A sundog, 22° halo, helic arcs... and that's just to name a few.
A sundog, 22° halo, helic arcs... and that's just to name a few.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
SURREY, B.C. — RCMP say a man wanted in connection with a murder investigation in Winnipeg and a kidnapping and assault probe in Surrey, B.C., has been arrested after months on the run. Mounties say Dyllan Petrin was picked up Tuesday after police learned he had been hiding out in Vancouver. They say Petrin cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet last May while he was out on bail, and he was later identified as a suspect in a murder in July. Police in Winnipeg say the B.C. man faces charges of first-degree murder in relation to the shooting incident. Members of the Surrey RCMP strike force team, Lower Mainland integrated emergency response crew and Vancouver police assisted in the arrest. Surrey RCMP Supt. Elija Rain says the arrest would not have been possible without strong collaboration among the various law enforcement agencies. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
European Union leaders will on Thursday seek to address the coronavirus pandemic's mounting challenges, from containing more infectious variants to the threat of border closures and the slow roll-out of vaccines across the bloc. The heads of EU institutions have urged the leaders to maintain unity and step up testing and vaccinations, though no formal conclusions are expected from the online video conference, the ninth since the pandemic began. The European Commission said on Tuesday that the 27 EU countries should have vaccinated at least 70% of adults by summer and needed to be genome sequencing at least 5% of positive tests to identify new coronavirus variants.
Hamilton’s public school board is asking the province for pandemic pay for educators supporting students learning in the city’s schools. “Educational assistants and teachers are providing direct care and in-person instruction for students who are not able to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols, such as wearing masks or physically distancing,” Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) chair Dawn Danko wrote in a Jan. 19 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. The letter calls on the Ontario government to administer an additional payment for education workers who have been “attending in-person at a physical school” in Hamilton — many since Jan. 4 — “in recognition of the elevated risk to staff performing the essential work of supporting students with significant special needs during the lockdown and remote period.” Temporary pandemic pay was initiated by the Ontario government last spring to provide financial support offered to “eligible front line and support workers,” including health-care and long-term-care staff. The program ended in mid-August. As of Jan. 14, there were approximately 330 staff supporting students learning in-person at public schools in Hamilton. On Jan. 15, the Catholic board told The Spectator that approximately 360 educators were working in schools. Chair Pat Daly said the Catholic board, through the Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), has advocated for “additional funding and support” since March, but pandemic pay isn’t something that has been requested. Susan Lucek, president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 527, which mainly represents educational assistants, said the HWDSB’s request is “a step in the right direction.” “We are happy that somebody is finally listening,” she said. But, Lucek said, pandemic pay isn’t enough to address members’ health and safety concerns. “Schools should be closed for everybody at this time,” Lucek said. “Everybody should be remote, even though it’s not ideal for parents, students or educators.” In an email to The Spectator, Daryl Jerome, president of the local bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), said the letter penned by Danko “was certainly welcomed.” “However, I would have hoped for more of an emphasis on just how unsafe our membership is when delivering curriculum to students who cannot social distance or wear masks and some who require hands-on supports,” he said, adding that approximately 80 members are currently working in schools. Not included in the request are principals, vice-principals, administrators and custodial staff. “They typically are a step removed, they’re not working directly with the students,” Danko told The Spectator. Danko said “it seemed that a focused request would likely be more successful.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
LOS ANGELES — An unprecedented impeachment hearing failed to keep TV viewers from settling back into familiar, escapist habits last week. NFL and college football and sturdy drama franchises including the “Chicago” shows on NBC and the “NCIS” group on CBS were among the week's ratings winners, according to Nielsen figures out Wednesday. The second impeachment of now-former President Donald Trump drew viewers to news shows, but not in the numbers that tuned in the prior week to bear witness to rioting inside the U.S. Capitol and gave CNN get its biggest single-day audience ever. CNN had last Wednesday's most-watched impeachment hearing coverage and again claimed the weekly lead among cable news channels. CBS' news magazine “60 Minutes,” which included reports on the Capitol attack and security measures for President Joe Biden's inauguration, was the week's top non-sports broadcast despite competition from a NFL divisional playoff game. That contest, between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints was the week's No. 1 program. It helped make Fox the most-watched network with an average 9.1 million viewers, followed by NBC with 6.4 million. CBS had 4.1 million, ABC had 3.5 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1 million and Ion Television had 940,000. ESPN was the most-watched cable network in prime-time, averaging 3.2 million for the week. CNN had 3.1 million, MSNBC had 2.7 million and HGTV had 1.1 million. ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening news ratings contest, averaging 10.3 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 8.5 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million. For the week of Jan. 11-17, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewership: 1. NFC Playoff: Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Fox, 35.5 million. 2. NFL Playoff: Baltimore at Buffalo, NBC, 26.2 million. 3. College football championship: Ohio State at Alabama, ESPN, 18.5 million. 4. NFL Pregame, NBC, 18.3 million. 5. NFC Postgame, Fox, 18 million. 6. College football pregame, ESPN, 12.8 million. 7. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.57 million. 8. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC. 7.8 million. 9. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 7.6 million. 10. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.3 million. 11. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 6.6 million. 12. “Great North,” Fox, 6.1 million. 13. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 5.6 million. 14. “Magnum P.I.,” CBS, 5.5 million. 15. “This Is Us,” NBC, 5.46 million. 16. “The Chase,” ABC, 5.45 million. 17. “NCIS,” CBS, 5.2 million. 18. “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 5.1 million. 19. “MacGyver,” CBS, 5 million. 20. “The Price is Right,” CBS, 4.9 million. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Immigrants cheered President Joe Biden's plan to provide a path to U.S. citizenship for about 11 million people without legal status, mixing hope with guarded optimism Wednesday amid a seismic shift in how the American government views and treats them. The newly inaugurated president moved to reverse four years of harsh restrictions and mass deportation with a plan for sweeping legislation on citizenship. Biden also issued executive orders reversing some of former President Donald Trump's immigration policies, such as halting work on a U.S.-Mexico border wall and lifting a travel ban on people from several predominantly Muslim countries. He also ordered his Cabinet to work to keep deportation protections for hundreds of thousands of people brought to the U.S. as children. "This sets a new narrative, moving us away from being seen as criminals and people on the public charge to opening the door for us to eventually become Americans,” said Yanira Arias, a Salvadoran immigrant with Temporary Protected Status who lives in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. Arias is among about 400,000 people given the designation after fleeing violence or natural disasters. “It sets a more hopeful future for immigrants in the U.S., but it all depends on the Congress, especially the Senate,” Arias, a national campaigns manager for the immigrant advocacy group Alianza Americas, said of the citizenship effort. Success of the legislation is far from certain in a divided Congress, where opposition is expected to be tough. The most recent immigration reform attempts on a similar scale failed — in 2007 under then-President George W. Bush and in 2013 under then-President Barack Obama. Ofelia Aguilar, who watched Biden's inaugural address on TV with four other female farmworkers in agricultural Homestead, Florida, said she nevertheless felt positive about prospects for immigration reform. “I am hopeful that he'll give us legal status,” said Aguilar, who was pregnant and alone when she came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1993. She worked in the fields for years before starting her own business farming jicama root. “There is hope!” Aguilar cried out after Biden was sworn in. “So many people have suffered.” Some of the farmworkers at the backyard gathering about 35 miles (56 kilometres) south of Miami said they were disappointed Biden didn't mention immigration reforms in his speech. “I have faith in God, not in presidents,” said Sofía Hernández, an agricultural worker who has lived in the U.S. without legal status since 1989. “So many have said they are going to do things, and I don't see any results." Hernandez came from Mexico, seeking economic opportunity. Her three children were born in the U.S. and she regularly sent money to her family back home before her parents died. “My dream is to go and see my family and come back to stay with my children,” Hernandez said. In New York, Blanca Cedillos said she also was disappointed Biden did not mention immigration during the speech she watched with a half-dozen other masked immigrants at the Workers Justice Project. “I was hoping he would say something,” said Cedillos, a Salvadoran who lost her job as a nanny during the coronavirus pandemic and now gets by with a few housecleaning jobs and a weekly food box from the non-profit that offers services to immigrants. Cedillos has lived in the U.S. without authorization for 18 years and hopes to eventually visit her four children in Central America, then return legally to the U.S. “I have told them that that trip may happen now. Hopefully, if this new president gives me the opportunity,” she said. Guatemalan construction worker Gustavo Ajché, who came to the U.S. in 2004, watched the Spanish language broadcast with Cedillos. “I don’t want to get too excited because I might get frustrated afterward, like has happened in the past,” Ajché said. “I have been here many years, I have paid my taxes, I am hoping something will be done.” In Phoenix, Tony Valdovinos, a local campaign consultant who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a small child, said he isn't celebrating yet. He's among those who have benefited from the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which protects immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. “It's hard to put your heart into it when these things have failed in the past,” Valdovinos said. “We've been beaten down so much.” Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition in Miami, said she feels much the same way. “I’m so happy and relieved, but we are still afraid of getting our hearts broken again,” she said. “We’ve been through this so many times, but we really need to bring through a solution that goes forward.” Los Angeles janitor Anabella Aguirre wants that solution not only for herself, but for her two daughters, both DACA recipients now starting their careers. “Like thousands of mothers and fathers, I want for my daughters to have something better in this country,” Aguirre said. "We hope that today, this dawn, brings hope.” ___ Torrens reported from New York, and Snow from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Amy Taxin contributed from Orange County, California. Gisela Salomon, Claudia Torrens And Anita Snow, The Associated Press
Bradley Barton had to be urged to call police after he awakened in his hotel room and found a bleeding, unresponsive woman, in the bathtub of his hotel room, a witness testified Wednesday. John Sullivan said he questioned Barton about the woman that morning and told him to call police right away. Sullivan told the jury he asked Barton, "Did you poke her or try to wake her?" and testified, "I believe he said he tried and there was no response." A Calgary truck driver and mover, Sullivan was hired by Barton in June 2011 to help with a moving job near Edmonton. "I told him right away, I said, 'You have got to phone the cops,' " Sullivan testified. Barton, an Ontario moving company truck driver, is accused of killing 36-year-old Cindy Gladue. Her body was discovered in the bathtub of Barton's room at the Yellowhead Inn in Edmonton on the morning of June 22, 2011. The accused told police he found a naked woman in his hotel room bathtub covered in blood but said he had done nothing wrong. He told a 911 operator that the woman came back to his room to have a shower after they had partied together. Sullivan's testimony focused on how Barton came to make the call to police. Crown prosecutor Lawrence Van Dyke sought to establish that Barton knew he was in trouble when he spoke with Sullivan before police were called that morning. Under questioning from the prosecutor, Sullivan said he met Barton in a rented van in the hotel parking lot. Sullivan told Barton they were going to have a good day. "Brad said to me, 'Not until the cops come,' " Sullivan said. When Sullivan asked what he meant, Barton said a woman had knocked on his hotel room door the night before and asked to use his shower. Sullivan said Barton told him he must have passed out, and when he awakened that morning he found a woman in the bathtub. Testimony inconsistencies Barton's lawyer, Dino Bottos, emphasized the inconsistencies in Sullivan's memory. Sullivan, 67, admitted his recollection about whether he had breakfast that morning, and whether he had spoken to Barton at the hotel restaurant, had changed from statements he made to police and testimony he gave during both the 2012 preliminary hearing and Barton's previous trial in 2015. The prosecutor had previously taken Sullivan through the transcript of his recorded interview with homicide detectives that day in June. In that 2011 interview, Sullivan said Barton told him they were going to have a good day "if" or "until" — Sullivan could not recall the exact wording — the police showed up. That contradicted Sullivan's testimony Wednesday, in which he insisted he was the one who told Barton they were going to have a good day. Sullivan testified that Barton had his overnight bag in the van. He said during their conversation, Barton seemed "bewildered." He said after urging Barton to call the police, he told Barton he would handle the unloading job. Barton parked the van and left. Sullivan said he did not see him again until the next day. Forensic toxicologist Graham Jones testified that Gladue's blood alcohol level was .340, more than four times the legal limit, at the time of her death. The trial continues Thursday.
A federally-funded environmental monitoring institute could be in Fort Chipewyan’s future as the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) pushes for a local research hub. In late December, Parks Canada announced $59.9 million during the next three years to fund conservation efforts in Wood Buffalo National Park. MCFN expects some funding to support the creation of the Delta Institute, an environmental research and monitoring group that leadership has been planning for more than three years. “This place could really be an example of how Indigenous knowledge and Western science could work together,” said Melody Lepine, director of government and industry relations for MCFN. “It’s about collaboration and showing that we want to protect our delta.” Fort Chipewyan is home to the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the largest freshwater inland river delta in North America. Lepine said the delta attracts scientists and researchers from all over the world. The Delta Institute would be based in Fort Chipewyan and have smaller field stations across the delta. This would give scientists visiting the community a home base for research trips. Youth and elders could also be brought to field stations for educational trips. Lepine hopes this will make it easier for Fort Chipewyan residents to learn about monitoring and research projects in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Scientists and researchers will often come to Fort Chipewyan to study the delta, but won’t always share their findings locally, said Lepine. The Delta Institute requires scientists and researchers to collaborate with community knowledge holders in their studies. This would help preserve research for future generations. “They collect their data and they often go back to their academic world,” said Lepine. “What was that study about? How can we use those results in protecting and managing the delta?” Much of the research Fort Chipewyan’s leaders want to preserve include interviews with elders and knowledge holders. For MCFN, preserving Indigenous cultural knowledge is as important as studying Western science. “We are going to make sure those worldviews are balanced,” said Lepine. “Strong preservations of knowledge can be shared to manage very complex issues such as managing ecosystem health, conservation and wildlife management.” Since 2014, MCFN and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee have asked the federal government to help reverse the deterioration of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, which has seen water levels drop for years. The Delta Institute has not yet been approved, but Lepine said Parks Canada is enthusiastic about the project and potential roles in conservation efforts. “The Cree, Dene and Métis people were in that delta long before it became a World Heritage Site and long before it became a national park,” she said. “The institute would be an important instrument to reflect the sacredness of this place.” email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
The Ontario government reported close to 250 stores were checked out as part of a big box inspection blitz in the GTA and Hamilton area. The province’s labour minister called the results disappointing, so the province is ramping up efforts to boost compliance among businesses. Shallima Maharaj reports.
Sub-zero weather is giving the Mike Rodden Arena in Mattawa a chance to reopen, but it’s contingent on the province lifting the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown February 11. “Who would have thought that the old, cold barn would be an advantage when it gets cold,” said Mayor Dean Backer during the virtual Facebook live-streamed council meeting Tuesday evening. Renee-Anne Paquett, Mattawa’s new recreation department director, said the ice plant doesn’t need to run and use as much electricity to keep the surface hard when it’s cold. Councillors Dexture Sarrazin and Loren Mick had asked about cost factors following Paquett’s report about the arena. She had said the Mattawa Minor Hockey Association ended its season following Ontario announcing its latest restrictions to address rising infections and hospitalizations, mostly in southern Ontario. Without minor hockey, Paquett said they only expect public skating and men’s hockey to be potential arena users with minimal revenues. But she said there’s no need to rush the decision because staff have been reallocated to do other things in the meantime and less electricity used than during mild months. Even if they wanted to remove the ice, she said the “weather has to cooperate” as well. “There’s not just a shutoff switch and put the heat on,” she said, noting the building isn’t insulated from the winter temperatures. Sarrazin said he wouldn’t want to be a municipal “trend-setter’ when it came to keeping the arena open (noting East Ferris already decided to pull its ice). But he also wanted to see all the work to get the ice in good shape pay off if there is an opportunity to provide recreational opportunities to residents in February and March. “I’d like to see it stay if at all possible,” he said. Coun. Laura Ross it would be wise to wait to make a decision seeing the ice is maintaining itself right now. Mayor Backer said they can wait until their February 8 meeting to decide, giving them a chance to see whether the province is likely to extend or end the shutdown of such facilities. Paquett said there’s plenty of work being done in the arena until then, including the waxing of the floors, replacing baseboards, and bench repairs. Staff are also getting the fitness centre ready in case they can open that as well, along with assorted other chores and training. “Lots of things to keep us busy,” she said. Backer and council members commended all the township staff across the departments for rising to the occasion and accepting different work priorities as they react to the provincial orders. “In this day and age, especially we’re a union environment, I’m so proud of the guys and girls … a lot of people would say ‘it’s not my job, not in my job description’ and everybody is basically … has a sense of community and would do whatever is needed in whatever department,” he said. “Once we get over this nightmare we’ll definitely show a sign of respect and gratitude to everyone involved with our staff.” Paquett said it’s a “team effort” that just needs a coordinated approach. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
A recent spike in COVID cases at Horse Lake First Nations is cause for concern, says its chief executive officer Azar Kamran. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre reported 21 active COVID-19 cases there Monday; 13 homes have been placed under isolation. That represents an increase of nine cases in just a week. On Wednesday Horse Lake reported five recoveries and 16 active cases, accounting for 59 per cent of the total number of cases in west county as of Wednesday. West county active cases are currently sitting at 27; the west county local geographic area (LGA) includes First Nations communities, said Tom McMillan, Alberta Health communications assistant director. “We find this concerning, as does the whole province,” Kamran told the News. Still, he said the Horse Lake numbers are “stable” and attributed the rising numbers to increased testing. As of Monday nurses had completed 304 tests in Horse Lake, compared to 243 last Monday. The reserve has a population of 437, according to Indigenous Affairs Canada. Kamran said he believes COVID made its first appearance in the community approximately two months ago. By early January there had been seven recovered cases, according to the wellness centre. On Jan. 4, there was only one active case. “Our advice would be to maintain hygiene and all safety precautions, including maintaining (two-metre) distance,” Kamran said. He said band administration is promoting the precautions through the community newsletter and social media. Travel is also being discouraged though administration recognizes residents can leave and enter the community, Kamran said. Horse Lake has a small school for Grade 1 to 3 students, with approximately 24 students. Kamran said it’s been closed since November at band council’s direction; buses to schools outside the community haven’t been operational since November. The 13 homes were placed under isolation in accordance with Alberta Health guidelines, Kamran said. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre is also discouraging visits between members of different households. Some residents are observing this directive and others aren’t, Kamran said. Outdoor and indoor gatherings were banned across the province in December, with the province lifting the ban on outdoor gatherings Monday, with a limit of 10. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre has discouraged indoor gatherings and advised residents who witness them to call 1-833-415-9179, the number to report health violations, or the RCMP. Rick Wilson, Alberta’s indigenous relations minister, acknowledged Monday in a statement a delay in getting vaccines to indigenous seniors 65 and up due to a shortage in doses. Kamran said Horse Lake is hoping to receive vaccines as soon as possible and has remained in contact with AHS about the matter. No vaccinations have been made yet, he said. At press time there are 46 active cases across the County of Grande Prairie, including 19 in the east and central portions, and there have been four fatalities in the east and central county. The City of Grande Prairie has 180 active cases and has had 14 fatalities. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is calling for the federal government to impose economic sanctions against the United States in response to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden's "gut punch" decision to tear up the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline expansion. "As friends and allies of the United States, we are deeply disturbed that one of President Biden's first actions in office has been to rescind the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline border crossing. This is a gut punch for the Canadian and Alberta economies," Kenney said at a news conference late Wednesday. "Sadly, it is an insult directed at the United States' most important ally and trading partner on Day 1 of a new administration." Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn't consult with Canada first before acting but saved his strongest criticisms for federal Liberals, whose statements in response to Biden's actions Kenny characterized as too accepting. "If the U.S. government refuses to open the door to a constructive and respectful dialogue about these issues, then it is clear that the government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country's economic interests," he said. The lack of a strong response sets a precedent that could allow other members of Biden's government to call for other "retroactive" permit revocations for existing pipelines, Kenney said. Part of Keystone XL has been built but it is not complete, nor is it operating. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment at the news on Wednesday. "While we welcome the president's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," he said in a brief statement that outlined previous efforts to make a case for the project to the incoming administration. Biden's first phone call with a foreign leader will be with Trudeau, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday, noting that she expected the Keystone decision would be among matters under discussion. Earlier in the day, TC Energy said Biden's action overturns extensive regulatory reviews that found the pipeline would transport needed energy in an environmentally responsible way and bolster North American energy security. The Calgary-based company also warned the move would lead to the layoffs of thousands of union workers and comes despite the company's commitments to use renewable energy to power the pipeline and forge equity partnerships with Indigenous communities. The Biden decision was condemned by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. "This action is killing thousands of Canadian and American jobs at a time when both economies badly need private investment," said CEO Tim McMillan in a statement. Meanwhile, environmental groups applauded Biden's move. "Killing the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all is a clear indication that climate action is a priority for the White House," said Dale Marshall, national climate program manager for Canada's Environmental Defence. "We should take heed when the biggest customer for Canada’s oil kills a pipeline that is already under construction. The Keystone XL pipeline never made sense for either the U.S. or Canada." Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said it's "incredibly troubling" that TC Energy has suspended work on Keystone XL. Federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole called the cancellation of the permit "devastating." "We need to get as many people back to work, in every part of Canada, in every sector, as quickly as possible. The loss of this important project only makes that harder," O'Toole said. The Business Council of Canada and the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada said in news releases they are disappointed. “Pulling the plug on a major project, hours after taking office, is a rocky starting point for resetting Canada/U.S. relations,” said PCAC president Paul de Jong. The association, whose member companies employ thousands of Alberta and B.C. construction workers, said the pipeline would have generated as many as 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and the United States. "Canadian oil will be an important source of North American energy for decades to come, and will play a critical role as Canada and the United States work together to transition to a low-carbon economy," said Goldy Hyder, CEO of the Business Council of Canada. TC Energy approved spending US$8 billion in the spring of 2020 to complete Keystone XL after the Alberta government agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion (C$1.5 billion) as equity and guarantee a US$4.2-billion project loan. Kenney has said the province has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed. The 1,947-kilometre pipeline is designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. From there it would connect with the company's existing facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast — one of the world's biggest oil refining hubs. TC Energy announced a plan Sunday for the Keystone XL project to achieve net-zero emissions by spurring an investment of over US$1.7 billion in communities along the Keystone XL footprint to create about 1.6 gigawatts of renewable electric capacity. The Calgary-based company has also struck a deal with four labour unions to build the pipeline and has an agreement in place with five Indigenous tribes to take an ownership stake. Some 200 kilometres of pipe have already been installed for the expansion, including across the Canada-U.S. border, and construction has begun on pump stations in Alberta and several U.S. states. TC Energy said it will stop capitalizing costs, including interest during construction, effective Wednesday, and will evaluate the carrying value of its investment in the pipeline, net of project recoveries. It says this will likely result in "substantive" mostly non-cash writedowns in its first-quarter financial results. The company remains committed to growing earnings and dividends through its investments in critical energy infrastructure even without Keystone XL, said Francois Poirier, who took over as TC Energy CEO at the beginning of the year. “Our base business continues to perform very well and, aside from Keystone XL, we are advancing $25 billion of secured capital projects along with a robust portfolio of other similarly high-quality opportunities under development,” Poirier said in a statement. Biden was vice-president in 2015 when Barack Obama rejected Keystone XL for fear it would worsen climate change. Then-U.S. president Trump approved it again in March 2019. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
The township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands has passed its 2021 budget and there's slightly better news for property owners. The township's preliminary budget had proposed a 6.7-per-cent increase to the municipal tax rate, but new money received from the province means the township will only be increasing the municipal rate by six per cent. "The 2021 revised budget information includes the Safe Restart funding in the amount of $72,000 which reduces the revenue required to be raised by the property tax levy," wrote Kate Tindal, township treasurer, in her report to council. The education portion of property taxes is remaining flat this year, and while the county was proposing a 1.5-per-cent increase, there seems to be little appetite around the county table for such a hike. "I had county budget today, and it's very clear to me that the majority will not accept a 1.5-per-cent increase, although no decisions have been made," Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke told council members on Monday, adding "it's likely to be a one-per-cent increase or less." If the counties raise taxes by one per cent, that will translate to a 3.1-per-cent overall annual increase in property taxes for residents of Leeds and the Thousand Islands or an additional $56.90 per year on the average home valued at $196,000. The 2021 township's budget includes a freeze on both step increases and annual cost of living adjustments to all council, non-union, management and supervisory salaries. The salary freeze was not initiated by council though it was readily supported by all council members. "The salary freeze was my initiative with the support of the senior management team," said Stephen Donachey, the township's chief executive officer. The biggest impact on the township budget in 2021 is the drastic reduction in casino revenues. The township has for years relied on about $1.5 million in casino money to fund township reserves, but this year, Tindal is taking a cautious approach and only projecting revenue of about $100,000, a dizzying $1.4 million drop. That means that the township has to fund its own reserves from tax rates and service revenues. "We're now dealing with the same reality that every other municipality that doesn't have a casino has to deal with every year – we don't have the golden goose to top up our coffers," pointed out Coun. Terry Fodey. Although Coun. Brian Mabee retained some concerns over passing the final budget before the county levy is known, every council member expressed support for the budget that was created. "Our budget this year was very tight and very skinny and I appreciate the effort that went into developing it," said Coun. Mark Jamison. Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
One of the wonders of the world was illuminated Wednesday night in tribute to a larger-than-life businessman from Six Nations of the Grand River. Niagara Falls glowed blue and green between 6 and 11 p.m. in honour of Ken Hill, a multimillionaire cigarette magnate who died Monday of undisclosed causes at his Miami home. He was 62. The falls are usually illuminated to celebrate days of significance and draw attention to worthy causes. Hill joins Canadian prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on the short list of individuals to be memorialized with a light show. In their application to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for this rare tribute, Hill’s family described him as “legendary, both on and off Six Nations” as the co-founder of cigarette manufacturer Grand River Enterprises, among dozens of business interests that employed thousands of people. Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati remembered Hill as “a strong advocate for Indigenous rights (and) a generous philanthropist.” Hill’s Jukasa Studios sponsored the 2020 Niagara Music Awards last October. “Kenny’s appreciation and love for music inspired him to build a world-class studio and sanctuary for artists and musicians to call home and produce lasting pieces of musical history,” the Ohsweken studio said in a statement. “Kenny was always excited to meet new artists and was delighted to come into the studio and listen to what was being created. He had an undeniable presence that was felt from the moment he walked into a room. That presence will be sadly missed.” Global superstars Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler and Snoop Dogg recorded at Jukasa, and Canadian indie rockers July Talk recorded their Juno Award-winning sophomore album, Touch, on the reserve in 2016. Webster actor Emmanuel Lewis was a fixture at the studio. “You were and still are a legend with the heart the size of a grizzly bear,” Stevie Salas, guitarist and executive producer of music documentary “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” said of Hill on social media. In a video tribute posted on Monday, rapper Fat Joe said he and Hill had met for lunch in Florida the week before his death. “Kenny Hill is one of the sweetest, most humble people I ever met in my life. He is a gentle giant,” the five-time Grammy nominee said. “Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, my heart goes out to you.” Six Nations councillors extended their condolences to the Hill family, including Elected Chief Mark Hill, who is Ken Hill’s nephew. Ken Hill served three terms on Six Nations Elected Council from January 1986 to December 1991. “Always maintaining Six Nations as his home, Mr. Hill built portions of his industry at the very same corner where he grew up and lived,” read the statement from council. “His ventures also gave back in the form of education and employment opportunities through the local Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Hill and his family while they try to deal with their devastating loss.” According to its website, the Dreamcatcher Foundation provides funding to Indigenous recipients involved in education, sports, health care and the arts, with a particular focus on developing future Indigenous leaders by supporting youth and families in need. Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt told the Sachem that Hill’s loss would be felt far and wide. “It’s hard to fathom and perhaps appreciate the depth and reach he’s had in different communities, and employing so many different people and then helping so many families,” Hewitt said. While Hill enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he demonstrated his generosity by quietly paying off medical bills for those in need and sending three jet airplanes packed with relief aid to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas in 2019. “Ken Hill was well known across both sides of the border and around the world. He was an advocate for Indigenous rights as well very helpful on and off the reservation,” his family’s statement to the Niagara Parks Commission read. “He along with his best friend Jerry (Montour, co-founder of GRE) worked to help so many people around the world. He will always be loved and surely missed by all.” Sports were a passion for Hill, who sponsored lacrosse, hockey and fast-pitch teams, and co-owned Jukasa Motor Speedway near Nelles Corners. Lacrosse organizations across Canada expressed their condolences, with the Six Nations Snipers saying that Hill’s “impact on lacrosse has been felt locally and across the globe.” Hill assumed control of the Six Nations Chiefs in 1993, after the death of his brother Erlind. The Chiefs promptly won three straight Mann Cups, adding three more national titles in the 2010s. “Words cannot describe the sadness and disbelief that the team is in over the passing of our owner and leader Ken (KR) Hill,” said Chiefs presidents and general manager Duane Jacobs. “Ken was like an older brother to me. He did so much for me and my family. He allowed me to run this team and is directly responsible for all the championships we’ve won. The players were treated well and all he ever wanted in return was championships.” Hill ran the Brantford Golden Eagles junior B hockey team in early 1990s, and at the time of his death owned the junior B Caledonia ProFit Corvairs, sponsored by his Caledonia health club. “Kenny wasn’t just an owner. He was a friend to all players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the Corvairs said in a statement. “Kenny gave his all to make sure everyone was treated respectfully and set up to succeed both on and off the ice. He wanted to create something the community could always be proud of.” Hill also sponsored the world-renowned Hill United Chiefs fast-pitch team and, with Montour, co-owned MontHill Golf and Country Club, south of Caledonia. The business mogul earned millions of dollars tax-free annually, according to court filings, and his life was not without controversy. As an exporter of cigarettes to clients worldwide — including as the exclusive supplier of the German army — Hill and Montour fought legal battles over taxation and licensing, and defended charges of trafficking contraband tobacco in the United States. As a result, Hill’s relationship with Ottawa over the years was not always harmonious. But after his death, federal international trade minister Mary Ng offered her condolences to the family. “I am saddened by the new of Ken Hill’s passing — a community leader, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory” Ng tweeted. In recent years Hill was involved in a contentious child and spousal support dispute with one of his former partners. Earlier in the pandemic, he made the news after allegedly hosting a large party at his Six Nations mansion in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Parks Canada issued a statement Wednesday that it is willing to meet with members of the Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation community who have put up a blockade to stop construction to replace the Burleigh Falls Dam. On Jan. 13, members of the first nation community established a blockade, putting a halt to the repair work being done to the dam — which is owned by Parks Canada — because no consultation was made with the nearby community prior to the start of construction. According to Parks Canada’s statement written by David Britton, director of Ontario Waterways, the dam at Lock 28 of the Trent-Severn Waterway is one dam in a chain of dams and an integral part of the water management structure of central Ontario. “Engineering inspections in recent years have identified the declining condition of the Burleigh Falls Dam. A significant void at the base of the dam undermines the dam’s structural integrity, and is cause for concern regarding both public safety, and the protection of properties and species, including an important Walleye fishery,” Britton wrote. “Concrete strength inspections have showed deterioration beyond what is deemed acceptable. These factors indicate that the dam is at or nearing the end of its useful life, and requires a major intervention. Parks Canada is proceeding with a full replacement of the dam, following the current phase of construction that will first stabilize the existing dam.” The protesters have said they do not dispute that the dam needs to be replaced but they wanted to be consulted before the construction began. Britton said the federal government is committed to working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationships with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, collaboration and partnership. “Parks Canada has offered to meet with the Kawartha Nishnawbe on the Burleigh Falls Dam replacement project both in 2016 and more recently to understand their concerns regarding the potential impacts of the project. Parks Canada remains available to do so and hopes to connect in a meaningful way through this process,” Britton wrote. Parks Canada has met with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the first phase of the project and has arranged mitigation measures, including on-site monitors, to address their concerns, Britton added. “Parks Canada continues to meet with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the upcoming phases of work for the Burleigh Falls dam replacement project and are working together to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans,” he wrote. Originally the Trent-Severn Waterway had planned to rehabilitate the dam, but could not find a contractor that could do the work, so a decision was made to replace the dam. Parks Canada plans to complete the work by 2024. Kawartha Nishnawbe members could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
A Kelowna, B.C., man is questioning why the ski trip he booked with several friends in Ontario to Sun Peaks Resort is being allowed to go ahead as pandemic numbers soar in other provinces and with the B.C. government advising that people avoid all non-essential travel into and within the province. Mark Wenn, a recent Ontario transplant to B.C., said for the past five years he and his wife have booked a ski holiday with a group of friends from Ontario to a different ski resort each year. Last fall, the group chose Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops for its March 2021 trip and made the booking with SkiCan, a travel agency in Ontario, Wenn said. Fast forward to 2021, with the situation with COVID-19 drastically changed since last September. Sun Peaks advises on its website that guests should "follow government recommendations and avoid non-essential travel within B.C. at this time." This month, Wenn reached out to the travel agency to see if he could cancel the booking. "With the travel restrictions and what is happening in Ontario with all the ski hills being shut down and trying to do the right thing, obviously, we don't want to travel to Sun Peaks. We want to remain in our bubble," he said. Wenn found out from the travel agent the trip was still going ahead as planned, and he and his wife would lose their deposits of $500 each, if they backed out, he said. More concerning than losing the deposit, Wenn said, is the issue of the travel agency sending people from Ontario to B.C. "It should be shut down," he said. "The message should be that there is no inter-provincial travel and there is no non-essential travel." The B.C. government strongly discourages non-essential travel both inter-provincially and from one region to another within the province. Last week, Premier John Horgan said the government was getting legal advice to determine whether an inter-provincial travel ban would be doable or even constitutional. 'It just doesn't make sense' Wenn said he thinks travel agencies and ski resorts have a moral duty to ensure their clients abide by the government's directives not to travel for a ski vacation at this time. "But yet, I can join a ski group ... leaving from Toronto with 20 other people and be welcomed at Sun Peaks in March? It just does not make sense," he said. Wenn said about half of his Ontario friends have also decided they won't be going on the ski holiday to B.C. The owner of SkiCan, Karen Nasmith, told CBC news her company warned its customers about the risks of booking a holiday during the pandemic and recommended they purchase travel insurance. She defended withholding deposits as a way to defray the cost of the work her staff does when arranging ski holidays. Nasmith said after bookings are made, the tickets belong to the clients and it is up to each individual whether they still choose to travel or not. 'We rely on people to make the right decision' Sun Peaks resort chief marketing officer Aidan Kelly said the company is advising people to follow provincial health guidelines, including avoiding non-essential travel — a message Sun Peaks displays prominently on its website. "At the end of the day, we rely on people to make the right decision based on their own circumstances," he said. Sun Peaks has not taken the measures that Kelowna's Big White Resort has to keep people off the ski hill by proactively cancelling all out-of-region overnight bookings. "People have been cancelling on their own," Kelly said, adding he estimates 95 per cent of out-of-region guests have decided to follow the travel restriction and cancel or postpone their ski trips. With files from CBC's Daybreak Kamloops and Jenifer Norwell
Homalco First Nation Chief Darren Blaney said that two aquaculture companies’ move to seek a judicial review of the federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Islands fish farms directly challenges reconciliation and Aboriginal rights of First Nations. Blaney said that the matter is now about the First Nations’ “inherent right to self government,” and added, “First Nations will have to intervene, since our Aboriginal rights are on the line here.” On Jan. 18 Mowi Canada West and Cermaq Canada applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the waters off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island by June 30, 2022. READ MORE: Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban Minister Jordan’s announcement on Dec. 17 was made after a months-long “nation-to-nation” consultation process with seven First Nations that hold title in the area – Homalco, Klahoose, K’ómoks, Kwaikah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations. A coalition of Indigenous groups and wild salmon advocates have been calling for fish farms to be removed from B.C. waters, arguing they threaten the health of wild salmon. The declining numbers of salmon – food fish for the First Nations – also had several cultural implications. Jordan’s decision to phase out the farms was welcomed by First Nations in the area who said that her decision gives salmon “an opportunity to come back.” However, aquaculture industry stakeholders and local mayors have been at the forefront of voicing dissatisfaction with the federal decision stating that it affects 1,500 jobs and the economy of Vancouver Island. READ MORE: Discovery Islands salmon farms on their way out Cermaq said in a statement Jan. 19 that their judicial review focuses only on the conduct of DFO and the Minister of Fisheries and that the companies respect the opinions and the rights of the First Nations in the Discovery Islands region. “Cermaq’s goal is to allow time for engagement with the local First Nations to examine opportunities to achieve mutually beneficial agreements,” read the statement. But Blaney said that these statements coming from the company are “hollow… just words, no action.” “If they (aquaculture industry) want to reinstate the farms they will have to consult with First Nations going all the way up to the end of the Fraser and every other person who gets impacted on the B.C. coast,” said Blaney and added that the First Nations have begun discussions about this matter with the BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN). He also said that it was disappointing to see “unanimous support” coming from city halls to fish farms. Calling Minister Jordan’s decision a “bad” one, North Vancouver Island mayors raised concerns about the economic impact it would have in their jurisdictions. Some of the mayors expressed their support for fish farms and in a letter to the fisheries minister told her that they feel “disposable and discarded.” READ MORE:Campbell River city council unanimous in support of fish farms Blaney said that the reaction coming from them, “shows how little regard people have for First Nations,” and added that it’s “racism.” “They voted unanimously to overturn this decision saying that it was a ‘mistake’ and so does that mean my culture is a mistake? We passing on our culture to future generations, is that a mistakes? That’s what this challenge is. It goes right back to the kind of racism that our people have been subjected to throughout Canada.” Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
Health groups in the Maritimes are questioning the tobacco industry's use of 'National Non-Smoking Week' to promote vaping. The week was established more than 40 years ago by health organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Lung Association which were concerned about what they called “a tobacco epidemic.” In a news release issued this week, Imperial Tobacco Canada, whose brands include Du Maurier, Player's and Vuse, framed vaping as a safer option to cigarettes, citing decades of research they have invested in and statements by national health bodies. “When you look at today’s reality, I believe it is time that we think beyond the typical ways we have approached non-smoking,” said Eric Gagnon, Imperial's vice-president of corporate and regulatory affairs. “Let’s ask ourselves: does the concept of ‘non-smoking’ have to be zero-sum? Does it have to be quit or die? Or can it also include replacing cigarettes with a less risky alternative?” Gagnon told the Times & Transcript that the company is trying to "generate a proper debate." He said government regulation needs to open up so vaping products can achieve their "full potential in harm-reduction," citing flavour bans and nicotine caps in vaping products as counter-intuitive. But Stéphane Robichaud, CEO of the New Brunswick Health Council, said the viewpoint that vaping is not causing a great deal of harm itself is dangerous and outdated. He would like to see other programs and methods elevated during Non-Smoking Week instead, programs such as those through Horizon Health that may use medication, discussion and other strategies to help users quit both smoking and vaping. “In the last 18 to 24 months, science has been building that [vaping is] not a safe alternative," Robichaud said. “We have seen an increase in youth experimenting in vaping ... [and] illnesses including chronic lung conditions have been significant.” Kelly Cull, director of advocacy in Atlantic Canada for the Canadian Cancer Society, said the organization is advocating for governments to continue to invest money in nicotine replacement therapy, counselling and peer support programs. Vaping, something that framed itself as a tool to stop smoking, has increasingly been used as a gateway to start smoking, Robichaud said, pointing to increases in vape use by New Brunswick students in grades six to 12 between 2016 and 2018, according to the council's Student Wellness Survey. Numbers from the 2018-19 Canadian Student Tobacco Alcohol and Drug Survey are alarming, Cull said, with 41 per cent of New Brunswick youth indicating they had tried vaping, 27 per cent in the last 30 days. New Brunswick already has more young people vaping than the national average, Cull said, but measures similar to what have been introduced elsewhere in the Maritimes, limiting flavours and introducing a nicotine ceiling, for example, could help curb that. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have both passed legislation to reduce the appeal of vaping, introducing flavour bans and a nicotine ceiling in products. Imperial doesn't want to see that happen in New Brunswick, said Gagnon. While the company is in favour of efforts to reduce their products falling into the hands of young people, flavours, such as fruit flavours, are also important for appealing to adult smokers, he said, noting that if they're not available, there should be concern those trying to quit will return to cigarettes. Ceiling caps and flavour bans have already contributed to vape shops closing in Nova Scotia, he said. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Do you remember the first time you experienced snow? Check out this dog's priceless reaction!