The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
India's conglomerate Reliance Industries has partnered with Facebook Inc, Google and fintech player Infibeam to set up a national digital payment network, Economic Times newspaper reported on Saturday, citing unnamed sources. Last year, India's central bank invited companies to forge new umbrella entities (NUEs) to create a payments network that would rival the system operated by the National Payments Council of India (NPCI), as it seeks to reduce concentration risks in the space.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images - image credit) Windsor resident Nancy McDonald says accessing the COVID-19 vaccine has already come with a few barriers, including figuring out the online registration and planning transportation to the site. Starting Monday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) said the WFCU Centre, located at 8787 McHugh St. in east Windsor, will be the first vaccine clinic to offer shots to seniors 80 and older. The other clinic will open March 8 at Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre in Leamington. Registration has already begun, with some 7,000 people signing up within the past day, according to WECHU. Eighty-four-year-old McDonald was one of those who signed up — but she had to get someone to help register her online. Yet, now she worries how she'll get to the site when it's her time. As the region moves to vaccinate the next priority group, questions are arising about accessibility. Concerns being raised show that it needs to be thought of broadly not just in terms of physical access to a building. When dealing with a vulnerable population who likely have mobility and financial issues, details like clinic hours, online access and fluency, location and transportation need to be addressed amid the rush to get vaccines in arms. "I was very concerned because I'm basically in the downtown area ... I'm a non-driver so to get to either place I would have to have a ride or some type of transportation," says McDonald, who lives across from Windsor's Jackson Park. She usually takes public transit to get around, but hasn't done so due to the pandemic, so her only other option is to rely on someone to bring her. For people like herself, she says the centre's hours of operation, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., aren't the best. The WFCU Centre opens March 1 for vaccinations for those 80 and older and Leamington's Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre will open March 8. "If it's someone that needed a ride and their family were working people couldn't they have evening [hours], say 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for a couple hours to get people there that didn't have a ride?" she said. She says she wishes there was a clinic in walking distance of where she lives. But she's not the only one concerned about getting to the site. On Friday, the health unit said it has already received some concerns from community members who have mobility issues. "This isn't going to be for everyone at this point that is over 80," WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette said. "It is a limited supply of vaccine and it may not be the best option for everyone ... We continue to try to work internally to see what other options are available to our seniors over 80." More sites, transportation options could help Windsor-Essex Council on Aging director Deana Johnson said mobility is always a challenge for older adults. But, "what's the alternative?" she said. "It would be nice if we were able to have several sites east, west, central, where people could indeed get vaccinated," she said. "If I'm a senior and I live downtown, I got to go all the way to the east end [and] that becomes very difficult." At the same time she says she can only imagine that planning the vaccine rollout is a "logistical nightmare." Here's a snapshot from Workforce Windsor-Essex's demographic map that shows regions with high number of seniors between the ages of 80 and 84. This data is from Statistic Canada's 2016 census. The WFCU centre, though far from the city's west-end senior population, is a "fairly reasonable" site for people to access. She said the space has a senior centre in it and is known to the community. Multiple sites, she said, might not be possible given the limited number of large spaces with parking in the city and the ability to properly store the vaccines in different locations. But at the least, more transportation options could be made available to the community, she said, adding that maybe that includes volunteer drivers or a bus to pick up groups of people. Accessibility of the sites Physician at the University of Windsor and director at Student Health Services Matt Scholl says the sites are accessible and geographically make sense. "Logistically speaking both sites are great as far as accessibility for that population, wheelchair accessible main floor, plenty of area for social distancing, following all public health protocols that are in place and there's also an area basically for these individuals to remain for 15 to 30 minutes to make sure that there's no vaccine reactions," he said. Workforce Windsor-Essex has a demographic map showing where seniors in the region live, based on 2016 census data from Statistics Canada. According to the map, the clinics seem to be located in areas where the majority of those who are 80 and older are living. Theresa Marentette, CEO Windsor Essex County Health Unit, says the health unit is working on other options for seniors to get the vaccine for those who are not able to access a clinic. Some more appointment details, according to information on the health unit's website, note that people are allowed to bring assistive devices as needed, including a scooter or wheelchair. As well, the health unit says there will be wheelchairs on site for people to use. A support person is also allowed if required, though the only example listed on the website is an interpreter. In an email to CBC News, the health unit said this also includes other support personnel and formal documentation is not required. It added that translation services will also be available at the clinic. Beyond the physical space and appointment itself, the health unit has also set up phone lines for people to register as not everyone has access to technology. Are mobile clinics a possibility? The health unit said Thursday that it still is working out the details on accessing people in the community who are 80 and older and have difficulties leaving their home. "We will continue to work on other strategies for access that will likely involve our teams and others that we're partnering with moving into areas where there are populations of seniors living so we'll work on that as well," said Marentette. "There will be other strategies that we'll have to keep considering as we get more vaccines and be able to transport the vaccine safely." Mobile clinics have been suggested in other regions of the province, with cities like Hamilton looking at pop-up clinics, mobile bus clinics, rolling or drive-thru clinics. Rolling clinics would help people who cannot leave their homes, and are living in small numbers. A bus would drop off vaccinators at a site, and circle back to pick them up. The third option is a mobile bus, which would drive to various areas and operate as a clinic.
Health Canada announced its approval of two versions of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Friday, and Dr. Joss Reimer said the province is ready and waiting on supply for deployment to clinics and pharmacies. "AstraZeneca is an important next step in our vaccine campaign because it is much easier to ship and to store as compared to the vaccines that we are currently using. It can be stored in the fridge, for example, and doesn’t require the low-temperature freezers that the other vaccines do," said Reimer, medical lead for the province’s vaccine implementation task force. "This will make it possible for people to be immunized in their doctor’s offices and in pharmacies in familiar settings, if that’s where they choose to do so." Reimer said the province has been planning for this eventuality, with 250 clinics and pharmacies that have gone through all the processes to be ready to go when the vaccine arrives. Another 500 clinics and pharmacies that have expressed interest are now in various stages of either the approval process or the logistics of becoming ready. "We encourage physicians and pharmacies who are interested and have not yet signed up to go to manitoba.ca/vaccine, where you can get some more information about how to register," said Reimer. While that is great news, Reimer also clarified the vaccine is not here, yet. "We’re waiting for more information from Health Canada about how many doses we will be receiving and when we can expect them. In the meantime, we are finalizing the eligibility criteria for this vaccine." The eligibility will be based on the task force’s analysis of the recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which has not yet been released. Reimer expects to have more details next week. Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba, weighed in by email. "This approval means Manitobans are one step closer to getting the vaccine from their doctor — a trusted medical professional who knows their health situation best," he said. "Physicians overwhelmingly trust and support the approved COVID-19 vaccines, including the version approved today. They are all safe and highly effective at preventing COVID-19, particularly severe illness, hospitalization and death. We recommend that nearly all Manitobans get immunized as soon as they become eligible." He did say it is natural for Manitobans to have questions, as these are new vaccines for a new disease. "Whether you’re eligible today or not, you can call your doctor to ask questions or discuss your concerns. We care about the health and well-being of Manitobans, and we want to support everyone on their personal vaccine journey," said Baillie. Reimer said AstraZeneca’s approval is great news for the province’s vaccination timeline and pushes it closer to the high-supply scenario planning. "As soon as we find out what Manitoba can be expecting, we will be adjusting our timelines and letting Manitobans know. Certainly, this is only good news as far as how long it will take to reach all Manitobans because the more options that we have, and the more convenient it is for people to receive a vaccine, the more Manitobans will be able to receive it before the end of summer," she said. However, Reimer added the task force would remain cautious because vaccine supply is always unpredictable. "I think we need to expect that we’ll see more supply disruptions at some point. So our system is trying to plan to have multiple mechanisms to reach Manitobans that can be flexible, depending on which vaccine we have available at what time." Also of note, the age of eligibility has dropped from 95 and older to 94, and for First Nations it has dropped to 74, due to available vaccine appointments. "Our team is going to continue to look at that every day," said Reimer. "Right now, our estimate would be that next week we’ll be able to reach people who are over 90." Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
More than 850 cows that spent months aboard a ship wandering across the Mediterranean are not fit for transport anymore and should be killed, according to a confidential report by Spanish government veterinarians seen by Reuters. The cows were kept in what an animal rights activist called "hellish" conditions on the Karim Allah, which docked in the southeastern Spanish port of Cartagena on Thursday after struggling to find a buyer for the cattle during the past two months. The beasts were rejected by several countries over fears they had bovine bluetongue virus.
WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
Unidentified gunmen stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Jangebe and took the girls away, say police.View on euronews
Archaeologists have unearthed a unique ancient-Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD. The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, around 700 metres (yards) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii. Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area, which had so far yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not for ceremonies.
LONDON — A World War II-era plane flew Saturday over the funeral service of Captain Tom Moore to honour of the veteran who single-handedly raised millions of pounds for Britain's health workers by walking laps in his backyard. Soldiers performed ceremonial duties at the service for the 100-year-old Moore, whose charity walk inspired the nation and raised almost 33 million pounds ($46 million.) Captain Tom, as he became known, died Feb. 2 in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. The private service was small, attended by just eight members of the veteran's immediate family. But soldiers carried his coffin, draped in the Union flag, from the hearse to a crematorium and formed a ceremonial guard. Others performed a gun salute, before a C-47 Dakota military jet flew past. “Daddy, you always told us ‘Best foot forward’ and true to your word, that’s what you did last year," Moore's daughter, Lucy Teixeira, said at the service. “I know you will be watching us chuckling, saying ‘Don’t be too sad as something has to get you in the end.’" A version of the song “Smile," recorded for the funeral by singer Michael Bublé, was played, as well as “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, as requested by Moore. A bugler sounded “The Last Post” to close the service. Moore, who served in India, Burma and Sumatra during WWII, set out to raise a modest 1,000 pounds for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his backyard by his 100th birthday last year. But his quest went viral, catching the imagination of millions stuck at home during the first wave of the pandemic. His positive attitude - “Please remember, tomorrow will be a good day” became his trademark phrase - inspired the nation at a time of crisis. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described him as a “hero in the truest sense of the word.? He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July in a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London. The Associated Press
(Submitted by Kathryn Joel - image credit) Kathryn Joel has instructed in-person cooking classes with a focus on global dishes made with local ingredients for nearly a decade, but last year she was unsure if she'd make it another year with health restrictions related to the pandemic halting classes. In April, she started cooking meals in her commercial kitchen and delivering them door-to-door, but it was only a temporary measure. "There were just two of us working initially and we did that for maybe two weeks," said Joel, owner and chef of Get Cooking. "Then I was miserable and it was hard work for almost no money, and I had to sit myself down and think, you can't do this." With the help of her sons, she upgraded her cooking studio, adding video cameras, sound mixers and video cards to host virtual cooking classes. This year has been a busy one for Jordan — along with three other chefs, she's been hosting public and private sessions almost every day. Since launching a winter season of virtual classes in January, almost all of the 30-person classes have sold out. Offerings include the Vietnamese noodle dish bun cha, South Indian crepe-like dosas, and the French classic coq au vin. The classes range from an hour and a half to two hours. The head chef cooks from the Get Cooking kitchen studio, while another host engages with close to 30 participants on the video chat as they cook along at home, making sure everyone is caught up on each step of the recipe. Jordan charges $25 per device, while the at-home cooks supply their own groceries based on the recipe supplied. Jordan is happy with the accessibility that she can now offer through the virtual classes. "It can be a whole household joining in, which often is couples and families cooking. And it's under thirty dollars," she said. "So you either have to buy the ingredients, but they also have a meal at the end of it. So I love that. I love the accessibility of it. I have not always felt good that it's such an extremely expensive experience for people to come to." On Wednesday, a group learned how to make gnocchi Parisienne, a version of the pasta that's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, along with a lamb ragu sauce. Making the gnocchi involves a tricky process of using a transferring choux pastry through a piping bag and cutting pieces of it as they fall into boiling water. The finished product from Kathryn Joel's cooking class featuring gnocchi parisienne topped with a lamb ragu sauce. "It was one of those ones where you've had gnocchi and then you have this and you're like, 'Oh, I'm going back.' I felt like a Parisian chef. It was fantastic," said Trisha Roffey, a participant in the cooking class. Roffey has taken part in previous Get Cooking classes over the past three years, but has been logging onto the virtual sessions almost weekly "Instead of going in, doing something, tasting something, coming back and describing it to your family, my family became immersed in it," she said. "The kids started cooking with me while we were doing it and learning the techniques and commenting on the foods and looking forward to the different classes." Cooks logging on from across the province The virtual classes have allowed people from around the province — and country — to participate A couple from South Carolina recently joined a class after searching for a class that teaches Indian dishes. Eileen Dooley of Calgary took part in the Wednesday class, trying the soft gnocchi dish a shot for the first time. She's signed up for classes with her mother as a way to spend time together as they cook in their own homes. "Food, I think because we're home, it's just kind of brought people together during this pandemic and again, making things you normally don't make," she said. Dooley was supposed to be travelling in Taiwan at this time and trying out local dishes. She appreciates that the Get Cooking classes focus on International cooking as it's the closest thing to escaping an Alberta winter and tasting different flavours. Kathryn Joel, cooks lamb in a skillet in her Get Cooking studio as class of students watch through a video chat and cook along in their kitchens at home."They kind of know you're missing travelling, and you can make it at home. It's not the same, but it's something. It's better than nothing," she said. Jodena Rogers of Calgary said she usually avoids cooking. Between work as a property manager and keeping her kids busy, making something that involves trial and error was the last thing on her mind, but having time at home during the pandemic has her looking to learn something new like cooking. "I think social engagement is huge, but sometimes people are intimidated by that experience," she said. "So for me, I came home from work. I'm able to get right into it. I do my prep work and I do think that there is a trend in virtual learning and we'll continue on with that." Joel agrees with that sentiment. She prefers the virtual cooking classes compared to the in-person group sessions she previously offered. She plans to make virtual classes as part of her business permanently, as she expects the trend of cooking at home to continue.
Milan — Alors que le gouvernement souhaite doubler les coupes forestières au Québec d’ici 60 ans, les acériculteurs installés en terres publiques craignent le pire. Déjà, le propriétaire de l’Érablière Lapierre déplore des coupes qui arriveront bientôt à isoler entièrement son site de production de Milan en Estrie, et qui, en plus d’empêcher son expansion, ont déjà causé leur lot de désagréments. Des couloirs qui laissent entrer le vent et qui font tomber les arbres en « dominos », parfois directement sur les tubulures, des ornières à même le sol de l’érablière, des populations d’écureuils qui migrent et endommagent le matériel : toutes des conséquences de récentes coupes orchestrées par le ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, analyse le propriétaire Donald Lapierre, dont trois des cinq sites acéricoles sont situés en terres publiques estriennes. Celui qui produit à Milan depuis 1985 a toujours été témoin de coupes dans les environs, mais les choses se sont mises à s’accélérer à proximité en 2018. En bordure de ce site de 110 000 entailles, La Tribune a pu observer ces fameuses coupes sélectives, de même que les sentiers de débardement dénudés les accompagnant. Parfois la zone de coupe s’arrête à quelques pieds des tubulures, d’autres au dernier arbre entaillé. Plus loin, un secteur qui a déjà fait l’objet d’une demande d’agrandissement de l’érablière est aujourd’hui clairsemé et presque sans érables. « Une érablière, ça grandit tout le temps. J’ai un quota et si jamais j’ai des pertes dans mon érablière, le Ministère aurait pu me louer d’autres entailles. Mais là, ils ont tout enlevé », s’indigne M. Lapierre. « C’est difficile de penser que ce n’est pas fait par exprès », estime Philippe Breton, directeur des ventes pour l’Érablière Lapierre. Couper dans l’érablière Même si l’érablière possède un bail, renouvelable tous les cinq ans, le bois des arbres à l’intérieur de celle-ci est en partie promis à l’exploitation : lorsque le producteur remplace sa tubulure, il se doit de permettre une coupe de jardinage acérico-forestier, qui implique le prélèvement 15 à 25 % des arbres sur place. « Sauf que la prescription de l’ingénieur est faite pour revenir dans 20 ans. L’arbre pourrait être bon à entailler 15 ans encore ! » dit M. Breton. C’est ainsi que l’érablière a perdu 2000 entailles à l’automne 2019, dans le cadre d’un projet-pilote visant à étudier les possibilités de prélèvement à travers une production acéricole. Et cette opération, quand elle est réalisée par une forestière, aurait de grands impacts. « Pour quelqu’un qui ramasse le bois tous les 20 ans, ça n’a pas d’importance. Mais pour nous, des ornières de quatre pieds de profond, quand vient le temps d’aller entailler, de retirer des entailles ou juste de courir les fuites, c’est très difficile de naviguer le territoire », déplore M. Breton, qui n’hésite pas à parler de « favoritisme », considérant les contraintes environnementales auxquelles les acériculteurs doivent se plier de leur côté. L’équipe est néanmoins consciente que les coupes visent également une régénération de la forêt et des érables, « mais c’est environ 60 à 70 ans entre la petite tige et l’arbre qu’on peut entailler, commente M. Lapierre. Moi je n’aurai pas ça. Mes enfants n’auront pas ça. » Place à l’amélioration La Table de gestion intégrée des ressources naturelles et du territoire de l’Estrie (TGIRT) est bien au fait des préoccupations d’Érablière Lapierre, et s’est même rendue sur place en 2019. La coordinatrice de la table, l’ingénieure forestière Manon Ayotte, affirme que les coupes du secteur sont planifiées et réalisées dans les règles. « Mais il y a toujours place à amélioration. Par exemple avec la problématique des écureuils, on n’a aucune idée si c’est causé par les coupes adjacentes. C’est possible qu’elles aient des effets qu’on ne connaisse pas ou qu’on ne prévoit pas. C’est important de faire de la rétroaction. » Les coupes planifiées par des aménagistes du MFFP doivent passer par la TGIRT, puis par des consultations publiques avant d’être mises en branle. « On s’en va là où les travaux sont dus pour être faits, là où on ne veut pas laisser mourir les arbres et où on a une maturité pour intervenir, avance Mme Ayotte. L’idée n’est pas nécessairement d’aller accoter l’érablière. Par contre, ce n’est pas nécessairement une problématique de le faire. Au contraire, dépendamment des traitements, ça peut susciter une entrée de lumière et favoriser la régénération et le développement de la couronne de l’arbre qui va être à proximité. » L’ingénieure forestière rappelle également que de s’installer en forêt publique implique l’harmonisation de différents usages... publics. « Il ne faut pas se cacher que les acériculteurs ont investi dans des installations en terres publiques en espérant pouvoir compter sur des agrandissements. Est-ce que l’erreur découle de là ? Est-ce qu’au départ, les investissements auraient dû se faire uniquement avec ce qui était alloué au niveau des entailles pour éviter les sentiments de droits acquis sur les peuplements ? C’est sûr qu’ils sont déçus si jamais ils se sont fait des projets de génération en génération. C’est un des inconvénients de s’installer en terres publiques. Il y a des avantages financiers très intéressants, mais ça vient avec certaines contraintes. » Celle-ci tient également à apporter des nuances quant à la dégradation du terrain causée par les machineries sur le site. « Le secteur où il y a eu de l’orniérage, ça a été mentionné que c’était trop humide et que ça nécessitait des travaux d’hiver. Il y a eu un refus du producteur. C’était trop contraignant pour remettre les tubes et ça mettait la production en retard », mentionne-t-elle. Le MFFP maintient de son côté que « la planification des activités de récolte forestière doit (et tient) compte des autres usages de la forêt et les autres utilisations de la forêt doivent aussi tenir compte des activités récoltes, sans primauté d’une activité sur les autres ». Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
BERLIN — Germany's Left has picked two women to lead the anti-capitalist party into this fall's national election. A party conference Saturday elected Janine Wissler und Susanne Hennig-Wellsow as co-leaders. Wissler is the Left's parliamentary caucus leader in Hesse state. Hennig-Wellsow is the party's chairwoman in Thuringia, the only German state where the Left leads a government. The succeed Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger, who have led the party since 2012. The Left, which is partly rooted in East Germany's governing Socialist Unity Party, received 9.2% of the vote in the 2017 national election. Current polls ahead of the vote on Sept. 26 put its support at 7-8%. The Associated Press
(Souta Calling Last - image credit) If you've driven down any of the highways in southern Alberta, you've likely passed by a Blackfoot historical site, such as an eagle catch, without even knowing it. But Souta Calling Last hopes to change that. Calling Last, who is from both the Kainai and Southern Piikani First Nation, runs an educational, non-profit organization called Indigenous Vision. She has spent the past four years designing an interactive map depicting hundreds of Blackfoot historical and sacred sites in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The Blackfoot Confederacy includes the Siksika, Kainai and Piikani Nations, representing more than 23,000 members in Alberta and another 19,000 in Montana. "The amount of history we have, we cannot walk around with our heads down, shoulders slumped, because it's just so expansive and so beautiful and so powerful," said Calling Last. Calling Last says she sees a lot of potential uses for this map project, including teaching, city planning, environmental assessments and ecotourism. She plans to launch a mobile app that would ping a user as they neared a historical site, and then provide an audio and/or video recording about the place with the story behind it, and in some cases, directions to get there. For example, she says, history buffs could plot out all the Blackfoot battle sites to visit during summer vacation. Calling Last plans to share the full interactive map with tribal leaders, cultural leaders and academics. But she says not all of the sacred sites will be made available to the public. "We walk that fine line of keeping a site sacred and also educating about that site so that it's not at risk from development or getting destroyed or, you know, losing the site." Several teepee rings are clearly visible in this satellite image. Teepee rings, eagle catches Calling Last says the Blackfoot map includes 108 dots, which represent more than 500 sites, some of which date back thousands of years. Calling Last says each of these locations was discovered through conversations with her family, tribal elders and community members, as well as archeological surveys and studies. "I take the source and I look for paralleling stories," said Calling Last. "Usually the way oral stories and history is handed down is each member or area or society is given a portion to remember." She says some items can be spotted in satellite images. In one image, a teepee ring, which is a circle of stones that holds down the canvas of a teepee, appears as a little white shadow. Other sites, such as eagle catches, are harder to spot, she says, because they appear as nothing more than a pile of rocks and sticks and are located high up on the land. She calls one of the two that are plotted on the map "Calling Last Eagle Catch," because it was passed down to her by her family. She says eagle catchers were men or women. She says the catcher would dig a pit to sit in and then cover themselves up with sticks and some type of decoy such as a dead rabbit. She says that when the eagle landed, the catcher would then have to quickly grab the eagle's legs, to either pluck a feather or to harvest the whole animal. She says the process would also include a ceremony. "The impression I got was that it was almost a warrior's job or a coming of age type thing where you were able to go and you were trained," said Calling Last. Satellite images of two Blackfoot Medicine Wheels in Alberta and Wyoming. Calling Last says the map also includes the stories behind the names of locations such as the Crowsnest Pass, historic events, including the first fur traders location, burial grounds, petroglyphs and different band leaders. Lived beyond the reserve Piikani elder Harley Bastien, who worked on the map project, believes the map will help the Blackfoot people reconnect to the expanse of land they once called home before reserves were established. "Some of the youth grew up thinking this is it, so many miles by so many miles is where we always called home, but that's the farthest from the truth," said Bastien, who is president of Indigenous Vision. He also hopes this map will also be used to better educate Canadians about the country's pre-settlement era. "If nothing else, [it will] give them some sort of an education that these aboriginal people didn't just generate and originate from a reserve," Bastien said. He said their homes and highrises were "built probably on the history and the blood and bones of the aboriginal people who lived there." A static map representing roughly 500 Blackfoot historical and sacred sites collected by Souta Calling Last. Calling Last has already worked with other First Nations communities to develop their own historical maps. In one case, it was with respect to mapping missing and murdered Indigenous women. In another, it was mapping the location of traditional pigments used in traditional pottery and painting. She says collecting and mapping these stories and historical data allows First Nations to have sovereignty over their past, and therefore, their future. Calling last has provided a static version of the map to CBC News. She is hoping to launch the app within the year.
At his wits end with the province and in fear for his most vulnerable people, David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, is approaching COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in the hopes of purchasing doses directly. "I’m sending a letter out to every one of them pleading with them to consider allowing me to buy direct, that my people are going to die and likely probably going to continue to suffer mental anguish and everything else that comes with it," Chartrand said. In British Columbia, Métis and other Indigenous people are eligible to get their shots sooner and at 15 years younger than the rest of the population, meaning they can get their shot at 65 when 80-year-old residents are being called. Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, the deputy provincial health officer for Indigenous Health, said they’ve been working hard to make Métis people "feel seen" during the vaccination process. Alberta is taking a similar approach and the Métis Nation Saskatchewan is working with the provincial government to work out a vaccine rollout. Here, in Manitoba, the age differential is 20 years — when eligibility for the vaccine is at 95 for the general population, it is 75 for First Nations. That does not include Métis. When asked by The Brandon Sun for the rationale for Manitoba not engaging with Métis in similar ways, when the conditions, vulnerabilities and disproportionate effect in the Métis population are the same, if not worse, than First Nations, Dr. Joss Reimer spoke about data. "Our initial decisions were based on the epidemiology and the data that we had in front of us. The data was very clear that our First Nations, the First Nations people in Manitoba, were experiencing worse health outcomes and at younger ages," said Reimer, medical lead for the vaccine implementation task force. She said the province does not have the same access to data when it comes to the Métis population in Manitoba. When asked if the task force would consider the same age differential for Métis, Reimer said nothing is off the table. "If we have data to demonstrate that something is essential to provide the best possible care for Manitobans, we absolutely move in that direction. Right now, we don’t have that data to depend on. But that’s something that we’re trying to work on together," she said. Chartrand said that’s false. He said the federation has been making efforts to resolve the matter since the summer, to no avail. Further, he says the government is in possession of a four-year study that clearly shows the health vulnerabilities of Métis. "We started asking, why are you not signing one (data sharing agreement) with us? They just basically said, well, we’ll get back to you. And nobody had an answer. We had nowhere to turn. Everybody we turned to said, we’ll get back to you. We’ll get back to you. I can go through emails and letters and meeting minutes. They’re all gonna give you the same response, we’ll get back to you," said Chartrand. "Nobody ever gets back to you. No reason whatsoever. Not to say, it’s complicated. Not to say, can’t be done. Not to say, we don’t have any data in our own health system." Chartrand said the federation has plenty of data it can provide. "We could provide you with ours, and give you a really good surface view of where we’re stating our position and even the health state of our people. We can share that with you. We have sufficient data that any statistician would have been embracing and kissing you for it, because it would (be) such a valuable tool of information. They still wouldn’t work with us. They never provided an answer why," he said. When Pine Creek First Nation, which is between the Métis villages of Camperville and Duck Bay, saw two cases of COVID-19 in January, Chief Karen Baston put the area on lockdown. Chartrand told his people to stay put for two weeks. "We delivered hampers to every house whether they were First Nation, whether they were Métis, whether they were not Indigenous. We took hampers to every house. We told them, don’t go out and shop. Stay locked up for two weeks, and we’ll bring more supplies. Whatever you need, contact us. We delivered to 275 houses," Chartrand said. "Those are some big families. Some are $400 hampers some $150 hampers for a smaller family." Currently, the federation is delivering 40,000 pounds of fish through its partnership with Freshwater Fish. These actions are possible with financial help from the federal government. Chartrand said, while there have been COVID-19 cases and death in the Métis population, so far the federation’s pandemic action plan has been minimizing spread. There have been no outbreaks in Métis communities. The federation even recently set up its own testing site for its citizens, to collect its own data. Acquiring vaccines independently is the next step. – with files from the Canadian Press Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) From their smiles and exuberance, it's hard to tell that 16-year-old students Makylah Williams and Liv Meerkerk have experienced racial microaggressions in the halls of their B.C. high schools. In Makylah's case, those experiences have involved people touching her hair without her permission, something she says is "really disrespectful." For Liv, a high academic achiever from the Sto:lo Nation, it's the assumptions people make about the intelligence of Indigenous students. She recalls how "it was really shocking and surprising to everyone" when they found out her grades. These are just two examples of stories shared by BIPOC students at a recent youth conference held by the Burnaby School District, where youth were encouraged to share their experiences in discussions about racism, and had the opportunity to hear from special guests. 'It makes them tired, it makes them frustrated, it makes them sad, depressed, hurt,' says Beth Applewhite about students dealing with racism on a regular basis. The annual conference helps show attendees they are not alone in their daily experience with racism, says founder Beth Applewhite. "They talked about dealing with the N-word — that came up a lot. They talked about how Indigenous students and Black students, racialized students, often have less power. People seem to have lower expectations for them academically," says Applewhite, vice-principal of equity, diversity and inclusion with the Burnaby School District. "A lot of students talked about how racism has impacted them, like their mental health, that it makes them tired, it makes them frustrated, it makes them sad, depressed, hurt." But from those shared experiences also comes solidarity, she says. "The students expressed a sense of belonging, the sense of seeing themselves in each other and in the room," says Applewhite. Watch: Youth conference participants speak about their experiences The youth conference, which began as a Black Affinity Group at Burnaby's Moscrop Secondary School in 2007, is held during Black History Month, with the theme this year being "lifting Black voices." The conference usually brings in a few hundred students from the Burnaby, Surrey, Vancouver, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam school districts — but this year around 3,000 people, from students to staff, took part virtually. The opening address was made by Jean Augustine, a former Member of Parliament who brought forward the legislation for Black History Month to be officially recognized in Canada 25 years ago. It comes amid increasing awareness of systemic racism and a growing Black Lives Matter movement following anti-racism protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020. Makylah Williams says she was surprised to hear the similarities in experiences BIPOC students shared during the youth conference. For Makylah, the Black Lives Matter movement has actually made her a target of some inappropriate jokes. "I've had students come to me, putting up the block fist and laughing," she said. "I try really hard not to get angry, even though it is frustrating. I try to calm down and be mindful that sometimes people just don't know that they're being mean." 'You see you're not alone, everybody is going through stuff like that, and it shows you that we need to change it.' - Liv Meerkerk, 16 Despite the daily challenges they face, both Makylah and Liv carry an infectious amount of hope for their futures. "In the conference, you see you're not alone, everybody is going through stuff like that, and it shows you that we need to change it. It's a huge problem that needs to be tackled," Liv says. Liv Meerkerk says she felt validated in hearing the experiences of other students. Part of Applewhite's role with the school district is to lead anti-racism education for staff, trustees and educators. While the response to the training has generally been positive, she says some discussions about race and white privilege have been triggering. But she says she keeps in mind that children are going through similar experiences at school. "No one warns our kids when they walk into a classroom… and I know our children's spirits are being ruined daily. We need to keep pushing forward," she says. It's why she keeps doing the work, she says. "I used to hide my anger, get frustrated, but you can't fix something you can't see," Applewhite says. "But when people are forced to look and see how things are, they are much more compassionate and empathetic." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. Makylah Williams, left, and Liv Meerkerk, both 16, shared their stories at the youth conference for Black History Month.
(Submitted by Chelsea Moss-Harris - image credit) The first time Chelsea Moss-Harris met A.J. Gray in person was at 1:30 a.m. on the side of a road in Nackawic. It was cold and pitch-dark and Gray, who had a dog with him in his truck, was a stranger she'd met online. But Moss-Harris wasn't worried. She already knew Gray was an "angel," and the dog he had with him was her beloved pet Zoey. Gray had brought Zoey on a 5,200-km ride from Alberta to reunite her with her owner after a months-long separation, and on that cold February night, it was hard to tell who was the most thrilled by the reunion. "I still get goose bumps when I talk about it," Moss-Harris said. "For a while, I really had thought I was never going to see her again." Moss-Harris and her fiancé, Chris Cluff, moved from New Brunswick to Alberta four years ago for Cluff's work. They returned to New Brunswick after devastating floods in Fort Vermilion. Evacuated by floods in Fort Vermilion, Alta. Seven months earlier, Moss-Harris was living in a hotel in Alberta with her two children and their two dogs, Zoey and Captain. They had been evacuated after devastating flooding swept through the northern Alberta hamlet of Fort Vermilion, forcing more than 450 people from their homes. Moss-Harris and her partner, Chris Cluff, who had moved to Alberta from New Brunswick for Cluff's job, decided it was time to come back home. But they were dismayed to find out that because she falls into the "strong breed" category, Zoey would need a special regulation kennel for the flight and would have to be picked up in Halifax. (Captain, a mixed-breed stray, was able to fly in a regular kennel.) The cost of flying her, including a new kennel, ticket, fees and surcharges, would be in the thousands, Moss-Harris said, and there were concerns that they might not even be allowed into Nova Scotia to pick her up because of COVID-19 travel restrictions at that time. Out of options and with no home left in Alberta, the family got on the plane without their beloved Zoey, who stayed behind with Cluff's brother. 'I almost started to give up' "Oh my goodness, it was so hard to leave her behind," Moss-Harris said. "It broke my heart." Eventually, when she and her family were home and settled in Fredericton, Moss-Harris started checking out the Pet Transport Canada Facebook group, which connects people travelling with pets who need a ride. Days went by with no nibbles. The days stretched into weeks, and Moss-Harris's hopes started to fade. "We'd been apart for so long," she said. "I almost started to give up." And then suddenly, a stranger named A.J. Gray replied: "Inbox me." He was a trucker and an essential worker and had a run out toward the East Coast coming up, he said. He told her he'd be happy to bring Zoey home. When I saw her snuggled up on his lap, I knew he must be OK because Zoey was OK with him. - Chelsea Moss-Harris Moss-Harris's heart leapt at the news, but she had some reservations, too. "I didn't know this guy from Adam," she said. "I thought, what if he takes off with my dog?" But they started exchanging text messages, discussing the details of what he would need for the trip. Gray refused to take any money as compensation, asking only that Moss-Harris cover the cost of Zoey's food, and finally, they arranged for him to collect Zoey and begin the journey. Moss-Harris said she was on pins and needles the whole time. "Then he sent me a picture of him and Zoey, and that's when I knew it was going to be OK. When I saw her snuggled up on his lap — she doesn't do that with just anyone — I knew he must be OK because Zoey was okay with him." That was the first of many small but telling gestures that set Moss-Harris's heart at ease, and assured her that she had entrusted her precious pet to "a good person." Chelsea Moss-Harris with 'baby' Zoey, six years ago. 'Look how adorable she was. That face!' Regular photo updates along the way Gray set out in mid-February, sending Moss-Harris frequent photos and text message updates along the way. "I'd get messages saying, 'We're in Winnipeg,' or 'Zoey's cuddled up in the bunk in the back,' and I'd laugh, thinking of Zoey taking a cross-country road trip in a big ol' truck." One full week later, she got a text asking her if she'd still be up at 1:30 a.m. that night. "I told him, 'If that's when you're gonna be coming through, I will,' " Moss-Harris said. They arranged to meet at a roadside just off the highway in Nackawic. Gray was holding Zoey on a leash at the side of the road, and when Zoey saw Moss-Harris and the rest of her family, the leash might as well have been a piece of fluff. "He had to let her go because she went nuts when she saw us," Moss-Harris recalled with a laugh. It was a quick and distanced hand-off because of COVID-19, but Moss-Harris had time to slip Gray a thank-you card ("I tucked $200 in it but I didn't tell him that, because he wouldn't have taken it," she said) and then Gray hopped into his truck and was gone. Moss-Harris thought that would be the end of it, but Gray messaged the next day to check in on his travelling companion. "He was like, 'So how's Zoey doing today, is she happy?' And I thought, wow, this is a good person." Just paying it forward, Gray says A.J. Gray seems surprised his "little" gesture has generated interest. "Well, I love dogs," he said in a phone interview. "So I saw the message on Facebook and just figured I'd help out." Gray said he was in a similar situation a few years ago, when he faced an abrupt move and had to leave his dog behind. "I know how that feels," he said. Gray said he's never transported a dog before, but Zoey was a "good traveller." "She was no trouble at all, she slept the mostly the whole way, she'd get up now and then and look out the window, and she'd get a bit excited every time we came into a city." Gray, who lives in Bathurst, said he's on the road and away from home too often to have a dog right now. But he does plan to keep in touch with his "pet for a week," Zoey. "Oh yeah, I'll check in on her now and again," he said. "She was a nice dog." Meanwhile, with Zoey settled in at her new home and life finally getting back to normal, Moss-Harris said she plans to keep in touch with the man who made that possible, sending him occasional photos of Zoey because she knows "he really cares." "When you think that someone who doesn't even know showed us true kindness and never asked for a thing? Wow," she said. "We need more people like A.J. in this world. He's an angel."
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian refused to fire the head of the country's armed forces on Saturday, intensifying a standoff between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the army over what Pashinyan said was an attempted coup to remove him. Pashinyan dismissed Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan on Thursday, but his sacking needed the formal approval of the president - who rejected the move as unconstitutional and said the army should be kept out of politics. Hundreds of opposition supporters, who had been rallying in the centre of the capital, Yerevan, welcomed Sarkissian's decision with cheers and applause after it was announced by the president's office.
(Submitted by David Voelker - image credit) Forty-three years ago, Dave Voelker spent two days walking 48 kilometres across a frozen Lake Erie. On Feb. 25, 1978, Voelker left Cleveland, Ohio by himself and was set on reaching Colchester, Ont. in the next 48 hours. On his back he carried all that he would need, including a tent, walkie talkie, and a tripod with a camera. "I knew it was frozen across I had to give it a shot, I'm a bit of an adventure junkie," Voelker told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. He said the temperature that year had been below freezing for at least a month and to be certain the water was frozen through, he checked in with the coast guard. A frozen Lake Erie as photographed by Voelker. When he first started crossing he said he saw some ice fishers, but there eventually came a point of "absolutely nothing at all." LISTEN: Dave Voelker talks about what the journey across was like with host Chris dela Torre "I was in my element," he said. "I'm a bit of a loner to begin with and being in the middle of a frozen Great Lake is the ultimate alone time, you're just left alone on your thoughts and I just reflected on what I was doing." He said he wasn't really scared, but the adventure didn't come without its challenges. At one point he could tell an ice breaker had gone through the lake and it caused the ice to bunch up in odd places. He also had to check a compass to make sure he was headed in the right direction. Eventually he made it to the other side and said a family witnessed his arrival. They then invited him in for dinner. Voelker pitched up a tent one day into his hike across the lake. Upon arriving in Colchester, he said he was relieved because he was so tired. Afterwards he says he ended up hitchhiking back home and passed through Windsor to do so. Some people still don't believe that Voelker crossed the lake, but he says he hopes the photos are enough. "Even if people don't believe it I know that I did it," he said.
A Russian trial testing the effectiveness of revaccination with the Sputnik V shot to protect against new mutations of the coronavirus is producing strong results, researchers said on Saturday. Last month President Vladimir Putin ordered a review by March 15 of Russian-produced vaccines for their effectiveness against new variants spreading in different parts of the world.
(Submitted by Jeremias Tecu - image credit) Jeremías Tecú hid from the Guatemalan militia between the roots of a massive inup tree with his mother and younger siblings every night for more than two weeks. The year was 1981 and Tecú was 11 years old. He and his family were trying to survive a massacre during a civil war that would leave more than 200,000 Indigenous Mayans dead. Massacres by the Guatemalan regime in the early 1980s destroyed 626 villages, including Ceiba, Tecú's village. From the tree roots during the violence, Tecú could make out the silhouettes of other people hiding, just as he was. "That tree was, every single night for about 15 days, our shelter," the Fredericton resident said of the 180-foot tall inup, the Mayan symbol for life. Years later, after dedicating his life to speaking out against corruption and Indigenous murders in Guatemala, Tecú was kidnapped and tortured in 1999. He escaped to neighbouring Mexico in 2000 and was granted refugee status in Canada, where he arrived 19 years ago with his wife and kids. In collaboration with Moncton-based therapist Eve Mills Allen, Tecú's life story has been told in a book that launched this month: In the Arms of Inup: The extraordinary story of a Guatemalan survivor and his quest for healing from trauma. The roots of an inup or ceiba tree in Puerto Rico. The massacre The background to Tecú's story begins in the 1950s, when Guatemala's land was owned by a few rich families. Through protests, the country's working class demanded equality. But after some of the land was redistributed to peasants, many of them Indigenous Mayan people, a civil war began. The terror that ensued lasted about 36 years, from 1960 to 1996, and throughout those years, the government murdered more than 10 per cent of the Mayan population, reducing it from over 50 per cent of Guatemala's population to about 40 per cent. The government labelled the Indigenous Mayans communists to try to justify the slaughter, although the Mayans were protesting for land that was theirs. Tecú's aunt and uncle were among the Mayan casualties. After their murder, Tecú's home was set on fire and, along with his mother and siblings, he left his village and walked for 45 days until he reached Guatemala City. The book cover for In the Arms of Inup Tecú's fear of being massacred stayed with him for years, until he landed in Fredericton in 2002. And after that, a new kind of fear settled over him. Tecú, who now works as a settlement worker, suffered from untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, often working long hours or drinking to forget the mass-slaughter he witnessed as a boy. "I would go into a liquor store, for example, to buy a six pack," he said. "That's how I got at least one hour of sleep." "You can be in paradise but the memory is there. They come back to your mind." Eight years ago, a lifeline materialized in front of Tecú, in the form of paper and pencil and a therapist eager to listen. How they met In 2013, Mills Allen facilitated a writing group at the Multicultural Association of Fredericton. Nine people showed up, including Tecú. Mills Allen told the participants how therapeutic writing their own stories could be. "He came up to me and said, 'I need to tell my story. Would you write it?'" After sharing some of his story with Mills Allen, she decided she would take on the challenge. "I guess I just knew it's a story that needed to be told but I was a little nervous of whether I could take on that task." For eight years, Mills Allen and Tecú met in coffee shops, in parks, in their own homes. Writing the book was a long process because reliving experiences often became overwhelming for Tecú. "Many times, I was sobbing along with him," said Mills Allen. But receiving a hard copy of the book this week made it all worth it, said Tecú. Central American immigrants on the run on Jan. 20, 2020. Poverty and murder in Guatemala linked to government corruption have led thousands to leave their country for the United States. Storytelling therapy According to Mills Allen, writing helps victims take control of their own stories and emotions. "It helps organize what's all jumbled up, coming at you from all sides of your life." It gives victims the chance to find a beginning, a middle and an end to their experiences, said Mills Allen, as it did for Tecú. "He gained a little control, feeling out of control. And you can reframe the way things happen. That makes you see your own resilience." Tecú hopes his book inspires survivors of trauma with PTSD to seek help. "To anyone who suffered torture, I want to tell them that life is beautiful. But in order to see it, you must look for support." His book is now on sale on the HARP Publishing website.