Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Ron Michel, a Prince Albert Grand Council senator, former grand chief, and longtime leader in northern Saskatchewan, has died. Michel, 69, died late Monday night after a political career stretching over decades. Among his roles, he served 12 years as the grand chief of PAGC until 2017, and 20 years as the chief of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, a Tuesday news release said. "It's a tragic loss for all of PBCN," said Chief Peter Beatty. Beatty was elected councillor in 1993, when Michel served as PBCN's chief. He said the entire time Michel was in office, he was "always there to help people" and support vulnerable members of the community. As a leader, he said some of Michel's priorities included health and economic development. He said PBCN and PAGC will continue many of the efforts Michel began in office, but he'll personally remember Michel's depth of knowledge and positivity. "He had a booming voice. He got your attention whenever you talked to him," he said. Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron described Michel as playing an "instrumental" and "influential" role in his life. “I am thankful for the many conversations we had and all of the time that I was lucky enough to spend with him, learning from him throughout my career," he said in a prepared statement. "He worked hard for his people. We will truly miss him.” In a prepared statement, the PAGC leadership — Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, Vice Chief Joseph Tsannie, Vice Chief Christopher Jobb, and Executive Director Al Ducharme — remembered Michel as a rare leader, driven by deep ties to his community. "There are some leaders who simply command respect, not only because they display a determined, fierce and confident attitude in their cause," the statement said. It went on to say they command respect because those qualities are driven by "compassion and a deep love for the people. Senator Michel was one of those leaders." For someone who "never showed anger in the way that many of us do," Michel met challenges with kindness, respect and compassion, the statement said. "A lifetime cut too short, we are thankful for his service to our people." Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
ROSSLAND, B.C. — RCMP say a man armed with a bow and arrow pushed past staff to enter city hall and locked himself in an office in Rossland, B.C. Mounties say in a news release that the 24-year-old man entered the south-central B.C. community's city hall through a back entrance before the building was opened to the public. Police responded to the unfolding situation just before 7 a.m. Tuesday as the man had locked himself in an office and was refusing to leave. With the use of crisis de-escalation tactics, police took the man into custody without further incident and he remained in custody on Tuesday afternoon. Sgt. Mike Wicentowich says although the suspect was armed with a weapon, no one was injured during the incident. RCMP continue to investigate the full circumstances surrounding the event and are asking any witnesses who have not yet spoken with police to come forward. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
First Nation leaders in Manitoba have shared that hundreds of Manitoba First Nation citizens have always been neglected in some aspect when it comes to health services. First Nation leaders are making a plea to the provincial and federal governments to take concrete action to reduce and eventually eliminate anti-Indigenous racism in Canada’s health care system. “It is hard to believe that in this day and age, we have to talk about racism,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. in a press conference on Facebook Live on Tuesday. “I thought that we as a nation have evolved to a place that we are more tolerant and accepting of one another, but in our health care system, that is not the case. Anti-Indigenous racism is apparent, and stories from our First Nations confirm that it does exist.” Organizations such as MKO and KIM have voiced out their frustrations as their members continue to face mistreatment in hospitals and nursing stations. It has even come to a point whereby First Nations would rather suffer quietly in their own homes because they know they will not receive adequate health services as they are continually being doubted by health officials. “No one should be doubted when they are looking for medical attention. They should be treated with respect and compassion. That is all we want,” said Chief Shirley Ducharme, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation. On Jan.11, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation Councillor Brian Wood’s wife, Carol, had a car accident that caused tremendous pain in her right leg. That day, Wood quickly brought her to the nursing station in South Indian Lake where a nurse attended to her for less than five minutes. The nurse diagnosed her and stated that since her leg does not appear to be broken, Wood should return home with his wife and schedule a flight to Thompson so that she can be reassessed the next week. When they got home, her leg started to swell and turned blue. Not trusting the nurse, he decided to call Ducharme about his dilemma. After speaking with her, he managed to approve his wife as an outpatient. Immediately, he and his wife drove four hours to Thompson so she could receive proper care. “The health staff there noticed that she wasn’t doing very well. They took her to the emergency room right away and did some x-rays. They found that there were two fractures in her leg and that there was something wrong with her knee,” said Wood. She was later sent to Winnipeg via medevac so that she could receive surgery. As of now, she is recuperating in Thompson with a 14-inch scar on her leg. Wood noted that this is only an example of First Nations people who cannot access medical care in their home community due to negligence. First Nations who have issues accessing medical systems in a culturally safe way may contact Bernice Thorassie, MKO’s Client Navigator for advocacy assistance at Bernice.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-307-5066. Dr. Barry Lavallee, Chief Executive Officer at Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin (KIM) Inc. said that racism in the health care system essentially promotes torture and suffering towards First Nation citizens attempting to seek help. On Wednesday and Thursday, MKO and KIM will hold an online event aimed to unify federal, provincial, and territorial governments, First Nations, Inuit, Métis Nation and health system partners to discuss and confirm actions planned and underway to address anti-Indigenous racism in Canada’s health care systems. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Out of 99 new positive cases discovered in the Simcoe Muskoka Region, health officials say 97 are linked to a long-term care home in Barrie and all of those people are likely affected by the fast-spreading U.K. variant. There are concerns the highly contagious strain of the virus is more widespread than initially thought. Miranda Anthistle has the details.
WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy was taken to a hospital Tuesday evening after not feeling well and later sent home after tests, a spokesman said, hours after the 80-year-old Democrat began presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Leahy, who'd been in his Capitol office, was taken to George Washington University Hospital “out of an abundance of caution" after being examined by Congress' attending physician, Leahy spokesman David Carle said. The senator underwent an evaluation before his release from the hospital and looks forward to returning to work, Carle said. Leahy had commenced his role of overseeing Trump's latest impeachment trial by swearing in his fellow lawmakers. The actual trial will begin next month. Leahy is presiding because he is the Senate's president pro tempore, a largely ceremonial post. Chief Justice John Roberts presided over Trump's first impeachment trial a year ago when Trump was still president. The Senate president pro tempore job normally goes to the longest-serving member of the Senate's majority party. Leahy was first elected in 1974, making him the longest-serving current senator of either party. Leahy will be chairman once again this year of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a panel that controls a large chunk of the federal budget and will be in the middle of President Joe Biden's effort to provide more spending to combat the pandemic and recharge the economy. Leahy is the fifth-oldest current senator. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 87, is the oldest. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
The new Peggys Cove viewing platform will mostly replace a paved turning lane and won't be built over any important Mi'kmaw sites, the CEO of Develop Nova Scotia said Tuesday. Jennifer Angel leads the provincial Crown corporation building the platform. Angel said she listened to the protests against the platform over the weekend and understands how much people care about the area. "We're reclaiming that space for people," she told CBC Radio's Information Morning. Angel said 12,000 square feet of the deck will replace an existing paved turning circle. Another 2,000 square feet will extend beyond that, she said. "There's a portion we're calling the Nose that is cantilevered out over some of the rocks in a bit of a more dramatic experience," she said. People will still be able to walk over the rocks and paths to the lighthouse and enjoy uninterrupted views of the ocean, she said. Some of the weekend protesters complained that they hadn't been consulted. A Mi'kmaw activist said it could block access to sacred sweet grass. Angel said they've been consulting widely since 2018, including with the 40 people who live in the village. "This is the largest and deepest public engagement we've ever done," she said. "But we do think the concerns raised are authentic and are rooted in a true desire to protect the place." Angel said she's spoken to the Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre in Halifax and with the activist, and has planned a site visit with them and a botanist. "We're 99 per cent confident we're not in conflict with any sacred sites, but we're going to double check. And we will not be building a platform over a sacred Mi'kmaw site," Angel said. Angel said people can join a public webinar Thursday at 6 p.m. to learn more. 'It's what a kind society does' Paul Vienneau, an activist for people with disabilities and Halifax's accessibility consultant, said the platform will open up Peggys Cove to more people. "I've had a 30-year span where I haven't been able to take part fully in many things," said Vienneau, who uses a wheelchair. "When I hear my human rights and my right of access easily debated away, it kind of makes me feel like I don't count as a citizen." He said making the spot accessible to more people outweighs the changes to the area. "I think it's what a kind society does. I think it's what an enlightened society does," he said. "To have a safe place to sit in that air and look at all the rocks and the lighthouse and the ocean — I can't wait for that." Gerry Post, an accessibility advocate, also welcomed the changes. He praised Develop Nova Scotia for taking accessibility seriously and said they've done great work. "Before I became disabled — I use a wheelchair — I used to go frequently. Whenever visitors come from away, it's the first thing you do, right? You go to Peggys Cove and show it off and enjoy it," he said Tuesday. "Since that, I've been there once, but basically sat in the car in the parking lot. It's not a very accessible place to enjoy that wonderful space there." Post hopes the new public bathrooms will be fully accessible, including changing tables for young children and for adults who need support. "It's not a big expense when you design it in from the front end," he said. Work has not started on the platform, but it's due to open in June. MORE TOP STORIES
Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says the federal government should not have rejected an environmental assessment prepared by territorial officials. The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board released its recommendations for BMC Minerals' proposed Kudz Ze Kayah lead-zinc-copper-gold mine in October. It stated there could significant adverse effects from the mine, located 115 kilometres south of Ross River in southeast Yukon, but the effects could be mitigated by following 30 recommendations in its assessment. Officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada, however, referred the assessment back to the board for reconsideration. In a letter to the assessment board, the federal government officials said the board's review needs more detail about how the effects will be mitigated. Those effects include water quality, wildlife, particularly the Finlayson Caribou Herd, and traditional land use by Kaska citizens. The federal officials say the assessment board also failed to properly address concerns from the Ross River Dena Council and the Liard First Nation. They also want to know how Aboriginal rights were incorporated into the board's recommendations. "The Screening Report and Recommendation does not expressly delineate whether and how First Nation interests, including from a (Indigenous) rights perspective, have been considered within the assessment," the officials' letter to the Yukon assessment board says. The letter noted the Ross River Dena want more discussions on how the recommendations will be implemented. And the Liard First Nation does not believe the mitigation measures will protect its members' right to hunt the Finlayson Caribou Herd. Liard First Nation chief Stephen Charlie said Tuesday the recommendations should not be approved until they're acceptable to the Kaska people. Premier Sandy Silver, however, said in a written statement that the assessment board's review was comprehensive and the recommendations reasonable. The decision by the federal government, "creates unreasonable and unnecessary uncertainty for the proponent and sends a troubling signal," Silver said. "The government of Canada absolutely needs to take steps to streamline these processes going forward to ensure greater clarity and certainty for the mining industry." Silver said the territorial government was prepared to issue a decision accepting the recommendations.
Ant, the fintech affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, is in talks with a number of potential buyers in the United States, the FT report said, citing sources. The company planned to secure a sale in the first half of this year, the FT added.
Teachers are determined to keep remote learners connected to the school community. At Cook elementary, Grade 5 and 6 students learning from home are writing poetry that is displayed inside the school. “We want to continue to build connections and relationships even with the students that are at home learning, and include their work on our school bulletin boards,” says principal Sarah Loat. “We want to stress the importance of community more than ever during this stressful time.” She says teachers are trying to offer all students the same learning opportunities, whether they're in the classroom or not. “Teachers are taking a great deal of time and care to plan and implement creative, meaningful, engaging learning opportunities,” says Loat. “I am very proud of the job the staff are doing to keep students safe, supported and engaged.” Similarly, at Diefenbaker elementary all students are invited to “Zoomblies”—including those learning from home—to help build and maintain connections. Many classroom teachers have created individual kits of supplies for students, and some have come up with songs for lining up, washing hands, and cleaning up, says principal Huey Wong. Masks with the school’s logo are available to staff and students, thanks to PAC subsidization for the adult mask cost. And Grade 7 students have been engaged as morning ambassadors, picking up younger students from the drive-thru lane and walking them to their classroom door. And at Richmond High, students were connected starting early on in the year with a virtual clubs day. International Baccalaureate (IB) students celebrated their accomplishments through a four-day film festival. “This included digital work, music ensembles, singing, dancing, a chess battle, and an interactive show that had one performer zooming in to improvise music based on audience suggestions,” says principal Anita Kwon. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
WASHINGTON — The interim chief of the Capitol Police apologized Tuesday for failing to prepare for what became a violent insurrection despite having warnings that white supremacists and far-right groups would target Congress. Yogananda Pittman, in prepared testimony before Congress, said that the Capitol Police “failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours." She listed several missteps: not having enough manpower or supplies on hand, not following through with a lockdown order she issued during the siege and not having a sufficient communications plan for a crisis. “We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending,” Pittman wrote. “We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.” Her admissions come as U.S. law enforcement investigate a number of threats aimed at members of Congress and as the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump gets underway. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that authorities have detected ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside the Capitol. Trump supporters tore down fences and broke through doors and windows after an event in which the now-former president called on them to “fight” and “stop the steal.” Inside the building, Congress was certifying the victory of President Joe Biden. Five people died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. A sixth person, another Capitol Police officer, later died by suicide. The day after the riot, then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said that his force “had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities.” Sund has since resigned, as have the sergeants-at-arms for the House and Senate. Officers who have spoken to the AP described being overrun by insurrectionists who in many cases were more armed than they were. The officers said they were given next to no plan beforehand or communication during the riot. There are conflicting accounts of why the Capitol Police did not have more backup. Pittman's statement Tuesday provoked a new round of finger-pointing. In her testimony, Pittman said Sund asked the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the department, to declare a state of emergency and allow him to request National Guard support, but the board declined. The Defence Department has said it asked the Capitol Police if it needed the Guard, but the request was denied. A member of the Capitol Police Board denied Pittman's claim hours after her testimony was released. J. Brett Blanton, who serves as the architect of the Capitol, said that Sund did not ask him for help and that there was “no record of a request for an emergency declaration.” Several law enforcement and congressional reviews are underway. Both Pittman and Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant-at-arms, told Congress on Tuesday that they need stronger communications and more fortifications around the Capitol building. Blodgett called on members of Congress to prepare for future emergencies and offered training for any offices that requested it. “You want people to have some level of access to the government,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. But he noted that it's also important that they feel protected and positioned to respond quickly to anything that might happen. ___ Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report. Nomaan Merchant And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Some Tiny council members want some serious action being taken against big corporations that threaten the township's water supply. "We need to stop playing by the rules," said Coun. Gibb Wishart, addressing the question to appeal or not to appeal in the case of the renewal of the permit to take water (PTTW) for the Teedon Pit. "The reason the dump (Site 41) got stopped is that an old couple got arrested; First Nations were there and set up camp, nobody played by the rules. "I think if we play the game the ministry...," he was saying, when Mayor George Cornell cut him off to remind him that even at that time the council played by the rules. Even though Cornell was cautious about siding an appeal process in the matter, Coun. Tony Mintoff spoke his mind clearly. "Anything I’ve heard is overwhelmingly against any kind of operation there," he said. "I encourage council to put their concerns ahead of the province’s unwillingness to allow municipalities to decide what’s best for them within their boundary. "As members of council, it’s our obligation to represent the interests of our residents," added Mintoff. "My suggestion would be we clearly appeal every step." Another member of council, however, was a bit cautious about going the appeal route. "Maybe," said Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma.said, "the right course of action would be to break out some of our concerns around the EBR (Environmental Bill of Rights) process reform and how we work with the MOECP (Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks) in future to make sure the municipality and adjacent landowners are notified of big decisions like this one. "Maybe this goes back to our flaws in the first appeal or commenting process with regards to monitoring water quality." Walma also suggested that if the council does plan on appealing the renewal, it should hold further discussions in-camera. "We have a community member that has made significant upgrades and worked with the township on our comments to date," he added. "There was no need for them to install that many wells. They could have gotten away with a lot less. I think that’s something we want to maintain. It’s a good working relationship so in the future we can share our concerns with them. I think going the legal route potentially cuts those options down." The discussion came forth after council had heard the united plea -- save our water --- from various residents of Tiny and beyond that made deputations to elected officials at Tuesday's special council meeting. Council had convened a special session after it became aware of the Jan. 14 decision by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks to renew a 10-year PTTW for CRH Canada Group Inc., which operates the aggregate quarry. "The approval of the water taking permit may compromise the quality of this water," said Tiny resident Bonnie Pauzé. "As elected officials, we, the taxpayers are putting it all on your shoulder to stop this potential disaster. Every single voter drinks water. Do we want to go down in history as heroes that protected and saved one of the world's purest aquifers? Please don't disappoint us. We need you to step up to the plate. Protect the water." Similar messages were presented by others as well. "Our water needs are being undermined for the sake of a global business," said Erik Schomann, another Tiny resident. "The cost business analysis as I have been able to tell is incomplete. There was no announcement regarding the permit, no civilian insight." Even residents of Guelph had joined in the fight. "Matters of groundwater protection are of extreme concern to people across the province," said Karen Rathwell. "The community is asking for a pause; time to study this phenomenon. Once the overburden is scraped away and the digging eats away through the layers of protection, the groundwater is exposed to pollution." According to the township's legal counsel, Sarah Hahn, if the township decides to appeal, it has to clear a two-part test to seek leave to appeal. "First, you look at whether granting of the permit or any conditions within are unreasonable," she said, explaining that this means, "No reasonable person having regard for law and policies have issued the permit. It’s a pretty high test to have to reach. Secondly, could it result to significant harm to the environment. "It’s not a will, it’s a could, so I think there’s some grounds there," added Hahn. "The test for reasonableness is quite high. Having some evidence that what the ministry did was unreasonable is certainly something we would want to put forward if an appeal was brought." The township said they were satisfied with the conclusion drawn by the professional hydrogeologist, who said the ministry had addressed the municipality's concerns laid out in a 2018 letter to the ministry. "Staff’s opinion is that we rely on our experts and in this case it’s Burnside," said Shawn Persaud, director of planning and development. "Based on their letter, we recommend the township not file an appeal relative to the permit to take water." In his Jan. 25 letter, Dave Hopkins, senior hydrogeologist with R. J. Burnside and Associates Ltd., states that ministry has met and addressed the requests laid out by the township in 2018. "The new PTTW has a much more robust monitoring program than the original PTTW and addresses the Township’s request for additional wells," reads his conclusion. "The monitoring program will be completed, and the annual report is to be prepared by a qualified person (P. Geo. or equivalent). "The Permit requires that an annual report documenting the monitoring well results be submitted to the MECP (MOECP). This will allow the MECP to evaluate the impacts of pumping and make any necessary additions to the monitoring program/permitted rates as required. The PTTW also requires the monitoring of specific domestic wells, which is unusual. "Residents, who feel that their wells may have been impacted, may wish to contact CRH to have their well added to the monitoring program. It is Burnside’s opinion, that all of the Township comments have been addressed by the MECP and the conditions included in the new PTTW." Wishart, however, felt all concerns had not been addressed. "I think the major issue that the township is up against the wall with is that we’re talking about water quality, not the serviceability of a gravel pit," he said. "The province doesn’t seem to address that at all. They dance around saying that the various authorities, namely the gravel pit operators, operate within the guidelines that they’re given. "They’ve answered all the questions we had, but we’re talking about water quality and the potential," added Wishart. "We have no proof at all. All we have is the wish they not take away the filtering medium between the sky and the water." Based on that, he asked, does the province even want to hear us if we conclude that they’re not answering our questions? Mintoff didn't seem to think so. "The MOECP didn’t inform us," he said, "and gave us only 15 days to prepare with documented support, so clearly in their mind they didn’t want an appeal. I think they gave us scant time to prepare for these appeals because they’re not welcoming." Mintoff said he would like to see council adopt the two principles that it doesn’t support the taking of aggregate or washing it in an environmentally sensitive area. Further, he said, the municipality also asked that no further licences be issued until a water study by Dr. John Cherry, professor emeritus at University of Waterloo, has produced its findings. "One of the basic risk management principles is to weigh the risks and rewards," said Mintoff. "In my opinion, CRH gets all the rewards and the township and residents assume all the risks. If their experts are wrong, what are the consequences and who is going to live with them? I don’t think it’s going to be CRH." He said he was tired of hearing that ministries are understaffed or under-resourced and don’t have the wherewithal to operate effectively. "They cannot be, in my opinion, entrusted to protect our most valuable resource," said Mintoff. "We need to err on the side of caution. There’s nothing in it for us, only serious potential for impact on water quality and other environmental components." He also offered a somewhat long-term solution to the situation. "Perhaps it’s time for us to offer the purchase of these specific properties at fair market value and once rehabilitated by the current owners, we could create public-private partnerships to use this land to create more affordable housing," said Mintoff. "And if they choose to decline our offer, then we should look at the practicality of the legal feasibility of expropriating that property in order to do so." Unable to decide whether to appeal or not, council moved into an in-camera session around other matters, promising to reconvene at 1 p.m. Wednesday to further discuss the issue. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The snow carvings will be back, but the "sourdough" has been cut. Organizers of Whitehorse's annual winter festival say the event is set to go ahead next month, with some pandemic precautions, and a new name — the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous is now simply the Yukon Rendezvous. Festival president Tyson Hickman said that after 57 years, it was time for a re-branding. The festival got some money last year to do it. "A lot of Yukoners have a lot of very fond memories about Rendezvous past, a lot of Yukoners don't. There is some negative connotation surrounding the term 'sourdough,' and Yukon's history in general," Hickman said. "So what better time to refresh the brand and move forward?" Souring on sourdough Sourdough was a staple for many who came north during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, allowing them to make bread without the use of baker's yeast or baking soda. It became so closely associated with stampeders that any of them who stayed in Yukon or Alaska through at least one winter came to be called "sourdoughs." Robert Service's classic 1907 book of Gold Rush-era poems was titled, Songs of a Sourdough. Hickman says the festival has been getting feedback in recent years that suggests some people have soured on the idea of a "sourdough festival," seeing it as a throwback to a colonial era. The name change is a way to make it more inclusive, said executive director Saskrita Shresthra. "We did decide that, moving forward, 'Yukon Rendezvous' represents us a little bit better," Shresthra said. "[The festival]'s definitely evolved and changed a lot over the last 57 years. And I think that it will continue to change and evolve as, you know, as Whitehorse does." The festival's old logo featured a comic drawing of a burly, bearded "Sourdough Sam" in boots and a parka. The new logo, pictured on the festival website, has replaced Sam with some stylized mountains and trees. More fencing, and other pandemic precautions The festival has had to make some other significant changes this year in response to the pandemic. Many events are going online, and others will have limits on the number of spectators or participants. "You can expect to see a lot more fencing than normal," said Hickman. "And wherever possible, for inside events like our performance stage, we're asking people to register ahead of time so that we know you're coming and we can have a seat for you." Hickman says another big change this year will be the return of two of the more popular events from past festivals — the snow-carving competition and the fireworks show. "We wanted to do something for the community, and we knew that fireworks and snow carving could be done in a COVID[-19]-safe manner. And those were two items that were high on the list from the outset, for us," Hickman said. The festival has had financial struggles in recent years, but Hickman says it's hanging on thanks to volunteers and some strong local support. He says it was important to make sure there was some sort of festival this year — even if it was going to be a lot different because of the pandemic. "When the board of directors sat down after the last festival, we knew that by the time February 2021 came around, the community would be in desperate need of something," he said. "This year is probably more important than most." The Yukon Rendezvous runs from Feb. 12 to 28 in Whitehorse.
JASPER, Alta. — The Jasper Park Lodge has been booked out from the end of February until the end of April, but hotel management isn't disclosing who will be staying at the well-known Rocky Mountain retreat during the nine-week block. All 446 rooms at the sprawling Alberta hotel are unavailable to book online between Feb. 23 and April 29. A hotel spokesperson says there is a private booking, but could not comment further for privacy reasons. Guests who previously made bookings for that time have had their reservations cancelled, fuelling speculation online that the hotel could be soon be a filming site. Steve Young, a spokesman for Jasper National Park, says officials have not received a request for a film permit. He says one would be required if any commercial filming was being done in the park. Asked about the possibility of a film crew coming up to Alberta, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, said her team is working on a framework to decide whether to give such crews exemptions to COVID-19 restrictions. She said the Alberta framework would consider two issues when deciding on exemptions. "Number 1 is whether or not there's any risk to the public, whether any of the activities could potentially cause (COVID-19) spread," Hinshaw said Tuesday. "Number 2: As we consider any potential request for exemptions, we also consider the broader public interest." She said if the crew comes from beyond Canada's border, it would need federal approval. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. -- With files from CTV Edmonton. The Canadian Press
Inaya Mirza’s bully, another student in her Grade 4 classroom, is a lot quieter online. “When she was at school every day, she would be talking about this girl,” said her older sister, Maryam Mirza. “She was doing poor academically because she was so stressed.” The bullying — name-calling, rumour-spreading and gossiping — stopped when classrooms were shuttered. “Now, she’s happy,” said Maryam, 23, an early-childhood educator. “She kind of misses her friends, but, at the same time, she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to deal with the bully.” Nearly 60 per cent of public school students surveyed reported being bullied pre-COVID, according to a new report on bullying released Friday by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. Amid the pandemic, that number dropped to about 40 per cent. The report was initiated by the board after the death of 14-year-old Devan Selvey, who was stabbed outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in October 2019. Kristine Bolton, a parent to two students in the public board, said her eldest daughter, a Grade 10 student at Sir Winston Churchill, suffers from anxiety. “She didn’t feel safe all the time there with what happened with Devan,” she said. “She’s been scared.” Bolton said the 15-year-old puts a lot of pressure on herself to perform academically. “She blacks out during tests,” her mother said. “So being in the comfort of home, she’s not going through that and her marks have been really good so far.” Bolton said her kids have excelled with remote learning — each for a different reason. “Our youngest one, she’s always had a lot of struggles, unfortunately, in school,” Bolton said. Her daughter, a 12-year-old student in Grade 7, had been at a Grade 3 or 4 level for a couple of years, her mother said. Now, she is doing math between a Grade 6 and 7 level. “When the remote started last year after March break, I was able to give her that one-on-one support,” she said. “Her grades have improved.” Jennifer McTaggart, a clinical psychologist with the child and youth mental health program at McMaster Children’s Hospital, said success with remote learning “is going to vary based on the kid.” “I think there are some children who are thriving in remote learning,” she said. Self-directed learners and students who are easily distracted by may prefer to learn in a more independent environment. Remote learning might be a welcome break for students who are shy, have an anxiety disorder or suffer from bullying. But, she said, it’s “a double-edged sword.” “Getting out of the situation really does reinforce the anxiety, so our kids aren’t learning how to deal in these social situations,” she said. “There’s a temporary relief, but I also worry our children aren’t getting the benefit of learning how to work through those situations, which is important to our social development.” Sixteen-year-old Elena Kowalchuk, a Grade 11 student at Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School, is “kind of made for online learning,” her mother says. “She’s highly motivated, she’s got an excellent work ethic, she’s got really good work habits,” said Michelle Castellani, who is a high school teacher. But, despite her daughter’s success with remote learning, Castellani said she will “100 per cent” be going back to the classroom once schools reopen for in-person learning. “It’s not so much for the academics that I would send her back, it is for that little bit of a social piece,” she said. “It’s important for kids to get out of the house.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
REGINA — Saskatchewan's top doctor says he believes there are limits to where people can protest after a handful of demonstrators unhappy with COVID-19 restrictions showed up outside his home. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says while people can go to public spaces like legislatures to stage their frustration, he doesn't believe they have the right to protest at someone's private residence. Premier Scott Moe says his government has offered security to Shahab after police were called to his house on the weekend to respond to protesters who had gathered nearby. Moe says it's up to police in Regina to investigate and decide whether to lay any charges. The premier says the demonstration crossed a line between protesting government decisions around COVID-19 and the privacy of a person, his family and his neighbours. He says his Saskatchewan Party government is looking at what options exist to address protests at the homes of public servants. "We have been starting to look at what other jurisdictions have in place with respect to some of the laws that they have, and looking at whether or not we should consider those here," he said during a briefing Tuesday. Moe said he wasn't sure what options the government has to address what happened, since streets and sidewalks are public property. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The mittens worn by American Senator Bernie Sanders to the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden have garnered considerable attention online, and generated humorous images that place a hunched-against-the-cold Sanders everywhere from a scene in Forrest Gump to downtown Saint John. They also caught the attention of a New Brunswick foundation which has been making mittens for charity for the past 15 years. Katie Tower, executive director of the Pedvac Foundation in Port Elgin, said when they saw Sanders’ mittens all over the internet, they thought, “Hey those look like Pedvac mittens!” The organization decided to point out the similarity on their Facebook for anyone trying to create their own Bernie look, Tower said. The post was shared many times and retailers who carry their mittens have started calling asking for more, she said. "The great thing about our mitts is it is a social enterprise," said Tower, “We pay people in our community of Port Elgin to make them.” They aren’t, however, copying the Bernie mittens pattern. “We came up with our own pattern many years ago," Tower said. "We have revised it a bit, but the pattern in the Bernie mittens just happens to be similar enough to ours.” The teacher who originally made the mittens as a gift for Sanders spoke about using recycled or donated wool, and Pedvac mittens are also made from wool that is "second hand or donated too,” said Darcie Kingswell, coordinator of Pedvac's "Wools to Wishes". “We use a variety of different wool, different fleece,” said Kingswell, adding that it could come from a sweater or another knitted item. Buying Pedvac mittens “goes to support our programs including mental health workshops, food programs in school or free income tax preparation programs,” said Tower. Pedvac’s mittens are currently available at Starving Artist Gallery in Moncton, Wheaton's locations in the Maritimes, Happenstance in Antigonish, Threadwork in Almonte, Ont. and at the Pedvac boutique in Port Elgin, although that location is closed while Zone 1 is in red, said Kingswell. The most common similarity between these New Brunswick-made mitts and Bernie Sanders’ mitts is a lot simpler. “It looked like Bernie Sanders was just trying to stay warm," Tower said. "Ours help you do that too.” Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
The Village of Hussar has reason to celebrate 2020, from completing infrastructure upgrades, to overcoming financial constraints and cancelled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the village celebrates accomplishments in 2020, council is also looking forward to what 2021 will bring. Hussar Mayor Corey Fisher says upgrades to the water and sewer system along 2nd Avenue East, from Centre Street to 1st Street East, were completed “on time and on budget.” The village also completed demolition of the old Hussar School building. The school grounds were purchased by the village and Mayor Fisher says the village has “begun the process of annexation,” which will provide additional space for future projects. Big challenges for the village in 2020 were budget constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cancellation of community events such as Summer Daze and Canada Day celebrations. Mayor Fisher says, “We overcame (budget challenges) through steady management and a common sense approach to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.” The village held a socially distanced Light Up The Night event, with viewing limited to drive through only, on Saturday, December 5. Donations received from the event will be used for a new underground watering system for the Hussar Cemetery in the spring of 2021. Other projects scheduled for 2021 include paving of a key intersection at Centre Street and 2nd Avenue, with work anticipated to begin in the spring. “We look for a realistic ‘can we afford it’ approach for capital project spending and a ‘hold the line’ operations budget, while ensuring the village remains strong fiscally in 2021,” Mayor Fisher said. The Village of Hussar’s council for 2020 is made up of Mayor Corey Fisher, Deputy Mayor Les Schultz, and Councillor Tim Frank. Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
A 24-year-old P.E.I. woman from the Summerside area has been fined for not following the province's COVID-19 self-isolation rules. Summerside police say the woman returned to Prince Edward Island Sunday after traveling outside the province. "We were contacted Sunday afternoon by the folks from Chief Public Health office," said Sgt. Jason Blacquiere. "This 24-year-old female we charged … she had told screening people she wasn't going to abide by the self-isolation regulations." Blacquiere said an officer was in the Charlottetown area Monday night and noticed the woman around 8 p.m. "This female is known to our members and this officer noticed her vehicle at a gas station." The woman was located and issued the $1,000 fine, said Blacquiere. The woman was released and told to go home and follow self-isolation requirements, Blacquiere said. "If people continue to refuse to abide by the conditions then there is the option and we have made some arrests under Section 180 of the Criminal Code for being a common nuisance, and that is basically endangering the safety of the public," Blacquiere said. "If the fines aren't working and people are still refusing to abide by the regulations there is potential there for criminal charges." Police didn't check on the woman Sunday night when they were informed, Blacquiere said. "Generally what happens is when somebody comes back into the province there are people assigned to follow up and make sure people are self-isolating. We just happened to know because the folks from Chief Public Health called us." Blacquiere said his department has issued about 10 fines for not self-isolating since the pandemic began. CBC contacted the Chief Public Health Office for more details on the situation, but has not yet heard back from officials. More from CBC P.E.I.
DEER LAKE, N.L. — Police in Newfoundland and Labrador said they arrested a man with a "large quantity" of knives in a parking lot outside an election candidate's office Tuesday.A spokeswoman for Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said his campaign has been advised he was likely the intended target."The police investigation is ongoing, but from what we know so far we’d like to thank the members of the public who stepped in to do what they could to prevent an unimaginable outcome, and all police officers who ensured the safety of the public," Furey spokeswoman Meghan McCabe said in a release Tuesday evening."This is a traumatic incident, for everyone working and volunteering in Newfoundland and Labrador’s election."In a news release, RCMP said they were notified Tuesday morning about a man behaving strangely, talking about guns and saying he was going to Deer Lake in western Newfoundland to stop the provincial election, which is set for Feb. 13. Deer Lake is in the Humber-Gros Morne electoral district, where Furey is running, though McCabe confirmed he was not there at the time of the incident.Police said they found the man driving a truck just outside of Deer Lake and tried unsuccessfully to flag him down. A high-speed chase ensued as the man drove through the town and finally stopped in a parking lot at a local business, in which a provincial election candidate maintains an office, police said. "The man was removed from the vehicle and was arrested in the parking lot. Officers located and seized a large quantity of various knives inside the vehicle," RCMP said in the release. "The truck was seized and impounded."The release did not name the candidate but McCabe said in a statement that Furey's campaign was told he was likely the target. "Our team is connecting with the leadership of the other political parties and connecting with our team members on the ground in Deer Lake to offer support," she said. She said Furey would release another statement as more details become available.Police said there is no longer a concern for public safety and that they anticipate the man will be charged with "a number of criminal and traffic offences." The investigation is ongoing, they said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Key Lake, Sask., is often recorded as the coldest place in Canada on specific days, despite it not being as far north as some other communities. Key Lake is about 570 kilometres north of Saskatoon. David Philips, senior climatologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said there are two major factors that contribute to Key Lake consistently registering as the coldest place in Canada when it comes to daily temperatures. "The first is topography," Phillips said in an interview with CBC Saskatchewan's The Afternoon Edition. "Wherever the thermometers are housed might be in a little bit of a dip." According to Phillips, because cold is air heavy and dense, it descends and remains in low spots. This means if the weather is being tracked in a low spot the temperatures might be a bit colder. He also mentioned that a soil difference could be responsible. "Key Lake has sandy soil and sandy soil is notorious for having wide ranges of temperature. During the day it can really warm up but at night it cools down." Phillips said that on average, more northern places like Colin's Bay and Uranium City are colder than Key Lake. "There are singular moments when Key Lake is the weather superlative of a cold pole in Canada, but on average it doesn't really come out that way." On the other end of the spectrum, Maple Creek, Sask., often records very warm winter temperatures compared to the towns around it. Maple Creek is about 350 kilometres southwest of Regina, close to the Alberta border. Phillips said Maple Creek is deserving of the title "Miami of the North" primarily because of Chinook winds. "Because Maple Creek is so close to the Saskatchewan-Albertan border, those Chinook winds can blow right across the prairies." These winds warm up the air in the area. The tables turn in the summer, however, with Maple Creek often having cooler summers than the rest of the province. "Sometimes the cold air will push in and dam up against the Cypress mountains and flow back into places like Maple Creek," Phillips said. "It has that oddity of being the warmest spot and at night be the coolest spot."