New Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall has one main objective to take advantage of the team’s closing competitive window: improve the situation in goal.
New Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall has one main objective to take advantage of the team’s closing competitive window: improve the situation in goal.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) 55 Plus Activity Centre, located in Greater Napanee, is receiving an influx of funding to support the health and well-being of local seniors during COVID-19. The organization helps seniors remain independent, in their homes and active within their community by providing quality, integrated services. MPP Daryl Kramp has announced that SOS will be receiving $42,700.00 for 2020-21 operations and maintenance and also a grant of $7,995.52 for a total of $50,695.52, according to a release from his office, dated Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021. “This is a local organization which has helped multiple generations of local seniors stay in touch and engaged for many years and that says a lot about the community it serves,” said MPP Kramp. “These funds will be important both as they operate now and as they look forward to resuming their important in-person community roles.” Kramp says this year’s investment will focus on virtual programs such as teleconferences, online videos, one-on-one phone calls to help seniors stay connected from home, and support projects such as: According to the release, the seniors population in Ontario is the fastest growing age group. By 2023, there will be 3 million Ontarians over the age of 65. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility says the past year has been especially challenging for Seniors. “Given the social isolation that COVID-19 has brought to many seniors, it is important that we look to programs that will keep them safe and connected,” said Minister Cho. “Our government’s investment in Seniors Active Living Centres helps older adults stay virtually engaged with their friends, family and communities while combatting social isolation during the pandemic.” This year’s ongoing funding has supported the application of safety control measures against the spread of COVID-19, and provided more remote and virtual programming, according to the release. Learn more about Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) on their website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
There are five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, pushing the province to more than a thousand total cases since last March. Of the cases, four are in the Eastern Health region. All of the new cases in the Eastern Health region are either close contacts of previous cases or travel-related. There is a new positive case in the Western Health region, and it's related to international travel. There have been 33 new recoveries. The total number of active cases is now 121, while the total number of cases in the province in the past year is now 1,002. There are eight people in hospital. Of these patients, two are in intensive care. Meanwhile, passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8996 that departed Halifax and arrived in St. John's on Thursday, Feb. 25 should call 811 to arrange to get a COVID-19 test. Positive case closes Trepassey Community Health Clinic One of the new cases announced on Thursday in the Eastern Health region is a health-care worker at the Trepassey Community Health Clinic. Contact tracing by Public Health officials is underway. The clinic is closed for the day, following a positive test for the virus, according to a media release from Eastern Health. Since testing positive, the person has been isolating themselves at home. Patients who have appointments at the clinic will be rebooked and anyone who requires immediate care should call either the Ferryland Health and Community Service Clinic at 709-432-2930 or the St. Mary's Health Centre at 709-525-2980. Anyone who has one symtpom of COVID-19 can complete the online self-assessment tool at www.811healthline.ca to arrange testing. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
HALIFAX — Premier Iain Rankin says Nova Scotia should have enough COVID-19 vaccine to give all residents at least one shot by the end of June. Rankin told reporters today following his first cabinet meeting as premier that his estimate is based on new federal government guidelines about increasing the interval between first and second doses of vaccine. He says he will likely have more details about the province's plan at Friday's COVID-19 briefing. The province is to get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week, which will complement Nova Scotia's vaccine supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Health officials are also announcing that restrictions on restaurant operating hours and sporting events will be lifted in Halifax and its surrounding regions on Friday morning. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today, all in the Halifax area. Two involve contacts of previously reported cases and the third is under investigation. The province has 29 active reported cases of the disease. Residents of long-term care homes in the Halifax area are still limited to receiving visits from two designated caregivers. Officials say the restrictions for long-term care residents will remain in place in the region until March 27. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
To anyone looking into Kim Switzer’s backyard last week, they might have seen what looked to be Switzer playing with her son, Memphis. But despite the singing, the dancing, the laughter, and the pure joy on their faces, the pair were actually working; tromping around in snowshoes in a very particular way to create a 12-foot-wide flat circle in the snow that would serve as the starting point for a backyard igloo. The joy was much needed for Switzer, who thrives when she is outside but has found it difficult to do so this winter in the way she needs for optimum mental health. “For me, it’s pure joy,” she said. “I love nature, it’s rejuvenating for me. It’s uplifting.” Being a single mom of three, homeschooling her kids, experiencing the death of a parent and the loss of a business, all while living through the pandemic and experiencing a lack of winter camping left Switzer feeling discouraged. “My whole winter has been [hard], I haven’t been out, I haven’t been out anywhere,” she said. Then, the kindness of a stranger and the connection made available through social media turned Switzer’s winter around. An avid outdoorsperson herself, she follows like-minded people on social media for ideas, inspiration and friendship. When she saw Martin Pine, who is from Huntsville, share about igloos he was making, she quickly sent him a message asking if he might come to her house and build one in her yard. “The next thing I know, I get a message in my inbox that says, ‘you’re like the third person who’s asked me about building an igloo in their yard, and you’re the only one that’s actually close enough that could actually make it possible,’” she said. Switzer was exuberant with excitement, in the manner, she said, of “a little kid in a candy shop.” “And I still am,” she said, the week after the igloo was built. After she and Memphis had created the starting point in the yard for the igloo, Pine visited the backyard and helped to teach Switzer the technique he has perfected using a contraption called, fittingly, an Icebox Igloo Tool. “He pops open this little itty, bitty, tiny, square box that I would say is definitely less than six inches thick, and maybe a foot wide by 18 inches long,” she said. “It folds all up and it’s meant to strap on your back so you can take it anywhere.” With the Icebox Igloo Tool, Switzer said Pine can generally build an igloo in about four or five hours but she said it took them more time as she was asking questions and learning the process of packing the snow, following the angle guide and creating an igloo that can hold the weight of a person leaning against it. “There were plenty of times where he was like, ‘you’re so concentrated,’” she said. “I was just soaking it all in. I learned so much about snow, and even going around the circle I learned how snow changes state ever so slightly. In the shade, it packs this way, but as you come around and you’re in the sun, it becomes a little more wet, and a little bit more sticky … How different snow packs and moves and blends, it’s pretty wild, actually.” When it was finished, Switzer said she was able to get her much-needed outdoor time, sleeping overnight in the igloo, spending time in it with her ukulele, even eating a take-out meal from the Mill Pond restaurant in the shelter. Pine’s unmonetized YouTube channel has almost 10,000 subscribers and his instructional videos of canoe camping, winter camping, bushcraft, meal preparation and igloo construction have accumulated thousands of views. “I love backcountry camping and I have always lamented that so few people avail themselves of the opportunities we have here in Ontario for getting out into nature and camping in the backcountry,” he told the Times. “I determined many years ago that what keeps people from camping in the backcountry – as opposed to say, car camping in a serviced site in a park – is a simple lack of practical knowledge about how to go about [it].” He shares his knowledge online and was happy to help Switzer learn how to make her own igloo in her backyard – for the price of a cup of coffee or two. “As a boy, growing up in rural Quebec, I loved making and camping in snow shelters called quinzhees, which is essentially a large pile of shovelled snow which one then hollows out to resemble a crude igloo-like shelter,” said Pine. Pine said he knew that igloos were sturdier shelters that could remain standing longer and would not result in the builder getting soaked in their creation. “But the Inuit built their igloos out of a type of snow that is not found in this part of the country, namely hard-sintered, wind-packed snow, which can then be shaped during the building process.” Pine purchased the Icebox Igloo Tool, an invention created by an American mountaineer in Colorado, “Igloo Ed,” that allows him to make snow bricks regardless of the snow conditions. While Switzer’s igloo has suffered in recent weather conditions, she sees the resulting hole in the top of the igloo as an opportunity – one to provide a chance to look up at the stars, and also, to learn about how to fix the problem in her own backyard igloo as experience for if she builds one at another time in backcountry. “I’ve got to learn, and you learn from trial and error, mistakes, whatever it might be,” she said. “It’s been four or five days of just an abundance of information.” The igloo in the backyard of her Carnarvon home has lifted her spirits tremendously. “This is the highlight of my winter,” said Switzer. “That right there made my entire winter.” For more information, visit Pine’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/PineMartyn. Sue Tiffin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times
LONDON — U.K. authorities have launched an investigation into Apple's App Store over concerns it has a dominant role that stifles competition and hurts consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday it was looking into “suspected breaches of competition law" by Apple. The announcement adds to regulatory scrutiny of the iPhone maker's app distribution platform, which is also the subject of three antitrust probes by the European Union's executive Commission. Apple said the App Store is “a safe and trusted place for customers” and a “great business opportunity for developers.” The investigation was triggered in part by complaints from app developers that Apple will only let them distribute their apps to iPhone and iPad users through the App Store. The developers also complained that the company requires any purchases of apps, add-ons or upgrades to be made through its Apple Pay system, which charges up to 30% commission. “Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Andrea Coscelli, the authority's CEO, said in a statement. “So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny." The watchdog said it would consider whether Apple has a “dominant position" in app distribution for Apple devices in the U.K., and, if it does, whether the company “imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers” that results in less choice or higher prices for consumers buying apps and extra. Apple said it looked forward to explaining its App Store guidelines to the U.K. watchdog. “We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish," the company said by email. “The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent." The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Financial technology company Square, Inc. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z. Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square, the payments company founded by CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder and chief executive of Twitter. Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its financial systems. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in the statement announcing the deal. . Jay-Z said in the statement that the “partnership will be a game-changer for many.” I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!" The Associated Press
Some Ontario pharmacies could be offering COVID-19 vaccines as early as next week as part of a provincial pilot program rolling out in three regions. Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex are the three areas involved in the project, according to Justin Bates, the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA). It's not known yet how many doses would be assigned to pharmacies or how many will be participating. Bates said a comprehensive list of participating stores will be finalized by Monday. Tentatively, however, the plan is for the selected pharmacies to use the newly approved AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Bates said the three regions were chosen in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. "The three public health units were very much advanced in their vaccination plans as it related to determining what role pharmacies would play in those regions," he said. "But we're planning to scale up and we'll be adding more stores. We want all pharmacies to be able to participate once the vaccine is available." Vaccine expires at the end of March, says OPA The OPA is currently working on the details of the plan, said Bates, and are aiming to distribute vaccines across 380 stores in total. However, timing is a factor for the supply as the first shipment of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is set to expire at the end of this month. "We have a very short window to operationalise this and get all of those vaccines into arms, and that's part of the reason why we're launching next week," said Bates. "We're doing it on a limited basis because that'll give us enough vaccine for those 380 stores to get it out of their pharmacies by the end of the month." Justin Bates, the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says time and supply is limited. The group is aiming to distribute vaccines across 380 stores in total.(Tahmina Aziz/CBC) Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor and Essex County, said the additional vaccines are "good news." "This means more protection. More vaccines in our community. We really want people to use that opportunity to get vaccinated," said Ahmed. The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations isn't recommending the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for those 65 and older, and those who are younger will be the target group for these doses. Health Canada has authorized it to be used in adults of all ages. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, said having additional vaccines is "good news."(Katerina Georgieva/CBC) OPA confirmed that this month's AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines will be used on people between the ages of 60 and 64. "Then [we] will lower the thresholds — probably in increments of five years — in intervals, when we get into April and we have more supply," Bates said. "It's going to go sequentially." This means following the vaccination of people in the cohort of 60 and 64, the next set of people to be vaccinated would be those between of ages of 55 and 59 years and so forth. "I'm super excited,' says Essex, Ont. pharmacist The pilot project is what some pharmacists, including Tim Brady, the owner of Brady's Drug Stores, in Essex, Ont. have been pushing for. While the OPA is finalizing a list of locations for this project, Brady is hopeful his pharmacies will make the cut. "We know it's happening, it's developing and growing rapidly and we're trying to stay on top of it, but I know everybody will step up and do the best we can to make sure people get the injections they need," he said. "I'm super excited. We've been waiting for this. The pharmacists of Ontario and that of Essex County are ready to put needles in arms and get the people of Essex County back to a normal life again." Pharmacist Tim Brady says he's excited about the pilot project and has been waiting for this.(Amy Dodge/CBC) Brady said the move to allow pharmacists to vaccinate is a good one, given they are equipped for mass vaccinations. "Even over this COVID year, the Ontario pharmacists are giving over a million injections a year for the flu vaccine. So this is just a natural extension of that," he said. Brady said the most challenging part for him is the logistics of the plan and he expects his pharmacy to be busy if it's part of the project. He said his pharmacy will likely follow an appointment system. Brady urges people to stay patient as not all pharmacies will have the vaccine yet. "I want everyone to stay calm. Every pharmacy will inevitably have it," he said.
NEW YORK — Long before she became a Tony Award-winning choreographer, Ann Reinking waited tables to save up enough money to move to New York City. She arrived with $500, no job lined up and no connections. When she died at 71 last year, Reinking left behind many fans, friends and students as well as a legacy of a cool, muscular dance hybrid of jazz and burlesque. In her honour, friends and admirers have established The Ann Reinking Scholarship, a $5,000 annual award and mentorship for a young dancer moving to New York City to help support them in their artistic endeavours. “She was one of the most profoundly generous people that I’ve known,” says Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who co-starred with Reinking in “Chicago” on Broadway. “This honours that in a way that also references her story of coming to New York.” The scholarship is being awarded by Off the Lane, a mentorship program for young performers moving to New York. It will be open to anyone, from anywhere, with a cut-off age of 21. “Teaching to her was such an important part of her, mentoring and nurturing new artists and helping them along the way,” said Neuwirth. “I think to have a scholarship in her name keeps that generosity of spirit going.” Trained as a ballet dancer in her native Seattle, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the hit revival of “Chicago,” complete with net stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them. Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids. Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world. Mindy Cooper, who was a swing in that 1996 “Chicago” revival, recalls once asking Reinking career advice that changed the arc of her career. She also remembers Reinking one day bringing her son to rehearsals at “Chicago,” an encouraging signal that Broadway dancers could also have a family life. “She created such a safe environment for performers to bring to the room with courage and artistry,” said Cooper, now a professor of theatre and dance at University of California, Davis. “Annie grew up in the ballet world like myself and came to theatre from ballet. So we wanted to make a scholarship that could embrace all forms of dance.” The advisory board for the scholarship includes Cooper, Neuwirth and such Broadway luminaries as Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Tommy Tune, Marilu Henner, Hinton Battle, Charlotte d’Amboise, Reinking's husband, Peter Talbert, and son, Chris Reinking Stuart. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
An afternoon traffic stop on Keith Ave. in Terrace led to the seizure of substances which police suspect are methamphetamine and purple fentanyl, according to an RCMP media release. On March 2, 2021, police received a report from a member of the public of a potentially impaired driver. RCMP located the vehicle on Keith Ave. and conducted a traffic stop. A roadside screening of the driver led police to believe the driver was impaired by drugs, and police observed the passenger trying to hide bags of a white substance between their legs. RCMP arrested the passenger for possessing a controlled substance and failure to comply with an undertaking. The vehicle was impounded and the driver was given a driving prohibition and several violation tickets. A search incidental to arrest turned up gloves, which contained suspected methamphetamine and purple fentanyl. The matter has been forwarded to court. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Apple could face an EU antitrust charge sheet in the coming weeks after a complaint by rival Spotify that it unfairly pushed its own music streaming service, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The European Commission could send the statement of objections setting out suspected violations of the bloc's antitrust rules to Apple before the summer, one of the people said. The case is one of four opened by the EU competition enforcer against Apple in June last year.
The young founders of Green Ummah had big plans for 2020, including a major push in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to get Ontario’s mosques and other Islamic institutions to think more about sustainability. The COVID-19 pandemic thwarted much of the newly formed non-profit’s ambition, prompting the law students and other young people involved to shift focus as they seek to build the green movement within Canada’s Muslim communities, which number around one million people. “For us now, it’s about uplifting our youth, youth of colour, Muslim youth, youth that haven’t always fit the narrative when it comes to the environmental movement,” said Aadil Nathani, a co-founder of Green Ummah (ummah is the Arabic word for community, and typically describes the global Muslim community). Environmentalism has long been dominated by mostly white conservationists, and the broader movement has only recently begun to directly engage with more marginalized communities, which are often most acutely impacted by climate change. “We’re trying to get Muslim kids of all racial and ethnic backgrounds and cultures outside and connecting with nature, because at the end of the day, if you have a connection with nature, you're going to be more inclined to act in a sustainable way and (an) environmentally friendly way,” said Nathani, who grew up in Toronto and last year graduated from law school at the University of Windsor. Green Ummah is being aided in that effort by Nature Canada, one of the country’s oldest nature conservation charities, which has in recent years turned its focus to a similar goal. “We are really trying to amplify the voices that are in the spaces already,” said Camille Koon, the organizer for Nature Canada’s NatureHood program, which works with Green Ummah and more than a dozen other groups across the country to help young people and their families in urban environments connect with nature. “Our organization is trying very hard to make sure that we are building towards a holistic and inclusive movement for climate justice,” Nathani said. To that end, Green Ummah will this weekend host what it is calling Canada’s first Muslim-led environmental conference, a digital event bringing together a range of scholars, experts and green practitioners sparking conversation about how Islam relates to the environment. The event, running from noon until 3:30 p.m. on March 6 and 7, is a pay-what-you-can affair that will feature U.S. imam Saffet Catovic, who contributed to the drafting in 2019 of a fatwa, or Islamic legal opinion, by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) on fossil fuel divestment. Around 80 people have so far registered to join, including people from the United States, South Africa, and Australia. Saturday’s panels and speakers will address Muslims directly on how to integrate green principles into their daily lives and the religious backing for environmental protection. “It’s a responsibility, according to the Qur’an, that God gave us to look after the planet, and to me, that’s also a huge burden and one that we’ve lost track of, we haven’t stayed on top of, but tides are hopefully changing,” Nathani said. On Sunday, the focus will turn to making sure the green movement makes space for marginalized voices and opportunities for Muslim/Indigenous solidarity. “It’s very important not to lose touch with the fact that we don’t only have these principles from Islamic traditions, we can also try to build bridges between Muslim groups in Canada and Indigenous people in Canada who have been taking care of Turtle Island for longer than we’ve been here,” Nathani said, noting the similarity between the Indigenous seven generations principle and exhortations in Islam for its adherents to act as khalifa, or guardians, of the planet. Mosques, as the central hub of a devout Muslim’s social life, can have an outsized influence on their congregation’s behaviour, Nathani said. “We need the mosques to really be more eco-friendly, and to really start pushing the environmental message, the green message,” he said. “If we can show that there is a religious backing, and we can get everyone to know their religious responsibilities, then Muslim people will be more inclined to act,” he said. Nathani said specific steps the community can take to lessen its environmental impact could be as simple as encouraging worshippers to use less water during the cleansing process conducted prior to praying, which observant Muslims do five times a day. Community leaders can also go further by, for example, creating community gardens or installing bike racks so those who live beyond walking distance from the mosque don’t have to drive, as well as including climate education in sermons, lectures and informal conversations. “The time to act is now, the time to act was actually yesterday, but it’s never too late to start changing your own habits, to start influencing your family and their habits and your wider community and their habits.” Green Ummah is also putting the finishing touches on a four-module curriculum it expects to test out in a handful of Islamic schools across the province starting in September. The courses provide an introduction to climate science and how to be more green, a deeper dive in the connection between Islam and the environment, a critique of environmental racism, and the relationship between Islamic and Indigenous green principles and the law. Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
County of Haliburton council decided not to up its 15 per cent corporate emissions reduction target despite staff presenting options for higher goals. It targets a 15 per cent reduction in emissions from 2018 levels by 2030. But McKay presented other options such as increasing that figure to 30 per cent to align with federal and provincial targets, or 45 per cent to follow the best science and help further limit global warming. McKay provided examples of similar municipalities aiming for different goals, from Sault Ste. Marie at 10 per cent to the District of Muskoka targeting a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. “We are seeing unprecedented levels of action by all levels of government, shifting from incremental action toward transformative action,” McKay said. “Experts are warning us this is the critical decade to maintain a livable climate … A 45 per cent reduction is one that is based in science. "Cutting our emissions essentially in half would require bold leadership but we would not be alone in this endeavour.” Councillors expressed concerns about upping the target. Deputy warden Patrick Kennedy said the County faces pressure with more people moving to the area permanently. “Fifteen (per cent) is still an admirable goal to achieve with what’s coming,” Kennedy said. Coun. Carol Moffatt said the municipalities passed budgets and she would want more information on financial implications before approving a higher target. “I would like a multi-year rough projection of what it’s going to do to our budget so we can plan and prepare for it adequately, as opposed to taking a leap of faith for the good of the world,” Moffatt said. “We need to do both.” Environment Haliburton! vice-president Terry Moore said he was upset by how the conversation played out. “The financial budget, they’re not going to matter much when we don’t have a climate that’s conducive to civilization,” Moore said. He said there is not enough of a community movement on the issue versus a place like Muskoka. He lamented the County’s approach to finish a corporate plan before beginning consultations for a separate community plan. “There is nowhere near enough pressure. Council’s not going to lead on this,” Moore said. Warden Liz Danielsen said council will look for more information from McKay as she continues her work. “We’re all recognizing it is a moving landscape,” Danielsen said. “Just because we’re not making a change today, does not mean we won’t do that down the road, and even not too long from now.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
The explosive interview will air Sunday, March 7.
A mechanical whir fills the room as a sling slowly lifts a patient out of her hospital bed. "Wow, it's fun to see you like that," says nurse Caroline Brochu, as the woman is lowered into a chair. After spending nearly two weeks on a ventilator, severely sick with COVID-19, the patient had been extubated a few days earlier. She's slowly being weaned off the oxygen and has regained enough strength to start physiotherapy. In her early 70s, the woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at Cité-de-la-Santé hospital in Laval in early February. Like many of the patients the hospital has treated, she was generally healthy before she contracted the virus. "No comorbidities," said Dr. Joseph Dahine, an intensive care specialist. "Just high blood pressure and a little bit of asthma." Psychologists regularly check in with the ICU staff to see how they are coping with the exhaustion and emotional strain of COVID-19.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) The unknown road ahead In mid-February, CBC Montreal was granted exclusive access to the hospital's intensive care unit. A year into the pandemic, it's still difficult to predict who will only need a few days of oxygen to bounce back and who will be on a ventilator for weeks. But what is clear is the virus spares no one. The ICU has treated severely ill patients as young as 24. Back in January, about two-thirds of the patients were under 60. At the time of CBC's visit, there were five patients. Over the past 11 months, the ICU has treated a total of 175 patients. Twenty-five have died. During that time, the ICU has worked in uncharted territory, with personnel at times risking their own health to ensure those suffering the most severe COVID-19 complications get care. WATCH | Staff inside the ICU talk about the cases that still haunt them and the unknown road ahead: "Trying to keep the morale has been the hardest aspect of all of this," said Joanie Bolduc-Dionne, the ICU's head nurse. "Right now, we have some fantastic psychologists that come day, evening, night to support the team." The psychologists visit to get a sense of how staff are coping, and what they might be struggling with, she said. Family has to stay at a distance Life inside the ICU can be an emotional roller-coaster — for the staff, the patients and their families. The daughter of the woman who was recently extubated has arrived for a visit but she has to stay outside the room because her mother could still be contagious. The distance is painful for both of them. Exhausted from the effort of sitting and eating, the woman is back in her bed. Her eyes fill with tears as she looks at her daughter through the glass door. "It's harder to see her now, like this," said the daughter, turning to a nurse. "When she was intubated that was bad, but at least she didn't realize she was in that situation. Now, she knows what's going on. Dr. Joseph Dahine, pictured at right, consults with the ICU team at Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval. Treating COVID-19 patients requires constant re-calibration to pinpoint what may be causing a patient's deterioration.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Startling deterioration Following CBC's visit, the woman had an unexpected setback overnight. During her sleep, her heart started to race. The ICU team managed to bring her heart rate back down, but the doctor on shift is concerned about her breathing, which is rapid and shallow. "If we can't give you enough oxygen and you are tired with the mask, and if we don't intubate you, well, it's death," Dr. Dahine tells the woman. With a resigned nod, she agrees to be re-intubated as a last resort. As she continues to deteriorate over the next few days, doctors have no choice but to put her back on a ventilator. It's a sobering reminder of just how unpredictable this virus can still be. At the beginning of March, the patient was brought out of the induced coma, but still needs a ventilator to breathe. She had to undergo a tracheotomy. She can only communicate with her family and the staff by blinking. "She still has a long way to go to recovery but at least she is no longer in a coma," said Bolduc-Dionne. At the height of the first wave, Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital had 22 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The week CBC visited, there were five. Although the number of cases appears to be stabilizing, health officials are worried variants of the coronavirus could trigger a third wave.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Although the number of COVID-19 cases may appear stable, the volume of cases linked to variants of the coronavirus is rising rapidly. 'The fight is not over' On Tuesday, Quebec's health minister continued to warn people to remain vigilant over the March break. This week, Laval's ICU accepted two new patients to the red zone, which is strictly for those who are severely ill with COVID-19. "The fight is not over," said Bolduc-Dionne. As the vaccination effort in Quebec gathers steam, staff here hope people don't forget there's a parallel battle being fought in the ICU, a battle the public doesn't see. "I hope they realize that [the virus] is really dangerous and that you can infect people you love," said nurse Caroline Brochu.
TORONTO — About 13 years ago, screen acting coach Dean Armstrong got a phone call from a prominent talent agent asking him for a favour. The agent had come across "a very unique, very special, very exceptional" young actor from Toronto who needed monetary support to learn the craft, and Armstrong agreed to provide a rare scholarship for him at his Armstrong Acting Studios in the city. That actor was Jahmil French, who proved to be one of the "great ones," says Armstrong: a gifted performer with an insatiable appetite for deepening his skills; a bright light in any room he entered; a dance lover who busted a move virtually anywhere he went; and a supportive colleague who raised the bar for everyone around him. "He had such a raw, intuitive and natural ability for emotional access," Armstrong, director of the acting school, said in an interview. "There was a real physiological ownership of roles that he tackled." "It's very sad when someone like Jahmil, as young as he was, who truly hadn't reached his full potential, had it all disappear so quickly," he said. Armstrong is among many in the film and TV industry sharing fond memories of the actor who rose to fame on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," after news of his death at the age of 29. The circumstances surrounding French's death haven't been revealed by his representatives, but Armstrong says it happened last weekend. "He was very mature for his age but also very hungry to be challenged," said actor Salvatore Antonio, who started teaching French over a decade ago at Armstrong Acting Studios, which has had several "Degrassi" alumni as students. "After meeting with him, I saw almost instantly that he was above the rest in terms of his willingness to challenge himself." French grew up in Toronto with a single mom who was "very supportive" and "quite pivotal in helping to get him in acting classes," said Antonio. Those classes led to his role as high-school student Dave Turner from 2009 to 2013 on the Toronto-shot "Degrassi: The Next Generation," and a slew of other credits, including the Netflix series "Soundtrack," the Pop TV show "Let's Get Physical," and the Canadian film "Boost," for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination. When he was performing, French had instincts far beyond his years, said Antonio, artistic director at the school, which plans to create a scholarship in French's name. French once performed scenes from the film "Requiem for a Dream" in class, which sent chills up Antonio's spine and had the other students wiping away tears and watching "with their mouths agape." "I may have been in the role as a teacher, but he taught me a lot about acting, especially in terms of being brave and courageous in the choices that he made," Antonio said. "Some of the most beautiful work that I've seen done on camera happened in some of those classes in terms of what Jahmil did." French's vulnerability and magnetic energy in his acting elevated the work of his scene partners and inspired others "to bring their A-game," said Antonio. Toronto actor Craig Arnold, who played Luke Baker on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," was inspired by French's skills. "Everyone talks about how he was just so good. It really made me feel like, 'OK, this is possible, I can do this,'" Arnold said from the set of "The Expanse" in Toronto. "He was so supportive of me and nice to me, so open and wanted everyone to do well," said Arnold. "It really inspired me early on and gave me a lot of confidence." French was also an "amazing dancer" who could hardly sit still in a chair and would often display moves between takes, said Antonio. Arnold recalled dining out with French and others after an acting class and seeing him spring into action when music started playing. "He stood up and went into this huge dance routine in the middle of the restaurant," Arnold said. "Everyone in the whole place was smiling and loving it." French was also driven, intensely tuned in, and hungry to learn, said Antonio. "He wanted to be great. He articulated that more than once. He's like, 'I just want to be really, really good at what I do,' and I respected that," Antonio said from Montreal, where he's shooting the upcoming CW series "The Republic of Sarah." "He had an effortless charm to him, which I know a lot of people have spoken about. And he could have rested on those laurels, you know — good looking kid, natural charm, very outgoing. He could have rested on those inherent qualities and stayed in the same lane for the majority of his career. But he really wanted something more." Antonio stopped working with French as his teacher three or four years ago but they kept in touch regularly, seeing movies together and texting back and forth about acting questions French had. "I was so proud of what Jahmil had accomplished in such a short period of time, and I was really looking forward to more — and that's the part that is the saddest for me," he said. Armstrong last spoke with French in December, when the rising star reached out asking for advice on a confusing passage in one of the popular acting books by Konstantin Stanislavski. "It's interesting to have a talent — in his pastime, on the heels of so much wonderful success — to continue his development, his journey as an artist, by reading books about his craft," said Armstrong. "He was always hungry for insight, always hungry for thoughts, ideas on how to be better, and to better understand himself. A real sign of a true artist — never satisfied, always wanting more." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Alberta will be delaying second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for up to four months, instead of the current 42 days, which is expected to allow all Albertans over the age of 18 to get their first dose by early summer. On Wednesday, Alberta decided to follow recommendation issued earlier in the day by the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI), which calls for a four-month window between the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. New research from Quebec, British Columbia, Israel and the U.K. shows the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were providing 70 to 80 per cent effectiveness against the virus two months after the first dose. Once a second dose is given, long-term protection against the virus will be provided. In delaying the second dose, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it will allow for more Albertans to receive that first dose and be protected against the virus more quickly. Nationally, it is estimated all Canadians over the age of 18 will be able to get the first shot by early summer under this new distribution plan. “We’ve seen research from other jurisdictions that indicates one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine offers a huge boost in immunity, with Canadian data indicating about 80 per cent protection after the first dose," Hinsahw said. "This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose. The more people that we can offer this protection to in the coming weeks and months, the more effective we will be at stopping spread," Hinshaw said. Hinshaw said the evidence on COVID-19 is constantly evolving and it is critical that the province uses the most up-to-date information to refine the provincial plan for combating the virus. The top doctor said the second dose is still important to help provide long-term protection. Starting March 10, anyone who books their first dose will have their second dose timeline extended from the original 42-day window up to the 16-week window. Second dose appointments will no longer be booked during the first dose, and Albertans will now be sent a reminder to book their second dose. Right now, three vaccines have been approved for distribution in Canada, with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine now joining the Pfizer and Moderna products. The province is slated to get some of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week, though it is not known exactly how much. "We are still working to confirm exactly how many doses we will receive, and when they will arrive. We hope to update you soon on how these vaccines will be distributed here in Alberta," Hinshaw said. The province will not be distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 because it is not as effective on that age cohort. "What's clear is that all three of these vaccines reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and prevent serious outcomes, including hospitalization and death," Hinshaw said. About 255,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province, and more than 89,000 people have now been fully immunized with two doses, she said. "This is great news for our most vulnerable Albertans and those who care for them." Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
The Peace River Regional District will be going ahead with plans for a new public library in Chetwynd, after board directors voted in favour of issuing requests for proposals for design and construction at their Feb. 25 meeting. The new library is a joint effort between Area E and Chetwynd. A lean-to style building is being floated as one possible option. Costs are capped at $5 million. “This has been going on for awhile, we’re trying to get costs down to something we can afford,” said Director Dan Rose. “We’ve got floor plans and ideas of what it might look like, so they’re not starting from scratch.” He added the library has extensive experience working remotely as a satellite office. "We’re certainly willing to accommodate as many communities as we can, with our services. I’m sure we could make agreements with everybody on how to do that,” said Rose. Fort St John Mayor Ackerman agreed a regional approach could be a good move for libraries in the Peace. “I’m totally open to having that conversation, even though the library in Fort St John is not a municipal library,” said Ackerman. “If you’re suggesting a regional library, I’m on that bandwagon.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says the city will lend a hand if Chetwynd needs. “I appreciate how busy it is in Chetwynd right now. If they have any trouble at all in locating a site or land for this Chetwynd Public Library, we’d be happy to help facilitate that partnership with them, and construct it in Dawson Creek,” said Bumstead, jokingly. email@example.com Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News