We're answering your questions about the pandemic. Send yours to COVID@cbc.ca, and we'll answer as many as we can. We publish a selection of answers online and also put some questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network. So far, we've received more than 57,300 emails from all corners of the country.How safe is it to go shopping?With the holidays on the horizon and Black Friday promotions out in full force, readers like Sue G. are asking if it's still safe to go shopping.First, it's important to note public health authorities are urging people to stay home as much as possible by limiting errands and outings to just the essentials.So, if you have to buy something, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is advising that you reduce your risk of exposure by making purchases online or using curbside pickup when possible. In fact, these may be the only options in some parts of the country, such as Manitoba or parts of Ontario, where non-essential retail has been temporarily restricted.But if the stores are open where you live, does that mean it's safe? Despite Canadian chains, including Loblaw and Sobeys, reporting numerous positive cases throughout the pandemic, experts have said there is no evidence that grocery shopping has led to significant outbreaks or transmission. That said, shopping is not without risk."I would not spend any more time than necessary at an indoor mall or store," said epidemiologist Lisa Lee, a professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and a former official at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States."Steer clear from anyone without a mask, and do not spend more than 15 minutes near others," she said in an email to CBC News.PHAC is also advising that Canadians avoid close-contact situations where they can't keep two metres apart from other people, as well as skipping crowded places and closed spaces with poor ventilation.So are smaller stores with fewer people safer than larger ones? Not really, said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, who studies how viruses are transmitted in the air."In the larger stores, the risk is lower because people can be more spaced out in there," Marr said. "Larger, more modern buildings tend to have better ventilation systems."Retailers are also doing their part to mitigate risks.Michael LeBlanc, a senior retail advisor at the Retail Council of Canada, said people should plan ahead so they don't spend any more time than necessary when shopping. Some retailers have made a conscious effort to stretch out sale periods so consumers aren't compelled to all go at the same time."Keep your distance, be patient, wear your mask, be cool, be calm," LeBlanc said. "We don't want retail to be this social gathering place where everybody hangs out."Is it safe for seniors to walk in the mall?Some of our other readers also want to know if it's safe to go to the mall but not necessarily for shopping.Wendy M. asked if it's OK for seniors to get their exercise walking in the mall as the weather gets colder.While all of the experts we spoke to agree that it's important to exercise and stay healthy during the pandemic, they are split on whether or not the mall is the right place for seniors to take their winter walks."For a person who is at high risk of serious complications, they should exercise, yes, but only when crowds are very sparse," said Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of information. "A really big mall with high ceilings that isn't crowded won't be especially dangerous." Adrian Wagg, a professor of healthy aging at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, agrees that walking in the mall is not a risk as long as you stay more than two metres apart from others, wash your hands regularly and wear your mask. However, Dr. Anand Kumar, an associate professor in the department of medical microbiology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, said he would recommend seniors try to workout at home or outdoors instead."Exercise substantially increases the amount of air you exhale and inhale per minute," he said. "It's been shown that exercise is one of the high-risk situations, especially if you are in an enclosed space."Is there a safe way to get together?While Christmas isn't cancelled this year, experts say it should be done differently, with large, extended family gatherings likely off the table.Corrine B. wanted to know if there were any strategies for making gatherings safer indoors. First, it's important to check what your local public health guidelines allow. Indoor gatherings are being discouraged in most places across the country. In Manitoba and some regions of Ontario, they're not allowed at all.But if gatherings are allowed where you live, the experts said there are some things you can do to minimize the risk."There is no such thing as a perfect risk-free alternative," said Dr. Matthew Oughton, attending physician in the division of infectious diseases at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. "This is all about reducing risk as much as possible." The virus spreads when people are in close contact with one another and those who are older or have underlying medical conditions tend to have worse outcomes when infected by the virus, Oughton said. He suggested taking the following steps to make gatherings safer in your home. * Have guests distance within your home. * Provide ample access to supplies for good hand hygiene. * Avoid hugging and close contact. * Avoid singing (even Christmas carols). * Don't share food or drinks. In a previous article, medical experts also warned that the risk of getting the virus increases when you spend longer periods of time in close contact with others.And while raising a toast may be a holiday tradition, it's a good idea to limit how much alcohol guests drink, Oughton said. "Alcohol lowers inhibitions and during a pandemic, unfortunately, it's inhibitions that in part are helping to keep people safe," he said. Wearing masks and opening windows can also help, but improving air circulation doesn't replace the need to keep your distance from other people, Oughton said in an earlier article.And if you can hack it, you may want to consider meeting outdoors if your local public health guidelines permit it. Research shows the risk of transmission is lower outside, likely due to better ventilation and because it's easier to physically distance.What about a small dinner in my garage?With winter weather making outdoor gatherings a lot less appealing, Susan M. wrote to ask if it was safe to have guests over in her garage."If you're just comparing being in a garage with an open door versus being indoors without any windows open — certainly being in an area where there is more and better ventilation is better," said Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infectious diseases and infection control physician with the University Health Network in Toronto.Aerosol expert Marr agrees. But she would "still have people be masked and distanced."Vaisman said that even with garage doors and windows open, they are "not necessarily safe."If you follow local public health guidelines in most parts of the country they would advise you not to visit other people's homes or garages, Vaisman said.Doesn't the cold weather kill the virus?The answer is no. In fact, Marr cautioned that the opposite is true — viruses survive longer in colder, drier environments whether they're in the air or on surfaces.She also identified recirculated air in heated homes and buildings as a potential risk."This leads to greater potential for a virus to build up in the air and for people then to be exposed to higher levels of it," Marr said. Experts said dry air can also make our bodies more vulnerable to pathogens, like the virus that causes COVID-19, by drying out the protective mucous membrane that lines our respiratory tracts.Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, pointed to another issue that impacts how we cope with COVID-19 in the winter — our behaviour."There's a reason why we see respiratory viruses in the winter in Canada," he said. "We tend to be more indoors, more gathered [in] more poorly ventilated settings."So what should we do? Invest in some good, warm winter clothing, Chagla said. "We're going to have a long winter and the outdoors is still a viable option for people to meet," he said."The risk is so low — it isn't zero — but it's modified," Chagla said.As long as it's permitted to meet outside, it's a good option, he said. Even short outdoor meetings can provide a much-needed boost."Having 15 minutes of real life interaction is just so precious for people." How safe is it to fly? Despite the government's travel advisory, we're hearing from a number of Canadians looking to head south this winter. Ursula H. said she's Florida-bound and wanted to know how safe it was to get on a plane right now.When it comes to transmission of the virus, experts say airplanes are actually quite safe. Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said earlier this month that there was little evidence that COVID-19 was being transmitted by passengers on airplanes, even though the Public Health Agency of Canada was aware of reports that infected people had travelled into the country by air."There have been very few reports, extremely rare reports, actually, of transmission aboard aircraft," Tam said. "Very, very little."In fact, a Harvard University study found that flying may actually be safer than other routine activities, such as grocery shopping, because of "layered" prevention measures, such as air filtration systems, mask policies, frequent cabin cleaning and screening for symptomatic passengers.Another study conducted by the U.S. Department of Defence also found ventilation systems and stringent masking policies have made onboard transmission rare.Chagla said an airplane's ventilation system is pretty similar to those used in operating rooms, but being on board isn't the riskiest part of flying.He pointed to everything leading up to and after the flight, such as taking transit to the airport and waiting in line, as opportunities for transmission. "All of that probably presents a higher risk than the flight itself," Chagla said. Can vitamin D protect me from COVID-19?If you're not racing for warming temperatures, some readers have been wondering if they should be heading to the pharmacy to buy vitamin D supplements. But do they actually help?The answer is probably not, according to Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist at Notre Dame Hospital in Montreal. "To date, there is no research showing that taking a vitamin tablet will prevent or help cure [the] coronavirus," Labos said.When it comes to vitamin D specifically, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher based at Toronto General Hospital, noted that there were some "poorly constructed studies" that said it might help, but that the research fell apart on closer examination.Labos said some studies have shown people with low levels of vitamin D tend to have worse outcomes after having contracted COVID-19, but he warned against drawing the wrong conclusions.It's not that the low vitamin D levels cause disease or cause COVID-19, but that older people or people with pre-existing medical conditions tend to have low vitamin D levels, he said.So while it's unlikely that taking a supplement will help prevent you from contracting, or fighting COVID-19, should you take it anyway? Not necessarily.Statistics Canada says about two-thirds of Canadians already get enough vitamin D from natural sources or supplements.Dr. Todd Alexander, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Alberta, said you probably don't need to be taking supplemental vitamin D, and that in fact, it might have adverse effects. "You're getting plenty, and in my opinion, the risks would outweigh the benefits."The risks of taking too much vitamin D can vary depending on your health and age.In children, for example, too much vitamin D can cause a buildup of calcium in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones, said Alexander.So you should always ask your doctor whether supplementing with vitamin D is right for you.
By Melissa Renwick A new award has been launched by the lieutenant governor of British Columbia that aims to honour those who have demonstrated a commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples within the province. In partnership with the BC Achievement Foundation, the British Columbia Reconciliation Award was established to help inspire British Columbians to work together to help forge a new future. “Reconciliation to me is making the wrongs right,” said Judith Sayers, BC Achievement Foundation board member and president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. “It’s addressing all of those historic grievances and putting them behind us.” Janet Austin, B.C. lieutenant governor, said she has a responsibility to demonstrate leadership towards advancing reconciliation within the province. "Reconciliation must take root in our hearts, within families, between generations and throughout our communities,” she said in a release. “I look forward to supporting this award and its deeply meaningful goal of building our relationships with each other across cultures and social barriers." The award was founded by Steven Point, former B.C. lieutenant governor and member of the Stó:lō Nation. He has a hand-carved red cedar canoe on display at the B.C. Parliament Buildings, which was gifted as a symbol of reconciliation. “We’re all in the same canoe,” he said, encouraging British Columbians to “paddle together.” "Our world and its issues are not apart from us, but rather are a part of who we are,” Point said in a release. “We must not stand by and observe the world, but rather take steps to bring positive change." Open to Indigenous and non-indigenous individuals, groups and organizations, nominations will be accepted until Jan. 15, 2021. "Reconciliation builds relationships and bridges the gap between two worlds through the efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” said Sayers. While COVID-19 means that the award will be celebrated virtually, “it’s the reality we live in and hopefully we can do justice for those groups that are selected for the awards,” she said. As a member of the selection committee, Sayers said she hopes see a “broad, cross-section” of reconciliation efforts being made by British Columbians. “There’s a lot of negativity out there about ‘reconciliation’ – that’s it just an overused word,” she said. “But it really is an important cornerstone of what we’re building right now in B.C.”Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
A residential school survivor in Manitoba who received his high school diploma last week says he hopes to inspire others to believe in their education goals."Now I can prove that an elder like me could graduate. If anybody like me can do it, they can do it," 61-year-old Glenn Courchene said.Courchene is Anishinaabe from Sagkeeng First Nation, located 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.He received his high school diploma from the Empower Adult Education Centre, in the neighbouring community of Pine Falls, Man., on Nov. 18.Courchene made the commitment in February 2019 to obtain his high school diploma."I wanted to go back to school and I wanted to complete my education, so what I did was I encouraged myself to believe in myself," he said.As a child, he attended the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School in Manitoba for eight years starting in the 1960s. He also attended the day school in the community for three and half years.At the residential school, he had only gone up to Grade 6, and he blamed the schools for him not being able to speak Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibway language, and for hurting his confidence."My education in the residential school, it was kind of hard for me," Courchene said."We couldn't learn because of what happened to us. We were abused, physical and all that. We were there to learn, not to get hurt."Arriving early before staffCourchene said he wouldn't have been able to finish school without the support of his friends and the staff at the Empower Adult Education Centre.Among the staff members he gives credit to is Karen Legall, the school's work counsellor. She helps students upgrade their skills so they can take the courses that are required for graduation.Legall said Courchene tried to give school a chance back in 2012 but didn't follow through with it at the time.When he returned in 2019, she said, he was there at the school every day.Every morning, Courchene walked the roughly seven kilometres to the centre from Sagkeeng to Pine Falls — often getting picked up along the way and given a ride.Legall said he would often arrive at the school before the staff, waiting for the doors to open."Last year he just took off," she said, adding he really enjoyed his math studies."He just started coming in every day. And then we thought, you know what, let's get your Grade 12. And he was so excited and he did it."Legall described Courchene as funny and caring and said he has shared many stories with the staff since he started at the school. She said he made individual dreamcatchers, as well as a big heart-shaped dreamcatcher for the staff at Empower."He really likes to share all his knowledge over the years. And we appreciate him doing that. We've learned a lot from him," Legall said.Courchene said he plans to go to university to obtain a bachelor's degree."I've gone through a lot of hurt, and I respect myself for going to school. And I will never give up school because I want to keep learning."
Many Nova Scotia businesses took a serious hit from the lack of tourists over the usually busy summer tourist season and now many are fearful locals are spending their dollars online with big retailers.Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said he hopes consumers see the benefits of contributing to the local economy as the holiday season unfolds."I think we should look on this as our opportunity to support our community by supporting local business, by not ordering everything online from you know who," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Wednesday.Communities throughout the province have launched campaigns encouraging shoppers to buy local. Savage pointed out that many local businesses offer online shopping as well, including restaurants that sell gift cards.Jordi Morgan, vice-president Atlantic at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the pandemic is taking a toll on businesses in Nova Scotia.He said sales at this time of year are critical for many businesses, which regard it as a turnaround point for their year-end figures. The federation has conducted surveys and found that many businesses are under stress. "People are really feeling it's wearing on them in a serious way," Morgan told CBC Radio's Mainstreet."So along with the economic repercussions and worries about consumer spending and debt and staffing, and all the other things that go along with running a business, there are mental health considerations."Morgan said he's glad the province didn't follow in the footsteps of other jurisdictions that allowed larger stores to stay open while smaller establishments had to close. He said he's hopeful the province provides greater clarity when decisions are made regarding restrictions on retail activity.Like Savage, he also wants consumers to look at local online options rather than heading for more established internet retailers. "I can't emphasize how critical it is to the success of our community and our province for people to look at these local enterprises as assets, and what they can do to support the assets," he said.With the city losing $900 million in tourism revenue in 2020, buying local is more vital than ever, said Ross Jefferson, CEO of Discover Halifax."When you do support local, we know that more of our money stays here in our community. It stays here in Atlantic Canada and it stays here in Nova Scotia," he said. In smaller communities like Yarmouth, the pandemic has spurred many businesses to explore new business models. Rick Allwright of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce told CBC News that many businesses there have found opportunities in the current crisis. Some have taken their businesses online while others have begun offering delivery in order to survive."There's some, even though they're not ready to be fully online stores yet, they're taking orders over the phone or taking orders even through social media channels," said Allwright. His organization launched a Love Yarmouth campaign earlier this year and Allwright said the plan is to keep it going throughout the holiday season. People supporting the campaign are asked to spend $25 in their community that they would otherwise spend with a big online retailer. Allwright said 250 people have already taken the pledge and he hopes more will come on board. The campaign is aimed at all local businesses and not just smaller, independent ones. "Our campaign is really about spending money locally. If that happens to be with the big box chains in town ... that's not a problem," he said."They're still supporting our local economy. They're still employing local people."MORE TOP STORIES
A national financial rescue package for Canadian municipalities hurt by the pandemic has been rushed out to most communities in the country – but not in New Brunswick. The province is hanging on to the federal cash until local governments detail their losses."To access this ... funding, local governments are required to submit a resolution of council which clearly outlines the net impact of COVID-19 in 2020," said a letter sent to mayors earlier this month by local government minister Daniel Allain."Payments will be processed once resolutions of council have been received and reviewed for compliance," the letter states. "The deadline to submit information is December 31, 2020."New Brunswick was allotted $41.1 million by Ottawa to give to local governments as its share of a $2-billion national rescue package announced in July. Ottawa provided the relief money on a per-capita basis and most provinces opted to distribute it without waiting on the detailed accounting New Brunswick is requiring.Canada's largest cities, including Toronto and Vancouver, have been already told what they're getting, as have thousands of medium, small and even tiny communities from one end of the country to the other. Every New Brunswick municipality in the darkTilt Cove in Newfoundland and Labrador, Greig Lake in Saskatchewan and Betula Beach in Alberta, each of them home to fewer than 20 people, have all been notified of their federal relief amounts.Meanwhile, every New Brunswick municipality remains in the dark.Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard said he has no idea how much his community is getting, or when it's getting it."I really don't know ... at this stage," Simard said in a message Wednesday.In Alberta, more than 300 eligible communities were told 10 weeks ago that the province's entire $233.2-million share of the federal funding would be paid out in roughly equal amounts of $54 per person per community. For Grand Prairie, which is slightly larger than Saint John and slightly smaller than Moncton, that meant $3.7 million in federal relief money. Cold Lake, which has a population halfway between that of Bathurst's and Edmundston's, is receiving $818,000. The Alberta government is also adding to those amounts with matching provincial funding. As in New Brunswick, paperwork accounting for COVID-19 losses has to be completed by communities in Alberta, but not until next year and only to a minimal standard"We will not require detailed proof of expenses incurred or revenue lost," state the Alberta rules that govern the funding."No applications are required. Our goal is to ensure municipalities are able to use funding to offset fiscal challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, without necessary red tape. We recognize that not all municipalities had the resources and capacity to accurately track pandemic-related fiscal impacts as they were occurring." Next door in Saskatchewan, 700 cities, towns, villages, hamlets and other community structures were informed on Sept. 9 of their individual shares of the $62.3 million given to that province for federal municipal relief.All received identical amounts of just over $59 per person per community.Other communities minimized paperwork, expedited reliefLori Carr, Saskatchewan's government relations minister at the time, said it was important for communities to get the money as soon as possible to deal with problems the pandemic was causing."Quickly and efficiently, the amounts will start to be distributed immediately so municipal leaders can funnel dollars to areas of highest local priority," Carr said during the Sept. 9 announcement.British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario have also announced amounts going to municipalities in those provinces, while in eastern Canada, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have also divided up the federal money and disclosed amounts to every local government.In St. John's, the municipalities minister Derek Bennett said the province is minimizing paperwork for its nearly 300 communities and adopting the same per-person method of distributing federal municipal relief used in western Canada."We know municipalities ... have been eagerly anticipating the amount of funding that each municipality will receive," said Bennett in a statement."No applications are required." Each community in Newfoundland and Labrador is receiving the same $59 per person as Saskatchewan communities, including $6.4 million for St. John's, $1.2 million for Corner Brook and $833,000 for Grand Falls Windsor.New Brunswick's 104 eligible communities are unlikely to be treated in a similar, predictable and equal way.Allain has indicated there will be an individual decision made by the province for each community, with some getting more and some less than a per-capita distribution would deliver.He instructed mayors to provide a detailed accounting of their increased COVID-19 costs and to combine that with their decreased revenues. They are also required to list "operational savings" achieved as they tried to rescue their budgets and deduct that amount from the first two to come up with a "net COVID-19 impact." That raises the possibility that municipalities who cut the most services to save money during the pandemic could show lower net budget impacts from COVID and receive reduced amounts of relief.That happened last month when the province took $1.6 million out of the federal municipal relief money to apply it to transit relief. 'We shouldn't be penalized' for being prudent: DarlingSaint John cut more of its transit service during the early days of the pandemic than Moncton and Fredericton did, and on paper showed a lower "net" financial deficit from COVID, even though its service was harmed the most.. As a result, the province awarded Saint John the least amount of transit relief – $400,000, compared to $500,000 for Moncton and $670,000 for Fredericton Saint John finance officials have been working for the last three weeks on the larger application for federal municipal relief money and Mayor Don Darling does not want to see communities who took dramatic action to contain their deficits get the least relief."We should not be penalized for being fiscally prudent," said Darling in a message to CBC News on Tuesday.Allain's office did not respond to a request for an interview about his department's handling of federal assistance meant for municipalities or whether the "net impact" measurement being used to disperse money will penalize some communities.Department spokesman Jean Bertin said in an email that communities will know how much of the federal money they are getting when they fill out their paperwork and have it inspected by department officials."The sooner local governments get their resolutions of council into the department, the sooner they will be reimbursed," he wrote.
The lawyer representing Chantel Moore's estate says the disciplinary actions ordered by the Edmundston police chief against Insp. Steve Robinson are "a good start" but the lawyer will also ask to have the New Brunswick officer suspended for a period without pay.T.J. Burke said Police Chief Alain Lang essentially validated the formal complaint that accused Robinson of "laughing and smirking" while speaking to a CTV reporter on June 4, hours after Moore was shot dead by an officer who went to her apartment for the purpose of conducting a wellness check. Robinson has been ordered to take the 12-lesson Indigenous Canada course, offered online by the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta."That's something that every high-ranking officer in the country should have already," said Burke, who was informed of the sanctions against Robinson on Nov. 17. According to Burke, upon completing the course, Robinson is also ordered to meet with a "Madawaska Maliseet elder" to discuss "what he discovered on his journey for knowledge and to discuss the impact of his comments in the media."Furthermore, Robinson is required to take media relations training and must recommend cultural awareness training options for other employees of the Edmundston police force. All steps must be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.In an email statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Edmundston police said Chief Lang could not comment, as "per Section 22.1 of the New Brunswick Police Act (NBPA), repository of disciplinary and corrective measures are confidential."'Policing is being scrutinized': lawyerBurke said Robinson's behaviour embarrassed police forces across the country. "Laughing and chuckling on TV after a young woman was shot by one of his constables?" Burke said."We're in an era where policing is being scrutinized as a result of many things. One is the disproportionate amount of Black, Indigenous and people of colour who are being arrested by officers, who are being incarcerated by the courts and measured in the context of systemic discrimination." When asked how long a suspension without pay he would ask for from the New Brunswick Police Commission, Burke said he'd be looking at other cases. The average person might think a week would be appropriate, Burke said, but precedent might suggest two or three days is more realistic. "That's going to hurt him financially a little bit."More importantly, Burke said, it would send a message of deterrence."Other police officers will understand that when you get in front of a television camera and you're going to be broadcast all throughout the province, the Atlantic region and the country after a serious police intervention situation … you shouldn't be smirking and laughing about your officer's conduct," Burke said. "It's offensive to the highest degree."Robinson apologized for his conduct back in June, and a statement was published on the City of Edmundston website."I understand that my reaction on camera caused frustration and concern. I sincerely apologize if it was interpreted or perceived as recklessness or lack of compassion. This is absolutely not the case. I have deep sympathy and express my condolences to the victim's family, friends and to the Aboriginal community," Robinson said.'I'm hoping they might call on me to guide this person' Imelda Perley, an instructor at the Mi'kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick and organizer of a healing walk in Moore's memory, said she welcomes the suggestion that Robinson meet with a Wolastoqi elder.She would even like to be chosen to help.> They need to be humble enough to admit they don't know anything about us. \- Imelda Perley, speaking about police"I wish [the police would] call on us, those who have been working in cultural awareness, to talk about how to heal systemic racism," said Perley. "I'm hoping they might call on me to guide this person through … awareness, humility, sensitivity, competency and, ultimately, safety."Perley said there are Indigenous courses available in New Brunswick and she would have liked to see Robinson take one in his own province.Perley said there's a lot more that police could do to promote a positive ongoing relationship with Indigenous communities. "They need to be humble enough to admit they don't know anything about us," she said. "You can't just do this through an online course. You can't just download information and think it's going to change you."Robinson "should come to our community and our council fire. Come for a drive in our communities. Come see our children, who play with limited playgrounds. Come see where there's no sidewalks. Then you'll see what health threats we face, and not assume you know what's best for our well-being."
Although the Italian government says it won't make a COVID-19 vaccine compulsory - there is growing hesitation among Italians over its safety.View on euronews
Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the federal government have thrown the Port of Sydney Development Corporation a lifeline.The port is facing a $600,000 deficit this year after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the cruise ship season.CBRM council has voted to allow the port to use reserve funds created by the dredging of Sydney Harbour in 2012, but two councillors questioned whether the port administration has first done enough to cut costs and increase revenues."My problem ... is that to basically turn over all that money and it can just be gone if nothing else is achieved," District 10 Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger said during discussion of the port's finances at CBRM's inaugural council meeting on Tuesday.District 8 Coun. James Edwards said he supports the port, but he was the only councillor to vote against allowing access to the special reserve fund."There was some pertinent questions asked, but I think there was lots of opportunity for more explanation," he told reporters afterwards.The federal, provincial and municipal governments and Nova Scotia Power created a $38-million fund to dredge Sydney Harbour eight years ago to accommodate larger cargo, coal and cruise ships.There was some money left over after the project finished and the port has been allowed to use it for various purposes.Some of the money was supposed to be used to fix the shore-based navigational aids that were no longer aligned with the newly dredged channel, but eight years later, the Coast Guard has still not undertaken that work.The Coast Guard said in an email that the navigational aids in Sydney Harbour currently mark the channel safely and it will maintain them in future.The federal government had required the port to set aside $800,000 of the $1.1 million remaining in the reserve fund for navigational aid costs, but has since given its approval to use that money to cover this year's deficit.Port CEO Marlene Usher said cruise ships and passengers supply the majority of the port's revenues, but there have been none this year."Hopefully we will get some cruise [ships] next year, but at this point I'm not very optimistic," she said.Some staff have been laid off and others have taken a 20-per-cent pay cut or foregone raises.Usher said there is no fat left to cut, but the port needs to remain open to take delivery of gasoline, diesel and heating oil for all of Cape Breton."Fuel vessels come in every week and if we don't have the doors open and the lights on, that would be catastrophic for the island," she said.If not for the pandemic, the port's current finances would be at least as good as last year's, Usher said."You'll see when we present our audited financial statement at our AGM that we were $700,000 over budget, to the good, so we've been responsible and we'll get back there," she said.Cruise ship traffic is booked in Sydney up to 2026 and it will return eventually, she said, but in the meantime the board has to find new revenues to ease reliance on one industry.'Need to diversify'"We need to diversify that area," Usher said. "We need to make the port a part of downtown and downtown a part of the port."For example, extending the boardwalk would allow pedestrians easier access to shops on the dock that are normally open for cruise ships.Meanwhile, the port is losing revenue after announcing the opening of its second cruise ship berth earlier this year.Usher said there are vessels that would use the new dock, but there are unexpected difficulties with power at the facility.A new financial plan will be presented to council in the new year, she said.MORE TOP STORIES
As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Nova Scotia's central region, and with most of the new cases in the 18 to 35 age range, many are wondering about the role of universities in making sure students are following the Public Health guidelines.Two off-campus Dalhousie University students tested positive for the virus over the weekend and a house party on Edward Street with about 60 people took place Friday night. It was broken up by Halifax police and one $1,000 ticket was issued."I live in a university community and there are definitely more parties going on than that one," said Michelle Scully, a third-year Dalhousie student who lives off campus in Halifax.Scully said while she receives emails about Public Health guidelines from the school, at no point has Dalhousie told students there would be academic consequences for not following Public Health protocols."If people continue to have such large gatherings, I think they need to enforce further consequences," she said.Verity Turpin, Dalhousie's acting vice-provost of student affairs, said the university expects its students to "share that responsibility" for keeping the university and surrounding Halifax community safe and healthy, which includes avoiding large gatherings such as parties."In the case of any event off campus, I think it's important to recognize that at Dalhousie, we look at our students as independent adults," Turpin said. "They are responsible for following all of the laws in our province when they decide to come back and live as part of our community."Turpin said the school is in constant contact with students, such as sending out emails and notifications from the Dalhousie app about Public Health guidelines, as well as advisers and faculties speaking directly with students about the requirements.St. FX, Acadia address off-campus partiesOther universities in the province have made an effort to crack down on large student gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if those students are living off campus.Both Acadia University and St. Francis Xavier University required students to sign a code of conduct form, telling students they would face discipline or academic consequences for breaching health protocols. These universities both have in-person classes this semester.At Acadia, the university president, Wolfville's mayor and the student union president went door to door, visiting houses and speaking with students directly about following Public Health guidelines. Turpin said student ambassadors from Dalhousie did similar door-to-door visits in neighbourhoods surrounding campus.St. FX has also taken away practice and training privileges for student-athletes after a large off-campus party. St. FX said at the time students found to have violated the school's code of conduct could face suspensions. The university also did its own investigation into the event.A Saint Mary's University spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday that "a SMU community member" tested positive for COVID-19.Cale Loney said in an email on Wednesday that the university has been sharing the health protocols with students and that "violation of those protocols can be subject to discipline under the university's code of student conduct."Dal's Faculty of Health takes more direct approachWhile Dalhousie as a whole has not made clear that there will be academic consequences for those who disregard the COVID safety measures, the Faculty of Health decided to do just that last month.Dean Dr. Brenda Merritt said students in her faculty, roughly 1,500 of which take part in on-campus learning this semester, were given an honour statement this semester.In it, students had to agree to stay up to date on and follow the current health requirements, and failing to do so "could result in dismissal or suspension on the grounds of professional unsuitability.""We felt strongly that this is part of our identity as health professionals and health researchers that we should be doing this," Merritt said."We did hear some feedback from students that they wanted something like this, they wanted their peers to be accountable, so to raise the feeling of safety on campus and in clinical placements."These students are also using an in-house COVID pre-screening app before they attend any face-to-face classes. Merritt said so far, these students seem to be following the rules."From what I'm hearing, they are really communicating well with each other about it and calling each other out on things," she said."They are taking this very seriously. They know that if we have an outbreak on campus, their programming stops."Merritt said there is a "rippling effect of a shutdown," which would mean pharmacists, nurses and other health students would not graduate on time, causing "a big strain" on the healthcare system.85 of November cases in ages 18 to 35A spokesperson for the province said that of the 118 cases reported in November as of Tuesday, 85 were people between the age of 18 and 35. The province could not offer a breakdown of how many of those cases are university students.Halifax Coun. Waye Mason has been calling for more fines to be given out to those involved with the Edward Street party — which he adds were "probably" Dalhousie students — and that the university needs to step up."Dalhousie has to take responsibility, both for helping to address the policing issues that happen in the neighbourhood around the university, and in going out and educating students when they are off campus about what the expectations are," he said."Unfortunately this year Dalhousie chose not to participate in funding Dal Patrol or going out with the police to knock on doors in the problem neighbourhoods. I think that's certainly something that the neighbours, and I, would like to see happen again."During Tuesday's news briefing, Premier Stephen McNeil said there will be stronger enforcement for illegal gatherings going forward, "including a $1,000 fine for every person who walks through the door.""All of the universities have been supportive and we will continue to work with them," he said. "It's a critical demographic that we will need to be vigilant on and keep on top of."MORE TOP STORIES
A discovery earlier this year by two sisters in Florida has revealed new photographs of a historic but little-known New Brunswick car.The Maritime Singer Six was assembled at a purpose-built factory in east Saint John in 1913 and 1914. None of the cars survive today, and only two photographs of the luxury vehicle were known to exist. Brian Chisholm of Saint John has been researching the history of the Maritime Singer for more than 30 years. "It was a monster," said Chisholm. "It was a 50 horsepower car. It had 36-inch wheels, it weighed way more than any regular car."It was also expensive, selling for $3,000. By comparison, Henry Ford's then plentiful Model T had a 20 horsepower motor and cost about $600.Chisholm had exhausted most avenues for his research. He'd combed newspapers from that time for ads and articles and even has the names of the five registered New Brunswick owners. The provincial archives in Fredericton had little to add.Then came some dogged detective work from 2,700 kilometres away in Florida.Gail Middleton Zellars and one of her three sisters were going through a box of items last January. They had been saved by their late mother.Included was an album of photographs and quality, extra-large negatives that belonged originally to their grandfather, Ottie White. The century-old pictures showed men in fur coats on a winter trip in an open car. In some of the photographs they are seen shovelling the car out of deep snow. A banner along the side of the vehicle says "Maritime Singer Six, St. John to Halifax.""I love history," said Middleton Zellars. "I love to look through things. I love family history. And I thought, well, that's pretty neat. And I was going to research it and see if I could find anything about it."The lack of online information about the car proved a major roadblock. It was only when she turned to Facebook that she discovered one of the images in her collection was the same one in the cover photo on Chisholm's personal page."So I thought he must be very interested in this. I decided to Facebook message him.""I clicked on it, and I thought, Oh, I don't know this person," said Chisholm. "And then I saw the photographs."When I looked at them I almost fell out of my chair."The collection of photos show the car and the Rothesay Avenue Maritime Singer factory.They also document a publicity stunt designed to promote the Maritime Singer as a durable and reliable car, more than powerful enough to push through packed snow and winter storms when other cars were put away between December and April. Ottie White was the driver-mechanic on the venture. He was accompanied by James Pullen, and by Dutch Ervin, the St. John Standard reporter who was documenting the trip for readers.The trio left New Year's Eve 1913, and arrived in Moncton 12 hours later after ditching three times in –24 C temperatures.But it was the next section that nearly bested both the car and its occupants. That trip, from Moncton to Amherst, took 28 hours."As the automobile struck the drifts the clouds of snow were thrown up over the front of the car and she plowed through for a few yards, only to sink deeper in the snow and sink, stuck solid," wrote Ervin.On occasion, they would seek help from a farmer to drag the car back onto the road using a team of horses.Fifty-eight hours after leaving Saint John, the men finally arrived in Halifax, suffering from exhaustion and frostbite. They were treated in hospital before resting up and hitting the road again, travelling through the Annapolis Valley to Digby and on by ferry back to Saint John.Chisholm and Middleton Zellars each had missing elements of the story.After the gruelling winter car trip, Ottie White went to Europe to serve as a lieutenant in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War.Chisholm retrieved his war records from Veterans Affairs Canada and sent them to Florida, along with the newspaper accounts of the Halifax trip. He learned that on White's return from the war he moved to the U.S., getting married in 1920 to Ethel Ault of Tennessee. The couple then moved to Florida, where Ottie eventually operated an auto parts business.Middleton Zellars wondered if there was something that could be done with the photographs. Chisholm put her in touch with Joshua Green, photo archivist at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, who showed immediate interest and was thrilled to learn the collection included the original negatives.Middleton Zellars conferred with her three sisters in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Vermont. Like her, they were excited to have the opportunity to make the donation. "It's just fantastic they were able to make their way back here," Green said of the photos, which have already been integrated into the collection. "This is as good as you're ever going to get for that."
Some New Brunswickers can expect light snow and freezing rain on Thursday.Environment Canada issued a special weather statement earlier this morning for central and northwestern parts of the province. They include: * Campbellton and Restigouche County * Edmundston and Madawaska County * Grand Falls and Victoria County * Mount Carleton * Stanley, Doaktown and Blackville area * Woodstock and Carleton CountyIn central New Brunswick, periods of light freezing rain or rain will start this afternoon and continue overnight."Although amounts are expected to be light, over high terrain, the freezing rain could last several hours," the national weather agency said in a statement.Meanwhile, the northwestern regions will see light snow or freezing rain in the afternoon. This will change to light freezing rain or rain in the evening. "Precipitation is expected to change to showers after midnight," Environment Canada said."In some localities, especially over high terrain, several hours of freezing rain is likely.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says enforcement officers are going back to St. Marys Bay in southwestern Nova Scotia where they seized hundreds of lobster traps on the weekend in an area used by Mi'kmaw fishermen.Todd Somerville, DFO's director of conservation and protection for the Maritimes, said 500 traps were seized for a variety of violations."Untagged gear, improperly configured gear, gear that hadn't been tended in a while. There was gear where dead lobsters were found. Over 6,000 lobsters, live lobsters, were returned to the waters as well," Somerville told CBC News."When we seize the gear, it's for a good reason."DFO said the hundreds of traps it seized were in a very small area of St. Marys Bay and there's more gear in the water it did not get to this week because of bad weather.Somerville said the operation will continue."The officers are eager to get back out there and make sure more work can get done," he said.Sipekne'katik traps seized, says chiefDFO did not seize every trap they checked.The vast majority they returned to the water had a Mi'kmaw communal food, social and ceremonial tag. They are regulated by DFO and band members get three traps.Some of the seized traps — it's not clear how many — belonged to the Sipekne'katik band's rights-based moderate livelihood fishery.Chief Mike Sack said many of the traps that were seized belong to his community. "Not all of them, of course, but the ones that were there and they're part of our livelihood fishery. We're in a process of getting those traps back," he said.Area closed to commercial fishingThe band's moderate livelihood fishery was launched this fall. It has not been authorized or approved by DFO. The area is currently closed to commercial fishing, which is scheduled to open next Monday.Sack said he's waiting to see evidence of improper practices tied to the moderate livelihood fishery."I don't think it will be the case. We're keeping a close eye on our people and making sure that they comply with our rules and regulations, which are close to DFO," Sack said.In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the treaty right of Mi'kmaq to fish for a moderate living regulated by DFO. The rules have never been defined.In September, Sipekne'katik said it would no longer wait and launched the self-regulated fishery in St. Marys Bay.It's a small-scale operation, with around 10 band members allotted 50 trap tags each.Sack said replacement moderate livelihood tags were issued to band members Wednesday."It's like they're trying to clear the way for the commercial industry days before the season starts. And that doesn't sit well with us," Sack told CBC News. "We're not going anywhere. We'll be back later today. We'll be fishing and we'll keep fishing until the lobsters move out of that area."Seizure justifies concerns, says commercial repColin Sproul, a spokesperson for commercial fishermen, welcomed the DFO operation.He said it confirms their long-held concerns about out-of-season fishing in St. Marys Bay by the Sipekne'katik band."We're really pleased to see the minister finally take action and we feel really vindicated, given that the enforcement actions showed so many violations of basic fishery conservation law,' Sproul said."But we're really disappointed that the minister chose to wait so long to take the action because it's allowed so many relationships to be fractured in our communities. And it's also taken away any fair chance to make a living for my members in St. Marys Bay this fall."Sproul blames out-of-season fishing for lower commercial catches in St. Marys Bay — a claim DFO denies.DFO: 'Our officers have been very active'Since 2017, commercial fishermen have complained about lobster fishing by the band in summer when the season is closed.In August, a judge convicted a lobster pound owner in the area of illegally selling lobster supplied and harvested under communal food, social and ceremonial licences by members of Sipekne'katik First Nation.The Crown called it a "black market" operation that threatened conservation.Somerville said that case and others — including the big trap seizure — shows DFO is acting to protect the stock."I would suggest our officers have been very active over the last few seasons on this matter," he said. "There's been a lot of effort placed into this and not all of our activities are visible. A lot of the investigative work isn't obvious or overt to the public."MORE TOP STORIES
The man who killed six people in a Quebec City mosque in 2017 received a "cruel and unusual" punishment when he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years, Quebec's Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday.In a unanimous decision, the court reduced Alexandre Bissonnette's life sentence to 25 years without parole while at the same time invalidating sections of the Criminal Code that allow judges to hand out consecutive life sentences for murder.A spokesperson for the mosque where the attack took place said he was dismayed by the decision to lighten Bissonnette's sentence."We would have liked a definitive sentence to prevent other attacks from taking place," said Boufeldja Benabdallah, a founder of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. "We're not thinking of only ourselves but of all Quebec society."The court's decision to invalidate the consecutive sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code applies only in Quebec.But if appealed, it opens the door to a possible Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the sentencing provisions that Stephen Harper's Conservative government introduced in 2011.Since then, several convicted murderers have been given consecutive life sentences, including Justin Bourque, who is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 75 years for killing three RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B., in 2014.The lawyer who represented Bourque at trial said he intended to inform him about the ruling in Quebec. "I would say that this is a situation of national importance. I would assume that the Supreme Court has to rule on it," David Lutz said.Quebec's prosecution service said Thursday it was taking time to review the ruling and hadn't yet decided whether to appeal. The federal government also declined to say whether it intended to appeal."I know that today's decision is going to rekindle a great deal of hurt and anger among those who were affected by this terrible crime: the victims, their families and friends, people in Quebec and across the country," federal Justice Minister David Lametti said in a statement."There are important questions raised by this judgment and we will take the necessary time to fully examine it."Sentencing provisions 'absurd'Bissonnette was sentenced in 2019 after he pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. It was the longest sentence ever handed down in Quebec.In issuing the original sentence, Superior Court Justice François Huot made it clear he was uncomfortable with consecutive sentences.Crown prosecutors were asking for a life sentence of 150 years without parole eligibility. Huot settled on a sentence of 40 years without parole, composed of five concurrent 25-year life sentences and an unusual 15-year term for the sixth count, to be served consecutively. The Court of Appeal justices said that hybrid sentence was the wrong way to address concerns about the constitutionality of consecutive sentences.Often using strong wording to criticize the provisions introduced by the Conservatives, the justices wrote that it was unconstitutional to force a prisoner to wait longer than 25 years for parole eligibility.Doing so, they said, violates two sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Section 12, which protects against cruel and unusual treatment and punishment, and Section 7, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person.The justices noted the "absurdity" of handing out life sentences that only allow a prisoner to apply for parole after they are likely to have died. They added that a fundamental concept of Canadian criminal law is the right of rehabilitated prisoners to be paroled."In Canada, even the worst criminal having committed the most heinous of crimes benefits at all times from the rights guaranteed under the charter," the justices wrote. Aimed at childrenBut they also stressed that eligibility for parole in the context of a life sentence must not be mistaken for likelihood of ever being paroled. "In other words, there is no guarantee that the Parole Board will grant parole in 25 years," the decision states.Bissonnette, who was 27 when he attacked the mosque, will now be eligible for parole when he turns 54.WATCH: Quebec's appeal court reduces sentence of Alexandre Bissonnette:During the appeal hearing, his lawyers had tried to argue for a more lenient sentence by producing security camera footage from the night of the shooting that they said proved Bissonnette took care not to harm young children.The Appeal Court ultimately rejected Bissonnette's request to have the evidence admitted, but the justices nevertheless commented on what the footage showed.They said Bissonnette can be seen shooting at a section of the mosque where two children were hiding and a "little girl is standing ... completely frozen." A man later helped her take shelter behind a column."The evidence as a whole [shows] that the appellant attempted to kill young victims and that he was certainly not 'careful about the children,' as he stated to the police officers," the justices said.
Nearly three dozen engineers and doctors in Ontario are calling on the Health Ministry to better inform the public about the risks of airborne transmission of COVID-19, and improve ventilation standards across the province.In a letter, 21 doctors and 12 engineers and other scientists call on Ontario to update the province's COVID-19 guidelines, regulations and communication to reflect the Public Health Agency of Canada's acknowledgement earlier this month that COVID-19 can indeed spread in microscopic droplets, or aerosols, that can travel beyond two metres.> We need our public health leaders and scientists to be explaining this. \- Dr. Sarah Addleman"I think the public generally believes that if you are inside, as long as you are separated more than two metres from other people, you don't need to have a mask on and you'd be pretty safe," said Dr. Jennifer McDonald, a rehabilitation doctor at The Ottawa Hospital, and one of the doctors who co-signed Tuesday's letter."When in reality, especially if you have multiple people in that house or in that room, depending on the ventilation of that room, it could get very dangerous."McDonald conducted her own experiment at home with a carbon dioxide monitor, which can indicate how fresh the air is — generally, the lower the carbon dioxide level, the better the air quality.Outdoor air normally has 400-500 parts per million of carbon dioxide. McDonald found the air inside her home had 1,100 and 1,300 parts per million. A school can be as high as 2,000, she said."The public is not aware of that, that you're literally stewing in stale air that could be building up these virus particles," she said.By simply turning on the exhaust fan over her stove or opening a window, McDonald found she was able to improve her home's air quality within minutes.Knowledge is power, says doctorMcDonald and the other signatories want to see better guidance for high-risk businesses like gyms and bars, and want the province to mandate and fund ventilation assessments at places like schools and long-term care homes, as well as promote the use of HEPA air filters.They'd also like to see practical advice offered to the public about simple ways people can improve air quality at home, like replacing furnace filters and maintaining bathroom exhaust fans. On Thursday, the Ministry of Health said in a statement to CBC that it provides resources for workplaces to protect against the spread of COVID-19 including guidance on installing Plexiglas barriers and improving (HVAC) systems to increase air flow."The most important advice is to wear a mask when physical distancing is a challenge or when it is required," the statement said. "The vast majority of transmission of COVID-19 is by droplet spread between person-to-person. Transmission by small particles (aerosols) has been shown to possibly occur in closed crowded spaces with poor ventilation. There is no evidence at this time that the virus is able to transmit over long distances through the air e.g. through air ducts."Dr. Sarah Addleman, an Ottawa emergency room physician who also signed the letter, said information about COVID-19 airborne transmission shouldn't be frightening, it should be empowering. While handwashing and physical distancing are important, proper ventilation can provide an added layer of protection indoors, she said."People just deserve to know the facts because then they can make decisions for themselves, whether they're comfortable having other people inside their home [or] going to indoor bars or restaurants," Addleman said.Should people chose to host a small gathering indoors, they may decide to crack open a window, buy an air purifier or turn on a humidifier. Studies have shown COVID-19 prefers dry, cool air, she said."I never knew anything about ventilation until I started reading about it," said Addleman. "We need our public health leaders and scientists to be explaining this."
If the novel coronavirus was going to affect an industry in 2020, horse racing was a strong contender. Though it's a major money-maker in the province, generating $2.3 billion of Ontario's GDP, in the past it relied on people having a little extra money to spend, and coming together en masse on race day to place bets. At the beginning of the summer race season, things didn't look good, admits Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain, who is on the executive of the horse racing association.But once the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association was allowed to have 100 people in the grandstand in Leamington, wagering ended up being as strong as ever."Certainly we were pleased with the comeback that we had and we were able to end up having a very positive season," said Bain. According to Bain, on any given Sunday this summer, the average total wagered was around $24,000. Key to that was online betting. "This year we did do all the simulcast wagering and we got out to a vast market. So maybe next year, hand in hand we'll bet yet again higher than ever," said Mark Williams, president of the association.Williams said people from as far away as Nova Scotia were betting on races in Leamington.This year's season went from early August to the end of October. The association is asking Ontario Racing to add two more race dates next year, but Williams is not optimistic that will happen. Meanwhile, those who depend on the local horse racing industry for their livelihoods are betting on a good year next year. Waverly Livingston is a stable hand at Woodslee Farms where she takes care of race horses and horses who are retired. She says without the local industry she would lose her job."I would have a very hard time finding another job, and there are only so many other farms ... in the area that take people," said Livingston.She is one of three employed at the stables owned by Don and Anita Leschied. Leschied says he spends between $500 and $1,000 a week keeping his horses."One of my first part time young ladies is now a veterinary technician who stayed in Essex County," said Leschied. "We are the second or third largest agricultural industry of the entire agricultural component in the province of Ontario," said Leschied.Leschied adds that the horse racing industry in Essex County, Chatham-Kent and Lambton county employs 10,000 people. More than 45,000 Ontarians owe their permanent jobs to the horse racing and breeding industry, according to research paid for by Ontario Racing.
Oskenontona Philip Deering sees working with beads as a way for people to connect with each other, predating modern language — even going back millennia.Deering, whose shop in Kahnawake provides that essential part of Indigenous beadwork to the community, is known to many simply as Beadman."We don't get as many customers as we need to stay afloat so I go out on the road," he told CBC Montreal's Let's Go.Before the pandemic, he would regularly visit Indigenous communities in Quebec and Ontario, as well as travel to the Atlantic provinces and Manitoba to sell his beads.It's when he was invited to visit Cree communities along James Bay that he was given the nickname."The first community I went to, they said, 'Hey, Beadman's here!" says Deering, who has been selling beads full time for two decades."They started calling me Beadman, nobody knew my name."The moniker stuck, enough that when Kahnawake locked down, he opened a shop in Montreal called The Beadman EmporiumThe emporium is now part of the Métèque art space in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, where the exhibit Bead By Bead is currently on display.The exhibit is a collaboration with Native-Immigrant Art Hive, where Deering is a cultural interpreter."We can sell on the internet, and with COVID we actually have to … but you want to see the colours right there and touch the beads, look at the quality of the beads," Deering said.He says beadwork is "a community tradition" in his family going back generations.His great-great grandmother sold beadwork at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in the late 1800s, and his mother did the same nearly a century later.During the industrial revolution, "all kinds of jobs or ways of living that people had went by the wayside. People had to find new skills, new trades to work at," Deering said."During that time, beadwork was kind of a fallback position"It was seeing his mother do her beadwork, and travelling with her, that taught him its significance.She would stop at other Indigenous communities along the way to purchase more beadwork to increase her stock by the time they reached Toronto.It was from his mother that he learned: if you want to sell beads, the best way is to visit people.Young artists breathe new life into traditionWhile he said interest in the craft seemed to diminish near the end of the 20th century, a new generation of artists has reinvigorated the practice."There are new kinds of beads that we never saw before … Once the powwows reopen you can visit and see that beadwork is a booming trade right now."He points to beads that are tens of thousands of years old found in Africa and the Middle East to show that it's a tradition long observed around the world.Those beads go beyond ceremonial purposes, he says — they were used to record events before humans had the words to describe them."Human language is a symbolic process, it requires the ability to think symbolically. And beads also can be a symbol," he said."As Iroquois people we would use beads to record our treaties and agreements and also to use them for various social gatherings and invitations. The list goes on and on."He says beadwork illustrates "our ability to work together in harmony."The Bead by Bead exhibition continues until Dec. 6 at Métèque (5442 Côte-Saint-Luc Rd.), more information here.Listen to the full segment on Let's Go below:
Some small businesses in rural P.E.I. are feeling the local love this year, thanks in part to a social media group called Support Local P.E.I.Cathy Donnelly started the group in April 2020 after someone asked her for a list of P.E.I.-owned and -operated businesses. She said that before she even finished creating the list, more than 200 people were wanting a copy, so she decided to create a Facebook group instead."I was always a supporter of local businesses, but with the [COVID] shut down it really struck me that, as businesses were being forced to shut their doors, many businesses were at risk of being shut down permanently," Donnelly wrote."People look to local businesses to support their sports teams, to donate to fundraisers, etc. Now, they needed our help."Donnelly said the page also helps show Islanders don't need to leave P.E.I. to get what they need."Farmers to supply meats, vegetables and of course potatoes, Island artisans for unique one-of-a-kind gifts, clothing stores, print shops, computer repair, accounting services, restaurants, bake shops and more," Donnelly wrote.'It's been dramatic'Margaret McEachern, who owns Knit Pickers in Mayfield, P.E.I., was one of the first businesses to join the Support Local P.E.I. group.She said the number of locals coming to her shop has grown since she started posting in the group."It's been dramatic, for me, most of my social media followers were from away and all over the world, but not too much locally," McEachern said. "When COVID hit, and the support local group opened up right about that time, as more and more people were joining, what I was finding is more and more people, local people, were connecting with me through social media, were interested in events." McEachern said those local connections mattered, as she faced a summer with limited tourist traffic on the Island, usually the mainstay of her business. "About 90 per cent would have been visitors, perhaps 10 per cent local and that certainly has shifted," McEachern said."Even in terms of the customers that I'm doing for Christmas now, it's almost all local. So that's really cool. People are really engaged and really supportive of the whole support local idea." Not just retailMcEachern said the group applies beyond just retailers. "It's also involving catering, for instance The Yellow House over in North Rustico caters events, and if you're having an event, hire a local musician," McEachern said."Support the local farmers or me. I'm also supporting local shepherds because the wool is local."McEachern said the group has also helped her build connections with other small businesses on P.E.I., and she has even started "knit nights" that bring locals into the shop. "The drop in income from visitors this summer, of course, is dramatic, but the support from locals has enabled me to stay open and to carry on," McEachern said."So without that, without the support of the local people, it would be a real challenge." 'Still surprised'Brenda Doiron is also feeling grateful for the support of the Support Local P.E.I. group.She opened The Makers Place in 2019, next to her home in Rusticoville, P.E.I., featuring the work of 25 artisans, including products she and her husband make."My first year I had no idea what to expect, but the majority of my customers were visitors, with some locals mixed in," Doiron said. "But this year, the local support was fantastic. A really conscious effort to support local."Doiron said her business is actually up this year, compared to last. "Crazily enough, better, being as 2019 was my first year, so the word wasn't out," Doiron said. "Then, with the real drive to support local this year made a huge difference. I am still surprised, every time I open the door, at the amount of people that are out looking for handmade, Island-made goods." 'Beautiful surprise'Last year, Doiron closed the shop at Thanksgiving, but is staying open weekends until Christmas this year, thanks to the increased local support."It's at peak now, it's the Christmas season," Doiron said. "But I do think it will continue, to some degree, because there's been a lot of great discoveries on the Island this year."Doiron said she wasn't sure what to expect of 2020."I was very unsure of even opening, because it was early COVID times, certainly not where I am now with people coming in and enjoying the shop as much as they are," Doiron said. "So it's just been a really beautiful surprise. I so appreciate it all."More from CBC P.E.I.
As western Quebec experiences its deadliest month so far during the COVID-19 pandemic, the region's top health official says it's imperative to limit outbreaks at retirement homes.In November alone, 33 people in Outaouais have died from COVID-19 — 43 died from the start of the pandemic until Oct. 31.As of Wednesday, Outaouais reported 947 new cases of COVID-19 in November, compared to 946 confirmed cases for the same period in Ottawa, a jurisdiction with more than double the population.Dr. Brigitte Pinard, director of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais, said Wednesday that 10 retirement homes are currently experiencing outbreaks."We know a part of the increase [in cases and deaths] is associated with those outbreaks, yet those outbreaks don't explain the entire situation," said Pinard.Red zone designation until at least Jan. 11Of the total 76 deaths since the start of the pandemic, 29 have been of residents in retirement homes.Pinard said retirement homes in Outaouais managed, for the most part, to avoid outbreaks during the first wave of the pandemic, but a combination of community transmission and possible fatigue with COVID-19 prevention measures explain the outbreaks during this second wave."It's possible that as the retirement homes were less affected during the first wave, that there was still some need to increase vigilance," she said.Outaouais was upgraded to red status, the maximum level on Quebec's COVID-19 alert scale, in October. The earliest the provincial government said it might lower the threat level is Jan. 11, 2021.Pinard said it's imperative to stabilize the rate of infection before the holidays to keep numbers from getting out of control. "It's a situation we consider to be quite fragile," she said. "People everywhere need to apply measures so we decrease the transmission and we also decrease the risk of having our most vulnerable population contract the disease."Protecting hospitals is keyMeanwhile, hospitals in western Quebec are currently caring for 40 patients with COVID-19, including one in intensive care. Sixty-six hospital staff are infected with the virus, something that is especially concerning to Dr. Denis Marcheterre, president of the health care advocacy group Action Santé Outaouais."If we have more outbreaks it won't look pretty in the hospitals," he said. "We have a pretty fragile health-care system and we've got to protect it."Marcheterre said he supports the red zone designation for Outaouais through the holidays."There is a significant lack of nurses and support staff in hospitals and elderly care homes," he said. "We have to stay in the red zone to protect our hospitals."
When McMaster University student Elisa Do learned last week that her school would be delaying the start of classes in January following the winter break, she felt a wave of relief. The third-year kinesiology major and student journalist feels fortunate she's managed her workload this fall and thankful for professors who have kept students' pandemic challenges in mind. Still, Do is feeling burnt out continuing her studies virtually from home in Stouffville, Ont., rather than being on campus in Hamilton, more than 100 km away. Speaking to friends, she found others were also experiencing similar stress and exhaustion. Schoolwork "just feels a lot heavier," Do said."The workload ... I could handle it. But then because of the lack of social connection and not having emotional support from my friends, it really makes it harder to concentrate and feel as motivated to do the same workload." A longer break is going to really help students' mental health, said Do. She's looking forward to spending time with family as well as returning to hobbies — writing poetry, painting and sketching — that make her feel calmer and less overwhelmed.Most Canadian post-secondary students have traded lecture halls for laptop screens this fall and, as the pandemic continues, schools are largely staying the course through the next term. However, an increasing number of institutions are now pushing back their start dates in the New Year in recognition of strain felt by students and staff. In Ontario, Western University announced Tuesday it will delay the start of classes for the winter term, joining the likes of Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, Laurentian University, Carleton University and McMaster, as well as Quebec schools l'Université du Québec à Montréal, Concordia University and l'Université de Sherbrooke.Meanwhile, in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the mandatory 14-day isolation required for anyone returning from outside the Atlantic region has also led Mount Allison University, Acadia University and St. Francis Xavier University to push back classes at the start of their winter terms. In recent weeks, there have been widespread student appeals for more downtime following a stressful autumn of predominantly online learning and being isolated from peers and instructors due to COVID-19. Mental health among students has been a growing concern for years, flagged by groups such as the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Now, additional stressors brought on by the pandemic appear to be aggravating the situation, according to Carleton researchers.The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations also polled 2,200 faculty members and 500 students on the impact of COVID-19 on university life and education. Sixty-two per cent of the students and 76 per cent of faculty felt that "online learning has negatively impacted the quality of education in Ontario." More than half of the student respondents reported that their mental health was a major area of concern."We're well aware of the health issues, mental health issues right now," said Susan Tighe, vice president academic and provost at McMaster University, the school that Do attends.McMaster's winter break extension came out of a suggestion from its virtual learning task force and a survey of students and faculty that indicated everyone was interested in more time off to rest, recharge and prepare for the term ahead, according to Tighe."We're listening to what the students are saying," she said."We started to do that very early in September and ... tried to get as much early information as possible to make sure that we were providing the kinds of supports that are needed."Tighe added that McMaster has been working on investments into mental health supports, encouraging staff to boost connections with students, and making early, proactive decisions about things like scheduling and online learning."If you really are committed to your students' mental health and stability, you need to be clear in what you're doing and provide as much time to prepare."Students press for changeEarlier this month, a feeling of exhaustion coupled with the news another school had already extended its winter break spurred a trio of University of Toronto students into action. Nada Abdelaal, Rahat Charyyev and Javahir Saidov consider their school among the best in Canada, but began wondering why U of T was lagging behind others "when it's supposed to lead other universities by example," said Charyyev, a third-year student studying political science, French and geographic information systems.They quickly posted an online petition calling for a longer winter break and garnered thousands of student signatories over just a few days. "There were actually a lot of reasons that we did this. But, first of all, the main one was mental health. We were all burnt out," said Abdelaal, a second-year student studying political science and criminology remotely in Oakville, Ont., this term while balancing two part-time jobs.Though post-secondary education has always been challenging, the three said this term has been more difficult and stressful since the switch to remote learning during the pandemic. They're juggling an onslaught of online lectures and assignments deadlines and constantly play catch-up between courses, all while isolated from peer support.Though Saidov, a second-year political science and history major currently based in Barrie, Ont., took a course remotely during the summer term, he said it provided little preparation for his heavy course load this fall. "The school part has always been hard," he said. "But before we had the social part, where we get to talk to our friends, go to a library with them, go grab a cup of coffee to kind of help us relax and to kind of help us recharge. Now that part has been totally cut out, so we're only left with like 12, 14 hours of just school."Without the social part, it's very hard to do that productively." Charyyev, currently studying virtually from New York, added that school has also seeped into what previously would have been valuable downtime surrounding classes."Because you spend the whole day inside the house, whether it's dark [or] whether it's light outside, it doesn't matter … it's kind of like you really lose track of time zones, what day it is. And, it just feels like a never-ending cycle, like a hamster wheel," he said. The trio was thrilled when, just days after they launched their petition, their school announced a week delay for the start of a majority of winter term classes."We recognize that the past several months have been a challenging time for many students and we hope that this extended break provides an opportunity for rest and recuperation," Micah Stickel, University of Toronto's vice provost of students, said in a statement.The school also reiterated its ongoing effort to enhance student mental health supports, including directing to a new online portal of mental health services and resources.While the extended holiday break is greatly welcomed, "I hope this is just the start of something great that we can achieve," said Saidov, who is also involved with other groups campaigning to improve mental health and wellbeing services for students.He's heard from several peers, for instance, who tried to access campus resources and reportedly had to wait months to see a counselor."I don't think that's acceptable for a university," he said."Student action can result in change … but it's important to unite and to voice our concerns together."
New COVID-19 directives from the Ontario government about how people should celebrate the holidays have some changing their plans, while others are forging ahead.On Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford urged people to celebrate with only those people in their households, adding that those who live alone can join one other household. The announcement came as the province saw another 1,373 cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths.The news meant a hard decision for Ottawa area resident Kevin Farrell, who usually celebrates with his adult children at a restaurant each year. But he said since those children live in two different households he can't see them together, and couldn't pick only one to visit."I'm extremely disappointed," Farrell said. The decision was made even harder by some good news he received this year. "On November 11, I became a grandfather for the first time. I haven't been able to hold my grandson yet and I was really looking forward to that … It looks like that's not going to happen."Coming home despite warningsOttawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches urged residents Wednesday to keep travel to a minimum and avoid going from areas with higher case numbers to places with lower. But that warning doesn't sit well with Carlos Verde, who's still planning to come home to Ottawa from Toronto for the holidays."It's kind of hard to stomach this idea that it's been fine to go home the last eight months," he said. "At a time when mental health is nosediving, as we go into winter and stuff — when people really need to kind of have some family face time ... now you're telling us that all of a sudden we can't go home."Verde said he has been following the rules throughout the pandemic by keeping his bubble to just his roommate, working in an isolated office away from co-workers and he plans to quarantine before returning home.He said his family will be isolating before too in order to ensure their visit is safe.