A long-term care home in Toronto's east end has reported 39 deaths in an outbreak of COVID-19. The granddaughter of a resident says the home is doing its best, but 'we need a Plan B if Plan A isn't working.'
A long-term care home in Toronto's east end has reported 39 deaths in an outbreak of COVID-19. The granddaughter of a resident says the home is doing its best, but 'we need a Plan B if Plan A isn't working.'
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
A philanthropic eyewear brand that incorporates Indigenous art into its designs has just launched a new collection to “pay homage to British Columbia’s top health officers.” AYA Optical, an eyewear brand founded by North Vancouver resident Carla D’Angelo, has named its latest frames after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “I wanted this collection to pay homage to B.C.’s top health officers,” said Carla D’Angelo, AYA optical founder and president. “The intelligence, strength, empathy and collaboration in leadership they conveyed during the pandemic, was absolutely inspirational, and I wanted to pay it forward.” The collection has designs created by Ojibwe artist Donald Chretien and raises funds for the Pacific Association of First Nations Women. Chretien has been working as an artist for 30 years, and his unique works can be found in some of the most interesting corners of North America. His Vancouver Olympics installation piece, titled: Ngashi Nijii Bineshiinh or Mother, Friend, Small Bird, is on permanent display in Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum and stands 12 feet high by 80 feet long. On a much smaller scale, the two new optical frames – one named Bonnie and the other Dix – show off Chretien’s fine art abilities and share Ojibwe culture in a range of colours. “The Bonnie is accented with the artwork of the stunning and colorful loon,” a release explains. “The loon in Ojibwe art, much like Dr. Henry herself, is noted as a great listener and proud speaker for others.” The Dixon frame is highlighted with a dynamic bear design. “The bear clan has significance in Ojibwe culture, as guardians of the downtrodden and extensive knowledge about plants and medicine,” a release states. Since 2003 AYA Optical has offered “a global platform for indigenous artists to showcase their work, while giving back to the very communities that have inspired the brand.” AYA has long supported One X One’s First Nations School Breakfast program, feeding over 700,000 breakfasts to children who would have gone without, and has also distributed eyewear in remote communities. Most recently, AYA Optical has partnered with Pacific Association of First Nations Women in conjunction with their annual scholarship fund. The association advocates for systems change and provides culturally safe learning and holistic supports to uplift indigenous women and strengthen families. A donation of $10 from every sale of a Bonnie or Dixon frame will go toward supporting the fund. “The opportunities to help and give back to those in need is one of the most rewarding things about our business,” said D’Angelo. The first $2,500 scholarship will be awarded in March. Artists who collaborate with AYA Optical are paid both a commission and royalties. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
ROCKY MOUNT, Va. — Two Virginia police officers charged in the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington earlier this month have been fired, a town official announced Tuesday. Rocky Mount Town Manager James Ervin announced the firings in a statement, but did not provide any additional details on the firing of former Sgt. Thomas “T.J.” Robertson and former Officer Jacob Fracker, The Roanoke Times reported. The town had no precedent to refer to for how to deal with this situation, Ervin wrote. “The events of the past few weeks have been challenging for our town, as they have been for the entire nation. The actions by two have driven our beautiful town into the national spotlight in ways that do not reflect our whole community and the people who call Rocky Mount home.” Ervin said in the statement. Robertson had told the newspaper he and Fracker received letters of termination from the town Friday, offering them the opportunity to resign before the firing took effect. Fracker, reached via text message, declined to comment Tuesday. Federal authorities have charged Robertson, 47, and Fracker, 29, with a misdemeanouroffence of knowingly entering a restricted building without authority to do so to engage in conduct that disrupts government business. They also face a petty offence of engaging in disruptive conduct in the Capitol in order to interfere with a session of Congress. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanour is a year in jail. The maximum penalty for the petty offence is six months. In a selfie Fracker took inside the Capitol Crypt on Jan. 6, Fracker is making an obscene gesture. Robertson is pointing at Fracker while holding a wooden pole. Both officers have repeatedly said they did nothing illegal and did not participate in any of the violence that unfolded Jan. 6. The Associated Press
FCSS Hosts Free Tax Clinic in Swan Hills Beginning in March, Swan Hills Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) will be offering a free tax clinic to assist eligible individuals to complete their 2020 income tax return. FCSS provides this service all year round and can assist with returns from up to two years ago but can not complete returns for deceased individuals. This service is offered as part of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), a cooperative partnership between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and community organizations that began in 1971. To qualify for the CVITP, individuals have to have a modest income and a simple tax situation. According to the information on the CRA website, eligible individuals for this program include: · Indigenous Peoples · Newcomers and refugees · Persons with disabilities · Seniors · Youth/Students · Homeless and housing insecure individuals · Individuals with a modest income The information on the CRA website defines a simple tax situation as one where the individual has no income, or if they derive their income from: · Employment · Pension · Benefits (Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Disability Insurance, Employment Insurance, and Social Assistance) · Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) · Support Payments · Scholarships, Fellowships, Bursaries, or Grants · Interest (under $1000) More information about free tax clinics offered through the CVITP is available at www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/community-volunteer-income-tax-program.html. Swan Hills FCSS’s tax clinic will be available by appointment. Two appointments will be necessary to complete an individual’s tax return. The first appointment will take about 15 minutes to go through the individual’s tax documents and collect any required information to complete the individual’s tax return. The second appointment, also about 15 minutes, will be for the individual to pick up and sign their completed tax return. Last year, Swan Hills FCSS completed 38 income tax returns for their free tax clinic clients. Please contact Swan Hills FCSS for more information or to make an appointment at (780) 333-4119. Visit the Swan Hills FCSS Facebook page for the latest news about their programs and services. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced on Thursday, Jan. 21, that there would be no change in the current public health restrictions at this time. Dr. Hinshaw had reported that there were 726 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 119 in intensive care. After completing 14,000 tests, Alberta's positivity rate was 4.8% at that time. After praising Albertans for their sacrifices and community spirit in bringing down the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, and positivity rate in the province, Dr. Hinshaw reminded them that they were not in the clear yet. While there had been significant progress in reducing the province's number of positive cases and hospitalizations, Alberta had just as many current hospitalizations for COVID-19 as there had been when the most restrictive public measures were put in place on Dec. 8, 2020. Alberta had the second-highest number of active cases in the country as of Jan. 21, ahead of Ontario and Quebec. A decision had not been made as to how long the public health restrictions would stay in place. Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro held a joint press conference with Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Jan. 25. Minister Shandro began by describing two new variants of COVID-19 that have now been found in Alberta. One variant was first identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), and the other was first identified in South Africa (501Y-V2). Of particular concern, the new variants appear to be between 30 and 50% more infectious than the current dominant strain of COVID-19. Fortunately, evidence does not seem to indicate that they cause more severe illness or increase the risk of death. Evidence also suggests that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will still be effective with the new variants. So far, 20 cases of the UK variant have been discovered in Alberta and 5 cases of the South African variant. Almost all of the new variant cases are directly linked to international travel, but one case of the UK variant doesn't appear to be travel-related. This may indicate that the variant has entered the community. Minister Shandro presented projections of the impact that these variants could have on Alberta's population. In one scenario starting with 250 active cases and assuming that there were no health measures in place, in six weeks there would be a projected 2,217 new cases diagnosed every day with the current strain of COVID-19 compared to an astounding 10,217 new cases diagnosed every day with the UK variant. A second scenario began with similar assumptions to the previous scenario; after eight weeks, 1073 hospitalizations were projected with the current strain of COVID-19 compared to 3611 hospitalizations with the UK variant. The province is increasing its capacity to complete genetic testing to identify new cases of the new variants. Minister Shandro announced some changes to the border pilot program. The Border Testing Pilot Program allowed eligible international travellers at select airport and border crossings to reduce the amount of time they had to quarantine on arrival if they presented proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. Previously, participants could leave isolation after their first negative test upon arriving at the airport, provided that they sought a second test around six or seven days later. Now participants will have to remain in quarantine until their second negative test comes back. They cannot return to childcare, out of school care, schools, post-secondary institutions, or workplaces outside of their homes for a period of 14 days. Any current program participants must immediately return to quarantine if they have not received a second negative test result. Travellers returning from the UK or South Africa are no longer eligible to participate in this program. All of the COVID-19 tests conducted as a part of this program will be tested for the UK and South African variants. The current public health restrictions will continue to remain in place. Dr. Hinshaw reported 362 new cases that day and 25 more deaths. So far, there have been 1,574 deaths related to COVID-19 in Alberta since last March. Alberta's COVID-19 positivity rate is 5%. Six hundred thirty-seven people were hospitalized due to the virus on Jan. 25, with 113 in intensive care. Almost 99,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Alberta as of Jan. 24, including more than 9,870 people fully immunized with both of the required doses. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
HOUSTON — A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations. Tipton's order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed far-reaching changes sought by immigration advocates, including a plan to legalize an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Biden promised during his campaign to pause most deportations for 100 days. The order represents a victory for Texas' Republican leaders, who often sued to stop programs enacted by Biden's Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama. It also showed that just as Democratic-led states and immigration groups fought former President Donald Trump over immigration in court, often successfully, so too will Republicans with Biden in office. David Pekoske, the acting Homeland Security secretary, signed a memo on Biden's first day directing immigration authorities to focus on national security and public safety threats as well as anyone apprehended entering the U.S. illegally after Nov. 1. That was a reversal from Trump administration policy that made anyone in the U.S. illegally a priority for deportation. The 100-day moratorium went into effect Friday and applied to almost anyone who entered the U.S. without authorization before November. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that the moratorium violated federal law as well as an agreement Texas signed with the Department of Homeland Security late in the Trump administration. That agreement required Homeland Security to consult with Texas and other states before taking any action to “reduce, redirect, reprioritize, relax, or in any way modify immigration enforcement.” The Biden administration argued in court filings that the agreement is unenforceable because “an outgoing administration cannot contract away that power for an incoming administration.” Paxton’s office, meanwhile, submitted a Fox News opinion article as evidence that “refusal to remove illegal aliens is directly leading to the immediate release of additional illegal aliens in Texas.” Paxton has championed conservative and far-right causes in court, including a failed lawsuit seeking to overturn Biden's victory over Trump, as he himself faces an FBI investigation over accusations by top former aides that he abused his office at the service of a donor. The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's public safety minister says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to Yukon to get a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most "despicable" things he's heard in a long time. Mike Farnworth says the alleged actions of former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina Baker show a "complete lack of any sort of ethical or moral compass." Tickets filed in a Whitehorse court show the 55-year-old man and his 32-year-old wife were each charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon. The allegations against them have not been proven in court and the tickets indicate the couple can challenge them. Ekaterina Baker did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment while Rodney Baker did not immediately return a request for comment sent to Great Canadian Gaming, which accepted his resignation Sunday. Farnworth said the couple paid a "pretty high price," with Rodney Baker losing what the minister described as a "$10-million-a-year job." An information circular published by Great Canadian Gaming in March 2020 says Baker earned a total of about $6.7 million in compensation from the company in 2019. The tickets were issued on Thursday under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act and both people face fines of $1,000, plus fees. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
A group of doctors and advocates are calling on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to address what they call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in long-term care homes by bringing the military back for support and embarking on hiring and training drives.
Municipal leaders who sit on the Grey Bruce health board expressed their frustration with the lack of vaccine at Friday’s meeting. Medical officer of Health Dr. Arra said that we have been “the victim of our own success” in keeping COVID numbers down, because high-risk areas have been the main priority. He said a plan for using three mass vaccination hubs has been submitted. “If we don’t get a response about piloting this hub and getting enough vaccine for high-risk task force, I plan to turn to advocacy,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a matter of advocacy… but it seems there is disparity in the distribution to some degree,” he said. Brian Milne, Southgate deputy-mayor, said that it is frustrating that Grey-Bruce had received only 200 doses at that time, and many frontline staff members were left waiting to be inoculated, while in other areas the cafeteria staff at facilities had received the vaccine. Dr. Arra said he heard the frustration and shared the concern. But he added that there is a fine line that needs to be walked, so that public health is to be seen to be working with the province, at the same time as advocating for the local area. It’s important that the public perceives that there is a united approach, Dr. Arra said. And it’s not a matter of if the vaccines come, it’s when, he said. “And we will be ready whenever that happens.” On Monday, Public Health informed the public that it had received 600 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and expected delivery of another 700 doses of the vaccine next week, which will be enough to complete first dose vaccine coverage for all long-term care residents in Grey Bruce. The latest international news is that shipments that were expected are not confirmed, and that has affected many areas in the province. Health board members were happier about the return to school on Monday for Grey-Bruce students. Many parents will be relieved from the burden of making home learning work, but others are still cautions, said Selwyn Hicks, deputy-mayor of Hanover. He said that the health unit had done a good job of communication, explaining that the data shows that transmission is not taking place in schools. Members praised the outreach and media releases. Dr. Arra said that when he meets weekly with the mayors, he learns about issues in the community quickly and the health unit can address them. A standing item on the Board of Health agenda is the opioid crises, and Dr. Arra reported that there have been more than 10 overdoses in the last two weeks in Grey-Bruce – “not deaths, thankfully, overdoses.” Anecdotally, there were 13 deaths in Grey-Bruce in 2020 from opioids, zero from COVID. It’s a difficult crisis to address, Dr. Arra commented, with many complex issues, social, technical, ethical. When the pandemic ends, he said that the health unit, with credibility gained during COVID, will have an opportunity to address opioid like never before. Other partners are doing good work right now, he said, and the pandemic is the public health priority. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
The Swan Hills School Council held their Jan. 21 meeting at the school’s Flex Room, and the meeting was also live-streamed through Google Meet for those who could not attend in person. Student’s Union · The Div. 3/4 Students’ Union (SU) donated $200 to the food bank at Christmas time from their fundraising efforts. An article about their fundraising efforts is on the school website with a picture. · Around Feb. 15, the SU will host a small raffle for Valentine’s Day, similar to the Christmas raffle. · The SU met with the school administration at the end of November and discussed putting some small lockers in the gym change rooms for the students to secure their valuables. This could possibly be a Grizzly Cubs fundraising item to consider. Trustee Report Assurance Reporting Each school division needs to create four assurance reports annually by law; Education Planning and Reporting, Financials, School Plans and Reporting, and Infrastructure and Maintenance. Recently the Education Planning and Reporting report was addressed with a focus on the special needs section. Some interesting takeaways are that while there has been a slight increase in students who need higher support levels, there has been a decrease across the school division in the number of students needing supports overall. This may be because these students' parents may have decided to keep them at home because of COVID-19. Due to COVID-19, parents have been having virtual meetings with specialists, such as speech and occupational therapists, while working with their children. This development has been beneficial to parents because they have seen for themselves why their child is receiving special supports. Four concerns were brought forward during this report: 1. There is a need for a re-entry resource for students that have special needs. The belief is that the skills that these students have acquired will have diminished. 2. There has been a limited gain in inclusion since students left the schools due to COVID-19 3. Because of limited budgets, small schools have limited resources for mild/moderate Program Unit Funding (PUF) educational supports. 4. Alberta Health Services has given a mandate not to provide proactive programming in schools. Enrollment Projections Schools are now funded on a three-year spectrum; last year, this year, and the projected future year. Funding is based on the average of these figures, with the intention of allowing schools to cushion the effects of large drops in population. Pembina Hills has had a slight increase in population, so the funding for next year will be the same as the current year. In contrast, a lot of districts are seeing their funding decrease. Trustee Election Municipal and School Divisions will be holding elections for trustees in the fall. Last year Pembina Hills decided to reduce the number of trustees from seven to six. This means that the Swan Hills’ electoral area and Fort Assiniboine’s will be combined to make one Ward. It would be very beneficial to get a representative from Swan Hills to apply, preferably a single representative that the whole town could get behind (instead of multiple candidates that would potentially split the votes). Division One Update · Div. 1 wasn’t able to go sledding for their December monthly celebration due to cold weather. Students were able to decorate individually packaged cookies that had been sponsored by Home Hardware and watch the virtual Christmas Concert. · On Jan. 22, students will participate in a virtual presentation offered through the Earth Rangers program, which has been sponsored by Crescent Point Energy. · Many students showed their school spirit by wearing stripes for Stripes Day on Jan. 14. The next dress-up day will be Wild West Day on Jan. 22. · For the January monthly celebration, the last recess time will be extended on Jan. 28. · The bi-annual reading testing has started. This testing is especially important because the school was unable to perform this testing last June. This test focuses on the student’s word accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. · The school is currently discussing Valentine’s Day activities. The students will not be participating in a Valentine’s Day card exchange due to COVID-19 health restrictions. Division Two Update · The Swan Hills School Handbell Group will be hosting a curbside bottle drive. The proceeds will go towards purchasing additional materials and equipment for the Handbell Group (hand chimes, mallets, gloves, possibly another octave of bells). There are a lot of new participants in handbells this year. · Students have been requesting a virtual spring concert again, so plans are in the works for that. · Safety Patrol has been up and running since the end of October. Just a reminder that the patrols are out from 8:15 to 8:30 AM and from 3:25 to 3:40 PM. Parents and the public are asked to please use the drop off zone when dropping off students. Drivers are not allowed to enter or exit the staff parking lot if the patrollers have their signs out. Division Three and Four Update · See Students’ Union news above. The School Council will move from having monthly meetings to having bi-monthly meetings in September, November, January, March, and May. Principal’s Report · The draft alternate calendar for the next school year will be posted on the school website for review and feedback. · Discussed new or different options classes for grade seven students. The school currently offers art, woods, and foods classes; drama has been offered in the past and might be coming up again. · Career and technology studies (CTS) is often a room with a number of students with particular interests, but they often have different interests than their peers, which leads to smaller groups following separate studies. The teachers facilitate and assist the students in their projects. Some students respond well to this setup, and some do not. The school is looking for new ideas or thoughts about some hands-on options that the students would actually want to do. Some ideas would be woods, foods, visual arts, and wildlife courses. · Lost and found items are piling up. Discussed how to get lost and found items back to parents. · Recently went over satisfaction surveys for Div. 3/4 students, will be doing them for Div. 2 on Jan. 21. The surveys start with a preamble explaining what the questions mean and why the surveys are taken. The next School Council meeting will be on Mar. 17, at 7:00 PM. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Haisla Nation duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids are leading nominees at the first-ever International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show. The celebration will stream online on May 23 from Winnipeg, this year's host city, with the winners of all 20 categories selected by the public. The Rez Kids are contending for four awards, including hip hop single of the year for "Where They At" and album of the year for "Born Deadly." David Strickland, a Mi’kmaw and Cree producer, is up for three awards, among them single of the year for "Turtle Island," featuring Supaman, Artson, Spade, JRDN and Whitey. Other categories span an array of elements tied to hip hop music. Two are devoted to R&B songs, while music videos, DJs and clothing lines all have their own awards. An international hip hop single category includes artists hailing from the United States, Australia and India. Organizers say nominees were narrowed down by a group of music judges and industry players, such as DJs, producers and other professionals. The winners will be selected through a public vote running until April 30 on the event's website. The Indigenous hip hop awards are being led by four organizers: MCs Miss Christie Lee and Jon C, as well as Indigenous artist and motivational speaker Paul Sawan and entertainment marketer Chris Sharpe. The idea came about when Sawan and Sharpe began discussing their excitement around the burgeoning Indigenous hip hop community. "I really do consider it to be the new underground," Sharpe said in a phone interview. "We would love (the awards) to be one of the premier events that really showcases the Indigenous artists across Canada, with the hope that a lot more investment will go into helping artists develop in these communities." The awards will be preceded by a virtual music industry trade show on May 22. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Statistics Canada is preparing to conduct the next census in May 2021 and is hiring to fill 32,000 jobs across the country. These positions are being filled in both large and small communities to collect vital data to be used in planning for community resources such as schools, daycares, hospitals, emergency services, and roads. Existing census procedures have been adapted to protect both the respondents and the census employees in light of COVID-19 by limiting the amount of contact required during this process. These adaptations will allow most Canadians to complete the census questionnaire through a secure online application. Statistics Canada will provide all of the equipment needed to protect census employees in regards to COVID-19. Employees will be working in their local communities to limit the risks of travelling during the pandemic. Census employees will identify residences on maps, make phone calls to follow up with respondents, and conduct physically-distanced interviews when needed. There are both supervisory and non-supervisory positions available between March and July 2021, paying between $17.83 and $21.77 per hour. Employees will need to attend paid mandatory training. All employees will be paid for authorized expenses. Eligible applicants must be: · 18 or older · A Canadian citizen or eligible to work in Canada · Flexible and able to work 20 – 40 hours per week More information is available at https://census.gc.ca/jobs-emplois-eng.htm. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
EDMONTON — Members of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s caucus have refused an Opposition NDP bid to make public details of Alberta’s $7.5-billion investment in the failed Keystone XL pipeline project. The eight members of the governing United Conservative caucus unanimously rejected an NDP motion in public accounts committee Tuesday. The motion was to seek from Kenney the details, along with any financial risk advice, he was given when he made the Keystone investment last March. NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley, who moved the motion, noted the UCP members voted it down without giving reasons. "I had hoped that some of them would have shown a deeper sense of duty to Albertans to be open, honest and transparent, but they failed on every front," Ganley told reporters. "This is a party that claims to be transparent and responsible stewards of the public purse." Alberta has directly invested $1.5 billion with another $6 billion in loan guarantees, but the NDP says Albertans need to know the rationale and advice Kenney used to make what it calls a risky decision. They also want to know what the final bill will be now that the project is shelved. "There could be more costs, including (site) reclamation and legal fees associated with the deal," Ganley told the committee, noting the motion comes after the government has declined other requests from the NDP caucus for the information. Keystone XL, a TC Energy Corp. project, was to take more Alberta oil through the Midwest and on to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast to fetch a better price on overseas markets. When Kenney invested in the project, Keystone XL line was facing multiple court challenges, and the emerging Democrat party candidate, now President Joe Biden, was on record against it. Biden promised in his election campaign to cancel Keystone and did so last week on his first day in office, saying more product from Alberta’s oilsands does not mesh with his larger goal of combating climate change. Kenney has called Biden's decision an insult to Canada, given its close and mutually beneficial trading relationship. He has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to, as a last resort, impose economic sanctions in response. He is also pressing for direct compensation. Ganley's motion was upheld by her two other NDP colleagues, but rejected unanimously by the eight UCP members sitting on the committee. UCP member Miranda Rosin instead put forward a motion to have Energy Minister Sonya Savage's department release to the committee details on Alberta's financial exposure on Keystone XL. Rosin said that would balance the needs of the public to know the details while respecting the confidentiality of sensitive business information, similar to the secrecy surrounding $3.7 billion in contracts signed by the former NDP government to deliver more oil by rail. "Albertans do deserve to know where the money is spent (and) how much of it has been spent," Rosin told the committee. "It's important as members of this committee and, just frankly, as ethical legislators to ensure that we have transparency in our governments." Rosin's motion passed 8 to 3, again along party lines. The NDP dismissed the motion as a public relations stunt, given it does not address the key information they seek and is information the government would have to make public anyway when the 2021-22 budget is unveiled next month. "What the government caucus is trying to do here is some performance art," said NDP committee member Marlin Schmidt. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
WARSAW, Poland — A Polish man who has been at the centre of an international life-support dispute has died at a British hospital, officials said. The middle-aged man, identified only as R.S., was repeatedly put on and off life support treatment during weeks of wrangling at British and European courts over whether continuing the treatment was in his best interests. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk told reporters Tuesday evening that the man died. He said Poland’s authorities have been taking every effort to save his life. Poland’s government took steps last week to bring him to the country for specialized treatment. The man, a British resident for years, was hospitalized in a coma in Plymouth, England, on Nov. 6 after suffering cardiac arrest. Doctors said his brain had been severely and permanently damaged. The man’s wife and children said he should be allowed to die, but his mother, sisters and niece argued that the man’s Roman Catholic faith meant he wouldn’t have wanted his life terminated. Polish news agency PAP said Tuesday it has been informed by family members that the man died after his condition deteriorated Monday night. The Associated Press
MERRITT, B.C. — Family members of a man missing in British Columbia's southern Interior are appealing for information on the second anniversary of his disappearance. Ben Tyner's father, mother and brother released the videotaped appeal from their home in Wyoming, urging anyone with information about the case to come forward. Tyner was 33 years old and managing the Nicola Ranch near Merritt when he was last seen leaving the compound on horseback, possibly to search for cattle in the surrounding hills about 300 kilometres northeast of Vancouver. His still-saddled horse was found two days later on a logging road outside the community, but there's been no sign of Tyner. Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, RCMP Southeast District spokesman, says police can't share the findings of the ongoing investigation but believe Tyner was the victim of homicide. His father, Richard Tyner, says the last two years have been the most "painful, excruciating experience ever" and the family hopes someone will provide details to answer their many questions. A $15,000 reward is offered by the Tyner family for information that locates their son and leads to the conviction of those responsible for his death. Richard Tyner says the case has not been forgotten by residents in the Merritt area. "We know many local people have continued to search for Ben, and for that we are extremely grateful," he says in the statement. "If anyone knows anything, no matter how insignificant it may seem, please inform the Southeast District Major Crimes Unit in Kelowna as soon as possible." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
A concrete plan to save the McKelvie Creek valley from logging is finally underway after the village of Tahsis and Western Forest Products (WFP) signed a Letter of Understanding (LOU). As part of the agreement, the forestry company has established new wildlife and old-growth reserves in the McKelvie Creek area within WFP’s Tree Farm Licence 19. By doing so the company has committed to Tahsis’ community objective of ‘no harvesting’ within the McKelvie area. Apart from being the community’s source of drinking water, McKelvie watershed is also home to old-growths, and an important habitat for the threatened Marbled Murrelet. The last intact watershed in the Tahsis region, McKelvie has been at risk of logging for years under TFL 19. The LOU brings to rest a long haul by Tahsis to “completely preserve” the watershed. Since 2018 Tahsis has been opposing all harvesting within the McKelvie watershed. In 2019, Tahsis council passed a resolution which called for its preservation and a request was made to the province to remove the watershed from TFL 19 altogether. Last year, although McKelvie Creek was among the nine old-growth forest areas where the province deferred logging, Tahsis still felt this was a temporary fix and that they were running against borrowed time. READ MORE: B.C. suspends some old-growth logging, consults communities Which is why this agreement is being considered a huge win for the community. Tahsis mayor Martin Davis who was at the helm of negotiating the deal said that WFP agreed to include several areas that the village mapped out to be preserved. Some of these areas contain sensitive ecosystems, karst limestone landscapes, and/or culturally significant areas for First Nations, said Davis. “The areas we had negotiated for are the large blocks to the northeast and northwest of Tahsis, as well as the areas along Tahsis Inlet and the bits around Weymer Park which is to the southeast of town,” he said. In future, the village is also looking at establishing a community forest in the surrounding crown land with hopes of setting up a small scale, village-run, sustainable logging operation, said Davis. In an email statement, WFP spokesperson Babita Khunkhun said that they are “pleased” that the ongoing discussions with Tahsis council have resulted in the LOU endorsing a draft plan that balances community interests in conservation and forestry activity in TFL 19. Tahsis falls within the traditional territories of the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN). The draft prepared and agreed to by both parties will be reviewed by MMFN before it is submitted to the province for legal establishment through the Land Act and Forest and Range Practices Act. The forest management plan for the area, which proposes new wildlife and old forest reserves in the McKelvie, requires discussion with Indigenous groups to reflect their interests and is subject to government approval, said Khunkhun and added, the plan may be refined based on this engagement. “WFP will manage TFL 19 and continue to work collaboratively with the local Indigenous communities and the Tahsis Village Council on this important initiative,” she said. Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
OTTAWA — Companies that want in on a new federal loan program will have to show sharp revenue declines during the pandemic and that they have already applied for other business aid. The new loans, from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), will open for applications on Monday and is on top of existing loan programs targeting small businesses. Loans will start at between $25,000 and $1 million for a single business depending on the size of the operation, and run up to $6.25 million for companies with multiple locations like a chain of hotels or restaurants. Details made public Tuesday say rates will be set at four per cent across the board, terms will be up to 10 years, with up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan. But to get the money, companies will have show a year-over-year revenue drop of 50 per cent or more over three months, not necessarily consecutive, in the eight months before filing an application. Companies will also have to show that they at least applied for either the federal wage or rent subsidies. The federally backed loan can be used for rent, utilities and help with payroll, among other costs, to keep operations running through public health restrictions, but can't be used to pay or refinance existing loans. Small Business Minister Mary Ng says the funding isn't targeted to any one sector, but available to any business that meets the eligibility criteria. "So whether it is your favourite neighbourhood restaurant, that bed and breakfast, a local movie theatre, or even a franchise restaurant or hotel, businesses that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 will now have the support that they need to keep moving forward," Ng said by video during a midday press conference. The head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is welcoming the launch of the new program to provide fresh financing to troubled companies. But Dan Kelly also says in a tweet that the government must consider making part of the loan forgivable, like an existing aid program, because "more loans are not the answer to the mountain of debt small firms are facing." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
(ANNews) - Lynn Beyak, a senator who known for holding and preaching racist beliefs about Indigenous people, is resigning from the Red Chamber. This happens just as Upper house members were considering a motion from Independent Sen. Mary Jane McCallum that sought to permanently remove Beyak from the upper house. “A modern Senate is no place for racism to exist,” said McCallum, a residential school survivor. “Beyak’s actions have sown division in our society. By allowing her to remain in a position with the inherent title of ‘Honourable’ while such misdeeds have been appropriated is irresponsible and sets a poor example that is contrary to how Parliamentarians expect themselves and each other to act.” Beyak is resigning, three years before her mandatory retirement date; if she were to be forcibly removed then her life-time pension would be cut. And because she has resigned, she gets to keep her pension. "As per the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act, parliamentarians who have six or more years of pensionable service are entitled to receive a pension. Sen. Beyak will receive a pension upon retirement from the Senate," a spokesperson for the Senate's internal economy, budget and administration (CIBA) committee said in a statement. "The act does not allow for a pension to be stripped in the case of a resignation." During her time on the senate, Beyak was suspended twice due to inflammatory and insensitive comments she made about Indigenous people. For example, in March 2017 Beyak gave a speech to the senate in which she described Residential School instructors and clergy – many of whom were abusers and molesters – as “well-intentioned.” She also condemned the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) report because it didn’t focus on the good things about Residential schools. According to the TRC, at least 3,201 children died in Residential Schools, but the actual number is probably much closer to 6,000. Beyak’s most daring tirade came in the form of letters posted onto her tax-payer-funded website in which she described Indigenous people as lazy, opportunistic, pampered and inept. She then refused to remove the letters at the request of then-conservative leader Andrew Scheer. While facing suspension, Beyak apologized for her letters. However, after announcing her retirement earlier this week, she revealed in an absolute shocker which surprised no one that she was not sorry about her comments/beliefs. "Some have criticized me for stating that the good, as well as the bad, of residential schools should be recognized. I stand by that statement. Others have criticized me for stating that the Truth and Reconciliation report was not as balanced as it should be. I stand by that statement as well," Beyak said in the press release. Murray Sinclair, an Indigenous Senator who will be resigning at the end of January, said that the toughest obstacle towards reconciliation that he foresees are white supremacists and residential school deniers. “The people who believe that they have the privilege of holding power and should continue to have that privilege, they’re going to push back,” says Sinclair. “They’re going to fight against reconciliation. They’re the deniers of this story. They’re going to say this never happened. That the schools were all about education and the Indians should be thankful that they got an education.” He then reminded everyone that the Federal Conservative Party Leader, Erin O’Toole, also made headlines last year when he said that Residential Schools were only “meant to try and provide education” and then “became horrible.” Sinclair continued, “That message is a total mess. (Residential) Schools were never about education, schools were always about forced assimilation and indoctrination, and we need to call it for what it is.” Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Native News. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
A bail hearing for a man who was wanted by police for about eight months was adjourned again in North Battleford Provincial Court. The show cause hearing for Johnathan Swiftwolfe, 24, on Jan. 25 was adjourned to Jan. 28. Swiftwolfe was wanted on 35 charges, including assault, uttering threats, weapons-related offences, and flight from police. While police were searching for him in 2020, they issued a media release saying they were concerned about the safety of Moosomin First Nation residents while Swiftwolfe was at large. He was located after several RCMP detachments worked together to find him. When police arrested him on Highway 40 near Sweet Grass First Nation on Dec. 6, 2020, they found a loaded firearm in the vehicle that was within his reach. Cassandra Fox, 24, was with Swiftwolfe and also arrested. At the time, she was wanted on warrants for assault with a weapon and failure to comply with a release order. She was scheduled to enter a plea and election in North Battleford Provincial Court on Jan. 6, 2021, but failed to appear and a warrant for her arrest was issued. The charges against Swiftwolfe and Fox haven’t been proven in court. Moosomin First Nation is about 22 kilometres north of North Battleford. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — A field of 35 teams will compete in the Canadian mixed doubles curling championship this season, Curling Canada said Tuesday in a release. The March 18-25 competition will be held at Calgary's Markin MacPhail Centre. It will be the third of six straight curling events to be played in a so-called bubble setting at the Canada Olympic Park venue. Teams will be split into five pools of seven for round-robin play. From there, 12 teams will advance to the playoffs. The winner will represent Canada at the 2021 world mixed doubles championship. Specifics on that event have yet to be released by the World Curling Federation. Provincial and territorial representatives will account for 14 entries in the Canadian championship, Curling Canada said. National mixed doubles rankings and results from last season will be used to determine the other 21 teams. Qualifying teams are being notified this week and the field will be announced at a later date, the federation said. The winning team will earn $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse. The runner-up duo will receive $30,000. The 2020 Canadian mixed doubles championship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant won the 32-team 2019 event in Fredericton. The world mixed doubles championship will serve as an Olympic qualifier for the 2022 Beijing Games. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press