Fearless Forecast Week 6: 9 Rec, 126 Yds, TD
Projected Points: 23.1
A downtown Toronto mosque remained closed on Monday night after it received several violent and offensive threats by email early Saturday. Toronto police are investigating.On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "deeply disturbed" by the news, while Toronto Mayor John Tory said the threats are "completely unacceptable" and he stands with the Muslim community.Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Muslims, said he is calling on the federal government for a national action plan to dismantle white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in Canada in the wake of the threats. He said such groups preach hate. Farooq said the council has no plans to name the mosque out of concern that it could be targeted further. "These messages were extraordinarily violent," Farooq said in an interview from Ottawa. "When we get these threats, we don't take them lightly. And that's why the mosque was shut down and remains shut down."Mosque administrators, based on advice from various experts, have closed the mosque for now, he said. It is not known for how long it will be closed.The threats come a month after a fatal stabbing of a volunteer caretaker at an Etobicoke mosque. On Sept. 12, Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, 58, was stabbed once while he sat in a chair outside the front doors of the International Muslims Organization (IMO) mosque at 65 Rexdale Blvd., near Kipling Avenue. Zafis had been controlling access to the mosque to ensure it was complying with public health regulations. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Guilherme "William" Von Neutegem, 34, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the killing of Zafis. Von Neutegem appears to follow a hate group founded in the U.K., according to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit organization.Farooq noted the threats also follow a shooting attack on a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017 in which six men were killed and five others critically injured.Farooq said the council has spoken to the imams at the downtown mosque. "Obviously, there's a lot of fear. There is a lot of concern. There's a lot of trepidation as to what happened. Why is this happening? What's going to happen next?" he said.Farooq said he is pleased that police are investigating the threats, but said the federal government must take action and the council would like to see a plan within weeks.Action is needed to ensure "we don't have to keep having these interviews, so that we don't continue to keep having to go to funeral after funeral, to respond to threats after threats," he said."This is unacceptable. It needs to stop and the way that needs to stop is through a national action plan to dismantle these kinds of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, violent, Islamophobic or xenophobic groups," Farooq said."I won't allow someone who was trying to terrorize us and intimidate us succeed. We're going to stand up as Canadians. We're going to stand up Canadian Muslims. And I know that so many communities are standing with us," he said.In an open letter to Trudeau, dated Oct. 5, the council urged the government to take action on white supremacist groups. The letter was signed by organizations that represent Jewish, Sikh, Black and Indigenous communities in Toronto, among others, Farooq noted.Police say no arrests have been made yetConst. Alex Li, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said police were contacted about the threats on Saturday.Li said police are appealing for members of the public to remain vigilant, report any suspicious or threatening behaviour and come forward if they have information that could aid the investigation."Hate crime is a possibility. We have not ruled anything out," he said.Li said police will enhance its patrols around Toronto mosques throughout the city to reassure the Muslim community. No arrests have been made and no suspect information is available.Trudeau pledges action, Tory expresses supportTrudeau, for his part, said: "We must do more to counter hatred and we will,"Tory said, for his part, said: "Any form of hatred and discrimination towards a place of worship and those who visit these places will not be accepted in our city."In a statement on Monday, Mary-Liz Power, press secretary for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, said the government recognizes it needs to take more action."Our government has taken significant action to end violence in our communities, and we also know there is more to do. We are committed to doing that work," Power said.Power said the government has received the Oct. 5 letter and shares the council's concern about the prevalence of violence from white supremacist groups in Canada."It is our greatest responsibility as government to keep our communities safe, and we are committed ending and preventing violence in all its forms," she said."We are constantly monitoring all forms of terrorism as they evolve, and our response will meet it." Research facility says action plan neededBarbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism, a research facility at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, said a national action plan is needed. Perry estimates there are "easily" about 300 hate groups in Canada. Islamophobia is "rampant" in these groups, she said."This has come to such a point where communities are at risk across the country. It's absolutely time to intervene," she said. "If a mosque is attacked, that is an attack on the whole congregation."
Ottawa health officials don't know the source, or are still lacking crucial information, for more than a third of all COVID-19 infections in the nation's capital — and some experts say that's concerning.Ottawa Public Health (OPH) categorizes the source of COVID-19 infections under five labels: outbreak, close contact, travel, no known source and no information available.Based on the latest numbers reported Tuesday, unknown sources of infections and cases with no information available have made up more than 36 per cent of Ottawa's 5,546 cases since the start of the pandemic."That number to me was concerningly high," said Patrick Saunders-Hastings, an epidemiologist risk scientist and manager of life sciences and environmental health at Gevity Consulting. "[It] suggests that there is a weakness or shortcoming in our contact tracing and testing ability."What does 'unknown' and 'no info available' mean?This is how OPH defines both categories: * No known source means the person with a positive case was asked about risk factors and exposures, but "no source of exposure was able to be identified." * No information available means people who test positive "have not been asked about risk factors and exposures yet," and they haven't been identified as a close contact to another person with COVID-19."No known source in particular are those where there's no epidemiologic link," explained Saunders-Hastings. The no-information category in particular is "a bit of a black box," he said, because those cases haven't been traced or followed up. In early October, the city's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches called Ottawa's contact tracing system "nearly broken" under the current demand. Last week, OPH said it would focus contact tracing on high-risk spreaders.> Unless we control those sources, we are not going to get a handle on the COVID situation. \- Dr. Smita Pakhalé, U of O associate professor of epidemiologyOPH said in an email to CBC News that though the no-information category may appear "high at first," it's readjusted over time as diagnosed people give them more information. "This is a stressful time for those individuals, who are often feeling unwell, and it can be a difficult process that takes time," wrote a OPH spokesperson.Why do those categories matter? As of Tuesday, OPH was reporting 796 cases with unknown sources, and 1,280 cases with no information available."The higher that number is, the more cause for concern there would be," said Saunders-Hastings.In an ideal world, health officials would know the source of infection for every case — but that's not possible realistically, he said. Not knowing sources of infections could "diminish" public health's ability to respond to COVID-19, Saunders-Hastings said."They don't help us target where transmissions are occurring," he said. "They are missed opportunities to refine and tailor our response strategies."Saunders-Hastings added that the city "may no longer be able to keep up with the surge," and that might lead to further restrictions."We're currently experiencing more cases, or possible cases, than we are able to deal with."Lack of knowledge 'very dangerous'Not knowing the sources of infection is "very dangerous" for community transmission, said Dr. Smita Pakhalé, staff respirologist at The Ottawa Hospital and a University of Ottawa associate professor of epidemiology.> People still have to do their part and limit their number of contacts. \- Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer"If we do not know that information, then all those people [with COVID-19] may not be self-isolating and [there] may be potential of spreading to some others," said Pakhalé. "Unless we control those sources, we are not going to get a handle on the COVID situation."WATCH | U of O prof says Ottawa's marginalized people affected disproportionately:Pakhalé also suggested there's a chance marginalized people could make up a large part of the category with no information available."A lot of people who are living in the margins of society — people who are homeless or at risk for homelessness, or racialized minorities — have been disproportionately impacted," Pakhalé said.WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam on a third of unknown sources in Ottawa:The city's vulnerable often don't have a phone, stable housing nor equal access to information via the internet, said Pakhalé, who also leads the Bridge Engagement Centre research clinic, which works with Ottawa's marginalized communities."We don't have information about them, and ... maybe a lot of them [are] represented in that [no information available category]," she said. "And that is a very unfortunate reality of our unequal society today.""It is concerning because as we heard, the public health system['s] capacity is not limitless," said Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam during a news conference Tuesday, in response to a question about the sources of one-third of infections remaining unknown."So people still have to do their part and limit their number of contacts."
The Vancouver Canucks have acquired defenceman Nate Schmidt from the Vegas Golden Knights for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft. The Canucks announced the deal on Monday night, shortly after the Golden Knights reportedly came to an agreement with free agent defenceman Alex Pietrangelo on a seven-year deal. The 29-year-old Schmidt appeared in 59 games for Vegas in 2019-20 and recorded seven goals and 31 points.
Grasping for a comeback, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies are intensifying their focus not on Democratic nominee Joe Biden, but on his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris — arguing without evidence that it’s Harris, the first Black woman on a major party ticket, who would really be in charge if Democrats win the White House. The effort is laced with sexist and racist undertones, and one that is aimed at winning back Republicans and independents who are comfortable with Biden’s more moderate record, but may associate Harris with Democrats’ left flank, despite her own more centrist positions on some major issues. During the past week, Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News that Harris would assume the presidency within “three months” of Biden's inauguration.
Though the province reported fewer than 1,000 cases for the third day in a row Tuesday, Quebec Premier François Legault and health experts say it's too early to celebrate.In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Legault said Quebecers will need to continue limiting their private indoor gatherings over the coming months, if they want to keep case numbers low and hospitals from becoming overcrowded. That will likely mean that, regardless of whether the numbers remain stable over the next few weeks, Quebecers may need to plan for a smaller holiday get-together this year, Legault said. "It's too soon to talk about Christmas but what we're seeing more and more throughout the world is that we have to avoid big gatherings, indoors, in smaller spaces. How long will that last? When will the vaccine come? It's too soon to say," the premier said. And it isn't just the months ahead that are difficult to predict, but the weeks to come.Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said it is too early to say whether restrictions in the province's original red zones, including Montreal, part of the Quebec City area and the Chaudière-Appalaches region, will be lifted on Oct. 28, as initially planned. While case numbers went down around Thanksgiving, so did the rate of testing, and that may be why the numbers appear stable, Arruda acknowledged. "It's a factor, it's clear. We have observed sometimes, by the end of the weekends that it goes a little down," he said. He said that, even if cases do begin to decline again, Quebecers will need to follow public health regulations closely and limit their contacts if they want to avoid the possibility of a third wave. As Health Minister Christian Dubé pointed out, the number of hospitalizations has continued to increase daily. There were 11 more hospitalizations Tuesday and 10 more patients in the intensive care unit. Coming weeks will be crucial, experts sayDr. Alex Carignan, an infectious disease microbiologist in the Eastern Townships, believes the province will need to wait at least another week before health officials can say whether cases have really stabilized. "This coming week will really give us a better idea of whether we have reached a plateau in the second wave," Carignan told Radio-Canada. "Right now, the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths are only on a slight increase but we're still feeling a significant pressure in our hospitals." Dr. Benoît Barbeau, a virologist at the Université du Québec à Montréal, agrees. "The other thing is: It's not because we've reached a plateau that a surge cannot, all of a sudden, start kicking in. So we need to be very cautious," he said. More regions become red and orange zones While case numbers appeared to be stabilizing in Montreal, other regions saw a jump over the weekend.On Tuesday, the rest of the Quebec City area (including Charlevoix), all of the Montérégie and the entire Centre-du-Québec region all became red zones. The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region also moved up an alert level and is now considered an orange zone.Despite the fact that almost all of Quebec is now in the red, the health minister said Tuesday that the province's colour-coded alert system and targeted closures appear to be working. Increased measures for the new red zones are expected to gradually come into effect Friday.
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says trick-or-treating should be possible this Halloween as long as little goblins take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Theresa Tam cautions, however, that parents should listen to local public health authorities for advice on their particular communities. Tam says outdoor trick-or-treating can be safe when people respect physical distancing, wear masks, use hand-sanitizer and ensure treats are prepackaged. She notes a cloth mask can even be incorporated into some costumes. "So there are ways to actually manage this, outdoors in particular," Tam told a news briefing Tuesday in Ottawa. "I think that's some of the safest way of doing trick or treating." Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Halloween celebrations will vary across the country. But he pointed to the way people creatively adapted to safely enjoy Thanksgiving as an example to follow. "I think Canadians are resilient, they can adapt," Njoo said. "It's possible to give and receive candy safely." Tam offered ideas such as using a hockey stick to hand out treats or having a pool noodle handy to remind people to stay two metres apart. Health officials also plan to put safety tips on a federal website before Oct. 31. The advice comes amid a second wave of COVID-19 across the country that is causing fear and uncertainty. Quebec reported 815 new cases Tuesday, the fewest since the end of September, but put three new regions on its highest alert level. In two districts near Montreal, plus the Charlevoix region near Quebec City, bars, gyms and other indoor venues will have to close and large private gatherings are being banned. In Ontario, the province is calling in the Red Cross to help in several long-term care homes. Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday he's praying he won't see a need to impose restrictions in more parts of the province after rolling Toronto, suburban Peel region and Ottawa back to an earlier stage of reopening just before the Thanksgiving long weekend. In Saskatchewan, the chief medical officer of health cut the number of people allowed to gather in a private residence to 15 from 30. And in New Brunswick, a province relatively lightly touched by the pandemic so far, authorities announced six new cases, including one in a special-care home and one linked to a high school. Tam acknowledged the challenges Canadian face as communities reopen businesses and services, only to roll them back when outbreaks occur. The goal is to fine-tune the balance to allow for a sustained rhythm and more predictability for the public, she said.. "I think the bottom line is, nobody has that precise playbook." The balance will be different in individual communities across the country, she added. "People are giving it a really good try but it's not going to be easy, and we need everyone to collaborate on that front." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sitting alongside Tam at the briefing, said now is the time to redouble efforts against the spread of COVID-19 by following public health advice. Ensuring rapid testing across the country is a key to managing the pandemic, Trudeau said. "But it is not in and of itself a panacea. It is going to be important that it be deployed properly to maximize the impact." The federal government will work with provinces on how to maximize all the technology the country is able to deploy, he added. Remote communities have had point-of-care rapid tests since the spring because of the lack of easy access and long transport times for laboratory analysis. Tam said additional units should be available in the coming days. How they are rolled out is up to the provinces and territories, she said, adding they would likely go to locations with the most need. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2020. The Canadian Press
President Donald Trump has returned to the campaign trail, holding his first rally since he contracted the coronavirus. The president was sidelined from the campaign trail for more than ten days after he tested positive for the virus on October 2. The rally in Florida, a must-win state for Trump, kicks off an aggressive week of travel for the president, which also includes stops in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina.
City officials have put the kibosh on a Halloween community event and fundraiser, saying it contravenes COVID-19-related restrictions, even though organizers say the province gave them the green light.Volunteers have been planning the socially distanced "Great Kanata and Stittsville Spookby and Food Drive" since early September. The plan was to collect food Oct. 31 for the Kanata Food Cupboard from homes on six different predetermined routes.People were to leave contributions at the ends of their driveways, and a few costumed volunteers would come along — followed by a single, slow-moving decorated truck — and pick them up, place them in the truck, and leave behind bags of candy."We wanted people to be happy and to forget, even if just for five minutes, we're in a worldwide public health emergency," said Crystal Smalldon, the event's key organizer.That goal seems to fit with the encouragement from various levels of government for Canadians to be creative about marking Halloween during the pandemic. Yet Smalldon's initiative has run into official roadblocks that raise puzzling questions about what's allowed and what isn't. "Everyone understands that the world is not normal and may not return to normal for a period of time," she said. "However, it's incredibly important that we understand that mental health is important, too." Seems to abide by COVID-19 rulesMore than 1,200 households expressed interest in the event, 30 volunteers signed up, and six businesses were willing to sponsor it. Smalldon's home is packed with boxes of Halloween candy that people have donated to the cause.Smalldon said a City of Ottawa bylaw officer told her that if the event went ahead, police would be involved, and that if more than 10 people gathered anywhere along the route, she could be fined up to $750,000.But from Smalldon's description of the Halloween event, it appears to follow all the current pandemic rules.Each group collecting donations and dropping off candy was to consist of no more than five people, including the truck driver. Individuals in each group already belong to the same social bubble, either as family members or co-workers. Even though it's all outdoors, all participants are required to wear masks.According to Smalldon, an "advance team" was to check out each street five to 10 minutes before the truck arrived to ensure they were clear and people weren't gathering at the ends of their driveways. Each home on the route would get a flyer explaining what was happening, she added.Smalldon said she called the provincial hotline for businesses wanting guidance for operating under pandemic restrictions twice — once in September and again in October — and was told the event didn't appear to contravene any rules.City raises concernsIn late September, organizers were asked by Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower to contact the city's events office to discuss the details of their plan.They did so. On Oct. 5, an events official emailed Smalldon, outlining the need for everyone to reduce their close contacts at this time, while acknowledging the event did not propose gathering people together.The following day, a bylaw supervisor asked Smalldon to call him. Smalldon said the bylaw supervisor told her the city had received "many, many" complaints about the event. She said she was told that if she went ahead with it, she could be held personally liable.When CBC asked for the specific number of complaints, city officials could not provide them, but Gower said about five to 10 people had called his office in recent weeks asking about Spookby.> We adjusted or amended our plans to make sure that everything remained completely socially distanced, which is the messaging that's been sent out time and time and time again. \- Crystal SmalldonThe city did not provide anyone for an interview.A statement attributed to Anthony DiMonte, the city's general manager of emergency and protective services, said the city "was made aware of a planned Halloween parade, which originally included members of the public gathering in open spaces, including parks. The organizer would be responsible for maintaining attendance limits."Smalldon insists that the event is not a parade, as it would involve only one vehicle per route. Nor, she said, is it a large public gathering."We adjusted or amended our plans to make sure that everything remained completely socially distanced, which is the messaging that's been sent out time and time and time again," said Smalldon."This isn't a gathering. We're driving past the bottom of your driveway while you're on your porch."Residents told to celebrate creativelyOttawa Public Health has asked that people not have Halloween parties. Indeed, Mayor Jim Watson cancelled his annual Trick or Treat with the Mayor event at city hall.But city officials have also encouraged residents to think about other ways to celebrate."With a little bit of innovation on our side, we can still have an enjoyable Halloween," said Dr. Brent Moloughny, associate officer of health, last week. On Friday, federal officials also suggested people "celebrate creatively with virtual gatherings and festive outdoor activities."Smalldon said she's wondering what those creative solutions are, if not an event like the Great Kanata and Stittsville Spookby. "We're going to have to learn around here to innovate very quickly in order to make change that creates joy," she said.
Infectious disease specialists discuss what could happen with the COVID-19 pandemic from the Thanksgiving weekend depending on how Canadians celebrated. They also talk about some new information about COVID-19 transmission on surfaces.
Parents at a French-language elementary school in Ottawa say the process of class consolidation should not be happening right now due to COVID-19.Class consolidation happens every year in most school boards, once enrolment is complete, in order to bring class sizes in line with teacher-student ratios set by Ontario's Ministry of Education. Students may be moved into different classrooms to fit those ratios, while some classes may be eliminated altogether.Parents at Francojeunesse Public School were sent an email on Oct. 9, stating that classes would be consolidated as of Tuesday."Some parents are outraged, some parents are resigned," said Daniel Loutfi, who has two children attending the school.While Loutfi's relieved his children's classes aren't being eliminated outright, he says there will likely be new students coming into their classrooms. "I do find it extremely disconcerting that at the same time the province is telling us we're in crisis, and we need to take extraordinary measures such as shutting down restaurants, [they're saying] it's reasonable to make class sizes bigger," Loutfi said.Another parent told CBC News her daughter's kindergarten class would be moving from 15 students to 24. Regular process For the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO), the region's French-language public school board, the aim of the consolidation process is to create an overall average class size of 26 to 28 students.Grades 1 to 3 have a hard cap of 23 students, however, while in Grades 4 to 6 the aim is 24 to 25 kids per class, said Sylvie Tremblay, CEPEO's director of education.According to the board, the consolidation process has been a bit more difficult this year due to the prevalence of virtual learning, with some 3,000 students enrolled in the online stream."We've had to manage that situation, but I wouldn't say it's worse than any other year," Tremblay said."Parents are choosing the mode of schooling that they want for their children, and then we have to make sure that we have teachers that are in place to serve [students taking] the virtual and in-school programs."No teacher shortage Tremblay said the CEPEO is aiming to align its class sizes with the Ministry of Education's parameters while also following all of the COVID-19 safety protocols. She said the board does not have a teacher shortage and no additional teachers will be hired."It's a series of layered measures that manages the risk of COVID-19 propagation, and those measures are being put into place in all of our schools," she said.But that doesn't satisfy Loutfi."There's no way that this should be happening if the only reason is to meet mandated ministry ratios and to cover the costs." he said. "We're not even talking about hiring additional teachers here. We're talking about keeping the existing teachers in their classrooms."In an email, Ministry of Education spokesperson Caitlin Clark said the decision to consolidate is up to individual school boards. "The leading medical advice was clear that we must allow an opportunity for our students to return to school, combined with layers of prevention to maximize health and safety," wrote Clark. "We have done exactly that."
Most coronavirus patients have mild to moderate illness and recover quickly. The World Health Organization says recovery typically takes two to six weeks. Among those sick enough to be hospitalized, a study in Italy found 87% were still experiencing symptoms two months after getting sick.
Greece will not engage in exploratory talks with Turkey as long as Turkish survey vessel Oruc Reis remains in its continental shelf waters, the government's spokesman said on Tuesday. "As long as the Oruc Reis is in the area we will not hold exploratory contacts with Turkey," Stelios Petsas told Skai Radio. On Monday, Greece said Ankara's decision to send the vessel close to Kastellorizo, a Greek island near the Turkish coast, was a "major escalation" and a "direct threat to peace in the region".
Back in the ballpark where he started his big league career, Manuel Margot of the Tampa Bay Rays had a breakout game in the AL Championship Series with a three-run home run and a spectacular catch while tumbling over a wall in right field. The home run was huge, for sure, because it helped the Rays get halfway to the World Series with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. With two outs in the second and runners on second and third, Margot tracked George Springer’s long foul ball to right field while shielding his face from the sun.
NEW YORK — With performance halls shut because of the coronavirus pandemic, the best concert venue a violinist could hope for one recent October Friday was a sidewalk in the Bronx. Fiona Simon tuned her instrument as she prepared for one of her only public performances with the New York Philharmonic in months. The setting was a far cry from the orchestra's usual home at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. Traffic hummed and sirens wailed as a crew laid cables and unloaded speakers from the back of a double-parked pickup truck. But Simon said the pop-up concert — one of several the Philharmonic has been playing around the city this fall — filled a need she’s had since indoor performances stopped in March, depriving musicians of not just a paycheque, but a sense of purpose. “You’re not a complete musician if you’re just playing for yourself,” Simon said. Simon, a native of England who joined the New York Philharmonic in 1985, says she has struggled to cope with not having an audience, sometimes performing for friends virtually over the phone. “I think it’s a fundamental human need," she said. The Philharmonic came up with the idea for a series of outdoor, pop-up performances over the summer, even as it was forced to lay off or furlough nearly half its staff as it faced a multimillion-dollar budget deficit. On that Friday, Simon and a few colleagues played three corners of the city as part of the series they’re calling the NY Phil Bandwagon. The first show of the day was outside a Bronx school, the second outside a public library in Queens and the final one in a Brooklyn park. The bandwagon itself — a red Ford pickup truck — rolls up to the curb carrying a sound system, music stands, lights and orange traffic cones to keep the audience socially distant. The musicians follow in a van. The Philharmonic plans to hold its final Bandwagon concert of the year this weekend, and then resume the program in the spring. New York’s street life has always been vibrant, but these days, the city’s outdoor spaces are more important than ever as many residents are stuck in small apartments working from home. “There’s this whole myth that New York is dying, but it’s only dying in the places that were built for people not from New York — the people in New York are thriving,” said Curtis Stewart, a Grammy-nominated violinist who joined for a guest performance with the Bandwagon. As the group began its final performance of the day, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo kicked off the show from the bed of the truck. “We’re going to play you a little concert,” he said as people began to linger in the warm glow of an early autumn sunset. The set lasted 20 minutes. A trio of violins preformed well-known tunes from George Gershwin and Charlie Parker, as well as Henry Purcell’s “Dido’s Lament” — a sorrowful piece that Costanzo said “responds to the moment in a more emotional way.” As the audience swelled to dozens — couples, families, dogs and their owners — it became clear that the concert is as much an emotional outlet for the crowd as it is for the musicians. “I think as we’re closeted up in our homes dealing with the storm that is current events we need an outlet. We need a place to put our feelings, we need a place to feel safe,” Stewart said. “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Robert Bumsted, The Associated Press
Lebanon and Israel, formally still at war after decades of conflict, launch talks on Wednesday to address a long-running dispute over their maritime border running through potentially gas-rich Mediterranean waters. The U.S.-mediated talks follow three years of diplomacy by Washington and were announced weeks after it stepped up pressure on allies of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah. Hezbollah, which last fought a war with Israel in 2006, says the talks are not a sign of peace-making with its long-time enemy.
A new death doula mentorship program is being offered to Indigenous youth to equip them with skills to help others deal with grief and loss in their communities."It's important for me to learn about this work because prior to colonization, I think we shared a different relationship with death. One that wasn't so scary and fear-driven," said Kayleigh Lagimodiere.Lagimodiere, who is Cree, is 17 and one of 12 young people chosen to take part in the Indigenous Death Doula Program being offered by Blackbird Medicines in partnership with Canadian Roots Exchange.A death doula is someone who supports people who are experiencing grief and or going through the process of death.In January, Lagimodiere's aunt Tracey Stevenson died and she got some experience doing death doula work."An elder from Swan Lake [First Nation] came and taught me how to prepare the body," said Lagimodiere. "That was like the first time that I had actually seen a dead body. Prior to that, at funerals, I wouldn't go up." Lagimodiere said there have been a few recent losses in the family and they were having a hard time navigating through the grief."I just want to be able to support my family and my community [when] people die," said Lagimodiere. "I want to be able to help restore our practices that were there and to help people."The experience inspired her to apply for the Indigenous Death Doula Program, which was accepting applications from youth aged 12-29. Lagimodiere said there were a number of different interest options that were available to applicants. She chose palliative care, harm reduction, cultural death practices, legacy planning and culturally grounded death and dying resources.Indigenous griefThe program was started by Blackbird Medicines and its Indigenous death doula collective, which includes Connor Sarazin, Tasheena Sarazin, Colleen Cardinal and Elaine Kicknosway.Founder Chrystal Toop, Omàmiwininì (Algonquin) from Pikwakanagan First Nation, started doing death doula work in 2018."I come from the background of a full spectrum or a life spectrum doula worker," said Toop. "So I started out working with babies, pregnancy, things like that. But there's just a huge demand on the other end, on that death spectrum."According to the website, Blackbird Medicines offer a range of services including virtual consultations, slideshows and videos for funerals, virtual funerals and aftercare to support people who have lost loved ones."For a lot of us, we came to this work because we were doing social services, front line work," said Toop."Some of us have stories around missing and murdered men, women, girls, two spirit. And we have these personal experiences, so we recognize that Indigenous death doula work includes harm reduction from death."For the doula program, they are hoping to get more young people involved."The program itself is a gentle introduction to people, to support them," said Toop.It features two individual one on one sessions, as well as two group sessions with the whole collective, all of which will be done online. Kicknosway said doing death doula work comes naturally to her. She has helped friends and family who have lost loved ones to cancer, but has also helped families go through things like suicide or other tragedies."What does Indigenous grief look like?" said Kicknosway."We need to make it a natural place to talk safely and to have spaces for this work."
For Debora Dibenh, school this fall is certainly a different experience from last year. She's happy to be physically back in class studying favourite subjects such as math and science and grateful for another element of school life that has returned: the food program. "Sometimes, you are in a rush in the morning ... It's good to know that there's always going to be food here for you," said the Toronto eighth-grader.There can be myriad reasons why kids might not eat breakfast at home, but being able to count on healthy food at school — cheese and crackers or an orange, for instance — "makes a difference," said parent Leticia Jolampong.Jolampong is one of the volunteers prepping a daily, mid-morning snack for Dibenh and 450 other students attending Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, they've made many changes. For example, volunteers now work wearing masks and face shields, apples and other fruits are washed but left uncut and snacks are packaged in paper bags.Principal Robert D'Addario says the program is crucial. "When students aren't safe, they're not learning," he said. "The same goes for nutrition. If they're not fed and they're hungry, they're not going to be learning. It doesn't matter what socio-economic background any of the families come from ... Having healthy snacks, that supports all learners."Prior to the pandemic, two million children a day headed to school and had either breakfast, a mid-morning snack or lunch through a school food program, according to Debbie Field, co-ordinator of the Montreal-based Coalition for Healthy School Food. However, along with drastically changing the classroom experience, COVID-19 has affected how these programs are being delivered across the country. Survey found close to 15% of households food insecureRecent research by a Toronto-based policy group found that 12.7 per cent of households in Canada (about 4.4 million people) experienced some level of food insecurity — meaning a lack of access to enough safe and nutritious food — in 2017 and 2018, including more than 1.2 million children under the age of 18. A Statistics Canada examination of the subject this past May found COVID-19 is already having an impact, with 14.6 per cent of survey respondents indicating they live in a household that experienced food insecurity in the previous 30 days."The [federal] government is investing in money to kick-start the economy. The government is talking very importantly about measures to defend and protect families who may be recently unemployed. They're talking about equity measures like a national child care program for working women. There is no single policy measure like a national school food program to meet all these social needs," said Field."A school food program doesn't replace adequate wages or adequate social assistance, but it's one support to working families."No national food programField praises the "incredible resilience" of the community-based groups delivering Canadian school food programs. When schools shuttered this spring, most immediately pivoted to sending food to students at home, she said, while many adapted to support families through food boxes or grocery gift cards as well.However, the fact that Canada is the only G7 country without a national school food program means that the current patchwork of program providers in each jurisdiction must now struggle with how to continue operations amid COVID-19, said Field, who is also affiliated with the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University in Toronto. Among the issues to consider is how food programs can support students who are learning or in isolation at home."We began to see the problem where each jurisdiction, each ministry of education, each ministry of health, each medical officer of health, each school is literally making decisions one by one," she said. "That means children are suffering. Children who would have walked into school to have a mid-morning snack aren't having the same access that they had last year."'Making sure our kids get fed'School reopenings in Nunavut have brought some normalcy back for Jason Rochon and the students at Joamie Ilinniarvik School in Iqaluit. After a whirlwind spring and summer spearheading a citywide, breakfast-in-a-bag program that saw volunteers assemble and distribute 19,300 free meals, as well as efforts handing out cartons of free groceries, he's now back as a student support worker and running the breakfast program at Joamie.He's also restocking its food bank, which was depleted when he sent about 120 bags of food home with kids when Canadian schools shut down in March. "We've done a such great job so far of keeping COVID out of the territory," Rochon said. "We've been working really hard to be proactive to keep our children as safe as possible."Though he hasn't had to change much about his in-class breakfast program, pandemic rules limiting in-school visitors means Rochon must rethink how to garner fresh donations for the school food bank. The annual Halloween fun night, Christmas concert or report card day — when parents would usually drop off donations of non-perishable goods — are all out. Instead, he's trying to source monthly sponsors, with a few local businesses stepping up or expressing interest so far."I'm just looking forward to those conversations and making sure our kids get fed," said Rochon, who estimates he spends about 10-15 hours a week, outside of his regular work hours, on the food bank. "I just really believe children shouldn't go to bed at the end of the day hungry."'Tried, tested and true'Newfoundland and Labrador's School Lunch Association, which continues to add locations after more than 30 years of operation, is also slowly getting used to a new normal amid COVID. In the spring, it landed a major logistical win when it managed to gather up all the food left at its various kitchens once schools closed and, with those supplies, establish "a mini Costco" — complete with online ordering system — that supported about 20 community groups, food banks, homeless shelters and other service organizations aiding vulnerable people, said John Finn, executive director of the registered charitable organization.After that, his team spent a good chunk of the summer consulting on school reopening plans and brainstorming how to adapt their pay-what-you-can hot lunch program, which last year served about 6,300 meals daily across approximately three dozen schools.The long-running service, which depends on support from donations by businesses and non-profit groups, also helped inspire the new lunch program introduced in Prince Edward Island this fall.The School Lunch team convinced officials that sticking with their existing program and not jumping to a new model of individually prepackaged takeaway meals was more prudent from the standpoints of cost, nutrition and environmental concerns.They also committed to creating delivery plans following pandemic protocols (such as increased sanitation, PPE and physical distancing) that would work for every school."The service delivery model ... it varies vastly from every school," said Finn. "We've had to get creative with some new equipment."The team has had to also introduce a new online payment system, expand the team and extend hours for existing staff, he said. Apart from a dropped tray here or there, things are going well, he said, and for many students, not much has changed. They still queue in lunch lines (albeit now with more space between them and in cohorts), retrieve the same trays they're used to and return to class to eat. "At the end of the day, your child still sits down to the same hot, nutritious lunch," Finn said. An adaptable solutionThe pandemic interrupted the first year of a new school food initiative for Montreal-based La Cantine pour tous, which oversees more than two dozen community groups and non-profit food producers preparing healthy, affordable meals in Quebec — including for over 50 schools."Food security organizations were totally overwhelmed [when COVID hit] because demand skyrocketed," said executive director Thibaud Liné.His team helped redistribute resources and funding after some groups lost their clientele when schools shuttered and others saw sudden, overwhelming demand for their services. La Cantine also aided new initiatives, such as the distribution of food baskets and frozen prepared meals to families in need.It adapted its model this fall to deliver individually packaged meals to schools, with teachers and other school staff distributing them to students. Unfortunately, the pandemic has stalled plans to expand La Cantine's hot lunch program. In the meantime, however, the group has shifted toward anticipating possible school shutdowns to come.The home-delivery idea born earlier in the pandemic, combined with the fact that positive coronavirus cases have already closed individual schools for two-week stretches this fall, has inspired La Cantine pour tous to plan for further school interruptions. The team is looking at how it can quickly pivot from producing school lunches to creating healthy frozen meals that can be delivered right to families, who will be able to place orders online if there's an extended, widespread school closure again."We're trying to think of the most adaptable solution, so that no matter what happens, we'll be able to do something," Liné said.If it works, the plan could potentially also support other vulnerable communities, such as seniors living alone or those relying on social supports.What's next is testing the technology and publicizing the program. "We want to be a bit more organized and a bit more efficient to be able to reach out to even more people than we did six months ago," Liné said.Food has not historically been a priority in Canada's schools, Liné says, but since the pandemic began, people are realizing that food security is an important issue, especially for students. "Everyone should have access to education, right? Because it's key," he said. "But if you want to be able to succeed in life, education alone is not enough. You need to eat ... Eating and education should be a collective effort."
An Australian politician who was in a secret relationship with the premier of the country's biggest state economy sought to broker deals and set up government meetings for Chinese businessmen wanting to establish a casino and businesses in the Pacific islands, a corruption inquiry was told on Tuesday. Daryl Maguire, offered to set up meetings with the Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea and Samoa for the head of a Shenzhen business association, according to telephone intercepts and messages shown in the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry. The former chairman of the New South Wales (NSW) state Parliament Asia Pacific Friendship Group travelled to Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to pursue Chinese business deals in 2017, the inquiry heard.
In an exclusive interview with Rosemary Barton, Jean Laporte, son of former Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte, whose murder 50 years ago by the Front de Libération du Québec sparked the October Crisis, looks back on the events that changed his life and had a profound impact on Canada.
Lindsay Rechler talks about writing children's book "Good Morning Zoom" in order to explain pandemic life to her kids and offer a hopeful vision to readers. (Oct. 13)