Remember when Kanye West ran for president? The rapper appeared to concede on Wednesday morning after failing to make a splash in the 2020 election — but his White House ambitions may not be over.
Remember when Kanye West ran for president? The rapper appeared to concede on Wednesday morning after failing to make a splash in the 2020 election — but his White House ambitions may not be over.
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
La COVID-19 est liée à de nombreux nouveaux défis que vivent les ménages. Anxiété omniprésente, tensions dans le foyer, difficultés à effectuer des tâches quotidiennes; la Clinique universitaire en travail social (CUTS) de l’UQAC a remarqué plusieurs de ces problématiques chez les gens qui ont récemment consulté. Heureusement, les étudiants et professionnels de la clinique peuvent fournir une foule d’outils, afin d’aider leur clientèle à traverser plus facilement cette période difficile. Nathalie Sasseville est directrice de la Clinique universitaire en travail social, en plus d’être professeure à l’UQAC et travailleuse sociale. Elle est accompagnée de Sandra Juneau, elle aussi professeure en travail social et impliquée à la CUTS, pour expliquer les impacts de la COVID-19 sur les jeunes et les familles qui fréquentent la clinique. Depuis le début de la pandémie, les professionnels ont remarqué plusieurs problématiques semblables chez ceux qui consultent. Le premier constat est que plusieurs souffrent d’un stress directement en lien avec le virus. « Ce sont des gens qui sont moins fonctionnels, qui ne sont plus capables de faire leurs activités quotidiennes parce qu’ils vivent un stress trop élevé relié à la peur de contracter le virus », explique Mme Sasseville. D’autres vivent également des difficultés qui sont amplifiées par le confinement. Les familles, maintenant toujours ensemble sous le même toit, vivent des situations de tensions qu’elles n’avaient pas à gérer auparavant. Certaines de ces tensions viennent du fait que les habitudes de ces personnes ont changé, au cours des derniers mois. Les parents ont dû apprendre à maîtriser de nouveaux rôles, comme celui de professeur quand l’enfant est à la maison, ce qui vient assurément leur causer un stress supplémentaire. Ces derniers doivent également surveiller le temps que passe leur enfant devant un écran. « Ça devient difficile pour les parents de jongler avec ça et de mettre des limites sur le temps qu’un enfant passe devant un écran, de décider quand il lui demande de décrocher. Ce temps a d’ailleurs considérablement augmenté puisque c’est souvent le seul outil que l’enfant a pour être en contact avec ses amis », rappelle Mme Juneau. Mme Sasseville ajoute que le fait d’être toujours en ligne ajoute une surcharge mentale à bien des personnes, ce qui fait qu’elles deviennent plus fatiguées et irritables. Cela cause bien souvent des conflits entre les membres de la famille. Avec toutes ces nouvelles problématiques, bien des gens, parents ou non, ressentent le besoin de consulter. La CUTS est là pour les outiller à mieux gérer ces nouvelles problématiques. « Nos services sont soit sur le bien-être de la famille ou encore pour les outiller pour mieux fonctionner ensemble. On fait par exemple beaucoup d’accompagnements dans les compétences parentales, afin d’aider les parents à mieux interagir et mieux communiquer avec leurs enfants », continue Mme Sasseville. Une clinique unique au Canada La CUTS est unique au Canada. Bien qu’existent de nombreuses cliniques universitaires au sein des établissements d’enseignement, c’est la première qui se concentre exclusivement sur le domaine du travail social. La clinique a été pensée afin de permettre aux étudiants d’avoir un endroit où mettre la théorie apprise en classe en pratique, en plus d’offrir des services à la communauté. Il y a aussi un volet qui touche la recherche. Lorsqu’une famille ou un individu se présente à la clinique, il est jumelé à un ou des étudiants en fin de parcours ainsi qu’à une travailleuse sociale. « Toutes les interventions des étudiants se font soit en compagnie d’une travailleuse sociale expérimentée ou sous la surveillance vidéo d’une professionnelle, afin d’offrir la même qualité de services qu’obtiendrait la personne en se rendant dans des services sociaux », continue la professeure. Les services offerts à la clinique permettent aux familles et aux individus d’avoir accès à des services professionnels rapidement et à bas prix en plus d’aider les étudiants dans leur formation. Pour consulter La CUTS recherche actuellement des familles qui vivent des difficultés en lien avec un enfant ou dans leur dynamique familiale. Pour consulter, il faut visiter le www.uqac.ca/cuts/ et remplir un formulaire. « J’aimerais vraiment dire aux parents de ne pas hésiter à consulter, parce que les plus récentes études démontrent qu’il y a peu de parents, peu de familles qui consultent, malgré le fait qu’il y en a qui vivent de la détresse en plus de différentes problématiques », assure Mme Juneau. Les consultations sont données sur place, en suivant les recommandations de la Santé publique, mais peuvent aussi être données par visioconférence.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — Rocky the stowaway owl is back in the wild. The tiny Saw-whet owl was named Rockefeller after it was found by a worker setting up the holiday tree Nov. 16 at Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center. The owl was apparently trapped in the 75-foot-tall (23-meter-tall) Norway spruce when it was cut down 170 miles (275 kilometres) north, in upstate New York on Nov. 12. The female owl, initially thought to be male, was uninjured but hadn't eaten for at least three days when she was discovered and sent to Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in the Hudson Valley town of Saugerties. There, a rehabilitator nursed her back to health for a week with plenty of mice before Rocky was cleared to continue her migratory journey south. On Tuesday evening, rehabilitator Ellen Kalish held the winsome raptor aloft in a field against a backdrop of rounded mountains. In a video posted on Ravensbeard's Facebook page, Rocky sits quietly on Kalish's fingers before winging her way over to a nearby grove of pines. “She is a tough little bird and we’re happy to see her back in her natural habitat,” the centre wrote on Facebook. “We are sure that Rocky will feel your love and support through her journey south.” ___ This story has been corrected to show the Rockefeller Christmas tree is 75 feet (23 metres) tall, not 71 feet (22 metres) tall. The Associated Press
The Northern B.C. Crisis Centre could use some help when it comes to helping others. In the time since the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold, the centre has seen a 25-per-cent increase in calls to its phone lines from people feeling anxious, depressed and suicidal. The jump has translated into about 600 calls per month from people in the Northern Health region plus a further 400-500 calls per month the centre fields from the national suicide prevention line. "Things really ticked up in March and they haven't really stopped. We've been very busy," Sandra Boulianne, the centre's executive director, said. She said there have been similar upticks in the past, such as during the two major wildfire seasons, but nothing as sustained as this. Adding to the trouble, Boulianne said the centre is short-staffed. The centre works on a hybrid model with trained volunteers taking calls during the days and evenings and paid staff working the overnight shift. The roster of volunteers has waivered between 25 and 30. Ideally, Boulianne said the count should be over 40. As it stands, the centre's call answer rate averages about 70 per cent. "So we're missing 30 per cent of our calls," Boulianne said. "It's not good." Moreover, the volunteers are typically university students looking for some practical experience while pursuing their degrees. While she welcomes them, Boulianne said she would like to have a broader representation of the community not only because they may be able to better relate to some of the callers but they may last longer than the two to three years a student typically does. "Sometimes it feels like we're training people as fast as we're losing people," she said. Retired folks and stay-at-home mothers with some spare time are among the kinds of people Boulianne said she is seeking, adding the centre also has a youth-serving-youth line. Newcomers go through 70 hours of training, delivered online, and once completed, they're asked to put in one four-hour shift per week, either from home or at the centre. "It's difficult work but it's very rewarding," Boullianne said. She added that she joined the centre after earning a social work degree as a mature student at UNBC and had intended to stay for just two years. That was eight years ago. "I can honestly say I've fallen in love with the work," Boullianne said. "I love the authenticity of people when they're calling anonymously and confidentially and I love the skills that we use to help people open up." On the bright side, the centre was one of 10 across B.C. to receive a $10,000 from Pacific Blue Cross. Boulianne said it has made a difference to the non-profit which relies largely on funding from Northern Health and the United Way of Northern B.C. "We're very, very grateful," she said. Pacific Blue Cross provided the funding after a survey indicated two-thirds of British Columbians predict their mental health will deteriorate in the coming months. "We know that those who engage early support through crisis lines, are less likely to require acute care later," said Jim Iker, Chair of the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation. "With BC now facing its second wave of the pandemic, supporting our community and our health care system has never been more critical.” Boulianne attributed a significant amount of the jump in calls to people stuck in quarantine or other forms of isolation brought on by the virus. For some, it's also meant they have been unable to access face-to-face counselling in a timely manner and just need someone to talk to while they're waiting. "The beautiful thing about crisis lines is you can talk to somebody right away," Boulianne said. "We are not counsellors because our service is anonymous and we don't have a therapeutic relationship with our callers but we're able to diffuse a situation in the moment." Even if the centre needs more volunteers, Boulianne said those in need of help should still call. "You don't need to be suicidal to call a crisis line," she said. "We take any kind of distress call. If anything is worrying or distressing an individual, we want to be there to support them and so, no issue is too small," she said. "It's really anything, all the way from social isolation and loneliness to suicidal ideation and everything in between." Those interested in volunteering can get more information at crisis-centre.ca. If you need help, call 1-888-562-1214. There is also a suicide prevention line at 1-800-SUICIDE and youth crisis line at 1-888-564-8336. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Jennifer Heywood's mother is 94 and trying to bounce back from a recent bout with COVID-19.Her adult children are anxious to know if they will be able celebrate Christmas as a family, in person — possibly for the last time."I would like very much just to see her," Heywood said, fighting back tears. "I'm sorry. I would just like to see her."The province is expected to announce guidelines this week for holiday gatherings involving seniors living in long-term care homes.Making matters more complicated, Heywood lives in Toronto. Her bags are packed. But she's hoping the spread of COVID-19 will have stabilized enough in Quebec and Ontario to allow her to come to Montreal.Her mother contracted the virus last month at the Vigi Reine-Élizabeth in NDG, and it's taken a physical toll on her, according to Heywood.Heywood and her siblings weren't even sure their mother would make it to Christmas.Two of her siblings visit their mother regularly, but never at the same time. Heywood is hoping that will change, and bring much needed joy to the elderly patient."Christmas is a big deal to Mum," Heywood said. "She always celebrated it joyously. She always made it beautiful for us. So we've always wanted to make it beautiful for her when she's been in a hospital bed."Risk of outbreaks 'always hanging over our heads'Quebecers are being allowed two get-togethers with a maximum of 10 people in each between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.But there's a quid pro quo.Premier François Legault has asked people to self-isolate in the week leading up to that four-day window and for a week following it. He calls it a "moral contract."Dr. Élise Boulanger, who works at CHSLD Father Dowd, says there is a need for balance when it comes to letting residents celebrate the holidays with family."There is a great proportion [of residents] that are at the end of their life, and this Christmas may be every important for them," said Boulanger. For the most part, she believes people who visit loved ones in long-term care homes are careful about not bringing the virus into the facility, but she stresses the importance of ditching large family gatherings prior to visiting a loved one. "It's always a risk, and it's happening. You still have some outbreaks that are happening in the centres, right now," said Boulanger. "It's always a concern. It feels like it's always hanging over our heads."
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
The Whitestone Public Library is getting a new name to match its expansion. It will now be called the Whitestone Public Library and Technology Centre to better reflect the technology services it will be able to offer. Library vice-chair Cathy Lamb said that the Whitestone Library is a social hub for the Whitestone community and keeping people connected via technology was an important goal. “We are actually going to be offering a lot of virtual programming,” said Lamb. “People who don’t feel comfortable coming into the library can still participate in the programming.” The instructor would be at the library itself and people can join in online, she said, adding that the book club may also be offered virtually. “We are looking at different ways of reaching out to people,” she said. “As we know, a lot of seniors don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes or going into public places (right now).” “With the new enhancements to our technology we will be able to do that kind of outreach.” Whitestone received a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the library expansion, as well as a $150,000 grant from FedNor. According to Coun. Joe Lamb, these foundations rarely invest in libraries. However, creating a technology centre within the library and being able to enhance businesses in town by offering meeting rooms and technology training was, in Lamb’s opinion, the reason the municipality received the funding. Outside of federal and provincial funding, the Whitestone community raised $100,000 itself to fund the new library project. “It’s truly unbelievable,” said Lamb, who is the council representative on the library board. “We ended up with $400,000-worth of our project that was brought in before the municipality had to spend a nickel.” The estimated cost of the project is $705,221.27 and it will include an additional 1,400 square feet, bringing the building size to 2,500 square feet. Another goal for the new library and technology centre is to be able to loan mobile USB internet sticks to patrons to use as a personal internet hub, said Lamb. Construction is nearing its final phases and the library hopes to be able to begin offering curbside pickup in January 2021. “It’s truly a community effort …,” said Lamb of the expansion project. “And something I think will last for generations.” Sarah Cooke is a Local Journalism Reporter with the Parry Sound North Star, and Almaguin News. LJI is funded by the Government of CanadaSarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Brexit: Irish Prime Minister "hopeful" of deal but says "trust has eroded" - Euronews speaks to Taoiseach Micheál Martin in this week's Global Conversation.View on euronews
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Following Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer's overall summary of the draft budget and some of its key elements, it was Town Treasurer Andre Morin's turn to speak more specifically on the high-level aspects of the 2021 draft capital budget. It is important to note that this is still a draft budget, meaning the budget is not finalized yet. With that in mind, this will give you a glimpse at how the 2021 budget is beginning to take shape. Morin began his presentation by noting that it's expected that revenues across the board will be down in 2021, due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. These revenues that are expected to decrease include the largest, fees and charges, as well as ice rentals, rents and leases, and sales. Morin also pointed out that the carry-over from the 2020 Safe Restart funding the Town has yet to spend is about $250,000, which will help cover the extra costs and lost revenues. The draft capital budget also reflects several increases in expenses for the Town. The first that Morin touched on was an increased investment in the community safety and policing plan, as well as parks patrol. The expense increase for those areas is approximately $45,000. Most of the other increases proposed in the budget are spread over other departments within the municipality and are fairly standard and routine. The Town is seeing an increase in debenture payments in 2021, but not as large of an increase as they likely expected. The net increase of about $68,000 is largely due to an increase in debenture payments related to the fire hall, but there is also a debenture payment related to wastewater services that is coming off the books. The materials and services line of the budget did reflect a large increase of $140,000, however, that is largely due to its reflection of additional costs brought on by the pandemic. Lastly, an increase in salary and wages is also included in the budget, and the Council asked Town staff to report back later on the implications of a 1.5 percent increase in salary and wages. Morin then touched on the tax increase for St. Marys residents, which, thanks in no small part to the Town's handling of the pandemic, is not going to be as substantial as other municipalities. The net tax levy, according to Morin, will result in the average St. Marys resident paying approximately 0.82 percent more in taxes. Morin also said that the Town is projecting a 0.97 percent increase for the average municipal dwelling, as well as increases of between 2-2.5 percent for water and wastewater services. No increase is predicted for garbage and recycling wheelie bin services.Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
The Alberta government has brought in massive restrictions on social and public gatherings, which include businesses and services to churches and schools. Failure to follow them can come with a ticketed fine of $1,000 or a maximum court fine of $100,000. At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency as Alberta reported 1,115 new cases and 16 new deaths. Alberta now leads the country with more active cases than any other province. “If we do not slow the sharp rise of both hospitalizations and ICU admissions, they will threaten our ability to deliver health services that we all rely on,” said Kenney, who warned the Alberta health care system cannot handle the rate that COVID-19 is spreading. As of Tuesday, 348 Albertans were fighting the virus in hospitals, with 66 patients in intensive care units. “We believe these are the minimum restrictions needed right now to safeguard our health-care system, while avoiding widespread damage to peoples’ livelihood,” he said. The province won’t have “snitch line” to enforce rules, but the number of enforcement officers tasked with public health orders will increase. Kenney rejected calls for a widespread lockdown and economic shutdown, calling that option “an unprecedented violation of fundamental constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.” He also said this action would hurt small business owners and people living on low incomes. It was a “grave mistake” this past spring when the province tried distinguishing between essential and non-essential retailers, said Kenney. This allowed big box stores and online retailers to thrive, he said, while small businesses suffered. “I wish the people advocating that we go to that extreme at this point were perhaps a little more transparent about what we know from the data on the broader social impact, particularly for the vulnerable,” Kenney said. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org “Let me just be absolutely clear about this: social gatherings are the biggest problem,” said Kenney. “These gatherings in the home continue to be the largest source of transmission and so they must stop now.” “Our school system has done very well at limiting in-school transmission, Parents, teachers and staff have worked incredibly hard to keep kids safe,” said Kenney. However, the premier added the spread of COVID-19 from workplaces and social gatherings means the virus is finding its way into schools. Hinshaw said as of Tuesday, 13 per cent of all schools in Alberta had an active COVID-19 outbreak. “There’s very limited transmission within the schools but more community transition, affecting the schools and their ability to operate,” said Kenney. Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
U.S. federal prosecutors have charged a New Jersey woman with concealing multiple efforts to transfer money to Islamist militants in Syria connected to the Nusra Front, a onetime al Qaeda affiliate based in Syria's Idlib province. Maria Bell, 53, of Hopatcong, New Jersey, was accused in a criminal complaint of knowingly concealing her involvement in providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely al-Nusra. Bell appeared by video conference on Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor in Newark, who declined to grant bail.
The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS) is seeking members of the public to complete a survey about access to education. As part of the RDKS economic development commission’s strategic plan, the district hired youth researchers to better understand how to increase access to education and develop education facilities. Now, the regional district is looking for a range of stakeholders to complete the survey, including students, parents, business owners, education providers and the members of the general public. The survey is voluntary and takes up to 10 minutes to complete. Responses will remain anonymous. Researchers were hired through WorkBC’s Community Workforce Response Grant: Youth Community Partnership to complete the project. The grant was created so “communities can provide youth with opportunities to contribute to their community while gaining work-related skills and experience for future job opportunities or their return to school.” The survey can be accessed HERE. Any questions should be addressed to Maggie Hall, RDKS economic development officer at email@example.com.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
TEMAGAMI – With COVID-19 not going away anytime soon, Temagami council has begun discussing some options when it comes to winter recreation opportunities at the Community Centre. With all the uncertainties surrounding COVID, and with current arena restrictions, the municipality had yet to determine if the ice plant would be operational for the 2020-21 winter season. Council looked at a pair of options at the November 19 regular meeting. The first option would be for the town to start up the ice plant and have the ice ready for the Christmas season. Staff would ensure that the municipality would continue to follow current health regulations while offering public skating, pick-up hockey, and other events for which revenue could be generated. “To proceed with this option we would need to develop health and safety protocols, cleaning protocols and purchase additional protective equipment,” recreation manager Kelly Hearn wrote in his report to council. “The start-up procedures for the ice plant would also need to be completed.” The second option would be that the municipality does not start up the ice plant this winter. Staff would consider other options for recreational programming for the community to stay active and healthy. “From the operational funds that are not utilized on the start-up, shut down and maintenance of the ice surface, staff would find alternate means of providing recreation to the community,” said Hearn. Hearn noted that staff are also considering the purchase of a made-to-measure, rubberized floor for the arena surface. “This would increase the options of non-ice arena use,” he reasoned. Councillor John Shymko was in favour of the second option, suggesting that the town “could plow a few rinks on Net Lake and Lake Temagami” so that they could still offer public skating. Treasurer-administrator Craig Davidson said he didn’t disagree with Shymko’s idea, but that it might not be something the municipality could do itself based on its insurance coverage. “It might need to be something that’s done at arm’s length (from council) volunteers,” he explained. Davidson added that he has always thought an outdoor rink, along with a bonfire, by the municipal office would be a good idea “as long as the fire doesn’t melt down into the lake.” Shymko then said he wouldn’t mind plowing the potential rink himself. Councillor Margaret Youngs was also in favour of the second option while Councillor Jamie Koistinen said she was leaning towards favouring the first option because of how “depressing” Northern Ontario winters can be. “If we’re removing any kind of recreation from the kids here in town, or even families to have some kind of outings that are safe within the community, then what does that do for the community members there?” she questioned. “Christmas is coming, there’s the two-week (school) break and possibly extensions beyond that. So I tend to think that some families might benefit from going to the arena, especially during a time where you’re not quite able yet to go ski-dooing, you can’t go ice fishing, there’s different things that can’t happen in the community at that time.” Councillor Barret Leudke stated that he didn’t feel the municipality should be encouraging group gatherings of any kind because of the increasing risks and uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. “We need to go into a full lockdown and other municipalities have suggested to stay directly home. I’m not in support of (group gatherings), I see this virus getting worse long before it gets better,” he said. “I want to encourage more distancing and no group gatherings.” Deputy Mayor Cathy Dwyer said she would be in favour of the second option as long as the municipality looks into other recreational possibilities for its residents. She said she has heard from some parents who understand the municipality might not put ice in the arena but were concerned about a lack of activities for their kids this winter. Council agreed on a motion to choose the second option and not start up the ice plant this winter. Hearn said that staff would work on seeking out other recreation opportunities to keep the community active this winter.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Jan Morris leaves behind an incredible legacy, says her son Mark Morris, who has been teaching at the University of Alberta since 2000. The prolific Welsh writer died Friday at 94. "A bit of history has gone with her," Mark Morris said in an interview. Jan Morris was the only reporter allowed on the historic climb of Mount Everest in 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit. Before her death, she was the last member from that mission still alive. It's a story Mark Morris heard a lot while growing up. "In fact, I can remember her building a model of Everest in the snow for us instead of a snowman. And she showed us how it all worked and where the routes were," he said. Mark Morris has been in Canada since the late 80s. He's a full lecturer in the English and Film Studies Department at the U of A. Morris is also a librettist and has written 13 operas and is currently the music critic for the Edmonton Journal. Hear Mark talk about this father on CBC Radio's Radio Active: Despite Jan Morris' impressive body of work in a variety of styles, her son said she'll be remembered "for her staggeringly good writing." "She's one of the great stylists of writing and I see that in The Guardian newspaper in Britain today, six other travel writers have done tributes today to say how her writing influenced them," Mark said. Morris, a transgender woman, very publicly documented her transition in the book Conundrum, which was published in 1974. Mark said this is also an important piece of her legacy. He said he knew of many people to whom her example was so important. Edmonton: A six day week In 1990, Jan wrote a book of essays chronicling different cities across Canada. According to her essay on Edmonton, called A six day week, there was something about the city that didn't quite agree with her. Despite the fact that Jan couldn't last a week here in winter, Mark said he loves the essay. "How could the Edmontonians stand it, I wondered, for a whole winter —or a whole lifetime? Was it only to strangers that the city seemed so bewilderingly unresolved, or did its citizens too feel their navigations vague? So flat, so far away, so bitter half the year — what profits or pleasures could compensate for the disadvantages of Edmonton?" one section in the essay reads. Mark teaches the essay to writing students in his classes at the U of A, and said there's always a big divide in how students feel about the piece. "It strikes me that Edmonton is one of those places that half of us love all the time while the other half hate it. And then we all switch positions," he said. "I think my father got that perfectly in this article." She was, after all, "a poet of places," according to Mark.
NEW YORK — Jawan M. Jackson recently got to do something he's been yearning to do for months — sing and dance again with his Broadway cast.Jackson is one of the stars of “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations” and he reunited with castmates for the first time since theatres shuttered to prepare for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday.“I was most happy with just seeing all my old friends I haven’t seen in months, some who flew in specifically for the show to do this,” he said. “It was different, but it was still great to do.”The pandemic, which shut down theatres in March, may have upended most traditions this holiday season, but the annual New York City parade will march on with balloons, dancers, floats, Broadway shows and Santa — albeit heavily edited for safety.“Traditions like this are comforting and they’re uplifting,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of the parade. “New York has always been a tough city. It bounces back. It takes its blows and then it continues on. And I think it’s extremely important for us to be that display this holiday season. Regardless of what’s happened, New York needs to be that beacon of light in the darkness and this parade, I think, is symbolic of that.”The Macy’s parade has been a traditional holiday season kickoff for more than 90 years, and spectators often line up a half-dozen deep along the route to cheer about 8,000 marchers, two dozen floats, entertainers and marching bands. At last year's parade, the big fear was high wind. This time, it's a pandemic that has made crowds untenable.The biggest change this year is that the usual 2 1/2-mile route through crowded Manhattan has been scrapped in favour of concentrating events to a one-block stretch of 34th Street in front of the retailer’s flagship Manhattan store. Many performances have been pre-taped and most of the parade’s performers will be locally based to cut down on travel.In addition to “Ain’t Too Proud," the parade will feature performances from the Broadway casts of “Hamilton,” “Mean Girls” and “Jagged Little Pill,” a musical built around the music of Alanis Morissette. The Broadway performances were taped days before the parade.Things felt a lot different for actor Derek Klena, who was in the 2017 parade as part of the cast of “Anastasia.” This year, he's Tony Award-nominated for his role in “Jagged Little Pill” and helped perform “You Learn” from the Tony-nominated show.The cast was quarantined for two weeks before taping and tested regularly for the virus. Cast members rehearsed in masks until the moment cameras started rolling and kept socially distant. They sang live this time instead of years past when casts lip-synched."Although the circumstances were much different, it was still so magical and fulfilling to get to share that experience with your fellow castmates after being distant for so long," said Klena.“I think it was important to everybody to find a way to still celebrate this event and celebrate the shows and the companies that all get to share in this amazing event.”Both Jackson and Klena said everyone adhered to the show's strict safety protocols — enforcing the 6-foot rule, frequent testing and requiring face masks plus face shields, as well as a fresh mask after their performance. “I’m appreciative of it because it is built to keep you safe,” said Jackson, though he noted “dancing in a mask is a tough feat.”This year's lineup of balloons includes Snoopy, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “The Elf on the Shelf,” Chase from "Paw Patrol," Pikachu, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Ronald McDonald, SpongeBob SquarePants and “Trolls.” New this time are “The Boss Baby” and Red Titan from “Ryan’s World.”The giant cartoon-character balloons will be flown without the traditional 80 to 100 rope-pulling handlers assigned to each inflatable and will instead be tethered to specialized vehicles.Pentatonix, Ally Brooke, Keke Palmer, Sofia Carson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jordin Sparks will perform, and there will be floats from “Blue’s Clues,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and Lego. There will be a New York City Ballet ballerina with a performance from “The Nutcracker,” an all-female samba drumline and acrobats from “The Big Apple Circus,” and the Rockettes will be out in force. The parade ends with an appearance from Santa Claus.Another change this year was the decision to spotlight many of the New York City parades that were cancelled in the spring and fall due to the pandemic — the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Mermaid Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and NYC Pride March.“We’re going to be highlighting them, and we’re going to be really giving them a chance to shine,” said Tercero. “You’re going to be able to see creativity in this entertainment come to life that has sort of been dormant for the past seven months.”For the Broadway performers, there's a silver lining to the changes this year. Usually on Thanksgiving Day, they'd be freezing in Midtown, having woken at dawn and been dancing and singing for hours. This year, they get to watch themselves from the warmth of their apartments, a job already well done.“It’s the first Thanksgiving in a few years where I either don’t have a show or I’m not taping something,” said Klena. “So in that way it’ll be kind of fun to just celebrate with some of my friends here in the city and my wife.”___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
If you happen to pop by Ranchland Mall in Pincher Creek this Wednesday you’ll see a booth manned by purple-clad staff from the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter. On top of sporting purple fashion, the workers are handing out information and resources raising awareness for Family Violence Prevention Month, as well as recognizing Nov. 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Throughout November, family shelters and resource groups across the province have been participating in a public and social media campaign through gopurpleAlberta to help individuals and families feel safe in their homes and in their communities. The campaign is especially important as Alberta has the third-highest rate of self-reported spousal violence in Canada. Lori Van Ee, executive director for the shelter, says community members are asked to don purple throughout the day to help highlight efforts to prevent family violence. The shelter’s plans extend beyond the day of Nov. 25 and into the night as well. “We are encouraging community members to take part in our first-ever Shine Your Light Event,” says Lori. “This event will ask community members to shine their outside light, put a glow stick in their window, or turn on their holiday lights for the remainder of the night to help raise awareness.” The goal of Family Violence Prevention Month is twofold: help provide resources that prevent family circumstances from deteriorating, and ensure people in an unsafe domestic situation find the information and the help they need. Helping families through stress, says Kayla Strandquist, is the main focus for the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre. The centre provides counselling and support services for anyone who may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Though acknowledging that reaching out for help can be tough, Kayla emphasises the centre is a safe place to talk. “There’s always someone that will be willing to listen. Lots of times people don’t think that they can reach out for help, but there are people out there willing to help,” she says. “Sometimes people feel isolated or scared to ask for help, but just know that you’re not being judged.” Though the centre has shifted the majority of its counselling services to telephone or virtual sessions, people without access to technology are still welcome to come for conversations in person as long as they wear a mask. The centre is also running a Coats for Kids program and can provide free household items for families in need. A Christmas toy hamper will also be starting in December. Should anyone find themself in a situation where their safety is in danger, the centre can also provide same-day transportation from Crowsnest Pass to the shelter in Pincher Creek. The shelter, explains Lori, is more than a bed for women fleeing abuse. “Our residential program is a 21-day stay and assists women to assess their danger levels, create a safety plan, provide the necessities, and work with women to attain short-term goals such as finding housing independent from their abuser,” she says. “Women’s shelters remain the safest place for women fleeing violence. Our staff are trained to help women assess their danger levels and create a safety plan,” Lori continues. “We encourage anyone facing immediate danger to call 911. You are not alone.” The shelter also runs a support program to help moms meet the needs of their children, as well as facilitating age-appropriate activities for children staying in the shelter. Helping get women out of immediate danger is only one aspect of the shelter’s mandate. An outreach program also helps clients identify their needs, helping put women on a path to living independently and productively from abuse. The program lasts up to six months but can be extended as needed. Additionally, Lori says, women do not have to be living in the shelter to access the outreach program. “We can take referrals from community agencies and or community members themselves who see a need to access the supports that our outreach program can offer,” she says. A host of resources are available for anyone experiencing family violence. Any individual can contact the Pincher Creek crisis line at 403-627-4868 or 403-627-2114. In Crowsnest Pass, anyone in need of assistance can contact the resource centre at 403-563-9077. Provincially, a toll free crisis line is available at 1-888-354-4868. The Family Violence Info Line is also available in more than 170 languages at 310-1818. In case of immediate danger, people are encouraged to call 911. Online provincial resources can be found at www.alberta.ca/family-violence-find-supports.aspx. Provincial shelters can also be looked up at www.alberta.ca/find-shelters.aspx. Further information on the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter can be found online at www.pcshelter.ca. Likewise, additional information on the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre is available at www.cnpwomensresourcecentre.ca.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
As a kid, Delbert Good remembers that he would come home from a day of picking potatoes to find a meal made from the fruits of his family’s garden. “While I was growing up, we were pretty self-sufficient,” said Good, economic development officer for the Gitanyow Band and a lifelong resident of Gitanyow, a community northeast of Terrace, in northern B.C. Not anymore. In the past hundred years, a suite of colonial policies suppressed traditions that were essential to many Indigenous people’s access to food, including agricultural ones that were practised for generations. For Good, reawakening them could help pave a better-fed future for his community. About 17 per cent of households in northern B.C. were food insecure before the pandemic, according to the province’s Provincial Health Services Authority. The area around Gitanyow is particularly hard hit: about 27 per cent of the population in the census area is classified as low-income by Statistics Canada, with poverty the driver of food insecurity. The region is also a 15-hour drive from Vancouver, the distribution hub for roughly 78 per cent of the province’s food. That distance means that the food on grocery store shelves — particularly produce — is expensive and of low nutritional value when compared to urban centres further south. This year, the pandemic exacerbated the problem. Disruptions in global supply chains and high demand for some products emptied local grocery store shelves and highlighted a need to revitalize the community’s self-sufficiency. “In history, when they had stock market crashes and droughts and stuff like that, it never really affected the First Nations because they were used to living off the land,” Good said. That doesn’t surprise John Lutz, a professor of history at the University of Victoria who has studied Indigenous agriculture in the province. “There was an agriculture here that wasn’t immediately recognizable to Europeans,” he explained. For instance, Coast Salish people on the province’s south coast used controlled burns to maintain camas and wild potato plantations, but these well-tended clearings weren’t recognized by early Europeans as cultivated fields. As more Europeans arrived in present-day B.C., those practices started adapting to a new import: potatoes. The potato trade wasn’t limited to the north coast. Lutz said communities from southern Vancouver Island to Alaska picked up the potato trade and usually grew them in fertile and moist pockets of land scattered across their territories. That trade came to a halt in the late 1800s when the Canadian government started forcing Indigenous people onto miniscule reserves. And because the potato patches were rarely recognized as such by the white surveyors who mapped reserve boundaries, most were left out. The reserve system also made it difficult for Indigenous people provincewide to profitably practise European-style agriculture — like ranching or crop farming — because most of B.C.’s water rights had been stolen by settlers and reserves were rarely large or fertile enough for farming. While the reserve system and other federal policies made farming commercially almost inaccessible to most Indigenous people in B.C., growing food was still a widespread practice, Lutz explained. “In the early 20th century, you see a lot of extensive kitchen gardens, people who are living out of their gardens. In part, this is an economic necessity. Indigenous people in large parts of the province didn’t have much access to the cash economy,” he said. “They would take much of their food off the land in terms of hunting and their kitchen garden if they could. And, of course, like white settlers, they would preserve food for the winter. They would can their peas and preserve their vegetables and have root cellars, and so on.” That period ended in the 1950s, he said. Racist policies prevented Indigenous people from entering many industries, everything from law to hospitality. Jobs in industries that had once been key employers, like fishing and forestry, were becoming automated, a combination of policy and economics that pushed many First Nations out of the workforce. And at the same time, increasingly strict hunting and fishing regulations crafted and imposed without consultation made subsistence harvesting difficult. In addition, intergenerational trauma and loss of cultural knowledge inflicted by the federal government’s assimilationist policies — including residential and day schools — exacerbated already difficult social and economic conditions. Those factors continue to influence Indigenous people’s well-being, Lutz said, including food security. About 40 per cent of on-reserve Indigenous households in B.C. are food insecure, according to researchers at the University of Northern B.C. And Health Canada data shows that Canada-wide, about a third of off-reserve Indigenous households don’t have enough food. These are issues Good hopes next year’s community agricultural training program can help resolve — and that a similar program in the Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) community of Bella Bella on B.C.’s central coast has been successfully addressing for several years. In 2017, the Qqs (Eyes) Projects Society, a Haíɫzaqv youth- and family- focused non-profit, started a community garden in the 1,400-person town, which is only accessible by sea or air. The project was a big success, said ‘Cúagilákv (Jess Housty), the organization’s executive director, especially this year: Due to the pandemic, the organization decided against making a single communal garden, and instead distributed gardening supplies to households and taught them how to grow food in “grannie gardens.” “This year, we supported over 100 households,” she said. “And in a recent community food security assessment we conducted, we learned that a third of households in Bella Bella are growing a portion of their own food and another third of households really want to start next year.” It’s a level of interest that isn’t only driven by food, she explained. Growing food is also good for mental health, particularly when people are facing uncertainty related to the pandemic or other factors out of their control. Nor is the practice new. “I really want people to understand that gardening is actually a Haíɫzaqv ancestral practice … We wanted to remind people that our people have a long history of nourishing themselves through their deep knowledge of plant systems and the climate where they live, and how all things around them interconnect,” she explained. A connection actively undermined by federal policies to assimilate Indigenous people across the country. “We had generations where that sense of connection to certain ancestral food was really deliberately attacked and that is tragic and unfortunate, but I really strongly believe that that knowledge is still in us and that we can wake it up again,” she said.Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have signed college defenceman Philip Kemp to a three-year, entry-level contract through to the 2022-23 season.The 21-year-old from Greenwich, Conn., was named Yale Bulldogs captain for the 2020-21 season, but Ivy League hockey was cancelled Nov. 12.The Oilers picked Kemp in the seventh round (208th overall) in the 2017 NHL entry draft.He had three goals and eight assists and carried a plus-4 plus-minus rating in 32 games for Yale in 2019-20.The six-foot-three, 210-pound blueliner has compiled a career nine goals, 18 assists and a plus-2 rating in 88 games for the Bulldogs.Kemp won a silver medal with the U.S. junior team at the 2019 world junior hockey championship in Vancouver.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
NASHVILLE — More than four decades ago, Lamar Alexander won a ticket to the governor's mansion after he walked more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres) around Tennessee in a plaid shirt and hiking boots. He spent the night with 73 families and called his campaign headquarters from payphones.Alexander, who served two terms as the state's chief executive before heading to Washington, is finishing up his third and final U.S. Senate term in a nation increasingly divided by the COVID-19 pandemic, issues of racial injustice and law enforcement, and the vitriolic election season.In a recent interview with The Associated Press, wearing a facemask in the same red-and-black plaid he favoured as a young candidate, the 80-year-old Republican lawmaker discussed how he has navigated the presidency of President Donald Trump.Known as a dealmaker from a more co-operative, bygone era, Alexander has spent his final years, in part, deciding how and whether to react to what Trump is saying, doing and tweeting, without losing a partner in the White House who shares some of his own priorities.Alexander said many Democrats wish he would “spend more time criticizing President Trump’s behaviour,” while a lot of Republicans wish he “spent more time criticizing President (Barack) Obama’s liberal policies.”“President Lincoln, if he got mad, he’d write a hot letter and put it in the drawer,” Alexander said. “Today, if the president gets mad, he puts it out on a tweet to 72 million people and they put something out on their tweet. So, this drives a lot of division in the country. The blessings of an internet democracy — we’re somehow going to find a way to tolerate it and live with it if we want to unify the country and solve big problems in a way most of us can accept.”The former U.S. education secretary and two-time presidential candidate recently urged Trump’s team to begin the transition with Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, citing the need to keep coronavirus vaccine distribution plans on track. Even before COVID-19, the Senate health committee chairman pushed back against anti-vaccine disinformation. This summer, he also pressed Trump to wear a mask more often to set an example for his followers.The attorney and businessman helped draw the auto industry to Tennessee as governor. He served as the University of Tennessee's president before his 2002 election to the Senate. Tea party-aligned opposition arose during his 2014 reelection, resulting in a tighter-than-desired GOP primary win of 9 percentage points.The legislative wins he touts most aren't really the kinds of accomplishments that put politicians in the limelight: A copyright law change to sort out pay for songwriters in the digital age; simplification of the federal college aid application; legislation to cut in half maintenance backlogs in national parks, national forests and other public lands; national laboratories funding; and an education law that gives states authority to decide how to use certain testing results to evaluate teachers and schools.But the spotlight shone brightly on Alexander during some particularly fraught moments in the administration — most notably, when the senator voted against allowing witnesses and to acquit Trump during his impeachment trial.“On the impeachment, I said I thought he did it," Alexander said. "That didn’t justify removing him from office.”Alexander is retiring at the end of his term in January. Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty ultimately won the open seat with Trump's endorsement and his pledge to support the president's priorities. Hagerty emerged from a rough primary in which he and another Republican traded fire over who was better aligned with Trump. Alexander said the jury's still out on how Hagerty will act in office, but he predicted he will be an "excellent senator."“A lot of things are said in campaigns, and they have been for a long time. They don’t have much to do with what happens after you get elected,” Alexander said. “So I think we need to wait and see.”Alexander, who served in the Senate with Biden, said his focus on unifying the country is “exactly the right message," but he said Biden should not veer too far left. Senate Republicans could aim to block Biden's priorities if they deem them too progressive. Thus far, key Senate Republicans have kept quiet on confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees.“He’s a person of good character,” Alexander said of Biden. “He’s well-liked in the Senate on both sides of the aisle. He listens well. He’s well-acquainted with leaders around the world. Those are his strengths. The difficulty he is going to have is with the radical left agenda of the Democratic national party.”As the U.S. nears a new presidency and a COVID-19 vaccine, Alexander says there are good reasons for Americans to reject disinformation about both the coronavirus and the election.He said the hand tally of votes cast in the presidential race in Georgia, for example, “should reassure the American people that the election is valid.”Additionally, Alexander said he hopes the high effectiveness rates and safety of COVID-19 vaccines will outweigh concerns. For people who don't buy into masks, he suggested talking to frontline workers.“When I stopped smoking was when my doctor showed me a picture of a lung of a person who died from lung cancer," Alexander said. "I think what might persuade people is if they talk to a nurse who has been dealing with people in a hospital who are dying from COVID.”Jonathan Mattise, The Associated Press