 doses of Pfizer's vaccine and 181,000 doses of the one developed by Moderna. Fortin says weekly deliveries will grow to one million total from both companies by April. --- 11:45 a.m. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the Liberal government to ease access to paid sick leave for Canadian workers to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Singh is criticizing the lag between filing for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receiving it, a delay he compared to applying for employment insurance. He is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to recall Parliament and legislate 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated employees through the Canada Labour Code, and to further promote the one-week, $500 benefit that is already in place. The New Democrat leader says uptake of the benefit is low, which suggests a lack of awareness among sick workers as well as what he deemed an “impossible choice” between working and staying home. Singh is also calling for tighter restrictions on travel, but did not specify an “exact mechanism” to limit trips abroad. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 2,132 new cases of COVID-19 and 64 more deaths, including 15 that occurred in the past 24 hours. The province says hospitalizations rose by seven, to 1,523, and 230 people were in intensive care, a rise of one. Health Minister Christian Dube is scheduled to hold a news conference about Quebec’s vaccination campaign. The province had administered 107,365 doses as of Tuesday. Quebec has reported a total of 236,827 COVID-19 infections and 8,878 deaths linked to the virus. -- 11:10 a.m. Ontario labour inspectors will will blitz big-box stores this weekend to enforce public health rules. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says inspectors will visit stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel Region, York Region and Durham Region. He says the inspectors will have the power to issue tickets of up to $750 to store supervisors, workers, or patrons if they're not following public health rules. Inspectors will focus on ensuring people are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and following safety guidelines. -- 10:30 a.m. The province of Ontario says there are 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 968 of those new cases are in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Vaccinations continue across Ontario with 14,237 doses administered since Wednesday's update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said in the 12:30 p.m. entry that weekly deliveries will grow to one million each for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern vaccines. In fact, it will be one million total doses a week.
WASHINGTON — Chuck Schumer is used to drinking from a firehose. But the incoming Senate majority leader has never taken on such a torrent of challenges, with the opening days of both the Biden administration and Democratic control of the Senate coming at the very moment an impeachment trial gets underway. A 38-year veteran of Congress who first came to the Senate during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Schumer is a 70-year-old bundle of energy with one overriding mandate: Help Joe Biden become a successful president. To do so, he’ll have to leverage the narrowest possible majority — a 50-50 Senate with the incoming vice-president, Kamala Harris, delivering the tiebreaking vote. It's a tough assignment. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. But the goodwill Schumer enjoys with key members, and his careful management of the party's constituencies, could help ease the way. “Chuck Schumer has done a remarkable job as our caucus leader the last four years holding our caucus together," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as he entered the Senate chamber during last Wednesday's Electoral College count, speaking just before a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol and the situation turned dire. Then Schumer appeared. “What did I just give a quote about? Our capable majority leader!" Coons said. “Again!" a jubilant Schumer exclaimed. “More adjectives! More adjectives!" Less than an hour later, Schumer was in peril, under the protection of a Capitol Police officer with a submachine gun standing between him and GOP leader Mitch McConnell as the mob breached the building. The ransacking of the Capitol has brought impeachment to the Senate's door again and set Republicans on their heels. And it's put a spotlight on whether the polarized, diminished chamber can process Biden's agenda. Take the installation of Biden's Cabinet. The Senate has traditionally tried to confirm a batch of the most important nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the days thereafter. But to do so requires the co-operation of the entire Senate. Democrats slow-walked many of Trump's Cabinet picks four years ago after a crushing election loss, but there's a palpable sense that Republicans may be more co-operative now, at least when confirming national security nominees and picks like Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. Schumer seeks — and is used to operating in — the spotlight, whether he’s helping run the unwieldy, increasingly divided Senate, micromanaging his beloved Democratic caucus or crisscrossing New York. Any of these is a full-time job. And they don’t always point him in the same direction. For instance, Biden is preaching bipartisanship, and Schumer wants to help, but tensions are inevitable with ardent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ambitious Bronx Democrat whom Schumer allies are watching closely as he runs for a fifth term in 2022. Schumer was a force in Biden's decision to “go big” on Thursday with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill that was bigger than earlier Biden drafts. Progressives hailed the measure. Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. Senate rules are unforgiving, but Schumer and McConnell are hoping to establish a dual-track process to confirm nominations even as the trial unfolds. McConnell and Schumer have a tortured, tense relationship after years of bruising political battles and fights over Supreme Court nominees. They rarely talk spontaneously and have no hesitation in slinging barbs that earlier generations of leaders managed to avoid. But Biden and McConnell are long-standing friends, and the Kentucky Republican — pondering a “guilty" vote in Trump's second impeachment trial and still absorbing the disastrous Senate losses in Georgia — appears inclined to help Biden as best he can. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer. What is more, Democratic control of the chamber comes with filibuster-proof treatment of Biden's nominees, with only a simple majority needed, though Republicans could easily force delays. McConnell and his Republican caucus want to “reasonably co-operate on the national security nominations,” said Hazen Marshall, a former McConnell policy aide. “His view has traditionally been that presidents deserve their staff, unless their staff are crazy or criminals." But GOP senators are sure to drag their feet on less urgent Cabinet posts given the experience under Trump, when even former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., had to endure delays. But with the economy slipping and the public appalled by the melee in Washington, GOP resistance to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package or his slate of Cabinet picks may not be as resolute. “There's a lot to do, but Democrats are on the right side of all of it," said former Schumer strategist and confidant Matt House. “These are good problems to have." Amid the dizzying pace, Schumer also tends to New York. A Brooklyn native, Schumer makes a visit to each of the state's 62 counties every year. And his spur-of-the-moment visits to local events like high school graduations and, more recently, unannounced drop-ins on community Zoom calls are the stuff of legend. Last Thursday, little more than 24 hours after the Capitol riot, Schumer hopped on a call with a community board in Sunnyside, Queens. He spent the opening minutes thanking board members. “You guys and gals do a great job — I know what it’s like," Schumer said, according to the Sunnyside Post. “When things go bad you hear about it; when things are great you hear nothing.” And after Trump's impeachment Wednesday, Schumer heaped praise on local New York media members in a call with publishers and broadcasters thanking him for steering stimulus dollars to struggling news outlets, according to an account by the Syracuse Post Standard. But he had to jump. “Pelosi has called me and Biden, so I won’t be able to be on for too long," Schumer said. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Another country music star from Alberta has voiced protest against proposed coal mines on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Paul Brandt, who leads a committee on human trafficking set up by the Alberta government, has posted his concerns on Instagram in support of fellow musician Corb Lund. Lund released a Facebook video earlier this week in which he calls the government's move to open vast swaths of the area to industry short-sighted and a threat. Brandt says in his post that Lund is right and the plan is a big — and bad — deal. He is asking the provincial government to reconsider putting economic benefit ahead of long-term consequences that would devastate the land for generations to come. Alberta's United Conservative government has revoked a 1976 policy that kept coal mines out of the mountains and eastern slopes of the Rockies. One mine is under review and vast areas of the mountains have been leased for exploration. Lund says coal mines would endanger the ranching lifestyles of his neighbours as well as drinking water for millions downstream. He's urging people to speak out and oppose open-pit coal mines in the Rockies. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says one person in B.C. has been diagnosed with the South African strain of COVID-19. She also says she's saddened and disturbed at reports of racism against First Nations communities that have experienced outbreaks.
Bumped from online lessons, staring into black screens and teachers’ voices cutting out – that’s been the education experience for some rural students in the region since learning went remote. But two weeks in, the options to support rural families who have poor internet access and also live in cellphone dead zones are still few and far between. “You can hear every morning, ‘You’re glitchy, you’re getting cut out, I can’t hear you,’” Kelly Elliott said. “Everyone is struggling.” The Thames Centre deputy mayor lives in an area that can’t get consistent cell service. Coupled with slow internet, online learning becomes challenging for her two children. “We’re making it through the best we can,” Elliott said. “I think that’s all we can do.” While most school boards are supplying LTE-enabled devices to support families without internet access, they do no good if they can’t get a cell signal, like at Elliott’s house. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce says it's up to individual school boards to come up with plans for these families. “School boards are required to make provisions and adaptations for those students who are unable to learn remotely due to connectivity issues to ensure the continuity of learning,” said Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for the minister. Clark said the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government has invested nearly $1 billion to expand rural broadband and cellular service. Last week, Lecce announced $80 million to buy more online learning and connectivity devices. In-person learning outside of COVID-19 hot spots is scheduled to resume Jan. 25. Elliott said the province’s response puts too much onus on already strained school boards and teachers. “Everybody is just looking to everyone else to come up with a solution is the most frustrating part,” she said. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario slammed Lecce’s approach. “ETFO has repeatedly expressed concern to the Ministry of Education about gaps in equitable and consistent access to live streaming/synchronous learning,” president Sam Hammond said in an email. “Issues with internet connectivity, and limited access to high-quality internet service and devices continue to disadvantage students across Ontario.” Hammond said educators are doing their best to adapt to support all students, including providing paper resources when necessary. “These challenges will not disappear tomorrow,” he said. “This is why the provincial government must invest in additional safety measures now so we can resume in-person learning, which provides the best experience for learning, quality delivery, and is the most equitable model for all students.” Avon-Maitland parent Amy VanStraaten, who lives on a farm with spotty internet near Rostock, 10 minutes from Stratford, said her children are “off to a bumpy start” with online learning. Her children are in kindergarten and Grade 1. While the Avon-Maitland school board provided her with an LTE-enabled device for her kids, it uses Rogers cellular data, which doesn’t cover her area. “We’re kind of in limbo right now,” she said. Jane Morris, an Avon-Maitland superintendent, said they’re aware of three families in the region who aren’t able to connect with the Rogers LTE-devices. The board has acquired Bell SIM cards and is supplying those to families starting Thursday in hopes it gets the students online. “If that doesn’t work, we’re going to have to try to figure out what telco (telecommunications company) does provide coverage to those specific addresses,” Morris said. Some 200 LTE devices have gone out in the Avon-Maitland region. Families who opted not to do online learning receive paper packages by mail every two weeks. Morris said she wouldn’t want families forced into this option due to lack of internet. “It doesn’t provide the kind of rich educational experience that I think families need.” Since online learning began Jan. 5, VanStraaten has been using her personal cellular data to connect her kids to online learning and has already run through her monthly 20 gigabytes in just two weeks. She said the poor-quality connection is disrupting her children’s learning and social development. “The kindergartener, with not being able to see her class and teachers, a lot of what they’re doing is very visual . . . she’s having a really hard time,” VanStraaten said. “We’ve basically said we’ll join when internet allows.” Her daughter in Grade 1 is struggling as well when she can’t see or hear her classmates and teacher. “She’ll get frustrated and just burst into tears,” her mother said. VanStraaten said more could have been done to prepare for remote learning and to support rural families who can’t connect by broadband or cellular service. “It’s frustrating that we’re this far into (the pandemic), looking at another lockdown which we all saw coming and we are still waiting for a solution,” she said. She hopes the pandemic is a catalyst for the provincial and federal governments to prioritize investments in rural broadband service. “We’ve been saying it since the early 2000s. It's 20 years later and we still have this problem.” email@example.com The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
The Town of Aurora has suspended the trapping of beavers at stormwater management ponds following a public outcry. According to Eliza Bennett, Acting Manager of Corporate Communications for the Town of Aurora, the Town has suspended trapping activity pending consultation with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources about “best practices and alternative methods for beaver management.” “Our preference is always to have peaceful co-existence with local wildlife, and we are hopeful that we can find a way to protect residents from flooding and enhance our handling of wildlife at the same time.” Residents raised alarm bells over the use of traps to capture beavers in stormwater management ponds near Bayview Avenue and St. John’s Sideroad. One such resident, Rachel Evans, who said she had concerns not only with the impact on wildlife but on dogs and pedestrians as well. “I have heard from numerous nature walkers that the Town is setting wildlife traps in ponds to kill beavers,” she said. “These lethal traps are hidden in the water at the end of wildlife trails. Check out reports from dog owners across the country whose pets suffered broken muzzles and leg amputations after stepping on a concealed trap in the water. “There is no law that requires public posting of the location of these cruel traps, but we expect Town policy of transparency. Let us know the location of these traps and why they are necessary. Aurorans take pride in the natural trails and forests. Killing wildlife should be the last resort.” The issue was subject to significant discussion on social media as well, prompting the Town to state that the practice of trapping is to “maintain public safety and to manage risks associated with beaver activity as it relates to public health and infrastructure.” “We have a healthy beaver population in our Town, and our preference is always for co-existence, tolerance and prevention,” said Ms. Bennett. “We actually use a number of methods to manage beavers, including wrapping trees with wire, planting species of trees that beavers don’t touch, and removing dams where necessary. That being said, in some cases, and despite our best preventative efforts, beaver activity results in a risk to public safety, or a risk of damage to public infrastructure.” In this particular case, Ms. Bennett said a beaver dam was blocking the outlet of the stormwater management pond “impairing the facility’s functioning and creating risks to both public and private property.” “As such, for this type of situation, we operate a nuisance beaver program that includes trapping – a common practice in municipalities across North America. This is, again, a last resort. Trapping is done with licensed trappers and in accordance with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. We work closely with these bodies to make sure that the program is run within regulations.” The trap in question, she added, was subsequently stolen.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
David Leboeuf, directeur de Transit Sept-Îles affirme que la population Septîlienne a été très généreuse auprès de son organisme et sa clientèle durant la période des Fêtes, alors que la maison était à pleine capacité, avec des effectifs réduits. Il mentionne également offrir de l’aide aux itinérants qui n’ont pas de logis actuellement, en leur offrant du support et des articles de survie. Il souhaite développer un projet de dortoir pour itinérants, pour que ceux qui désirent passer la nuit à l’abri puissent venir y crécher. Il doit toutefois attendre la fin des mesures sanitaires pour aller de l’avant. David Leboeuf pense que les prochains mois ne seront pas plus faciles pour les gens vivant une détresse psychologique. Il invite toute personne dans le besoin à aller chercher de l’aide et appeler les lignes d’écoute dès qu’un malaise se fait ressentir.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
OTTAWA — Canadians' support for Syrian newcomers has been a beautiful example for the rest of the world, says the organizer of a virtual celebration to mark the fifth anniversary of Canada's welcoming Syrian refugees. In an interview with The Canadian Press, the executive director of the Syrian Canadian Foundation, Bayan Khatib, said thousands of Canadians have volunteered to help Syrian refugees in almost every city and town in Canada. Khatib, who came as a Syrian refugee to Canada more than 30 years ago, said most of the Syrian refugees her organization has worked with have learned English and found jobs thanks to the support they received from their communities. "This has been a really successful example of Syrian refugees coming to a country (and) integrating well," she said "Many of them have burning desire to give back to their communities and they have, in very big and small ways." The first plane bearing Syrian refugees landed in Toronto on Dec. 10, 2015, following a promise by the Liberals during the 2015 election campaign to make it much easier for them to reach Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Thursday event his government was elected by Canadians to bring in more Syrian refugees. "This was something that Canadians asked for and Canadians did," Trudeau said. "I'm extremely proud that my government was the vessel for that desire by Canadians" He said welcoming Syrian refugees didn't just mean a better future for them but also a better future for all Canadians. Nearly 73,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Canada since 2015. Trudeau noted that newly appointed Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is the first Syrian Canadian minister in cabinet and suggested perhaps some young people participating in Thursday's event will find themselves in cabinet and leading the country one day. Alghabra, who immigrated to Canada from Syria more than 20 years ago, said refugees and immigrants often face challenges as they start their new lives in Canada and that he has faced some of those challenges himself. "There are many moments of love and hope that help us overcome these challenges," Alghabra said in Arabic. "I'm confident that you all will succeed and you will play a notable role in building Canada." Several Syrian newcomers shared their stories as they continue rebuild their lives in their new country. Khatib said she was initially sad the celebration couldn't happen in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now she realizes it was a blessing, with almost 700 people from across the country registering to attend online. Khatib's organization is based in Mississauga, Ont., and provides services for newcomers in several cities in Ontario. She said the private sponsorship program that allows Canadians and permanent residents to sponsor refugees has helped many to pitch in and help. "The government always does have an important role to play in supporting (those affected by) a humanitarian crisis, but private citizens ... and community groups can come together to support refugees directly as well and that's what happened in Canada," she said. Trudeau said the the private sponsorship program proved to be successful after being in place for more than 40 years "(The program) is a Canadian model now used all around the world," he said. "This program is the story of all Canadians from big cities to the smallest towns, whose generosity and kindness has changed hundreds of thousands of lives." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2020 ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Music has brought people together for millennia, but when present health restrictions discourage public singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments, what can be done? Technology has come up with some answers and faculty and students at Newmarket’s Pickering College have embraced the possibilities as they continue to make beautiful music together – but safely apart. When the school year resumed this past fall, Pickering College (PC) adapted their music programs to in-class lessons on music theory and history, along with rhythm-based activities, tasking students to practice their instruments and voice at home and submit videos for further instruction. As a result, students and teachers alike are flexing new creative muscles. “The original lockdown was the initial spark that made us start to think about how to creatively get a music program online, which has been one of the most challenged departments,” says teacher Patrice Barbanchon. “In society right now, especially in a pandemic, music is the first to go, it seems, and will likely be the last to come back. Unfortunately, with the data that is out there in terms of the virus spreading, we had to quickly come up with something to make the program meaningful. “We [teachers] got together and started considering what we could do in a quick amount of time and one of the things we wanted to do was just maintain a level of playing online, which is difficult to do as well given the lack of technology in being able to play together at the same time. We’re all Zooming all the time and doing virtual meetings and things. If someone has their microphones on, it is chaos and very difficult to maintain a conversation or even to play music. You can’t have synchronous rehearsals on these platforms.” The solution was to have synchronous rehearsals with everyone turning their microphones off. Teachers conduct and direct repertoire, music theory, exercises, and other components of the curriculum, with the teachers’ audio coming through the students’ system at home. “It keeps everyone together and everyone is able to participate in that way,” he says. “There are some great online theory programs that we use, but the bottom line is the playing aspect of music is what really draws interest in the subject – playing together – and that is one aspect that is not there. Through these types of synchronous rehearsals, we’re at least rehearsing and playing together.” To underscore the success of the program, Pickering College didn’t put their annual holiday concert on ice until they can all play together in person. Instead, they pooled their talents – whether vocal, instrumental or technological – to bring everyone’s individual performances together for a video performance, featuring students playing in harmony from the safety of their own homes. “Even though this is a very different school year, our instrumental music program has continued from Grade 4 and beyond where a lot of schools have had to discontinue it,” says PC’s communications manager Naomi Cote. “For a lot of schools it has not been possible because they share instruments whereas out students lease theirs for the year.” Braedon Joanisse, a Grade 11 student, is, along with his saxophone, featured in the holiday concert. He tells The Auroran that playing his instrument on mute as his fellow students did the same was challenging at first, but has helped them feel a sense of new normal. “When we first started doing online music back in March in the first lockdown, we didn’t actually play our instruments all that much,” he says. “Now that we’re actually doing rehearsals online, it was a little bit confusing at first [and] I tend to be less confident when I am playing because I feel I am going to mess up, even though no one can hear me. Now, I have gotten more used it, it is getting a bit better, but it was definitely a challenge.” Mr. Barbanchon agrees he is “hugely missing” live collaboration but the present circumstances have brought out some positives that might stand the test of time. “The digital music thing will stick around,” he says. “I think there is a lot of value in that, especially given the interest in students and society right now, and given Spotify, Apple Music and all the digital platforms where students are able to upload even their own singles. There are a lot of really cool things you can do there and I think that is something that will stick.” To view the Pickering College Christmas Concert, visit youtu.be/pZmS9IluMQg.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
There is sometimes a perception that disordered eating is a challenge most often faced by women and girls, but this is a perception that is being challenged by the Aurora-based Riverwalk Wellness Centre as they aim to ramp up help for males looking to overcome and recover. Riverwalk, formerly Eating Disorders of York Region, recently received an anonymous donation specifically to help them reach males in the community who might be struggling. “We are deeply appreciative for the donation,” says Riverwalk Executive Director Janice Morgante. “We receive calls every day from individuals looking for support and it can be from anywhere, even Nunavut because support is so hard to find.” Riverwalk was founded in 2004 after several families came together after the death of a young woman, who used resources from her memorial fund to start an agency to address urgent and unmet needs for those suffering from disordered evening. It is a grassroots organization which offers a variety of assistance and support programs well beyond their home base of York Region. This most recent donation enables them to meet further needs that were previously unmet. “If I am speaking to someone who is a male, or calling about a male they know, after we have gotten to know each other a bit in that conversation I can explore with them the support that can be made available that they otherwise may not be able to manage without this donation,” says Ms. Morgante. “It’s the same conversation I would have with anyone, but unfortunately we don’t have the donors at this point, although that could change, who would want to make contributions for which we can issue an official income tax receipt and allow us to support even more people. “As an example, we have been getting calls from students who have no financial means; they are not working, they are not on campus, they have no contact with what might have been on-campus support, although that was likely not specialized around disordered eating, but they have really stressful situations as many people do right now. My heart breaks for students. I can tell you from first-hand experience how the room lights up when we’re able to address real financial need.” The donation will also help to provide outreach to the male population. Although Ms. Morgante says she has no firm reasons on why males are sometimes more reluctant to seek help, she says that this demographic sometimes flies under the radar. “Someone in that person’s circle just doesn’t think about it,” she says. “That is where information is so helpful. There isn’t anyone who is immune to anxiety, depression, stress and trauma, and all of the aspects of difficult coping that we’re experiencing right now with COVID. There isn’t any reason to think that one person over another would be inclined to use food as a way to cope. "Another aspect is, using the lens of common sense, younger individuals and children have access to food in their home and not to the liquor store, and hopefully not to their local drug dealer. No one goes out of their way to decide they are going to use food as a coping strategy, or any other substance. All of us needs coping strategies and hopefully somewhere along the way we have acquired positive coping strategies but, of course, that is not always the case. “Now, we’re able to offer support to a 13-year-old boy whose single mom would not have the financial means to get him the help he needs. In this case, it was a teacher who noted the difference in the young boy from last year to this year and alerted mom. It can be that we’re all so busy coping ourselves that we might not be paying as much attention to, for instance, males and the negative coping strategies that might be prevalent.” We’re all human and we all need help in unique ways, she says, but it is sometimes the case that people don’t know that their coping strategies are detrimental – and it can take a while before that moment of realization arrives. Through Riverwalk’s Faces of Recovery campaign, people who have been down that road highlight when they “awoke” to the fact their health was suffering and why they sought support. “We look at this as a circle of support – a ‘circle’ because we know all of us are flexible, we move forward, we move back, not necessarily in a straight line when we decide something doesn’t seem right and we would like to find out more,” says Ms. Morgante. “Specialized knowledge of disordered eating is extremely important because those who mean well that are not informed can cause more harm, quite unintentionally. “A diagnosis [for our programs] is not required. Someone can just have some thoughts, concerns and questions, and, on our website, you will see a list of questions they can review and ponder. If they feel indeed there was something they wanted to know more about or seek some more support around, we’re here.” For more information on Riverwalk and the services they provide, visit edoyr.com. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A bail hearing for a Moosomin First Nation man didn’t proceed in North Battleford Provincial Court Jan. 14 as scheduled. A lawyer representing Jonathan Swiftwolfe asked the court to adjourn the hearing for a week. Swiftwolfe’s appearance in court was also waived. Swiftwolfe has been in custody since his arrest Dec. 6, 2020, after multiple RCMP detachments worked together to locate him. He was wanted on charges of assault, uttering threats, several weapons-related offences, and flight from police. He was considered armed and dangerous when he was at large. When police arrested Swiftwolfe they say they found a loaded firearm in the vehicle within his reach. The charges against Swiftwolfe haven’t been proven in court. His bail hearing was adjourned to Jan. 19 in North Battleford Provincial Court. Moosomin First Nation is about 22 kilometres north of North Battleford.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist