In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
Surrounded by snow and ice — with sleet starting to fall — Ellen Lamont had all the teaching tools she could ever want to explain the states of matter to her elementary students this week. “What happens to our masks when we breathe outside?” Lamont asked her Grade 4/5 immersion students, each one seated in a homemade snow seat in their outdoor classroom, during a natural sciences lesson taught in French. She told them what they first exhale is a gas that condenses on their face coverings, and if they are outside long enough in the cold, that liquid may freeze and turn into a solid. Lamont could never have predicted she would be using personal protective equipment to conduct a lesson, nor she would ever be teaching in what her students have come to affectionately call “snow class” (classe de neige). The first-year teacher said she has taken all the pivots required during the COVID-19 pandemic in stride — and that’s how Laura Secord School’s snow class came to be. On Rupert DePape’s first day back after the holiday break, the fifth grader said he came across a sign posted near the designated school door for his class. The 10-year-old followed Lamont’s written instructions, and instead of entering the Wolseley area school as usual, built himself a snow chair. “We’re stuck in our seat, and have to stay far apart, and can’t really talk much (this year). Outside, it’s a lot more flexible with all the things you can do,” said Rupert, whose favourite subjects are history and math; the latter of which is taught outside, unless the wind chill makes the temperature feel -28 C or colder. While noting snow class can get “a bit chilly,” he said it’s superior to in-class learning, because all of the students can learn together and move freely. Lamont and David Seburn, an educational assistant, have been overseeing a duplex classroom, with Grade 4s in one room and Grade 5s in another, since Manitoba schools entered a restricted level (code orange) on the province’s pandemic response system. “I thought to myself, ‘It would be so nice — if just for this morning, we could all be outside so I could deliver this material once, altogether,’” Lamont said, recalling the moment she first decided to hold class outdoors Jan. 4. Engagement levels immediately spiked and students were more focused when they returned to their indoor classrooms to do pen-and-paper activities, she said. The success of an initial outdoor period has led to daily snow class lessons, which involve physical activity and the use of natural manipulatives, such as tree branches and ice cubes. Community members have donated Christmas trees, food colouring and a tree stump to decorate the space. The students also went on a nature walk to find items to make ice art with to spruce up the space. “To immerse children in nature and to create a love and reverence of nature is very important for this generation so we have kids that care about the environment and will protect it as they grow older,” said Seburn, an educational assistant and forest school practitioner-in-training who is currently enrolled in a course at the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada. It’s not only easier to engage students outdoors, he said, but also safer, at present. Lauren Phillips said she is incredibly appreciative of how her children’s teachers, at both Laura Secord and River Heights School, have put emphasis on the importance of fresh air this year, in recognition COVID-19 can be transmitted through aerosols. “There’s this notion of schools being safe, but schools aren’t safe if the behaviours aren’t safe,” Phillips said. While her seventh grader’s teacher keeps the windows open during the school day, she said her son is ecstatic about snow class with Lamont. “Most people say school sucks, but I don’t really get why,” said Callie Neek, a fourth grader in the class. The nine-year-old said she would much rather be in school than at home, so she can see her friends and learn outside. As long as students are getting something out of it, Lamont said snow class will continue throughout the school year. “They’ve been so adaptive, so flexible, so willing to happily go along with whatever we’re doing and show up and try their best,” the Winnipeg teacher said. “They have really truly amazed me.” One of her students has suggested the class collect more stumps, so they can continue to learn outside when the snow melts. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Nearly 30 Aurora residents have now lost their battle with COVID-19. This grim milestone approaches as York Region overall sees a slight decline of new cases. Between January 13 and January 16, York Region Public Health reported the deaths of six residents of Willows Estate Long Term Care in Aurora’s south end. An 86-year-old woman lost her battle with COVID at the residence on Thursday, January 7, after first being diagnosed with the virus on January 4. On Sunday, January 10, a 77-year-old man succumbed after receiving test results on January 4. A 90-year-old woman, who also received positive test results on January 4, lost her battle on January 11. Two further deaths – an 88-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman lost their lives on January 14 and, the following day, an 86-year-old woman succumbed. But, as the outbreak continues at Willows Estate and a newly-reported outbreak at Chartwell Hollandview Trail continues, Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, says the rate of new cases across York Region is showing signs of slowing but the emergence of the UK COVID variant is a cause for concern. “Our case numbers have been declining slightly thanks to all your help,” said Dr. Kurji on Monday. “We are now slightly lower than the incidence figures for Toronto, however we do have the variant in our midst. The UK variant has been found in seven of our residents. In three of them, there was no connection to travel and, therefore there is community transmission going on. “With such high numbers in the community, it is important that we try and trace expeditiously the close contacts of cases and make sure that they are self-isolating as well. To that effect, we need your assistance. When we send you texts, we would like you to complete the questionnaires as fully as you can. Even if you complete them partially, they are still useful for us. It enables our case managers to very quickly get in touch with the close contacts. “The most important safeguard for us is to continue to stay at home and not mix with anybody other than our immediate household. The stay-at-home order, which is in effect until February 11, requires you to stay at home and only go out for essential visits such as to the pharmacist, grocery shopping or your healthcare provider. Certainly, we do encourage you to go out for exercise, as fresh air is good for you and we don’t want you to get too mentally isolated.” At press time this week, Aurora was grappling with 66 active cases of COVID-19. The community had seen a total of 785 confirmed cases as of Monday, 690 of which are now marked as recovered. Of the active cases, 39 are attributed to local transmission and close contact, 26 to institutional outbreak, and 1 related to workplace cluster. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
VICTORIA — The B.C. government says a review of legal options has made it clear it cannot prevent people from travelling to the province from elsewhere in Canada. Premier John Horgan says in a statement that much of the travel that is happening between provinces is work-related and can't be restricted. The province had asked for a review of legal options related to restricting interprovincial travel last week in response to concerns that visitors have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. Horgan says the province also asked for "a better understanding of the impact of travel on transmission" of the illness. He says B.C. can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of residents. If transmission increases due to interprovincial travel, the premier says B.C. would impose stronger restrictions on non-essential travellers, though he did not offer details on potential measures in Thursday's statement. Horgan said he spoke with premiers in other provinces Thursday and asked them to share messages that now is not the time for non-essential travel. "We ask all British Columbians to stay close to home while vaccines become available. And to all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely," he said. Public health officials indicate it's most important that everyone obey health orders, wherever they are, rather than imposing mobility rules, said Horgan. While announcing the legal review on Jan. 14, Horgan said he wanted to put the matter of interprovincial travel restrictions "either to rest, so British Columbians understand we cannot do that" or find if there's a way to do it. Horgan added that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is exploring further restrictions on international travel and “B.C. stands ready to assist.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigned on Thursday after a scathing review about a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. The review followed CBC reporting into allegations of workplace harassment and bullying in the Governor General’s office.
Jurisdictional issues are causing concerns when it comes to the distribution of coronavirus vaccines to Indigenous people. “There … (are) challenges to overcome when we try to work in partnership with multiple levels of governments and the prioritization province-by-province,” said Marion Crowe, CEO for the First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA). During the weekly virtual townhall Jan. 21 hosted by FNHMA, Crowe referenced comments by premiers who have questioned the need to provide their provinces’ allocated vaccines to Indigenous peoples because First Nations are a federal responsibility. Crowe said one premier even went so far as to say that First Nations were not a priority. She did not report which premiers she was referring to in her comments. The federal government’s role is to procure the vaccines. It’s up to the provinces to distribute them. However, said Dr. Tom Wong, executive director and Chief Medical Officer of Public Health with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), that distribution should follow the guidelines set out by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Wong, who sits on NACI, told the virtual forum audience that NACI did a “thorough evidence review” and developed prioritization recommendations, including Elders and residents and staff in long-term care and Elder care facilities; frontline healthcare workers; and Indigenous peoples in communities in settings where they are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. “Those are the groups right at the very, very beginning. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is telling the whole country please follow these evidence-based guidelines and that includes marginalized, racialized groups in urban settings, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit in those settings,” Wong said. Issues have arisen in dealing with the urban Indigenous population and Wong highlighted outbreaks in Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg. “In particular, the (intensive care unit) admissions for off-reserve in urban areas in Manitoba has been found to be even worse than that on reserve. So this really highlights the point that, yes, there are great needs in the north, but equally that there’s huge needs in some of the urban centres where there’s a lack of services, overcrowding, in homeless shelters,” he said Kim Daly, senior nurse manager, Communicable Disease Control Department with ISC, is also with the COVID-19 vaccine working group for urban Indigenous populations. She told the virtual audience that working with provinces goes beyond prioritizing Indigenous groups. It’s also about making the vaccine accessible. “When we’re talking about items such as systemic racism, it’s important that provinces recognize that just opening a clinic down the road does not mean equal access for all the populations. We’re really trying to break down those barriers so that they know that it’s not just on reserve. It’s not just on remote and isolated (communities). There are barriers all across this country and we’re working together with them,” she said. Epidemiology, said Daly, also dictates how the vaccine is used province-to-province and that was clear throughout the country. Some provinces, like Newfoundland/Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia prioritized remote, isolated or fly-in communities, while other provinces, like Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, prioritized those 18 years and over in Indigenous communities. Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories prioritized Elder care homes. In Saskatchewan, northern communities were included in the first phase. Daly applauded provinces, like Quebec, which initially saw only about a 50 per cent uptake from Indigenous residents in remote communities for the vaccine. “The province was really gracious with communications, stating, ‘When you’re ready, the vaccine will be here.’ And there was a provision they kept back vaccines… So we really like that approach so people don’t have to make an on-the-spot decision, that they feel comfortable to come back through,” said Daly. Vaccine hesitancy, she added, should be answered with “kindness and understanding and facts.” Daly also pointed out that there were some First Nations and organization like Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which led the process, setting the example for how the vaccine should continue to be rolled out. Wong said more than 160 Indigenous communities have started immunization clinics. “As vaccine deployment continues it remains critical that First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders and partners are included at decision-making tables in each province and each territory and continue to engage in co-planning to determine ongoing capacity and needs with respective communities,” he said. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
President Joe Biden is hiring a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defense officials and investigators as the U.S. government works to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies. "It is great to see the priority that the new administration is giving to cyber," said Suzanne Spaulding, director of the Defending Democratic Institutions project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cybersecurity was demoted as a policy field under the Trump administration.
NEW YORK — A lawyers' group filed an ethics complaint against Rudy Giuliani with New York's courts, calling for him to be investigated and his law license suspended over his work promoting former President Donald Trump's false allegations over the 2020 election. Lawyers Defending American Democracy, which includes former judges and federal attorneys among its members, sent the complaint on Wednesday to the Attorney Grievance Committee of the state's court system saying Giuliani had violated the rules of professional conduct. “Giuliani has spearheaded a nationwide public campaign to convince the public and the courts of massive voter fraud and a stolen presidential election," the complaint said. The complaint called for the committee to investigate Giuliani's conduct, including his comments at a rally before rioters stormed into the U.S. Capitol, and to suspend his law license immediately while any investigation is being done. A message was left with the committee seeking comment. An investigation would be the first step in a process that could lead to a disbarment. Another complaint against Giuliani was filed earlier in January by New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, who asked that disbarring Giuliani be taken up for consideration. The New York State Bar Association separately has opened an inquiry into whether he should be expelled from that organization, which is a voluntary membership organization. An email seeking comment was sent to Giuliani's representative. The New York Times reported that on his radio show on Thursday, Giuliani said “the whole purpose of this is to disbar me from my exercising my right of free speech and defending my client, because they can’t fathom the fact that maybe, just maybe, they may be wrong." The Associated Press
Christmas was always going to be a difficult time for residents of retirement and long-term care homes unable to spend the festive season with their families. For individuals living at Aurora’s Kingsway Place Retirement Residence, the season was especially challenging as they were declared in an active COVID-19 outbreak situation on Christmas Eve. The outbreak, which York Region Public Health closed on Tuesday, January 19, ultimately took the lives of three residents and, this past Friday, there was a much-needed dose of “relief” and “elation” as residents and staff received the COVID-19 vaccine. Kingsway Place was one of several retirement and long-term care residences across York Region to receive the Moderna vaccine last week. As of Friday, January 15, 5,190 doses of the vaccine were delivered to long-term care homes and 1,620 to retirement homes. 2,831 had been administered to residents of long-term care, not including staff and essential caregivers. 1,320 doses were given to staff and essential caregivers in long-term care and a total of 1,569 residents and 91 staff of retirement homes have received doses. “The safest place for our residents was their suites and when the vaccine rolled in on Friday of last week, it has been tremendous because it has given people the sense that as a little more time goes past, they are getting some level of safety against the virus and that has been huge for people,” says Ray Barlow, Director of Operations for Fieldgate Retirement Living. “There was a lot of elation, families were extremely happy, residents were incredibly relieved. York Region did a tremendous job bringing in the paramedics. They were on site, the family doctor was here, Southlake was here, and York Region Public Health nurses were on site, so there was a real show of force to come in and get the job done quickly and efficiently. They all worked extremely hard and gave a lot of confidence to our residents that they were on the road to safety.” Mr. Barlow praises staff for their response to the outbreak, noting that not one of the caregivers left once the outbreak was declared. In fact, many stayed nights at the residence to pitch in to combat the outbreak. “That tells a real story and I think that is a testament to the staff at Kingsway,” says Mr. Barlow. In his weekly update, Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, said work continues “diligently” between York Region Public Health, Paramedics, hospital partners and nurse practitioners in the community to get the job done in long-term care and retirement settings. “These are places that the majority of the outbreaks have been happening and these are the places where about two-thirds of the deaths have been experienced in York Region have occurred,” he said. “As more and more vaccine becomes available, we’ll be moving into other groups, but we have to work very closely with the Province to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines across the Province.” That being said, the delivery of the Moderna vaccine to retirement homes has been temporarily stopped by York Region Public Health to “re-allocate the Pfizer vaccine to homes in an effort to hold back a second dose for long-term care home residents, staff, and essential caregivers who received a first dose of Moderna,” according to Patrick Casey, Director of Corporate Communications for the Region of York. “As such, the remaining doses, 2,190, are being held back as second doses for those in long-term care and retirement homes who already received the first dose,” said Casey on Friday. “Immunization with Pfizer is ongoing in retirement homes and will be continued over the weekend and on Monday. Some catch-up of long-term residents, for example those not able to receive the vaccine at previous visits due to being COVID-19 positive or consent not provided by substitute decision-makers were done on Saturday, January 16.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
She has served as a member of the Central York Fire Services for more than a decade. It is a job she loves, serving the community which has become a second home and, earlier this year, Kristy Paterson became a somewhat reluctant trailblazer as the Central York Fire Service’s first female Acting Captain. A historic first, to be sure, but Paterson has a different perspective. “I am proud of my accomplishment because I think it is a great position, but I don’t think it is special that I am the first woman,” Patterson tells The Auroran. “I am super happy for everyone who passed the test and was a successful candidate, but I don’t think I should be given any more recognition as the first female because everyone passed the same time. The public doesn’t care, or shouldn’t care, if it is a man or a woman who is responding to [a call], all they really care about is if you can do the job when the time comes.” Instead, the Barrie resident wants to be seen as a good role model for all genders, regardless of whether they want to follow in her footsteps to a local fire station. Being a fire fighter was not a life-long dream for Patterson. As a student at the University of Toronto, she was a player on their varsity hockey team. Athletics came to her naturally and she focused on kinesiology. In her fourth year, however, a conversation with a firefighter left her pondering a career pivot. “It just sounded like a super interesting path to follow,” she says, noting she undertook college training to become a firefighter soon thereafter. It didn’t take long for her to be hired by the CYFS – and, perhaps most importantly, realize she made the right choice. “I loved it probably from Day One,” she says. “Every day is different, you’re always learning. It’s a team environment and everybody works together. You’re constantly learning new things and every shift is different and you don’t know what you’re going to get. You’re not confined to an office; you’re out, you’re helping the community, you’re involved and you’re just helping people. It is a good feeling to be there for the community. “I am super happy to come to work every day and to work with really awesome people just being part of a team and knowing we get to help the towns of Aurora and Newmarket.” Currently stationed in Aurora, Patterson hopes that in her new role she will continue learning and being there for the community. “In my new role, I want to be a good role model to not only young girls but young boys as well, that if you work hard, you’re able to achieve it,” she says. If it is something you want, then work hard, take the right schooling and you will be able to do it. I understand the support [stemming from being the CYFS’ first female Acting Captain], but at the same time, why is it special? I am proud of my accomplishment and it didn’t have anything to do with being female. My goal is to just be better every day than I was yesterday. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, it is just that you’re capable of doing the job.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A strong negative reaction from members of the public to an off-leash dog park being included in designs for a new greenspace on Hartwell Way could prompt a re-think to the Town’s policies on rec spaces for four-legged friends. Last week, Council received revised plans for the proposed park in Aurora’s northeast, a new design which includes naturalized features and, in response to a community survey, no off-leash dog park. Council received initial concepts for the park in March of 2020. At the time, two designs were on the table which they directed be put out to the public, particularly residents in the homes within a short walking distance to the land in question, and that consultation process began last fall. According to a report from Sara Tienkamp, Aurora’s Manager of Parks and Fleet, approximately 720 letters were delivered to residents within a 500-metre radius of the land. The letters directed residents to take a look at the concept plans and weigh in on them virtually through the Town’s Engage Aurora platform. Out of these 720 letters, the Town got 178 responses and while the overall feedback was positive, it was a very different story for the dog park. Posed with the question, “Do you agree with the proposal to have a small, fenced dog run in this park?” 119 respondents said they disagreed with this component of the plan, with 40 saying they agreed, 11 voting for “somewhat agreed” and just two residents falling into the “somewhat disagree” camp. Just two respondents said they neither agreed nor disagreed. “Residents were concerned about the potential for noise from barking, security of dogs, odours and inappropriateness of an off-leash park in a residential area,” said Ms. Tienkamp. “As such, staff have removed the amenity from the design plans and the area will be programmed as an open space turf area for residents to utilize for recreation. “Staff have standing direction from Council to incorporate off-leash components in park design. Resident feedback on park design where off-leash parks have been included in design continues to be met with strong opposition. It is recommended that staff continue to pursue off-leash park opportunities but not as a part of park design where lands are located within a residential neighbourhood with bordering homes.” Conversely, a proposal to include a community garden in the area received a much warmer reception. In previous neighbourhood-adjacent parks, plans to include community gardens have received push-back from residents, who have cited odour, aesthetics and the potential to attract pests among their concerns. This case, however, might be an exception. “Community gardens have been suggested in other new park design/retrofits and unfortunately have not been well-received by the public; however, the respondents to the public consultation for this park were very pleased with the natural aesthetic of the design and inclusion of a community garden with raised accessible plots for gardening,” said Ms. Tienkamp. “In addition, residents expressed a strong interest in assisting with the administration of the community garden. “As such, the community gardens will remain part of the park design and staff will work to engage a group partner for the governance of the plots by creating an administration model similar to the York Region Food Network’s management plan for the current Aurora Community Garden.” Reviewing the report at last Tuesday’s General Committee meeting, lawmakers said that further work is needed to indentify appropriate locations for off-leash amenities. “I understand the rescinding of incorporating the dog park areas,” said Councillor Rachel Gilliland. “I certainly wouldn’t want to eliminate all options or opportunities to have dog parks located in alternative areas.” Asking staff whether there would be any further efforts to identify appropriate locations, Al Downey, Aurora’s Director of Operations, said the last Council was provided with a list of criteria for dog parks and potential locations. “The direction was that there was no direction coming from that,” said Mr. Downey. “Council had not asked us to identify any particular area. I would be more than happy to reintroduce that to Council. I think dog parks have to be looked at separately. It is an issue people would like to see them [but] they don’t necessarily want to see them in their neighbourhood but [close to] their neighbourhood. “We looked at hydro corridors and some of those areas [as potential locations] and those are somewhat problematic because they are not our lands [and] would take some negotiations, but I will do my very best to look at those reports and see if I can get that to Council as soon as possible.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — On the first day of Joe Biden's presidency, Native Americans had reason to celebrate. Biden halted construction of the border wall that threatened to physically separate Indigenous people living on both sides. He also revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that tribes fought in court for years, and he agreed to restore the boundaries of the first national monument created specifically at the request of tribes in southern Utah. Inaugural events showcased tribes across the country in traditional regalia, dancing and in prayer. But amid the revelry, some Native Americans saw a glitch in Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony. The only mention of Indigenous people came in the benediction delivered by the Rev. Silvester Beaman. And then there was the mishmash of songs sung by Jennifer Lopez that included lyrics from “This Land is Your Land." The folk tune is popular around campfires and in grade schools, but it also called to mind the nation's long history of land disputes involving tribes. “Oh, I love J.Lo," said Kristen Herring, who is Lumbee and lives in Austin, Texas. “It wasn't super disappointing that she sang it. But I was like, ‘Oh, why did that have to be on the list of things to sing?’" Woody Guthrie, who wrote the song in the 1940s, meant it as a retort to “God Bless America” and a rebuke to monetizing land at a time of economic crisis, said Gustavus Stadler, an English professor and author of “Woodie Guthrie: An Intimate Life." Lopez put a twist on it, throwing in part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish that translates to “justice for all.” The Guthrie song has been a symbol of equality, inclusion and unity. Lady Gaga sang a rendition of it at the Super Bowl months after Donald Trump took office. It was part of Barack Obama's inaugural programming, with a trio of singers, including Bruce Springsteen, adding back some of the original, more controversial verses. But arriving amid an effort by some tribes to be recognized as stewards of ancestral land, a movement known as Land Back, the lyrics hit the wrong note for some tribal members. “It's a nice little sentiment that America is this mixing pot,” said Benny Wayne Sully, who is Sicangu Lakota and lives in Los Angeles. “But does anybody believe this land was made for you and me? Or was it made for white folks? People forget this land was made of brown people before it was colonized." Rep. Deb Haaland, who is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, acknowledged that perspective in a virtual welcoming to the inaugural events over the weekend. She's been nominated to lead the Interior Department, which oversees tribal affairs. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American in a Cabinet post. That's one of the reasons Cherie Tebo was able to look past the song that she said was inappropriate and emphasized how little some Americans know about Indigenous people. She sees an opportunity for tribes to have a seat at the table in Biden's administration, citing Haaland and Winnebago tribal member Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, who has been named a deputy solicitor for the Interior Department. “In order to make it work, ‘this land is your land, this land is my land,' people (need) to understand it doesn’t belong to us,” said Tebo, who also is Winnebago. “If anything, we belong to it. And when our land is sick, we are sick." ___ Fonseca is a member of The Associated Press' Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FonsecaAP. Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Elizabeth Shelby had her inauguration outfit planned weeks in advance: blue jeans, a Kamala Harris sweatshirt, a green coat, and pink Chuck Taylors as an homage to her sorority’s colours and Vice-President Harris’ signature shoe. And pearls, just like the ones Harris wore when she graduated from Howard University, was sworn into Congress, and was sworn in as the first woman, first Black and South Asian person, and first Alpha Kappa Alpha member to serve as vice-president. Shelby, a member of the Alpha Psi chapter of AKA, had hoped to wear her pearls at the inauguration in Washington, D.C. Instead, she donned them at home in Nashville, Tennessee. Following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, AKA, the oldest sorority of the historically Black fraternities and sororities that make up the Divine Nine, called off inauguration events and urged members to stay home. So countless AKA members celebrated the historic moment in their living rooms, on Twitter and on Zoom calls. “I wanted to help show Kamala that her sisters are behind her always,” Shelby said. “I wanted her to look out and see a sea of pink and green and know that this is her moment.” After the Capitol insurrection, Shelby cancelled her plane tickets and hotel reservation. The rioting robbed many AKAs of their feeling of safety at the inauguration and beyond, she said, and many members have been telling each other to stop wearing their letters in public for safety reasons. But Shelby said that didn't stop her from celebrating at a Zoom viewing party with her local graduate chapter. “I’m not going to let this take the joy out of this moment,” she said. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, joined AKA in 1986 at Howard University, one of the country’s oldest historically Black colleges and universities. When she accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in August, she thanked AKA, saying, “Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha.” Soon after, donations in increments of $19.08, marking the year, 1908, when the sorority was founded, started flowing in to a Biden-Harris campaign fundraising committee. Alpha Kappa Alpha declared on Twitter that Jan. 20 would be Soror Kamala D. Harris Day, and encouraged members to share photos of their celebrations with the hashtag #KamalaHarrisDay. Andrea Morgan, who became an AKA the same year Harris did, posted photos of her pink sweater and pearls on Twitter with the hashtag, which she told the AP “makes us feel closer together even when we're far apart." “If we were able to be there in person, I don’t think you’d be able to look anywhere without seeing pink and green,” said Genita Harris of the Delta Omega Omega chapter in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. "Now on social media, this is a showing of our solidarity, of our love and support for our soror.” She said group chats with her sorority sisters were “going bananas” during a historic moment for the sisterhood and for HBCUs. “It’s been the same story of white men for centuries," she said. “Now a new story is being written, and it’s our story.” AKA soror Josclynn Brandon booked her plane tickets to D.C. the day Biden announced Harris as his running mate in August. When the 2020 presidential election was called, CNN was playing on her phone on the dashboard of her car. She pulled over and cried. “I knew then that I was going to see Kamala Harris make history,” she said. “It confirmed that Black women and women of colour are so much more capable than some people believe us to be.” Brandon made plans to be in D.C. from Jan. 13-21 to celebrate the sorority’s Founders’ Day on Jan. 15, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration, all in the same city where AKA was founded. After the Jan. 6 insurrection, she, too, cancelled her trip. “It did rob me of my feeling of safety while going to D.C., and it robbed me of the moment of seeing a Black woman and sorority sister become VP right in front of me,” she said. “But it took away so much more than just me going to D.C. It takes away from this celebration and robs our incoming administration of the full celebration they deserved.” Brandon watched Harris' swearing-in from her home in Indianapolis while wearing a sweatshirt with a photo of Harris from college and the words, “The Vice-President is my sorority sister.” “I’m still going to celebrate,” she said. “I’m not going to let that group’s action take away this moment. I don’t want to let them win.” Shelby grew up hearing young Black boys say they wanted to be president after Barack Obama made history as the country’s first Black president. Now, she hopes Black girls will have those dreams too. “It’s a historic moment,” she said. “To see not only a woman but a woman of colour and member of the Divine Nine become vice-president is something I never even dreamed of happening as a little girl growing up in America.” “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” she continued. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It is such a joy to know that she is one of us, that she represents us. She is truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams.” ___ Associated Press writer Cheyanne Mumphrey in Phoenix contributed. Fernando is a member of the AP's Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christinetfern. Christine Fernando, The Associated Press
Nearly a year into the pandemic, economists believe it’s abundantly clear that COVID-19 has psychologically and materially transformed Canada’s consumer behaviour. But with lockdowns and restrictions still in effect across much of the country, business experts say the dust has yet to settle around these “tectonic shifts” in the state of commerce. That means for retailers — big and small; local or national — preparing a pathway to adapt beyond the pandemic remains a muddy prospect. A new report by fintech firm PayBright released this week suggests the key to navigating future strategies for businesses is to use concrete data about where potential customers and clients stand in 2021. Surveying over 2,500 people from coast to coast, the 24-page study points to statistics that show how Canadians are approaching, and not approaching, their future shopping habits. Trends indicate significant changes have been seen in the “5 Ps” of consumer behaviour: products, payments, planning, place and psychology. “If 2020 was a year of disruption and uncertainty for Canadians, this will certainly be the year of building safety, security, and long-term solutions,” said Wayne Pommen, senior vice-president of Affirm Holdings Inc., which owns PayBright on Wednesday. “This is especially crucial as Canadians gain access to vaccines and look ahead to living in a post-pandemic world.” Findings in the report show shoppers are becoming increasingly discerning about where and how they spend their money. Around 55 per cent said they now read several product reviews before making a purchase, and 38 per cent said they prefer to spend more money to purchase premium brands or products to avoid lower-quality items that do not last. Around 52 per cent also said they are likely to avoid doing business with a brand that does not align with their ethics and values. On top of that, the pandemic has caused people to hold back on their overall spending. While 49 per cent anticipated no significant change to their planned 2021 budget, 36 per cent predicted a decrease and only 3 per cent said they would increase their spending. From an age perspective, those most likely to experience a decrease in their 2021 budget are those in the 18-24 and 35-44 age ranges. In terms of clothing and basics (such as groceries or pharmaceuticals), only about 10 per cent of respondents said they would spend more in those categories. But 43 per cent said they’ll be spending less on clothing versus only 22 per cent for basics. Authors of the report believe retailers with basics in their catalogue should emphasize essential products both in-store and online, citing a rise in earnings for supermarket chains who have done this such as Loblaw who have done this. They also said stores should ramp up on their reviews because fewer of them could mean less likelihood of making a sale. Deals and sales, however, will continue to be significant drivers behind consumer purchases in 2021, they added, noting personal protection is almost just as important when it comes to in-store purchases. “Frankly though, no matter what time period you compare this to, we haven’t seen trends like this ever before,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a leading supply chain expert who’s a professor at Dalhousie University. “COVID’s legacy is concerning because it’s pretty much changed everything.” From skyrocketing e-commerce as businesses quickly moved online, to the lasting trends predicted for in-store shopping such as sanitization stations and social-distancing measures, Charlebois explained how none of those changes would have ever happened without the pandemic. “Even if everyone does get vaccinated, people are just generally very risk-averse now,” he said. “That’s a massive psychological shift which translates to the fact that businesses will also not be taking risks by eliminating these measures anytime soon.” Dan Pontefract, a strategist who consults for large companies like Salesforce and TD Bank, said businesses will need to get creative and unique with their solutions. “And it has to happen fast,” he said, “or they probably won’t survive.” Pontefract said those ideas could range from pairing up to compete with larger chains to creating ads “that have chutzpah and can actually make fun of the big guys.” He also said creating the “perfect COVID shopping experience is incredibly important,” whereby customers can seamlessly be moved from shopping in-person to shopping online. “Ultimately, it’s all about the consumer,” said Pontefract. “And for better for worse, what we do know is that they’re the ones making these trends go all over the place — so they’re the ones you should follow.” Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
MEXICO CITY — Mexico posted new one-day highs for the pandemic Thursday, with 22,339 newly confirmed coronavirus infections and 1,803 deaths from COVID-19 recorded for the previous 24 hours. The recent surge in cases has swamped hospitals. Mexico City is the country's epicenter of the pandemic, and its hospitals are at 89% capacity, while nationwide 61% of hospital beds are filled. The difficulty in finding space in hospitals has led many families to try to treat their relatives at home, which has created spot shortages of oxygen and tanks. That has been accompanied by a jump in prices as well as an uptick in thefts targeting oxygen tanks. The situation has also sparked home remedies, including home-made oxygen concentrators that officials warned are dangerous. One video circulating on Facebook shows a Mexican couple connecting a fish-tank air pump to a hose in an effort to boost the man's oxygen levels. The head of civil defence for the city of Puebla, Gustavo Ariza, issued a public warning against such improvised devices, noting they do not increase oxygen concentration and simply re-circulate air. “This is trickery. Please, people, don't do this," Ariza said. Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell joined in the warnings. “We are concerned that people might waste time in te hope that this would work, and over the course of hours or days, very few days, the person's condition worsens,” hel said. López-Gatell said the Mexican government is going to pass rules that would give priority to medicinal oxygen production over industrial uses to free up supplies. The government is also looking to buy oxygen tanks abroad. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is back. In truth, the nation’s leading infectious-diseases expert never really went away. But after enduring nearly a year of darts and undermining comments from former President Donald Trump, Fauci now speaks with the authority of the White House again. He called it “liberating” Thursday to be backed by a science-friendly administration that has embraced his recommendations to battle COVID-19. “One of the new things in this administration is, If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess,” Fauci said in one pointed observation during a White House briefing. “Just say you don’t know the answer.” Fauci’s highly visible schedule on Thursday, the first full day of President Joe Biden’s term, underscored the new administration's confidence in the doctor but also the urgency of the moment. His day began with a 4 a.m. virtual meeting with officials of the World Health Organization, which is based in Switzerland, and stretched past a 4 p.m. appearance at the lectern in the White House briefing room. The breakneck pace showcased the urgent need to combat a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and reached its deadliest phase just as the new president comes to office. Fauci made clear that he believed the new administration would not trade in the mixed messages that so often came from the Trump White House, where scientific fact was often obscured by the president’s political agenda. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know and what the science is ... it is something of a liberating feeling,” Fauci told reporters. White House press secretary Jen Psaki had invited Fauci to take the podium first at her daily briefing. While choosing his words carefully, Fauci acknowledged that it had been difficult at times to work for Trump, who repeatedly played down the severity of the pandemic, refused to consistently promote mask-wearing and often touted unproven scientific remedies, including a malaria drug and even injecting disinfectant. “It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact,” Fauci said. He added that he took “no pleasure” in having to contradict the president, a move that often drew Trump’s wrath. Biden, during his presidential campaign, pledged to making Fauci his chief medical adviser when he took office, and the 80-year-old scientist was immediately in motion. Fauci was up well before dawn Thursday for the virtual meeting with WHO, which Biden had rejoined the previous day after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the group out of anger over how it dealt with China in the early days of the pandemic. Fauci told the group that the United States would join its effort to deliver coronavirus vaccines to poor countries. In the afternoon, the doctor stood alongside Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris in the White House as they unveiled a series of executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, which is killing more than 4,000 Americans a day, as well as bolstering the nation’s sluggish vaccine distribution program. Fauci had chatted amiably with reporters while awaiting the tardy new president. He acknowledged it was a long day and said that while he’d prefer to go for a run, he planned to powerwalk a few miles Thursday evening. It was all a stark contrast after being kept on a tight leash by the Trump administration. Their West Wing press shop had tightly controlled Fauci’s media appearances — and blocked most of them. The doctor went from being a constant presence in the briefing room during the first weeks of the pandemic to largely being banished as Trump grew jealous of the doctor's positive press and resentful of Fauci's willingness to contradict him. Moreover, Trump frequently undermined Fauci’s credibility, falsely insisting that the pandemic was nearly over. The president regularly referenced Fauci's early skepticism about the effectiveness of masks for ordinary Americans, a position that Fauci quickly abandoned in the face of more evidence. And he even made fun of Fauci's first pitch at a Washington Nationals game. The president's attacks on Fauci — and his dismissiveness of the science — handicapped medical professionals trying to get Americans to take the virus seriously. “There was clear political influence on the message of the pandemic. It became political to say that the pandemic was devastating our community because it was interpreted as a judgement on Trump,” said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious-diseases physician and a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine. “It actively created enemies of the public health folks in a segment of the population.” Having Fauci return to a central role, Bhadelia said, is a sign “that science was being repressed and now back.” As his handling of the pandemic became the defining issue in the 2020 campaign, Trump insisted on portraying the virus as a thing of the past. He also mercilessly attacked Fauci, retweeting messages that called for the doctor’s dismissal and reveled in “Fire Fauci!” chants at some of his rallies. Trump sidelined Fauci but dared not dismiss him, after aides convinced him of the move’s political danger. But Fauci, who has now served under seven presidents, persevered, telling friends that he would keep his head down and aim to outlast Trump and the obfuscations of his administration. “Clarity of message is the most important thing the government can be doing right now; the single biggest disservice Trump did was constantly telling people that pandemic was about to be over,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, who has known Fauci for more than 20 years. In his return to the briefing room, Fauci joked with reporters, seemingly far more relaxed than at any point last year. And as he stepped off the stage, Psaki said she'd soon have him back. ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
CHICAGO — An Illinois man was ordered held without bond Thursday for allegedly threatening the lives of President Joe Biden and other Democrats before this week's inauguration. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes rejected a defence argument that there was no evidence Louis Capriotti had any real plan to act on the threat. Capriotti, 45, of Chicago Heights faces a federal charge of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. In rejecting bail for Capriotti, Fuentes said it was concerning Capriotti continued to make threats of violence to members of Congress even after the FBI told him a year ago to stop making threats. “Threats hurt people,” Fuentes said at the end of a nearly 90-minute hearing. “They terrorize people. They make people afraid. There’s an argument to be made that’s what they’re intended to do in the first place.” During the hearing, prosecutors played an excerpt of the Dec. 29 call at the heart of the criminal complaint, left on the voicemail of an unidentified New Jersey congressman. The message was peppered with obscenities. “If they think that Joe Biden is going to put his hand on the Bible and walk into that (expletive) White House on January 20th, they’re sadly (expletive) mistaken,” a man alleged to be Capriotti can be heard saying. A similar threat was made concerning now Vice-President Kamala Harris. The arrest of Capriotti came less than a week after supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from ratifying the electoral vote for Biden, leading to the deaths of a police officer and four others. Capriotti’s lawyer, Jack Corfman, argued home detention would be sufficient to ensure the safety of the community, especially since Biden's and Harris' inaugurations passed and “went smoothly.” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Dunn disagreed, saying Capriotti has a long history of ignoring court orders and only needs a phone to continue his campaign of harassment. The Associated Press
Amazon Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney, who announced the plan in a news conference with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, said a company executive will be working with Washington State's Vaccine Command Center. The clinic will be hosted in partnership with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.
Elected president of the Métis Nation B.C., Clara Morin Dal Col, has been suspended from her position amid escalating tension within its leadership. Nine members of the board voted to suspend her from her role as president in an unexpected meeting on Monday, tapping vice-president Lissa Dawn Smith to step in as acting president. Tension between Dal Col and board members has been playing out publicly for weeks, with waves of reactions from Métis people in B.C. throughout the turmoil. There are more than 21,000 registered citizens with Métis Nation B.C. which has 11 board members, including Dal Col. Some citizens have publicly taken sides, while others are expressing confusion and concern. Many are calling for more transparency around the events that led up to Dal Col's suspension after it was publicly announced on Tuesday. "This was not a decision taken lightly by the board," read a public statement released by Métis Nation B.C. on Tuesday. The specific reasons for the suspension were unclear in the statement — beyond broad allegations that Dal Col had contravened the oath of office and breached policies and procedures. The statement said, "the board was left with no other option but to issue a suspension." Métis National Council calls suspension a 'shocking coup' Leadership of the Manitoba Métis Federation and Métis National Council published a joint press release about Dal Col's suspension on Thursday, characterizing the board's actions as a "shocking coup." "This is a black eye for democracy," wrote Métis National Council president Clément Chartier. "We are disgusted by this underhanded attempt to eliminate a rightfully elected leader." The press release also stated that the federation and national council will not recognize Smith as the Métis Nation B.C. president. The mandate and direction of the national council flows from regionally elected leadership from the Métis governing bodies in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. There is ongoing tension and disagreement around the standing of the Métis Nation of Ontario at the national council. Public statements from Métis Nation B.C. and Dal Col in the lead-up to her suspension show that dispute over the status of the Ontario organization is among many points of disagreement between board members and Dal Col. Daniel Fontaine, CEO of Métis Nation B.C., was limited in what he would say about the suspension citing due process and Dal Col's right to appeal. "For us as public servants working at Métis Nation, our role is really to make sure that due process is undertaken. We want to make sure that all of our bylaws, our constitution, everything is properly adhered to," he said. "I'm confident that the process is unfolding as it should and we'll see what happens." When asked about the statement put out by the Manitoba Métis Federation and the National Council, Fontaine said he anticipates the board will issue a response soon. Dal Col was first elected president of the Métis Nation B.C. in 2016 and re-elected in 2020, securing 48 per cent of the votes cast for three candidates. Dal Col was not available for an interview prior to publishing.
Sask Polytech and three partner institutions have received a funding boost from the Lawson Foundation for a project that will help in their efforts to advance outdoor early learning and teaching across Canada. The collaborative project by Bow Valley College, New Brunswick Community College, Okanagan College and Saskatchewan Polytechnic is called Outdoor Pedagogy in Early Childhood Education: From Colleges to Communities and has been awarded a grant of a grant of $750,000. Project lead Dr. Beverlie Dietze, director of learning and applied research at Okanagan College, explained that outdoor education is vital for children because of health benefits, physical literacy and connecting with nature. “Those are core components in children’s development as well as we look at it from a social development, peer play and experiences that support children in preparing for later academic skills. Much of the foundations, for example, of science and math are started as children engage in outdoor experiences,” Dietze said. She explained that outdoor education is vital as part of health and wellness and supports students in returning to the outdoors as a place where they participate in daily lives. “This is how we build environmental stewardship and how children are going to become further connected with their environment and care for their environment,” she explained Nancy Holden, Sask Polytech School of Human Services academic chair agreed. She added that children could be educated in various curriculum through outdoor learning. “They are doing it without realizing what they are doing. So there is science when they try to put two sticks together and wonder if they are going to hold each other up or they are going to do math when they are playing in the rocks and they want everyone to have the same number. All parts of their being and growth — whether it is creatively, cognitively — all of those pieces can be tapped into when they are playing outdoors,” Holden said. According to Dietze, there is social learning and physical learning in outdoor learning including strengthening body structures as a physical aspect. “The whole notion of what we call self-regulation or knowing how far they can push and pull with their friends — that happens when they are outdoors in a rough and tumble experience. And when we look at it emotionally it’s a very important place for children to again gain that sense of calmness and ability to deal with some of their stressors and to really be able to refocus,” Dietze said. She explained that it is important from a health and educational perspective. “When we look at young children and preparing them for later academic skills it very much is connected to those earlier experiences. When we look at the increase in children with diabetes, when we look at the children having visual difficulties, those are all related to them requiring action and activity in the outdoor environment. We can actually contribute a great deal to reducing our heath care costs when we have children engaged in regular outdoor experiences.” The goal of the three-year project is to demonstrate a model of outdoor pedagogy practices, teaching, learning and mentoring that will create a shift in curriculum in post-secondary Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs and in community early learning and child care programs. According to a press release, in 2018 only five out of 100 college ECE programs had explicit outdoor pedagogy courses and no practicum experiences for students had outdoor play requirements. In addition, a Canadian survey of 896 ELCC educators who enrolled in an online outdoor play training course found that 89 per cent of respondents had never received any training in outdoor pedagogy, and 72 per cent indicated that they lacked the training and experience to implement outdoor pedagogy in their work. “Pedagogy means a combination of experiences and knowledge creates learning. So when we look at it from an outdoor perspective, we use the term outdoor pedagogy because it’s going to be the experiences, the play, the connections to land that will contribute to children building on their learning and their knowledge foundations,” Dietze said. Through the collaboration, the group aims to support college instructors, their students, and early childhood educators, in implementing high quality outdoor experiences and play opportunities to and with children. Dietze explained that the project’s purpose is to support ECE students to work on understanding the impact of outdoor play and experiences with children. “So that is the intent that we will increase the amount of education that those educators see. And then when they are working with children they will see the outdoor environment as a very important part of the experiences that children require,” Dietze said. Holden explained that the learning occurs naturally. “It is adults who put labels on things. Children don’t sit around and say okay I am going to engage in a cognitive activity now and I am going to sit down and do some science, but yet, that is what they are doing,” Holden said. Children playing in nature can learn through the labels and language that already exist. “So it is a great opportunity and when you think about. We often ask our students to think about one childhood memory that brings you joy and it’s interesting because 98 per cent of the students will reflect on an outdoor activity,” she added. Dietze explained that land-based learning is part of the package for children. She said that it supports children in looking at the place they are and utilizing, preserving and getting to what is in the land. “It’s all interconnected. Whether we utilize the term land-based or outdoor pedagogy the principles are the same. We are wanting children to connect to their environment and to use that as a lab for their play,” Dietze said. According to Dietze. Saskatchewan is a large part of adding to the knowledge base of the project because of experiences in the land. That will be part of the research as it spreads internationally. “Your communities are very important to this project as we learn and create that new awareness of how land-based and outdoor pedagogy can be implemented in communities such as yours,” Dietze said. “Further from the college perspective how it makes a difference in their graduates in being prepared when they graduate to bring this new knowledge base to the children and the families of your communities.” Holden explained that one goal would be ideally to develop an outdoor demonstration center similar to one that currently exists for ECE programming. “We may be able to develop a demonstration center in outdoor play where we have an opportunity for children to come and they live outdoors for the entire time that they are in there,” she said. “When you say to someone that they are going to send a three-year-old outside at minus 20 degree weather most people would cringe. There are ways around that and this will be part of the project that we will be able to prove to people that there are safe ways to allow children to be outdoors during those times,” she explained. Holden explained that the different institutions bring different experiences with four partners each bringing their own perspective. “Saskatchewan plays a really key part in a lot of different ways. Definitely in our harsh winters comparative to places like British Columbia or New Brunswick. But also our level of Indigenous and how can we incorporate Indigenous ways of doing that are very much ties to the outdoors and nature and what can we offer there.” Sask Polytech is happy to be part of the partnership as it grows. “Really we see it as a Canada-wide opportunity to really make a difference in the future for our communities and for our society,” Holden said. “When children get these opportunities to be outdoors and to learn through nature and improve their health it is nothing but a win-win and I think this is just the beginning of what is to come.” Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald