Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A judge has declared a southern Alberta man with a history of sexually assaulting teen girls a dangerous offender, a designation that means he can be held in jail indefinitely. Trevor Pritchard of Coaldale, Alta., has been convicted of sexual assault five times between 2004 and 2019. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Johnna Kubic says despite attending sex offender programs while in jail, Pritchard made little or no progress and continued to reoffend. Kubic handed Pritchard an indefinite sentence in Lethbridge on Thursday. During the dangerous offender hearing process, his victims gave impact statements describing serious negative, long-term effects on their physical and emotional well-being. The victims said this included taking part in self-harm, struggling to maintain relationships, substance addiction, anxiety, and panic attacks. (LethbridgenewsNOW, The Canadian Press) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021 The Canadian Press
As Council considers a proposal for a significant installation of digital media as part of the Library Square development, some are looking for more traditional and varied forms of art to be a public draw to the area. Work is currently underway on Victoria Street to bring Library Square to fruition, but as construction continues, thoughts are returning once again to the programs and services the $52 million redevelopment project will be able to offer. Following a presentation to Council from Arts Help, which proposed a digital and evolving vision for what could be on offer inside the extension to the historic Church Street School, Councillor John Gallo, a long-time proponent for public art, said it is time to “analyse every aspect” of how public art will fit into the overall vision. “My view is we should take our time and analyse every aspect of it and see how we can invest [in] and develop our public art policy as we deal with the funds we have put aside for Library Square,” he said. Staff responded that a report on a public art policy is still in the works. “Staff were still due to return to Council with a public art policy, and confirming the direction for public art in general, but certainly with the funds that were allocated for this project, we would be returning to Council seeking some guidance with how you wish to see those funds spent, whether it be on the property or within the properties themselves,” said Robin McDougall, Aurora’s Director of Community Services. “We were due to come back to Council at this point. It certainly would be something we could anticipate in 2021 [but] in light of the presentation we may need to expedite that coming to Council.” That presentation was received positively by local lawmakers, but it sparked further questions on just what Council’s overall vision for public art will be once the project is complete. “I believe the budget is to provide art for the Square and I was thinking it was going to be paintings and sculpture,” said Councillor Wendy Gaertner. “I love the idea of sculpture as you see in big cities that people can climb on and sit on… I was thinking about that kind of art [as being] an interesting draw for people.” Arts Help co-founder Mo Ghoneim said his group did explore the option of sculptures and getting the community involved in the creation of a mural, but they wanted to have something with legs. “When we thought about the current trend in what is happening and how can we do this in a way that has longevity to it, we realized after a lot of the research and the work we have been doing with various organizations that when we do create a sculpture…as much as they are beautiful and appreciated, you’ve seen them once and that kind of takes away from bringing you back again. “When we’re thinking about this project being a really big project for the Town, we thought about, what is that solution to keep people continuing to come back and how can we have art as a driver, a key force to bringing them back and engaging with them through art and creativity. That is why we shifted to this proposal.” Councillor Gallo also told the proponents he was more “traditionalist” when it comes to the arts and wanted to see those options on the table as well. “Either a collaboration with a prominent artist, local artists, something of that sort,” he said. “To me, a lot of thought should be put into this.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Residents in small municipalities with water and sewer systems constantly feel the pain of ever-increasing rates, a problem the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands wants to take up with the province. Township council members are struggling to keep rates at a level that residents can afford, but with only 300 users on their system it’s a losing battle, unless they can successfully lobby the Ontario government. "The legislation is that rates must recover operation and capital costs of a water and wastewater system; it cannot come out of taxes,” said Kate Tindal, director of finance. Right now the township is looking to increase water and wastewater rates by 3.5 per cent, well below the 10 per cent annual increase recommended by the water and wastewater study completed by Watson and Associates in 2020. "These water and wastewater systems were put in by a very zealous (at the time) provincial government and the ultimate unintended consequence is in the magic word 'unaffordable' for small communities. I think we as a township have to knock on the provincial door and say 'you constructed this thing for us generously but didn't think it through' – how is a community of 300 households going to pay for a $20-million asset?" asked Coun. Brock Gorrell. As Tindal warned council at the outset, adopting lower than recommended rate increases will put the township behind in achieving full cost recovery as per the provincial mandate. "Ultimately rates are going to get beyond what our folks can afford. We have a policy issue that users have to pay for the system, so we should take the initiative to open the dialogue with the provincial government to see what remedies there might be in the mid-term," agreed Coun. Mark Jamison. Leeds and the Thousand Islands is not alone. There are numerous other small rural municipalities in the same boat. As things stand under the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act, there is an expectation that only users pay for the system. If there is a catastrophic failure within a system that needs to be addressed in a single year, a municipality would have to borrow money to pay for the repairs and then recover that outlay from the ratepayers. Water and Wastewater are not and cannot be tax-supported under provincial legislation. "The way the legislation is written, it's intended that the rates recover the money necessary to fund operating and capital operations, and yes it's going to be very challenging with the number of users on the system," said Tindal. Water and wastewater users in Lansdowne already pay on average $1,751 per year for the service. If the township adopted the Watson and Associates recommendation of 10 per cent increases per year for 10 years, those same ratepayers would have to pay $3,639 a year by the year 2030 – more than double what they're paying today. During budget deliberations last month, council members balked at such a hefty increase and opted for a much lower 3.5 per cent increase to be reviewed within two years once the asset management plan gets caught up with the projected needs of the system. But as the township gets ready to ratify the increase, councillors are realizing that user rates are not a reasonable solution for systems that cost tens of millions. "Perhaps we can do some outreach through AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario) and see if they have a working group addressing this issue. I will undertake that," said township CAO Stephen Donachey.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Bumped from online lessons, staring into black screens and teachers’ voices cutting out – that’s been the education experience for some rural students in the region since learning went remote. But two weeks in, the options to support rural families who have poor internet access and also live in cellphone dead zones are still few and far between. “You can hear every morning, ‘You’re glitchy, you’re getting cut out, I can’t hear you,’” Kelly Elliott said. “Everyone is struggling.” The Thames Centre deputy mayor lives in an area that can’t get consistent cell service. Coupled with slow internet, online learning becomes challenging for her two children. “We’re making it through the best we can,” Elliott said. “I think that’s all we can do.” While most school boards are supplying LTE-enabled devices to support families without internet access, they do no good if they can’t get a cell signal, like at Elliott’s house. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce says it's up to individual school boards to come up with plans for these families. “School boards are required to make provisions and adaptations for those students who are unable to learn remotely due to connectivity issues to ensure the continuity of learning,” said Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for the minister. Clark said the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government has invested nearly $1 billion to expand rural broadband and cellular service. Last week, Lecce announced $80 million to buy more online learning and connectivity devices. In-person learning outside of COVID-19 hot spots is scheduled to resume Jan. 25. Elliott said the province’s response puts too much onus on already strained school boards and teachers. “Everybody is just looking to everyone else to come up with a solution is the most frustrating part,” she said. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario slammed Lecce’s approach. “ETFO has repeatedly expressed concern to the Ministry of Education about gaps in equitable and consistent access to live streaming/synchronous learning,” president Sam Hammond said in an email. “Issues with internet connectivity, and limited access to high-quality internet service and devices continue to disadvantage students across Ontario.” Hammond said educators are doing their best to adapt to support all students, including providing paper resources when necessary. “These challenges will not disappear tomorrow,” he said. “This is why the provincial government must invest in additional safety measures now so we can resume in-person learning, which provides the best experience for learning, quality delivery, and is the most equitable model for all students.” Avon-Maitland parent Amy VanStraaten, who lives on a farm with spotty internet near Rostock, 10 minutes from Stratford, said her children are “off to a bumpy start” with online learning. Her children are in kindergarten and Grade 1. While the Avon-Maitland school board provided her with an LTE-enabled device for her kids, it uses Rogers cellular data, which doesn’t cover her area. “We’re kind of in limbo right now,” she said. Jane Morris, an Avon-Maitland superintendent, said they’re aware of three families in the region who aren’t able to connect with the Rogers LTE-devices. The board has acquired Bell SIM cards and is supplying those to families starting Thursday in hopes it gets the students online. “If that doesn’t work, we’re going to have to try to figure out what telco (telecommunications company) does provide coverage to those specific addresses,” Morris said. Some 200 LTE devices have gone out in the Avon-Maitland region. Families who opted not to do online learning receive paper packages by mail every two weeks. Morris said she wouldn’t want families forced into this option due to lack of internet. “It doesn’t provide the kind of rich educational experience that I think families need.” Since online learning began Jan. 5, VanStraaten has been using her personal cellular data to connect her kids to online learning and has already run through her monthly 20 gigabytes in just two weeks. She said the poor-quality connection is disrupting her children’s learning and social development. “The kindergartener, with not being able to see her class and teachers, a lot of what they’re doing is very visual . . . she’s having a really hard time,” VanStraaten said. “We’ve basically said we’ll join when internet allows.” Her daughter in Grade 1 is struggling as well when she can’t see or hear her classmates and teacher. “She’ll get frustrated and just burst into tears,” her mother said. VanStraaten said more could have been done to prepare for remote learning and to support rural families who can’t connect by broadband or cellular service. “It’s frustrating that we’re this far into (the pandemic), looking at another lockdown which we all saw coming and we are still waiting for a solution,” she said. She hopes the pandemic is a catalyst for the provincial and federal governments to prioritize investments in rural broadband service. “We’ve been saying it since the early 2000s. It's 20 years later and we still have this problem.” email@example.com The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Stay-at-home orders will take effect at 12.01 a.m. on Thursday, January 14, to limit mobility in the fight against COVID-19. The Provincial Government announced the stay-at-home orders on Tuesday afternoon, along with an Ontario-wide state of emergency, which will be in place for a minimum of 28 days.” As the number of new cases of the virus continue to rise, there is a “looming threat” that Ontario’s hospital system could collapse, said the Province. The stay-at-home order will require everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise and for essential work. As such, employers must ensure that any employee who can work from home does so. Additional measures announced Tuesday include restricting organized outdoor public and social gatherings to no more than five people with limited exceptions, requiring individuals to wear masks or face coverings in the indoor areas of businesses and organizations that are open, and requiring all non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and businesses offering curbside pickup and delivery to open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. These restrictions do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. “The Ontario spirit has lifted us through worse, the people of Ontario have battled through worse, and I know this time will be no different,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Now more than ever, we need you…to do your part, stay home, save lives [and] protect our health care system. The system is on the brink of collapse. It is on the brink of being overwhelmed. We’re at levels we have never seen before. Last week, I stood here and I told you that our province is in crisis and the facts are clear. Cases and deaths are at the highest level since the start of the pandemic and community spread continues to escalate. The…very dangerous UK strain of COVID is being found across the Province. Ontario had eight new cases confirmed today and if we don’t move fast, our hospital ICUs could be overwhelmed by the first week of February. “I know everyone is tired. I know everyone is sick of COVID, including myself. I know everyone wants to return to normal. New reports and data show one third of Ontarians are not following Public Health guidelines. Many are travelling and gathering. Now, let me be clear: I am not blaming anyone, only one thing is truly at fault and that is the virus. It just takes a moment. If you let your guard down, it can strike. Think of the teenager out with their friends not wearing their masks. They go home, pass it to their parents. Later that day at dinner, the virus passes from parents to grandparents. Within days, the grandparent is in the ICU and tragically passes. This is a story we’re hearing too many times. Stories like this are why we need to stay home and save lives.” Added Health Minister Christine Elliott: “The measures we are introducing today are absolutely necessary to save and protect the lives of Ontarians. This is not the first wave. Now, community transmission is widespread. It is in our hospitals, it is in our long-term care homes, and it is in our workplaces. The number of cases and the number of deaths due to COVID-19 are at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic a year ago. In a few short weeks, our hospital and ICU capacity could be overwhelmed. Yesterday, 41 Ontarians died from COVID-19. It has been an extremely tragic year. Over 5,000 Ontarians have lost their lives to COVID-19 since this pandemic began. These are not just numbers or statistics. These were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and grandparents.” Ontarians, she said, must change mobility patterns. Too many people are having too many contacts, resulting in increased cases, and the cycle must be broken. The new orders also come with increased enforcement measures. The Province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the OPP, local police forces, bylaw officers and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home orders. Additional enforcement measures will also impact big box stores, noted the Premier, with “inspection blitzes” over the coming days. “We have been up front about the severity of the threats we face if the numbers begin moving in the manner we have seen during these past days and weeks,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We have said we would not hesitate to explore and exhaust all options necessary to protect Ontarians if the situation worsens, and it has. We are declaring this Provincial Emergency to allow for stronger measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and these measures will be enforced. “If people are found not complying with these orders, they will be subject to fines and persecution. Penalties may include up to a year in jail. We are taking the current situation very seriously and we ask that all Ontarians do the same. It is critical now more than ever that people adhere to the orders and follow public health measures. Please stay home, stay safe. Orders can only take us so far. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 can only be done if we all band together and make an extraordinary effort to protect the communities our family and our friends call home.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
With its own unique brand of “magic realism,” the novel Chasing Painted Horses has provided no shortage of inspiration for the Aurora Public Library and community groups as One Book One Aurora 2021 gets underway. As The Auroran reported last week, Drew Hayden Taylor’s novel about confronting old, yet vivid memories is at the centre of the Library’s (APL’s) annual campaign to get all of Aurora reading from the same page. “This book has been so magical that so many people are coming on board,” says Reccia Mandelcorn, APL’s Manager of Community Collaboration, who says she often has the same criteria in picking a book for the campaign: will it sustain interest for months? “This year, when I had my ‘beta readers’ read the books on my shortlist, I got everyone’s opinion on it. One of the things I was hearing from all my wonderful community members is to stay away from anything that was too dark, even if it was a really good book, because although we need important themes to build upon, they all warned about not having anything that was too dark or graphic during this very difficult time that we’re all experiencing.” That was just one determining factor and it certainly fit the bill. Ms. Mandelcorn says she loves the theme of “magic realism” and has loved fantasy and fairy tales since childhood. Chasing Painted Horses, she says, has its pages infused with this magic, along with themes of art, homelessness and Indigenous life, all woven together by an Indigenous voice in Drew Hayden Taylor. Among the activities beginning to fall into place surrounding Chasing Painted Horses is a writing workshop led by Marnie Maguire, a writing contest for adults and teens encouraging people to tap into their imaginations and a photography contest sponsored by The Auroran for teens and adults alike depicting art found in unexpected places. “I am hoping that the photography contest will inspire,” says Ms. Mandelcorn. “We want to expand art participation. This year, the Town of Aurora is partnering with us on a community art project installing chalkboards on the fencing around Library Square. People will be invited for an all-ages community event to come and draw and that will pick up on the theme of the book’s ‘Everything Wall’ [which has a central role in the novel]. We’re inviting people to take pictures of what they draw and there will be prizes every week for the best drawing, as is what happens in the novel.” Additional programming touches upon the themes of homelessness with virtual events slated to be hosted in conjunction with the Social Planning Council of York Region and the Affordable Housing Coalition of York Region. “We will be continuing programming on the need for affordable housing in our area as brought up by the theme of Harry, a homeless person in the book,” says Ms. Mandelcorn. “I am very excited about retaining that partnership with them; we did some programming with them this year and it was wonderful. I am very excited they are on board again.” An art exhibition, A Carousel of Horses, exploring the horse as symbols of power, and a virtual author visit with Drew Haden Taylor on Saturday, October 23, at 2 p.m., round out the lineup. All this affords plenty of time for Aurora residents to read the book. In years past, previous One Book One Aurora selections have been placed free of charge in small lending libraries dotted around the community intended to allow readers to pick up, read, return or pass on their volume. The fine details of the roll-out are still forthcoming but Ms. Mandelcorn says she’s eager to hear readers’ reactions, as well as the community conversation that will come. “The book is accessible and can be read at different levels,” she says. “I am hoping teens might pick up the book as well. I’m hoping to expand to a wider group so we’re not just having the ‘book club set’ but teens and young adults start enjoying this initiative and be exposed to some Indigenous writing. Drew’s writing is humorous, magical and not necessarily what you think of. Maybe in the past, Indigenous writing or writing from Indigenous authors has been pigeonholed. That is something people are going to pick up from this book because Drew is Indigenous, but his writing stands on its own. “For so short a book, it is so rich. You can find so much in it. It’s just so open for the reader to discover for themselves what the are seeing and maybe what they see in themselves and society, too.” For more on One Book One Aurora and associated programs and events, visit onebookoneaurora.com.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Northern Health has released a second COVID-19 exposure notice for Uplands Elementary School in Terrace. The exposure occurred Jan. 4 to Jan. 6 according to the notice, which is posted on the Coast Mountains School District 82 website. Jan. 4 was the first day students were back in class after the winter break. There have been numerous COVID-19 exposure notices for Terrace schools issued by Northern Health since Nov. 2020, and nearly all Terrace schools have had at least one exposure notice. Uplands Elementary School’s first exposure took place on Nov. 30, and Dec. 1, 2020. The last COVID-19 school exposure notice in the Terrace area was issued by Northern Health on Jan. 11, regarding an Jan. 4 exposure at Skeena Middle School. It was the first exposure notice issued after the winter break.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
VICTORIA — The B.C. government is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit non-essential travel to the province during the pandemic, the premier says. Premier John Horgan told a news conference Thursday there is concern about people coming from other provinces or territories and spreading COVID-19. Horgan said he and other premiers have made the case for Canadians to stay home during the pandemic, but people continue to travel. The issue has been discussed for months and it's time to determine if the government can act, he added. "I want to put this either to rest, so British Columbians understand we cannot do that and we're not going to do that, or there is a way to do it and we're going to work with other provinces to achieve it." Public health orders issued by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, which are in effect until Feb. 5, tell B.C. residents not to travel for vacations, recreation or social visits. The Atlantic provinces formed a bubble that required people from outside the region to get approval before travelling there, but Horgan said a similar plan might not work for B.C. "There's only a few ways in or out and it's easier to manage than it would be here in B.C.," he said. Henry said during a COVID-19 briefing Thursday that she did not believe she had the authority to limit out-of-province travel nor was she considering adding such orders. "It's hard to see how that is feasible in British Columbia for many reasons," she said. "Our borders are very different, we have many ways that people can cross — particularly from Alberta — and we know that there are many services and workplaces that people live in one or the other province and move back and forth." Health Minister Adrian Dix said it's important to remember that as B.C. examines the legality of limiting travel, residents need to think of their own actions. "This applies to British Columbians travelling there. We have an obligation as well not to engage in non-essential travel to other provinces," he said. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control lists 39 COVID-19 public exposures on flights coming into B.C. from other provinces between Dec. 31 and Jan. 8. Big White Ski Resort, which has reported more than 130 COVID-19 cases among staff members and locals, cancelled all non-local bookings until Feb. 5 as a result of Henry's orders. Michael Ballingall, Big White Resort's senior vice-president, said in a statement that the company was encouraging visitors from around Canada to follow the provincial health guidelines. "Following the rules is not about the bottom line, it’s about bending the curve and staying open for our season passholders and local skiers and snowboarders," he said. Limiting interprovincial travel and the advice received by legal experts will be discussed during the NDP government's virtual cabinet retreat over the next two days. The desire to seek legal clarification also comes after politicians and public figures across Canada travelled outside the country around Christmas. No B.C. provincial politicians travelled during the holiday season, Horgan said, but he understands the issue of international travel is frustrating to British Columbians. "I think that we've tried our best to appeal to people's common sense," Horgan said about discouraging travel. "Those are individual choices at the end of the day, there's no prohibition in terms of a legal requirement." The B.C. government was one of the first in the country to push for stricter international border measures, he added. — By Nick Wells in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Chuck Schumer is used to drinking from a firehose. But the incoming Senate majority leader has never taken on such a torrent of challenges, with the opening days of both the Biden administration and Democratic control of the Senate coming at the very moment an impeachment trial gets underway. A 38-year veteran of Congress who first came to the Senate during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Schumer is a 70-year-old bundle of energy with one overriding mandate: Help Joe Biden become a successful president. To do so, he’ll have to leverage the narrowest possible majority — a 50-50 Senate with the incoming vice-president, Kamala Harris, delivering the tiebreaking vote. It's a tough assignment. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. But the goodwill Schumer enjoys with key members, and his careful management of the party's constituencies, could help ease the way. “Chuck Schumer has done a remarkable job as our caucus leader the last four years holding our caucus together," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as he entered the Senate chamber during last Wednesday's Electoral College count, speaking just before a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol and the situation turned dire. Then Schumer appeared. “What did I just give a quote about? Our capable majority leader!" Coons said. “Again!" a jubilant Schumer exclaimed. “More adjectives! More adjectives!" Less than an hour later, Schumer was in peril, under the protection of a Capitol Police officer with a submachine gun standing between him and GOP leader Mitch McConnell as the mob breached the building. The ransacking of the Capitol has brought impeachment to the Senate's door again and set Republicans on their heels. And it's put a spotlight on whether the polarized, diminished chamber can process Biden's agenda. Take the installation of Biden's Cabinet. The Senate has traditionally tried to confirm a batch of the most important nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the days thereafter. But to do so requires the co-operation of the entire Senate. Democrats slow-walked many of Trump's Cabinet picks four years ago after a crushing election loss, but there's a palpable sense that Republicans may be more co-operative now, at least when confirming national security nominees and picks like Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. Schumer seeks — and is used to operating in — the spotlight, whether he’s helping run the unwieldy, increasingly divided Senate, micromanaging his beloved Democratic caucus or crisscrossing New York. Any of these is a full-time job. And they don’t always point him in the same direction. For instance, Biden is preaching bipartisanship, and Schumer wants to help, but tensions are inevitable with ardent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ambitious Bronx Democrat whom Schumer allies are watching closely as he runs for a fifth term in 2022. Schumer was a force in Biden's decision to “go big” on Thursday with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill that was bigger than earlier Biden drafts. Progressives hailed the measure. Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. Senate rules are unforgiving, but Schumer and McConnell are hoping to establish a dual-track process to confirm nominations even as the trial unfolds. McConnell and Schumer have a tortured, tense relationship after years of bruising political battles and fights over Supreme Court nominees. They rarely talk spontaneously and have no hesitation in slinging barbs that earlier generations of leaders managed to avoid. But Biden and McConnell are long-standing friends, and the Kentucky Republican — pondering a “guilty" vote in Trump's second impeachment trial and still absorbing the disastrous Senate losses in Georgia — appears inclined to help Biden as best he can. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer. What is more, Democratic control of the chamber comes with filibuster-proof treatment of Biden's nominees, with only a simple majority needed, though Republicans could easily force delays. McConnell and his Republican caucus want to “reasonably co-operate on the national security nominations,” said Hazen Marshall, a former McConnell policy aide. “His view has traditionally been that presidents deserve their staff, unless their staff are crazy or criminals." But GOP senators are sure to drag their feet on less urgent Cabinet posts given the experience under Trump, when even former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., had to endure delays. But with the economy slipping and the public appalled by the melee in Washington, GOP resistance to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package or his slate of Cabinet picks may not be as resolute. “There's a lot to do, but Democrats are on the right side of all of it," said former Schumer strategist and confidant Matt House. “These are good problems to have." Amid the dizzying pace, Schumer also tends to New York. A Brooklyn native, Schumer makes a visit to each of the state's 62 counties every year. And his spur-of-the-moment visits to local events like high school graduations and, more recently, unannounced drop-ins on community Zoom calls are the stuff of legend. Last Thursday, little more than 24 hours after the Capitol riot, Schumer hopped on a call with a community board in Sunnyside, Queens. He spent the opening minutes thanking board members. “You guys and gals do a great job — I know what it’s like," Schumer said, according to the Sunnyside Post. “When things go bad you hear about it; when things are great you hear nothing.” And after Trump's impeachment Wednesday, Schumer heaped praise on local New York media members in a call with publishers and broadcasters thanking him for steering stimulus dollars to struggling news outlets, according to an account by the Syracuse Post Standard. But he had to jump. “Pelosi has called me and Biden, so I won’t be able to be on for too long," Schumer said. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
A bail hearing for a Moosomin First Nation man didn’t proceed in North Battleford Provincial Court Jan. 14 as scheduled. A lawyer representing Jonathan Swiftwolfe asked the court to adjourn the hearing for a week. Swiftwolfe’s appearance in court was also waived. Swiftwolfe has been in custody since his arrest Dec. 6, 2020, after multiple RCMP detachments worked together to locate him. He was wanted on charges of assault, uttering threats, several weapons-related offences, and flight from police. He was considered armed and dangerous when he was at large. When police arrested Swiftwolfe they say they found a loaded firearm in the vehicle within his reach. The charges against Swiftwolfe haven’t been proven in court. His bail hearing was adjourned to Jan. 19 in North Battleford Provincial Court. Moosomin First Nation is about 22 kilometres north of North Battleford.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Jean-Pierre Morin a annoncé jeudi qu’il quittait ses fonctions de Pro et directeur général au Club de golf de Sept-Îles. Une première expérience enrichissante qu’il aura accomplie avec passion et dévouement. Il venait tout juste de terminer ses études et s’est présenté motivé, prêt à donner son maximum pour les membres. Au cours de ces 9 années, il aura réussi à accomplir sa mission et peut partir sans malaise, fier de ce qu’il a accompli. Il laisse en héritage un club en santé, plus inclusif, et plus diversifié. Le Club a fait la manchette jusqu’à Montréal, grâce à une vague de jeunesse incomparable qui s’est mise à la pratique du golf à Sept-Îles. Jean-Pierre part de la région pour se rapprocher de sa famille, mais également pour se remettre à sa passion qu’est le golf. Dans ses nouvelles fonctions, au Club de golf de Victoriaville, il quitte le chapeau de directeur, pour devenir simplement un Professionnel et pourra avoir davantage de temps pour jouer des tournois. La prochaine année s’annonce tout autant positive pour le Club de golf Sainte-Marguerite, juste à voir le nombre de certificats cadeaux qui ont été distribués lors de la période des Fêtes. Jean-Pierre Morin n’est pas inquiet de s’en aller, car il sait que l’équipe de bénévoles est solide et dévouée. Il encourage les membres à s’impliquer, afin que l’organisation continue à progresser.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
The COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., Friday was so popular, it ran out of doses. About 36 people preregistered to get the vaccine and, just in case a few more people showed up, officials brought 50 doses to the community. It wasn't enough. By 2:30 p.m., the clinic ran out. Those who didn't get vaccinated today will have a second chance to get their vaccine tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the health centre when health officials return with 30 to 40 more doses. Lawrence Norbert, 66, a resident of the small community who calls himself an elder-in-training, said he got the vaccination because he wants his daughters and granddaughters to feel safe. "It's for the family, it's for the elders who visit here and it's for the community, just for the community-at-large that hey, we're on the way to herd immunity." He said he thinks the reason so many people got vaccinated today was because the two nurses who administered the vaccines come to the small community on a regular basis. He said their presence made him feel more comfortable in getting the vaccine and he thinks it made others feel comfortable about it too. Wayne Greenland, 59, travelled from Fort McPherson with his wife Bella to get the vaccine. He said he was scared to get it but given his health, his doctor recommended he get it. "I was a little nervous and scared," he said, adding that he did his homework and thought getting the vaccine was the best thing for him to do. Charlene Blake, a community health representative with the Beaufort-Delta Region Health and Social Services Authority who lives in the small community of about 180, wasn't planning on getting the vaccine but she did. She also convinced her brother and sister-in-law to get it. "We all have children and I work with the public. So because of that, that kind of came to my mind," she said. She said she's encouraging people in her community to get the vaccine, especially those who live with children or elders or with someone who is chronically ill who can't get it. "Do your part by helping protect them, by getting this vaccine," she said. She added that she hopes getting the vaccine eventually opens the door to travel. "We're all just hanging out waiting for that. And we're taking one step forward with the vaccine so it can only go up from here, I'm hoping," she said.
In the first wave of COVID-19, Aurora rarely had more than 20 active cases of COVID-19 at any one time. Now, there are more than 100 active cases of the virus, most of which have been acquired within the community. By Tuesday, January 12, Aurora was grappling with 104 active cases of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of 718 confirmed cases of the virus within the community, 23 of which have proved fatal. 591 cases are now marked as recovered. The twenty-third Aurora resident to lose the fight against COVID-19 was a 90-year-old female resident of Willows Estate, a long-term care home in Aurora’s south end, one of two active long-term care outbreaks in the community. She lost her fight at the residence on January 11 after receiving positive test results and the onset of symptoms on January 4. The twenty-second resident, this time a 91-year-old female resident of Kingsway Place Retirement Residence, lost her fight at Southlake on January 6 after receiving positive test results on December 16. Willows Estate was issued an order under the Province’s Health Protection & Promotion Act on Thursday. The order instructs Willows Estate, which has been in outbreak mode since Christmas Eve, “to take a series of actions to ensure the health and safety of their residents and staff,” said Patrick Casey, Director of Communications for the Regional Municipality of York. The order, issued by Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, states that York Region Public Health “has received information and conducted inspections evidencing” that the residence has “inadequate staffing levels to meet the needs of residents; has inadequate senior leadership (supervisory staffing) presence on the institution’s units, at all times, to ensure appropriate adherence to IPAC (Infection Prevention and Control) measures; and has inadequate and/or insufficient IPAC knowledge and processes to protect resident needs and requires assistance from York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Public Health Ontario, and the Local Health Integration Network to provide IPAC expertise to the institution to help contain the stop of COVID-19 outbreak at the institution.” According to Patrick McCarthy, President & CEO of OMNI Health Care, which operates Willows Estate, the residence will work closely with the Region, Southlake, and the Ministry of Long-Term Care to support staff and residents. “The situation evolved rapidly over several days, as test results were received by the home,” said Mr. McCarthy. “In addition to the increase in residents affected, several key staff from the leadership and nursing team were quarantined and unavailable. OMNI mobilized its response team with our Director of Operations on site to assume leadership. As well we have brought in management and nursing staff on site from other OMNI homes as support, and recruiting additional staff and agency contract staff to supplement our existing staffing during the outbreak. “We continue to work closely with York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health and have arranged a site visit this week with federally sponsored Canadian Red Cross for IPAC and possible ongoing staffing supports.” At press time this week, 32 of Aurora’s 104 active cases of COVID-19 were related to institutional outbreak. 71 active cases are attributed to local transmission or close contact, with 94 new cases in this category reported to York Region Public Health in one week alone. 1 active case is attributed to workplace cluster and there are zero travel-related cases.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — For a second time, Republican senators face the choice of whether to convict President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial. While only one GOP senator, Utah's Mitt Romney, voted to convict Trump last year, that number could increase as lawmakers consider whether to punish Trump for his role in inciting a deadly insurrection at the Capitol. Whatever they decide, Trump is likely to be gone from the White House when the verdict comes in. An impeachment trial is likely to start next week, as early as Inauguration Day, raising the spectre of the Senate trying the previous president even as it moves to confirm the incoming president's Cabinet. GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who says he's undecided, is one of several key senators to watch, along with Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who is set to take the Senate reins as his party reclaims the Senate majority. Others to watch include GOP senators up for reelection in 2022 and several Republicans who have publicly backed impeachment. ALL EYES ON McCONNELL At least at the trial's start, all eyes will be on McConnell, who largely protected Trump during the last impeachment trial and refused Democrats' pleas to call witnesses. This time, Trump may not be so fortunate. McConnell has told associates he is done with Trump and has said publicly he is undecided on impeachment. How he votes could sway other Republicans whose votes Trump needs to avoid conviction. The Republican leader holds great sway in his party even though convening the trial could be among his last acts as majority leader. Even as minority leader, McConnell will be a crucial and perhaps decisive voice. If the veteran Kentucky Republican sticks with Trump, conviction is unlikely. If McConnell votes against Trump, all bets are off as Democrats seek the 17 GOP votes they will need for the first-ever Senate conviction in a presidential impeachment trial. McConnell's public neutrality on impeachment is widely seen as an effort to restrain Trump's behaviour, with an acquittal largely contingent on Trump's ability to persuade his supporters not to incite more violence. SCHUMER'S TRICKY PATH The impeachment trial coincides not just with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, but also a change in Senate leadership to Democratic control. Two new senators from Georgia, both Democrats, are to be sworn into office later this month, leaving the chamber divided 50-50. That tips the majority to the Democrats once Kamala Harris takes office as vice-president and breaks the tie. On Inauguration Day, the Senate typically confirms some of the new president’s Cabinet, particularly national security officials, a task that could prove challenging. Schumer said he is working with Republicans to find a path forward. “Make no mistake: There will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate,'' Schumer said. “There will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanours.'' And if Trump is convicted, ”there will be a vote on barring him from running again.'' MURKOWSKI, TOOMEY DENOUNCE TRUMP At least two GOP senators — Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — have joined Romney in denouncing Trump. In a statement Thursday, Murkowski said the House was right to impeach Trump, who has "perpetrated false rhetoric that the election was stolen and rigged, even after dozens of courts ruled against these claims.'' When he was not able to persuade the courts or elected officials, Trump “launched a pressure campaign against his own vice-president, urging him to take actions that he had no authority to do,” said Murkowski, one of the few GOP senators to criticize Trump's behaviour during the impeachment trial a year ago. On the day of the riots, “President Trump’s words incited violence” that led to the deaths of five Americans, including a Capitol Police officer, as well as “the desecration of the Capitol,'' Murkowski said. The insurrection briefly interfered with the peaceful transfer of power, she said, adding: ”Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence.'' Toomey, a conservative who has generally backed Trump, made news on Sunday by calling on Trump to resign for the good of the country. While resignation was the “best path forward,'' Toomey acknowledged that was unlikely. Trump’s role in encouraging the riot is an “impeachable offence,” Toomey said. PORTMAN SEEKS A MIDDLE PATH Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, tried to walk a narrow path on impeachment. Portman, a moderate who is up for reelection in 2022, said after the House impeachment vote on Wednesday that Trump "bears some responsibility for what occurred,'' but added he was reassured by Trump's comment the same day that violence of any kind is unacceptable. Portman pledged to do his duty as a juror in a Senate impeachment trial, but said he is “concerned about the polarization in our country'' and hopes to bring people together. A top consideration during impeachment "will be what is best to help heal our country rather than deepen our divisions,” Portman said. SASSE DECRIES TRUMP'S ELECTION ‘LIE’ Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a conservative Republican, said he, too, is undecided on impeachment, but ripped Trump over his repeated false claims of a “stolen” election. "Everything that we’re dealing with here — the riot, the loss of life, the impeachment, and now the fact that the U.S. Capitol has been turned into a barracks for federal troops for the first time since the Civil War — is the result of a particular lie,'' Sasse said Thursday. When Trump urged his supporters to “fight like hell' to disrupt Congress' Jan. 6 proceedings to certify the election results, “it was widely understood that his crowd included many people who were planning to fight physically, and who were prepared to die in response to his false claims of a ‘stolen election,’” Sasse said. He called Trump “derelict in his duty to defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law'' and said Americans now have an obligation to "lower the temperature'' and maintain the peace. THUNE TAKES HEAT FROM TRUMP South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, had dismissed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, famously — and accurately — predicting the effort would “go down like a shot dog'' in the Senate. Thune's comment drew a furious response from the president. Before his Twitter account was taken away, Trump called Thune a “RINO” whose “political career (is) over!!!” He also urged Gov. Kristi Noem to run against Thune in a GOP primary, an idea she immediately rejected. Thune, who has remained mum on impeachment, made light of Trump's threat last week, saying "it’s a free country.'' Then, in words that could apply to impeachment, he added: "You just got to play the hand you’re dealt.” Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says one person in B.C. has been diagnosed with the South African strain of COVID-19. She also says she's saddened and disturbed at reports of racism against First Nations communities that have experienced outbreaks.
As we approach a full year of living in the midst of a global pandemic, Community & Home Assistance to Seniors (CHATS) is putting increased emphasis on expanding social engagement for seniors. Expanding Social Engagement for Seniors is a new program launched by CHATS this winter to help older residents stay connected and keep minds active. Launched in conjunction with the Alzheimer Society of York Region, York Region EMS, the York Regional Police, March of Dimes, Human Endeavour and CareFirst, the Expanding Social Engagement for Seniors program includes kits packed with a variety of products, from crossword puzzles and games to our new group of daily essentials such as face masks and alcohol wipes. In addition to these products, the kits contain information about local resources. “Most importantly, it is designed to help people feel they are connected and that there are resources out there they can call on at any time to support them if they should need it,” says Christina Bisanz, CEO of CHATS, which serves both York Region and South Simcoe. “This is a project we launched just after the holiday season and these kits have been, and are being, delivered throughout the area to a number of elderly people in the community.” This is just one initiative being carried out by CHATS throughout the winter. It has been a busy season for the organization, having recently taken part in Aurora’s Christmas Dream Dinner, which provided special turkey dinners to people in need within the community and beyond. Key in CHATS’ role in this were their own frontline workers who support older adults across many municipalities. In just one example, on December 22, personal support workers Samanta Breen and Karen Fredrick finished an overnight shift at an area seniors’ residence when they heard someone calling for help. The PSWs walked the floor listening at each door until they could pinpoint the sound, says Ms. Bisanz. “The person's voice was getting very faint, and she was unable to answer the door (the tenant not being a CHATS’ client, the PSWs did not have a key to get in),” said Ms. Bisanz. “Another PSW, Gregy Biolley, called 911 and waited in the lobby door until first responders arrived. Meanwhile, Samanta and Karen kept reassuring the tenant that help was on the way. By the time the first responders arrived the tenant was no longer responding. Police broke the door open and found the tenant unconscious. EMS transported the tenant to hospital. “We are very proud of how swiftly and purposefully our PSWs responded when they felt someone needed help. Their training and professionalism shone through. PSWs are not always acknowledged for what they do and how they help, but they are certainly among the heroes in healthcare.” The pandemic has caused us to redefine how we define our frontline workers, and CHATS’ volunteers have been front and centre from the very beginning – and continue to be. In addition to delivering the Expanding Social Engagement kits, they have been very active on the phones with their telephone reassurance programs and Meals on Wheels programs to help older residents stay connected and healthy in body, mind and spirit. “We’re still looking for volunteers to help with telephone calls, people that might have some experience or expertise in online programming would be helpful,” says Ms. Bisanz. “If they have some ideas to bring that we can put online that would be great. We are still looking for volunteers for Meals on Wheels delivery and we have really increased the number of clients now receiving Meals on Wheels. As people are more reluctant to go out, we certainly want to facilitate their ability to stay in their homes. Those meals have become even more important as sort of food security and good nutritional options and they are delivered right to their doors in a contactless way. If anybody is interested in volunteering activities for CHATS, we certainly encourage them to give us a call and see what opportunities exist in their respective areas. “We’re still a way from going back to the way things were and we probably won’t be exactly back to the way things were and our clients, they have been patient but it has been difficult. It has been difficult for the seniors and it has been difficult for their family members to continue to keep them safe at home. People are getting anxious and are looking for the time when they can come back together and that is all going to be very dependent on a successful course of having people be vaccinated and not only to protect themselves but to protect the elderly in our community. We’re very hopeful that vaccination program will continue to roll out and will continue to roll out quickly, and will also be getting to not only the frontline workers in the community, the PSWs, the drivers, the recreation programs, those who are doing front-facing work with the elderly need to be on the priority list for vaccination as well as the seniors just as much as some of the other priority population. We are hopeful there will be a recognition of the importance of also protecting those frontline essential workers and those seniors who are at home but definitely at higher risk.” For more, including how to get involved, visit chats.on.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
An avid fan of the great outdoors, Aidan Burbank was a regular fixture on the Town’s outdoor rinks and any local ponds frozen enough to allow he and his friends to have a casual game of three-on-three hockey. It was not only a passion, but a way for them to catch up after going their separate ways for school and work – and, for Aidan, an environmental science student, it may have been something of a release. After his death in October following a struggle with mental health that plagued him since childhood, his friends decided that the tradition would continue, laying the groundwork for the inaugural Aidan Burbank Pond Hockey Tournament which, in future years, will set out to raise money and awareness for mental health. Spearheaded by friends Cameron Palmer and Charles Peters, and a group which included Aidan’s brother Bryn, they hit the ice at Case Woodlot over the holidays to honour Aidan in a new tradition. “This was fitting because Aidan loved to spend his time outdoors and when I think of him I think about how much he liked to be outside,” says Charles. “We used to go out to the pond pretty well every year and meet him and Cameron and a couple of other buddies – we would always be going out to the ponds, so we figured that was perfect.” For mother Martha Burbank, her son’s peers’ idea to further Aidan’s legacy by carrying on and doing what he most loved to do, while making a tangible difference for those living what was Aidan’s everyday struggle, the inaugural tournament “means everything.” Martha had imagined the same idea – a holiday pond hockey tournament for Aidan – and was thrilled that his friends had independently thought of it. “Aidan was an amazing runner, a hockey lover and an avid outdoorsman,” says Martha. “He loved the forest, he studied hundreds of species of trees in field labs at university and thrive on that. Nature, quiet and being outside helped immensely with his happiness.” For the Burbanks, Aidan’s struggle was something they lived with every day since he was nine years old. When he lost his fight, the family began researching what they could do to have a positive impact on mental health charities. Among the organizations they earmarked were the Canadian Mental Health Association and Jack.org, an organization with a specialization on youth mental health. “When we publicized Aidan’s obituary, a lot of people donated to Jack.org, others decided the Canadian Mental Health Association. There have been tens of thousands of dollars to date in Aidan’s name from maybe 70 to 80 people. The response to mental health support from neighbours, friends and people whose life Aidan touched has been overwhelming,” says Martha. “We didn’t want charitable donations for this year’s tournament, but with this tournament, we wanted to establish a tradition of keeping mental illness at the forefront of discussion and be clear that it is important to be talked about.” The inaugural tournament, she says, was, despite the weather, a beam of sunlight that helped cut through the clouds. “We have had a bad feeling in the pit of our stomachs on a lot of these days since our son died, but this day was so wonderful,” she says. “I was chatting with these young men who are about 21 and I have known many of them since they were five, and maybe six other moms just independently arrived onto the ice. Everyone had a lot of compassion. A couple of the boys had a difficult time, one who plays baseball in the States was almost in tears and we were going through a lot of emotions.” In addition to a fundraiser in Aidan’s name, it was also a reunion in his honour. “I was just happy to be there with all these people,” says Cameron, who says he hopes the tourney will become an annual tradition. “Pond hockey is something we used to do every year and being there was really important. It was a good opportunity to just get everyone together and reflect on the positive stuff. We shared good stories and good memories.” Adds Charles: “It was nice that everyone could make it out for such a special cause and pay tribute. It was a little tough at first to just be out there thinking about it, but once we were all there and everyone was sharing stories, it became more of a fun event, almost like a celebration of life.” Aidan Burbank lost his fight on October 15 at the age of 21. Pursuing his degree in Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of New Brunswick right up until the time of his death in mid-October, he was previously a French Immersion student at Lester B. Pearson Public School and Aurora High School. “We had been struggling with Aidan’s mental health since he was nine,” says Martha. “This was a very long-term challenge for us. Parents really need to continue to follow through, call, email, whatever it is – if their child is in a situation and they are struggling and you’re waiting for counselling or therapy, you really have to pursue that with a lot of proactivity. Parents need to be as proactive and blunt as possible if their child is suffering and communicate with them about their suffering. They have to reach out and do everything they can to look for support systems.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Police are searching for more possible victims after an alleged child abduction earlier this week. Curtis Poburan, 52, was arrested Tuesday after allegedly luring a 10-year-old boy from a park in west Edmonton. A call to the Edmonton Police Service led to the arrest and the boy found physically unharmed at a nearby shopping complex. Poburan has been charged with abduction of a child under the age of 14 and criminal harassment. The child is receiving support from the Zebra Child Protection Centre. "We believe that the accused may have been in other areas of the city and may have been doing the same luring in other parks or areas," Det. Rob Davis with the EPS Child Protection Section said during a media availability Thursday. Police are asking anyone with any information to come forward. Davis said Poburan befriended the boy and escorted him away with the offer of a vape pen. He said the suspect had been released on probation in early December. According to court records, Poburan was sentenced Dec. 11 after being convicted on a criminal harassment charge. He was previously convicted in 2016 of abducting a person under 14. Last July, police issued a public warning that Poburan was a convicted sexual offender being released and that he posed a risk to the community. Witness called police Police said Wednesday evening they had charged Poburan with abduction of a child under the age of 14 and criminal harassment. At around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to reports of a suspicious person near 177th Street and 69th Avenue in west Edmonton. Police said they were told a man was trying to lure a child away from the area. Police said that when they arrived, a witness directed them to a nearby shopping complex where they found the child and took a suspect into custody without incident. "Thank you to that person who made the report," Brooklyn Alcock, director of justice partnerships and supports with the Zebra Centre, said Thursday. "You don't always have to be right to make a report but in this situation, we were able to help that child." The suspect had two imitation firearms when he was arrested, police said. Poburan has also been charged with use of an imitation firearm in the commission of an offence, two counts of possession of an imitation weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, three counts of breaching probation and failure to comply with an order. A publication ban is in effect for the child's identity.