The divestment of the relatively small line will give the company a bit of cash to help survive a very trying period.
President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a U.S. intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi's murder.
(Submitted by Gerald McKenzie - image credit) First Nations in Saskatchewan have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021. According to Indigenous Services Canada, during the first seven weeks of 2021, there were 2,779 new cases in reserves in Saskatchewan — more than in any other province. By comparison, in that same time period, there were 2,290 cases on reserves in Manitoba and 2,389 in Alberta. In a Wednesday news release, Indigenous Services said it is "closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country." However, there is some good news — active case counts are declining, and there has not yet been a confirmed case of any of the new coronavirus variants of concern on reserve. Vaccine deliveries are also ramping up, and as of Feb. 23, Indigenous Services reported that more than 103,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. In Saskatchewan, as of Feb. 14, the federal department estimates that vaccine uptake in First Nations communities was at or above 75 per cent. Indigenous Services also said it is working to support the vaccine rollout for Indigenous adults living in urban areas. "ISC is working closely with [the] National Association of Friendship Centres, as well as provinces and territories, First Nation, Inuit and Métis partners, and other urban community service organizations to support planning efforts," the department said in its news release this week. "This includes working to identify barriers, challenges and opportunities for increasing vaccine uptake and ensuring the vaccine is available in culturally safe and accessible locations." According to the department, vaccine clinics for Indigenous adults are currently being planned for Saskatoon and Regina.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
Award-winning Canadian film director Tyler Simmonds has suffered from mental health issues since his teenage years. He decided to use his craft to push for dialogue and discussion on mental health and mindfulness — especially within the Black community.
OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced scoring attack in a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon at Canadian Tire CentreJuuso Valimaki, Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Flames, who ended Ottawa's three-game win streak.Drake Batherson, Colin White and Brady Tkachuk replied for the last-place Senators. Ottawa (7-15-1) remain in the NHL basement with 15 points.Calgary (10-10-2) moved into a fourth-place tie with Montreal in the North Division with 22 points. The Canadiens were scheduled to play the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.The Flames opened the scoring four minutes into the game. The speedy Johnny Gaudreau zipped around a couple of Ottawa players before sending a backhand saucer pass to Valimaki for the one-timer.The Flames scored again 37 seconds later as Backlund flipped a rolling puck past a handcuffed Matt Murray.The Sens goalie stopped 27-of-33 shots on Saturday.Perhaps in an effort to spark his teammates, Austin Watson fought bruising Flames forward Milan Lucic on the ensuing faceoff. Lucic, who had a 35-pound weight advantage, won the decision.Calgary took advantage of some sloppy defensive play ahead of its third goal. Josh Norris turned the puck over deep in the zone and Lindholm snapped it in at 11:05.Batherson extended his goal-scoring streak to five games with a power-play effort at 13:05. He beat David Rittich with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle.Another Senators' defensive lapse proved costly early in the second period as Chris Tierney coughed up the puck down low. Gaudreau fed it to Monahan for the power-play goal at 4:02.A Calgary shorthanded goal followed at 9:36. Mangiapane hit the post with a redirect attempt before tapping in the rebound. White responded 40 seconds later by scooping a loose puck off the faceoff and snapping it past a screened Rittich. The netminder posted 31 saves in Calgary's win.The lone goal in the third period came when Brady Tkachuk scored on the Ottawa power play at 10:00.The Senators dumped the Flames 6-1 on Thursday night. The teams will face off again Monday in the finale of Ottawa's five-game homestand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Saskatchewan Indigenous leadership are calling on Toronto-based uranium mining company Baselode Energy Corp. to stop surveys on Birch Narrows Dene Nation traditional territory in the far north unless consent is given. A permit was issued last month by the province to Baselode for access to land near Turnor Lake, on the edge of the Athabasca Basin and traditional territory of the Birch Narrows Dene Nation, while consultations with the community were still ongoing. The company set up camp and began conducting surveys on Birch Narrows resident Leonard Sylvestre’s trapline in an area traditionally used for such activities by the community. Birch Narrows Dene Elder advisor and trapper Ron Desjardin said it felt like an invasion. “I don't like what they did. They were very disrespectful, unfortunately. If they had any sense or any knowledge of what goes on in our country regarding Indigenous issues they would have stepped back, they would have not chosen to do this, but they went ahead anyway.” Having presented Baselode with a cease and desist order, Birch Narrows officials set up a blockade when they found that the company was not respecting promises to stop surveys, but took it down and are now patrolling the area regularly. “They threatened us if we set up a blockade ‘an illegal action’ and never mind the fact that they were on somebody's strapline,” Desjardin said. “They threatened us with legal action and they were trying to make it look like ‘oh our people, they're not safe.’ They even went to the RCMP saying ‘we want to ensure that our people are going to be safe.’” That mentality, Desjardin said, feels to him like the company is treating them like they’re “savages.” “That's what really ticks me off,” he said. “We're still viewed that way.” Birch Narrows is currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and Baselode crews went through the reserve, where they had left some equipment on their way to the survey site, Desjardin said. Baselode Energy Corp. President and CEO James Sykes said in a written response that his company believes a “near-term solution is achievable” and will look to “continue with its exploration activities in due course.” “Upon learning of the Community’s objections the Company has paused on-site work to continue further consultation with the local communities,” Sykes said. “Since applying for permits in October 2020, Baselode has proactively engaged in a positive and constructive dialogue consistent with the duty to consult and accommodate process. We share the common goal of a desire to proceed with mutually beneficial objectives, environmental considerations, and economic development opportunities.” Sykes said there have been mischaracterizations of the circumstances that the company deems to be inaccurate. “We have no further comment at this time as we choose to continue our ongoing positive dialogue directly with the community,” Sykes said. Baselode did send further comments through a law firm in Regina. The letter accused Desjardin of saving his allegations for “long after” they left the site. They alleged that he “has a history on this file of making inaccurate and inflammatory statements as part of his crusade and the illegal blockade.” The response came after the Herald asked specific questions about an interaction between a contractor and people staffing the checkpoint. The Herald is continuing to look into the interaction. The letter said Baselode is a “highly respected publicly traded exploration company” that has “built a reputation for going above and beyond in its interactions with indigenous people.” Ministry of Environment spokesperson Chris Hodges confirmed that Saskatchewan Minister of Environment Warren Kaeding met with the Birch Narrows Dene Nation to discuss the situation. “Minister Kaeding had an opportunity to discuss the matter further with Chief Jonathan Sylvestre of Birch Narrows Dene Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. The Minister encourages that all parties involved continue to communicate and work together in a respectful and safe manner,” Hodges said. The ministry said it recognizes the lands in question have been used traditionally by the community but that “deliberately blocking public Crown lands is illegal” and can be a public safety issue. In addition to having two separate meetings with the community on Jan. 20 and on Feb. 9, the province said Baselode engaged by way of a radio broadcast describing the proposed mineral exploration and gave an opportunity to pose questions. The ministry confirmed that Baselode made a presentation available to the public and leadership through the distribution of flash drives and a printed report. Previous attempts to meet were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks and a funeral. The ministry said it wants both parties to work together to “build a positive and mutually beneficial relationship so that opportunities can be discussed and evaluated.” ‘Bad business’ called out by leadership Desjardin said the core issue is that the Baselode was under the impression from the province that consultation with Indigenous communities is optional and that permits issued by Saskatchewan are sufficient to begin operations. He said the problem hinges on a lack of clarity around the duty to consult — a responsibility that ultimately lies with the Crown as opposed to industry. “When Canada came up with this whole duty to consult they told the territories and provinces to start doing business a different way. They were given this mandate to accommodate Indigenous rights and there were some clear guidelines, Desjardin said. “The Saskatchewan government turned this around and they've given this responsibility to industry. Industry now is in a conflict of interest because they want those resources. There was a failure to meaningfully address our concerns and too much reliance on industry to address the concerns.” He said provinces develop their own consultation protocols in line with what Canada expects and “Saskatchewan is way behind.” “Consultation and accommodation is not a means to an end nor an end in itself. There needs to be an opportunity to advance reconciliation for the purpose of improving relationships because that's what's lacking right now.” Birch Narrows Dene Nation Chief Jonathan Sylvestre said that resource developers need to understand that provincial permits don’t override the rights of First Nations or the consultation process and the community expects to be involved prior to any resource development or extraction on their traditional lands. “First Nations must be meaningfully and properly engaged on issues that have the potential to adversely impact our rights. It’s been especially difficult to meet deadlines during COVID- 19, while our efforts are keeping our communities safe — not on rubber stamping resource development activities in our territories,” Sylvestre said. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said Saskatchewan has no authority to authorize permits without engaging with First Nations and without providing the opportunity to give input. “Stay off our lands unless given consent by the First Nation.” FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear said Indigenous connections to the land, water, animals and environment are paramount. “These kinds of bad business practices won’t be tolerated anymore,” Bear said. “Resource exploration and extraction within our territories presents our treaty hunters and gatherers with real problems, especially when it impacts their ability to exercise their Inherent and Treaty rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather.” The province said the ministry approved phase 1 of Baselode’s project on Jan. 27 and issued a permit for preliminary exploration, authorizing a survey with “very low impact” on the environment. Surveyors can access the area on snowmobile or in a snow-cat and collect ground gravity readings on foot to decide where to propose drilling. That information would then be given to the community. The next phase of exploration, for which a permit has not been issued, would involve core sampling after undergoing the consultation and community engagement process. The province said the Turnor Lake community and Baselode Energy are discussing plans for a comprehensive traditional land study in the area that it says falls outside the duty to consult process which focuses on how a community currently uses the area. According to the province, engagement with Indigenous communities by industry is separate from duty to consult obligations held by the province in this context and those discussions don’t influence the permitting process or timeframes. Meadow Lake Tribal Council Tribal Chief Richard Ben said the province needs to provide already underfunded First Nations with the financial resources to be able to participate at the table “in a meaningful way.” “Otherwise, many First Nations will be left out of the process. We can’t undertake studies at our own expense in order to be consulted on resource development within our territory,” Ben said. The Government of Saskatchewan First Nation and Métis Consultation Policy Framework, drafted in 2010, states that Saskatchewan “does not accept assertions by First Nations or Métis that Aboriginal title continues to exist with respect to either lands or resources in Saskatchewan.” Desjardin says that’s insulting. He said while lip service is paid to engaging with First Nations, those words don’t ring true when they’re contradicted in policy. “The duty to consult document is outdated. How can a document support us on one hand and then tell us that on the other hand ‘you've got nothing here.’ It’s a weak document, it’s a contradictory document and it’s a patronizing document. It's not serving its purpose, not doing what it's supposed to do,” Desjardin said. ‘Cultural survival’ depends on wildlife habitat Desjardin said his community has long relied on an abundance of caribou and moose, who feed in muskeg areas such as the proposed exploration site near Harding Bay. Canada’s Species at Risk Act considers woodland caribou as a threatened species. Saskatchewan has not yet finished its habitat assessment for the Boreal Shield and Desjardin wants that data to be available before development happens in the area. “The provinces and territories agreed to come up with a solution, to come up with plans to address this. Saskatchewan is really late. Our area was supposed to be done in June of this year. And that's what I've been pleading with the ministry saying, ‘hold off, hold on, let's find out where the caribou are at.’ How can you make a meaningful decision if you're not basing it on scientific data?” Desjardin said. “We’ve proposed setting aside that whole area as a preserve to save those caribou because they do mean a lot to us. It's our grocery store. That's what it is. We’d like everything to be put on hold. Give us at least a year so that we can do our own research and we can find out where we’re at with everything that we want and then let’s talk.” The ministry said it initiated the duty to consult process with the Indigenous communities of Turnor Lake Oct. 27 last year for Baselode's proposal for mineral exploration on “unoccupied, public Crown land” about 50 kilometres northeast of the community. The process was extended so the community had more time to discuss the project and voice concerns to the ministry. The province said those concerns included impact to caribou, impact to trapping, the development of a new trail to the exploration site and a heavy haul ice road for equipment. Early concerns expressed about the new access roads were addressed by changing the program to a heli-assist, which reduces overall impact, the ministry said. Desjardin said the government and industry need to realize that there are “deeper issues” with the unique habitat of that area. “We are fighting for our cultural survival. That’s what we’re doing right now and that’s why we feel so strongly about this. Do we want a uranium mine in the middle of that knowing the possible consequences if anything ever happened with our watershed? Of course not. Do we really want something that’s going to lead to the demise and extinction of our caribou in that area? No, we don’t,” Desjardin said. “This is something that you need to listen to. We’re not totally against industry. We know people need jobs. But we’d like a say. Listen to us, this is why we don’t want it there.” ‘Speaking from the heart’ to build good partnerships Desjardin said companies that have built successful partnerships with Birch Narrows have gone through the full process of a meaningful consultation. “They sat down with people, they listened to the pros and cons, they addressed each of those issues as well as they could. They didn't hide anything and they were transparent,” Desjardin said. He said Baselode should follow the example set by NexGen Energy Ltd., another uranium company that operates in the Athabasca Basin. “When they drafted a benefit agreement here with Birch Narrows they chose not to call it an impact benefit agreement, they chose to call it a mutual benefit agreement and I thought that was awesome because they didn't rush. It took time,” Desjardin said. “They didn't come and say, ‘Okay, here's our timeline. We have until December. Please make a decision now.’ Basically, that's what Baselode did to us. We're saying ‘No, you have to fit into our timelines.’ We live here.” Desjardin said the issue is part of long-standing unresolved Indigenous grievances in Canada. “It's all about relationships. Canada and the province have to stop hiding behind their documents and their policies. We're speaking from the heart. We don't hide behind policies and documents because this means something to us. It might not mean much to somebody living in Saskatoon but it does to us,” Desjardin said. “It's a dichotomous relationship because we're going down this line and we're not bridging any gaps. Everyone's on their own. No wonder we've got all these issues. We need to bridge that gap and start respecting each other.” Citing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action Desjardin said it’s important to establish and maintain a mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. In order for that to happen there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes and action to change behavior. “Saskatchewan is falling short on the action part,” Desjardin said. “I like what Chief Dr. Robert Joseph (a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation in British Columbia) said. Like he said, I want you to dream and imagine what reconciliation would look like in 20, 30 and 40 years from now on,” Desjardin said. “When we are reconciled, we will live together in harmony, be gentle with one another, we will be caring and compassionate. When we are reconciled every person living here will live with dignity, purpose and value. That's where Canada and Saskatchewan need to go.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
WASHINGTON — Federal investigators probing the death of a U.S. Capitol Police officer killed in the Jan. 6 riot have zeroed in on a suspect seen on video appearing to spray a chemical substance on the officer before he later collapsed and died, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The FBI has obtained video that shows the person spraying Brian Sicknick and other law enforcement officers during the Jan. 6 riot, the people said. But they cautioned that federal agents haven't yet identified the suspect by name and the act hasn't been directly tied to Sicknick's death. The idea that Sicknick died after being sprayed by a chemical irritant has emerged in recent weeks as a new theory in the case. Investigators initially believed that Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation, according to one of the people and another law enforcement official briefed on the case. But as they've collected more evidence, the theory of the case has evolved and investigators now believe Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance — possibly bear spray — during the riot that may have contributed to his death, the officials said. The people could not publicly discuss the details of an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Sicknick died after defending the Capitol against the mob that stormed the building as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win over Donald Trump. It came after Trump urged supporters on the National Mall to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. The circumstances surrounding Sicknick’s death remain unclear and a final cause of death has not yet been determined. Capitol Police have said he died after he was injured “while physically engaging with protesters” and this week, the agency’s acting chief said officials consider it a line-of-duty death. Sicknick collapsed later on, was hospitalized and died. The Justice Department opened a federal murder investigation into his death, but prosecutors are still evaluating what specific charges could be brought in the case, the people said. In a statement late Friday, Capitol Police said the medical examiner’s report on Sicknick’s death is not yet complete. “We are awaiting toxicology results and continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death investigation,” the statement said. The New York Times first reported investigators were zeroing in on one suspect in the case; CNN previously reported law enforcement had collected video evidence to identify a handful of potential suspects. The FBI has already released about 250 photos of people being sought for assaulting federal law enforcement officers during the riot. Some have already been arrested and the Justice Department said about 300 people have been charged with federal offences related to the riot. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Once again, the West Parry Sound Pool project is making waves in Whitestone’s online community. Following a question-and-answer document posted on the municipal website on Feb. 25, a Whitestone ratepayer named Bruce Morris shared the link with Whitestone Community Chat on Facebook where it soon drew discussion. “Even after all of the knowledge of how the majority of ratepayers are against the project and all of the data to show why it is a waste of time and money, I guess the mayor has decided to create this draft of fiction,” wrote Morris in the comments. Another ratepayer stated that the Q&A document was not impartial and should be dismissed. “The will of the majority of Whitestone ratepayers must be taken into consideration not the will of Parry Sound and some members of council,” said Sue Krusell. Whitestone’s councillor Joe Lamb was quick to comment on the Facebook post stating that he did not agree with the document being published as is. “I was asked for input on these questions and answers,” wrote Lamb. “I will post separately my input to the mayor.” The document says that it is answers to questions raised by Whitestone ratepayers regarding the proposed West Parry Sound Pool and Wellness Centre project and the municipality’s participation in the project. In a separate post on the Whitestone Community Chat, Lamb posted his opposition to the Q&A document posted on the municipal website. “Mr. Mayor, in addition to my earlier comments, I have reviewed each one of the 25 questions and ‘your’ responses,” said Lamb. “I must reiterate these are just your responses, they simply cannot be ‘from council’ because they are absolutely misleading.” It is not known at this time when Whitestone will make a decision on its involvement in the West Parry Sound pool project however it has been stated that the municipality will hold another public meeting before it makes its decision. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
A Vancouver-area health authority says people at three schools in the region have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern.A news release from Fraser Health says it is working with the Surrey school district to manage COVID-19 exposures at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Frank Hurt Secondary School and M.B. Sanford Elementary School. It says the cases involving an unspecified COVID-19 variant appear to be linked to community transmissions, but the schools will remain open. The health authority also declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital on Friday.It says five patients at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19 after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit.It says the emergency department remains open and no other areas have been impacted.Meanwhile, an outbreak at the CareLife Fleetwood long-term care home in Surrey was declared over.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Existant depuis plusieurs décennies, le Club de ski de fond de Matane envisage l’avenir avec optimisme. Même en ce temps de pandémie de la COVID-19, principalement parce qu’il n’a aucune dette et qu’il compte plus de 300 membres. « Nous avons tout ce qu’il faut pour être opérationnel, assure le président depuis trois ans, Paul Gauthier. Il n’est pas question de s’endetter pour plaire davantage à quelques personnes, par exemple en construisant un plus gros chalet avec un service de bar. Ce n’est vraiment pas notre objectif. » Optimisme au Club de ski de fond de MataneBien au chaud Érigé en 1992 par des bénévoles, le chalet L’Igloo peut normalement accueillir bien au chaud de 15 à 20 personnes. Mais en raison de la pandémie, il ne peut en recevoir que deux dans le respect des normes en vigueur. Comme il est en bonne situation financière, le Club a pu embaucher trois personnes pour diminuer la charge de travail des bénévoles, soit Donald Bouffard pour le traçage des sentiers, ainsi que Gina Bernier et Lucie Lacroix à l’accueil. La pandémie ne nous a pas trop affectés – Paul Gauthier « Comme nos activités se déroulent principalement l’extérieur et que les conditions météo sont propices, note Paul Gauthier, la pandémie ne nous a pas trop affectés. Quoique nous ayons dû annuler nos sorties nocturnes. Nous constatons aussi une plus grande participation des gens habituellement habitués à passer l’hiver à la chaleur, dans le Sud. Ils ont ressorti leurs skis ou raquettes! » En exploitation depuis décembre cette saison, le Club offre 18 km de sentiers de ski de fond, 20 km de sentiers de raquette et 5 km de sentiers de vélo d’hiver fatbike, en collaboration avec le Club de Vélo Éolien de Matane. Il est accessible de 10 h à 16 h en semaine et de 9 h à 16 h la fin de semaine. Outre les cartes de membres et les forfaits, la tarification quotidienne est de12 $ par jour pour le ski de fond et de 4 $ pour la raquette. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
Eganville – A public meeting about a proposed zoning amendment allowing four RVs to be used for seasonal accommodation per property showed there is more than a little interest in the topic among Bonnechere Valley residents. The meeting, which was originally slated to last two hours, lasted three hours and even that was not long enough to read the 171 letters township residents had sent either in favour of allowing RVs or opposing the initiative. As a result, a second public meeting has been called on the issue where the remaining letters will be read, as well as any new letters received on the topic. Listening to the letters at of the ZOOM meeting, it was clear there was a diversity of opinions, but mostly the viewpoints were divided pretty well down the middle with about half the respondents in favour of the proposed by-law and the other half opposed. The issue had first been spearheaded by the Lake Clear Property Owners Land Use Committee and while most of the letters appeared to have a connection to Lake Clear, there were also letters from residents from other parts of the municipality, since the issue is now a township-wide by-law amendment. Under the by-law council not only clarified what is classified as an RV but stated an RV could be used for seasonal accommodation and there could be four RVs per lot in the township. The only exception is the village of Eganville. Following the public meeting, Mayor Jennifer Murphy said it became clear early on there would not be a chance to finish the public meeting last Tuesday because there were so many letters. “We had allotted two hours for the meeting,” she said. “Normally a public meeting is about 15 minutes or 30 minutes. As the letters came in, it was blatantly obvious we would not get through them all in two hours.” During the meeting, the mayor proposed extending the meeting for an additional hour to get through as many of the letters as possible. Not only were council members listening to the letters but also those who signed in on ZOOM or those listening on the township YouTube stream. Staff members read each letter – and some were quite lengthy – and when the three-hour meeting was done there were still over 20 which had not been read. Since then, there have been more letters coming in and council agreed to allow more letters for the second public meeting which will continue to look into the issue. Mayor Murphy said the next meeting is being done in a timely fashion and also allows for the 20-day notice which is required for a public meeting. As well, the second meeting will allow council deliberation time on what they have heard or read. “This will give us more time,” she said. The new meeting is scheduled for March 19 at 10 a.m. and will be a ZOOM meeting like the last one. The meeting is also streamed on YouTube. Not only will the remaining letters be read, but the new letters and then council will have a chance to discuss the issue. Although there was a provision for presentations, Mayor Murphy explained anyone who wrote a letter will not be able to give a presentation. It is clear the issue is very important to some residents with many heartfelt comments and strongly held opinions on the topic. There were a lot of different opinions expressed on the issue and having an opportunity to listen to all of them will allow council to delve into the issue again, she said. “As a council we can discuss what we heard,” she said. “There were some constructive letters which gave some compromise positions.” Some of the factors which might be considered are lot size, frontage and setbacks, she noted. The issue has been simmering – sometimes more actively than others – for about five years since the original request came to council asking for the municipality to ban RVs around Lake Clear. Since then, it turned into a township-wide by-law issue. The previous council did not make a decision on the issue and this council moved the issue ahead with the by-law amendment. However, there was also some criticism of this council for making a decision during the COVID-19 pandemic when some property owners are not in the area. The Lake Clear Property Owners reached out to members asking them to submit opinions on the issue and the Golden Lake Property Owners Association also reached out to members about the proposed by-law amendment. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
(Furrukh Ikram via YouTube - image credit) Peel Regional Police say a man has been arrested after allegedly stealing a tow truck and fleeing from officers on Friday. A video of the arrest surfaced online and shows the moments leading up to it. A spokesperson for Peel police told CBC Toronto that they received a call around 11:15 a.m. on Friday about several men fighting. At some point, a tow truck was stolen, they said. Police located the tow truck in a nearby residential neighbourhood. A video of the incident posted on YouTube by the user Furrukh Ikram shows the tow truck reversing out of a residential driveway in what appears to be a Brampton neighbourhood before a police cruiser catches up and rams into the side of the truck. Several other cruisers then arrive to box in the vehicle on each side. Police officers exit their cruisers and begin pounding on the driver's side of the truck yelling, "Get out!" while the the vehicle appears to continue attempting to flee. WARNING | The following video contains graphic images and audio It is unclear whether police used Tasers in their efforts to stop the driver, but crackling can be heard in the video. After a couple of minutes, police can be seen forcibly removing the man from the truck and placing him under arrest. Police say the man was taken into custody and transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has invoked their mandate following the incident, police said. The SIU is an independent agency that investigates incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death as well as allegations of sexual assault. Police say a 35-year-old man has been charged with theft under $5000, theft of a motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
(Nalcor Energy - image credit) Despite significant damage over the last two months to the transmission lines that carry power from Muskrat Falls to the Strait of Belle Isle, the CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador's energy corporation says he expects the project to be operational on schedule. The most recent February storm damaged components between Muskrat Falls and L'anse au Diable, with repairs needed on more than 1,200 towers. Repair crews have spent the month trying to address the issue. In light of the recent spate of damage, Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall said failures early on in bringing the project fully operational were expected, and blamed a series of unusual weather events in January and February for the failures of the transmission line components. "We've had some problems for sure, but you expect a lot of those, especially early on in the project," said Marshall. "So we're still in the process of making the whole thing operational." Marshall attributed the damage to an unseasonably severe ice storm in Labrador last January, which left a heavy accumulation of ice on the lines between Goose Bay and Forteau. The ice didn't initially affect the operation of the lines until a worker spotted a damaged arm on one of the towers. When crews went to assess the damage, they discovered a dozen instances of similarly bent towers. "In Labrador what we found was that the smaller arms carrying the electrode lines were being bent in some places, and in one instance actually let go," he said. The severity of the accumulated ice was enough to require helicopter assistance from Hydro Quebec in order to remove it from the lines. "It's very unusual to have ice this magnitude for so long," he said. Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall says he's confidence Muskrat Falls will start pumping power into the grid by the end of 2021. Marshall said that it's impossible to build power lines to withstand everything. From time to time, he said, there will be failures. "The towers themselves did not give way, so that's the first thing. It's impossible to design outside towers to withstand every possible event; the cost would be astronomical in any event." Through an assessment, Nalcor will determine if the designs themselves were faulty, or if there was any issue in implementation, he said. If needed, added Marshall, designs will be modified. Too early to estimate costs of repairs Marshall says Nalcor won't know how the damage will alter the project's price tag until the corporation has completed its assessment. "I don't think this will contribute significantly to an increased cost," said Marshall. "There might be some minor revisions made here, but it's difficult to say until we get the full engineering analysis of what things failed." According to Marshall this is the first major issue Nalcor has encountered with the line in the three years it's been up. The transmission system has a number of configurations, which Marshall said allows them to maintain the lines. The loss of an electrode line doesn't necessarily mean customers would be without power, he said. Despite not being able to give any guarantees, due to what he called the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, Marshall said he's confident the Muskrat Falls project will reach full completion within the year. "There's a clear path at this point in time," he said. "The construction is finished, we're in an operational mode in one of the generators, we are now bringing the transmission line into operation ... so I have a great deal of confidence that by the end of the year, we'll be basically at fully operational." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Government of P.E.I. - image credit) Prince Edward Island is reintroducing some public health restrictions — including no indoor dining at restaurants —after six new cases of COVID-19 were reported Saturday. The restrictions will begin Sunday and be in effect until at least March 14, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, said in a COVID-19 briefing Saturday. P.E.I. has had 12 cases in the past four days, and a handful of potential exposure sites have been identified. "This outbreak is likely to get worse before it gets better," Morrison said. Other "circuit-breaker" measures announced Saturday include: Takeout only at restaurants. Personal gatherings limited to household members plus 10 "consistent" people. Organized gathering limit of 50 for activities including concerts, worship services, and movie theatres Weddings and funerals limited to 50 individuals plus officiants. Not eligible for multiple gatherings. No funeral or wedding receptions. No sports games or tournaments, though practices are permitted. Gyms, museums, libraries and retail stores can operate at 50 per cent capacity. No changes to current measures for long-term care facilities. Unlicensed and licensed child-care centres can operate at 100 per cent capacity, with physical distancing. The Chief Public Health Office has asked all people aged 14-29 in the Summerside area to get tested this weekend even if they are not experiencing symptoms. People with symptoms are asked to get tested at clinics in Slemon Park or on Park Street in Charlottetown. By 3 p.m. Saturday, Morrison said close to 1,000 tests were done at the temporary clinic at Three Oaks High School. The clinic is open until 8 p.m., and will be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone in the Summerside area aged 14-29. Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside was identified Saturday as a possible exposure site. The new cases, five men and one woman, are all in their 20s. Five are close contacts of previous cases. Four new exposure sites were also identified on Saturday — Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside, Pita Pit locations in Summerside and Charlottetown, and Burger King in the Summerside Walmart. Premier Dennis King said the province does not know if the new cases are variants, but the assumption is they are. He said it's not the news he wanted to deliver, but said circuit breakers have proven effective in the past. "I think it's discouraging from the perspective for all Islanders simply because we've done very, very well to date and we can see the finish line, but we do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID that it won't really let us firmly out of its grip." P.E.I. has had 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began almost a year ago. Thirteen remain active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. The Atlantic bubble remains suspended, as well. Here is a list of possible public exposure sites on PEI. Public health officials are urging anyone who was at these locations on these dates and at these times to immediately self-isolate and get tested. Pita Pit, Summerside: Feb 19, 11 a.m.-9 pm.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb 22, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 24, 2-4 p.m.; Feb 26, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Callbeck's Home Hardware, Summerside: Feb. 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (all dates) Burger King, Granville Street, Summerside: Feb 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 17, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb 18, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb. 20, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 22, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 25, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Dominos Pizza, Summerside: Feb 17, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb. 18, 4-11 p.m.; Feb. 19, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Feb 20: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Feb. 21, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 22, 4-11 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Shoppers Drug Mart, Summerside: Feb 21, 10-11 a.m. Dollarama, Summerside: Feb 20, 3-4 p.m. Superstore, Montague: Feb 24, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Feb 25, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tailgate Bar & Grill, Montague: Feb 25, 9:30-11:30 p.m. Iron Haven Gym, Summerside: Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m.; Feb 23, 6-8 p.m. Toys R Us, Charlottetown: Feb 23, 10 a.m.-12 noon Taste of India, Charlottetown: Feb 20, 4-10 p.m.; Feb. 21, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 22, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Breakfast Spot, Summerside: Feb 20, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. New Brunswick reported two new cases on Saturday as the active total, 41, continues to drop. New Brunswickers can now travel and visit people in different regions after a series of changes to the orange phase took effect. Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as tighter restrictions came into force to stem a recent increase in case numbers. The province has 39 active cases. Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases, as well as another death. It has 217 active cases. More from CBC News
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 858 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 287 003 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 268 645 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 13 nouveaux décès, le nombre total de décès s'élève à 10 385. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 21 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 599. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 7, pour un total actuel de 112. Les prélèvements réalisés le 25 février s'élèvent à 28 226. Finalement, 15 902 doses de vaccin ont été administrées dans la journée d'hier, pour un total de 418 399. Jusqu'à maintenant, 537 825 doses ont été reçues. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — The House approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that was championed by President Joe Biden, the first step in providing another dose of aid to a weary nation as the measure now moves to a tense Senate. “We have no time to waste,” Biden said at the White House after the House passage early Saturday. "We act now — decisively, quickly and boldly — we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again. People in this country have suffered far too much for too long.” The new president’s vision for infusing cash across a struggling economy to individuals, businesses, schools, states and cities battered by COVID-19 passed on a near party-line 219-212 vote. That ships the bill to the Senate, where Democrats seem bent on resuscitating their minimum wage push and fights could erupt over state aid and other issues. Democrats said that mass unemployment and the half-million American lives lost are causes to act despite nearly $4 trillion in aid already spent fighting the fallout from the disease. GOP lawmakers, they said, were out of step with a public that polling finds largely views the bill favourably. “I am a happy camper tonight," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Friday. “This is what America needs. Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. But if you're not, we're going without you." Republicans said the bill was too expensive and said too few education dollars would be spent quickly to immediately reopen schools. They said it was laden with gifts to Democratic constituencies like labour unions and funneled money to Democratic-run states they suggested didn't need it because their budgets had bounced back. “To my colleagues who say this bill is bold, I say it's bloated," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “To those who say it's urgent, I say it's unfocused. To those who say it's popular, I say it is entirely partisan.” The overall relief bill would provide $1,400 payments to individuals, extend emergency unemployment benefits through August and increase tax credits for children and federal subsidies for health insurance. It also provides billions for schools and colleges, state and local governments, COVID-19 vaccines and testing, renters, food producers and struggling industries like airlines, restaurants, bars and concert venues. Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines. That sharp partisan divide is making the fight a showdown over whom voters will reward for heaping more federal spending to combat the coronavirus and revive the economy atop the $4 trillion approved last year. The battle is also emerging as an early test of Biden's ability to hold together his party's fragile congressional majorities — just 10 votes in the House and an evenly divided 50-50 Senate. At the same time, Democrats were trying to figure out how to assuage liberals who lost their top priority in a jarring Senate setback Thursday. That chamber's nonpartisan parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, said Senate rules require that a federal minimum wage increase would have to be dropped from the COVID-19 bill, leaving the proposal on life support. The measure would gradually lift that minimum to $15 hourly by 2025, doubling the current $7.25 floor in effect since 2009. Hoping to revive the effort in some form, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is considering adding a provision to the Senate version of the COVID-19 relief bill that would penalize large companies that don't pay workers at least $15 an hour, said a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations. That was in line with ideas floated Thursday night by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a chief sponsor of the $15 plan, and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to boost taxes on corporations that don't hit certain minimum wage targets. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered encouragement, too, calling a minimum wage increase “a financial necessity for our families, a great stimulus for our economy and a moral imperative for our country.” She said the House would “absolutely" approve a final version of the relief bill because of its widespread benefits, even if it lacked progressives’ treasured goal. While Democratic leaders were eager to signal to rank-and-file progressives and liberal voters that they would not yield on the minimum wage fight, their pathway was unclear because of GOP opposition and questions over whether they had enough Democratic support. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., sidestepped a question on taxing companies that don't boost pay, saying of Senate Democrats, “I hesitate to say anything until they decide on a strategy." Progressives were demanding that the Senate press ahead anyway on the minimum wage increase, even if it meant changing that chamber's rules and eliminating the filibuster, a tactic that requires 60 votes for a bill to move forward. “We’re going to have to reform the filibuster because we have to be able to deliver,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., another high-profile progressive, also said Senate rules must be changed, telling reporters that when Democrats meet with their constituents, "We can’t tell them that this didn’t get done because of an unelected parliamentarian.” Traditionalists of both parties — including Biden, who served as a senator for 36 years — have opposed eliminating filibusters because they protect parties' interests when they are in the Senate minority. Biden said weeks ago that he didn't expect the minimum wage increase to survive the Senate's rules. Democrats narrowly hold Senate control. Pelosi, too, seemed to shy away from dismantling Senate procedures, saying, “We will seek a solution consistent with Senate rules, and we will do so soon.” The House COVID-19 bill includes the minimum wage increase, so the real battle over its fate will occur when the Senate debates its version over the next two weeks. Democrats are pushing the relief measure through Congress under special rules that will let them avoid a Senate GOP filibuster, meaning that if they are united they won't need any Republican votes. It also lets the bill move faster, a top priority for Democrats who want the bill on Biden's desk before the most recent emergency jobless benefits end on March 14. But those same Senate rules prohibit provisions with only an “incidental” impact on the federal budget because they are chiefly driven by other policy purposes. MacDonough decided that the minimum wage provision failed that test. Republicans oppose the $15 minimum wage target as an expense that would hurt businesses and cost jobs. ___ Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Kevin Freking and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — One year since Quebec recorded its first presumptive case of COVID-19, the province is recording 858 new infections and 13 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The Health Department reported 599 hospitalizations today, a drop of 21 patients. There are also seven fewer people requiring intensive care for a total of 112. One year ago today, Quebec authorities reported that a woman returning from travel to Iran was the province's first presumptive COVID-19 patient. Her status was confirmed the next day. Since the pandemic was declared last March, the province has reported 287,003 confirmed infections and 10,385 deaths, with 268,645 people recovered. Quebec administered 15,902 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Friday for a total of 418,399. Premier Francois Legault, in a letter posted today to his Facebook page, says he feels great hope as vaccinations of the general population have begun in recent days and are scheduled to ramp up on Monday in the Montreal area. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The head of an economic recovery team tasked with reviewing Newfoundland and Labrador's expenses and mapping a way forward for the indebted province says the group's interim report will be delayed several weeks. Moya Greene, a St. John's-born businesswoman known for privatizing Britain's Royal Mail postal service, says the team's work has been interrupted by the province's recent lockdowns and will need up to six extra weeks. The highly anticipated report is expected to examine government spending and the way services are delivered, an undertaking that has fuelled speculation about austerity measures, public-sector layoffs and privatization. The interim report was expected to be released Sunday. But Greene says Feb. 28 was a "notional" date rather than a "time is of the essence" deadline. The economic recovery team's terms of reference says its chairperson will communicate with the province's premier on a weekly basis, but Greene says it's "not appropriate" for her to proceed with that plan since a provincial election is still unfolding. Newfoundland's general election was set to take place on Feb. 13, but a COVID-19 outbreak prompted officials to move to mail-in voting and extended the deadline for postmarked ballots to March 12. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
MILAN — The fedora Humphrey Bogart wore in “Casablanca” may have secured Borsalino’s place in fashion and cinematic history, but it will be something like the cow-print bucket hat that will help ensure its future. The storied Italian hatmaker still makes its felt hats by hand in a Piedmont region factory, using the same artisanal techniques from when the company was founded in 1857 and some of founder Giuseppe Borsalino’s original machinery. It is updating its offerings for next fall and winter, with a focus on customization and youth-trends. The new collection displayed during Milan Fashion Week takes inspiration from the Arts & Crafts design movement in mid-19th century Britain. Hat pins with leaf and floral motifs allow women to uniquely shape the hats, to take up an oversized brim, say, or to create an elegant fold in the crown. A leopard fedora can be paired with a long chain, to wear over the shoulder when going in and out of shops, while a clochard has an optional leather corset. “You cannot change a hat so much,’’ Giacomo Santucci, Borsalino’s creative curator, said. “You can change the attitude of the hat.” Unisex styles, including baseball caps, berets and bucket hats, come in updated new materials - including a spotted cow print, black patent leather and rainproof nylon. Such genderless looks are becoming an increasingly important part of the collection, Santucci said. “The hat is no longer a tool to cover yourself, but to discover yourself,’’ he told The Associated Press. The company, which relaunched three years ago, was in the process of scaling up production from 150,000 hats a year to a goal of half a million when the pandemic hit. “To be honest, it is such a small company, in a way it is very simple to react,’’ said Santucci, who is also the current president of the Italian Chamber of Buyers. “The smaller you are, the more reactive and prompt." Beyond new styles, that means getting people talking. Santucci, who was Gucci CEO during the Tom Ford era, created a new film for this season, featuring Milanese women who chose hats to match their styles, striding through the centre of the city. Last season’s film featured dancers from Alessandria, site of the original Borsalino factory, dancing through the factory floor. "My strong belief is that fashion is becoming more and more a discussion,'' Santucci said. New social media platforms like Clubhouse are giving people the chance to create a limited and select group to discuss relevant topics, which Santucci said has been key during the isolation imposed by the pandemic. He also has pursued collaborations with ready-to-wear brands, including Borsalino X Valentino. “Brands are changing. It is getting closer to entertainment, to give people the chance to engage with the brand, to understand it better. Not only to understand what was done in the past, but to really interact and to have the chance to be part of the same community,’’ Santucci said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews when they take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday. Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe says Matthews won't play due to a wrist injury that he's been dealing with for much of the year. Matthews has 31 points (18 goals, 13 assists) in 20 games for the Leafs this season. Toronto (15-4-2) will get some other key pieces back in the lineup — forward Joe Thornton returns from a lower-body injury, defenceman Jake Muzzin slots back in after missing two games with a facial fracture and goalie Jack Campbell is available after dealing with a leg injury. The Leafs currently sit atop the all-Canadian North Division, but the Oilers (14-8-0) are just four points back. Saturday's game kicks off a three-game series between Edmonton and Toronto. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press