Health officials are scrambling to contain an outbreak of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa inside a Mississauga, Ont., condo building. At least five people have been infected so far.
Health officials are scrambling to contain an outbreak of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa inside a Mississauga, Ont., condo building. At least five people have been infected so far.
LONDON — Police in eastern England say they have received a long-delayed letter from an Emirati princess asking them to investigate the disappearance of her sister 20 years ago. The letter is the latest episode in the long-running family drama of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the hereditary ruler of Dubai and a horse-racing acquaintance of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. One of his daughters, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, made headlines last week when the BBC broadcast video diaries she said were recorded inside a Dubai villa where she claimed she was being held against her will. Sheikha Latifa was detained by commandos in 2018 after she tried to flee Dubai in a yacht. Now Sheikha Latifa’s friends have given police in Cambridgeshire a letter from the princess asking authorities to look into the abduction of her sister Shamsa, now 38, who was snatched from Cambridge on Aug. 19, 2000, and hasn’t been seen since, the BBC reported Thursday. “We can confirm officers have recently received a letter, dated February 2018, in relation to this case which will be looked at as part of the ongoing review,” Cambridgeshire police said in a statement. “In addition to this, we are also looking at the contents of the recent BBC Panorama documentary to identify whether it includes anything of significance to our case.” Police declined to release further information, saying this is a “complex and serious” case that would be “inappropriate to discuss publicly.” The BBC reported that friends of the princess turned the letter over to police on Wednesday. It was written in 2019 after Latifa had been detained, but she dated it February 2018 so that her captors wouldn’t know she had a way of communicating with the outside world, the BBC said. “All I ask of you is to please give attention on her case because it could get her her freedom,” Latifa, 35, wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the BBC. “Your help and attention on her case could free her.” Shamsa was staying at her father’s estate in the village of Longcross, west of London, in the summer of 2000 when she tried to escape. She later disappeared from a hotel in Cambridge and was spirited back to Dubai. The cases are particularly sensitive in Britain because of economic and historic links to Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates that has built hotels and resorts to diversify an economy once based on exploiting large energy reserves. Sheikh Mohammed is the founder of the successful Godolphin horse-racing stable and is on friendly terms with Queen Elizabeth II. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last week called Latifa’s videos “very distressing” but suggested there was little the government could do because she is not a U.K. national. The United Nations human rights office on Feb. 19 said it had raised concerns about Latifa’s treatment with the UAE and asked it to provide evidence that the princess was still alive. In response, the UAE’s embassy in London issued a statement saying the princess was being cared for by her family and medical professionals. The sheikh’s family life was thrust into the news in 2019, when his estranged wife, Princess Haya, fled to London and sought custody of her two children through the British courts. Last year, the judge hearing that case ruled that Sheikh Mohammed had conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against Princess Haya and had ordered the abduction of Shamsa and Latifa. The sheikh had told the the court he was relieved at having found his “vulnerable” daughter Shamsa after she went missing. Latifa’s supporters last week urged Joe Biden to pressure Sheikh Mohammed to release her, saying the U.S. president is one of the few world leaders with the stature to win her freedom. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
(Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit) A tentative deal has been reached between Unifor and ZF/TRW, one of the factories that supply parts for the Stellantis Windsor Assembly Plant. A vote will be held virtually on Saturday to ratify the new collective agreement, Unifor Local 444 said in social media posts on Wednesday evening. If passed, Unifor hopes the deal can serve as a pattern for the other plants that make up the "feeder four." Workers at each of the plants have previously indicated they support going on strike if necessary. Union members at Avancez, Dakkota and HBPO, as well as ZF/TRW, voted 99 per cent in favour of a strike mandate, Unifor announced on Tuesday. Avancez is next in line for negotiations, the union said. More from CBC Windsor:
NEW YORK — A New York prosecutor has obtained copies of Donald Trump’s tax records after the Supreme Court this week rejected the former president’s last-ditch effort to prevent them from being handed over. The Manhattan district attorney’s office enforced a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday and now has the documents in hand, a spokesperson for the office, Danny Frost, said Thursday. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had been fighting for a year and a half for access to Trump’s tax records for a criminal grand jury investigation into his business dealings. The documents are protected by grand jury secrecy rules and are not expected to be made public. Vance, a Democrat, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation that includes an examination of whether Trump or his businesses lied about the value of assets to gain favourable loan terms and tax benefits. The district attorney is also scrutinizing hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf. Vance’s office issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, in August 2019 seeking eight years of his tax returns and related documents. Trump’s lawyers immediately went to court to block its enforcement, first arguing that he was immune from being investigated while president. When the Supreme Court rejected that argument 7-2 last July, Trump’s lawyers returned to a lower court and argued the subpoena was issued in bad faith, overly broad, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment. An appellate court rejected that argument and the Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene. In a three-word statement after the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, Vance said only: “The work continues.” Trump has called Vance’s investigation “a fishing expedition” and “a continuation of the witch hunt — the greatest witch hunt in history.” Vance is leading the investigation along with his general counsel, Carey Dunne, who made arguments on behalf of the office at various appellate court hearings. Vance recently hired former mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz as a special assistant district attorney to assist in the probe. Vance, whose term expires at the end of the year, hasn’t announced if he will seek reelection, leaving questions about who will lead any Trump-related prosecutions in the future. Vance’s subpoena sought from Mazars USA not only the final versions of Trump’s tax returns, but also draft versions of those returns and “any and all statements of financial condition, annual statements, periodic financial reports, and independent auditors’ reports” held by the company. Mazars did not object to the subpoena and, in a statement at the time, said it would “respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.” The Mazars subpoena also sought engagement agreements that define the accountants’ role in creating the tax returns and financial statements; source documents providing the accountants with raw financial data; and work papers and communications between the firm and Trump representatives. Those would include communications showing how the raw data was analyzed and treated in the preparation of the records. The New York Times separately obtained years of Trump’s tax data and published stories last year detailing some of his finances, including that he paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2017 and no income tax in 11 of 18 years because of major losses. Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic appears set to force a modernization of Canada's justice system. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has introduced a bill the government says will make targeted and permanent changes to the Criminal Code to give courts flexibility. Among them are clarifying the law to allow the accused to appear remotely in certain criminal proceedings and providing for remote participation for jury selection.The government says that even with the proposed changes, in-person proceedings would remain the norm, but the new provisions would ensure a remote approach remains an option. Canada's justice system was already wrestling with case backlogs in the courts when the pandemic hit last year, closing courthouses and pausing many trials.Courts were forced to look at different ways of working and accelerate steps toward modernization that many felt were long overdue.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Before COVID-19, visits to Greece's paper-strewn labour offices were a ordeal of queues and case files, often for basic matters that in less than a year have moved online as the pandemic upended old administrative routines. "Essentially overnight, two thirds of the visits were no longer necessary," said Spiros Protopsaltis, head of OAED, the Organization of Employment and Unemployment Insurance. Crammed with thousands of folders and blue OAED registration cards spilling out onto desks and floor space, the corridors of the building where he spoke still offer a daunting vision of the challenge to overhauling public services in Greece.
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA — Camp Ooch Muskoka isn’t your typical summer camp and this year isn’t your typical summer. Since COVID-19 arrived, it has dramatically changed the way people live, work and socialize. For the non-profit oncology camp that welcomes families affected by childhood cancer, the challenges have been no different. But, while many summer camps and programs have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium has developed virtual programming to keep its community connected. “We want people to know that we’re still here and we’re still programming,” said Melanie Lovering, director of marketing and communications for Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium. To date, the camp has offered more than 2,000 virtual experiences for its campers and their families with content ranging from interactive games, songs and dance to entertainment from program specialists. “Families who have a child with cancer are, at the best of times, isolated,” Lovering explained. When deciding how to proceed this year with a camp for so many immune-compromised guests, she said cancelling just wasn’t an option. “We couldn’t do that to our families because they need us more than ever.” Ooch Muskoka, the last year has been one of growth as its location in Rosseau where Path to Play, a $35 million expansion is now primed for further construction to render the camp more accessible, building outdoor paths that can accommodate wheelchairs and accessible boating facilities. The goal, Lovering said, is to make Ooch Muskoka the kind of place where kids using assisted devices can navigate the campus fully independently. Ooch Muskoka is the only oncology camp in Canada that provides on-site IV chemotherapy and blood transfusions thanks to a team of pediatric oncologists and nurses on call 24 hours a day. “No matter the depth of their illness we’re there for them,” Lovering said. “They come to camp and they’re just like every other kid. There’s a lot of comfort and a lot of acceptance and a sense of community and a sense of belonging. It’s like a lifeline for them.” Many people think Ooch Muskoka is an overnight camp only, but Lovering points out the philosophy is more that of a social support system for families affected by childhood cancer across the province. “We really want the Muskoka community to know what we’re up to,” she said. The camp currently serves 1,900 kids from approximately 750 families. However, the goal is to reach 100 per cent of the more than 4,000 kids in Ontario currently experiencing cancer. The ripple effects of COVID however, have left Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium with “a major downturn in our revenues,” Lovering said so fundraising is particularly vital this year. To that end, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium is hosting a virtual campfire chat June 25 at 12:30 p.m. to keep its supporters, donors and extended community, updated. “We’ve been so busy actually building this,” said Lovering, “we’ve had limited opportunity to tell our community what we’re doing.” To join the virtual chat RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guests will also be sent an outlook invitation with the following zoom details: Zoom online: https://ooch.zoom.us/j/8658057056 Zoom phone-in: 647-374-4685, enter meeting # 8658057056. This story was altered at 3:25 p.m. on June 23 to reflect the full name of the camp as Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium and to clarify $35 million of the construction is now complete and does not include the future modifications to make the camp accessible. Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus will reopen high schools, gyms, pools, dance academies and art galleries on March 1 in a further, incremental easing of the country’s second nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, the government said Thursday. Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said easing the six-week-old lockdown should proceed “slowly, cautiously and in a controlled manner.” He warned that the situation could easily get out of hand again as the country’s infection rate remains slightly above safety limits set by the European Union’s disease prevention agency. According to Ioannou, the number of infections now stands at 164.3 per 100,000 people. Middle school students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 8, Ioannou said, signalling the reopening of all schools after weeks of online instruction. Primary schools are already holding in-person classes. But the minister made it clear that twice-daily excursions requiring SMS approval and a 9:00pm-5:00am curfew will remain in effect. “We'll do without certain things for the next two or three months, some measures will carry on until there's (sufficient) vaccination coverage which is estimated to happen by June," Ioannou said. A ban on public gatherings also continues to apply despite growing public fatigue that culminated with thousands demonstrating last weekend in the capital to protest the restrictions, alleged police heavy-handedness and corruption. Police didn’t intervene in that protest, but used a water cannon, pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse a much smaller group of left-wing demonstrators a week earlier. One young woman required surgery for an eye injury following a blast from the water canon. The force’s actions triggered a public outcry and prompted a probe to determine whether riot police used disproportionate force. On Wednesday, Amnesty International urged Cypriot authorities to lift what it called “an unlawful and disproportionate blanket ban” on demonstrations. Amnesty International Greece and Cyprus official Kondylia Gogou said police made “unnecessary and excessive use of force" during the earlier protest. She said the violence was also part of a “deeply worrying pattern" in Cyprus where “human rights are coming under sustained attack." ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Live music and an ice-cold beer tend to go hand in hand, so Clear Lake Brewing Co. in Torrance is doing the work to bring concertgoers to a converted concert venue in its parking lot, as live entertainment events slowly return to Muskoka. The Rob Watts Band, a Barrie-based country act, will hit the stage Friday, July 31, physically distanced from a 100-person crowd that will also take the same precautions. “It’s exciting that we’ve got the opportunity and the space to be one of the first places to do something like this,” said Melissa Whittle, manager of groups and events for the brewery. Working with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the brewery will welcome guests to the ticketed event where beer will be served in cans, partitions will separate the public from bartenders and ticket sellers and masked servers will roam the venue to discourage folks from lining up at the bar. “Communication is key with all of this,” said Whittle. “This is a test run. We’ll get this one done and work out any bugs and go from there.” Live music is a staple on the brewery’s patio on the weekends, but this event marks a return to the type of larger gathering COVID-19 has shut down in recent months. The nearby Kee to Bala has cancelled most of its summer shows scheduled this year. “These are the people helping our industry to survive right now by hosting these shows,” said Rob Watts. The band has had a long stretch of time off, greatly affecting morale and revenue, he explained. Before the pandemic, they played upward of 300 shows each year. “We’re just excited to get back to what is normal for us, which is performing,” he said. The brewery is eager for a return to how things were before the pandemic, too. More events are planned, including an Aug. 29 Practically Hip show. “The world is getting kind of bored,” said Whittle. “We need to have some kind of normalcy.” At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
NEW YORK — Stephen King spoke recently to The Associated Press recently about his new novel, “Later,” but he also covered topics ranging from the famous people who have turned up at his readings to what happens when he looks up his own name on the Internet. And he think he has a good idea for a novel about the pandemic. Some excerpts: —- SEARCHING FOR ‘STEPHEN KING’ “I have Googled my own name, and I love to see all the sorts of stuff that comes in. It’s a popular name in Australia, and there a lot of people with that name there who have been doing crimes: Stephen Kings who have set houses on fire and Stephen Kings who are bank robbers. That sort of thing. What I (also) see more and more are obituaries where so and so died at age 89 and he was a ‘big fan of Stephen King novels.’” —- SPECIAL GUESTS —- “Jill Biden showed up at a public event that I did. She was in the crowd, and she came backstage and had a couple of books she wanted signed for her and Joe. One time, I’m doing a reading in Seattle, and I’m looking at the crowd, 70-80 people. And I’m looking at this guy in the front row and he’s wearing workout pants, with a stripe down the side, and sneakers. And I’m thinking, ‘That guy looks really familiar.’ He was the lead singer of Pearl Jam (Eddie Vedder)." —- MAGIC CHILDREN “When I was writing ‘It,’ there was a 5-year-old kid, he was on my street in Bangor. He was sitting on the edge of the street and he had a stick and he was drawing in the dirt and talking to himself. And it looked like a kid who might be unconsciously summoning demons. And I thought to myself, ‘If I did that, if I sat down in the dirt with sticks and drew, the men in the white coats would come and take me away.’ We allow kids to be crazy. We allow kids to see whatever it is they see.” —- PANDEMIC FICTION — STORY IDEA “(What about) an alien invasion where the aliens seem to look like us, but have these tentacles and other metal things — and the masks would cover them up?” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
LATCHFORD – Latchford is joining other Northern Ontario municipalities in pressuring the Ontario government to reinstate the Northlander passenger train. Northeastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) submitted a letter to the province at the end of January calling for money to be put into the budget for the purpose of bringing the Northlander back. The City of North Bay has also circulated a motion to fellow municipalities that is calling on Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney to honour the 2018 pledge to bring the Northlander back, which has been out of service since 2012. At their regular meeting on February 18, Latchford council passed a resolution calling on the Ontario government to restore the passenger rail service prior to the 2022 provincial election. Latchford Mayor George Lefebvre said the resolution will be forwarded to the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, Nipissing-Timiskaming MP and the Honourable Speaker of the House Anthony Rota and also Nipissing MPP and Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli for their endorsement and support. Latchford is also asking the federal government to assist in funding the annual expenses of the Northlander and the Polar Bear Express “as they provide a valuable connection to the James Bay coast,” said Lefebvre. “I can tell you that I find it rather amazing that they’re talking about having to do a track evaluation study before they reconsider this when they already doubled the size of their freight trains in length and the power units attached to them,” he noted. “If ever you needed to do a track evaluation, it would have been prior to that rather than just a little two or three coach passenger train, but nonetheless.” Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
(AHS - image credit) More than 100,000 newly eligible Alberta seniors had scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations by early Thursday afternoon and several thousand had received their first doses, according to the province, with many saying they looked forward to being able to safely visit family and friends someday soon. Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services promised it had fixed the issues that caused its system to crash repeatedly the previous day while tens of thousands tried for hours to book vaccinations — while at least one expert said it never needed to happen. The province said earlier in the week that about 230,000 Albertans would be newly eligible when the system opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday to all those born in 1946 or earlier. Seniors who are residents of public long-term care and designated supportive-living facilities had already received the vaccine. With 100,000 appointments already booked, that means more than 40 per cent of those newly eligible had booked their shots by calling 811 or through the online booking tool by 2 p.m. on Thursday — less than 30 hours after the system opened up to them. Allan Pasutto, 86, of Penhold was among the 2,000 or so seniors who had received their first dose by the end of day Wednesday. "I'm very fortunate to be Canadian," Pasutto told AHS staff as he received his first dose of the vaccine in Red Deer. "I'm looking forward to my retirement and enjoying life. I'm very happy to be alive." As more seniors received the vaccine on Thursday, AHS staff shared quotes and photos from behind the scenes. Arlene Jones, who got the COVID-19 vaccine in Rocky Mountain House, was one of several thousand Albertans born in 1946 or earlier who have been vaccinated so far after bookings opened up Wednesday to everyone in that age range. 'I haven’t seen my nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren since September,' she told AHS. Arlene Jones, who was getting her first shot in Rocky Mountain House, said she can't wait to be with family again, especially since she has a new grandchild coming soon. "I haven't seen my nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren since September," she said. 'I’m excited to finally get my vaccine,' Richard Wright, 75, told AHS staff. He received his first dose of the vaccine Wednesday in Grande Prairie. 'I’m hoping to be able to safely visit friends and family this summer.' Richard Wright, 75, who received his first dose in Grande Prairie on Wednesday, said he was excited to finally get it. "I'm hoping to be able to safely visit friends and family this summer." 'I think it’s important so we can stop the spread of COVID,' Elizabeth Findlay, 75, told AHS after getting her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Lethbridge. 'It’s good for myself and it’s good for everyone I know.' Elizabeth Findlay, 75, who got her first dose in Lethbridge, said she thinks it's important. "It's good for myself and it's good for everyone I know." Barry McCaughey, 76, told AHS he has spent most of the past year hibernating. 'I very seldom go out.' He received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday and looks forward to camping one day soon. Barry McCaughey, 76, who got his first dose Wednesday, said he has spent most of the past year hibernating but looks forward to hopefully camping one day soon. AHS says online booking tool fixed, phone line improved On Wednesday, many people who called Health Link at 811 reported not being able to get through on the lines at all, or being disconnected — often repeatedly — after making it part way through the booking process, while the AHS website repeatedly went down or booted people out mid-registration as they tried for hours to book an appointment. By noon Wednesday, a trio of Edmonton brothers had figured out the problem on the website and posted a solution on Twitter to help others sidestep the now-fixed glitch. By evening, the website had started to show a message letting people know how many were ahead of them in line and how long the wait would be. At about 7 p.m., users were being told they faced waits of an hour or more with about 10,000 people ahead of them in the queue. By end of day, Alberta Health Services said 43,000 people had managed to book but many others had not. Thousands of people trying to log on to Alberta Health's website to register for COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday, when it opened to people born in 1946 and older, faced long waits. As of 7 p.m., users were getting a message saying that they faced a wait of at least an hour with about 10,000 people ahead of them in the queue. On Thursday, AHS promised it had fixed its online system. "The online booking tool has stabilized since launch on Wednesday morning. We very much appreciate everyone's patience, and we understand the frustration," AHS tweeted. AHS also said improvements were made to its 811 phone line to give callers a choice to route their calls to book a COVID-19 immunization appointment or reach a registered nurse for medical concerns. As of about 10 a.m. Thursday, the bookings for the first dose of the vaccine were being scheduled for the second week of March and some people reported waiting no more than 10 to 15 minutes before being able to book online. Still, AHS urged patience, saying it continued to anticipate a wait time to get through on the online booking tool or Health Link in the days ahead. The province also pointed out eligible Albertans can book a COVID-19 immunization through some local pharmacies listed online by Alberta Blue Cross. Some Albertans frustrated by additional issues Though many ran into issues with online booking tools, other Albertans said technical glitches weren't the only headaches along the way. Janet Wees finally got through to book a COVID-19 vaccine online, but discovered the only available appointment was in Canmore — posing a problem, as Wees is from Calgary. "It's confusing, and I don't think it's because we're seniors," Wees said. "I think anybody of any age would be frustrated and confused." And while some felt panicked to accept an appointment located far away not knowing if they would miss out, others were frustrated they couldn't register as spouses. Stephanie Pollock's mother-in-law secured a vaccine appointment. However, the 81-year-old was turned away at the appointment and told she needed a doctor's note to get the vaccine because of medicine she takes that suppresses her immune system. "To have that lack of clarity and lack of readiness to handle some of these things is what frustrated me," she said. AHS said in some areas, travel may be required to get the shot, and that it is still working through some additional issues. Vaccine booking system was preventible, expert says Tom Keenan, an adjunct professor of computing science at the University of Calgary, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday that the province could have easily and inexpensively prevented the website from becoming overwhelmed by installing queue management software. He said Denmark-based Queue-it — which sells systems to cope with website traffic congestion by directing visitors to a queue where they can wait until bottlenecks clear — could have provided AHS with a solution for $30,000 to $100,000. And it would have taken about 20 minutes to install the fix, Keenan said. Keenan said that after making a few inquiries with Queue-it regarding how AHS could have used its services, a company official seemed to confirm the province had now contracted with the firm. "An hour ago, I got an email from the co-founder of Queue-it in Denmark and — breaking news, breaking news — she said, 'this is/will be a Queue-it customer,'" he said Thursday morning.
Voters in Placentia-St. Mary’s will have some more time to reflect on who they want to cast their vote for. Along with 17 other districts in the Avalon, voting for residents in Placentia-St. Mary’s has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John’s Metro area. Meanwhile, Liberal incumbent Sherry Gambin-Walsh says her constituents have more than her word to hold her accountable; they have her record. “My record shows that I’ve brought millions of dollars to the district of Placentia-St. Mary’s, from $500 grants to million-dollar capital works projects,” said Gambin-Walsh, who has been the focus of two major controversies during her time in office: one involving former Liberal stalwart Eddie Joyce, whom she accused of bullying, and the other involving the leaking of cabinet information. “You should vote for me because I’m ready and available for you if you have an issue… I’m easy to access and I have no problem standing up and advocating for your issue.” Gambin-Walsh was elected in the 2015 provincial election and beat PC candidate Hilda Whalen in 2019 by just over 500 votes — a margin of about 10 percent. The margin was not quite as comfortable as her over 2,000 vote lead against PC candidate Judy Manning in 2015. Gambin-Walsh said residents in her district, which is geographically larger than most, have different concerns depending on where they live. For example, while employment on the Cape Shore is not a concern due to the landing of fishery boats in Branch, employment in St. Mary’s Bay area is a major issue. “We don’t have any good source of solid employment anymore,” said Gambin-Walsh. “Once upon a time, we did have a fish plant down in St. Mary’s. It’s dormant right now, but I do now that the operator is trying to get his license re-established. He hasn’t been successful yet, but I do really support that, because I have a significant number of people down there having to access programs, seek community enhancement programs and job creation programs, specifically because they have no other source of income. And to drive from Peter’s River to Tim Hortons in CBS for minimum wage, you’re in the negative, you’re not in the positive. The evidence is there. The dollar amount that has gone out in JCP this year alone is excessive, so that’s a problem in that area.” Another concern, is the defunct Admirals Beach fish plant, which “is currently falling into the ocean,” said Gambin-Walsh. “It’s going to cost anywhere from $700,000 to a million to get it down, and there’s no jobs created in taking it down because it will be tendered. There has been a study done that shows there are some environmental chemicals that are dangerous to the environment, so that’s an issue at Admirals Beach.” Meanwhile, residents throughout the district are worried about the future of Argentia and the White Rose offshore oil project, while residents in Dunville worry about the need for water infrastructure upgrades, estimated, said Gambin-Walsh, at about $10-11 million, while residents in Placentia wonder about the increased construction costs of a wellness centre. Across the district as a whole, residents decry the state of many provincial roads. “Roads, roads, roads, roads, roads, I’m constantly hearing about roads,” said Gambin-Walsh, who added that millions of provincial dollars have gone towards roads in the district over the years, but there are still roads that need to be done. Access to general and nurse practitioners is also an issue. “Another thing I’m hearing about, and this is something I’m experiencing myself, as my son is an individual with autism, is the access to GP’s,” said Gambin-Walsh. “People are having difficulty accessing GPs, and they’re having difficulty even accessing nurse practitioners to meet their needs.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents who do have access to family doctors and have been availing of virtual appointments during the pandemic have been mostly satisfied with the service, but there are still too many people without proper access to healthcare. “I have a number of constituents in my district who do not have access to a GP, and that is a problem, that is a huge problem,” Gambin-Walsh admitted. She said constituents haven’t raised concerns about her removal from cabinet last year following an RCMP investigation that showed she broke cabinet confidentially by leaking information regarding a promotion in the RNC. She was not charged, but Premier Andrew Furey did not reappoint her to cabinet. “With this RCMP investigation, constituents are not interested at all,” said Gambin-Walsh. “I was prepared and offering to answer questions at the door to my constituents directly, but they don’t want to hear about it, they don’t want to talk about it, they’re not interested.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents are, however, eager to hear details about her involvement in 2018 bullying allegations against former Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce. At the time Joyce, seen by many political watchers as perhaps the loyalist Liberal in the province having relinquished his seat in 1989 so Clyde Wells could serve in the legislature as Premier, was serving as Minister of Municipal Affairs and charged with making tough decisions about a sea of demands coming in from MHAs for funding from their towns. Gambin-Walsh said constituents are happy that she spoke up against Joyce, and that some have even gone so far as to read the official reports. After then Premier Dwight Ball allegedly failed to keep a private promise to back Joyce against the charges of bullying, he left the Liberal party and sat as an Independent, getting re-elected without party affiliation in 2019. “The 2018 situation with MHA Joyce, that got get a bit of attention, and people were very curious and did ask me a fair bit about that. They are interested in bullying and harassment though. And they’re happy that I spoke up against it,” said Gambin-Walsh. “When I look at my social media, my Twitter and my Facebook, when I see anyone saying something negative, when I check out their account, it’s ether a troll account or the person doesn’t live in my district.”. As to Furey, Gambin-Walsh said he is a more than capable leader. She added that despite cries from the PC and NDP that Furey should not have called the election during a pandemic or during the winter, people are actually more engaged in this election than in previous years. “I am finding that people are more interested in this election than they were in ’15 and ’19,” she said. “This time, people are truly interested in what’s happening with COVID, they’re interested in the economy, they’re interested in chatting with me and getting my opinion… I think, now I could be wrong, but I think we’re going to have a very high turn out by the end of this election.” Gambin-Walsh said there’s been another noticeable difference in this year’s campaign. “I can’t keep a sign up. I have about 50 signs gone. They’re destroyed. People have called and said they’re beat up and up in the dump,” said Gambin-Walsh, adding some constituents have had to display their signs in shed windows for fear of having them removed — again. “I’ve been firm in telling my volunteers not to touch the other signs, regardless of the number of signs we lose. Just keep going… this is not going to slow us down.” Voters will choose between Gambin-Walsh, PC candidate Calvin Manning, and NL Alliance hopeful Clem Whittle. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
PARIS — A rare painting by Dutch impressionist master Vincent van Gogh of a street scene in the Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre will be publicly displayed for the first time before its auction next month. Sotheby's auction house said the work, painted in 1887, has remained in the same family collection for more than 100 years — out of the public eye. It will be exhibited next month in Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Paris ahead of an auction scheduled on March 25 in the French capital. “It’s an important painting in the oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh because it dates from the period in which he’s living in Paris with his brother, Theo," Etienne Hellman, senior director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's, told the Associated Press. Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 and lived in Montmartre. He left the capital in 1888 for southern France, where he lived until his death in 1890. “Before this, his paintings are much darker... In Paris he discovers colour,” Hellman said. “Colour blows up into the painting." “Street Scene in Montmartre” depicts a windmill named the Pepper Mill, seen from the street under a bright sky, with a man, a women and a little girl walking in front of wooden palisades that surrounded the place. “Paris marks this period where... the major impressionists influence his work,” Hellman said. Sotheby’s said the painting has been published in seven catalogues before but has never been exhibited. Claudia Mercier, auctioneer of Mirabaud Mercier house, said “it is also an important painting because there are very, very few of them remaining in private hands... especially from that period, most are in museums now.” Sotheby's has estimated the painting’s value between 5 and 8 million euros (between $6.1 and $9.8 million). It which did not reveal the identity of the owner. It will be on display in Amsterdam on March 1-3, Hong-King on March 9-12 and Paris on March 16-23. The Pepper Mill was destroyed during the construction of an avenue in 1911, but two similar windmills are still present today on the Montmartre hill. Sylvie Corbet And Oleg Cetinic, The Associated Press
The authorities expect to have 70% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summerView on euronews
NEW YORK — The exclusion of The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights" at the 2021 Grammy Awards shocked many, but he's in good company: Prince's “When Doves Cry" never scored a nomination either. Here's a look at every Billboard No. 1 hit of the year since 1958, Grammy-nominated or not. NOTE: Songs with an asterisk represent tracks that earned a Grammy nomination; songs with two asterisks won a Grammy. ______ 2020: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” 2019: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2018: Drake, “God’s Plan” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2017: Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2016: Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself” (asterisk) 2015: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2014: Pharrell Williams, “Happy” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2013: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz, “Thrift Shop” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2012: Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2011: Adele, “Rolling In the Deep” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2010: Kesha, “Tik Tok” 2009: Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2008: Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, “Get Low” (asterisk) 2007: Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable” (asterisk) 2006: Daniel Powter, “Bad Day” (asterisk) 2005: Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2004: Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Yeah!” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2003: 50 Cent, “In Da Club” (asterisk) 2002: Nickelback, “How You Remind Me” (asterisk) 2001: Lifehouse, “Hanging by a Moment” 2000: Faith Hill, “Breathe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1999: Cher, “Believe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1998: Next, “Too Close” 1997: Elton John “Candle In the Wind 1997” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1996: Los del Río, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” 1995: Coolio, “Gangsta’s Paradise” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1994: Ace of Base, “The Sign” (asterisk) 1993: Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”(asterisk)(asterisk) 1992: Boyz II Men, “End of the Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1991: Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1990: Wilson Phillips, “Hold On” (asterisk) 1989: Chicago, “Look Away” 1988: George Michael, “Faith” 1987: The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian” 1986: Dionne Warwick & Friends, “That’s What Friends Are For” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1985: Wham!, “Careless Whisper” 1984: Prince, “When Doves Cry” 1983: The Police, “Every Breath You Take” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1982: Olivia Newton-John, “Physical” (asterisk) 1981: Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1980: Blondie, “Call Me” (asterisk) 1979: The Knack, “My Sharona” (asterisk) 1978: Andy Gibb, “Shadow Dancing” 1977: Rod Stewart, “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” 1976: Wings, “Silly Love Songs” 1975: Captain & Tennille, “Love Will Keep Us Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1974: Barbra Streisand, “The Way We Were” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1973: Tony Orlando and Dawn, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” (asterisk) 1972: Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1971: Three Dog Night, “Joy to the World” (asterisk) 1970: Simon & Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1969: The Archies, “Sugar, Sugar” 1968: The Beatles, “Hey Jude” (asterisk) 1967: Lulu, “To Sir with Love” 1966: SSgt. Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Berets” 1965: Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, “Wooly Bully” (asterisk) 1964: The Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (asterisk) 1963: Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” 1962: Acker Bilk, “Stranger on the Shore” (asterisk) 1961: Bobby Lewis, “Tossin’ and Turnin’” 1960: Percy Faith, “Theme from A Summer Place” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1959: Johnny Horton, “The Battle of New Orleans” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1958: Domenico Modugno, “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” (asterisk)(asterisk) Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — “Caste,” Isabel Wilkerson's exploration of racism in the United States, and “The Dead are Arising,” an acclaimed biography of Malcolm X, are among this year's nominees for awards presented by the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project. The project announced Thursday that Wilkerson is a finalist for the Lukas Book Prize, along with Becky Cooper's “We Keep the Dead Close,” Seyward Darby's “Sisters in Hate,” Barton Gellman's “Dark Mirror” and Jessica Goudeau's “After the Last Border.” The Lukas project, based at Columbia University's journalism school and named for the late investigative journalist, also announced nominees for the Mark Lynton History Prize and the Lukas awards for works in progress. The awards honour “literary grace and commitment to serious research and social concern.” Winners will be announced March 24. Winners of the Lukas Book Prize and Lynton history prize receive $10,000 each. The project awards two works in progress, each worth $25,000. “The Dead are Arising,” which won the National Book Award last fall, is a finalist for the Lynton prize. The book was co-written by Les Payne, who died in 2018, and daughter Tamara Payne. Other Lynton nominees are Martha S. Jones' “Vanguard,” Geraldine Schwarz's “Those Who Forget,” Walter Johnson's “The Broken Heart of America” and Dwayne Betts' “A Question of Freedom.” Finalists for the work-in-progress awards are David Dennis Jr.'s “The Movement Made Us,” Emily Dufton's “Addiction, Inc.,” Channing Gerard Joseph's “House of Swann,” Casey Parks' “Diary of a Misfit” and Elizabeth Rush's “The Mother of All Things.” The Associated Press
This summer looks different for everyone thanks to COVID-19 and in Dwight, it means the winter food pantry will stay open year-round to meet the needs of people struggling financially. In 2018, Huntsville business owner Marie Poirier saw there was a growing need for a food bank in Dwight. At the time, Muskoka’s food banks were predominantly in larger communities, leaving rural residents without. “I knew people were going hungry in Dwight,” Poirier said. “If you haven’t got money for food, you haven’t got money for gas to drive to Huntsville.” Growing up, Poirier’s own family experienced financial hardship that led to her parents needing to ask for help to feed their family. She swore then she’d never see anyone go hungry again. “It’s tough to have to call somebody and say, ‘I can’t afford to put food on the table for my kids,’” said Poirier. “Who wants to say that?” Dwight Winter Pantry operates out of the town's community centre with 20-odd rotating volunteers who shop, sort and distribute food and other necessary items. Before COVID, people were welcome to shop the food bank’s shelves, but now the pantry is offering prepackaged bundles through curbside pickup or delivery with a priority on confidentiality. “It’s an ever-changing model,” Poirier noted, as the pandemic continues to layer on new challenges. At the start of COVID, the pantry was low on stock as buying in bulk was not permitted and trips to grocery stores were limited. She credits the Dwight Market and Pharmacy with being a vital partner, providing food at cost, sourcing hard-to-find items and making fresh produce available. “That’s really important,” Poirier said, because donations often come in the form of dry goods, but those staples alone, “are not really a great diet for kids.” Staying open through the summer was necessary — although businesses are reopening, not everyone is able to return to pre-pandemic staffing levels — Poirier said. “I think we’re going to see a lot of people without jobs to go back to.” Additionally, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is slated to end Oct. 3 (for those who applied in March). Students could be heading back to school in September and bills are still piling up, Poirier said, as some folks have deferred utility and rent payments. “They’re going to find themselves needing food,” she said. The stress of other daily tasks is heightened when there’s no food on the table, said Sandra Daleman, manager of homelessness programs and services at the District of Muskoka. Food banks — of which there are 10 in Muskoka — are partially funded through Daleman’s department, which receives $1.1 million annually from the province. This year the department received an additional $1.3 million from the Social Services Relief Fund to help people in Muskoka exceptionally vulnerable due to the impact of COVID-19. Because of the gravity of the need the pandemic posed, funding was routed to local food banks, including the Dwight Winter Pantry. “Certainly their needs have grown since COVID,” Daleman said of Muskoka’s food banks, “and we’ve leaned on them to support communities.” A similar situation is occurring at the Winter Pantry that serves Baysville and Dorset. In March, when operations usually cease, the decision was made to extend service to the end of May, according to a spokesperson for the pantry. As of press time, the pantry is operating on an on-call, emergency basis with plans to reopen in early November. “It is hard to determine how many emergencies will dictate our fall opening date,” the pantry said in an email. “We will do what we can as the need changes.” As the need has grown, Daleman said, so too has awareness of Muskoka’s vulnerable population and a growing understanding that, “many are a paycheque away” from needing help. Many people see life a little differently now, she said. “They’ve lost their job or they were counting on tourism as their bread and butter for the year and that’s not happening.” With municipal and community partners, the district assembled a working group — the Community Supports and Collaboration Group — early on in the pandemic to address a variety of needs. “We needed to have a central repository of all the food and community resources,” Daleman said, adding, “everybody has really stepped up.” Service clubs, churches and other fundraising groups cannot gather and as a result, financial donations have decreased. The support, said Daleman, is changing and coming from other avenues. Social services that don’t generally provide food support, like the YWCA, have now taken that on. More than 40 other community groups have received calls for support. When people reach out, it is from an intersection of needs, Daleman said. And, it isn’t over. She also has her eye on the CERB deadline because she knows in many ways, the work is just beginning. “It’s a very big question,” Daleman posed. “How are we ever going to recover?” STORY BEHIND THE STORY We started to think about how, now that we have learned to live with COVID-19 what does that actually look like? When the pandemic hit, emergency services were plentiful but this reporter wanted to look at the ripple effects of the initial crisis as many people keep talking about how we are, "going back to normal." At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Regional municipal CAOs have been discussing the potential for a collaboration framework for more than a year and Hinton recently Drayton Valley in the first steps to developing this framework. Similar challenges occur in communities of Hinton’s size and region, such as budget and resource constraints, difficulty recruiting for key positions, and specialized skill and training requirements, said CAO Emily Olsen during the regular council meeting on Feb. 2. “The intention of an intermunicipal collaboration project is to explore what is possible with partner municipalities and sharing resources, including internal skills, best practices, document content and templates, or cost effective partnerships for purchasing software, external services, or other other areas where financial impacts can be spread out,” said Olsen. Drayton Valley submitted a grant application to the Alberta partnership grant under the intermunicipal collaboration component, which Hinton supported during the Feb. 2 meeting. The intention of the grant and its use is to support exploration, development, and piloting of an intermunicipal collaboration framework. That framework could be shared with the rest of the province if successful. Olsen noted that this grant will allow research into the possibilities and opportunities but doesn’t tie them to the framework yet. There is no financial commitment required by the Town of Hinton, but staff time will be needed to explore and determine where benefits and opportunities are, Olsen said. Other municipalities supporting the grant are Rocky Mountain House, Mayerthorpe, Edson and Drayton Valley. It’s still unknown when work will start and if they were successful in receiving the grant. “If it gains success, then the province may use our model to roll out to other municipalities of like size across the province. The first steps would be securing the grant funds and then meeting with counterparts to prioritize projects, timelines and determine available resource sharing,” said Faiaz Mir, Hinton’s communications coordinator. Instead of competing against each other, Mayor Marcel Michaels pointed out that municipalities will help one another in areas where they may be deficient. Working with partners that have similar needs and struggles as Hinton allows each partner to provide or share services that some municipalities can’t afford on its own, Michaels explained. For example, an engineer may only work 15 hours in the Town of Hinton, but if they can work across municipalities, as partners they are able to provide a full time position, Michaels added. “A lot of municipalities purchase plans just for their municipality. What if we had someone who could provide plans and then share them amongst municipalities, thus saving money. I think there are unlimited possibilities with this approach especially with communities under 15,000 who struggle to have the resources available but still have to provide a lot of services to their community,” Michaels said. Generally, municipalities work together with their County but they often provide different services, he added. Many municipalities of Hinton’s size don’t have their own legal department like larger centres would, but by combining three or four municipalities and their budgets, they may be able to have a dedicated legal department, Michaels continued. This would help save costs on their overall legal bills. At the moment, Michaels couldn’t identify any known specific gaps in Hinton’s service, but part of this application will be researching and developing those needs, gaps, and frameworks in each community. “It could be engineering, GIS, legal, asset management, corporate services, there’s a long list of things municipalities could share and not purchase and deliver on their own,” Michaels said. Besides operational services, another option could include the sharing of capital equipment. “Let’s say we have two snow plows, if one breaks down, we could have an agreement in place to borrow with a fixed cost or some form of compensation with another municipality. So that we can borrow their backup equipment and vice versa,” Michaels said. He noted that he hasn’t heard of municipalities sharing services and equipment like this in the past, and that the provincial government is excited about the prospect of municipalities working together. At the end of the day, the provincial government would save money too because municipalities lean on tax revenue, service fees, and grants from the provincial government. “They see this as an opportunity to save money overall which is not only the municipalities taxpayers, but taxpayers on every level. Provincial and federal,” Michaels said. Participating communities will gain access to a larger talent pool through the various municipal partners, stated administration’s Feb. 2 report. This will lead to eventual standardization of processes, access to a central database containing a library of templates, specific standardized contracts, studies, and project plans. Regional municipalities face limitations with smaller personnel budgets, and larger workloads which impact employee retention and recruitment as compared to larger centres, according to the report. In some areas the opposite is true, that the work requires a specialized skill set but the amount of work only requires a part time employment arrangement. A tele-conference was conducted on Dec. 9, 2020 between the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ministers’ Chief of Staff, MLA for Drayton Valley/Devon and the CAO of Drayton Valley where the concept of this intermunicipal framework, its rationale, and progress to date was elaborated upon. CAOs for the Towns of Mayerthorpe, Hinton, Rocky Mountain House, Edson and Drayton Valley were contacted to collaborate and jointly apply for the ACP grant. If the competitive grant application is successful, coordination of the various components and resources will begin to ensure that the completion of the pilot will fall within a period of 12 to 18 months. The ACP grant was applied for on Jan. 5, 2021 with Drayton Valley as the lead, with letters of support from participating municipalities. For more information, reach out to the Town of Hinton administration at email@example.com Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
Land acknowledgments will now be an official part of council proceedings in Lake of Bays. The township voted unanimously to read a verbal statement at the start of meetings taking place in council chambers on land “traditionally occupied by Indigenous peoples.” The acknowledgement goes on in part to say, “Their legacy and respectful stewardship for this land continues to shape Lake of Bays today and we want to show our respect.” The statement will also be read at events outside municipal hall where council or senior staff are invited to speak. Through a District-led committee that met on Wahta Mohawk Territory, it was determined the acknowledgement be left open to augmentation. “It is a living document,” Mayor Terry Glover said, recognizing the learning process and working relationship between the municipality and First Nations is ongoing. This includes specifically naming the nations on which Muskoka, as it is known, was built. Ultimately, Glover stressed the importance of getting something on the books that was created collectively, with respect and with sincerity. “There’s lots of time to get this right,” he said. “It’s important we understand each other’s viewpoints.” Some of the calls to action outlined in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation report fall under education. Through consultation and sharing with local First Nations leaders, Glover said he learned a great deal about Indigenous history in Canada, information he did not receive through the Ontario school system. “How can I be my age and not know about this stuff?” he said. Land acknowledgments have been commonplace in other provinces for decades at government and community events. Ontario is a very conservative place, Glover noted — one that is “very financially driven” and as a result, “this kind of thing is put on the back burner,” he said, The mayor acknowledged the action is a delayed response comparatively. Glover pointed to the Black Lives Matter and racial justice movements happening worldwide as proof that there is work to do and part of it is incumbent on municipal leadership. “We have this problem here, too, and we’re not recognizing our diversity the way we should,” he said. At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com