Variants are spreading and the virus is changing. But Ottawa's new modelling reinforces a familiar message. Case rates may be down now, but ease up on restrictions too soon, and disaster could be close behind.
Variants are spreading and the virus is changing. But Ottawa's new modelling reinforces a familiar message. Case rates may be down now, but ease up on restrictions too soon, and disaster could be close behind.
Another type of COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by Health Canada on Friday. The new vaccines are manufactured by AstraZeneca, and developed in partnership with Oxford University. Canada also approved the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Afterwards, Anita Anand, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement announced that Canada has secured two million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India. AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its ChAdOx1 vaccine to the Serum Institute. The first 500,000 doses will be delivered to Canada in the coming weeks. The remaining 1.5 million doses are expected to arrive by mid-May. “The Government of Canada continues to do everything possible to protect Canadians from COVID-19. This includes securing a highly diverse and extensive portfolio of vaccines and taking all necessary measures to ready the country to receive them,” Anand said in a release. “We remain fully on track to ensure that there will be a sufficient supply so that every eligible Canadian who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of September. I am grateful for the collaboration of our partners in India to finalize this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the weeks ahead.” The two million doses secured through this agreement are in addition to the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier agreement with AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine allows the Government of Canada to advance its work with AstraZeneca to finalize delivery schedules for the 20 million doses. The application for authorization from AstraZeneca was received on Oct. 1, 2020 and from from Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India (in partnership with AstraZeneca Canada Inc.) on January 23, 2021. After thorough, independent reviews of the evidence, the Department has determined that these vaccines meet Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements. These are the first viral vector-based vaccines authorized in Canada. These are also two-dose regiments and can be kept refrigerated for at least six months. Health Canada’s authorization of the Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India product relies on the assessment of its comparability to the AstraZeneca-produced version of the vaccine.. These vaccines were authorized with terms and conditions under Health Canada’s Interim Order on the importation of drugs for COVID-19 The process allowed Health Canada to assess information submitted by the manufacturer as it became available during the product development process, while maintaining Canadian standards. Health Canada has placed terms and conditions on the authorizations requiring the manufacturers to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccines to ensure their benefits continue to be demonstrated through market use. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will closely monitor the safety. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
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 began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. 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 The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- 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 on 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. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- 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. --- 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. --- 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 also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- 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 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Canadians perusing social media may be coming across photos of their American peers bearing wide smiles and vaccination cards that show they've been inoculated against COVID-19. A recent ramping up of the United States's vaccine rollout has it vastly outpacing its northern neighbour, and some Canadians are wondering why distribution here is lagging so far behind. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease doctor in South Carolina, says that while the speed of the American rollout has been impressive lately, it's not been without its faults. Communication between states has been mostly lacking, she says, and the absence of a uniform standard for vaccine eligibility has led to inconsistencies across jurisdictions. Some states, for example, include teachers high on their priority list while others are still working on inoculating those 80 years and older. Confusion in the early stages of the rollout caused frustration and dampened trust, she added. And while the shift to a new presidential administration last month has led to some improvements, Kuppalli says there's room for more. "I don't think we're the model of success," she said in a phone interview. "We've had a lot of challenges. ... but it's getting better. "Communication is better, there's definitely greater transparency, and states have been very forthcoming in ramping up vaccine measures and rolling out mass vaccination sites. So all that's helping." The U.S. was vaccinating an average of 1.7 million Americans per day this week, and had administered at least one dose to more than 12 per cent of its population as of Friday. Canada, which recently dealt with weeks of shipping delays and disruptions from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has doled out nearly 1.4 million doses since its rollout began mid-December, covering about 2.65 per cent of its population with at least one dose. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday vaccine delivery is set to rapidly increase, however, with provinces preparing to roll out almost a million and a half doses over the next three weeks. The Americans have many factors in their favour when speeding up vaccine distribution, experts say, including a much more expansive supply than Canada's that's bolstered by production from U.S.-based Moderna. While having supply is the first step, Kuppalli says getting those vaccines into pharmacies, where they can be easily administered, has also helped. The American government announced weeks ago its aim to supply vaccines to about 40,000 drugstores in the coming months. Canada has not yet reached the pharmacy stage of its vaccine rollout, but Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto, expects that to happen once we have enough supply to branch out. "We have the exact same plan, we just need the critical mass of vaccines," said Bogoch, who's also on Ontario's vaccine distribution task force. "When we get that, you're gonna see from coast to coast vaccines offered at many different settings." While pharmacy distribution makes sense for a quick rollout, it also can lead to problems with wasted doses if people aren't showing up for their appointments, says Kelly Grindrod, a professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines need to used within a relatively short timeframe after they're thawed from ultra-cold storage temperatures, Grindrod says, and once a vial has been punctured, that interval decreases further. She says Canada has been learning from wastage setbacks other countries are experiencing, and she expects Plan B lists to be compiled of individuals who can quickly fill in when no-shows arise. Those lists have to be made fairly though, she cautions. "You have to make sure there's no queue-jumping. So it's not your friend coming in, it's actually people who would fall normally on the next round of priority." Grindrod says queue-jumping — where people with lower risk of contracting the virus or experiencing a bad COVID outcome are vaccinated before higher-priority groups — has been more culturally unacceptable in Canada than it has in the U.S., a country without a universal health-care system. So there's some justifiable outrage, she adds, when Canadians see American friends boasting about getting their jabs, especially if they're not in high-risk populations. "Equity is probably the most important principle of the Canadian vaccine rollout," Grindrod said. "And I'm not sure that's the case in the U.S." While the American rollout has had its faults, Grindrod admires some of the more unique approaches happening south of the border to ensure high-risk groups can get their doses. She noted the recent role Black churches have played in co-ordinating inoculation drives among typically underserved neighbourhoods, and the pharmacists who have been driving vaccines into remote communities to inoculate those who can't easily get to an immunization centre. "You're seeing really positive examples where communities themselves are helping to create effective outreach," she said. "So I think those are the real lessons we can learn from the U.S." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2021 Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Les portes de Monkey Spaces à Sainte-Sophie s’ouvrent – littéralement – sur un site enchanteur et paisible, dont le chemin enneigé menant au stationnement est traversé momentanément par quelques chevaux et alpagas. Cette arrivée pour le moins surprenante nous donne l’impression d’entrer dans un tout nouveau monde. Nancy Trudeau est la propriétaire et fondatrice de cet organisme à but non lucratif, ouvert dans sa globalité depuis le mois de mai. Elle est accompagnée notamment de Coco, chargée de projet, Éric, en charge de l’entretien, des réparations ou du soin aux animaux, et de Mélanie, assistante responsable des petits animaux et des autres bénévoles. C’est cette dernière qui nous accueille chaleureusement sur le site qu’elle nous fait visiter avec un enthousiasme contagieux. L’organisation remplit une double mission : le site abrite des animaux, petits et grands – chats, chiens, cochons, poules, chevaux, alpagas, etc. – qui n’étaient plus souhaités ailleurs, ou risquaient même l’abattoir. Non seulement on les sauve, mais leur présence permet aussi de pratiquer la zoothérapie auprès de personnes aux défis particuliers, comme celles vivant avec un trouble du spectre de l’autisme. Il y a plus de 20 ans, Nancy Trudeau achetait ce terrain de 75 acres. Elle y a pratiqué quelque temps la zoothérapie. Par la suite, la vie l’a menée jusqu’au Costa Rica où elle passait normalement la moitié de l’année. Elle y a fait des acquisitions dans le but de développer un projet communautaire. « J’ai fait une serre et je donne les légumes et les fruits à l’orphelinat et à la maison pour personnes âgées », souligne-t-elle. Elle comptait aussi faire construire un sanctuaire pour les singes. La pandémie a toute-fois freiné ses plans au Costa Rica, mais accéléré et concrétisé son projet à Sainte-Sophie. S’adapter aux besoins Le concept de Monkey Spaces est simple et flexible. Les familles profitent d’une période de deux à trois heures sur le site, où plusieurs options s’offrent à eux : brosser et nourrir les animaux, marcher en forêt, faire de la raquette ou glisser en hiver, faire du kayak ou se baigner en été. Il y a même un espace pour prendre un café et une grande salle vitrée propice à la détente et au yoga. On y retrouve aussi des instruments de musique et des livres. Le circuit peut varier d’une famille à l’autre, selon leurs besoins et leurs désirs. Mélanie Dumoulin indique que cette approche fait rupture avec leur vie quotidienne, où les enfants sont souvent restreints et dictés dans ce qu’ils doivent faire. « C’est un centre de plein air pour la différence. Toutes les personnes à défis particuliers peuvent venir ici, se ressourcer ou prendre une pause. Toutes ces familles-là sont essoufflées. Et en plus, avec la COVID-19, leur routine a été bousculée », ajoute-t-elle. D’ailleurs, la demande est significative depuis le mois de mai. La bénévole précise qu’au total, le site a accueilli une centaine de familles différentes. Chaque semaine, une vingtaine y mettent les pieds. Certaines familles reviennent régulièrement. Nancy Trudeau a toujours eu une grande passion pour les animaux. Elle a même possédé un singe pendant trois ans, d’où le nom de son organisation. La propriétaire compte concentrer les vingt prochaines années à développer ses différents projets, répondre à la demande et aider le plus de familles possibles. Il y a d’ailleurs beaucoup d’ambition pour bonifier l’offre de Monkey Spaces. Mélanie indique par exemple la possibilité d’installer des volières pour y mettre des perroquets ou de construire un arbre en arbre pour la saison estivale. L’équipe souhaite aussi diversifier sa clientèle : ils veulent accueillir de plus en plus de personnes âgées ou encore de gens aux prises avec des problèmes de santé mentale, comme la dépression. Des démarches ont même été entreprises auprès de la DPJ pour accueillir des enfants. Bref, ce ne sont pas les projets qui manquent, et surtout pas la passion. Ève Ménard, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
With offices closed during the pandemic and many kids kept out of the classroom, families have scrambled to carve out functional remote-learning spaces in homes that weren’t designed for the job. Faced with space constraints, acoustic challenges, and shortages of office furniture, even architects — experts in conceptualizing interior spaces with time and budget constraints — are struggling to keep up with the demands that school closures are putting on their small, open-concept homes.With flexible use of materials, strategic re-arranging, shared workspaces, multi-use surfaces, and purpose-built structures, five Toronto architects show us how they carved out space for their children to feel comfortable, productive, and even inspired as they continue to learn online:FLEXIBLE FURNISHINGWho: Kevin Bridgman, KPMB Architects, with Elke, 7Kevin Bridgman has been working at home since his office closed in March. To accommodate Elke being at home as well, he created two separate work-stations for her — one for school and one for breaks — by substituting Ikea Lisabo coffee tables for desks, which were sold out across the city. He wanted an adaptable longer-term solution — the tables, which are the perfect height to be a child’s desk now, are small, portable, and flexible enough to serve different purposes in the house when Elke no longer needs them. "The space behind me formed because Elke’s been wanting to sit with me and work when her classes are done," says Bridgman. "It used to be a nook for an electric piano, but we reconfigured the dining room and it’s become a LEGO station. Now a lot of days we sit back-to-back, so when I’m on my zoom calls or sketching at the dining room table, she’s behind me in her LEGO world." CUSTOM-BUILT SPACEWho: Lola Sheppard and Mason White, Lateral Office, with Lucas 15, and Zoe 12Lola Sheppard and Mason White added extra space to their small, open concept home with a custom designed garden studio by MacroSPACE. The fully insulated, four-season module, which arrives in pre-fabricated panels to be assembled on site, works as a study space, den, and music room, and gives teenagers a place to hang out, slightly apart from the house. The components of the $39,000 structure take about six to eight weeks to be made in a local workshop and, at under 100 square-foot, the finished structure does not require a permit. “It’s only 50 feet away, but we have to leave the house to walk to it which is really nice,” says Sheppard. RE-ARRANGING MAGICWho: Megan Cassidy, Nakamura Cassidy Design Architects, and Haji Nakamura, SVN, with Miro, 9Megan Cassidy and Haji Nakamura co-parent and share an office on the second floor. To keep up with the evolving demands of the pandemic, they have done some re-arranging magic, moving and re-purposing existing furniture to create completely different spaces. In spring, their sun-drenched dining area was first cleared out for a yoga studio, then it was converted back to a dining room. Now, it's been adapted again to a hybrid working space for Miro and family reading nook, created by rotating the dining table (where the family still eats all their meals and read in the morning sun) 45 degrees, opening up space to bring in an Eames lounger from the living room for the new lounge area."With three people working in the house, we have to make every space work really, really hard," says Cassidy.CREATING COMFORTYusef Frasier, Supergraphiq, and Kristy Almond Frasier, Almond Frasier Architect, with Naomie, 7, and Marcus, 4 With both parents already working in their compact townhome, each had to make room in their existing workspaces to accommodate one of their children. Frasier, an architectural renderer and visualization expert, shares his double-wide workstation (which is large enough to accommodate four monitors for his visually intensive work) made with two side by side CB2 Go-Cart rolling desks and TPS file cabinets. The extra wide desk makes room for Naomie to take over one of the workstations and for Marcus to join them when Almond Frasier is busy with calls downstairs. After pleading that having two screens like Dad would make her more efficient at school, Naomie recently hooked up a second monitor — one for zoom and one for work— and is slowly setting up a customized space for herself with strategically placed items on her desk and a tailored background for her zoom calls."You’re trying to create some level of comfort within an entirely new and abstract setup and each individual is finding their own way to do that," says Yusef Frasier. "Every few days Naomie draws a piece of artwork to put on this ‘wall of happiness’ that we have beside my desk. Her plan is to wrap that around the whole space like a mural." TEMPORARY FIXESAndrew and Jodi Batay-Csorba, Batay-Csorba Architects, with Kingsley, 7 and spaniel Duke Andrew and Jodi Batay-Csorba live with their son Kingsley on the second and third floor above their street-level storefront office. The couple is in the process of building a custom designed plywood platform bed for Kingsley’s room that will incorporate his bed, desk, and climbing wall, above an Ikea dresser and kitchen cabinets for storage. But for now, with the rest of Batay-Csorba’s staff working remotely, Kingsley is able to join his parents downstairs at the big studio table. In place of traditional, compartmentalized workstations, a large, shared table is a fixture of most design practices so adding Kinsgley (and even spaniel, Duke) to the table is a natural solution."Our renovated storefront is east facing with a floor-to-ceiling window so we try to work and have meetings there as much as possible because of the great light," says Andrew Batay-Csorba. "Kingsley is there with us for now trying to do everything but focus on school." — Emily Waugh is a writer and educator in Landscape Architecture and is currently completing the Certificate in Health Impact at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Emily Waugh, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" is making Canadian history on Spotify. The Toronto-raised singer's hit single has become the first song by a Canadian artist to pass two billion plays on the streaming platform. And he's only the fourth artist in the world to join this elite group of massively popular songs. Ahead of him is "Dance Monkey" by Australia's Tones and I (2.1 billion streams), "Rockstar" by American Post Malone (2.12 billion) and the leader "Shape of You" from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (2.7 billion). A couple of other Canadians could also reach two billion streams with one of their songs later this year. Drake's "One Dance" is teetering around the mark with 1.98 billion streams, which ranks him one spot behind the Weeknd as the No. 5 most-streamed song. Shawn Mendes' "Senorita" is at No. 9 with 1.7 billion plays. The Weeknd's streaming numbers were helped by his performance at the Super Bowl, which gave his entire catalogue of albums a boost. But it's fellow Torontonian Drake who holds the biggest streaming crown on Spotify. He earned the platform's most-streamed artist of the decade honour at the end of 2019. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Trystan Lackner first got interested in urban food security way back in his senior year of high school after a supportive vice-principal helped him build a community garden in barren soil where portable classrooms had been removed. It ended up producing around eight or 10 grocery bags full of lettuce, potatoes, carrots and other produce that they donated to local volunteer group Feed The Need Durham. But it only lasted the year that Lackner and classmates he had brought along were there to sustain it. “It was a seed,” says Lackner, explaining he didn't have the experience or knowledge at the time to carry it forward. “The community garden was there, and then it wasn't, and there wasn't any communication of those ideas.” Fast-forward a few years and a degree in international development later, and Lackner is looking to make a more lasting impact. After six months of preparation, Lackner and colleagues hosted an online summit called "Does Your Meal Plan Cover Climate Change?" last month as part of Youth Challenge International’s Innovate MY Future program. “Our whole idea was to develop an educational summit for young people to become more aware, get involved, and connect with the experts within the field,” he says, about the Youth Roots Durham project. The hope is that more informed communities will build more resilience into the process by which they get fed, one that faced a sharp shock due to COVID-19 disrupting global supply chains, as well as ongoing threats to the same system from climate change. The summit included a weekend panel discussion of experts followed by networking, and workshops on the links between food and climate change, the benefits of moving from mass production of commodity crops, and how to get involved in pushing for more sustainable practices. One speaker at the summit was a local permaculture farmer, who grows multiple crops in proximity to each other for mutual benefit. The practice can reduce the need for pesticides and cut carbon emissions by limiting the need to transport food, Lackner explains. The information gathered in the course of the project is being prepared to be archived on a page of the Durham Food Policy Council’s website, ensuring that unlike his high school garden, Lackner’s legacy may live on. The region — which is suburban in its southern sections near Lake Ontario and more rural in its north towards the Lake Simcoe border — exports most of its produce in the form of commodity crops, such as soy and corn, Lackner says. He says that with demand for food to expand by roughly 70 per cent in coming decades as our global population approaches 10 billion people, innovative solutions applied locally will be key. “There is a very high possibility that you will see in the next decade or two, if we can innovate more with the greenhouses and produce more in warehouse settings, you can essentially urbanize and create factories of food within these large urban centres,” he says. In addition to these modern factory farms, Lackner wants to see more rooftop gardens and government policy that sets aside land to protect it from being developed other than as farmland. And for young people wondering what they can do, he says just dive in. “Get out there, get your hands dirty. Make that change that you want to see,” he says. “If you see something that no one else is doing or that's missing, don't wait for someone else to get that going, start it yourself and get involved. There is a way to do all that and connect with the experts and community partners.” Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Fresh air, blazing speed and spacious alpine terrain makes skiing and snowboarding low-risk activities for COVID-19 transmission, infectious disease doctors say. But the threat is never zero during a global pandemic, they add. And people working those snowy slopes may be at greater risk of catching the virus than those dashing down them. Most ski hills in Ontario were permitted to reopen Tuesday, joining other mountainous resorts across the country that have remained operational through the winter. Many have implemented extra safety precautions and operate under local restrictions, including asking patrons to wear face coverings on lifts, cancelling classes and limiting access to indoor spaces. While the activity of skiing is relatively safe from a transmission standpoint, experts say spread can still happen, and COVID outbreaks have been reported at larger resorts over the last couple months, mostly affecting staff members. One in Kelowna, B.C., in December began with workers living on site before it sprawled to include more than 130 cases. Popular Lake Louise and Nakiska resorts in Alberta also reported outbreaks among staff. Dr. Andrew Boozary, the executive director of population health and social medicine at the University Health Network, says it's clusters of cases like those that make ski hills concerning. "I have no anti-skiing bias — it's an activity that makes a whole lot of sense in Canada — but there's a lot of people who take on risk to ensure a ski hill is operational," he said. "A lot of the time we rely on people who are in temporary work or who've been underpaid, without living wages and without paid sick leave, to take on risk so some of us can have that pleasure and leisure activity." Boozary likened the recent emphasis on ski hills to that of golf courses over the summer, or to policy around cottages and seasonal vacation homes that were tailored to higher-income populations. Skiing, like golf, isn't affordable to everyone, he says. And while Boozary agrees that skiing and snowboarding can provide mental health benefits of exercise in a low-risk setting, he'd like to see more emphasis on ensuring lower-income populations have safe, outdoor spaces too. "We've seen this dichotomy, this tale of two pandemics. And we're seeing it now with skiing," Boozary said. "There's an income divide on who gets access to these spaces." Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert with the University of Alberta, says staff members at ski resorts are more likely than visitors to become infected because of the close proximity workers tend to be in. Sometimes they share indoor spaces like lunchrooms, which aren't conducive to mask-wearing when people are eating, Schwartz says, and "transmission thrives" in those settings. "The likelihood of infection is going to be a function of physical proximity, the amount of time they're in that proximity, the activities they're doing and whether there are precautions taken to minimize transmission." While skiers will generally be safe, those who wish to hit the slopes still need to be mindful of safety precautions, Schwartz says. He added that spread is more likely to happen before or after people glide down the mountains, like when they put on ski boots in a crowded indoor area. Those spots should be avoided when possible, Schwartz says, and masks should be worn when distance can't be maintained. Other factors could make trips to snowy resorts more dangerous, he added, including guests travelling from COVID hot spots and potentially bringing the virus with them into small ski towns. The rise of new variants of concern might require more stringent restrictions on skiers as well, says Parisa Ariya, a chemistry professor at McGill University who specializes in aerosol transmission. Ariya says while outdoor settings are far safer than indoors, spread "actually does happen outside" in some instances, and she recommends wearing a mask while skiing or snowboarding. Winters in Quebec and Ontario make air more dense, Ariya adds, which could have an impact on how long viral particles stay in the atmosphere. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says that while cold air may cause physical changes to aerosols "it does not translate to increased risk of disease transmission." He says risk of outdoor spread remains "quite low," except for situations with large crowds in close contact, like during concerts or sporting events. "From a public health standpoint I would much rather see 50 people skiing outdoors than a group of 10 watching TV together indoors," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
(CBC - image credit) Carol Henzie says the provincial and federal governments need to do more to protect people like her parents after they were exposed three times to COVID-19 in a Pointe-Claire home for independent seniors. "The people that are supposed to be caring and taking care of our parents and our seniors are exposing them to the virus," said Henzie, citing Feb. 18 as the third time her parents were put at risk. "We're supposed to protecting our seniors, and we're not." Her parents live in Maywood Pointe-Claire and she recently found out that an in-home care worker from a local CLSC tested positive for the disease just a few days after visiting her mother and father. Now her mother has tested positive, and is in quarantine with her husband. They had both been vaccinated earlier in the week and, so far, Henzie said her father is doing just fine. "Neither of us have any symptoms," said Terrence Henzie. "We neither have a cough or cold or sneezing or wheezing. Nothing of the kind." Preliminary data from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec suggests the vaccines are 80 per cent effective after two weeks for health-care workers and after three weeks among the residents of long-term care homes. Carol Henzie said she holds public health accountable for her parents being exposed. She wants to see all health-care workers tested regularly for the disease if they work with seniors. CIUSSS says it is following regulations Hélène Bergeron-Gamache, a spokesperson for the West Island regional health board, said the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal follows the provincial directives for screening health workers. "We strongly encourage our employees to get tested preventively and on a regular basis," she said in an email. "To facilitate access, mobile screening clinics are located in some of our facilities." Quebec 85-years-old and over lined up for their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Laval last week, but most who live in long-term care homes have already been vaccinated. The agency also follows infection prevention and control rules, providing all employees with the appropriate equipment and training they need to safely provide quality care and services, Bergeron-Gamache said. "Remember that, with community transmission still present, no one is safe from contracting the virus," she said. Quebec long-term care homes struggled through pandemic Long-term care homes — in particular CHSLDs, where residents have significant health or mobility issues — were hit hard by COVID-19 last spring as both staff and visitors brought the highly contagious disease into facilities. There has been a chorus of calls for reform since the early days of the pandemic, as its impact on long-term care homes has brought to light many issues with the way both private and public residences are managed. Francine Ducharme, a geriatrics researcher and nursing sciences professor at Université de Montréal, recently helped prepare a report on long-term care for the Royal Society of Canada in 2020 that showed Canadian seniors' homes have allowed staff-to-patient ratios to drop. The homes have also increasingly shifted to lower-paid care aides and personal support workers, who are often given "variable and minimal formal training," according to the report. A separate report by Quebec's ombudsman revealed the majority of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the province between March and June 2020 were among long-term residents — 3,890 in all. In some cases, ombudsman Marie Rinfret noted, overworked staff could not meet residents' basic needs such as being fed, changed or comforted as they died.
Initiée par le Service des loisirs, de la culture et de la vie communautaire de la Ville Matane, la publication de la série Traces de vies met en valeur dix personnes remarquables de la Matanie. Par le biais de ces portraits, la créatrice de contenu Mélanie Gagné et le photographe Louis-Philippe Cusson voulaient contrer l’isolement causé par la pandémie de la COVID-19, d’abord pour ces aînés. « Nous avons apprécié les entretiens avec ces êtres d’exception dans le respect des normes sanitaires de circonstance, d’indiquer en substance Mme Gagné et M. Cusson. Nous les remercions de leur générosité et de leur chaleur humaine. Ces belles rencontres auraient pu se prolonger des heures et des heures, car leur vie est inspirante et palpitante! » Jusqu’au 18 avril sur les présentoirs du parc Jean-Charles Forbes Ces portraits inspirants sont exposés jusqu’au 18 avril sur les présentoirs du parc Jean-Charles Forbes, en face de la bibliothèque municipale Fonds de solidarité FTQ sur l’avenue Saint-Jérôme. Ils ont aussi paru pendant autant de semaines en version plus longue dans l’hebdomadaire L’Avantage gaspésien. Les personnes retenues : Fernand Desjardins, un patenteux reconnu; Gaétane Fillion, une bénévole à la bibliothèque mobile à la Résidence des Bâtisseurs; Monique Fournier, une passionnée d’horticulture, de musique et d’histoire; et Denise Gentil, une fonceuse, mobilisatrice, persévérante et vaillante Plus Guillermo Jaramillo, un homme sensible et plein de talents; Yvette Lapointe, une passionnée d'histoire et d’horticulture; Roger Marquis, un grand-père moderne; Berthier Pearson, un voyageur et auteur prolifique; Gaston Roussel, gestionnaire du cimetière et enfin, Georgine Ruest, une femme aux loisirs multiples. Ouvrir/fermer la section Yoast SEO Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
(Shane Magee/CBC - image credit) Police are warning of poor driving conditions in parts of New Brunswick as a storm rolls through the province Monday. The RCMP said on Twitter that SNC Lavalin is recommending motorists stay off a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Saint-Jacques, near Edmundston, and Lower Woodstock. "Driving conditions are extremely poor," RCMP said. Meanwhile, NB-511, the government of New Brunswick's online road conditions map, is indicating roads are either fully or partly covered in snow in most regions north of Fredericton and Moncton. A 33-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Moncton, from River Glade to Dubee Settlement, is also reported to be covered in snow and icy patches. Other roads south of the Trans-Canada Highway are being reported as bare. The advisories come after Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for the northern half of New Brunswick Monday. The national weather agency said some parts of the province could see between 15 and 25 centimetres of snow Monday into Tuesday. The heavy snow was expected to spread east across central and northern New Brunswick Monday morning with temperatures rising above 0 C in some places by the afternoon, causing some of the snow to melt. Half of New Brunswick is under a snowfall warning today. Snow is expected to taper to flurries by Tuesday morning, with strong westerly winds bringing in a cold air mass. Areas affected include: The Acadian Peninsula The Bathurst and Chaleur region Campbellton and Restigouche County Edmundston and Madawaska County Grand Falls and Victoria County Kouchibouguac National Park The Miramichi area Mount Carleton Stanley, Doaktown and Blackville areas Woodstock and Carleton County Strong wind gusts expected Tuesday Meanwhile, the Acadian Peninsula, Campbellton and Restigouche County, the Bathurst and Chaleur regions can expect to see northwesterly wind gusts travelling up to 90 km/h Tuesday morning into the evening. "Winds are expected to drop below warning criteria by Wednesday morning," Environment Canada said in a statement. "These strong winds may cause blowing snow over exposed areas giving reduced visibilities."
TORONTO — Professional rugby league in Canada lasted less than four seasons with the Toronto Wolfpack. The Ottawa Aces have yet to take the field. But there are plans to kick-start the sport at the grassroots level in Canada, in the form of the Canada Co-Operative Championship Rugby League (CCCRL). Organizers hope to eventually establish a 12 -team league with both men's and women's teams with fans literally able to buy into the concept. Sandy Domingos-Shipley, a Toronto native now based in Leeds, England, is looking to help get the project off the ground. "I've got children born and raised here," the mother of three said in an interview. "And I've seen the impact of rugby league from a kid's point of view — how much they really do get involved in community and the good that comes out of the sport from the grassroots level. "And I really want the people in Canada to have a bit of that. I want them to have more of it … We can make rugby league grow in Canada the right way." The Canadian co-op league idea is the brainchild of 37-year-old Chris Coates, an English native who is the founding firector of CCCRL. He has been mulling over the concept for some years now. Coates is coach of the Sheffield Forgers, who play in the Yorkshire Men's League. He also has a hand in the international game as coach of the Lithuania men's team, describing himself as a "diehard expansionist at heart." "I believe that the game really should be for everybody," he said. "And I find it perplexing that so many people love the game but don't want to see it grow outside its (northern England) heartlands." His day job is in the tech world. "I build super-computers for a living." Looking to develop the sport, the league will feature rugby league nines which is akin to rugby union's sevens — a faster, condensed nine-a-side version of the rugby league game. They believe nines is an easier introduction to the game. The idea is to start with a six-team league in 2023, with plans of increasing up to 12 teams — six men's and six women's — with representation from B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. Divisional competition will be followed by championship play. Domingos-Shipley says the league will also serve as a home for members of the Canadian national teams: the Wolverines (men) and Ravens (women). Players will be paid on a pro-am model. The Canadian Rugby League Association is on board, although not contributing financially. " What's exciting from our point of view is that the initiative is based on the development of grassroots rugby league," said CRLA president Bob Jowett. "We certainly wish them al the best with it and are supportive of the initiative." Domingos-Shipley says the plan calls for the governing body to benefit from some of the profits from the proposed league. Coates says the league will be funded 40 per cent in the form of private equity and 60 per cent by fans. Investors would get an annual return. They have not yet disclosed the minimum investment but say the average fan will be able to afford to get involved. "The thing with a co-operative is it effectively buys brand loyalty," said Coates. "People who invest in something are inclined to want to make that work." "Fans want to be part of growing something and this is the way they can do that," added Domingos-Shipley, who moved to England in 2001. Her passion for rugby league started four years ago when she started following the Wolfpack in England, becoming essentially a super-fan. Coates applauded the expansion to Toronto although he says he saw "risks" with the Wolfpack agreeing to pay visiting teams' travel and accommodation costs. Unable to play at home due to the pandemic, the Wolfpack stood down in July saying it could not afford to play out the remainder of the 2020 Super League season. The club's subsequent bid for reinstatement under new ownership in 2021 was voted down in November. "As a business owner, I couldn't get my head around how we got to the place where we were," said Domingos-Shipley, who runs a consulting company. Coates, meanwhile, was prompted to look for alternate ways to grow the game. In his words, "If you could do it completely differently, how would you do it?" He started talking to other people about the Wolfpack, including Domingos-Shipley, sharing his idea for a co-op league. "I was like 'Right I'm helping you do this. I want this to work,'" said Domingos-Shipley, who is billed as the CCCRL co-founder and director of governance and compliance. Coates also watched tape of the East-West game played at Lamport Stadium in January 2020. "It was good quality stuff," he said. He believes the talent and interest for a domestic league are both there. "The Wolfpack have done fantastic job of growing that market, from nothing. To grow to 10,000 fans in four years from zero fans is a great achievement. But the problem is that it was done in an unsustainable way." Organizers say they are working with "appropriate organizations" to ensure that all financial participation is in line with regulations and expectations. Coates says his group already has some commercial partners "in the pipeline." --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. Since first being presented in 2006, the humanitarian award has been given to artists that include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah McLachlan, Rush and members of Arcade Fire. The Hip's members included Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
COPENHAGEN — The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Monday that there are 329 candidates — 234 individuals and 95 organizations — that were nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize by the Feb. 1 deadline. The Oslo-based organization said that it was the third highest number of candidates ever, adding the current record of 376 candidates was reached in 2016. A vast group of people — heads of state or politicians serving at a national level, university professors, directors of foreign policy institutes, past Nobel Prize recipients and members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee — can submit a nomination for the prize. However, the nominees aren’t announced by the very secretive board in Oslo, but those doing the nominating may choose to make it public, raising publicity both for the nominee and the proposer. The Associated Press earlier has reported that the 2021 nominees include exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and two other Belarus democracy activists, Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova; the Black Lives Matter movement; Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny; Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who has become a leading voting rights advocate; and former White House adviser Jared Kushner and his deputy, Avi Berkowitz, who negotiated a series of Middle East agreements known as the Abraham Accords. Groups nominated in 2021 include the World Health Organization for its role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic; NATO; Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF; and Polish judges defending civil rights. The U.N. World Food Program won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee announces its annual decision in October. The peace prize and other Nobel prizes are presented Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Five Nobel Prizes were established under the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will. A sixth prize, for economics, was created by the Central Bank of Sweden in 1968 as a memorial to Nobel. Each prize carry substantial cash awards that are adjusted each year. In 2020, they came with a 10-milion krona ($1.1 million) cash award — which often is shared — along with diplomas and gold medals. The Associated Press
TORONTO — On set they called her "COVID Cathy," or "CC" for short. As the COVID-19 supervisor on the new Toronto-shot CBC series "Pretty Hard Cases," Catherine Lang had to not only help develop pandemic protocols for the production, but also keep a close eye on the cast and crew to ensure they were following them. It can be a tricky position, having to police everyone while trying to prevent positive cases, but Lang says she was determined to keep the mood upbeat. "What I found the hardest about COVID supervising was that it's hard to spend 100 per cent of your day worrying about people's health. And unfortunately, I'm a bit of a worrier," Lang says. "Eating, breathing, sleeping — 24-7 — I couldn't get it out of my mind. Because at the beginning all I could think was, 'What if I do something or don't do something and somebody gets sick?' And that was quite a large stress for me." Lang's position, which is also sometimes called a COVID compliance officer, is a now common one on Canadian film and TV sets. And it's one she predicts will be around for another year or so. The supervisor typically works alongside the producers and a team of medical, health and safety professionals to create COVID protocols using government guidelines and ensure they're adhered to. Both industry and medical professionals can qualify for the position. "They were accepted, but definitely were the sort of hall monitors of the production shoot that can frustrate people when they're trying to do their jobs," Alex Jordan, a producer on Global's "Private Eyes," says of their COVID supervising team. "We had to be very cognizant of the mental health of everyone. To some people's opinion, you're not doing enough. And in some cases, people are like, 'This is too much. You're overkill.'" "Kim's Convenience" star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee says their COVID protocol officer was Cher Merlo, who has a background in film and TV production. She "worked tirelessly" on things like modifying the actors' masks and shields to ensure they would be effective but wouldn't disrupt their hair and makeup between takes. "She had the hardest job on set, because her job was to be the bad guy and to remind them of the protocols and of doing things like sanitizing your hands and wearing your mask and staying two metres apart," Lee says. "Pretty Hard Cases" stars Adrienne C. Moore and Meredith MacNeill say they went to great lengths to help Lang not feel "like a bad guy." "I remember when Cathy gave her first speech at the start, Adrienne and I looked at each other and then gave her the biggest cheer. We were like 'Cathy!'" says MacNeill. "We used to call her COVID Cathy. We were like 'CC, yes, in the house!' The staff knew Lang was "only trying to help," notes MacNeill. "So we approached it, and the whole crew approached it, with a 'thank you.'" Lang had worked as an assistant producer and production manager before becoming a COVID supervisor on "Pretty Hard Cases." Lang says she read everything she could about the virus and "spent many hours on the phone" with producer Wanda Chaffey and executive producer Amy Cameron. The three developed protocols for every department with a consulting physician. "As I would walk through the set, I would see people adjust their masks and pull their shields down. It was very cute," Lang says laughing. Of course, Lang also wore personal protective equipment, since she had to be in more spaces on set than most. She says she "never felt unsafe" but found the thought of somebody getting sick in the workplace "horrifying" and had to learn to stop worrying about things that were out of her control. "Eventually I had to say to myself, 'I can't stop this. I can control what happens in the workplace to an extent, but I can't control what happens outside of the workplace.'" The cast and crew were very compliant, Lang says, noting "everybody really wanted to be safe." Chassey and Cameron were with her every step of the way. In the end, they had no incident of anyone contracting COVID-19 at work, she says. While there were two positive cases, they were contracted outside production, caught through testing and had no community spread. Toronto nurse Meghan McKenna became a COVID supervisor on the CBC series "Coroner" through her employer, the third-party medical consulting firm Oncidium, which provided guidance and support to the show, including a full-time nursing staff. She hadn't worked in film and TV before and was "on a steep learning curve" in that regard as they collaborated with producers, she says. They held mandatory health sessions for everyone on set. One of McKenna's key goals was for the cast and crew to understand the uncertain nature of a pandemic, so if provincial case numbers rose and protocols changed, they would be onboard instead of feeling they were being fed misinformation. She also taught everyone how viruses or bacteria spread through communities, so when pandemic fatigue set in, they understood how to protect themselves and why every single protocol matters. The pressure on the job comes with not wanting to see the production fail, says McKenna. But her experiences working in hospital have taught her she "can't control what people are doing 100 per cent." She also likes the idea that should someone have a medical issue on set, she's able to guide them through it and manage it. McKenna's nursing background and experience in emergency rooms also helped her feel "fine with being the police" on set. "That is such a big part of health teaching, is telling people things they don't want to hear," she says. "I really like the challenge of getting through to someone over time." While producers say "Coroner" had "a few issues" with COVID-19 cases, they weren't on set, were easily contact-traced and had no community spread. And no one had to be reminded of the protocols later in production, McKenna says. "Everyone's helping remind each other," she says. "The crew is all keeping each other safe," adds "Coroner" executive producer Suzanne Colvin-Goulding. "Everybody has adopted the mentality that we are in this together." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Toronto Black Film Festival is hosting a panel discussion series with a title that speaks to a pervasive problem in the industry: Show Me the Money. Amid a racial reckoning sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last May, it seems awareness is heightened, and arts organizations are paying attention to systemic racism and barriers facing Black creators in Canada's film and TV industry, says festival president and founder Fabienne Colas. But money isn't flowing throughout the entire ecosystem, and there's still a lack of representation onscreen and in leadership positions behind the scenes, Colas adds. That needs to change soon, because as the clock ticks, "tons of white people are making decisions on what's going to be funded to go onscreen next year, and in two years," she says. "Billions of dollars are going through this industry, and tens of millions of dollars are being distributed through our public funders, and they don't necessarily go to Black producers and Black filmmakers. That's the problem," says Colas. As Colas's festival, which runs online through Sunday, and other screen projects help mark Black History Month in Canada, those in the country's arts world say the past year has been a critical one in terms of institutions responding to the calling out of racism, tokenism and microaggressions. Several organizations have announced funding for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) creators in Canada in the past year. Last summer, for instance, Telefilm Canada pledged $100,000 a year towards the creation of a Black Screen Office, and Bell Media partnered with the grassroots organization BIPOC TV & Film. But "the Canadian screen world has a long way to go," says Amanda Parris, a CBC TV and Radio host, writer, and playwright behind the monodrama "The Death News," which is part of the new CBC Gem anthology series "21 Black Futures" from CBC Arts and Obsidian Theatre in Toronto. "I feel like Canada is decades behind when it comes to representation onscreen of Black stories by Black creators," Parris says. "It's really depressing. And I think being so close to the United States and to the United Kingdom and seeing the things that are emerging there, it's hard to imagine when the time will come when Canada will see similar stories." Parris points to director Steve McQueen's recent "Small Axe" anthology series of five films for the BBC and Amazon Prime Video, which tells the story of London’s West Indian community. "It really hit home because there's such a huge Caribbean diaspora that lives here in Canada that has yet to see their historical stories told with the level of production, deep nuance of storytelling, the kind of budget that he clearly had," says Parris. Parris was born in the U.K. and felt a connection to the material but also "a certain level of sadness" at the idea that such programming may not be possible here for a while, she says. "I'm so reticent to have faith in a lot of the promises that have been made by so many of the networks. I'm not sure if they're going to feel a fire under them when the protests die down and when things get quieter in the same way." If Canada wants to have a vibrant screen industry, it needs to give everyone access to the same resources, says Colas. "Because otherwise, you're going to have white films that are really well done, and then you're going to have, what — Black films very low budget?" she says. "It doesn't make sense. So we need great, well-funded film across the board." Colas, who also founded film festivals in cities including Halifax and Montreal, says the Toronto instalment that's in its ninth edition still doesn't have all the support it needs from the industry. But several new partners have come onboard this year. She also sits on various diversity committees and says "things are moving in the right direction." Parris says she's encouraged by several projects underway in Canada, including the upcoming CBC series "The Porter," about railway workers in the historically Black Montreal community of Little Burgundy in the 1920s. Director Charles Officer, who helmed Parris's "The Death News," is working on the series along with several other Black creators. Then there's the CBC News prime-time show "Canada Tonight with Ginella Massa" and the new YouTube news program “The Brandon Gonez Show," launched in January by the titular Toronto broadcaster, who left CP24 to launch the project. Parris says Gonez as well as The Black Academy, recently launched by Toronto actor-brothers Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, are among several examples of a shift "away from a lot of these mainstream institutions to Black folks being like, 'What can we build ourselves?'" Anderson says he thinks change is happening, with even major Canadian broadcasters acknowledging a lack of diversity in their ranks, for instance. But "it needs to happen faster," he adds, noting The Black Academy is still looking for more funding besides that offered by the Canada Media Fund, as it builds its own award show and programming. "All these speeches and throne speeches and mandates and black squares and hashtags — I think we've got to put the money on the table, put the money where your mouth is," says Anderson. "Putting a social post just is not enough." In the theatre world, there's also "a very heightened, almost panicked awareness of the lack of diversity and the lack of Black representation," says Obsidian Theatre artistic director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, who conceived the idea for "21 Black Futures." Tindyebwa Otu says that conversation needs to extend beyond the faces seen onstage to those backstage and in the board rooms, so theatre companies don't burden any single individual working within a historically white institution to speak for the whole race. The "21 Black Futures" series, she says, is "almost like a catalogue of an example of who's out there and saying, 'Look at their work, see what they have to say, listen to their stories and contact these individuals,' so that there's never an excuse in the future of 'I have no idea who to reach out to or who to connect to' in the future.'" Black History Month gives institutions a convenient opportunity to think of funding and programming for four weeks out of the year, but the big shift is in realizing that "Black people are living these lives all year round," says Tindyebwa Otu. "Good for you for becoming more aware, but this is an investment, this is our daily lives, this is not a moment, this is our reality." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
The first day of mass vaccinations began smoothly at the Montreal convention centre, where 2,000 people were scheduled to get their shot. It was the first day all Quebecers over 70 were eligible to be vaccinated.
ESPN has re-signed Rece Davis to a multiyear contract that will keep him in place as host of the network’s popular Saturday college football pregame show. The network announced the deal Monday. Davis, 55, is entering his seventh year as host of ESPN’s “College GameDay.” He told The Associated Press this new deal will take him through his 10th season leading the show that includes Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Lee Corso. "I believe I have the best job in sports television, but when you’ve been doing anything for a while there comes a period of evaluation, I guess, to see whether there are things you would like to pursue,” Davis said. “And for me I still very much wanted to host ‘College GameDay’ and to still have the opportunity to host some significant events along with that from time to time. Fortunately for me our place was able to provide all of those things.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the network. Davis will also continue to host ”College GameDay” for basketball, along with the network’s coverage of the NFL draft on ABC and the men’s Final Four. Davis is also set to host ESPN's coverage of the UEFA European Football Championship this summer. He will still to do some play-by-play for college football and basketball games. “The professionalism, energy and knowledge he brings to every show and every assignment is first-class as one of the best in the business," ESPN senior vice-president of production Lee Fitting said in a statement. Davis declined to say if he was pursued by other networks, but he said negotiations with ESPN moved expeditiously. “ESPN, and my long relationship with them, sort of had what I feel like my strong suits are but also opportunities to do some things to continue to grow as well," Davis said. The basketball version of “GameDay” began in 2005 with Davis as the host. He took over as host of the college football road show in 2015, replacing Chris Fowler. Fowler left “GameDay” to concentrate on calling games and become ESPN's lead college football play-by-play announcer. Davis said he enjoys calling games and might consider making a similar transition later in his career. “I feel like I've really built my career on hosting,” Davis said. “I hate the phrase tee-up the analyst. Anybody can do that. A good host is prepared for the conversation and knows where the lines are. He added: “My first priority is ‘GameDay.’ I still get a rush every time. I like being at the command centre of big events." “College GameDay” had a very different vibe last year as the coronavirus pandemic forced the show to be held on location but without fans. The threat of COVID-19 led to Corso, 85, doing the show from his home in Florida. “College GameDay” faced competition for the first time the last two seasons from Fox's “Big Noon Kickoff," but ESPN's show has remained on top in terms of viewership. “The best way to do it is to take care of your business and not be fixated on what someone else does and to be be confident and thorough in the direction you've tried to go into to,” Davis said. “If you start trying to react to someone else, that's more detrimental than helpful in my opinion. ”We still want to be regarded as the ultimate destination and if you turn away from our show, you're going to miss something." ___ Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/ ___ More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders have reached an agreement aimed at getting most public schoolchildren back in classrooms by the end of March. Under the deal announced Monday, school districts could get up to $6.6 billion if they reopen classrooms by March 31. To get the money, schools must return to in-person instruction at least through second grade. However, districts in counties with coronavirus case numbers low enough within a specific classification level must return to in-person instruction for all elementary school grades, plus one grade each in middle and high school. The proposal does not require staff and students to be vaccinated. Districts are not required to have agreements with teachers’ unions. Adam Beam, The Associated Press
YEREVAN, Armenia — Political tensions in Armenia heightened Monday, with supporters of the embattled prime minister and the opposition each staging massive rallies in the capital. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to resign since he signed a peace deal in November that ended six weeks of intense fighting with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Russia-brokered agreement saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter-century. Opposition protests seeking Pashinyan's ouster abated during the winter but intensified last week amid a rift between him and the country's military leaders. The spat was sparked by Pashinyan firing a deputy chief of the military's General Staff who had laughed off the prime minister's claim that only 10% of Russia-supplied Iskander missiles that Armenia used in the conflict exploded on impact. The General Staff then demanded Pashinyan’s resignation, and he responded by dismissing the General Staff chief, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. The dismissal has yet to be approved by Armenia's largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who sent it back to Pashinyan, saying the move was unconstitutional. Pashinyan quickly resubmitted the demand for the general's ouster, and the prime minister's allies warned that the president could be impeached if he fails to endorse the move. Sarkissian's office responded with a strongly worded statement condemning “inadmissible speculation” about his move and emphasizing that his decision was “unbiased and driven exclusively by national interests.” Amid the escalating tensions, a group of protesters broke into a government building in central Yerevan on Monday to press their demand for Pashinyan's resignation, but they left shortly afterward without violence. Later, Pashinyan's supporters and the opposition rallied in the capital at separate sites. Pashinyan, a 45-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, still enjoys broad support despite the country's humiliating defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh and the opposition calls for his resignation. He defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary move to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. The fighting with Azerbaijan that erupted in late September and lasted 44 days has left more than 6,000 people dead. Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the Nov. 10 peace deal. Armenia has relied on Moscow’s financial and military support and hosts a Russian military base — ties that will keep the two nations closely allied regardless of the outcome of the political infighting. Last week, the Russian Defence Ministry rebuked the Armenian leader for criticism of the Iskander missile, a state-of-the-art weapon touted by the military for its accuracy. The Russian military said it was “bewildered” to hear Pashinyan’s claim because Armenia hadn’t used an Iskander missile in the conflict. In a bid to repair the damage to Armenia's ties with Moscow, Pashinyan rescinded his claim Monday, acknowledging that he made the statement after being misled. —- Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed. Avet Demourian, The Associated Press