Pot seizures jumped at U.S. border in the year after Canada legalized cannabis

Marijuana seizures at the U.S. border jumped in the year after Canada legalized recreational cannabis.

Figures provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show American officers seized 2,214 kg of marijuana from travellers entering the U.S. between Nov. 1, 2018 and Oct. 31, 2019, up from just 1,259 kg over the same period a year earlier.

That's an increase in volume of about 75 per cent.

The upswing was less significant in terms of the number of individual seizures recorded: 3,917 in the year after legalization, compared to 3,139 incidents the year before.

CPB spokesman Kris Grogan said he sees the increase as more of an "uptick" than a drastic spike.

"Although the CBP recognizes an increase in marijuana seizures and incidents, seizures and incidents normally vary from year to year," he said, noting that the number of U.S. enforcement actions for marijuana seizures actually declined modestly after Canada's marijuana law reforms.

University of Ottawa drug policy expert Eugene Oscapella said that in regions where both a Canadian province and its neighbouring American state have legalized recreational marijuana (British Columbia and Washington, for example, or Ontario and Michigan), people may mistakenly believe they're permitted to carry cannabis across the border, despite warning signs erected at border points and airports.

Pot seizures don't make up a large share of total drug interceptions, Oscapella said.

But if the Canadian government succeeds in squeezing out the black market, more illegal producers may look to move their product to jurisdictions where cannabis is still prohibited, he added.

Illicit markets

"There's the possibility that if they lose the Canadian market, that they'll focus more effort on shipping it to the United States, places where it is still illegal, or to other countries for that matter," Oscapella said.

"But I don't know that we've been successful enough in getting people to shift to the Canadian legal market, that it's really dented the profits of criminal organizations significantly here."

Oscapella said law enforcement efforts to crack down on drug smuggling would be best deployed against dangerous drugs like fentanyl that are causing overdose deaths, rather than marijuana.

Marijuana advocate Jodie Emery said it's possible that the spike in seizures reflects a rise in the amount of cannabis being moved to the U.S. due to an over-supply of product on the street here.

"There's so much cannabis in B.C. that the price is dropping considerably, which means some people in need of money might try sending to Washington State for higher profit margins," Emery said.

"But at the same time, it seems odd to take the risk of international smuggling when there's still a massive Canadian market for that cannabis, especially the burgeoning online mail-order industry. As we know from decades of prohibition, harsh laws don't prevent the free market from existing. It just remains underground, awaiting true legalization."

Rémi Authier/CBC

Emery said some of those seizures likely involve Americans returning from visits to Canada with marijuana.

"The long-running international news coverage about how Canada legalized cannabis definitely excited a lot of Americans and attracted them as tourists, so some might try to bring a memento back home to the United States," she said. 

Emery said the increase in interceptions might also reflect intensified border enforcement in the U.S.

Drug enforcement tools

Grogan said drug enforcement measures have remained the same since Canada legalized marijuana and that detection methods, such as sniffer dogs, will be used also to detect edible cannabis products illegally entering the U.S.

Edibles such as cookies, candies and drinks became available across Canada this week.

Grogan said travellers who try to bring cannabis and drug paraphernalia into the U.S. are subject to seizure, fines or arrest, and that non-citizens can be denied entry to the U.S.

Jacqueline Callin, spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said legalization did not change any of the rules on transporting cannabis internationally.

"Canadian laws around travelling with cannabis remain clear and simple: Don't take it in and don't take it out," she wrote in an email.

"It remains illegal to bring cannabis and cannabis products in any form, including edibles and any oils containing THC or cannabidiol, across Canada's national borders whether you are entering or leaving Canada."

CBSA has developed what it calls "awareness tools," such as signage at ports, to warn people that cross-border movement of marijuana is still prohibited. Breaking the law can lead to arrest and prosecution, Callin said.

  • Toronto Raptors Pay Tribute To Kobe Bryant
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Toronto Raptors Pay Tribute To Kobe Bryant

    They honoured the basketball icon during a game against DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs.

  • Deputy prime minister asks Opposition not to delay new NAFTA deal
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Deputy prime minister asks Opposition not to delay new NAFTA deal

    OTTAWA — The minority Liberals made another pitch Sunday for cross-partisan co-operation on a key priority for the government in the upcoming sitting of the House of Commons: passing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade deal.Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called passage of the new NAFTA a pivotal moment for Canada in a letter she sent Sunday to leaders of the Opposition parties.She said while no one expects anything other than a "full, frank, and vigorous debate," she urged them not to hold up the deal. "Canadian parliamentarians understand that, politics aside, the interests of Canadians come first, last, and always. I am confident this applies to you and to every member of your caucus, as it does for the Prime Minister, me, and every member of our caucus, too," she wrote in the letter. "Therefore, I ask that we work together, as colleagues, to put Canada and Canadians first, and get this important work done without undue delay."Freeland's letter comes as the House of Commons resumes Monday for its first lengthy sitting since the October election returned the Liberals with a minority government. Legislation to ratify the trade deal is expected within days.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed to his MPs this week that the new mandate is not like their last, and they'll need to work hard to win the support of their opponents to get anything done."Bickering, grandstanding, petty politics — none of these things create jobs. They don't make anyone's retirement safer, or our environment cleaner. Collaboration, dialogue, and constructive debate, however, can," he said. "Common ground does exist in this Parliament, but it's up to us to build on it."On the new NAFTA, the Liberals do have common ground with the ardently pro-trade Conservatives, who control the most Opposition seats.The party's international trade critic said it doesn't intend to play games with the trade deal bill as businesses need it to get ahead.But that doesn't mean it gets a completely free pass, said Randy Hoback. Previous trade deals have left some industries behind, and that shouldn't happen again, he said."We're going to focus on the results of this deal. We can't change it, the reality is we can't make amendments to this type of legislation because they'd have to go back and renegotiate," he said."But what we can do is look at the sectors and industries that are negatively impacted by this deal and not make the same mistakes we've made in the past."Hoback said the Tories want to hear from those groups, and figure out what the Liberal strategy is to mitigate the issue. Whether that work happens before the deal gets signed will be open for negotiation, he said, but it needs to be done.With Conservative support, the bill could sail through, but the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats say they won't make that easy.The Bloc has raised concerns the deal does not provide the same protections for Quebec's aluminum industry as it does for the steel industry and Ontario's auto-manufacturing sector and wants the text fully studied and debated.The New Democrats say the fact that the deal was negotiated behind closed doors means due diligence needs to be done."We're still meeting with industry and workers and talking to Canadians about what this deal will mean for them," said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.While the new NAFTA will headline the legislative calendar, the Liberals' agenda also includes action on a promised ban on military-style assault rifles, strengthening health care, battling climate change, and seeking meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he has appreciated that the Liberals have reached out on major recent developments, like the spread of coronavirus and the deaths of Canadians in Iran following a plane crash.But he's not committing to the same overall tone of co-operation the Liberals are pitching. "The Liberals will try to buy off the support from the other parties," he said, after meeting with his MPs on Saturday."That means a lot of wasteful spending. It means an even bigger government that's more and more involved in the economy and making decisions for people's lives. So we will oppose those types of things."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020.— with files from Mike Blanchfield Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

  • Health officials expect more coronavirus cases, but say risk of outbreak in Canada remains low
    News
    CBC

    Health officials expect more coronavirus cases, but say risk of outbreak in Canada remains low

    Federal health officials expect more cases of the coronavirus, but say the risk of an outbreak in Canada remains low.Health Minister Patty Hajdu said officials at all levels of government are working with hospitals and international partners to prevent and respond to potential infections. "We're working actively to limit the spread of the virus," Hajdu said at a news conference in Ottawa Sunday morning after the first "presumptive" case of coronavirus was reported in Toronto.Hospitals have an "incredibly strong" system to prevent and control infections, she said.Hajdu said much has been learned from the SARS virus in 2003. Since the first cases of this novel coronavirus were reported in China in December, the federal government has been in close contact with the provincial health authorities and international players to share information in a "collaborative, responsive" approach.WATCH: Health Minister Patty Hajdu on the federal response to coronavirusHajdu said there is considerable misinformation being spread about the virus which "belies the reality" that the risk to Canadians remains extremely low.CBC News has reported that misinformation and unverified claims about the virus have been circulating on social media.While the government does not expect a chartered plane is necessary to evacuate Canadians from the Wuhan region where the outbreak began, Hajdu said Global Affairs Canada stands ready to provide support services for any Canadian trying to leave China.CBC News has learned that one Canadian will be on board a flight chartered by Washington to fly diplomats and Americans out of Wuhan. A government official said 67 Canadians are registered as being in the affected region, but because registration is voluntary, the figure does not give a complete picture of Canadians in Hubei or in China.Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said despite the fact the number of cases in China is increasing, the export to other countries remains low and the risk remains low in Canada.Tam said the reported case Saturday was "not unexpected."Canada confirmed its first "presumptive" case of coronavirus in Toronto on Saturday after receiving lab results. The patient, a man in his 50s who had recently travelled to Wuhan, China, is isolated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is now in stable condition."The health system is on alert to detect potential cases and to respond promptly when they are confirmed," Tam said. "It shows that our systems are working."The case is "presumptive" until it is formally confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Tam said she expects the formal results of the test to confirm the virus within 24 hours.She said the man experienced symptoms on board China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311, but he apparently did not report those symptoms. Health officials are now tracing fellow passengers who were seated close to the patient — in a two-metre radius — to determine if others are affected.Family members of the patient are also being closely monitored and in self-isolation.WATCH: Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam on the coronavirusAccording to the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others by air through coughing or sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, or by touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.Coronaviruses are a family of diseases that range from a common cold to more serious diseases such as SARS.The federal health department's website says symptoms of most coronaviruses are usually mild to moderate and can include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and/or fever, as well as a general feeling of being unwell.Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, agreed that the first case in Canada was not unexpected, and that other cases in Canada are likely.He said it's possible that other passengers on board that flight could have transferred to flights to other provinces. The health agency's protocol is to follow up on those persons for possible symptoms over the next 14 days.The number of infections worldwide now exceeds 2,000 cases, most of them in China, which reports 56 deaths.Dr. Jerome Leis, an infectious diseases specialist at Sunnybrook, said people who are acutely ill should go to hospital, but said those with mild symptoms should reach out to public health authorities."We completely understand that there's a lot of anxiety and questions in the general public, and that is very understandable. I want to be absolutely clear that individuals who have questions or anxiety, the first reflex should not be to go to an emergency department," he said."The first point of contact should be with public health if there are questions or concerns."Air Canada announced Sunday it is extending its "goodwill policy" to allow passengers to make alternate travel arrangements during the affected period. People can change their flight free of charge to another date or another destination, or can cancel a flight for a full refund.Risk mitigation measuresRisk mitigation measures now in place include messaging on arrival screens at the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver airports reminding travellers to advise border officials if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.WATCH: Why finding viral cases is easier now:"While the risk of an outbreak of novel coronavirus in Canada remains low, I encourage Canadians to tell your health-care professional if you have travelled to an affected area of China, and develop flu-like symptoms," Hajdu said.Officials said the man took a flight on Jan. 21 from Wuhan to Guangzhou, then from Guangzhou to Toronto, arriving on Jan. 22.He is believed to have travelled "privately" from the airport to his home. Officials do not believe he took public transit. They have not said what part of the city the man lives in.Upon arriving, he told family members he felt ill and called 911. Officials say paramedics took all necessary precautions "right from first contact" until the hand-off to the hospital's emergency department on Jan. 23, officials say.It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which results in 12,200 hospitalizations and about 3,500 deaths in Canada annually.Ontario Premier Doug Ford said provincial health officials are putting full resources to the virus, and will be staying vigilant and informing the public "every step of the way.""It's something I feel we have a good handle [on] and we're ready, but we want to see the extent of this," he said Sunday in Toronto.Avoid non-essential travelForeign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne issued a statement Sunday reminding Canadians to pay attention to travel advisories warning against non-essential travel to Hubei, China, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou.Canadians already in the region should register with consular officials, which will give them access to the latest updates from the government, he said. "We understand the concerns of Canadians in the region and those of their families and loved ones. We are in contact with and providing assistance to Canadians currently on the ground," Champagne said in the statement."Canadian consular officials are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with local authorities and our international partners to gather more information and provide support to the extent possible. Canada does not have a consular presence in Wuhan."Emergency co-ordination centreTransport Minister Marc Garneau's office said the department has set up a dedicated team to support and respond, and has activated the Emergency Co-ordination Centre.On Friday, Transport Canada officials held a teleconference with the Public Health Agency of Canada and airline representatives, and reminding the carriers they are required, under the terms of the Quarantine Act, to report ill passengers.Transport officials have also been in regular contact with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to discuss contingencies and readiness plans.

  • With anti-Semitism on the rise, Auschwitz liberation commemorated
    News
    Reuters

    With anti-Semitism on the rise, Auschwitz liberation commemorated

    WARSAW/OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) - World leaders join aging Holocaust survivors in Poland on Monday to mark 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops, amid concerns over a global resurgence of anti-Semitism. Set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940, at first to house Polish political prisoners, it became the largest of the extermination centers where Adolf Hitler's plan to kill all Jews - the "Final Solution" - was put into practice. Speaking before Monday's ceremonies, David Harris, head of the American Jewish Committee, said groups ranging from far-right white supremacists to jihadis and the far-left were fuelling anti-Semitism worldwide.

  • Simmons doc, sans Oprah, receives huge ovation at Sundance
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Simmons doc, sans Oprah, receives huge ovation at Sundance

    PARK CITY, Utah — Without Oprah or Apple, the Russell Simmons documentary “On the Record” went ahead with its premiere Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, where the women who came forward with sexual assault allegations against the hip-hop mogul received one of the festival's most roaring receptions.The lead-up to Sundance was especially rocky for “On the Record." Oprah Winfrey, an executive producer, on Jan. 10 withdrew from the film because she felt it needed more reporting. Her exit, which stunned the directors, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, also meant “On the Record” no longer had a distributor in Apple TV Plus.Ahead of the film's premiere, Ziering thanked Sundance “for standing strong and never blinking.”“On the Record” is centred on the story of Drew Dixon, a former music executive for Def Jam Recordings, the record label co-founded by Simmons. It chronicles her decision to come forward and go on the record in a 2017 New York Times article, along with numerous other women, in accusing Simmons of harassment and rape.Simmons has denied any wrongdoing. The filmmakers said he declined to be interviewed for the film.More than a dozen other women, many of whom also appear in “On the Record,” have also come forward with allegations of assault or harassment against Simmons. Along with Dixon, in attendance Saturday were Sherri Hines, a member of the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies who alleged that Simmons raped her in his office in the early 1980s; and Sil Lai Abrams, who has said Simmons raped her in 1994.The premiere was for Dixon, Hines and Abrams an emotional culmination of a painful two weeks. In an interview the following morning, Hines said Winfrey's withdrawal from the film “was a hard blow because I looked up to her.”“The past 15 days have been traumatic,” said Dixon. “Definitely lots of extra therapy sessions. Lots of anxiety. Lots of physical manifestations of anxiety. Not a lot of sleep. Not how I wanted to prepare for Sundance.”Abrams said Winfrey's absence, in the end, didn't matter.“What's important is that the film premiered without her and it has gotten great reviews," said Abrams. "And more importantly, we're here and we're telling our stories.”In the crowd in Park City was the actress Rosanna Arquette, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Arquette stood up during the Q&A to salute the women in the film. “I'm so proud of you,” she said.“On the Record” also delves into the place black women have in the MeToo movement and the racial dimensions of sexual assault. One audience member noted that the film, despite being about black women accusing a black man of rape, is directed by two white people.“A lot of this is about power and ecosystems of power,” Dixon said after the screening. “And all of us have kept our stories to ourselves for decades, and there are people within that ecosystem who knew our stories."“Some of those people are filmmakers,” she continued. "It’s an entertainment industry story after all, right? But nobody told our story. Because the people who knew our story were subject to the same ecosystem. And to me, this is where allies matter. Allies who are not subject to that same dynamic. They have traction that they can use to pull you forward.”Ziering and Dick have made several documentaries before about sexual assault. Their “The Hunting Ground" focused on rape on college campuses. “The Invisible War” scrutinized sexual assault in the military.“On the Record” depicts the personal struggle of coming forward and the years of pain and self-doubt that can follow sexual assault. Dixon says she ultimately retreated from the music industry after she said she was again harassed by another executive, L.A. Reid. Reid has denied it.Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, an attorney and civil rights advocate, after the film alluded to the history of black women who have accused public figures of assault, citing the treatment of Anita Hill and Desiree Washington, who accused Mike Tyson of rape.“You’ve seen this film. The question is will anyone else see it?" Crenshaw said. "So whatever can be brought to bear to make sure that this doesn’t get snuffed out — think of all the history of what has already happened and say never again.”___AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Person contributed to this report.Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

  • Quebec Court of Appeal to hear Alexandre Bissonnette appeals on Monday
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Quebec Court of Appeal to hear Alexandre Bissonnette appeals on Monday

    MONTREAL — Nearly three years after the massacre that claimed six lives at the Quebec City mosque, the length of the sentence imposed on the man convicted of the crimes will be debated in the province's highest court Monday.Lawyers for Alexandre Bissonnette and the Crown will be at the Quebec Court of Appeal to make legal arguments.There was no trial as Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March 2018 to all charges against him, including six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder after he walked into the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017 with two firearms and opened fire during evening prayers.The slain men were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.Bissonnette was automatically sentenced to life in prison with the only issue being the amount of time he'd have to serve behind bars before being eligible for parole.Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot ultimately sentenced Bissonnette last year to 40 years behind bars — the harshest prison term ever in Quebec and one of the longest in Canada, which has permitted consecutive life sentences since a 2011 Criminal Code reform allowed for it.Huot opted for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 40 years, saying that a sentence beyond life expectancy would have been "absurd" and a charter violation.But neither the defence or the Crown were pleased with the outcome.Bissonnette's attorneys appealed his sentence, calling the four decade prison term "unreasonable."The Crown and Quebec's attorney general also want the sentence changed — arguing in favour of a 50-year prison term.From the Crown's perspective, the sentence imposed did not reflect the severity of the offences or the respondent's degree of responsibility, which it qualified as "exceptionally high."For Bissonnette, his lawyers argue being allowed to apply for parole after serving 25 years would be just.Having admitted to the crimes, Bissonnette's attorneys have argued the length of time to be served should be in accordance with the principles of Canadian law.Monday's hearing comes on the same week as the third anniversary of the shooting Wednesday.Boufeldja Benabdallah, president of the mosque that was attacked, said many of the victims and the city's Muslim community will be following the proceedings carefully.However, unlike a year ago, when he expressed his disappointment at what he described as a too-lenient sentence, he said he had no desire to get involved in a debate about the sentencing."Now, it's been a year (since the sentencing) and we are resting and will let justice take its course," he said. Benabdallah said the mosque community has had many "highs and lows" in the three years since the shooting, but overall things are better than they were."People have returned to work people are educating their children, families are finding a little bit of serenity," he said.As positives, he cites the announcement late last year of the creation of Quebec City's first Islamic cemetery, as well as long-planned renovations to the mosque to enlarge it and make it safer. The negatives include Quebec's secularism law which bans some civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work — something he says targets Muslims in particular and makes them feel "like a minority and targeted.""As much as we're advancing on a social level, there's been on the political and administrative level a step back," he said.At the heart of the legal debate is a constitutional fight applying to the section of the Criminal Code that applies to multiple murders.The Montreal Defence Lawyers Association has been granted intervenor status in the appeal and will argue that the Criminal Code contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by allowing judges to stack life sentences for multiple murders instead imposing them concurrently.The legal debate is one that will be followed closely by criminal attorneys and judges right across the country.Section 745.51 of the Criminal Code provides for the possibility of consecutive sentences in the case of multiple murders — 25 years in person for each crime.In the Quebec case, the Crown opted to use it and had requested a 150-year prison sentence — 25 years for each of the six victims.The association argues that sentences exceeding life expectancy with no review mechanism is "inconsistent with human dignity'' and a violation of Section 12 of the charter, which grants protection from cruel and unusual punishment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020.\- With files from Morgan LowrieStephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

  • What's new in the China virus outbreak
    News
    The Canadian Press

    What's new in the China virus outbreak

    Almost 2,000 cases of a new viral respiratory illness have been confirmed since an outbreak began last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Scientists have identified the illness as a new kind of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold. Others have evolved into more severe illnesses, such as SARS and MERS, although so far the new virus does not appear to be nearly as deadly or contagious.WHAT'S NEW TODAY___ The National Health Commission said the number of confirmed cases in China rose to nearly 2,000 and the death toll, to 56.___ The U.S. reported five cases as of Sunday, including two in California and one in Arizona. All had travelled to Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.___ Singapore and South Korea each reported one new case Sunday, while Thailand reported three new cases.___ The U.S. said it was chartering a plane to fly out its consulate staff and some civilians from the city. France said it was preparing a similar evacuation, possibly by bus. Japan said it too was arranging an evacuation flight.___ China's health minister said the country was entering a “crucial stage” as “it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.”___Chinese authorities announced a temporary ban on the trade of wild animals, saying they will “severely investigate and punish” violators.___ Beijing said it would delay the start of classes after the Lunar New Year holiday ends later this week.___ Two of Hong Kong's biggest attractions, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, announced they were closing for the time being.___The International Tennis Federation has moved a regional Fed Cup qualifying event out of China amid travel restrictions caused by the outbreak. The Asian Football Confederation moved an Olympic qualifying event from China to Australia.The Associated Press

  • Quebec will invest $4.2M to make Place des Arts complex wheelchair accessible from Metro
    News
    CBC

    Quebec will invest $4.2M to make Place des Arts complex wheelchair accessible from Metro

    Within two years, the Quebec government is hoping to make Montreal's Place des Arts concert venue completely wheelchair accessible from the Metro system.Currently, a set of stairs separates Place-des-Arts Metro station from the tunnel leading to the performing arts complex.The STM is also planning to install an elevator inside Place-des-Arts Metro.Quebec Culture Minister Nathalie Roy announced Sunday the province will contribute $4.2 million to renovate and modernize the connecting tunnel, first built in 1966."We are sending a message. We have to make life easier for everybody, and have access to our wonderful shows at Place des Arts," she said.The staircase will be demolished and replaced by a long ramp.There are 8,127 seats available at Place des Arts for spectators with limited mobility annually, but only about 500 people take advantage of those seats.Roy said she hopes that number will increase once the venues, including the Maison Symphonique and the Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, are accessible from the Metro.As it stands now, people with reduced mobility can access those venues via the Ste-Catherine Street entrance, but not the Metro."There was a survey saying that 37 per cent of the population comes to the Place des Arts via the public transit. So we can increase that, and that's what we're gonna do," she said.Montrealer Linda Gauthier uses a wheelchair and says the current setup makes her feel "excluded" from arts and cultural events held at Place des Arts."I feel like a second-class citizen," she told CBC. "For example, if you had a ticket, and you invited me to come to a show tonight and I [didn't] have a para-transit, I would stay home."Gauthier said she's happy something is being done about the barriers that keep people with reduced mobility away.Meanwhile, the STM has set a goal of making 32 stations accessible by 2022."We wanted to make sure that when the station here is accessible, that Place des arts will be accessible too, at the same time."Work will begin in April 2021 and is expected to be done in 2022.

  • 'Have courage': Tony Walsh's sister pleads for witnesses to come forward
    News
    CBC

    'Have courage': Tony Walsh's sister pleads for witnesses to come forward

    Tony Walsh's sister has spent the last five months wondering what happened to her brother.Walsh vanished in August. He was last seen getting into a truck in Truro on Aug. 23.A few days later, his family found his car in a parking lot.Last week, RCMP announced they believe the 35-year-old was the victim of a homicide, even though they haven't found his body."It's hard on all of us," said Sara Walsh Turner. "We don't know what's going on."This is awful for any family to go through."Walsh was the father of a 10-year-old girl. He was also close to his niece and nephew.Walsh Turner said the children deserve to know what happened."To tell the kids when we don't know anything, to have those conversations with them when we don't understand things, it's really difficult."Walsh spent years living out west and in Ontario, but Walsh Turner said he put his family first."If there was anything that we needed help with, he would come down right away and help," she said.When he returned to Nova Scotia, he worked hard to rebuild his connection to the family."He was really wanting to build those relationships up," she said.Walsh Turner was just 15 months older than her brother. They grew up in the small community of Crowes Mills, just outside of Truro."It was always us growing up," she said. "We always hung out with the neighbourhood kids. I never thought anything like this was going to happen."Walsh Turner says police have been supportive through the process, but they're limited in what they can say about the investigation.She's hoping that by talking about her brother, someone will be convinced to come forward with information."We hope that people have the courage to do the right thing and phone the Crimestoppers. It's completely anonymous. And just give us answers."While the family waits for information, she says the community is rallying around her mother while she grieves.This week, someone set up solar lights in her mother's yard."Just so that she knows the community is there and that's been really, really nice."Crimestoppers can be reached at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).MORE TOP STORIES

  • Quebec police find bodies of two of four missing French snowmobilers
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Quebec police find bodies of two of four missing French snowmobilers

    ST-HENRI-DE-TAILLON, Que. — A Quebec provincial police search-and-rescue team retrieved the bodies of two more French snowmobilers who plunged into the water last Tuesday in the province's Lac-Saint-Jean region.Sgt. Hugues Beaulieu said the bodies were found late Sunday morning at a site more than three kilometres from where the initial search began.Their names were not released.The grim discovery raises the official death toll to four, while two snowmobilers remained missing as of Sunday afternoon.A group of eight tourists from eastern France and their guide were travelling off-trail late last Tuesday when the ice gave way somewhere between St-Henri-de-Taillon and Alma. The 42-year-old guide was found in the hours following the accident and declared dead in hospital soon after.While five men were originally missing, divers found the body of 58-year-old Gilles Claude on Friday, about two kilometres from where the first snowmobiles were located.Beaulieu said dozens of police were involved in the search for the remaining men, which has involved drones, helicopters, boats, snowmobiles and three teams of divers. On Sunday, he indicated police had no intention of abandoning the search.Earlier Sunday, police announced they had located the seventh and final submerged snowmobile that remained unaccounted for.For reasons that remain unclear, the group left the safety of the marked trail through the woods and ventured towards the icy expanse of Lac-Saint-Jean, where the ice gave way sometime before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.Two of the travelling party managed to save a third tourist who'd fallen into the water, and they made it to shore and alerted authorities.Experienced local snowmobilers have described the area as extremely dangerous due to swift currents and thin ice, and warned against leaving the marked trails.The five missing French snowmobilers were identified by police as Claude, Yan Thierry and Jean-Rene Dumoulin, both 24, Julien Benoit, 34, and Arnaud Antoine, 25.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 26, 2020The Canadian Press

  • R.I.P. Kobe Bryant: NBA legend and daughter Gianna's relationship in photos
    Yahoo News Canada

    R.I.P. Kobe Bryant: NBA legend and daughter Gianna's relationship in photos

    The world is in shock as news of Kobe Bryant’s death spread Sunday morning.The NBA legend and five-time champion was killed in a helicopter crash along with four other passengers, including his daughter Gianna, 13.Gianna was a familiar face courtside and at press conference during her father’s long and esteemed career in the league.Kobe Bryant was 41.

  • Diddy calls out Grammys and demands change in fiery speech
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Diddy calls out Grammys and demands change in fiery speech

    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Sean “Diddy” Combs called out the Grammy Awards for dissing rap and R&B stars in its major categories in a blazing speech that earned him a standing ovation from Beyoncé, Jay-Z and several other music industry players.At the end of his 50-minute speech Saturday night at Clive Davis’ white-hot pre-Grammys gala, where Combs was honoured, the music mogul demanded change and said he was happy to be involved in making a difference.“So I say this with love to the Grammys, because you really need to know this, every year y’all be killing us man. Man, I’m talking about the pain. I’m speaking for all these artists here, the producers, the executives," he said. "The amount of time it takes to make these records, to pour your heart into it, and you just want an even playing field.”Over the years, the awards show has been criticized when top performing acts like Beyoncé, Kanye West, Eminem, Mariah Carey and others lose in major categories, including album of the year and best new artist. The rap and R&B stars often fall short of their pop, rock and country counterparts.“In the great words of Erykah Badu, ‘We are artists and we are sensitive about our (expletive).’ We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we got. This is our only hope,” Combs continued. "Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be.”Rap, particularly, has had a longstanding losing streak at the Grammys, which celebrates its 62nd show Sunday. Only two rap-based albums — Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” — have won album of the year. Last year’s Grammys marked the first time a hip-hop song was awarded song and record of the year when Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” achieved the feat. And only four rap acts have been named best new artist, including Hill, Arrested Development, Chance the Rapper and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.Questions loomed heavily over the Grammys’ voting process this week after the academy’s just-ousted CEO, Deborah Dugan, claimed that the awards are rigged and filled with conflicts of interest.“So right now with this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on, and it’s not just going on in music, it’s going on in film, it’s going on in sports, it’s going around the word," Combs said. “And for years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interest at heart to judge us. And that stops right now.”The 50-year-old ended with a stern message: “I’m officially starting the clock — y’all got 365 days to get this (expletive) together.”Combs, a three-time Grammy winner, earned the 2020 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons Award on Saturday night. He dedicated the prize to classic albums that didn't win the top Grammy Award: Michael Jackson's “Off the Wall," Prince's “1999,” Beyoncé's “Lemonade,” Missy Elliott's “Da Real World,” Snoop Dogg's “Doggystyle,” Kanye West's “Graduation” and Nas' “Illmatic.”Combs, the founder of Bad Boy Records, received an all-star tribute from artists he's worked with, including Lil Kim, Mase, Faith Evans and Carl Thomas. The performance transformed the Beverly Hilton Hotel into a hip-hop jam session, with some people even dancing on top of chairs, including Usher, Wiz Khalifa and Combs himself.Davis’ annual gala, a not-so-easy event to get invited to, was jam-packed with well-known guests from a range of fields, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Michael Douglas, Naomi Campbell, Cardi B, Berry Gordy, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell, DJ Khaled, Smokey Robinson, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Trevor Noah, Billy Porter and Wolfgang Puck.Beck kicked off the multi-hour event with an energetic performance; others who hit the stage included Carlos Santana, Chance the Rapper, John Legend, Khalid and Cynthia Erivo, who sang Janet Jackson songs in tribute to the performer.Jackson, who didn't receive an award but was honoured for her musical achievements, said she's happy to still have a career in music.“When I was getting dress this evening I thought about it and I said to myself, ‘I’ve been in this industry for 47 years,’” the 53-year-old said. “That’s a long time but I still enjoy going to work and I feel very blessed my journey ahead of me.”Though Cyndi Lauper wasn’t honoured Saturday, she also owned the show with an explosive performance of her classic hit song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” alongside singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. She took off her shoes, leaving the stage to sit on top of a table where Jamie Foxx, Usher and others were sitting.“Wait, stop, you’re (expletive) dead,” Lauper told the crowd in the middle of her performance. “You’re in the music industry. Where the (expletive) is your lungs?”She won over the crowd, which fully participated by dancing out of their seats, singing along and — yep — having fun.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press

  • Blizzards can be fatal for birds. Here's how you can help our feathered friends
    News
    CBC

    Blizzards can be fatal for birds. Here's how you can help our feathered friends

    For some birds in Newfoundland, last week's massive blizzard resulted in food scarcity and death, says a local bird expert.Jared Clarke, who owns a birdwatching and touring company called Bird the Rock, said now is an excellent time to fill up your bird feeders."There's certainly no reason not to be feeding birds right now, and they probably appreciate it a little more than usual if we do," he said.While some birds are prepared for bad weather, said Clarke, others visiting during migrations from the south aren't. Berries and seeds can freeze or become buried under snow, and the winds can even be lethal for some birds."We know for certain that there were a few birds here that have made the news recently that are sort of visiting from further south and probably shouldn't be here this time of year. And we know that they had a hard time and several of them didn't make it," he said. I don't think there's any doubt that they sense this storm coming. -Jared ClarkeClarke said the bull bird is one of them."It's a small bird related to the puffin that winters here off our coast, and with the strong winds during the storm the next morning people were picking them up in driveways and on roads."When it comes to keeping birds fed, Clarke said, many finches prefer a small black seed called niger, while others eat millet. He sad buying a seed mix can help to accommodate different tastes. Suet blocks are also a good idea, he said."That's a really high-energy food. It's really loved by a lot of birds, especially some of our woodpeckers. So that's a great thing to have this time of year."Some birds know exactly what to doClarke said while some birds, like the bull bird, can be killed by the weather, others prepare well in advance and are perfectly safe."I don't think there's any doubt that they sense this storm coming, probably even before we would have," he said."A lot of birds like boreal chickadees and the kinglets that live in our forests will go deep into the forest and find places close to the tree trunks to be out of the wind and away from the bulk of the snow."For crows, the suspension of garbage collection during the state of emergency is resulting in food scarcity, with a week's worth of fresh garbage not going to the dump, said Clarke."They're probably spreading out over the city looking for it, looking for things to eat," said Clarke.But crows will likely make do, he said, so there's no need to leave scraps out for them."I think it's fairly safe to assume that most of the crows will do fine."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • University of Victoria takes lead on Holocaust graphic novel project
    News
    CBC

    University of Victoria takes lead on Holocaust graphic novel project

    An international project to bear witness to the stories of child Holocaust survivors will be led by a team from the University of Victoria. Charlotte Schallié, a Holocaust historian and the current chair of the university's department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, says the medium of the graphic novel was chosen to create a multilayered, rich narrative.'If you read a graphic novel, it is as if you're watching and reading a movie at the same time," Schallié told host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West, adding that the combination of graphics, narrative, speech bubbles, sound effects, and visuals create a deep engagement between the reader and the text."Visual storytelling in graphic narratives is especially effective for life stories and memories of survivors who were children during the Holocaust, as images often tend to be so deeply imprinted in a child survivor's memory."In fact, one of the most famous examples of the graphic novel genre, Art Spiegelman's Maus, is a depiction of Spiegelman's father's experiences as a Holocaust survivor."That was one of the texts that I've been using in my classroom," Schallié said. "And at the end of the class, when I ask which was the text that most profoundly moved you or impacted you, it was very often Maus."The four survivors who are part of the project include David Schaffer of Vancouver; Emmie Arbel in Kiryat Tiv'on, Israel; and brothers Nicole and Rolf Kamp in Amsterdam, Holland.Each survivor is paired with a graphic artist, and the team works together to create the story. "It was very important for us, to begin with, that graphic novelist were not just illustrators but were actively co-producing the history with the survivors," said Schallié."Most of the visual documentary and documents we have from the Holocaust are documents produced by perpetrators, so it's extremely important to have survivors tell their own stories."Miriam Libicki, a graphic novelist based in Vancouver, is working with Schaffer, who survived the Holocaust as a boy in Romania after his family was deported to Transnistria.Libicki, whose own grandparents were Holocaust survivors, says the project has a great deal of urgency. Her own grandfather died three years ago and she wishes she had got a chance to talk to him more about his experiences."We have fewer and fewer survivors left, and I think it's really important to have the stories first and to not only have them as documents, but to know what the survivors themselves think is important about their stories, what they care about, what are the lessons or the facts they want future generations to take from this story," she said. Schallié says the graphic novels will be completed by 2022. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on Jan.27.

  • News
    Reuters

    Nearly 50 dead, thousands displaced as storms lash southeast of Brazil

    At least 46 people have died in Brazil and more than 25,000 have been displaced due to widespread flooding following storms and heavy rains that have swept across the south east of the country, authorities said on Sunday. Most of the casualties were in the state of Minas Gerais, including the capital Belo Horizonte, which had its heaviest rainfall over a 24-hour period leading to Friday since records began 110 years ago, O Globo newspaper reported. Local authorities in Minas Gerais said on Sunday that 37 people had died, while more than 17,000 were displaced or evacuated from their homes.

  • Coronavirus in Canada: What we know about Canada's first presumed case
    CBC

    Coronavirus in Canada: What we know about Canada's first presumed case

    A man in his 50s travelled from China to Toronto on Jan. 22 and became 'quite ill' within a day of arriving. While the case has been confirmed by a test in Toronto, officials said it has yet to complete separate testing by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

  • Yukon's only church pipe organ, damaged by fire, gets a new lease on life
    News
    CBC

    Yukon's only church pipe organ, damaged by fire, gets a new lease on life

    Members of Whitehorse's Trinity Lutheran Church believed their beloved pipe organ was beyond repair. It was damaged in a fire at the church in 2017.But Jason Barnsley, a restoration specialist from Calgary, says it can be rebuilt. It needs a new console and wiring, but the rest of the organ's parts survived the fire. This past week, Barnsley and his small crew of three were at the church in Whitehorse dismantling and boxing up the many pieces of the mechanically complex, century-old organ. They'll spend the coming months restoring the various parts in Calgary."It's like a jigsaw puzzle constructed by a crazy person," said Barnsley."I actually know where everything goes, but if a layperson were coming into this they would go, 'I think you're nuts trying to put this all together ... there are a million and one pieces here.'"Barnsley can even guess what started the fire inside the organ — its aging control centre."Those are all modern now, using solid-state control systems versus the original hardwiring and a lot of electricity, which is ultimately what caused it to catch fire — because there was so much wiring inside," he said.He says the pneumatic pipe organ's inner workings are as complex as those of fine Swiss watch.Barnsley says the organ's analog electrical systems were ahead of their time when it was built in 1926. He compares it to "very early, early computing."From Pennsylvania to WhitehorseThe pneumatic pipe organ's 762 individual pipes plus numerous parts originally made their journey from Pennsylvania to Whitehorse 40 years ago.Whitehorse church members had seen an ad in a magazine, and ended up buying the organ for a dollar. The organ's previous owner, a church in Pennsylvania, wanted the organ to have a northern home.The organ filled Trinity Lutheran with glorious sound for decades — and it's hoped that will continue soon.Once all the parts are at Barnsley's shop in Calgary, he'll fix it up with modern wiring. It will likely be returned to Whitehorse and rebuilt in about a year."We are hoping that by revitalizing the pipe organ we will be able to offer a really fine instrument in an intimate concert venue to the larger Whitehorse community," said Deb Bartlette, a minister at Trinity Lutheran Church.

  • News
    CBC

    Shipping noise causing problems for wildlife in the Arctic

    A new study out of the University of Windsor says that because of receding ice in the Arctic, there's more underwater noise by shipping traffic. Because of that, Arctic cod's habits are being affected.Silviya Ivanova, lead author of the study and Ph.D. student at the University of Windsor, said the study was first started after Inuit in the area were complaining about the noise scaring away wildlife. "All this noise is making them leave the area," said Ivanova. "They like a quiet area. We don't know yet what the actual repercussions [are]."Researchers have said Arctic cod are the "most important" link in Arctic marine ecosystems, so disturbing their habits can impact food availability for other marine wildlife and for native Arctic communities. Ivanova and the research team used hydrophones to record the noise transmitted by ships. They also recorded one day where no ships went through to get a baseline reading for no noise.Researchers spent five weeks for two summers in a row to acquire the data needed for the study. "Our results identify yet another stresser to consider in the rapidly changing Arctic ecosystem," said Aaron Fisk, professor at the University of Windsor, Canada Research Chair and Pew Marine Fellow. "The noise associated with increasing ship traffic needs to be considered in management and conservation efforts."The study noted that it's unclear if Arctic cod will aclimatize to the noise or if it will be a long-term problem. Cruise ship traffic in the Arctic has doubled in the last 20 years, with ice coverage reducing by about half from 2000-2012. The data showed this has resulted in a 10-12 decibel increase in noise levels.

  • 'You are the lion': Why one Regina woman values her Chinese culture and traditions
    News
    CBC

    'You are the lion': Why one Regina woman values her Chinese culture and traditions

    Helen Chang isn't a rat — in the literal sense and in terms of animal signs on the Chinese zodiac. But the director of the Chinese Cultural Society of Saskatchewan is still happily ringing in the Year of the Metal Rat — even if her zodiac sign is the Wood Rabbit.Saturday marked the Chinese Lunar New Year, a celebration which is held on the first day of the Chinese calendar; often between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20 on the Gregorian calendar. Chang's parents immigrated from China to Canada before she was born. But she holds Chinese traditions close to her heart. Growing up in Regina, Chang and her brother were the only Chinese students at their elementary school. She witnessed the stereotypes people put on her culture. "It felt like you really had to let people know that there was more to Chinese people than just egg rolls and fried rice," she said, adding the stereotypes still exist."Every time you see an action move, if they're in Chinatown, there's a lion dance happening."Chang has passed Chinese traditions down to her own children, including her 11-year-old son — whose zodiac sign just happens to be a rat."You can totally see it in him," she said. "He's sporty; he's athletic."Chinese traditions started at a young age Chang began kung fu lessons when she was about 15 at the encouragement of her mother. She's been doing it ever since and is now a senior level teacher at Chung Wah Kung Fu in Regina. Kung fu, she said, ties closely with lion dance, another common Chinese tradition. Lion dance was traditionally performed by kung fu schools because it took significant physical strength to do it. The lion, Chang explained, has special significance to Chinese New Year celebrations."Lions are magical creatures in Chinese folklore," she said. "The lion has a horn [and] a special mirror. All these things help it to dispel bad energy and bring in good luck." Numerous celebrations highlight new year in Saskatchewan Chang and her family will be taking part in celebrations throughout the next couple of weeks, including one being held by the Chinese Cultural Society of Saskatchewan at Lee's Chop Suey on Feb. 8. The event features a traditional 10 course meal and is open to everyone. Tickets are available by calling 306-525-5027.Chang will also get the opportunity to take part in a lion dance throughout the next couple of weeks. On Sunday, her group will perform at Dosu Wok restaurant in Pilot Butte. It's an experience that's always meaningful to her."Once the drum's going and the music's playing, your heartbeat just pushes you along," she said. "You are the lion."

  • News
    CBC

    Changes afoot for West Prince Graphic, publisher says

    Starting next week, the West Prince Graphic will no longer be delivered to Island homes.This comes as a result of the decision to close the Transcontinental printing plant in Borden-Carleton. The plant is expected to close its doors this week.Officials said the newspaper will now be delivered to retail outlets.Prior to the change, the paper was delivered to more than 6,000 homes from Tyne Valley to Tignish. "It will have an impact," said publisher Paul MacNeill."But ultimately time will tell and readers will tell us if we got it right or wrong," he added.Distribution reassessedMacNeill said the paper's distribution model had to be reassessed.with printing no longer available on P.E.I.The paper will now be printed by Advocate Printing in Pictou, N.S."It obviously has an impact in terms of deadlines, when we need to get files to the printer, because driving papers back from Pictou is considerably more time-consuming than getting them from Borden. But it's not bad. It could be worse to be honest with you."MacNeill said reporters will continue to cover meetings, events and community gatherings, but some items may have to be updated on its website due to time constraints."It's the end of an era on P.E.I. in terms of having the type of printing capacity necessary to print newspapers. We've always had a press."A full list of where the paper will be available will be released shortly, he said.More P.E.I. news

  • A historic Paradise restaurant is in new hands. Here's what's changing
    News
    CBC

    A historic Paradise restaurant is in new hands. Here's what's changing

    The nearly century-old Woodstock Colonial Restaurant in Paradise is reopening at the end of the month under a new owner — who's making a few changes.Brendon O'Rourke is renaming the restaurant, which opened in 1927, the Woodstock Public House and making some additions to the menu, although much of the dining room's esthetic will remain the same.He said he's excited about what lies ahead."It's kind of more than I had anticipated, or more than I thought I would genuinely ever have. But here we are, about to embark on quite the adventure, I think," he said."I never really had the ambitions of having, you know, that small hole in the wall on Water Street or anything like that. I always wanted to be a little further outside of town."Keeping things localO'Rourke said the restaurant will focus on tried and true Newfoundland recipes."If you look at what the food trends and who the popular restaurateurs are in town, they're not importing very much of their product at all. So that's going to be where I'm starting."Part of that starting point will involve bringing game back to the menu. He said customers can expect moose, seal and "everything from crab to mussels and squid."Some things will remain exactly the same, like Mary's tea room, a chamber in the restaurant that, according to O'Rourke, has carried that name since the 1960s. He said he played with the idea of repurposing the room until he heard about its history."The owners at the time, their aunt Mary had passed away a few years before they had taken this over and so they had named this room in her honour," he said."And funny enough, without a word of a lie, I have an aunt Mary who passed away a few years ago. And so when I heard the tale, I thought I couldn't change it."A very old placeO'Rourke said he's encountered some resistance from locals when they learned the restaurant has changed hands. Their worries, he said, usually go away when they learn the dining room is remaining unchanged and seal and moose are being added to the menu.From the concrete fridge to the trinkets adorning the walls, O'Rourke inherited a piece of history when he purchased the building. Although he's heard rumours the place is haunted, he said he has yet to experience anything paranormal.But it's all part of the restaurant's history."My father and I were joking throughout this whole process It's like, sure, you could buy a chain [franchise] for X amount of money. But you couldn't really buy the legacy that the Woodstock leaves behind."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • When Carol met Anas: A story of friendship, love, and death
    News
    CBC

    When Carol met Anas: A story of friendship, love, and death

    When Carol Taylor ended her life with medical assistance last week, the Kelowna woman spent her last moments surrounded by her dearest friends. But closest to her, holding her hand until she passed, was a young man from Syria she lovingly called her grandson, Anas Qartoumeh.Theirs was an unlikely friendship, and one that will endure in Qartoumeh's heart for a long time. "She was my all in Canada, and I lost her," he said, his voice breaking.The 80-year-old, whose two-year battle with cancer had taken a turn for the worse, chose death in the way she had lived her life — with courage and conviction. "I've had a most wonderful life. It's time to move on, and I'm on my way happily," she told CBC a few days before she died.Taylor, who hailed from a family of "lefties" from the San Francisco area, initially came to Canada to protest the Vietnam War, and activism remained the crux of her life. She protested against nuclear proliferation in the 1980s, against homophobia in the 1990s, and in her later years, co-founded the Dying with Dignity chapter in Kelowna. One fuzzy photo of Taylor shows her at one of the first pride marches in Kelowna in the late '90s, surrounded by her friends from the Kelowna Women's Book Club. "We were on the front lines 20 years ago [and] the mayor refused to sign the proclamation [in support of the LGBTQ community]," she said. "We were vilified ... they were saying terrible things to us."In 2015, Taylor, whose common-law husband had died a few years earlier, was looking for a way to help the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Canada. Living alone, she figured she could host a family in the extra rooms in her house. "And Anas came into my life ... with a 22 kilogram suitcase."Qartoumeh, now 36, came to Canada as a refugee to escape the Syrian civil war and a conservative culture that forced him to keep his homosexuality a secret. When he arrived in Kelowna, he found in Taylor not just a roommate, but a kindred spirit, mentor, and someone he could confide in. "She was there to support me since the day I arrived," he said. "She stood up for me when I was vulnerable."Taylor introduced Qartoumeh to her wide circle of friends, and she watched closely as he blossomed in his adopted home. "He was invited to his first gay New Year's party and I drove him to it," she recalled. "Up in Glenmore, somewhere snowing."The following morning, Taylor said she listened carefully as Qartoumeh recounted every detail of the party, especially because, she joked, she hadn't been invited."Anas said, 'Carol! I have had my first gay kiss!' And he told me about what it was like and [how] this man kissed him."With Taylor's encouragement, Qartoumeh got a job, moved out, and took on a prominent, vocal role in Kelowna's LGBTQ community. Qartoumeh was named the Grand Marshal of the 2018 Kelowna Pride March."I knew he could speak well. He looks good, and he's proud and out as a gay man," she said, beaming. "He's the poster man for inclusion in Canada."But to Taylor, who has no children of her own, he was more. "He's the grandson I would have wished for."When Taylor decided to have a medically assisted death, she told Qartoumeh. He immediately moved in to the house to be with her in the weeks leading up to the day she had chosen to die.The night before her death, Taylor held a living wake for her close friends. She insisted on happy music and no tears. Qartoumeh said the event, complete with a riotous appearance from Kelowna drag queen Freida Whales, was joyful. But he admitted to escaping to his own room to cry. "I do not want to disappoint her — I've never disappointed her — and show her my sadness, but when I am in my room and on my own, I just do it," he said. When he insisted on being there for her final moments, Taylor hesitated. She said it would be too emotional."Then she changed her mind and she said, 'Yeah I'd like you to stay with me,'" he said."I held her hand to the very end."As Qartoumeh moves on in his own life, Taylor will always remain close to him — like an old fuzzy photograph of a determined woman, marching with a hand-written sign at one of Kelowna's first pride parades, that sits framed in his home.  When Taylor was shown the photograph before her death, she laughed."I had said, 'Anas, take anything you want because I'm getting rid of stuff here.' And he took it. I kind of forgot he took it," she said."I was so honoured that he would do that."Listen to an audio version of this story, including conversations with Carol Taylor and Anas Qartoumeh, by clicking on the play button below or in the CBC Listen app.

  • News
    CBC

    CAPE fund allocates money for artists impacted by winter storm

    The Cultural Artists Plan for Emergencies Fund, or the CAPE fund, is offering help to artists affected by last week's state of emergency in several eastern Newfoundland communities. The CAPE fund was established in 2005. It's a province-wide emergency fund, committed to helping professionals who work in culture, arts and entertainment. Board co-chair Jenn Brown says people working in the arts often don't have the luxuries of other sectors, like benefits or salaries, so losing a full week of work can be devastating.  We've had theatre productions which have been shut down, we've had people lose gigs... and what that means is that there's no money coming in. \- Jenn Brown"It's meant to be a one-time means of support really, when a crisis happens," said Brown. In the past, the CAPE fund has been employed when an artist experienced a medical emergency in the family, when someone experienced a house fire or an accident. It's the first time it's been used to help artists who have been impacted by a winter storm. "This [was] a state of emergency, we are a fund created to assist people in times of emergency ... we really thought that served our mandate and our mission," Brown said. 'Sincerely an emergency'The CAPE fund has allocated $10,000 to allow up to 40 applicants to receive a one-time payment of $250. "In less than 24 hours, we had 11 applications come in ... the first applications came in maybe 20 minutes after we first released the call," Brown said. If the need turns out to be greater than 40 applicants, Brown said the board will re-assess the plan. "We've had theatre productions which have been shut down, we've had people lose gigs, we've had film productions shut down, we've also had arts and cultural organizations shut their doors, and what that means is that there's no money coming in at the end of the week," said Brown."We really value and respect that that is sincerely an emergency."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • St. John's area high schools to reopen Monday
    News
    CBC

    St. John's area high schools to reopen Monday

    The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District says it will be phasing in the reopening of schools in the St. John's metro area, with high schools being the first to open on Monday."We're opening just the high schools. The other schools we'll look at [Monday] and make a determination," says Tony Stack, the district's director of education.A further announcement will be made Monday afternoon with respect to all remaining schools in the region.While Stack said the lost days of instruction are "unfortunate," he said he feels a phased approach — opening schools gradually over a period of days — was the best way to get students back to class and limit traffic on city streets. We felt that this was the best, safest approach. \- Tony Stack"I do understand and empathize with parents now that have to struggle with respect to what they do tomorrow when they return to work," he said."But we've got to do things carefully and measured and we felt that this was the best, safest approach."Stack said of the 28,000 students in the St. John's area, high school students make up roughly one quarter, about 7,200 in all.He said because some streets are not yet fully accessible, "significant adjustments" have been made to the majority of bus routes. For example, some students on cul-de-sacs or side streets may have to catch the school bus on larger streets."The primary and secondary routes are OK, but there could be a neighborhood street where there's a crescent or something like that and there may be a bigger road that is accessible, so they'd have to leave their crescent and come out to that main road," said Stack.In a statement Sunday, the NLESD said the adjustments will remain in place until Friday because of ongoing snow clearing, with an update to come at the end of the week.Information on the status of schools and bus routes is available on the district's website.Stack said while the storm was "unprecedented," the district has dealt with multiple day closures before and stopped short of suggesting that the school year will need to be extended."We know that there's ways to adapt how we deliver the curriculum," he said."I'm very confident that we'll be able to manage this situation."The Conseil scolaire francophone said in a statement Sunday that École Rocher-du-Nord will reopen Monday, while École des Grand-Vents will be closed.The CSFP said it is communicating directly with families of students who will be affected by adjustments to bus routes on Monday.Memorial University, Marine Institute and the College of the North Atlantic campuses in St. John's are also expected to reopen Monday.Getting back to normalSt. John's Mayor Danny Breen says city crews are hard at work clearing roads and sidewalks in advance of what will be the first day back to school and work for many in the city."We've done a lot of work on the sidewalks around school zones, we've got a lot of those cleared out and we're continuing to work on those," he said."There's places in the city where you can get off the road to walk, so it's improving."Breen said close to 5,000 dump truck loads of snow have already been removed from the streets, and the city's snow clearing equipment remains on the road around the clock to continue the work.He said dealing with all the snow has been a huge challenge, but it's important to remove as much as possible, because there's lots of winter weather left to come."Right now, we're concentrating on getting the city back to normal operations, and you know, we're only three weeks into winter," said Breen."We're going to have more snow, so we've got to get ready to be prepared for that."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Residents unable to heat homes amid northern B.C. wood pellet shortage
    News
    CBC

    Residents unable to heat homes amid northern B.C. wood pellet shortage

    Darrin Super's heart sinks every time he has to turn someone away who is looking for wood pellets. A wood pellet shortage in northwestern B.C. means suppliers have no pellets to deliver to retailers, which means people who rely on those wood pellets for fuel in their wood stoves are out of luck. Super, the store manager at the Bulkley Valley Home Centre in Houston, B.C., received an email on Jan. 9, days before the province-wide cold snap, saying that the supplier had completely run out of wood pellets and would not be able to deliver any. "Usually I have 50 to 60 tonnes sitting in my yard at any given time," he told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk. "Our community relies on this for their sources of heat.""I would say the majority of people here have wood stoves."The store has been without wood pellets for two weeks. Now, he's turning to suppliers in Alberta, even though his town is surrounded by trees. "There is nobody locally," he said. "The forestry industry is our No. 1 industry here locally and we have to go to our neighbouring province for wood pellets. It just doesn't seem right."Super believes mill shutdowns and curtailments around the province are major contributors to the shortage. For that reason, he said he wants government officials to step in and find a way to keep the forestry industry, which is Houston's largest industry, afloat.   "I'd like to see the mills run at full capacity again, have that fibre being sent to the pellet plants, have our pellets made and I'd still have a full inventory of pellets," Super said.Listen to the full interview here: