A Windsor elementary school outbreak with 49 cases set the "precedent" for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in the province, according to one expert.Biostatistician Ryan Imgrund, who is based in Newmarket, Ont., and works with a number of public health units across the province, told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning that the outbreak at Frank W. Begley Public Elementary School set the example of what should be done. "At the time that they found those cases, Windsor was not one of those super danger zones like Toronto, Peel and some other areas like that," Imgrund said. "So I don't think it was expected by anyone that a school that is in a lower-risk area would find up to 50 cases ... I think Begley set the precedent for the whole entire province what we should be doing." After three staff members tested positive for the disease, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit dismissed the entire school on Nov. 17 and advised everyone to get tested. COVID-19 testing was prioritized for the entire school population, with a temporary testing site set up in the school's gymnasium. Overall, 40 students and nine staff members have tested positive. In the same week that Begley was declared an outbreak, W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School also went into outbreak and dismissed all students after two positive cases. Testing was prioritized for all members of this group, with a temporary testing site set up in the school, and seven people were confirmed positive. Despite this, and the fact that Begley is the largest school outbreak in the province, Windsor was not included in the launch of an asymptomatic testing pilot project announced last week. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday that the pilot is available for students and staff in the province's COVID-19 hotspots of Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa. "Right now, the next four weeks are targeting the highest-risk regions," he said at the time. "We're following the advice of public health. If they determine, they provide a recommendation it should be expanded or we should augment the list, of course we will continue to follow that direction and implement it swiftly."Lecce told reporters that 99.85 per cent of students in the Windsor-Essex region remain COVID-free, and he and his staff are in contact with school board and public health officials to keep transmission down.Though Begley remains closed, superintendent of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board Sharon Pyke told CBC News Wednesday that the board is working with the health unit and hopes to announce a reopening date this week. A letter sent out to parents in regards to the outbreak had asked them to have their child tested, even if they were asymptomatic. When asked whether she'd like to see asymptomatic testing in schools available in the region, Pyke said it might be best to spare our resources. "I think that if we can keep on top of doing our self-assessments, I think that we perhaps may be better served in terms of our resources in our area, we want to make sure that we're able to test the people that need to be tested," she said."So do I agree? Any kind of preventative measure is good for anyone so of course I want the best for students, I want the best for our staff. I just want to make sure that they're allocated in the right space and the right spot." An investigation by the local health unit is still ongoing to determine how COVID-19 transmission was so widespread in Begley.
Quebec is tightening the health guidelines for stores and malls for the holiday shopping season in an attempt to limit the transmission of the coronavirus.Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said Wednesday she wants Quebecers to be able to shop for loved ones in a safe environment.The measures include: * A maximum capacity of customers based on floor space available to customers. The capacity must be displayed at the front of the store or shopping mall. * Signs about distancing rules to ensure compliance while shopping and waiting in line. * Clear markings so that shoppers can more easily navigate the store.Guilbault acknowledged that many shopping venues already have these measures in place. But she said those that don't risk being fined up to $6,000 or closed altogether.She said police and workplace safety inspectors would increase their presence in shopping districts during the holiday period.The province reported a record 1,514 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic, along with 43 deaths.Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, said earlier this week that shopping malls have not been a major driver of COVID-19 outbreaks but he said stricter guidelines would ensure that remains the case.
Union representatives want to be involved in reforming a “toxic, racist” environment at York Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The Province is looking into allegations of harassment and racism, which surfaced this summer. In July, the government announced an operational review of YRCAS “Our government has been unwavering in our position that we have zero tolerance for racism, bullying and harassment. We want to ensure the health and well-being of staff at YRCAS. We also want to ensure that the children, youth and families of York Region are receiving the services they need and deserve.,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says front-line workers must have a real voice in finding solutions to address those toxic working conditions at York CAS. An independent probe has delivered a scathing review of the management at the CAS. Thomas says the society’s board of directors must include members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 304 in drafting a 30-day work plan ordered by the provincial government. "An independent review has made it clear: the leadership at York CAS has failed the organization and the children it serves,” said Thomas. “Thanks to the tenacity and determination of the front-line workers at the agency, those leadership failures have now been exposed and confirmed. “If the agency is going to heal and begin moving forward again, those front-line workers must have a real say in the reforms that are long overdue.” The independent report ordered by the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services found that senior management at York CAS has created a “toxic” environment in which a pervasive “culture of fear” and “racism and anti-Black racism” have left workers traumatized. The ministry ordered that report after the executive of OPSEU Local 304 did a survey of staff that found an overwhelming number were experiencing depression, panic, and emotional breakdowns because of the workplace culture. The agency now has 30 days to issue a work plan addressing the toxic workplace. The chair of the agency’s board of directors, Tahir Shafiq, held a meeting with staff about the report, but many were left disappointed. “For years, we’ve been telling the employer that we and the services we provide are hurting. And for months, the board has stood behind the senior managers,” said OPSEU/SEFPO Local 304 President Andrew Harrigan. “Even with this damning report in his hands, the board chair did little this morning to reassure us that the board is ready to take real action against the harassment and racism we face.” Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO first-vice president/treasurer said the board would be negligent not to involve the front-line workers in its plan for the future. “With courage and conviction, these front-line workers have been fighting for months to fix their broken agency,” said Almeida. “They’re a credit to children's aid because they're putting the families and children they care for above their own safety and security. “To not involve them in the needed reforms would be as shameful as the management malpractice that they helped expose.” Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
Montreal Alouettes running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence is used to psyching himself up to sprint down a field, evading a crush of muscled men the entire way. But mentally preparing for his latest venture required bracing for a whole new set of anxieties. As he readied himself to hop in a bobsled for the first time, Murray-Lawrence knew he'd be zipping down an icy track faster than cars are allowed to travel down most highways. “It was very nerve wracking," the 27-year-old Toronto native said of the run. "Once I got in the sled, it was just the longest 50 seconds of my life. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I couldn’t breathe. But when it’s over, I was like ‘Hey, man, I think I could do that again.’”And he has. Murrary-Lawrence, Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Jay Dearborn and B.C. Lions running back hopeful Kayden Johnson joined the national bobsled program after the CFL cancelled its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the national development squad, the trio has been training at the ice house at Calgary's Canada Olympic Park. This week, the group moved to the sliding centre in Whistler, B.C., where they'll perfect their techniques on a full course. Built for the 2010 Olympics, the Whistler track is known as one of the fastest in the world. Dearborn still hasn't figured out how to explain what it's like to race down the ice."The feel of those forces going around the corner, or the speed that you’re going at … the biggest thing that I struggle with is how to describe what it’s like to have your whole being crushed by these forces going through each corner," he said. Just months ago, Dearborn "didn't know a thing" about the sport. A strength and conditioning coach at Carleton University put him in touch with a national recruiter last year, but it wasn't until March that the 26-year-old from Yarker, Ont., got into a sled for the first time. “I just knew the type of athletes it attracted and I knew I was pretty similar — a strong, explosive, fast athlete, that are pretty technically minded people," Dearborn said.Football and bobsled both require ample power and explosiveness, Murray-Lawrence said. "You've got to be very aggressive," he said. "You need so much speed, so much power in such a short amount of time."The sport has a delicate side, too, he added, because you also have to be a "ballerina or ninja" to seamlessly jump into the sled without rocking it as it hurtles down the track. Learning that balance of power and poise has been a long time coming for Murray-Lawrence. He was first recruited by the national bobsled team in 2017 while playing for the Lions.Then his life was upended by a hit-and-run crash that left Murray-Lawrence with a concussion and back injuries.It was about 700 days before he played another CFL game, joining the Alouettes late in the 2019 season. The campaign ended before Murray-Lawrence could firmly reestablish himself, though, and this year was supposed to be his big comeback. “Everything got put on hold. There was so much uncertainty," he said. "For me, the last two years has been about trying to prove myself.”When the CFL finally called off the 2020 season in August, it didn't take Murray-Lawrence long to turn his sights to bobsled. He spoke with former Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Dexter Janke and Olympian Jesse Lumsden, both of whom played in the CFL and competed in bobsled.“I’m just trying to be a sponge. I’m just trying to soak up as much knowledge and information that I can," he said.There's a lot of overlap in training for bobsled and football, said Kayden Johnson, a 24-year-old running back from Kerrobert, Sask., who was selected by the Lions in the seventh round of the 2020 draft.Because of the lost season, Johnson has yet to play a CFL game, but he believes his winter work will help his football career. “Bobsleigh has that mental toughness and that competitive aspect of all or nothing," he said. "You’ll always commit to going full speed. Even if you fail, you fail at full speed, that’s what they like to say here. You’re not afraid of the challenge or attacking the run.”For Dearborn, training to be a brakeman includes more sprinting than he was used to in the CFL. He and his coaches regularly watch video to dissect and perfect every detail and angle of his stride, the same way a runner might work with a sprinting coach.“I think it’s going to help my running," Dearborn said. "I should show up on that field a little faster than I was, so that’s really exciting.”In January, the three CFLers are set to take their new skills on the road as the Canadian bobsled team heads to Europe to compete. The bobsled and skeleton world championships are scheduled to take place in Germany at the beginning of February, and there's an Olympic test event slated for early March in Beijing. Knowing that the team is working towards the 2022 Olympics is exciting, said Murray-Lawrence. Competing on the world's biggest stage for your country instead of for a team that you've signed a contract with "holds a little bit more pride," he explained. “This is something I can carry with me forever, that I represented my country," he said. Johnson already knows the thrill of wearing the maple leaf of his chest, having represented Canada in decathlon at the Pan American junior championships, but he'd love to represent his country on the bobsled track in Beijing, too. “The Olympics has always been a dream of mine," said Johnson, who also competed in 60-metre hurdles at York University. "Olympics rings have always been something I’ve been chasing after.” All three athletes hope they can balance bobsled and football when the CFL finally returns. Murray-Lawrence believes he can do both sports for a long time, but adds that, with the current state of the world, little is certain right now."At any moment, this could all be shut down," he said. "So we’re just living in the moment right now. Embrace it, cherish it and have fun.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
A two-week lockdown ends Wednesday in Nunavut for all communities except Arviat, where community transmission of COVID-19 is still occurring. Public health restrictions in Arviat remain as they have been for the past two weeks, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson during a news conference at the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday. As well, masks are mandatory, travel outside of the community is restricted and gatherings must not exceed five people, he said. "This is the fastest way to eventually loosen restrictions," he said. As of Wednesday, there are 80 active COVID-19 cases in Nunavut and 113 people are recovered, according to the territory's news release Wednesday. There are 11 new active cases announced Wednesday in Arviat, where there are currently 65 active cases. Only one new case was reported in Nunavut on Tuesday.While Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet — communities with active cases — are not on lockdown anymore, restrictions are tighter than elsewhere in the Kivalliq region and masks are still mandatory in both communities. Three layer masks are bestGoing forward, masks will be mandatory in all communities where there are active cases of COVID-19, Patterson said. For people making homemade masks at home, those masks should fit well to a person's face and three layers of material is better than two, Patterson said. "If you are taking it off to get a drink of water, don't just pull it down over your chin. Either take it off completely or take it off one ear," he said. "We should wash or sanitize our hands after handling the mask and reusable masks should be washed at the end of every day."> "We can stop transmission within the house, without resorting to relocation. I don't want people to give up." \- Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael PattersonActive case numbers in the territory have been in slow decline over the last few days. "This is a marathon, not a sprint and our actions in the days, weeks and months to come will determine the status of COVID-19 in Nunavut," Patterson said in a release on Tuesday.For households isolating because of COVID-19 in the home, that isolation must continue until 14 days after the last infected person tests positive.Patterson said there are some separate isolation spaces identified in Arviat, but that these spaces are nowhere near the amount that would be needed for the outbreak. He said isolating one person isn't helpful when others in the house may already be infected. But, he said healthy people who live in infected households shouldn't give up trying to stay well. "Once COVID-19 gets into a house, even in a crowded house, it's not a guarantee that everybody in the house is going to get it," he said. "We can stop transmission within the house, without resorting to relocation. I don't want people to give up."That's by being careful, cleaning and staying separate from household members who are ill, he said. Rapid testing on the way for isolation hubs in Winnipeg New support funds from the federal government mean the territory can introduce rapid testing at isolation hubs, Patterson said. Preparations are still being made, but an easily transportable testing device will be used to test isolating residents at the two Winnipeg hubs. This will be done at the beginning, middle and end of each two week stay, Patterson said, as a way to "augment" isolation and "reduce the chance of COVID-19 getting through the isolation hubs." "We were concentrating our efforts in Winnipeg because it currently has the highest risk of introducing COVID-19 to Nunavut," he said. Rapid testing is being considered for Ottawa and Edmonton hubs, but risks are lower so these cities are not the government's priority, he said. "Testing is a possible way of reducing the risk, although we'll never be able to get it to zero," he said. The lockdown is lifted for now, but it could be brought back if needed, Patterson said in the news conference. "We were close to the limit of our ability to respond with the rapid response teams. To avoid getting overwhelmed we opted for the territorial-wide lockdown," he said. "It's going to be a possibility that we could have to do this again." Territory will continue to fund isolationEarly in the pandemic the Government of Nunavut said it would charge non-essential travellers for their stays in isolation hubs — as the N.W.T. government announced this week it would start doing in January — but later went back on that decision saying there were legal and administrative concerns. While the Nunavut government will keep an eye on the N.W.T.'s policy change, "at this time, our government is not looking at that," Health Minister Lorne Kusugak said. "We don't want to have a two tiered standard where some people can afford the isolation and others can't," Premier Joe Savikataaq said. The Northwest Territories has also begun testing high-risk essential workers when they enter the territory — like health care workers, RCMP officers and dentists — Nunavut won't be doing that, Patterson said. "The difficulty we have is that entry testing, the day before you travel, and relying on those results is potentially harmful," he said, adding that some essential workers will test negative but could still be positive. In other jurisdictions those false negatives have led to outbreaks, he said. Testing done as of Dec. 1 has shown 588 negative tests in Arviat, 219 negative test results in Rankin Inlet and 125 negative results in Whale Cove. Monitoring continues in Sanikiluaq where some residents and their households continue to isolate, after two cases were confirmed in early November. Missed the update? Watch it here: People who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to call the COVID hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre and immediately isolate at home for 14 days.The government update will play later in the day on CBC Radio in Nunavut.
NAIROBI, Kenya — In a breakthrough a month after deadly conflict cut off Ethiopia’s Tigray region from the world, the United Nations on Wednesday said it and the Ethiopian government have signed a deal to allow “unimpeded” humanitarian access, at least for areas under federal government control after the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the weekend.This will allow the first food, medicines and other aid into the region of 6 million people that has seen rising hunger during the fighting between the federal and Tigray regional governments. Each regards the other as illegal in a power struggle that has been months in the making.For weeks, the U.N. and others have pleaded for access amid reports of supplies running desperately low for millions of people. A U.N. humanitarian spokesman, Saviano Abreu, said the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin Wednesday.“We are of course working to make sure assistance will be provided in the whole region and for every single person who needs it,” he said. The U.N. and partners are committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict" to ensure that aid to Tigray and the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions is “strictly based on needs."Ethiopia’s government did not immediately comment.For weeks, aid-laden trucks have been blocked at Tigray’s borders, and the U.N. and other humanitarian groups were increasingly anxious to reach Tigray as hunger grows and hospitals run out of basic supplies like gloves and body bags.“We literally have staff reaching out to us to say they have no food for their children,” one humanitarian worker told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.“We have been urging, waiting, begging for access,” another aid official, Jan Egeland with the Norwegian Refugee Council, told the AP. “We're ready to go tomorrow. ... It has been heartbreaking to be forced to wait."More than 1 million people in Tigray are now thought to be displaced, including over 45,000 who have fled into a remote area of neighbouring Sudan. Humanitarians have struggled to feed them as they set up a crisis response from scratch.Communications and transport links remain almost completely severed to Tigray, and the fugitive leader of the defiant regional government this week told the AP that fighting continues despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's declaration of victory.It remains almost impossible to verify either side’s claims as the conflict threatens to destabilize both the country and the entire Horn of Africa.“It is critically important to get objective information as to what is going on,” the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, told the BBC. “The active military phase is basically over. I’m not saying the fighting is over. So at this point, the humanitarian phase is the most important one.”Nagy added that “now the danger is this evolving into a long-term insurgency." He also disagreed with Ethiopia's description of the conflict as a “law enforcement operation” to arrest the Tigray leaders, saying that “it was obviously a military operation.” The fighting between two heavily armed forces has seen airstrikes, rocket attacks and tanks.For weeks, the U.N. and others have been increasingly insistent on the need to reach some 600,000 people in Tigray who already were dependent on food aid even before the conflict.Now those needs have exploded, but Abiy has resisted international pressure for dialogue and de-escalation, saying his government will not “negotiate our sovereignty.” His government regards the Tigray regional government, which dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition for more than a quarter-century, as illegitimate after months of growing friction as he sought to centralize power.Amid the warring sides’ claims and counter-claims, one thing is clear: Civilians have suffered.The U.N. says food has run out for the nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea whose camps close to the Tigray border with Eritrea have been in the line of fire as the fighting swept through. Reports that some refugees have been killed or abducted, if true, “would be major violations of international norms,” the U.N. refugee chief said over the weekend in an urgent appeal to Abiy.These are “extremely vulnerable people” who fled persecution in Eritrea, Egeland said. “It’s been extremely frustrating to lose access and communication.”With infrastructure there and elsewhere in Tigray damaged, the U.N. has said some people are now drinking untreated water, increasing the risk of diseases.In the largest hospital in the Tigray capital, Mekele, staff had to suspend other activities to focus on treating the large number of wounded from the conflict, the International Committee for the Red Cross said.The ICRC, the rare organization to travel inside the Tigray region and its borderlands, has reported coming across abandoned communities and camps of displaced people.No one knows the true toll of the fighting. Human rights and humanitarian groups have reported several hundred people killed, including civilians, but many more are feared.Inside Tigray, and among the majority ethnic Tigrayan refugees in Sudan, people are exhausted.“The world hasn’t seen anything like this year. I have never seen anything like this,” said one refugee who gave his name as Danyo, standing on the edge of a river that people on Tuesday were crossing to seek safety.“When Dr. Abiy came, we saw him as a good thing,” he said. “Our hopes were fulfilled, because his talk in the beginning was as sweet as honey, but now the honey has gone sour.”___Fay Abuelgasim in Hamdayet, Sudan, contributed.Cara Anna, The Associated Press
Dr. Alfonso Fasano of the Krembil Brain Institute at the Toronto Western Hospital explains how the Percept PC deep brain stimulation system works to help doctors keep an eye on patients' brains as they go about their lives.
Pincher Creek council met Nov. 23 to receive an update on the town’s economic development plan. In October 2019, council and administration contracted InnoVisions and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in economic development, to help address challenges surrounding the impending closure of the Shell Waterton Complex. The project has now shifted gears to helping local businesses and the regional economy navigate the tumultuous Covid-19 circumstances. While the development plan is still focused on utilizing the community’s assets to simultaneously support existing businesses and encourage new investment, retention is now the main focus, said InnoVisions president Natalie Gibson. “If you can’t keep the existing businesses you have,” said Ms. Gibson, the economic plan “would have not lent any value to the community.” As soon as the pandemic forced a provincial lockdown in March, the development planners put together a survey for local businesses to gather information on their immediate needs and concerns. The results were one of the first collected data sets on how Covid-19 was affecting small businesses in rural areas. Ms. Gibson said the feedback was instrumental in helping the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce organize the Business Recovery Support Plan and lovelocalPC campaign. “We’re hearing from some of the businesses that they are able to pivot, that they appreciate the coaching program,” she added. “They’re looking at the resiliency of can they hang on for x number of months, but more importantly can they diversify their business to lessen the ripple effect.” Results from a November survey are currently being gathered, with another potentially set to occur in February. A realignment of the Business Recovery Support Plan is planned for the start of the new year. Aspects of the town’s community economic strategy will also be finalized by March. A presentation will be made to council and the community at that time. Businesses interested in the program or in need of assistance are encouraged to reach out to the chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-627-5199. Passing on Santa Council voted not to attend the Bellecrest reverse Santa Parade planned for Nov. 26. With new provincial health restrictions announced Nov. 24, parade organizers ended up cancelling the event. Operations Q3 report The third-quarter operations report was the final topic of discussion. Highlights included the water main break repair at Veteran’s Street, and the Willow Street regrading and drainage project being completed. Inspections and repairs at the old RCMP building at 659 Main St. were also finalized so the site could be used by Alberta Health Services for conducting Covid-19 testing. Council did request a follow-up question be sent to operations regarding the ideal ratio between treated water sent out to residents versus water collected for treatment. 214,326 cubic metres of treated water was distributed from July to September while only 191,443 cubic metres was collected. Though the amount of water returning to be treated is typically lower, since not all water use is able to be captured by drains, past issues with water leakage made council curious what was considered a good ratio between water intake and distribution. Next meeting The next council meeting will be held virtually Monday, Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. The meeting can be accessed at https://www.gotomeet. me/TownofPincherCreekCouncil, and agenda packages are available online at https://bit.ly/ PcCouncil.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
THUNDER BAY — A 26-year-old man facing a murder charge has been sentenced for his role in an unrelated, unprovoked attack of another inmate at the Thunder Bay District jail more than a year ago. Darren Steven Oombash, 26, appeared in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom on Monday, Nov. 30, and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault for his part in an assault of another inmate. Ontario Judge Chantal M. Brochu accepted a joint submission for Oombash of two years less a day minus pre-sentence custody. Crown counsel Katrina van Kessel read out facts relating to the Sept. 21, 2019 assault at the district jail involving Oombash and five others where they attacked another inmate who suffers from schizophrenia and mild intellectual impairments, court heard on Monday. “This was brutal, unprovoked six-on-one attack on a vulnerable person,” van Kessel, said, adding the victim still suffers from long term damage to his vision as a result of the attack. Court heard the complainant suffered several injuries after he was dragged out of his cell by Oombash’s co-accused, Jonathan Yellowhead into a corridor area of the jail where he was beaten by six other individuals to the point where he lost consciousness. The entire incident was captured on surveillance video at the jail. Some of his injuries included a concussion, a fractured and displaced orbital bone with hemorrhaging in his sinus which required surgery, a dislocated jaw, swelling, bruising and abrasions to his face. His left eye was also swollen shut. “At the time of his discharge from hospital on Sept. 27, 2019, swelling to his face was still so significant that the injury to his eye could not be assessed,” van Kessel said, adding the complainant has no memory of the attack. Court heard a few mitigating factors laid out by lawyers including Oombash’s limited criminal record which includes two convictions, one for mischief and one for resisting police. His guilty plea was also considered mitigating as it showed a sign of remorse. Defence counsel Mary Bird gave the court a brief background of Oombash's upbringing. He moved to Thunder Bay from Cat Lake First Nation to attend high school. “Unfortunately like many young people who end up in the city, they often end up without employment, without a place to stay and unfortunately he got himself into a little bit of trouble,” Bird said. The lawyer also highlighted Oombash’s parents and both sets of grandparents attended residential schools. Bird also said her client started drinking at the age of 13. “It has become part of his lifestyle unfortunately and certainly led him to be in custody and obviously he wasn’t intoxicated this day, but it has been an issue for him,” she said. Some of the others involved in the attack have already been sentenced according to court documents. Lennox Oren Atlookan was given a three-year jail sentence on July 23 and Brolin Ian Donald Ooshag was sentenced in June to a total of 540 days in custody. Both men received weapon prohibitions orders. Travis Jacob Loon, John Thomas O’Keese and Johnathon Joseph Yellowhead will appear in court next on these charges on Dec. 18. Oombash was also given a 10-year weapons prohibition order and is not to communicate with the victim. He was given credit at an enhanced rate for the time he spent in pre-sentence custody of 653 days which leaves 76 days left to serve. Oombash remains in custody for other outstanding matters including a charge of murder where he is co-accused with Marlene Lou Kwandibens and Terry Nicole Irene Michon. All three are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2018 death of Ashley McKay. All three co-accused have had their murder charge committed to stand trial in Superior Court and will appear in court next on Dec. 14 for a pre-trial, according to court documents. There is a publication ban on these matters.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Newer SUVs and trucks with key fobs top the list of the most often stolen vehicles in Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said Wednesday.The group that represents insurance companies across the country said theft from your own driveway using widely available electronic tools is on the rise across the country, as thieves respond to demand from high-end buyers overseas and street racers here at home.The four-door 2018 Honda CRV with all-wheel drive holds the ignominious title of being the most stolen vehicle in Canada this year, with 350 thefts reported by insurers across the country — nearly one per day. When the 2017 and 2019 models are included in the tally, there were 758 stolen — that's more than two per day.Here's the rest of the list:There is wide variety across the country, too. In Alberta, all of the most-stolen vehicles are versions of pickup trucks: F150s and F350s from Ford, and Dodge Rams."These trucks are attractive to thieves, and oil and gas companies have used them almost exclusively, which has brought a disproportionately high amount of them to the province," the IBC said.In Ontario, however, the list is mostly high-end SUVs from Toyota, Honda and Lexus. Some of those get sold abroad, but many are chopped up for parts, the IBC said. Atlantic Canada had a mix of both, with popular sedans such as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Cruz mixed in. The most stolen vehicle in Atlantic Canada was the Chevrolet Silverado, which is typically targeted for export by criminal groups.Drivers often worry about something like their window being smashed and their car being stolen that way. But cheap and plentiful tech tools make it far easier to steal a car today. Bryan Gast, national director of investigative services at IBC, said in an interview with CBC News that the biggest trend he's seeing this year is what's known as a "relay attack.""That means they're acquiring your signal from your key fob, cloning your key fob and [then] have the ability to start your vehicle without ever having the original key fob," he said."It's as simple as walking to your front door, seeing if they're able to capture a signal of a key fob that might be inside. They don't go anywhere in your house. They're capturing it from the outside. And they have the ability to technologically clone the device and have the ability to start your car and drive off."New tech 'makes it easy for the criminal'The best tool to fight electronic theft, Gast says, is to not do what most people do — come into their house and leave their keys in a bowl or some other exposed place, just behind the front door. He recommends instead getting a metallic box for the car keys, one that blocks radio frequencies."If you put it in a box, it doesn't emit the radio frequency. Basically, it is in a protective box or a pouch and [criminals] don't have the ability to capture that key fob signal."Cars manufactured since 2008 have mandated some sort of car-immobilizing technology built into them that makes the car not start unless you have the right technologically equipped key, and that has changed the trends in car theft ever since, Gast says. "A lot of the time, as people leave the key fobs in their vehicle, that's where they keep it. They make it easy to hop in, push the button to start and off they go. But it also makes it easy for the criminal, too."There's another built-in vulnerability in something many drivers do as a precaution: when in a parking lot, they double-check their car is locked by hitting the key fob.But a thief in the area with the right technology can clone the fob from that."You're emitting that frequency, which can also be captured," Gast said.A lot of the most-stolen vehicles are higher-end, expensive and large cars that can be hard to acquire outside North America, which is why Gast says a big motivator for theft isn't a criminal looking for a joy ride or to sell it locally. The thief often has a specific request for a specific vehicle and then sets about finding it.Convenient technology is just making it easier, such that currently, a car is stolen somewhere in Canada every six minutes.Theft on the rise in COVIDWhile COVID-19 has led to more cars being parked due to people working from home, it has also led to an increase in one type of car theft, Gast says. Namely, people looking for specific parts and vehicles to be used in street racing events and other reckless driving behaviour."The problem is stealing parts for some of these modified vehicles in the vehicles themselves," he said. "Law enforcement definitely has their hands full."
HALIFAX – Boylston residents won’t be rocking Netflix around-the-clock anytime soon, but they and about 1,000 other rural residents of Antigonish and Guysborough counties are set for unexpected upgrades to high-speed Internet by 2023 – adding to communities announced by Develop Nova Scotia in September. “They’re getting new coverage as a result of scope expansions,” Braedon Clark, a Develop Nova Scotia official, told the The Journal in an email last week. “The number of homes and businesses to be connected is 1,342.” The upgrades now include: Southside Antigonish Harbour, Monks Head, Kenzieville (Keppoch Mountain, Addington Forks, Ohio, Hillcrest, Ashdale, Pinevale, South Salt Springs, Beech Hill), Fairmont, Pleasant Valley, Caledonia Mills (Lower Springfield, Roman Valley), Brierly Brook (James River), Mulgrave (Aulds Cove, Pirate Harbour, Middle Melford, Hadleyville), and Guysborough (Boylston, North Riverside, Manchester, Glenkeen). Other rural communities scheduled for scope expansion along the Eastern Shore include: Musquodoboit Harbour (Lower West Jeddore, Quinlan Dr., Ostrea Lake Rd., Anderson Rd., Innis Cove, West Petpeswick), Lake Charlotte (Clam Bay, Upper Lakeville, Ship Harbour, DeBaies Cove, Southwest Cove, Little Harbour, Clam Harbour, Clam Bay), Goffs (Old Guysborough Rd., Devon), and Chezzetcook (Lawrencetown, Leslie Rd.). The new $24-million initiative through the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust (with an additional $9 million from other levels of government and the private sector) will connect 6,700 homes and businesses across the province with high-speed Internet at speeds higher than Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) targets by late 2023. “These scope expansions will reduce the number of remaining unserved or underserved homes and businesses by over half,” said a Develop Nova Scotia press release on Nov. 23. “Preparatory and engineering work will begin immediately on the contract extensions.” It’s not clear whether the scope expansions are part of a planned connection program or an ad hoc response to areas overlooked during the second round of high-speed rural Internet enhancements in the fall. “They (the communities) were identified as still needing connection after our Round 2 announcement in September,” Clark said. According to Develop Nova Scotia, since the first round began in February, more than 21,000 of a targeted 81,500 homes and businesses now have networks in place to provide new or improved high-speed Internet. It also says projects are being completed about 50 per cent faster than industry standards. So far, the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust, other levels of government and the private sector have invested about $263 million the initiative with a goal of hooking up 97 per cent of rural communities in the province with high-speed Internet by summer 2022.Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.MOVIES— Film history fans will get a meal out of David Fincher’s “Mank,” about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz who is masterfully played by Gary Oldman. Shot in gorgeous black and white, “Mank” transports you into the depression era studio system, Upton Sinclair’s bid for governor, William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies’s elegant parties and to that bungalow in Victorville where the first draft of the classic Orson Welles film was composed. Available on Netflix on Friday, “Mank” is one of the year’s very best films and both a tribute to and searing critique of Hollywood’s golden age. Amanda Seyfried, as Davies, is one of the great performances of the year.— Another film full of excellent performances is “Sound of Metal,” starring Riz Ahmed as a punk metal drummer who experiences sudden severe hearing loss. The film, which is captioned in English, dives into the world of the deaf community with Ruben (Ahmed) in a way you’ve never seen or heard before. It’s the directorial debut of Darius Marder (a writer on “The Place Beyond the Pines”), who assembled an crack team of sound mixers and editors to create a unique auditory experience to simulate what Ruben is going through as he loses his hearing entirely.— If $30 was a little steep for your tastes to rent the new live-action “Mulan,” it’ll finally be free for Disney+ subscribers Friday. From director Niki Caro, this adaptation of the Chinese folk tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the army, is breathtakingly beautiful, from the stunning landscapes to the colorful costumes. Although it may fall short on the kind of intoxicating story magic that the Disney label signifies, it is worth a watch and may just inspire some curious young viewers to delve into more Asian cinema classics. Also, if you find yourself missing the songs and Eddie Murphy, the animated 1998 version is also available on the service.— AP Film Writer Lindsey BahrMUSIC— A house is not a home during the holiday season if Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is not blasting – daily! During a normal, non-pandemic year, Carey and her Christmas craziness would be on a holiday tour, bringing joy to fans and lambs in-person. Because live shows aren’t really a thing in 2020, she’s launching a holiday TV special on Apple TV+ on Friday. “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” will includes a mix of musical performances and dancing with amination. Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Misty Copeland and Carey’s 9-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, will make special appearances.— Shawn Mendes released his debut album in 2015 and he’s dropping his fourth effort Friday. “Wonder” continues to showcase Mendes’ growth as a singer, songwriter and performer. The album features the singles “Wonder” and “Monster” with Justin Bieber, which debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot chart this week. Along with the album is the Netflix documentary called “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder,” which is available for streaming and follows Mendes’ rise and journey over the last few years.— Christmas came early when Carrie Underwood released her first holiday album in September, and on Thursday she’ll debut a musical TV special to accompany the album. On HBO Max’s “My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood” — conducted by award-winning musical director Rickey Minor — the country superstar is backed by a live orchestra, choir and her band. John Legend makes a special appearance and viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at Underwood’s 5-year-old son, Isaiah, recording his vocals for their version of “Little Drummer Boy.”— AP Music Editor Mesfin FekaduTELEVISION— “Selena: The Series” is described by Netflix as a coming-of-age drama that follows Selena Quintanilla from talented youngster to musical phenom, aided by her family. A breakthrough star in male-dominated Tejano music, the singer was just shy of her 24th birthday in 1995 when she was fatally shot by a former business associate. The two-part series debuts Friday with Christian Serratos (“The Walking Dead”) as Selena and Gabriel Chavarria (“East Los Angeles’) and Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) among the cast members.— The 11th and final season of the Showtime dramady “Shameless” debuts 9 p.m. EST Sunday, weaving the pandemic, urban gentrification and personal pressures into the lives of the Gallaghers of Chicago’s South Side. Aging patriarch Frank (William H. Macy) is facing the toll of longtime alcohol and drug abuse, while and Ian and Mickey (Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher) struggle as newlyweds. Deb (Emma Kenney) stands ready to give her all to single motherhood and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) feels the same about his nascent law enforcement career.— Two respected veterans are behind “A Suitable Boy,” a limited series directed by filmmaker Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake”) and written by Andrew Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “House of Cards”). An adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1,300-plus page novel of the same name, the 1950s, India-set drama revolves around a university student who’s shaping her identity as the newly independent country does the same. The all-Indian lead cast includes Tabu (“The Namesake,” “Life of Pi”) and Tanya Maniktala. The series debuts Monday, Dec. 7, on Acorn TV.— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber___Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.The Associated Press
Dysart et al council has signed off on a memorandum of understanding that will allow the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association (HCSA) to operate on the local trail this winter season, providing the organization comes to a separate agreement with the principal landowners along the site. In what turned out to be a hearty debate amongst council members, a recorded vote saw a majority of the municipality’s elected officials approve the HCSA’s request to amend an existing agreement that will, essentially, transfer a portion of the off-season liability from the snowmobile club to the town should an accident occur. Ward 4 Coun. John Smith was the sole vote against the request. He pointed to issues that Dysart’s legal counsel and insurance provider had with the wording of the new agreement as the main reason he voted to turn the application down. “I’m not trying to prohibit snowmobiling, but as our solicitor has pointed out, and as our insurance company has pointed out, these proposed changes put forth by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, (and presented by local associations), are transferring risk from snowmobiling clubs to municipalities. That is liability from snowmobilers onto taxpayers,” Coun. Smith said. He continued, “For us to proceed with this when our solicitor has written us a letter, and our insurance company have written a letter expressing their concerns over the agreement, and for us to adopt our own casual interpretation of those risks … It’s a concern, for me, that we would appear to dismiss these risks so casually.” Earlier in the meeting, Jeff Iles, Dysart’s director of planning and land information, informed council that the town’s lawyer said it was “not inherently a negative thing” that the snowmobile association was looking to limit its responsibility in the event an injury or damages occur during the late spring, summer and early months of fall, when there’s no snow on the ground. Mayor Andrea Roberts said she understands completely why the snowmobile club would want to initiate such a change. “Why would the snowmobile club want to be responsible if somebody is trespassing on property, or a tree falls, or somebody is hiking on (the trail). I see why they’re asking for this change,” Mayor Roberts said. Coun. Smith did not concur with the mayor’s opinion, pointing to other municipalities and organizations, such as the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, and the Grand River Conservation Authority, who have refused to sign off on their own snowmobile club’s requests. “I remain supportive of snowmobiling in general, but to take these risks on behalf of our taxpayers in the face of professional advice to the contrary… We’re being too casual about this. We need to better understand the potential consequences of putting in place an agreement like this prior to passing the motion that is before us.” While council voted in favour of the new agreement, they did include a clause that staff will continue to consult with legal representation and their insurance company on this file moving forward. It was suggested, by Ward 2 Coun. Larry Clarke, that the municipality simply up their liability coverage with their insurer to cover any potential lawsuit. “It may cost us a few extra dollars, but snowmobile associations bring huge amounts of business to this community, which is so important for our economic health,” Coun. Clarke stated. Although Dysart council signed off on the agreement, the HCSA will still need to negotiate an agreement with Fleming College before its members can use the trail. Should council, at a future date, decide it wants to go back on this agreement, it will need to provide 60 days written notice to both the HCSA and Fleming College.Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
TORONTO — Three promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates may have spurred optimism from investors, but Royal Bank of Canada's chief executive is warning the country is not rid of its pandemic troubles yet.Dave McKay told analysts Wednesday that the economy could still suffer some blows as the globe grapples with uncertainty around how soon people will be injected with Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca's vaccines. "The economy has rebounded well to date," he said on a call to discuss the bank's fourth-quarter earnings."But given the emergence of the second wave of COVID-19 in our core markets, we expect economic growth to slip over the next couple of quarters and project Canadian economic growth to end 2020 down over 5 per cent."McKay projected that economic growth could rebound by between 4 and 5 per cent, but likely not until 2021.His outlook is less rosy than some of his banking counterparts, who said on Tuesday they were cautiously optimistic about the economy's future.Bank of Nova Scotia chief executive Brian Porter said the economy was looking up because government relief programs had pushed retail spending back to pre-pandemic levels, helped housing market growth and triggered a recovery in auto sales."There’s good reason to be optimistic about the associated economic recovery accelerating as 2021 progresses,” BMO Financial Group chief executive Darryl White added.McKay's warnings come even as his bank beat analyst expectations and managed to report higher fourth-quarter profits than those prior to the pandemic.The bank said it earned nearly $3.25 billion or $2.23 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, up from nearly $3.21 billion or $2.18 per diluted share a year earlier.On an adjusted basis, RBC says it earned $2.27 per diluted share for its latest quarter, up from an adjusted profit of $2.22 per diluted share a year ago.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $2.05 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled $11.09 billion, down from $11.37 billion in the same quarter last year.RBC's successes were largely due to its ability to use gains in its capital markets business to offset lower interest rates, client deposit revenue and. results in its personal and commercial banking and wealth management businesses. Looking at its full year, the bank's personal and commercial banking sector saw earnings slip by 21 per cent and in wealth management they fell by 13 per cent, but RBC saw growth in the insurance and investor services areas.Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, the bank was keen to keep spending in line as much as possible. Expenses fell 4 per cent year over year and in most areas remained "relatively flat or down from last year," McKay said.The bank also took the quarter as a chance to ease up on the amount of money it reserves to cover bad loans.After putting away $1.11 billion in the second quarter and $675 million in the third quarter, McKay said the bank only had to dedicate $427 million for provisions for credit losses in the latest quarter.That was down from $499 million a year ago and followed a strategy also being used at Scotiabank and BMO, which announced Tuesday that they too had reduced their provisions for credit losses.The wind down signals that some government relief programs and billions in loan deferrals and fee abatements from banks have worked to mitigate risks associated with the pandemic.RBC said it had offered deferrals on more than $90 billion of loans and seen long-term interest rates edge up, but McKay feels short-term interest rates will remain low for "an extended period."When combined with elevated levels of fiscal stimulus, the rates provide a buffer for customers to manage risk, but he indicated that won't help everyone."While the majority of clients have returned to making payments on their loans, some will experience further difficulties with the effects of the second wave," McKay said.Predicting how significant an impact the second wave and fiscal stimulus will have on the ability of Canadians to deal with financial troubles is tough, said National Bank of Canada when it too released earnings on Wednesday.The bank said its profit for the quarter ended Oct. 31 amounted to $492 million or $1.36 per diluted share, down from a profit of $604 million or $1.67 per diluted share a year ago.Revenue hit $2 billion in the quarter, up from $1.91 billion in the same quarter last year."It is not possible to predict the full impacts that this pandemic will have on the global economy, financial markets and the bank," National said in a release. "The actual impacts will depend on future events that are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with any certainty, including the extent, severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effectiveness of actions and measures taken by governments, monetary authorities and regulators over the long term."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:RY, TSX:BNS, TSX:BMO, TSX:NA)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
McNab/Braeside’s $10-million 2021 budget, set to be passed on Dec. 15, is still “very fluid,” according to township treasurer Kelly Coughlin. She cannot comment on whether taxpayers will pay more taxes in 2021. “I don’t want to give taxpayers the impression that there will be no increase. There are some items that need to be finalized in the coming weeks, that could change the numbers,” Coughlin said in a phone interview Dec. 1. Mayor Tom Peckett, however, said he is confident that there will be “almost no increase in money required from the taxpayers” in an interview Nov. 26. “There’s a little bit of tweaking but I fully expect (the 2021 budget) to be passed on Dec. 15,” he said. “It’s almost equal to last year’s budget.” The first draft of the township’s 2021 budget proposed a 9.59 per cent tax levy increase over this year, with a big chunk of spending set aside for the roads department. “Once it’s passed, we’ll explain how we got there. I can’t really quantify (it yet),” he said. The pandemic has impacted next year’s budget. Expediting the systems required to stream public meetings online will be part of expenses next year. The mayor talked about moving into a new township building in January this year, “getting the kinks out of (the building)” and tackling one of the priorities for council: being able to stream online. “It was always on council’s agenda to get it done. With COVID-19, it’s taking a bit longer than we would have liked to. It’s been a work in progress for us,” Peckett said. “That’s why it’s (included) in the budget. We’re getting there,” he said. He cannot disclose how much updating the systems will cost. Coughlin said that the biggest consequence that the pandemic had on the township’s budget is on recreation programs. “We have to reimagine our programming because of the restrictions on the number (of participants). It impacts indoor programming, and there will be an impact on the revenue side of the things,” she said. “Staff is trying to adjust the operating budgets. We still want to have money available to provide programming to the ratepayers. On the Dec. 15 budget, I will be providing a comprehensive report summarizing the key things included in the budget,” Coughlin added. The treasurer stressed that there have been changes since their last council meeting. “The overall budget is a little over $10 million, that’s what it currently is. That is subject to change. Everything will be finalized on Dec. 15,” she said. Asked if taxpayers can expect any surprises in the budget next year, the mayor said “not for me there isn’t (a surprise). It’s the same as usual, there’s always an increase in fuel cost and labour cost. It’s pretty well the usual.” A notice is posted on the township’s website about the upcoming meeting: “Notice is hereby given that the Council of the Township of McNab/Braeside intends to consider passing a Bylaw to adopt the 2021 Operating and Capital budgets in accordance with Section 290 of the Municipal Act, 2001 at the Regular Meeting of Council to be held on Dec. 15, 2021 at 7 p.m. at the Township Council Chambers, 2473 Russett Dr.”Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
A former Barrie surgeon has given up his licence to practise medicine and has promised his regulatory body to never apply to register as a physician ever again, anywhere. The agreement arose following a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) disciplinary hearing last week. “The agreement to never reapply for registration… is the maximum level of punishment available in this situation,” said CPSO communications advisor Josh McLarnon. The college had earlier launched investigations into Dr. Emad M. Guirguis and his now-defunct Lakeview Surgery Centre on Dunlop Street following complaints. He was found to perform cosmetic surgery that was outside his scope of practice as a physician, not having the proper training and certification. He also engaged in unprofessional conduct through online advertising and communications with a specific patient. In addition to the practice ban, he was ordered to pay $6,000. “Dr. Guirguis has been brought forward to the discipline committee on a number of occasions,” McLarnon added. An investigation was first launched in 2015 resulting in a caution three years later. Another caution was later issued relating to his compliance of the first issue. In one complaint, Guirguis tried to perform bariatric revision gastric band surgery, but decided not to complete the surgery because he encountered extensive scar tissue from previous surgeries. According to documents from the college’s compliance and monitoring department, he perforated the patient’s bowel during the surgery, resulting in ongoing complications. The complainant said he did not communicate or follow up with her after the surgery or provide a refund of her fee. “The committee... was of the view that the respondent’s pre-operative assessment was insufficient,” the decision of the inquiries, complaints and reports committee found. In another report, an independent assessor concluded: “Dr. Guirguis did not meet the standard of practice of the profession in some of the cases reviewed; his knowledge was adequate but basic; his surgical skills were adequate for his limited scope of practice; his judgment was not always adequate, mostly because the brief documentation does not allow a full understanding of his train of thought and exposes omissions or incomplete assessments; and in the reviewed cases his clinical practice, behaviour, or conduct had the potential to expose one patient to harm.” Other assessors, it added, found broad deficiencies in Dr. Guirguis’s practice. In a report from Dec. 14, 2018, Guirguis was cautioned about not providing a full explanation of a procedure to a patient and ensuring the patient had full clarity about what was going to be done following a complaint to the college about the outcome of a cosmetic surgical procedure. According to CPSO documents, Guirguis agreed he has engaged in an act or omission relevant to the practice of medicine that would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional. He was ultimately found to have committed an act of professional misconduct. Dr. Guirguis’s certificate of registration expired Sept. 4, 2020. In addition to the clinic, Guirguis was also once a staff general surgeon at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. Guirguis did not respond to requests for comment, but according to his Facebook page he is studying for his master's degree in theological studies at Tyndale University College and Seminary.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
ST. MARY’S – Stricter provincewide measures to protect people during the second wave of COVID-19 won’t derail at least some public displays of holiday cheer in St. Mary’s this year, say municipal officials. Plans are still afoot for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s Department of Community Development and Recreation’s annual carolling and fireworks event, though director Mallory Fraser says that could change at the last minute. “We will be monitoring the situation as it develops, and make a final decision closer to the date,” she says. For now, the event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Dec. 19, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy’s parking lot, followed by fireworks and hot chocolate at the Sherbrooke Ball Field. To ensure safety, carollers must register and maintain socially safe distances from each other – and each other’s respective bubbles – before heading through Historic Sherbrooke Village. Something new this year is the Holiday Light Extravaganza. Between Dec 1 and 15, St. Mary’s residents, after filling out an entry form, may submit photos of their home seasonal displays to the community and recreation department’s Facebook Page. Voting will begin on Dec. 10, and the winner will be announced before Christmas. “The Holiday Light Extravaganza will go ahead no matter what,” Fraser says. “This is something that people can do without having to worry about social distancing.” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald is not expecting trouble despite the worsening infection rate elsewhere in the province. “We haven’t relaxed our protocols here at the office,” he says. “We were going to look into opening the fitness centre at the school, but we’ve just put that back on hold until the new year.” As for the Recplex, he says it is operating for hockey and curling. “When we made the decision to open the rink, it was always based on the idea that if COVID heated up again, we would see how it played out. We’re going to keep the protocols we have in place. If the situation gets worse, we are either going to tighten the protocols, or close some facilities down. But, right now, we are just watching and monitoring.” MacDonald confirmed that the municipality has not reported any cases since the pandemic hit the province earlier this year. Last week, the provincial government introduced newer, tighter controls on public gatherings to staunch an increase in the rate of infection mostly in the Halifax area. “We must immediately change course on COVID-19. The virus is circulating rapidly in Halifax, and we must stop its spread across the province,” Premier Stephen McNeil says in a Nov. 24 news release. The new regulations in the capital include: limiting public gatherings to five people (or up to the number of immediate family members of a household); requiring masks in common areas of multi-unit residential buildings; restricting restaurants to take-out service; limiting the number of customers and employees of retail outlets to 25 per cent of their normal capacity; and suspending organized sporting, recreational, cultural and religious gatherings. On Nov. 29, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 125, up from 119 at the end of last week.Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
MONTREAL — Barron Miles and Luc Brodeur-Jourdain will have added responsibilities with the Montreal Alouettes in 2021.The Alouettes promoted Miles to defensive co-ordinator and Brodeur-Jourdain was named offensive line coach Wednesday. Miles was appointed as the team's defensive backs coach and pass-game co-ordinator last winter and will remain in charge of the club's secondary.Bob Slowik had served as Montreal's defensive co-ordinator since 2019, but his contract wasn't renewed.Brodeur-Jourdain became Montreal's assistant offensive line coach in 2019 after playing 11 seasons with the team.Khari Jones remains Montreal's head coach and quarterback coach. The remainder of his staff includes Mickey Donovan (special teams, linebackers); Andre Bolduc (running backs, assistant head coach); Todd Howard (defensive line); Robert Gordon (receivers); Michael Lionello (offensive assistant) and Byron Archambault (special-teams assistant)."We are very happy to have been able to put together such a complete coaching staff, even though we have reduced our staff because of the new reality in the CFL," Jones said in a statement. "We have never stopped working and communicating, as we all look forward to the 2021 season and working with our players."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
Sherbrooke — En cofondant REVE Nourricier (Réseau d’espaces verts éducatif et nourricier), Gabrielle Rondeau-Leclaire avait bien senti un besoin de stimuler l’agriculture urbaine à Sherbrooke. Mais elle a surtout mis le doigt sur un puissant moteur social qui ne demandait qu’à trouver du carburant. « Le téléphone n’arrête pas! », se réjouit la présidente de la jeune entreprise sociale, qui a depuis peu pignon sur la rue Wellington Nord. En septembre 2019, la biologiste et ses partenaires Jacob Leblanc et Philippe Barbe-Mathurin ont fondé l’entreprise sociale REVE Nourricier. Sa mission principale : sécuriser le filet social par le biais de l’alimentation. Depuis, ses orientations se précisent et se remodèlent, mais conservent toujours les mêmes valeurs fondatrices. Comme l’explique Mme Rondeau-Leclaire, l’entreprise agit surtout comme un pont ou une plateforme entre les idéateurs et la communauté. Déjà, ce sont trois projets qu’elle a mis en branle, et un quatrième est déjà à l’agenda pour 2021. « On accueille beaucoup de jeunes qui désirent s’impliquer dans leur communauté. Ce sont souvent des jeunes qui ont de l’initiative et qui veulent développer des projets sans être des experts en la matière. On a plusieurs programmes de financement pour des projets en agriculture urbaine en lien soit avec l’éducation, l’aménagement ou la production alimentaire, et grâce auxquels on développe des partenariats avec des institutions et des entreprises. Alors on offre l’opportunité à des personnes de développer leur projet au sein de notre partenariat. Les entreprises, les corporations et les institutions sont de plus en plus appelées à réfléchir à leur responsabilité sociale et environnement. Ça peut passer très bien par des démarches en lien avec le verdissement et la production alimentaire par la communauté. » REVE Nourricier a par exemple aménagé un jardin à la maison Marie-Moisan, l’une des résidences du Groupe Probex qui visent à offrir un milieu de vie aux personnes vivant avec des limitations diverses. Les stagiaires du Groupe Probex, qui suivent un parcours d’insertion au travail, ont ainsi pu apprendre à cultiver des légumes et à entretenir un jardin urbain. Ensuite, les légumes ont été vendus à même le service d’alimentation de la résidence, ou ont été servis aux stagiaires grâce à un programme de boîtes à lunch. Dans ce jardin, pas moins de 53 activités éducatives ont été tenues en 2020. D’autres sont à prévoir dans la prochaine année pour amasser des fonds, tout comme une campagne de sociofinancement qui sera lancée prochainement. « On est aussi en train de développer notre propre service de consultation en forêt de permaculture », ajoute la présidente, ajoutant que depuis ses débuts, l’organisme a pris en charge un verger de permaculture sur le campus de l’Université de Sherbrooke, où des expérimentations, notamment de greffage d’arbres ou d’introduction de champignons ont été lancées par ses membres bénévoles. Son troisième projet à ce jour, la REVE mobile, est le fruit de l’imagination d’une étudiante en design technique à l’Université Concordia et d’un biologiste membre. Avec l’aide de Chantiers jeunesse, ceux-ci aménagent un véhicule pour transporter les équipements nécessaires pour laver ses fruits et légumes, les sécher et les ensacher à même les jardins de l’organisme. Se rapproprier le territoire Malgré la présence de jardins collectifs et communautaires à Sherbrooke, et même si les poules urbaines et les jardins en façades sont autorisés, le travail est loin d’être fini du côté municipal, croit Mme Rondeau-Leclaire. « J’aimerais qu’on revoie la façon dont on s’approprie notre territoire à Sherbrooke. C’est en ayant contact avec ce genre d’initiatives qu’on peut ensuite avoir un jugement critique et prendre de meilleures décisions par rapport à notre environnement. On sait aussi, grâce à des recherches qu’un jardin, c’est vraiment un moteur pour tisser les communautés plus serrées et les aider à se soutenir entre elles. Il y a plusieurs quartiers à Sherbrooke qui sont moins sécurisés et qui sont des déserts alimentaires. Ils gagneraient à ce que l’agriculture urbaine soit développée. Mais ça pourrait juste dégénérer si la Ville n’est pas éduquée ni structurante. » Dans un futur plan d’agriculture urbaine, la Ville pourrait par exemple cibler des terrains à décontaminer pour aménager de nouveaux jardins, ou planter des arbres fruitiers en vue de la consommation, mentionne-t-elle. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
The Orangeville Public Library has followed the trend of finding creative solutions to Christmas in 2020, — new ways to bring their usual festive activities to children in the community. Beginning on Dec. 4, children young and old will be able to tune in every Friday and enjoy a recording of Santa reading around the fireplace. Videos will be posted to the Orangeville Public Library’s YouTube channel at 10 a.m. on Dec. 4, 11, 18, and on Christmas Day. Additionally, the library will extend the festive fun through holiday-themed story time craft kits for families to enjoy together at home. These kits will be available for pickup from the Mill Street branch beginning on Dec. 4, and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Stories with Santa program has been a favourite at the library over the years, with one aspect of it being Santa’s annual gift of literacy. This facet of the festivities will not be forgotten with the virtual event. Beginning on Dec. 18, children will be able to pick up a wrapped picture book at the Mill Street Library. There is a limit of one book per child, and quantities are limited. Additional virtual programming is available online during the closures via the library’s YouTube channel. Notifications are available by subscribing to the channel. For more information visit www.orangevillelibrary.ca.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner