In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
City officials are warning residents to avoid contact with raccoons after an uptick in reported raccoon-related injuries. Between January 2020 and February 2021, Toronto Public Health saw a 62 per cent increase in reports of people bitten or scratched by raccoons compared to the two-year average between the years 2018 and 2019. Toronto Animal Services also received more service requests for sick and injured raccoons, the city said in a news release. In 2020, there were 13,712 requests compared to 4,172 requests in 2019. "This may be because residents are home more than usual or spending more time exercising outside in their neighbourhoods, thus encountering more raccoons in the city," Toronto Public Health said in a release. Brad Gates, the owner and president of AAA Gates' Wildlife Control, says his company received more calls in 2020 with residents spending more time at home. "If they were out of the house, they wouldn't hear the animal moving about during the daytime, but during COVID-19 they were hearing the animals at all times," he said. Gates said reports of other wild animals, such as coyotes and foxes, have also increased as more people see them in their backyards or parks. "Our call volume for non-service requests is through the roof," he said. "Prior to this past year they weren't around to see it and they didn't think to call." 'Homeowners should keep a safe distance' Raccoons can be infected with feline distemper, which affects their coordination and eyesight. "Those calls have certainly been up for us, people seeing animals during the day that have been acting peculiar," Gates said. He added that distemper can cause raccoons to become less afraid of people. In late stages of the disease, raccoons begin to stagger and can get blinded by a crusting over their eyes. "They're getting into situations they wouldn't normally get into." He said raccoons don't usually attack humans. "It's extremely rare that a raccoon without any provoking would come near a person or attack a person," he said. Gates said it could happen, though, if a homeowner tries to deal with a sick or injured raccoon on their own and put "their fingers somewhere they shouldn't." "Like with any wild animal, homeowners should keep a safe distance." Rabies is very rare but can be fatal if it is left untreated. Toronto Public Health said that residents should not pet or feed wild raccoons, and that anyone who has been bitten, scratched or exposed to a wild raccoon should see a health provider immediately to be assessed. There have been no reports of wildlife with rabies in Toronto since 1997, according to Toronto Public Health.
Calgary’s Mount Royal University is once again offering free entrepreneur workshops aimed at various groups including Indigenous peoples. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s workshops, which will be held on the five Wednesdays in March, will be held online. The workshops will begin tomorrow (March 3) with a session titled Entrepreneurship & You. Besides being aimed at Indigenous entrepreneurs, the weekly webinars are also geared towards newcomers to Canada as well as women and youth. The workshops are part of the Alberta Inclusive Innovation Initiative, which will provide introductions into the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. This year’s workshops are being held in conjunction with the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto. HSBC Bank Canada is funding the program. Mount Royal first offered these workshops in February of 2020. A total of 60 students, primarily from Calgary, registered for the in-person sessions. About 10 per cent of last year’s cohort self-identified as Indigenous. “There was quite a high demand for that training,” said Dimitra Fotopoulos, who is the director for the Faculty of Continuing Education at Mount Royal University. Fotopoulos said school officials were keen to present the workshops once again this year. “But because of COVID we were unable to offer in-person training,” she said. As a result, university officials decided to pivot and allow individuals to register for free online workshops. Fotopoulos said officials originally capped the number of participants at 40. When that maximum filled up quickly, it was increased slightly, to 45 registrants, which was once again quickly achieved. Fotopoulos added program officials are purposely trying to keep the number of online participants to a workable number. Because of demand and to accommodate some of those who were unable to sign up for this month’s workshops, Mount Royal will offer the same sessions at some point this spring. Dates for the these sessions will be announced soon. Follow Alberta Inclusive Innovation Initiative | MRU (mtroyal.ca) Fotopoulos said this year’s workshops have been updated to reflect the new realities of the pandemic. “We’ve significantly updated the content in the workshops with practical learning that participants can apply to their situation,” she said. “Adding skills and information relating to topics, such as e-commerce, means the workshops are relevant to today’s entrepreneurs.” This month’s workshops will all be two hours long and held Wednesday nights. The March 10 session is titled Business Model Canvas and will be followed on March 17 with a session titled Marketing & Sales. Karen Richards, who teaches digital marketing courses at Mount Royal University, will be the instructor of the March 17 session. Richards believes the workshops are vital to those who have either launched or are thinking of starting up their own business. “I really think it was important, even before the pandemic, to diversify the economy with entrepreneurs,” Richards said. She added these workshops are perhaps even more important now for those who are looking to start up a business out of necessity. “What I’ve seen since the pandemic, now that it’s been a year, there are so many people losing their jobs and businesses closing down,” she said. Richards praised Mount Royal and Ryerson for joining forces to offer the workshops. “I think it’s meant to be a community-building relationship,” she said. “It’s giving back to the community.” Last year’s in-person workshops were seven-hour affairs, all over the course of one day. As for this year, Richards said documents pertaining to each weekly session will be made available to those registered about a week beforehand. Plus, there will also be online discussion forums that will be open for seven days after each session where instructors will be available to address any issues. “Entrepreneurs always have a lot of questions,” Richards said. Following Richards’ session there will be a March 24 workshop on Excel. And the program will conclude on March 31 with a webinar titled Finance & Accounting for Entrepreneurs. “These topics were selected as they demonstrate the range of skills required by entrepreneurs,” Fotopoulos said. Despite the fact the webinars are online this year, Fotopoulos said the majority of those who did sign up are once again from the Calgary area. But there are also a few out-of-province participants. CJWE By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CJWE
On the day another restrictive lockdown was enforced, seniors lined up in blizzard-like conditions to receive a very important poke in their arms By midnight Feb. 28, New Tecumseth had joined much of Simcoe County in hunkering down against an outbreak of the virulent B117 U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus. At council, New Tecumseth’s chief administrative officer Blaine Parkin laid out some of the restrictions, including restaurants must open only for curbside and takeout service, residents are to limit all inside gatherings to household members only, and all township centres, museums, the library and town hall are shuttered. On the flip side, it was also the day more than 360 seniors walked through the Alliston Memorial Arena doors to receive their first dose of the vaccination that rolled out in 34 regions across the province Monday. For an update on vaccinations and lockdown requirements, visit https://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/Topics/COVID-19 or call 705-721-7520. Park lands — To build on a swamp or on a hill; that was the question asked by Robert Schickedanz at New Tecumseth’s town council meeting Monday night. Schickedanz’s Walton South Simcoe Residential Development has plans to build a new subdivision adjacent to the West County subdivision in Beeton. Schickedanz suggests parkland set aside for the initial West Country community have a two-metre slope that would not benefit from playground equipment. A small group of residents attended an earlier township committee of the whole meeting to protest movement of the park to a nearby plot of land. Council sent the decision back to staff to review the park, currently zoned environmentally protected and agricultural. No conflict of interest determined — Deputy Mayor Richard Norcross was found not to be in contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act Monday. New Tecumseth’s Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin investigated a report that Norcross should have declared a pecuniary interest on a draft ministerial zoning order permitting a new subdivision, as well as in an application made by a second developer last October. The conflict arose from a concern that Norcross’ wife Robin is employed as a sales representative for several new homes, that could or had been built by the developers. Mascarin’s report determined Robin had not sold any new homes and only resells homes in the New Tecumseth area. In his report, Mascarin noted, “It is our view that a reasonable elector, having been fully apprised of all the circumstances, would conclude that the deputy mayor’s deemed interest of an indirect nature would not be likely to influence his action … and (it) would be expressly exempted from the requirements Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.” Council received the report with no further action required. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus.Health officials say the province's 28th COVID-19-related death involves a resident in their 80s of the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home in Edmundston. The care facility has reported a total of eight deaths linked to the pandemic.The four new infections are all in the Miramichi region and bring to 36 the number of active reported cases in New Brunswick. Three patients are in hospital with the disease, all in intensive care. Officials say in a news release that a positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Miramichi High School, which is closed this week for March break. The release did not say when the case was identified.A recent infection reported in the Miramichi region has been identified as a presumptive case of the B.1.1.7 mutation, first detected in the United Kingdom. A previously reported case from the Edmundston area that had been identified as the U.K. variant has been found not to be that mutation.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Restricting towing zones on some highways and licensing tow truck drivers are some of the measures Ontario will be introducing later this year in its efforts to crack down on an industry rocked by allegations of violent turf wars.Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced a pilot project on Tuesday that she said would cut down on dangerous practices like so-called "accident chasing," where multiple tow trucks race to be the first to a crash site to get business.Under the new rules, some of the 400 series highways will have restricted towing zones, which means only a single company can operate within that zone. Mulroney said the "tow zones" are the first step towards introducing broader regulation in the sector, which could later include licensing tow truck drivers."Ending the accident-chasing regime means people can take comfort in knowing that a reputable tow operator will get there to help them get to a safe place," she said. "It will ensure that tow operators who arrive on the scene in the tow zones will be equipped to handle any situation and get the scene cleared quickly and safely."Mulroney said the two-year project will also establish standard prices for customers and target times for response and to clear a crash site.The towing industry has been rocked by allegations of violent turf wars between organized criminal groups within the sector.Last summer, Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario was forming a task force to examine both enforcement and safety in response to an increase in violence and crime associated with the towing sector.Solicitor Genera Sylvia Jones said the zones will be accompanied by the establishment of a new joint task force to investigate criminal activity within the tow businesses involving the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police services."Tow truck drivers are a vital part of keeping Ontario moving," she said. "But they are operating in an industry that lacks oversight structure, and where too many criminals are making their own rules."Police in the Greater Toronto Area have alleged that competition for control of the towing market has led to murders, attempted murders, assaults, arsons and property damage.In recent months, four OPP officers have been charged after a two-year long probe into alleged crimes in the tow truck industry. OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said Tuesday that the force has conducted three "complex, major" investigations into the sector over the last year alone, and more resources would be dedicated to those probes."You have a commitment from the police leaders that are part of this joint force operation that any indications of corruption will be dealt with with the same level of seriousness that you have seen over the last 12 months," he said. "We are committed to rooting it out, and we'll accept nothing less."NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused the government of dragging its feet when it comes to responding to the escalating violence in the towing industry."People's livelihoods, and their lives, have been lost," she said. "They've been taking their sweet time. ... when it's about saving people's lives and cleaning up an industry."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
The Biden administration sanctioned seven mid- and senior-level Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen businesses and other entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing. The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration's first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was an intimate and favourite of President Donald Trump even amid covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S. The government officials included at least four whom Navalny's supporters had directly asked the West to penalize, saying they were most involved in targeting him and other dissidents and journalists. However, the U.S. list did not include any of Russia's most powerful businesspeople and bankers, oligarchs whom Navalny has long said the West would have to sanction to get the attention of Putin. Tuesday's step “was not meant to be a silver bullet or an end date to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge. We’re prepared for that.” The Biden administration also announced sanctions under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act for businesses and other enterprises, most of which it said were involved in the production of biological and chemical agents. The U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia's Federal Security Service used the Russian nerve agent Novichok on Navalny last August, a senior administration official said. Russia critic Bill Browder, a London-based investor, tweeted that he feared the new U.S. sanctions would be “way too little and not touch Putin’s billionaire cronies.” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called the U.S. move overdue. Working with U.S. allies, “we must use an array of tools, including sanctions, to meaningfully deter, repel, and punish Moscow’s transgressions,” Schiff said in a statement. The Biden administration has pledged to confront Putin in alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and in alleged malign actions abroad, including the hacking of U.S. government agencies and U.S. businesses. Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism of Putin's government. That included dismissing U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had backed Trump in its covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The administration co-ordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which added to its own sanctions Tuesday over the attack on Navalny. The U.S. and European shared concerns about “Russia’s deepening authoritarianism,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” Blinken said in a statement. The individuals sanctioned by the U.S. included the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the head of prisons, Kremlin and defence figures, and Russia's prosecutor general. The Biden administration had forecast for weeks actions against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies. Navalny, 44, was sickened by the Russian nerve agent in an attack that the United States and others linked to Putin’s security services. After months of recuperation in Germany, Navalny flew home to Moscow in January and was arrested on arrival for an alleged parole violation. His detention sparked street protests across Russia. Police arrested thousands of demonstrators. Authorities have transferred the opposition leader to a penal colony to begin serving a sentence, after what rights groups said was a show trial. Long a target in Russian government attempts to shut down dissent, Navalny has repeatedly appealed to the West to start targeting the most powerful business and financial oligarchs of his country, saying only then would Russian leaders take international sanctions seriously. The U.S. government has previously censured behaviour by Russia that American officials saw as having violated international norms. In 2016, for instance, the Obama administration responded to interference by the Kremlin in the presidential election by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats who officials said were actually spies and by shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York. Trump's administration also took a handful of actions adverse to Moscow, including through the closure of Russian consulates on the West Coast and the suspension of a nuclear arms treaty. ___ Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Aamer Madhani in Washington and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
A week after Dustin Duthie slit his girlfriend's throat and then tucked her body into bed as if she was sleeping, he fatally stabbed his mother and stepfather as police were planning to question the killer about his partner's disappearance. These are some of the details contained in an agreed statement of facts filed in Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Tuesday as part of Duthie's guilty plea, which came unexpectedly just days before the jury trial was set to take place. Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend, Taylor Toller, and mother, Shawn Boshuck, and one count of first-degree murder for the planned killing of his stepfather, Alan Pennylegion. Toller, 25, was killed in her apartment in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Applewood Park on July 25, 2018. Boschuk and Pennylegion were murdered a week later, on July 31, at their home in Calgary's northwest. Duthie lived in their basement. Domestic violence 'can happen to anyone' Toller's family released a statement Tuesday, expressing their grief and condemning domestic violence. "We loved Taylor very much," said the family. "The opportunity to see her grow and thrive was taken from her family, and we are heartbroken. "Domestic violence is insidious, and it can happen to anyone. If you have a friend or loved one at risk, know that it can take many attempts to leave, and the most dangerous time can be after that decision is made." According to the agreed statement of facts, the day before Boschuk and her husband were killed, she messaged Toller's grandmother expressing concern about how her son would react to police contacting him about the young woman's disappearance. Duthie stabbed his mother six times by the back door of her home and then dragged her across the room and covered her with a plastic sheet. Police determined Pennylegion had gotten out of bed to find Duthie cleaning up blood in the kitchen. It was then he was attacked. Duthie has admitted to killing his girlfriend of five years, Taylor Toller, 25, his mother, Shawn Boshuck, and his stepfather, Alan Pennylegion.(From left: Taylor Toller's Facebook page/Shawn Boshuck's Facebook page/Supplied) Duthie stabbed Pennylegion repeatedly and dragged him into the main floor bathroom with his dog, Odie, which he also killed. Over the years, Duthie had threatened violence against his stepfather, and the two had a tense relationship, the statement of facts said. Duthie called 911 just before 11 a.m. MT on July 31 and confessed to the murders. That's when police discovered the three bodies in the two homes. Toller was found in her bed. Duthie and Toller had been together for five years. Toller crying hours before death: video Security video from Toller's apartment building gathered as part of the investigation shows Toller and Duthie together the day before and morning of her death. The couple were seen coming and going from Toller's Applewood Park apartment, at times holding hands. Just after midnight, Duthie pulled a knife on Toller and took her cellphone away. Still images captured from the video show Toller crying. Between midnight and 4 a.m., the two were seen coming and going from the condo four times. At 5:14 a.m. on July 26, Duthie left the apartment alone, carrying a black bag and pulling a "bed in a box." He locked the door behind him. Police eventually found a blood-stained towel in the "bed in a box" in the trunk of Duthie's car. Toller was killed hours after this still image shows her crying in her apartment hallway after Duthie pulled a knife on her. (Court Exhibit) Boschuk's last communication with anyone was a text message sent to a friend at 5:53 a.m. on July 31. Duthie killed his mother and Pennylegion some time between 6 a.m. and 10:40 a.m., when he stopped to buy alcohol near Toller's apartment. At 10:50 a.m., Duthie called 911 and confessed to all three murders. When police arrived, it became clear Duthie was contemplating "suicide by cop." He was taken into custody about 30 minutes after officers arrived. Inside Duthie's black satchel, police seized a six-inch knife with white hockey tape on the handle. It was covered in Pennylegion's blood. A date for sentencing will be set on Friday.
A group of Black parents have taken the problem of anti-Black racism in Ontario schools into their own hands, launching an anonymous racism reporting tool for educators and staff, saying they can no longer wait for school boards to act. At a virtual news conference Tuesday, mothers with the group Parents of Black Children (POBC) announced its school-racism reporting tool, with a plan to release aggregated data on a quarterly basis. The move is a response to what they say is a lack of accountability at Ontario boards and inaction on the part of province to institute random equity audits to properly gauge the scale of anti-Black racism in schools. "Despite years of reports, committees and recommendations, school boards are saying that they are unable to properly track incidents of anti-Black racism. This is unacceptable so we are going to do it for them," said mother-of-two Kearie Daniel, a founding member of the group. Parents who advocate for change are often told to prove racism is happening, but without proper reporting tools, sound data simply doesn't exist, Daniel said. Educators are often reluctant to report about such incidents, fearing reprisals, lack of promotion, sabotage or lack of support from their administrators, she added. That allows school boards "to feign innocence and do nothing more to fight against anti-Black racism than to put nice-sounding statements on their websites or maybe hold a training or two," Daniel said 'I don't forget those stories' On Tuesday alone, another of the group's cofounders, Charline Grant, said she had heard from four families with stories of anti-Black racism in schools. "I don't forget those stories. I don't forget those names. They stay with me," said Grant. "I see myself. I see my children in those phone calls and those intakes that come in." Policies and procedure can go out the door and things can happen very quickly when governments are motivated to do it — when other lives are in danger. - Charline Grant Grant experienced anti-Black racism herself when a York Region school board trustee was overheard calling her the n-word. The trustee, Nancy Elgie, ultimately resigned from the board following months of public pressure. In 2017, following a human rights complaint, Grant received an apology from the York Region District School Board. The board also agreed to establish a human rights office to collect equity-related data and conduct mandatory racism and anti-Black racism training among other commitments. Since then, she has heard from countless families and from Black educators with children in Ontario school boards who say they're afraid to speak out. It's a problem she says the provincial government has had months to act on — noting the group has been calling for random equity audits at boards since August 2020 — but to-date, it hasn't. "If there's one thing I personally have learned throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, it's that policies and procedure can go out the door and things can happen very quickly when governments are motivated to do it — when other lives are in danger," she said. "But our Black student lives are in danger and its been in danger for a very long time. And it's hurtful and harmful and traumatizing." In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he has "reaffirmed the mandate to all school boards to collect race-based data," though he did not respond to POBC's calls for random audits. "The Government will ensure school boards collect and publicize this data to create accountability, transparency and action to fix long-standing systemic barriers that hold back Black and other racialized children in Ontario," said spokesperson Caitlin Clark. The statement added "the status quo is indefensible," saying the government has moved to end discretionary suspensions for students Grade 3 and under, and end practices like "streaming" which saw Black students funnelled into applied programs below their ability. Province launching Black advocacy in schools program A day before the launch of the tool, the province also announced it will invest $6 million over the next three years to support Black students through a new program called the Student and Family Advocates Initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area. That support will include things like working with students to develop plans for achieving their goals and connecting students and families to resources like job-placements, scholarships and leadership opportunities, it said, as well as working alongside community partners to "amplify" the voices of Black students and families to make changes in the education system. "Since I started in the role of Advocate for Community Opportunities in December 2019, I've consistently heard from parents, youth, and grassroots community groups that we need to build community capacity to navigate the education system and hold schools accountable," said Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities. The launch of the Black parent group's reporting tool comes on the heels of a first-of-its kind report by the Toronto District School Board's human rights office that found "a serious racism problem" within the board, with reports of anti-Black racism exceeding all other hate incidents documented there in the past year. The report found race-related complaints made up 69 per cent of all reported hate incidents in the 2019-2020 school year, with anti-Black racism making up the biggest share.(Toronto District School Board) That report followed an unanimous vote by Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustees in 2019, out of which the board developed a formal policy requiring employees report any such incidents that they encounter to managerial staff. 'This is what courage looks like' Speaking to CBC News, TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the TDSB welcomes all new tools to gather more details on racist and hate incidents within the school board and their schools, and are also open to perfect the tool they already have in place. Parents and members of the Peel District School Board, meanwhile, can direct complaints to the board's human rights office, which board spokesperson Tiffany Gooch describes as an "arm's length, independent and neutral office that will confidentially receive, resolve and where appropriate, investigate complaints of racism and discrimination in a fair, just an equitable manner." That board says it will be implementing the first phase of a mandatory reporting system for staff this week, which will include instances of anti-Black racism. It also says it is working on transforming and strengthening its human rights office to "rebuilt trust" that complaints are taken seriously. But speaking to reporters Tuesday, educator and POBC group member Claudette Rutherford pointed out that when it comes to boards' own human rights offices, staff may well be underreporting out of concern for backlash. "Teachers as well as parents are far less likely to go that route because they're not trusting of, 'Is it arm's length?'" said Rutherford, who has been teaching for nearly two decades. "Even me coming here now, I understand the risk that it puts me at but I feel like I don't have a choice anymore," she added. "This is what courage looks like," said Grant. "Being afraid and still doing it." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
Celebrities Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are donating $250,000 to help launch a Canadian mentorship program for Indigenous post-secondary students, the program's chairperson announced on Tuesday. Colby Delorme, chair of the Calgary-based Influence Mentoring Society, said the celebrities' seed funding is an important step forward in cross-cultural understanding and support, which will help eliminate the education and employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians "Eliminating these gaps and ultimately increasing Indigenous representation in the private sector, including in management and executive positions, should be a shared journey," Delorme was quoted as saying in a news release. "This speaks not only to having the resources available to support Indigenous youth, but also is a signal of true reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians." Reynolds and Lively said they were happy to support the program, which seeks to teach Indigenous issues, culture and history to Indigenous youth across Canada and help them enter the job market after graduation. "We are so happy to support the Influence Mentoring program that will help Indigenous youth in Canada, who are trying to successfully complete their post-secondary pursuits and enter the job market for the first time," Reynolds said. "All too often, diverse groups are left behind in the things we take for granted. This program aims to rectify that imbalance." Lively and Reynolds have spent much of the past year in philanthropic pursuits. The couple donated $1 million to food non-profits Feeding America and Food Banks Canada at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, and followed that up with another donation of the same size in February of this year. They similarly donated $200,000 to an institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia to help promote Indigenous women's leadership in June 2020, and in November donated $250,000 to each Covenant House Toronto and Vancouver. Reynolds also spent much of 2020 on social media attempting to cheer up struggling fans, as well as giving smaller donations to individuals in need during the pandemic.
GRANT APPLICATION Southgate will use the Grant Match service for a downtown revitalization project on Proton Street North through the Canada Health Community Initiative grant. It’s believed to be a better fit than the previously considered Rural Economic Development grant. This new grant opportunity is aimed at creating and adapting public spaces and programming to respond to needs from COVID-19. Project types include outdoor event and meeting spaces are one of the three areas, along with trails/transit and community digital projects. If successful, the company is paid 10 percent of the grant money. There are two intakes for the grant program and the plan would be to re-apply if rejected the first time, adapting the proposal based on what is successful in the first round. PUBLIC WORKS The furnace in the former Credit Union at the Holstein Depot stopped working and required replacement. Dromore Municipal Drain has been relocated in the area of the Dromore Park for lot creation, with work paid for by the property owner. Tree removal and brushing is starting on township right-of-ways. Residents will be given notice of work in their areas as road closures may be required. Council conveyed that they had received messages of appreciation about the increase to the amount of sidewalks being cleared in Dundalk this winter. Residents in those areas are reminded they can no longer leave collection bins for pickup on the sidewalk. PLANNING A zoning bylaw and site plan were updated because of a change in size of a planned shop since the original application was granted in 2019 to S. and V. Brubacher on Southgate Rd. 10. Construction is planned for this coming year. A site plan was approved for Port Welding on Southgate Side Road 73, who also owns land to the north and west of the property. The zoning for the powder coating and metal shop was approved in 2019. The site plan outlines measures to reduce effects on neighbouring parties such as tree planting for buffer. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
NEW YORK — Human remains of early New Yorkers that were discovered during construction in and around Washington Square Park were reinterred inside the park on Tuesday, New York City officials announced. The remains, uncovered during construction between 2008 and 2017, were reburied with assistance from the city Landmarks Preservation Commission and Brooklyn's historic Green-Wood Cemetery, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. "Today we honour these individuals and acknowledge Washington Square Park’s history as a final resting place for thousands of early New Yorkers,” Silver said. “We are so grateful to our colleagues at Green-Wood Cemetery and the Landmarks Preservation Commission for their expertise and guidance on this important project.” Sarah Carroll, chair of the landmarks panel, thanked the Parks Department "for ensuring that archaeology was appropriately completed, and the human remains were respectfully treated throughout the process.” Washington Square Park in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighbourhood was constructed in the 1850s at the site of a former potter’s field. Thousands of people were buried there between 1797 and 1825, officials said. The partial remains that were reinterred on Tuesday were placed in a wooden box and buried in a planting bed with an engraved paving stone marking the spot, Parks Department officials said. Because the remains were fragmentary, forensic analysis did not yield details about the individuals, the officials said. The Associated Press
The Rotary Clubs of Kingston and area are providing a volunteer schedule for the local COVID-19 immunization clinic at the INVISTA centre. There are four Rotary clubs and two Rotaract clubs in Kingston, and members from all six clubs are assisting this effort. “Rotarians have been assisting Kingstonians for 100 years in many areas, particularly support to youth, seniors, and the underprivileged,” said Mike Moore, local Rotarian. “COVID has presented an entirely new challenge for Kingston. So, Rotarians and Rotaractors have responded by donating significant sums of money to the Food Bank, have helped deliver food to needy families, produced and distributed masks to disadvantaged families, and will be helping KFL&A Public Health in perhaps the most positive, impactful event of our lifetime, vaccinating our residents.” The mass vaccination clinic at the INVISTA center is operational, currently only serving those who are healthcare workers in the highest or very high priority categories, and will stay in line with the provincial directive for immunization priority. It is expected that this location will immunize up to 3,000 people per day when the vaccine supply is stable. Moore said that deciding to provide this service came naturally for Rotarians. “It was an easy decision,” he shared. “The number of Rotarians and Rotaractors who expressed a desire to help out was impressive and heart-warming. I initially advised KFL&A Public Health that we could cover one of the volunteer positions, but after checking the pulse of Rotarians, I realized that we could cover two, which takes 42 volunteers committing to a three-hour shift every week. Even with that level of commitment, I still have a long list of spares.” The Rotary Club volunteers will work as screeners and ushers to keep the clinic running smoothly. About the Rotary Club: Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service in our communities and worldwide. There are four such clubs in Kingston totaling about 150 members. Their focus is on youth, seniors, and the under-privileged. As such, they support organizations like the Kingston Food Bank, Food Sharing Project, Salvation Army, RKY Kids Camp, Boys and Girls Club, Pathways for Education, and many others. Legacy projects include Rotary Park, Rotary Hall at Fairmount Home, a boardwalk at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, and lately a sizeable financial donation to the Kingston Hospice Centre. Internationally, Rotary’s biggest project is work wide the W.H.O. to help eliminate polio from our planet. Besides contributing financially, they also participate in hands-on projects. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
LINCOLN, Neb. — The Biden administration's plan to funnel more coronavirus aid into states with greater unemployment has irked governors with lower jobless rates, even though many have economies that weren't hit as hard by the pandemic. The $1.9 trillion relief bill working its way through Congress allocates extra money to larger, mostly Democratic-run states with higher unemployment rates, while rural Midwestern and Southern states that tend to have Republican governors and better jobless numbers would benefit less. “You're penalizing people who have done the right thing," said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican whose state has reported the nation's lowest unemployment rate over the last several months. “That's not the way you want to approach any sort of government program.” Ricketts was one of 22 governors — 21 Republicans and one Democrat — who have criticized the change in the pandemic relief proposal. Under previous coronavirus packages signed by former President Donald Trump, aid was distributed by population. If the new funding formula is approved, states including California, New York and New Jersey would each see a boost of more than $2 billion, while Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio would all see aid reductions greater than $500 million. Georgia and Florida would see losses of more than $1.2 billion. Many of the Republican-led states have taken a more hands-off approach to the pandemic to try to keep businesses open, while Democratic states argued that tighter mandates were necessary to save lives and help their economies over the long term. The White House defended President Joe Biden's distribution plan, saying it targets money to areas where it will have the biggest impact. “President Biden's rescue plan is focused on quickly getting help to the people and communities that need it most,” said Michael Gwin, director of White House rapid response. Iowa State University economist David Swenson said the White House's approach makes some sense because the states with the highest unemployment rates are generally the ones that relied more on industries battered by the pandemic, such as tourism. “If proportionally more people are unemployed in Las Vegas and California and other places that are entertainment destinations, then it would make sense to send money to those places instead of Iowa and Nebraska,” Swenson said. Critics argued that many of the hardest-hit states had higher jobless rates even before the pandemic began. “Some states just have naturally lower unemployment rates,” said Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University in Omaha. “That's one of the problems with doing it that way.” Goss said it might make more sense to distribute aid to states that saw the biggest increases in unemployment during the pandemic. But he cautioned that the unemployment rate is still an incomplete measure of any state's economy, because it doesn't count people who have stopped looking for work. Ohio Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said his state's jobless rate is likely unreliable because of massive unemployment fraud. He said Ohio has made multiple efforts to return people to work safely, but the new funding formula would cost his state about $800 million in federal aid. “Doing things that put people back to work actually are going to cost us relief dollars that the people who aren't back to work actually need,” Husted said Monday. “We don't feel that is a fair way to do this.” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, said the funding formula “punishes states that took a measured approach to the pandemic and entered the crisis with healthy state budgets and strong economies.” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who vice chairs the National Governors Association, last month raised concerns about using unemployment when he and other governors met with Biden. “That’s really a disincentive for economic growth and people working,” Hutchinson told The Associated Press after the meeting. ___ Contributing are Associated Press reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Josh Boak in Washington; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida. ___ Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte Grant Schulte, The Associated Press
Regina– SaskTel continues to roll out its expansion of rural cellular towers across thinly-populated areas of rural Saskatchewan, with the announcement on March 2 that a further 15 new macro cell towers had been activated. These additional towers bring 4G LTE wireless service to previously underserved rural parts of the province. You’d be forgiven if you had to look up some of these places on a map. The list of new locations with towers near them includes Burnham, east of Swift Current; Clayridge, northeast of Whitewood; Crescent Lake, East of Melville; Duncairn, southwest of Swift Current; Filion Lake, east of Debden; Frenchman Butte, northwest of Paradise Hill; Great Deer, west of Hepburn; Keppel, west of Perdue; Kessock, east of Yorkton; Main Centre, northwest of Morse; Meacham – East, northeast of Colonsay; Murphy Creek, southwest of Nipawin; Parkerview, southwest of Theodore; Sokal, northwest of Wakaw; and Worcester, north of Weyburn. Greg Jacobs, communications manager with SaskTel, said by the end of the summer, SaskTel will have about 1,000 cell towers, total, throughout the province. Over 700 of those are, or will be, located in rural parts of the province. “Our government understands how important communication services have become in the modern world, especially in rural and remote areas,” said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel in a release. “Through the Wireless Saskatchewan initiative, and thanks to the efforts of SaskTel, we’re raising the level of connectivity in rural and remote parts of the province so that our residents are better equipped to compete and succeed in the modern world.” “As illustrated by a recent report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Saskatchewan already has the best wireless coverage in Western Canada, with over 99 per cent of the population and 98 per cent of the major roadways and highways being covered with LTE wireless service,” said Doug Burnett, SaskTel President and CEO. “And, with the addition of these new towers, wireless coverage in Saskatchewan is getting even better.” These towers are part of the final phase of the Wireless Saskatchewan initiative, which will see SaskTel invest over $70 million to construct 74 macro cell towers in rural parts of the province. SaskTel anticipates that all of the cell towers to be constructed as part of the Wireless Saskatchewan initiative will be complete by early Summer 2021. Added Burnett, “We’re firmly committed to be the best at connecting the people of Saskatchewan, and it’s this commitment that drives us to continue to invest in our networks so that our customers have access to the services they need to stay in touch with what matters most to them from almost anywhere in the province.” Fibre optic speeds upgraded Additionally, SaskTel’s fibre optic internet service, known as infiNET, saw substantial upgrades across most of its plans as of the end of February. While the highest tier, infiNET 300, which stands for download speeds of 300 megabits per second (Mbps), saw its download speed remain the same, its upload speed was increased to 150 Mbps. The mid-level tier saw the largest gains, especially when it came to upload speeds. Formerly called infiNET 80, with 80 Mbps download speeds, the newly dubbed infiNET 150 was increased to 150 Mbps, nearly doubling its former speed. That same plan saw its upload speeds quintuple, from 15 Mbps to 75 Mbps. Lower tier plans also saw significant upgrades, and all for the same price point they were at before. Asked about this, Jacobs said further upgrading higher speeds are being considered. “That's something that we're looking at, and we are planning on upgrading the top-end speeds on our fibre network on infiNET. We plan and get that getting that done in 2021. Right now, I don't have an exact timeframe to share, though, but that is certainly something that is coming. “The beauty of the fibre network, is that, really, with the technologies that are out there today, we're just kind of scratching the surface with the capabilities of what we can do with fibre. We expect that we'll be able to continuously upgrade the level of speed that we can offer over fibre, as the supporting technologies required for that network starts catching up with the ability of that actual strand of fibre.” Satellite internet Several companies worldwide are starting to build out satellite-based internet service using thousands of small, low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The most well-known is Starlink, headed by Elon Musk, who also heads up Tesla and SpaceX. It is currently beta-testing its service, and there are people in Saskatchewan signing up for it. Older satellite networks relied on satellites in geosynchronous orbits, 35,786 kilometres above the equator. Due to the restrictions of the speed of light and distance, bandwidth is low and latency is high, making for slow internet connections. Because LEO satellite constellations are so much closer to earth, at 550 kilometres, and use thousands of satellites, it means LEO constellations can nearly rival connection speeds and latency of wired and fibre optic networks. Asked if the improvements to infiNET were in response to the introduction of Starlink, Jacobs said that infiNET is currently available in 16 urban centres, and will eventually be rolled out in a total of 40. He pointed out that Starlink is more of a solution for people living on farms, acreages, and in small communities, where it doesn’t make a lot of financial sense to install fibre optic. He noted that Canadian company Telesat is developing its own LEO network which is doing very much the same thing as Starlink. Telesat’s service is known as “Lightspeed.” “They're planning on putting up essentially a mesh network of low earth orbit satellites to bring faster, better broadband. Now the difference though, between Starlink and Telesat is, from what we know today, Starlink is very much going after the retail market. They're very much going after the farmer, himself, or the person who owns the acreage, or the small hamlet community. They’re looking to be that end-to-end solution, versus Telesat. They’re more of a wholesale model. So, they could be working with something like a SaskTel, or another communications provider. Other enterprises resell their product.” Is SaskTel working with Telesat? Jacobs responded, “We reached out to them, and we are having ongoing conversations with them. There's nothing imminent, yet. They haven't rolled out a product yet. We would expect that they're having exploratory conversations with a number of enterprises and providers all across the country, depending on the solutions. But beyond that, as far as LEO satellite technology is concerned, we're keeping a close eye on it, and we will investigate opportunities to utilize that technology to improve broadband in rural Saskatchewan if we can.” “If there's an opportunity to partner with any of those LEO providers that makes sense, both for us and them, it's something that we would explore,” he said, pointing out that Starlink is still in the beta testing phase. Additionally, when these networks start to see large number of customers, it may affect how much bandwidth individual customers will actually be able to take advantage of. For wi-fi, for instance, when you have a lot of users on the same network, it slows down for everyone. He added SaskTel is looing at upgrading its Fusion fixed-wireless internet service in the relatively short term. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence combined with real-world data from the province’s immunization campaign that began in late December.
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah girl whose football skills won her fame online has lost her court bid to have school districts create football teams for girls. A federal judge ruled against Sam Gordon on Monday, finding that Utah school districts aren't legally required to create a separate team because girls who want to play football can play with the teams traditionally filled with boys. U.S. District Court Judge Howard Nielson acknowledged that schools and coaches could do more to encourage girls to play. But he also acknowledged concerns that without Gordon's star power there might not be enough girls to keep a league running that would have to be built from the ground up since no other high school in the U.S. has a similar program. Gordon's playing videos have racked up millions of views on YouTube since she was 9, but she and other female players argued they were worried about playing with physically larger boys as teenagers. The case also included testimony about the harassment girls have endured while playing with all-boy teams. Gordon argued plenty of girls were interested in playing, pointing to an all-female league she started with her father six years ago that’s drawn hundreds of girls from the Salt Lake City area. Those numbers show girls want to play and could fill a roster, her lawyers argued. But U.S. District Court Judge Howard Nielson disagreed. He found that no district policy had discouraged girls from playing, and that any harassment would violate athletic association rules. While schools and coaches could do more to accommodate girls, “the court is not convinced that it is required by the Constitution," he wrote. He also found the districts raised significant questions about whether there would truly be enough girls within the district boundaries to build up a large enough team without Gordon, who is now 17 and has appeared at the ESPN awards and in Super Bowl commercials. A smaller team could increase the risk of injury, he found. The districts were represented by Assistant Utah Attorney General Rachel Terry, who said she was pleased by the ruling and the finding that they did not violate the Equal Protection clause or Title IX. “The districts will continue to strive to expand opportunities for all students and to ensure equal opportunities for male and female students in athletics and activities," she said in a statement. Brent Gordon, Sam Gordon’s father who is also an attorney, said he and his daughter will continue their own work to expand football opportunities for girls in Utah. “We appreciate the Judge’s efforts to have this trial during the pandemic so that the girls’ stories could be told and voices heard,” Gordon wrote in a statement. “Those voices will continue until equality in athletics is reached in Utah and across the country.” ___ Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Lindsay Whitehurst And Sophia Eppolito, The Associated Press
SYDNEY – Danny Paul of Membertou First Nation has been wearing his hair long for 50 years. He remembers that at the Indian Day School he attended in Membertou as a child, he was forced to keep his hair short. Paul points out that for those who were removed from their families and communities to attend residential schools, “the hair would be the first thing to go. They’d cut their hair because they knew it was important to our people.” Residential schools were established by the Canadian government in the late 1800s, with the goal of assimilating Indigenous children by disconnecting them from their culture and traditions. In its 2015 report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission asserted that forced hair cutting and other practices used by residential schools amounted to "cultural genocide." The attitude of the Canadian government in the early years of Confederation is summarized by this excerpt from a letter written by Duncan Campbell Scott, the deputy superintendent general of Indian Affairs in 1931: “It is the opinion of the writer that … the Government will in time reach the end of its responsibility as the Indians progress into civilization and finally disappear as a separate and distinct people, not by race extinction but by gradual assimilation with their fellow citizens." Stephen Augustine, a hereditary chief of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council and the associate vice-president of Indigenous Affairs at Unama'ki College at Cape Breton University, has had long hair for most of his life. He first grew it in the 1960s, “during Beatlemania and the civil rights movements in the United States with Malcolm X, and then immediately behind that was the red power movement, the Native America movement, the stand-off at Wounded Knee … so for most Native Americans and Canadians it was more a cultural thing than a hippie thing to grow their hair and I’m one of the ones that grew my hair to stand up against colonialism, that kind of ideology.” Augustine says he now wears his long hair proudly, and doesn’t often get negative comments about it but when he was younger it was sometimes an issue. “Every time I would get a job with the federal government they would say, ‘We require people with shorter hair than you have, can you cut it?’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah, I can cut it,’ but, I mean, it hurt. It hurt me but I also wanted to work.” As an elder advisor with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Augustine travelled the country between 2010 and 2015, hearing stories from residential school survivors. “One of the stories that stuck out for me was, when children ran away from residential schools, and they did that often enough, they would bring them back (and) they would literally cut their hair bald as a punishment for running away and it would discourage them from running (away) because they would embarrass them in front of the other kids.” Augustine says when he heard about eight-year-old Linden Lafford from Potlotek First Nation being bullied by a non-Indigenous man and a child for his long hair, it was disappointing but not surprising. “A lot of young kids in First Nations communities across Canada experience this in their lives and it’s become normalized, being taunted and made fun of for having long hair. He’s got every right to grow his hair long just like me and it shouldn’t make him feel any less valued in our society.” Lafford was visiting a public washroom alone at Lanes at Membertou when he was told by another patron to go to the women’s washroom because his hair made him look like a girl. Lafford received thousands of messages of support after his mother, Mary Lafford, made a public Facebook post expressing her anger and distress over the incident. Danny Paul, when discussing Lafford’s experience, says, “I wish that bully were here now. Not so that I could yell at him or berate him but so that we could teach him.” At Membertou Heritage Park, workshops are available to learn about Mi’kmaq culture and history, says general manager Jeff Ward. He also wears his hair long as his ancestors did. He says it is taught that long hair strengthens the spirit and that when the hair is braided the three strands represent the mind, body and soul. “Your hair, we’re taught from our elders and our teachings, your hair is sacred and it’s an extension of your spirit. Only my wife braids it because this is my spirit and not just anybody can touch my hair.” Ward says he’s shocked when visitors to Membertou Heritage Park or even strangers he meets out in the community touch his hair. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, I love your hair and I respect your hair and your culture so much,’ and they touch my hair not realizing what they did by touching my hair without permission. It hurts when someone does that but I forgive them because I know they don’t know the teaching.” Ward says everyone is welcome to visit Membertou Heritage Park and to attend their offering of cultural workshops that teach about Mi’kmaq protocols, perceptions and teachings, legends and stories and how to be an ally. Ward says it’s important to keep in mind that all Canadians have rights and responsibilities under the treaties signed by the federal government and Indigenous peoples. “It’s fine if people don’t believe in what we’re saying, don’t share these beliefs but what we’re asking for is respect necessarily given to people with long hair, especially men.” Ardelle Reynolds, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
The First People’s Cultural Council (FPCC) has received a grant in the amount of $4 million to help First Nations in BC create or revamp cultural heritage projects in their communities. Of 104 proposals submitted to FPCC in total, they selected 11 that will receive funding of up to $400,000 each. All projects needed to be “shovel-ready” which means construction will start right away. Funding is for three-years beginning this March. “As we all continue to move forward together towards meaningful equitable partnerships, our goal is that Indigenous peoples will be recognized as the rightful authority over their cultural heritage with access to sustained funding to carry out this work,” said Karen Aird, Heritage Program Manager for FPCC. “We know there is tremendous need and opportunity from First Nations to revitalize their Indigenous cultural heritage, while also creating jobs and boosting the economy of our province at the same time,” she said. One of the projects receiving funding is the Fort Nelson First Nation’s Chalo Traditional Trades and Cultural Education Centre, which will receive $400,000. “A lot of the traditional language and culture practices are still alive and well in the community, but not as prominent as have been in other generations,” said Lana Lowe, director of lands, resources and Treaty rights for the Nation. “This project is a really big piece of it because we need a place to bring meat and hides, and a place central on reserve where people can come and see the work in progress and possibly join in if they feel like it,” she said. According to Lowe, something like a museum would have been a “non-Dene” way of sharing culture. Their project includes a “trading post,” instead, where community members can display and even sell (if they choose to) “furs and hides and baskets and moccasins” they make, she said. “I think that’s really, really important because that trading piece will help support the re-establishment of our traditional economy that supported our families for generations,” said Lowe. The existing Chalo adult trade centre will see major upgrades to turn it into this new cultural education centre. The upgrades are: “It provides support where people can go out on the land to hunt, to fish, to collect medicines, and do all those things… And process meat and materials that come off the land, and turn it into something really beautiful,” said Lowe. And they’re considering naming the facility after a beloved Elder in the community who recently passed away; a traditional language teacher of more than 20 years, she said. But the vote on that has yet to happen. The FPCC funding is called the Indigenous Cultural Heritage Infrastructure Grant (ICHIG) which comes through the Unique Heritage Infrastructure (UHI) stream from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Sixteen million dollars was given to Heritage BC under the same stream, which First Nations—including the communities and organizations that received funding through FPCC’s ICIHG—can also apply for, according to Aird. FPCC would have needed more than $45 million in total to fund all the projects they received proposals for, she said. But this is a good start, she added. “Investing in these heritage and cultural projects supports Indigenous efforts to maintain and share their culture across B.C.,” said Katrine Conroy, minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Projects like these are especially important as they celebrate aspects of culture that make us different while bringing us together as British Columbians. They also provide economic opportunities for First Nations communities,” said Conroy. The other successful ICHIG applicants were: The UHI falls under the larger $100 million the province set aside for the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP), and is largely intended to help with recovery from the impact of COVID-19. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/cerip Windspeaker.com By Andrea Smith, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com