The head of an international delegation monitoring the U.S. elections said on Thursday his team has no evidence to support President Donald Trump's claims about alleged fraud involving mail-in absentee ballots. (Nov. 5)
The head of an international delegation monitoring the U.S. elections said on Thursday his team has no evidence to support President Donald Trump's claims about alleged fraud involving mail-in absentee ballots. (Nov. 5)
A historic meeting between Israel's prime minister and Saudi Arabia's crown prince has sent a strong signal to allies and enemies alike that the two countries remain deeply committed to containing their common foe Iran. Last Sunday's covert meeting in the Saudi city of Neom, confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh, conveyed a coordinated message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that Washington's main allies in the region are closing ranks. It was the first publicly confirmed visit to Saudi Arabia by an Israeli leader and a meeting that was unthinkable until recently as the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.
FORGET the gymnasium — driveways, sidewalks and parking lots are becoming popular alternatives for phys-ed students keen to both work out and volunteer to shovel snow in their communities this season. With Manitoba public health officials promoting outdoor learning as much as possible to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 amid the pandemic, teachers are finding creative ways to keep students active outside no matter the season. Tim Morison was clearing his driveway in Starbuck earlier this year, when he realized he was participating in a perfect phys-ed lesson. Not only is shovelling an intense physical activity, he said, but also an opportunity to both learn how specific muscles work (in this case, biceps, triceps, quads, hamstrings and calves, among others) and the importance of community involvement. “I’ve always been a firm believer that we take care of the community; community comes first,” said Morison, who teaches phys-ed at Starbuck School in the Red River Valley School Division. “And trying to teach these kids how… doing something for someone else can cheer them up — especially during this time, when everything’s so negative with COVID.” Morison recruited his students to deliver flyers to houses and businesses around Starbuck (located 30 kilometres west of Winnipeg) to inform residents the school’s phys-ed students planned to help clear snow in town throughout the winter. On such days, the phys-ed teacher said he plans to take each of his classes out to walk around with shovels to clear as many driveways as possible during the school day. “Now, we’re just waiting for snow,” Morison said, adding the first significant snowfall of the season occurred during an in-service school day last week. He put out a request to families anyway and more than 10 students showed up to clear snow, even though they had the day off. In the Manitoba capital, the phys-ed department at Maples Collegiate has a similar idea. The Winnipeg high school put out a call to families asking if anyone within walking distance from the facility was interested in having students clear snow during school hours. “We are hoping to help clear the snow of homes of seniors, those living with a disability/illness, or those that can use the extra help,” states the notice. Less than 24 hours after it was sent, phys-ed teacher Matt Medwick said at least seven people had signed up for the volunteer service. “This is just one more thing that might really help people feel better in general, on both ends,” Medwick said. Maples teachers have been incorporating activities such as mindfulness and yoga to improve students’ mental health this term. Research shows learning in natural environments is beneficial to students’ stress levels, overall well-being, and helps them focus when they return to a classroom setting. “When teachers conduct that kind of a lesson, they’ll see a major increase in interest and motivation, when kids are allowed to explore questions they have,” said Mike Link, assistant professor of education at the University of Winnipeg, who researches the link between outdoor education and student well-being. Link said the pivot to outdoor lessons during the pandemic will likely affect how much time educators spend outside in the future, given they have now experienced first-hand the positives of teaching outdoors. Starbuck principal Dale Fust said the school will continue to promote outdoor phys-ed in the future, given how successful Morison’s snow-shovelling idea and overall programming has been this fall. Morison — who was booted from the school’s gymnasium when it was converted into two classrooms — has created a winter survival unit. He’s teaching students how to build a shelter, start a fire, boil water, and diagnose frostbite and hypothermia. “We’re reaching the kids who don’t necessarily succeed in a traditional phys-ed environment — the traditional volleyball, sports kind of thing,” said Fust, who oversees the K-8 school of approximately 170. The buy-in from kids has been phenomenal, Morison said. “I’m going to carry on with this for the rest of my career.”Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
LIBOURNE, France — Jim, from Taiwan, slipped a face mask inside the greeting card he sent to Santa and marked “I (heart) u." Alina, 5, asked in her Santa letter written with an adult's help that he please use the front door when he drops in, because the back door is reserved for Grandma and Grandpa to minimize their risk of contamination.And spilling out her heavy little heart to “Dear Father Christmas,” 10-year-old Lola wrote that she is wishing “that my aunt never has cancer again and that this virus no longer exists.”“My mother is a care-giver and sometimes I am scared for her,” Lola explained, signing off her handwritten letter with, “Take care of yourself Father Christmas, and of the Elves.”The emotional toll wrought by the pandemic is jumping off pages in the deluge of “Dear Santa” letters now pouring into a post office in southwest France that sorts and responds to his mail from around the world.Arriving by the tens of thousands, the letters, notes and cards — some mere scribbles, other elaborate labours of love in colored pens — are revealing windows into the tender minds of their young authors, and of adult Santa fans also asking for respite and happiness, at the tail end of a year of sickness and tumult.Like this letter from young Zoe, who limited her requests to a music player and amusement park tickets because “this year has been very different from others because of COVID-19.”“That’s why I am not asking you for many thing(s) to avoid infection,” Zoe wrote, signing off with “Merci!” and a heart.In theory, and often in practice, any letter addressed "Pere Noel" — French for Father Christmas — and slipped into any post box around the world is likely to wend its way to the sorting office in France's Bordeaux region that has been handling his mail since 1962. Toiling out of sight among vineyards, his secretariat of workers (who call themselves “elves”) spends the months of November and December slicing open envelopes decorated with hearts, stickers and colours, and spreading Santa magic by responding on his behalf.From the first letters opened at the secretariat from Nov. 12, it quickly became apparent how the pandemic is weighing on children, says the chief elf, Jamila Hajji. Along with the usual pleas for toys and gadgets were also requests for vaccines, for visits from grandparents, for life to return to the way it was. One letter in three mentions the pandemic in some way, Hajji says.“The kids have been very affected by COVID, more than we think. They are very worried. And what they want most of all, apart from presents, is really to be able to have a normal life, the end of COVID, a vaccine,” she says.“The letters to Father Christmas are a sort of release for them. All this year, they have been in lockdowns, they have been deprived of school, deprived of their grandpas and grandmas. Their parents have been occupied by the health crisis and whatnot. So we, of course, can tell that the children are putting into words everything they have felt during this period."“We are like elf therapists," she adds.Replying to 12,000 letters per day, the team of 60 elves sets aside some that move them or catch the eye. Lola's is among those that have stood out so far, with its heartfelt confession to Santa that “this year more than the others, I need magic and to believe in you.” The elves say their sense is that children are confiding worries that they may not have shared with parents.Emma Barron, a psychiatrist specializing in the mental health of children and adolescents at the Robert Debré pediatric hospital in Paris, says landmark dates, including birthdays and holidays like Christmas, provide structure in childhood. Amid the pandemic's uncertainty, the Dec. 25 anchor of Christmas is particularly important to kids this year.“Children are quite surprising in that they can adapt to many things,” Barron says. “But rhythms, rituals and things like that are an integral part of children's mental stability."As the letters flood in, it's also clear that this goes beyond childhood. Santa is proving a beacon to adults, too, with some writing to him for the first time since they were kids.One asked for “a pandemic of love.” A 77-year-old lamented that “lockdown is no fun! I live alone.” A grandparent asked Santa to “say ‘Hi' to my two grandkids that I won't be able to see this year because of the health situation.”“Your mission will be hard this year," wrote Anne-Marie, another adult suppliant. "You will need to sprinkle stars across the entire world, to calm everyone and revive our childhood souls, so we can dream, at last, and let go.”—-Follow AP’s virus coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakJohn Leicester, The Associated Press
The team at the IISD Experimental Lakes Area is celebrating a successful, albeit pared down, research season and preparing to continue COVID-19-safe protocols into the winter. This spring, the spread of the global pandemic made it clear a regular season at the world-renowned freshwater research facility operated by International Institute for Sustainable Development (about 70 kilometres east of Kenora, Ont.) would be impossible. “This year, we decided to really prioritize our long-term monitoring work for our 52-year data set, which tells us about how our lakes are changing in everything from fish populations to insects to water chemistry,” said ELA deputy director Pauline Gerrard. That long-term data set has proved especially important in the study of climate change and the impact on the boreal forest’s water systems. It is one of the most comprehensive freshwater data sets in the world. In a normal year, some 60 staff and scientists would be out at the lakes. This year, research was conducted by small teams of seven people. The teams isolated for two weeks before arriving at ELA, as well as two weeks after their return home. One team was assigned to conduct water chemistry monitoring, another went out in the spring and fall to collect fish samples and analyze them. They were also able to squeeze in monitoring for a long-term oil spill study ongoing at the remote research centre, Gerrard said. The best news of all: there were no COVID-19-positive tests among researchers. However, the remote research teams did not have the same break from pandemic isolation periods the rest of the public had this summer, and with Manitoba now back under code red restrictions, it’s been a long year for her team, Gerrard said. “There’s definitely just a fatigue with isolation,” she said. “But I think people felt proud and pleased to be able to get the work done.” The priority now is to keep this up through the winter, and to begin planning possible ways to start new projects at ELA in 2021. A key priority is starting work on a microplastics project, led by University of Toronto researchers. Gerrard is also hard at work on a fundraising campaign so the facility might be able to get some more up-to-date lab equipment. With a smaller team on a time crunch, the need for better equipment out there was highlighted, she said.Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11 p.m. EST on Nov. 26, 2020:There are 353,100 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 136,894 confirmed (including 6,947 deaths, 118,491 resolved) _ Ontario: 109,361 confirmed (including 3,575 deaths, 92,915 resolved) _ Alberta: 51,878 confirmed (including 510 deaths, 37,316 resolved) _ British Columbia: 29,973 confirmed (including 384 deaths, 19,998 resolved) _ Manitoba: 15,288 confirmed (including 266 deaths, 6,177 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 7,362 confirmed (including 40 deaths, 4,176 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,257 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,078 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 465 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 353 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 327 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 295 resolved) _ Nunavut: 155 confirmed (including 5 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 70 confirmed (including 68 resolved) _ Yukon: 42 confirmed (including 1 death, 29 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 353,100 (0 presumptive, 353,100 confirmed including 11,799 deaths, 280,929 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.The Canadian Press
Les foyers d’éclosion de COVID dans des sites d’exploitation pétrolière albertains se multiplient. Cette croissance a des répercussions dans d’autres provinces. Ainsi, depuis le début de septembre, la majorité des nouvelles personnes infectées à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador sont des résidents de cette province, récemment revenus de leur travail en Alberta, et faisant régulièrement la navette entre les deux provinces pour gagner leur vie. Selon les plus récentes informations diffusées sur le site Internet du gouvernement de l’Alberta, des foyers d’éclosion sont actifs dans deux sites de la pétrolière CNRL, deux sites d’Imperial Oil, deux de Suncor et un site de Syncrude. La majorité de la main-d’œuvre de ces installations situées au nord de Fort McMurray est composée de travailleurs qui font la navette vers leur résidence située dans d’autres régions albertaines et d’autres provinces. La découverte de leur contamination survient souvent lors de leur retour à la maison. Ce phénomène est particulièrement important et visible à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador. Entre le 1er septembre et le 25 novembre, le nombre de nouveaux cas à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador est passé de 269 à 324. Parmi ces nouveaux cas, selon des données colligées par CBC Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador dans un reportage du 24 novembre, 18 de ces nouveaux cas venaient directement de l’Alberta et 16 d’entre eux étaient des travailleurs de retour de cette province. Tous les autres venaient également d’ailleurs au pays ou dans le monde. Pour le moment, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador est la seule province qui n’a pas de contamination communautaire, soit aucun cas dont la source n’a pas été déterminée. Ainsi, le 25 novembre, la médecin en chef de cette province, la Dre Janice Fitzgerald, a annoncé un nouveau cas d’infection venant tout droit de l’Alberta, une femme d’une quarantaine d’années. Elle a également indiqué qu’un nouveau foyer d’éclosion avait été déclaré sur le site de l’Imperial Oil à Cold Lake, en Alberta, où travaillent plusieurs personnes de la province la plus à l’est du Canada. Deux jours plus tôt, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador enregistrait son premier cas dans une école. La petite fille contaminée est une proche d’une personne revenant, elle aussi, de l’Alberta. En raison du grand nombre de Terre-Neuviens qui travaillent ailleurs au Canada, le gouvernement de cette province diffuse une liste des lieux où des foyers d’éclosion ont été déclarés. Dans cette liste, on retrouve majoritairement des pétrolières, les mêmes qui ont été recensées par la Santé publique albertaine. Selon les années, de 15 000 à 25 000 personnes de cette province travaillent ailleurs au pays et dans le monde. Quitter son chez-soi, pour subsister Pourquoi autant de Terre-Neuviens doivent-ils partir si loin pour travailler ? Depuis le moratoire sur la pêche à la morue annoncé le 2 juillet 1992 par le ministre fédéral des Pêches, John Crosbie, des dizaines de milliers de pêcheurs et de travailleurs d’usine de poisson de Terre-Neuve se sont retrouvés sans emploi. Depuis, ils s’expatrient loin et temporairement, à l’extérieur des frontières de leur province, pour gagner leur vie, notamment en Alberta. Selon une étude du regroupement de chercheurs universitaires Partenariat On the Move, réalisée à partir de données de Statistique Canada, l’Alberta est devenue depuis 2014 la première province de destination pour ces travailleurs, soit pour 57 % d’entre eux. Statistique Canada rapporte aussi qu’entre 2014 et 2019, plus de 11 000 personnes sont déménagées dans la province albertaine. Mesures sanitaires Aujourd’hui, toutes les personnes qui arrivent à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, doivent s’isoler pendant 14 jours, à l’exception des travailleurs essentiels et de ces travailleurs en rotation. Dans leur cas, ils peuvent mettre fin à leur isolement si un test, effectué 7 jours après leur arrivée, est négatif. Ceux qui arrivent depuis un site où il y a un foyer d’éclosion doivent s’isoler durant 14 jours.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Manitoba Education is leaning toward a temporary period of remote learning for K-12 students in early 2021, should COVID-19 case counts remain high in the coming weeks. Sources have told the Free Press the department hinted about its plans during a meeting with school board superintendents Thursday afternoon. Among the call-in conference agenda items were the status of both the winter break and schools’ levels on the pandemic response system. During the meeting, the province suggested it is considering moving schools to the most severe level on the system — critical (code red) — for a minimum of two weeks, starting as early as Jan. 4, to ensure widespread distance learning. Sources said Manitoba Education indicated the department doesn’t favour extending the upcoming break — which is scheduled for Dec. 19 to Jan. 4, but the province’s top doctor will have the final say. If schools enter the critical phase in the new year, there would be no need for an extended closure of schools to reduce community transmission since the majority of students would be learning at home. Except for Steinbach-area schools, which entered the most severe level on the response system earlier this week, all classrooms in Manitoba remain in the restricted (code orange) phase. That means the majority of the approximately 210,000 learners in the province continue to attend in-person classes, which have been reorganized to emphasize two metres of physical distancing between pupils. In code red, remote learning becomes universal for all students — although critical service workers’ children in K-6, and older students with disabilities, may access supervision at school to complete their remote work, be it online or paper packages. A downgrade in code for all schools would be an extreme move, given both Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen and Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, have repeatedly said schools are the best environments for student learning and well-being. When the province announced last week the Hanover School Division and surrounding schools were to enter code red as of Nov. 24, officials indicated it was a precautionary measure to address a skyrocketing test positivity rate in the region (40 per cent). Principal Emery Plett said the transition from orange to red has gone fairly smoothly at Steinbach Christian School, one of 28 facilities affected by the announcement. That is, in part, because of the school’s experience with learning disruptions in the spring, Plett said. His advice for other administrators who might experience the same change in coming weeks? “Make plans, but be flexible, and make sure you’re supporting your teachers as they work at making the transition,” said Plett, whose K-12 school is attended by 317 students — including the son of the education minister. Both the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and Manitoba School Boards Association declined to comment on specifics about what sources told the Free Press was discussed in the Thursday meeting. School board association president Alan Campbell was on the call. “The position of school boards has always been clear,” Campbell said, “whether it’s an extended break or a move to code red or whatever it may be, when child care is going to become a consideration because kids aren’t in school, the earlier (the announcement), the better.” A spokesperson for Manitoba Education said in a statement the province is monitoring the situation closely and no final decision has been made about an extended winter break.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said an independence referendum that could wrench apart the United Kingdom after Brexit should take place in the earlier part of the devolved parliament's next term, which begins next year. If there was another referendum and if Scots voted out, it would mark the biggest shock to the United Kingdom since Irish independence a century ago - just as London grapples with the impact of Brexit. The pro-independence Scottish National Party leader said she anticipates that a vote will take place "in the earlier part" of the next Scottish parliament, which begins next year.
The dress in question has been removed from Fashion Nova's website.
B.C.'s police watchdog is investigating after a man went into medical distress and died during a confrontation with Vancouver police on Thursday night.Vancouver police say they were called to the Tim Hortons at Terminal Avenue and Station Street just after 6 p.m. because of a man who had been inside the bathroom for half an hour.At the time, staff at the coffee shop were trying to shut down the dining area and wanted the man removed, according to an email from VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin."When he came out of the restroom, he was agitated and aggressive which resulted in a physical altercation," Visintin wrote.Police say the man went into medical distress during that confrontation, and though paramedics were called, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.The Independent Investigations Office, which investigates incidents involving police that lead to serious harm or death, has been called in.
Les travailleurs étrangers qui possèdent un permis temporaire de travail fermé dépendent de leur employeur, ce qui les rend très vulnérables en cas de rupture de leur lien d’emploi. Ayant perdu son emploi quelques mois après son arrivée au Québec, Tiffany Mirzica s’est retrouvée plongée dans une situation d’extrême précarité et poussée à se démener pour subvenir aux besoins de sa famille et régulariser son statut migratoire. Ce qui a débuté comme un projet prometteur d’immigration économique pour la Parisienne d’origine martiniquaise et sa famille s’est vite transformé en un cauchemar. « Je pouvais demeurer en sol canadien jusqu’à l’expiration de mon visa mais ma situation était très complexe, car je devais trouver un nouvel employeur qui accepterait de refaire toutes les démarches d’immigration. » « Pourtant, j’avais mis cinq ans à préparer mon projet d’immigration, assistant à tous les salons de l’immigration possibles en France et en faisant deux voyages exploratoires au Québec avant d’immigrer avec ma famille », dit la mère monoparentale de 3 enfants entre 6 et 14 ans. Tomber dans la précarité aussitôt Mme Mirzica a été recrutée en France pour un poste de cadre dans une entreprise en gestion immobilière et est arrivée au Québec avec ses enfants et sa mère en juillet 2017. Lorsque son emploi s’est terminé abruptement quelques mois plus tard, elle s’est vue dans l’impossibilité de travailler ailleurs en raison des restrictions de son visa. « Je faisais partie de la catégorie des personnes qui se retrouvent noyées dans les démarches administratives d’immigration et laissées pour compte, c’était un enfer ! », dénonce-t-elle. Ayant dépensé toutes ses économies dans son déménagement au Québec avec sa famille, elle a lancé un appel à l’aide aux autorités municipales d’Anjou où elle résidait à ce moment-là, mais il est resté vain. « On m’a conseillé de rentrer chez moi et de revenir une fois que j’aurais les fonds pour m’en sortir », déplore-t-elle. Des Samaritains et des organismes à la rescousse Elle a trouvé du soutien auprès de l’école de ses enfants qui les a inscrits au Club des petits déjeuners et leur a offert des vêtements de neige neufs. « Je ne les remercierais jamais assez de nous avoir aidés ! », lance-t-elle. Le Centre humanitaire d’organisation de ressources et de référence d’Anjou (CHORRA) leur a fourni pour sa part un soutien alimentaire. Mme Mirzica a pu se remettre sur pied grâce également à ses proches, à ses voisins et à la propriétaire de son logement à Anjou qui lui a permis de reporter le paiement de son loyer. Bénévolat et entrepreneuriat Incapable d’être embauchée par un nouvel employeur en raison de son permis de travail fermé, Mme Mirzica se lance sur le chemin du bénévolat entre 2017 et 2018, œuvrant notamment pour la place des femmes dans le milieu entrepreneurial. « Mon but en immigrant ici était d’offrir un meilleur avenir à mes enfants et d’apprendre et me nourrir de la culture québécoise, mais aussi de laisser ma petite patte. » Du soutien trouvé en région « J’ai rencontré Tiffany en mars 2019 lors de la Journée portes ouvertes de la Ville de Saint-Hyacinthe où nous participions comme exposant », dit Ana Luisa Iturriaga, directrice générale de Forum-2020, organisme dont la mission est d’attirer et de soutenir les nouveaux arrivants dans la région de Saint-Hyacinthe. L’organisme a accompagné 499 nouveaux arrivants en 2018 et 600 en 2019, la majorité étant des immigrants. La députée de Saint-Hyacinthe et vice-présidente de l’Assemblée nationale Chantal Soucy déplore la lenteur des démarches d’immigration, soulignant le besoin grandissant d’arrimage entre les besoins de main-d’œuvre dans la région et les immigrants. « Nous avons accompagné Mme Mirzica, car elle s’est retrouvée sans emploi et dans le néant en raison de son permis fermé et de la complexité des démarches entre les deux paliers du gouvernement. » Tomber entre deux chaises Trois mois avant l’expiration de son permis de travail, une entreprise locale s’apprête à embaucher Mme Mirzica. Toutefois, en raison du délai de traitement de la demande et du changement dans l’admissibilité du poste offert, la démarche a échoué. « Ils ont déboursé près de 4000 $ en frais administratifs et d’immigration pour me recruter mais ç’a été un enfer ! », déplore-t-elle. En juillet 2019, son visa arrive à échéance et elle se retrouve avec sa famille avec un statut implicite au Canada. Elle est alors aiguillée par le bureau de la députée vers John Sanchez, responsable diocésain au diocèse de Saint-Hyacinthe, accompagnateur de personnes en situation précaire, notamment les familles à statut précaire, les réfugiés et les travailleurs agricoles de la région. Les difficultés pour régulariser son statut « Tiffany avait épuisé ses ressources administratives pour régulariser son statut et son dernier recours était de se rendre à la frontière pour sortir et rentrer au pays à nouveau. » Le 17 mars dernier, ils se rendent donc ensemble au poste frontalier de Lacolle. Voyant qu’elle ne détenait plus de statut légal au Canada, les agents frontaliers ont interpellé et interrogé Mme Mirzica pendant plusieurs heures. « Étant une femme persuasive et connaissant tout sur les démarches d’immigration et ayant de forts arguments en main, elle a pu convaincre les agents de la laisser entrer à nouveau au pays », raconte M. Sanchez, originaire de Colombie. « On a fini par m’accorder un visa de visiteur et un délai d’un mois pour régulariser ma situation », indique Mme Mirzica. Ayant réussi à obtenir un permis d’études, elle poursuit actuellement un programme en arts, lettres et communication au cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe et travaille à l’Association Aide en immigration (AAI), ne sachant toujours pas ce qu’il adviendra de son avenir au Québec.Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Construction jobs numbers are down provincially since the beginning of the pandemic, but that doesn’t reflect the reality in the north, where major resource development projects and steady activity in residential, non-residential, and road-building, have kept the industry strong, said a B.C. business analyst. “As much as there's a bunch of bad news around from this virus, the resiliency of the northern communities and northern economies… is the hidden bit of good news in this whole pandemic circumstance we find ourselves in,” said Ken Peacock, chief economist for the Business Council of BC. Many industries are doing okay in 2020, and some – the resource industries, along with, resource and non-resource manufacturing – have shown employment growth, said Peacock. Productivity dropped in the construction sector under COVID-19, but not by much, said Northern Regional Construction Association CEO Scott Bone, who estimated companies lost about 20 per cent productivity due to public health protocols. “Traveling to a worksite, we used to be able to throw four people in a crew cab and drive,” said Bone. “You can't do that anymore.” Now, it’s two people per truck, resulting in more vehicles, more fuel, more unplanned costs for the contractor and owner. Despite the many operational cost increases under COVID-19, construction has carried on. Contractors, legally bound to get work completed on deadline, are resilient and adaptable, said Bone. “They're very quick to adapt to things that come at them very quickly,” said Bone. “We saw that when COVID hit them.” The pandemic hasn’t caused significant construction site shutdowns that Bone knows of, and none are in sight. There are $120 billion worth of capital investments in B.C. in industrial and commercial projects ongoing or planned for construction or tendering this year or the next, said Bone. About $65 billion of that is in the north, namely, the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the LNG Canada facility, and BC Hydro’s Site C Dam. “All three of those projects are now ramping up,” said Bone. “We're seeing a good uptake in the opportunities for the construction industry as a result.’ The investment is so massive, procurement of goods and services has a big effect on the provincial economy, and while the spin offs are concentrated in the north, economic benefits also flow down to Vancouver, said Peacock. “Spending in Metro Vancouver kind of gets lost in the magnitude of the Metro Vancouver economy, so you don't see and feel the impact as much,” said Peacock. “Up in the north, where the economies are smaller, the lift from these large projects is much, much more significant and much more beneficial.” Most of the 180 Northern Regional Construction Association member contractors are very busy, said Bone. “They're working 24/7 to keep up with the work that they've got,” he said. The same seems to apply to contractors in the smaller communities of the Robson Valley. “The hardware and the building supply stores are as busy as anything,” said Dannielle Alan, Area H director for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. “All of our contractors are absolutely swamped.” According to the Canadian Home Builders Association (BHBA), in 2019, new home construction, and renovations and repairs created 1.3 million on and off-site jobs in Canada, equalling $83 billion in wages. Of that, about $159 million was paid in wages for 2,500 jobs in Prince George. Home construction jobs numbers for 2020 are not yet available. “There's actually a shortage of lumber, people are doing so much construction and renovating,” said Alan. Valemount has several active construction projects as well, according to Deputy Mayor Pete Pearson. An affordable housing development is underway, along with some single-family residential activity, he said. “We've had quite an influx of younger families moving to town,” said Pearson. “So, we're seeing a few new builds. “There's the combined housing and daycare facility that's pretty much almost shovel-ready,” said Pearson. “Generally, we're in pretty good shape.” The Trans Mountain campus and construction camp have also generated employment, Pearson said. “Our local contractors have been working on plumbing, gas fitting, and electrical with the camp setup,” said Pearson. “So, there's definitely been a positive spin off in the trades.” The challenges facing the construction industry are skilled labour shortages, not a lack of available work, said Bone. More young people need support to take up trades such as electrical, plumbing and carpentry and the construction association is collaborating with the Prince George school district to help make that happen. “There’s a huge gap between those that are going into the trades and getting trained and what we need going in the future,” Bone said. @FranYanor / Fran@thegoatnews.caFran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
An average 400 Grade 7-12 students in the North End have been reported “inactive” during the school year for the last decade. Despite being registered in the Winnipeg School Division, they are not actively participating at their home school and their families have not reported a move. The WSD data (from 2009 to 2019) obtained by the Community Education Development Association indicates hundreds of students stop attending class at some point after Sept. 30, the annual head-count day in Manitoba, in any given year. “We know the COVID pandemic has created even more stress on North End students and that more students are disengaging from school, so this is a challenge that’s just going to get further exacerbated,” said Tom Simms, co-director of CEDA. Keeping students “active” in the public education system is the motivation behind a new collaborative project between CEDA, Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. Together, the partners have founded Indigenous Education Caring Society — a non-profit charitable organization that will offer students a culturally sensitive alternative to standard middle and high schools in the division. The organizations have secured a $500,000 capital grant from the Winnipeg Foundation, as well as support from the Thomas Sill Foundation, to launch off-campus learning environments with built-in access to community support services for students in the North End. Students will be able to access both academic lessons and resources to find stable housing, as well as leadership opportunities in the community. Kayla Stubbs, interim executive director at Ndinawe, said her hope for the project is that it will provide Indigenous youth with “equal access to education, teachers and programs that will help them thrive.” “Community-based programming provides a unique opportunity to utilize Indigenous lenses in developing effective tools for community youth to succeed,” Stubbs wrote in a statement to the Free Press Thursday. After surveying the North End for facilities and learning many buildings are in disrepair, Simms said the most cost-effective option is to build two campuses — with the hopes of expanding in the future — from the ground up. Vacant lots on Selkirk Avenue and Arlington, Salter and McGregor streets are being eyed as possible sites. In the meantime, the IECS is trying to secure an agreement to have the division rent classroom space and staff it with program teachers, who will be employed by WSD. The funding the division collects annually for students who become inactive should be redirected, Simms said, adding, “the basis of the proposal is to have the funding for the student follow the student.” The official definition of an inactive student is a pupil in Grade 7-12 who has left WSD between Oct. 1 and May 31 inclusive, and for whom there is no record of re-entry in any area school in the current year. The purpose of collecting the counts is to provide a baseline of withdrawals, but the division cautions the numbers should not be viewed as exact records because they do not account for students who have registered in other divisions. Directors in charge of the WSD programs were not available for comment Thursday. In a statement, division spokeswoman Radean Carter said WSD administrators look for “all sorts of ways” to encourage students to return to their learning and re-engage them in school. “Our partnerships with CEDA and off-campus programs have been among the successful ways that this has been achieved,” Carter said. The division currently has 13 off-campus programs. Among them, the North District Off-Campus Program, administered through Isaac Newton School, which serves Grades 7-9 students who are disengaged from traditional schooling. Simms praised the division for its openness to the project, as well as the fact it collects data on inactive students. Schools alone can’t fix inactivity, he said, “there needs to be partnerships.” The IECS programs are expected to launch sometime in the 2021-22 academic year.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian police have moved a female transgender Instagram celebrity, Millen Cyrus, to a special cell following public outrage over her initial placement in a male detention cell after she was arrested as a suspect in a drug case.“As for her status on her ID, she is a male, and we do not have a transgender status here. So to avoid something we do not want, we placed her in a special cell by herself. That is our policy on it,” Jakarta Police spokesperson Yusri Yunus said Friday.Cyrus, 21, whose birth name is Muhammad Millendaru Prakasa, has more than 1 million followers on Instagram. Her account of her experiences as a transgender woman on YouTube has been viewed more than 6 million times.She was arrested on Sunday in a police raid on a hotel room in which 0.36 grams of crystal methamphetamine was found. Police announced then that she had been placed in the men’s detention cell at Tanjung Priok Port Police Station, following her identity on her ID card.That triggered criticism from rights groups and on social media in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.Yunus said police are still determining whether she was a drug user or dealer.The group Human Rights Watch said moving Cyrus to a special cell was a good decision by police.“Most trans women are imprisoned in male prisons, so they experience sexual harassment there,” said Andreas Harsono, the group's senior researcher in Indonesia.“The simplest one is verbal abuse. Some physical abuse happens too. It is not in the cell at the prison but in closed areas,” Harsono said.He said more than 2,000 LGBT people have been arrested in Indonesia because of their sexual orientation since 2014.LGBT communities have recently come under siege, although homosexuality is not illegal, except in conservative Aceh province.In February, some members of the House of Representatives proposed a bill that would define homosexuality as deviant and require lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to report to authorities for rehabilitation.Edna Tarigan, The Associated Press
Premier Stephen McNeil continues to refuse calls to release details about how $228 million in unbudgeted COVID-19 stimulus money is being spent. The funding is being used for a variety of infrastructure projects across the province, in part to drive employment during the pandemic.After government officials initially pledged to make the list available, a spokesperson for the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department said last month that it wouldn't happen after all. At the time, McNeil told reporters that all the information about the more than 200 projects was available by cross referencing capital plan documents with the government tender website.The premier suggested the government isn't a research department for reporters and that they do the work themselves.Several reporters at AllNovaScotia.com recently tried to do that work, but fell well short of being able to assemble a complete list using the method suggested by the premier. When that was pointed out to him Thursday, McNeil stuck to his guns about the availability of the information.'It should be available to taxpayers'"I don't know how much more transparent I can be, other than unless you want me to go down and identify every program that the money has come out of," he said Thursday following a cabinet meeting."I don't think Nova Scotians think that's the best use of the premier's time."Part of the challenge assembling the information is that some stimulus work wasn't actually tendered, but rather tacked on to projects that had previously been approved, something Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines confirmed last month.A few of the projects have yet to be announced, said McNeil, and so would not have been posted yet. AllNovaScotia's reporting showed that the projects they could locate did not appear to be disproportionately awarded to Liberal-held districts.Tory Leader Tim Houston said the public has a right to know how the government is spending its money.Houston said he was initially willing to give the premier the benefit of the doubt, but now that reporters have demonstrated just how difficult it is to account for the money, the premier should just call for a list to be produced."There's no reason to hide it," Houston told reporters. "It should be available to taxpayers."'Deliberately and willfully obtuse'NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the premier is being "deliberately and willfully obtuse in obscuring a very simple request" in a way that is consistent with his government's general approach to transparency."I can't imagine why, but it's quite plain that the obtuseness and the obscurity is deliberate on their part," Burrill told reporters."The question is as straightforward as it could possibly be."McNeil told reporters that asking for the details to be provided was a case of "people looking for something to complain about.""I don't know what more you want," he said."You're like every other Nova Scotian. [The projects] are on the website. Go look at them."MORE TOP STORIES
After spending nine months and counting doing health outreach work in his home community of Thorncliffe Park, Aamir Sukhera fears that slowing the spread of COVID-19 has become a nearly impossible task."It's a 1.5-kilometre radius of just giant towers with thousands of people," said Sekhra, who is with the local non-profit The Neighbourhood Organization."So we did anticipate having a lot of cases, we just didn't think it would be this high."Like many of Toronto's high-density, low-income neighbourhoods, COVID-19 rates in Thorncliffe Park have outpaced other areas of the city for much of the pandemic.According to data from Toronto Public Health, the area is logging 649 cases per 100,000 residents, nearly three times higher than neighbouring Leaside.Those figures are the result of a combination of deep-rooted systemic issues and a lack of support for low-income residents, according to several community health organizations across Toronto. Tackling those challenges is becoming an increasingly urgent task, they say, as the city enters another lockdown and looks to fend off the second wave of the pandemic."We don't want to be a burden for the rest of our city," Sukhera said. "But the circumstances here prevent people from doing the right thing for the greater community."He said dense high-rises, multi-generational homes and a workforce dominated by front-line essential workers have made it difficult to slow the novel coronavirus."This is the time to just get resources into the hands of those that need it the most," added Cheryl Prescod, executive director of the Black Creek Community Health Centre, where local COVID-19 cases have reached 773 per 100,000 residents.Toronto to roll out 'enhanced' supportsThe City of Toronto on Monday announced what it calls enhanced COVID-19 supports for communities in the city's northwest and northeast corners.Those enhancements include initiatives around testing, including the introduction of some mobile testing and transportation to other testing sites, as well as an education and outreach program that will lean on local agencies."We owe it to the most vulnerable to make sure that extra measures are provided, extra supports are provided in their fight against COVID-19," Mayor John Tory said.The province has also noted the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities like Thorncliffe Park and Black Creek. In a COVID-19 modelling update Thursday afternoon, provincial public health officials said "long-standing structural factors" have been shown to increase risk for the disease.But despite those acknowledgements of inequity and expressions of support, community outreach workers say the authorities aren't doing enough to help residents living in the city's pandemic hot spots.Sukhera said programs to assist COVID-19 patients with rent payments and food are a must. Without them, he said people cannot be reasonably expected to strictly follow public health recommendations, since being tested or self-isolating could mean losing a paycheque."There's the right thing to do, and everyone sort of knows what that is," Sukhera said. "But in their defence, they've still got to pay rent and not get their families kicked out of their homes."Despite those obstacles, Prescod of the Black Creek Community Health Centre said her organization will continue its outreach work throughout the winter. She said she's hopeful that gains can be made, but not without more help for communities like hers."Without proper resources and sufficient funds to address some of our broken systems, we cannot hold on to that hope for very long."
Pascale Annoual believes there is healing in quilting. She is spearheading an initiative in collaboration with the Indigenous Health Centre of Tiohtià:ke and Arts Racines & Therapies Montreal to bring comfort and community — through quilting — to the seven children of Joyce Echaquan. Echaquan was an Atikamekw woman from Manawan who died two months ago, shortly after recording herself as staff at Joliette Hospital hurled racist insults at her.Now, Annoual is inviting people to make squares for seven quilts that will be gifted to each of Echaquan's children. "We get into this sense of not knowing what to do or how to respond," Annoual said. "Quilting, sewing and doing something like this turns into a meditative time, so we're active, but at the same time we're reflecting and sharing our thoughts and feelings.""We're able to translate that in a sense into an object that offers that comfort, and that reassurance, and that presence, to say 'we're here with you, and we're here as long as you need us to be'," she added. As an art therapist, Annoual says coming together for a collaborative project like this one can help people address their grief, especially when the grief is collective, and the death had significant public attention.She hopes the initiative will show Echaquan's children they're not alone, and they have a community to support them for the long haul. "We can't go back and change the past, but we can certainly signify to the children to whom we're going to be offering this comfort quilt that we're there and we're present," she said, adding it's a way for people to share the burden. Annoual said whereas buying something is a quick gesture, slowing down to create a gift for someone — and imbuing it with the symbolism of a warm, comforting blanket — is more meaningful. She explained that with each mindful stitch, the quilt, made together as a collective, has as great an impact on the volunteers as on the project's recipients. She hopes the quilters can also find ways to integrate Echaquan's favourite colour, purple, to be a "positive, strong and courageous reminder of her life.""We hope it will have all the effects of comforting," she said. Annoual has been in touch with Echaquan's uncle, to make sure the gift would be well received, and so as not to impose on Echaquan's husband and children. Anyone looking to get involved can visit the 7 quilts for Joyce Echaquan Children Facebook page. Calls for government to adopt Joyce's PrincipleThe quilting initiative comes as Indigenous leaders renew their calls on the government to adopt Joyce's Principle. Joyce's Principle, named after Echaquan, is a document created by the council of the Atikamekw Nation and the Atikamekw Council of Manawan, which aims to guarantee that Indigenous people have equitable access to health and social services without discrimination.The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador stated the province needs to move beyond "petty politics" and adopt Joyce's Principle. "Today I appeal to all political parties in the National Assembly to join forces to adopt and rapidly implement Joyce's Principle," wrote Picard."What is at stake here, on a human, social and political level, must leave no room for partisan pettiness."
Canada Post is promising changes at Iqaluit's post office, but Iqalummiut can forget about home mail delivery or a single, larger post office facility coming any time soon.The corporation, facing mounting pressure as wait times grow and winter sets in, says it isn't just delivering "lip service" this holiday season. And Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell — a longtime critic of Canada Post — is optimistic the community should start seeing a difference very soon.Along with the extended hours and additional staff customers expect around Christmas, the corporation's general manager of government and community affairs says, fundamentally, they're trying to find a solution to systematically change how mail is delivered in Iqaluit.In the short term, Chad Schella says Canada Post is looking at how it can make it easier for post office staff to find parcels, thereby reducing the wait times — in which customers are sometimes waiting up to an hour in line to pick up mail.> If all the things we're working on don't result in a better experience for our customers, don't result in better service, then we would have failed. - Chad Schella, Canada Post's general manager of government and community affairs"It's just doing it differently than the way we've done it and the way we do it in other communities. Because everything is flown in, we're looking at how we can pre-sort a lot of this stuff so that it then doesn't have to be resorted when it gets to Iqaluit," said Schella."He's been very good," Bell said of Schella, noting a stark difference in the level of communication between Canada Post and the city than in previous years. "He told us a bunch of things, and then things were changing. I do feel like they're trying."The situation at Iqaluit's post office — namely long lines, staff shortages and parcel backlogs — became so dire that Canada Post brought together a special team from different departments specifically dedicated to coming up with solutions for Iqaluit. The group was formed this summer and has been "meeting weekly to help solve problems in the short term," Schella said."It's like putting together a puzzle. Every change you want to make has implications on four or five other pieces of our operation," Schella said.'Nothing is off the table'In the long term, Schella says the organization is trying to redesign a system — and facility — to replace a network the city has long outgrown.Schella says Canada Post knows there aren't enough PO boxes (there are roughly 400 people on the wait list right now); it knows the demand on general delivery has "gone through the roof"; it knows going to two places to pick up mail is brutal; and it knows it doesn't have enough space and storage.The trouble is trying to find a facility, and a mail-delivery system, that not only fits today's needs, but also anticipates future growth."We don't want to move into a facility that we're going to outgrow in a year or two from now, and we're back in the exact same situation," Schella said."So we are looking at the projections for not only the growth of Iqaluit, but for our own e-commerce volume growth and what patterns and projections we have.""We understand how hard it is to find a location," Bell said, adding the city has "demanded" Canada Post operate in one location in order to improve service."We fought for and finally got our new city hall. It's not easy to have to get a new location."Home delivery 'not an easy or simple fix'While Schella says "nothing is off the table," home delivery is not an option under the current system.Although the idea has been an opportunity private businesses in the city have jumped on, Schella said Iqaluit's civic addressing system makes it impossible for Canada Post to pursue."We'd have to ensure that there was municipal addressing in place so that every building had a designated physical address as well as a mailing address. And then that would have to match up with all of our systems and address management systems and everything that goes with it," Schella said."I don't know if I'm giving it justice or not, but that would not be an easy or simple fix to this solution."Also at play is the fact Canada Post home delivery workers are represented by a different union than the workers at Iqaluit's post office. Although Schella said bringing in "parcel lockers" is also an idea being floated."I guess what I would ask for the community is for them to judge us by their experience, and that experience will hopefully improve," Schella said"Because at the end of the day, if all the things we're working on don't result in a better experience for our customers, don't result in better service, then we would have failed. There's no question about it."
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Salvation Army in Grand Falls-Windsor wanted to lend a hand where it could. That desire led it to drive the church’s emergency disaster services vehicle to Port aux Basques, where it served more than 3,000 meals to truck drivers as they arrived on the island. On Wednesday, the Salvation Army received $25,000 in provincial funding to help the church construct a proper storage garage for the vehicle. The announcement made at Park Street Citadel in Grand Falls-Windsor comes two years after efforts to raise money for such a building began. “We started the process believing we needed a place to store the thing,” said Maj. Larry Goudie. The garage will keep the vehicle out of the elements and, hopefully, help maintain the length of its usefulness to the area. It is based in Grand Falls-Windsor and serves central Newfoundland from Glovertown to Baie Verte. Derek Bennett, the minister of environment, climate change and municipalities, was one of a number of provincial and municipal officials on hand for the announcement. The funding for the garage was made available through the special assistance grant program. “The work of the Salvation Army in their role as first responders in Newfoundland and Labrador over the years is to be commended,” Bennett stated in a news release. “They are there to assist when a disaster occurs or when a family is in need. “This funding will help the organization in their efforts to house their emergency disaster services vehicle as they provide meals to those working on the front lines when an emergency happens.” The vehicle is intended to provide relief services for any number of emergencies. Aside from delivering food to truckers on the west coast of the island, the relief vehicle has attended fire scenes and search and rescue operations, as well as provided support in the wake of natural disasters, amongst other events. When it attends those emergencies, it is used by first responders and frontline workers as a place to obtain food or water. “Emergency relief services is all about rising to the challenge of unforeseen circumstances,” said Maj. Rene Loveless, public relations and development secretary with the provincial Salvation Army. “The fact we are here today is another significant step in the process of being better prepared to do just that.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
The Nunatsiavut government will be holding a by-election after an ordinary member of the Nunatsiavut Assembly had his Inuit land claims beneficiary membership revoked.Edward Blake Rudkowski has been a beneficiary since 1986, first as a member of the Labrador Inuit Association before the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act was passed in 2005. He was also Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly.He said he was advised by Nunatsiavut officials that because he was removed from the Labrador Inuit Enrolment Register, he could no longer hold his seat in government."I feel no differently about myself this morning than I did this time last week," Blake Rudkowski told CBC's Labrador Morning. "I don't feel any less Inuit, any less Indigenous."According to a press release from Nunatsiavut, the decision to revoke his membership was due to a review. > My grandparents would be upset beyond belief to see this sort of thing going on. \- Edward Blake RudkowskiBlake Rudkowksi said the day after he won the 2018 election, a losing candidate went to the Office of the Registrar of Beneficiaries and asked for a review of his membership, which under the land claims agreement is allowed. But he said after 34 years as a beneficiary, the timing seems odd. "When we are living in an era with so many concrete issues to deal with, when we have so many people dealing with homelessness and addiction and food insecurity … people turning upon their own and people fighting among themselves … is unimaginably counter-productive," he said. 'Blood quantum' too lowBlake Rudkowski said he was told he only had 17.14 per cent Inuit blood quantum. According to the land claims agreement, a member needs to have 25 per cent. "I couldn't begin to hazard a guess at how someone comes up with a number of 17 per cent," said Blake Rudkowski.The government said it plays no role in determining the membership of any individuals, as the beneficiary enrolment process is independent from Nunatsiavut.However, Nunatsiavut said there are other ways to become a beneficiary other than hitting a genetic benchmark for Inuit heritage. An individual can either apply as an Inuk or they can enrol as a person with 25 per cent Inuit descent, although it is unclear as to how the membership committee arrives at a percentage.CBC News has left messages with the beneficiaries registrar for clarification on Blake Rudkowski's situation. There also is a method that allows an individual to apply for a membership if they have settled on the land and follow the customs and traditions. "There's quite a few opportunities for an individual to highlight how they have connection to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement," said Nunatsiavut First Minister Tyler Edmunds."The process tries to demonstrate and test how an individual is connected."Edmunds said there also is an appeal process that can be taken if an applicant is unsuccessful in obtaining a membership and has further proof of their Indigenous heritage.Future unclearBlake Rudkowksi said he is undecided whether he will appeal, and doesn't yet know what his future holds. "What the next steps are is still unclear. I truly have not decided on where to go with this at this point," Blake Rudkowksi said."My grandparents would be upset beyond belief to see this sort of thing going on."Edmunds said he wanted to thank Blake Rudkowski for the work he has done for the beneficiaries over the years. "I can remember my first call with him when I was Speaker, and he was just ready to dive head first into his responsibilities as ordinary member," said Edmunds."I worked closely with Ed over the last couple years and I know he has had a tremendous passion for his work. I think a lot of people can easily see that."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador