All the tasks homeowners need to do before the snow really starts to fall.
All the tasks homeowners need to do before the snow really starts to fall.
A historic meeting between Israel's prime minister and Saudi Arabia's crown prince has sent a strong signal to allies and enemies alike that the two countries remain deeply committed to containing their common foe Iran. Last Sunday's covert meeting in the Saudi city of Neom, confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh, conveyed a coordinated message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that Washington's main allies in the region are closing ranks. It was the first publicly confirmed visit to Saudi Arabia by an Israeli leader and a meeting that was unthinkable until recently as the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.
FORGET the gymnasium — driveways, sidewalks and parking lots are becoming popular alternatives for phys-ed students keen to both work out and volunteer to shovel snow in their communities this season. With Manitoba public health officials promoting outdoor learning as much as possible to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 amid the pandemic, teachers are finding creative ways to keep students active outside no matter the season. Tim Morison was clearing his driveway in Starbuck earlier this year, when he realized he was participating in a perfect phys-ed lesson. Not only is shovelling an intense physical activity, he said, but also an opportunity to both learn how specific muscles work (in this case, biceps, triceps, quads, hamstrings and calves, among others) and the importance of community involvement. “I’ve always been a firm believer that we take care of the community; community comes first,” said Morison, who teaches phys-ed at Starbuck School in the Red River Valley School Division. “And trying to teach these kids how… doing something for someone else can cheer them up — especially during this time, when everything’s so negative with COVID.” Morison recruited his students to deliver flyers to houses and businesses around Starbuck (located 30 kilometres west of Winnipeg) to inform residents the school’s phys-ed students planned to help clear snow in town throughout the winter. On such days, the phys-ed teacher said he plans to take each of his classes out to walk around with shovels to clear as many driveways as possible during the school day. “Now, we’re just waiting for snow,” Morison said, adding the first significant snowfall of the season occurred during an in-service school day last week. He put out a request to families anyway and more than 10 students showed up to clear snow, even though they had the day off. In the Manitoba capital, the phys-ed department at Maples Collegiate has a similar idea. The Winnipeg high school put out a call to families asking if anyone within walking distance from the facility was interested in having students clear snow during school hours. “We are hoping to help clear the snow of homes of seniors, those living with a disability/illness, or those that can use the extra help,” states the notice. Less than 24 hours after it was sent, phys-ed teacher Matt Medwick said at least seven people had signed up for the volunteer service. “This is just one more thing that might really help people feel better in general, on both ends,” Medwick said. Maples teachers have been incorporating activities such as mindfulness and yoga to improve students’ mental health this term. Research shows learning in natural environments is beneficial to students’ stress levels, overall well-being, and helps them focus when they return to a classroom setting. “When teachers conduct that kind of a lesson, they’ll see a major increase in interest and motivation, when kids are allowed to explore questions they have,” said Mike Link, assistant professor of education at the University of Winnipeg, who researches the link between outdoor education and student well-being. Link said the pivot to outdoor lessons during the pandemic will likely affect how much time educators spend outside in the future, given they have now experienced first-hand the positives of teaching outdoors. Starbuck principal Dale Fust said the school will continue to promote outdoor phys-ed in the future, given how successful Morison’s snow-shovelling idea and overall programming has been this fall. Morison — who was booted from the school’s gymnasium when it was converted into two classrooms — has created a winter survival unit. He’s teaching students how to build a shelter, start a fire, boil water, and diagnose frostbite and hypothermia. “We’re reaching the kids who don’t necessarily succeed in a traditional phys-ed environment — the traditional volleyball, sports kind of thing,” said Fust, who oversees the K-8 school of approximately 170. The buy-in from kids has been phenomenal, Morison said. “I’m going to carry on with this for the rest of my career.”Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Excerpts from letters sent to Santa that have been received by his sorting office in France:___“Father Christmas, if the coronavirus allows it, would it be possible to drop in on the night of the 24th ... We'll put out a cake for you and carrots for the reindeer” — The Theron family.___“I hope that you are well. I also hope the elves and you aren't infected” — Lina, age 9.___“I want this epidemic to stop, so I can see my family without fear” — Eglantine.___“I want to meet you but we can't because there is the virus" — William.___“I didn't put many toys on my list. I understand that this year is difficult with the virus ... P.S. I broke my arm” — Louis, age 9.___“I'm going to turn 6. I won't be able to celebrate my birthday because of the sick people” — Leana.___“Even with the sickness, I hope to see you, because I want to give you a hug and a kiss ... I would like a brother and a little sister. I have a fish and a frog" — Rosay.___“It's been many years since I have written to you. In lockdown, I decided to pick up my pen again ... Father Christmas, for me, an independent student, this has been a tough year ...” Alexis, 22.___“Don't forget your lockdown pass and your mask, so you aren't fined” — Carole, age 54.The Associated Press
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said an independence referendum that could wrench apart the United Kingdom after Brexit should take place in the earlier part of the devolved parliament's next term, which begins next year. If there was another referendum and if Scots voted out, it would mark the biggest shock to the United Kingdom since Irish independence a century ago - just as London grapples with the impact of Brexit. The pro-independence Scottish National Party leader said she anticipates that a vote will take place "in the earlier part" of the next Scottish parliament, which begins next year.
Construction jobs numbers are down provincially since the beginning of the pandemic, but that doesn’t reflect the reality in the north, where major resource development projects and steady activity in residential, non-residential, and road-building, have kept the industry strong, said a B.C. business analyst. “As much as there's a bunch of bad news around from this virus, the resiliency of the northern communities and northern economies… is the hidden bit of good news in this whole pandemic circumstance we find ourselves in,” said Ken Peacock, chief economist for the Business Council of BC. Many industries are doing okay in 2020, and some – the resource industries, along with, resource and non-resource manufacturing – have shown employment growth, said Peacock. Productivity dropped in the construction sector under COVID-19, but not by much, said Northern Regional Construction Association CEO Scott Bone, who estimated companies lost about 20 per cent productivity due to public health protocols. “Traveling to a worksite, we used to be able to throw four people in a crew cab and drive,” said Bone. “You can't do that anymore.” Now, it’s two people per truck, resulting in more vehicles, more fuel, more unplanned costs for the contractor and owner. Despite the many operational cost increases under COVID-19, construction has carried on. Contractors, legally bound to get work completed on deadline, are resilient and adaptable, said Bone. “They're very quick to adapt to things that come at them very quickly,” said Bone. “We saw that when COVID hit them.” The pandemic hasn’t caused significant construction site shutdowns that Bone knows of, and none are in sight. There are $120 billion worth of capital investments in B.C. in industrial and commercial projects ongoing or planned for construction or tendering this year or the next, said Bone. About $65 billion of that is in the north, namely, the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the LNG Canada facility, and BC Hydro’s Site C Dam. “All three of those projects are now ramping up,” said Bone. “We're seeing a good uptake in the opportunities for the construction industry as a result.’ The investment is so massive, procurement of goods and services has a big effect on the provincial economy, and while the spin offs are concentrated in the north, economic benefits also flow down to Vancouver, said Peacock. “Spending in Metro Vancouver kind of gets lost in the magnitude of the Metro Vancouver economy, so you don't see and feel the impact as much,” said Peacock. “Up in the north, where the economies are smaller, the lift from these large projects is much, much more significant and much more beneficial.” Most of the 180 Northern Regional Construction Association member contractors are very busy, said Bone. “They're working 24/7 to keep up with the work that they've got,” he said. The same seems to apply to contractors in the smaller communities of the Robson Valley. “The hardware and the building supply stores are as busy as anything,” said Dannielle Alan, Area H director for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. “All of our contractors are absolutely swamped.” According to the Canadian Home Builders Association (BHBA), in 2019, new home construction, and renovations and repairs created 1.3 million on and off-site jobs in Canada, equalling $83 billion in wages. Of that, about $159 million was paid in wages for 2,500 jobs in Prince George. Home construction jobs numbers for 2020 are not yet available. “There's actually a shortage of lumber, people are doing so much construction and renovating,” said Alan. Valemount has several active construction projects as well, according to Deputy Mayor Pete Pearson. An affordable housing development is underway, along with some single-family residential activity, he said. “We've had quite an influx of younger families moving to town,” said Pearson. “So, we're seeing a few new builds. “There's the combined housing and daycare facility that's pretty much almost shovel-ready,” said Pearson. “Generally, we're in pretty good shape.” The Trans Mountain campus and construction camp have also generated employment, Pearson said. “Our local contractors have been working on plumbing, gas fitting, and electrical with the camp setup,” said Pearson. “So, there's definitely been a positive spin off in the trades.” The challenges facing the construction industry are skilled labour shortages, not a lack of available work, said Bone. More young people need support to take up trades such as electrical, plumbing and carpentry and the construction association is collaborating with the Prince George school district to help make that happen. “There’s a huge gap between those that are going into the trades and getting trained and what we need going in the future,” Bone said. @FranYanor / Fran@thegoatnews.caFran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
OTTAWA — Newly released documents have shed light on the secret government talks and debate that took place ahead of a Canadian warship's passage through a sensitive waterway near China last year.Those discussions included a private meeting between the top bureaucrats at the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada, weeks before HMCS Ottawa sailed through the Taiwan Strait.Defence officials were also told to keep quiet about the frigate's trip in September 2019, three months after Chinese fighter jets buzzed two other Canadian ships making the same voyage. And they were ordered to keep the Privy Council Office, the department that supports the prime minister, in the loop as the Ottawa was making its way through the waterway.The unusual level of attention from the highest levels of government laid out in the documents, obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information, underscores the sensitivities surrounding the trip.That is because while much of the world considers the 180-kilometre strait to be international waters, Beijing claims ownership of the strait separating mainland China from Taiwan.Beijing, which regards the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a rogue province, has repeatedly condemned such passages by foreign warships from the U.S., Canada and elsewhere as illegal.HMCS Ottawa ended up sailing through the Taiwan Strait twice in early September. Media reports at the time said the frigate was shadowed by the Chinese navy.The heavily redacted memo to Global Affairs deputy minister Marta Morgan dated Aug. 7, 2019 starts by saying the Defence Department was looking for a risk assessment for the Ottawa's planned transit.Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas "has also requested a meeting with you on Aug. 12 to discuss this deployment," the memo adds.While HMCS Ottawa was in the region at the time helping enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea, the memo noted that the frigate was due to make a port visit in Bangkok in mid-September.Defence officials have publicly stated that the decision to have the Ottawa sail through the strait was because the route was the fastest way for the frigate to reach Bangkok from its position near North Korea.The memo backs that assertion, noting that going around Taiwan would add one or two days to the trip each way.Yet it also says the navy's presence in the South China Sea, of which the Taiwan Strait is a part, "has demonstrated Canadian support for our closest partners and allies, regional security and the rules-based international order."Global Affairs ultimately agreed to the Ottawa's sailing through the strait, but called on defence officials to keep the trip quiet, in large part because of fears the trip would coincide with the federal election campaign."Finally, GAC will ask DND to ensure that it keeps PCO informed as this naval deployment progresses," the memo adds.Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney described the discussions leading up to the Ottawa's transit of the Taiwan Strait as "an illustration of smart and effective consultation producing the right decision.""It is tremendously important that China sees that, in addition to the United States, other serious countries like Canada will not be intimidated into surrendering the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan itself to China's complete control," he said."The RCN, working closely with Global Affairs, is promoting the national interest and asserting our sovereignty from the far side of the world."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Manitoba Education is leaning toward a temporary period of remote learning for K-12 students in early 2021, should COVID-19 case counts remain high in the coming weeks. Sources have told the Free Press the department hinted about its plans during a meeting with school board superintendents Thursday afternoon. Among the call-in conference agenda items were the status of both the winter break and schools’ levels on the pandemic response system. During the meeting, the province suggested it is considering moving schools to the most severe level on the system — critical (code red) — for a minimum of two weeks, starting as early as Jan. 4, to ensure widespread distance learning. Sources said Manitoba Education indicated the department doesn’t favour extending the upcoming break — which is scheduled for Dec. 19 to Jan. 4, but the province’s top doctor will have the final say. If schools enter the critical phase in the new year, there would be no need for an extended closure of schools to reduce community transmission since the majority of students would be learning at home. Except for Steinbach-area schools, which entered the most severe level on the response system earlier this week, all classrooms in Manitoba remain in the restricted (code orange) phase. That means the majority of the approximately 210,000 learners in the province continue to attend in-person classes, which have been reorganized to emphasize two metres of physical distancing between pupils. In code red, remote learning becomes universal for all students — although critical service workers’ children in K-6, and older students with disabilities, may access supervision at school to complete their remote work, be it online or paper packages. A downgrade in code for all schools would be an extreme move, given both Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen and Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, have repeatedly said schools are the best environments for student learning and well-being. When the province announced last week the Hanover School Division and surrounding schools were to enter code red as of Nov. 24, officials indicated it was a precautionary measure to address a skyrocketing test positivity rate in the region (40 per cent). Principal Emery Plett said the transition from orange to red has gone fairly smoothly at Steinbach Christian School, one of 28 facilities affected by the announcement. That is, in part, because of the school’s experience with learning disruptions in the spring, Plett said. His advice for other administrators who might experience the same change in coming weeks? “Make plans, but be flexible, and make sure you’re supporting your teachers as they work at making the transition,” said Plett, whose K-12 school is attended by 317 students — including the son of the education minister. Both the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and Manitoba School Boards Association declined to comment on specifics about what sources told the Free Press was discussed in the Thursday meeting. School board association president Alan Campbell was on the call. “The position of school boards has always been clear,” Campbell said, “whether it’s an extended break or a move to code red or whatever it may be, when child care is going to become a consideration because kids aren’t in school, the earlier (the announcement), the better.” A spokesperson for Manitoba Education said in a statement the province is monitoring the situation closely and no final decision has been made about an extended winter break.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
CANBERRA, Australia — British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert arrived back in Australia on Friday and will soon reunite with her family after more than two years in an Iranian prison.Moore-Gilbert was met by public health officials and members of the Australian Defence Force after leaving her plane at Canberra Airport, less than 24 hours after being released from prison in Iran.Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said Moore-Gilbert, 33, will have to undergo quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.The academic from Melbourne University was released after 804 days behind bars on spying charges. She was freed in exchange for the release of three Iranians who were held in Thailand.Australian media reported on Friday that Iranian authorities had detained her after discovering she was in a relationship with an Israeli citizen, which led to claims she was a spy for Israel.Fairfax Media reported that the Australian government played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in bringing Thailand to the table and engineering the prisoner swap.Fairfax said the discovery of Moore-Gilbert’s Israeli boyfriend led to Iranian authorities stopping her at Tehran's airport as she was about to leave the country in 2018 after attending an academic conference. Authorities sentenced her to 10 years in prison for espionage. The Australian government and Moore-Gilbert rejected the allegations as baseless.Fairfax Media cited unidentified Australian government sources as saying the at-times delicate negotiations took more than six months.In Bangkok, Thai officials said they transferred three Iranians involved in a botched 2012 bomb plot back to Tehran. While they declined to call it a swap and Iran referred to the men as “economic activists,” the arrangement freed Moore-Gilbert and saw the three men, who were linked to a wider bomb plot targeting Israeli diplomats, return home to a hero’s welcome.They wore Iranian flags draped over their shoulders, their faces largely obscured by black baseball caps and surgical masks. It was a sharp contrast to other prisoner exchanges Iran has trumpeted in the past, in which television anchors repeatedly said their names and broadcasters aired images of them reuniting with their families.In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday he was “thrilled and relieved” that Moore-Gilbert had been released but added that it would take time for her to process her “horrible” ordeal.“The tone of her voice was very uplifting, particularly given what she has been through,” Morrison told Australia’s Network Nine.Despite her ordeal, Moore-Gilbert said in a statement that she had “nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people.”Asked about the swap, Morrison said he “wouldn’t go into those details, confirm them one way or the other.” However, he said he could assure Australians there had been nothing done to prejudice their safety and no prisoners were released in Australia.The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11 p.m. EST on Nov. 26, 2020:There are 353,100 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 136,894 confirmed (including 6,947 deaths, 118,491 resolved) _ Ontario: 109,361 confirmed (including 3,575 deaths, 92,915 resolved) _ Alberta: 51,878 confirmed (including 510 deaths, 37,316 resolved) _ British Columbia: 29,973 confirmed (including 384 deaths, 19,998 resolved) _ Manitoba: 15,288 confirmed (including 266 deaths, 6,177 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 7,362 confirmed (including 40 deaths, 4,176 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,257 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,078 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 465 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 353 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 327 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 295 resolved) _ Nunavut: 155 confirmed (including 5 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 70 confirmed (including 68 resolved) _ Yukon: 42 confirmed (including 1 death, 29 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 353,100 (0 presumptive, 353,100 confirmed including 11,799 deaths, 280,929 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.The Canadian Press
President Donald Trump said that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College formalizes President-Elect Joe Biden's victory - even as he insisted such a decision would be a “mistake.” (Nov. 27)
Hats for Hides, an Ontario program that encourages hunters to donate deer and moose hides to Indigenous craftspeople, appears to be on its last legs thanks to a combination of COVID-19 and shifting global economics.The initiative, which dates back to the early 1970s, was originally set up by the Ministry of Natural Resources to prevent hides from being wasted and get them into the hands of Indigenous craftspeople. In exchange, hunters would receive a bright orange hat and crest proclaiming a successful hunt.> It's going to mean that a lot of hunters are throwing their hides in the bush. \- Cheryle Brant-Maracle, former Hats for Hides depot operatorBut a combination of factors has rendered the Hats for Hides program virtually defunct. There are now just 11 depots accepting donated hides, down from 35 last year and 50 not long ago. The remaining depots are spread unevenly across the province, making it inconvenient for many hunters to drop off hides.The private company that administers the program, BRT Provisioners of Peterborough, Ont., warned hunters that Hats for Hides would be extremely limited in 2020."Unfortunately, COVID has affected all markets and deer hides are no exception," the company said in a letter to hunters.Now, instead of receiving a free hat, hunters who donate a deer hide may purchase a crest. A moose hide will earn you a free crest. "The only reason we're doing crests is that they were all pre-ordered before COVID hit," said Barb Thompson, the Hats for Hides program coordinator at BRT Provisioners."It's just a trophy, but for the avid hunter it's very important," said Cheryle Brant-Maracle, a former depot operator in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. "It's going to mean that a lot of hunters are throwing their hides in the bush.""It's what they hang above the fireplace on the wall," said Steve Lantz, a depot operator in Durham, Ont., who refused to charge hunters for the 2020 crests, instead paying for them out of pocket. "If we don't do that, we'd never get enough hides." According to BRT Provisioners, "deer hides have little to no value in this current COVID market," because the pandemic has sidelined the community gatherings where tanned leather is bought and sold. Virtually all powwows were cancelled in 2020 as organizers complied with public health directives."I travel from powwow to powwow selling leather and fur. I haven't been able to travel all year, and that's how I make my money," said Brant-Maracle.Rodney St. Denis, an Algonquin artisan and cultural practitioner from the Kibaowek First Nation, now living in North Bay, Ont., would also sell his crafts at local powwows. He makes miniature teepees, canoes and tikinagans (baby cradle boards) using leather as embellishments.But COVID-19 has closed that avenue off. "I didn't have the means to go out into public gatherings as I normally would," St. Denis said."With no powwows, we're sitting on leather and hide that we haven't moved since last year," said Greg Mance of White Tanning Co. in Rockwood, Ont. Ultimately, it's what caused depot operators such Brant-Maracle to reluctantly bow out. "I know a gentleman that has every single crest … for as long as they've been given out. So to not get a 2020 crest from me is a little disappointing for him," she said.Not just COVID-19But COVID-19 is only part of the picture, according to Steve Lantz, a depot operator in Durham, Ont. He blames cheap leather imports.Lantz said a tanner in Guelph told him they're able to source leather from China "cheaper than they can by a rawhide from an abattoir here.... This one you can't blame on COVID." Offshore competition pushed Barrett Hides Inc. of Barrie, Ont., out of business in 2019. It had been picking up hides across much of southern Ontario. When it went bust, Hats for Hides depot operators had to truck their own hides, driving more of them out of the business, according to Lantz.Ultimately, cheap leather may be the death knell for the Hats for Hides program. "You can't even get [a hide] for free, put salt on it … and get it to a tannery and come out with any money," said Thompson.In May 2019, on the heels of the Barrett Hides Inc. closure, the Ontario government stepped in to save Hats for Hides with a one-time injection of $100,000 for BRT Provisioners to help buy and distribute hats and crests.When contacted by CBC, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said in a statement it "has not received any request for support or funding for 2020," nor is it "aware of how COVID-19 has impacted the supply, collection and sale of hides.""I don't want their money. It comes with way too many strings attached," said Thompson. "They don't do it to help the program. They do it for political votes."
Black Friday sales on now have traditionally been the domain of big, national chains with beefed-up advertising budgets. But this year, there's a growing push to make sure that the annual bonanza of consumer spending goes as much as possible to the stores that need it most: small, local retailers.While overall sales have been recovering from spring lows when the pandemic began, retailers continue to be hit hard by COVID-19. And the threat of low sales lingers, particularly as a new round of lockdowns across much of the country have forced the closure of stores that sell anything deemed non-essential.Small mom and pop shops have always faced an uphill battle competing with the big boys who have the benefit of huge supply chains to squeeze suppliers, but initiatives across the country this year suggest the little guys are not going down without a fight.A new approachIbrahim "Obby" Khan is the co-founder of Goodlocal.ca, a Winnipeg-based web platform that he describes as being like "Amazon and Etsy meet local."As the owner of a half dozen Winnipeg restaurants, Khan knows just how hard things have been for local vendors lately. That's why he spearheaded a plan to bring together a handful businesses that were doing fine before COVID-19, but found themselves losing sales afterwards because they weren't able to pivot to online selling — or handle delivery, if they could get enough sales to make it worthwhileWATCH | Ibrahim "Obby" Khan describes how his startup, Goodlocal.ca, has grown quickly:Goodlocal has become a sort of middle man for those businesses, connecting retailers with consumers who want to shop from them even amid current COVID restrictions. It's searchable by product and growing by the day."If you want it and it's local, you can order it. We will take care of the packaging, getting it from the vendor and we will drop it off at your house," Khan said.While the initiative started slowly with a few dozen vendors, it now has wares from more than 200 — and a backlog of almost as many, looking to sign up. It's been such a success he hopes to expand across the province and maybe the country, next year.Khan said the site has grown from just 18 orders on its launch day, a few weeks ago, to hundreds everyday. On Wednesday, the site processed a record 705 orders.Goodlocal has put $91,000 worth of sales into retailers' pockets in a matter of weeks. Those are real dollars that could be the difference between staying open or shutting down forever for some of them, he said. "You could see tears in some of our vendors eyes ... they were saying: 'I've sold more in two weeks than I have sold in the last nine months since COVID started'."Best of all, he said, 95 per cent of customers end up buying something from more than one vendor, not just the one they sought out in the first place. And vendors say they are booking sales from new customers, not just their existing ones."It's really turning into this ecosystem of everything and anything local," he said.Melissa Zuker's story is similar. In 2014, she co-founded the Toronto Market Co., which works with local restaurants, retailers and artisans to create pop-up shops and markets to sell their wares to the public.Business was booming and then like everything else, COVID-19 brought things to a standstill in March of this year. As the concept of one-stop-shopping in a physical location became next to impossible to do, Zuker made the same digital pivot to try to recreate that market experience, online.Growing businessIn June, Torontomarketco.com was launched. A few dozen businesses signed up at first, but the response from customers was so encouraging that the site now works with almost 100.The site offers either delivery, for a small fee, or contactless pickup. The holiday buying season, which starts roughly on Black Friday and goes through to Christmas, is a huge time on the retail calendar, with many businesses making up to half of their annual sales in this period.Zuker's been pleased with the response from vendors and customers."Anything that we can do for anyone … that's been forced to close. I think it's really important to try to support them [because] your favourite bakery on the corner might not be there in the spring," she said."I think the concept to support local has always been there, but certainly in the last few weeks, the push to support local has been enormous." Markus Giesler, a consumer researcher and associate professor of marketing at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto, said COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way retailers sell and consumers buy.Under normal circumstances, most consumers are very price sensitive and want the best deal, he said."And if the best deal means going outside of their community, going to the shopping mall somewhere else, then that goes at the expense of shopping local," he said in an interview.But that rule of thumb isn't quite as iron clad this year, he said.Thinking local"We're a lot more willing to help local businesses and we're trying to do this in an effort to make a difference, you know, almost as a patriotic duty, if you will."Small retailers still face a major uphill battle in their constant fight against big box sellers who can push prices lower and online behemoths like Amazon, which will always have a leg up in terms of speed and convenience. But initiatives like the ones in Toronto and Winnipeg can be a major weapon in that battle, he said."If more and more businesses come together, share logistics, share distribution, make the process easier to manage, make it more scalable, then you have a win-win situation where consumers and businesses work on the same end."While seemingly overmatched against giants like Walmart, Amazon and others, Khan, a former CFL football player with Ottawa, Winnipeg and Calgary, has first-hand experience of how a focused team of underdogs can rally together to beat a heavy favourite."We have a fleet of drivers a lot of them volunteering their time to come in tomorrow and help us deliver," he said, pointing to a stack of more than 700 orders."It's rocking and rolling … we just really want to keep this thing going and support local businesses and keep people safe at home."
An average 400 Grade 7-12 students in the North End have been reported “inactive” during the school year for the last decade. Despite being registered in the Winnipeg School Division, they are not actively participating at their home school and their families have not reported a move. The WSD data (from 2009 to 2019) obtained by the Community Education Development Association indicates hundreds of students stop attending class at some point after Sept. 30, the annual head-count day in Manitoba, in any given year. “We know the COVID pandemic has created even more stress on North End students and that more students are disengaging from school, so this is a challenge that’s just going to get further exacerbated,” said Tom Simms, co-director of CEDA. Keeping students “active” in the public education system is the motivation behind a new collaborative project between CEDA, Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. Together, the partners have founded Indigenous Education Caring Society — a non-profit charitable organization that will offer students a culturally sensitive alternative to standard middle and high schools in the division. The organizations have secured a $500,000 capital grant from the Winnipeg Foundation, as well as support from the Thomas Sill Foundation, to launch off-campus learning environments with built-in access to community support services for students in the North End. Students will be able to access both academic lessons and resources to find stable housing, as well as leadership opportunities in the community. Kayla Stubbs, interim executive director at Ndinawe, said her hope for the project is that it will provide Indigenous youth with “equal access to education, teachers and programs that will help them thrive.” “Community-based programming provides a unique opportunity to utilize Indigenous lenses in developing effective tools for community youth to succeed,” Stubbs wrote in a statement to the Free Press Thursday. After surveying the North End for facilities and learning many buildings are in disrepair, Simms said the most cost-effective option is to build two campuses — with the hopes of expanding in the future — from the ground up. Vacant lots on Selkirk Avenue and Arlington, Salter and McGregor streets are being eyed as possible sites. In the meantime, the IECS is trying to secure an agreement to have the division rent classroom space and staff it with program teachers, who will be employed by WSD. The funding the division collects annually for students who become inactive should be redirected, Simms said, adding, “the basis of the proposal is to have the funding for the student follow the student.” The official definition of an inactive student is a pupil in Grade 7-12 who has left WSD between Oct. 1 and May 31 inclusive, and for whom there is no record of re-entry in any area school in the current year. The purpose of collecting the counts is to provide a baseline of withdrawals, but the division cautions the numbers should not be viewed as exact records because they do not account for students who have registered in other divisions. Directors in charge of the WSD programs were not available for comment Thursday. In a statement, division spokeswoman Radean Carter said WSD administrators look for “all sorts of ways” to encourage students to return to their learning and re-engage them in school. “Our partnerships with CEDA and off-campus programs have been among the successful ways that this has been achieved,” Carter said. The division currently has 13 off-campus programs. Among them, the North District Off-Campus Program, administered through Isaac Newton School, which serves Grades 7-9 students who are disengaged from traditional schooling. Simms praised the division for its openness to the project, as well as the fact it collects data on inactive students. Schools alone can’t fix inactivity, he said, “there needs to be partnerships.” The IECS programs are expected to launch sometime in the 2021-22 academic year.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's political slogan is "medemer" - or "coming together". Now Ethiopian unity faces its severest test yet: since Nov. 4, the military has been battling a group that once dominated the national government - the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in the northern Tigray region. The TPLF frames the conflict as a battle for the rights of Ethiopia's 10 regions against a premier bent on centralising power.
People seeking to trade urban living for an idyllic cottage on the lake are getting sticker shock as properties get snapped up within days of going up for sale — sometimes at 70 per cent above the asking price. "It's pretty crazy," said Chris Brent, who has been trying to buy a property southwest of Arnprior, Ont.He said he's been clicking on property listing sites "hourly, it seems like." Last week, Brent said he got an appointment to see a property two days after it went up for sale, only to find out it was sold before he could get there.> You just gotta be ready to go in and throw money it seems.> > \- Chris Brent, prospective buyer"The agent called me at seven o'clock [at night] the day after it was posted and told me it had sold for $100,000 over asking," said Brent.The property was listed at $369,000. Bidding wars are leading to final sales of 50 per cent or higher than the original asking price, according to Ottawa real estate agent Patrick Kelly.Last weekend, Kelly sold a three-season lakeside cottage near Perth, Ont., for about 70 per cent above asking. It was listed at $349,000, and sold for "an astounding $592,000," after 41 visits and nine offers, he said."Never have I seen that before," said Kelly, an agent with Sutton Group in Ottawa.Buyers taking risksKelly said buyers are competing against others willing to pay over asking price, and making offers without conditions that normally protect them, forgoing home and septic inspections.> People have really thrown caution to the wind which I haven't seen in my career thus far. \- Patrick Kelly, Agent at Sutton Group"People have really thrown caution to the wind which I haven't seen in my career thus far, until 2020," said Kelly.Waterfront property can include restrictions, for instance, that make the cost of replacing a septic system cost prohibitive, he warns. Title issues may not be settled, and legacy properties can sometimes include some surprises. "There can be some real scary 'grandpa-built-this-cottage' structural issues," said Kelly.He advises people do their homework as much as possible — from making sure the property isn't in a flood zone to understanding how far the nearest grocery store is.WATCH | Agent says demand shot up and properties selling far above asking price:Will values stick? Prices in cottage country across Ontario have seen a 20 to 25 per cent jump on year-over-year average prices in October, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)."Cottage country is just going ballistic," said Shaun Cathcart, the senior economist for CREA. "People maybe thinking, 'well, if I don't have to commute anymore, I can go live lakefront and work on satellite internet,'" said Cathcart. "Whatever it is, it's really, really taken off."WATCH | Economist says many people spending more time at home, leading to huge demand for real estate:While Kelly says it's not completely clear whether the homes that go for over asking price will retain their value, Cathcart is more optimistic.Cathcart said the ability to work remotely is likely going to stick around for a while, and the new circumstances mean recreational properties have been undervalued.In the meantime for buyers like Chris Brent, just getting in to see a property remains a challenge. "We went to another house that was booked for two days solid before they even accepted bids," said Brent. "So if you're against that competition, man, you just gotta be ready to go in and throw money it seems."
Aaliyah Edwards wears her mindset on her hair.The Canadian freshman on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team has rocked purple and gold braids since Grade 8.It's a constant reminder of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's 'Mamba Mentality.'"My brother and I, we're very big fans of his and just love the Lakers team also. So growing up, I would watch so many videos of him trying to do the same moves as him, do the fadeaway jump shot, biting my jersey, all that stuff," Edwards said.Edwards, 19, is a forward entering her first year at UConn. The Kingston, Ont., native was recruited by famed head coach Geno Auriemma out of Crestwood Preparatory College and arrived in Storrs, Conn., in late July.Edwards' collegiate career, already delayed due to the pandemic, was postponed another two weeks Tuesday after a member of the UConn program tested positive for coronavirus. The earliest the Huskies can now play, if medically cleared, is Dec. 15 against Butler.But if Edwards is anything like Kobe, she'll stay ready for whenever the moment is that she can make her debut."I just love his Mamba Mentality because there's so much focus on the game and grinding in the gym. But what's most important, I've learned over the years, is the significance of your mental competitiveness, because you can get so distracted and it will turn your whole game off for the next three quarters. It's that capability of saying, 'Oh, I missed the layup.' But that bounce back to next-play mentality is really what's important," Edwards said."I just love watching videos of [Bryant] just speaking and sharing his knowledge and everything. So it really just came from my brother, his love, and he gave it to me and now rocking the braids."Not only does Edwards credit brothers Jermaine and Jahmal for introducing her to Bryant, but she says they paved the way for her basketball career altogether. They were the first to put a ball in her hands and have her dribble around the house."The first time I did competitive basketball was in Grade 6 when my brother [Jermaine] and my mom were my coaches. And you can just imagine how stressful that is, having someone you call mom push that from coach to mom and [for] my brother to coach and kind of that frustration that you can get with the game."Still, Edwards credits that extra push for making her the high-motor, highly competitive player she is today.In Grade 6, Edwards would have been roughly 12. Three years later, she made her Canadian national team debut at the 2017 FIBA U16 Americas tournament. Edwards says that was the stepping stone she needed to pursue the sport full-time.She played that tournament just four months after Jermaine died at 27 years old. His cause of death was not made public."Jermaine and Aaliyah were very close and I think always will be," mother Jackie Edwards told the Kingston Whig Standard just after that FIBA tournament.In terms of basketball style, that sentiment still holds true."Jermaine brought an intensity to the team that we have really missed," said Jermaine's college head coach, Barry Smith, just after his passing. "There was a reason that he averaged the number of minutes a game that he did. He was not a scorer, but made up for his lack of scoring by his own personal drive and by pushing his teammates."Canadian women's national team head coach Lisa Thomaidis had similar praise for Aaliyah."I think the biggest thing with her is she competes, you know, she really competes hard. She's got a great motor."Auriemma said those traits remind him of UConn great and 2019 WNBA rookie of the year and all-star Napheesa Collier."She plays hard like 'Pheesa does, she has a lot of energy like 'Pheesa did. She has a motor like 'Pheesa had. She goes, at both ends, offensively and defensively, rebounding the ball, getting to the basket," he told the Hartford Courant.Edwards is part of a group of six freshmen at UConn, a young team for the storied program. That should give her plenty of playing time to shine, and perhaps make an even greater push toward the Canadian Olympic roster in 2021.Thomaidis says she's looking for Edwards to continue developing overall consistency, specifically on the defensive end, in her first season with the Huskies."The sky's the limit for her. She's certainly going to have a long career with senior national team as long as she continues to grow and improve and has a love for the game and competes hard. There's so much that I think she can accomplish with us," Thomaidis said.WATCH | Is this the golden era for Canadian basketball?:Already, the coach envisions Edwards playing a versatile role. At 6-foot-3, she has the skillset to become the positionless player that's become en vogue in recent years — someone who can play inside out on offence and guard virtually every position on defence.On the court, rebounding, ball handling and shooting range are traits Thomaidis and Auriemma agreed are strengths of Edwards.Off the court, it's that professional mindset."My dream has always been to be a part of the Olympic team. ... But in terms of just my college career, I'm just looking to develop my game both physically and mentally, so that when I leave college, I'll be at that level where I can either go pro in the WNBA or overseas or both," Edwards said.It was 2015 when a 19-year-old Kia Nurse, Edwards' Canadian UConn predecessor, led Canada to its first Pan Am gold medal in women's basketball and emerged as the country's next hoops star.Edwards, who will turn 20 just weeks before the Tokyo Olympics, is looking to follow in Nurse's footsteps.
In September, scientists announced they had found a chemical signature in the clouds of Venus that they said could be associated with life. However, in a new follow-up, pre-print study, the authors announced that the level of the chemical is seven times lower than they had initially reported.In the original paper, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the researchers claimed they had found high traces of phosphine, a toxic chemical known as PH3. On Earth, phosphine is either produced by organisms that don't require oxygen to survive, or it can be created in laboratories.In a reanalysis of the data, which has not been peer-reviewed, the study's authors now say there may be less phosphine than initially reported, but that doesn't entirely rule out a phosphine detection. They also reported that they are detecting variations of phosphine over time. So does that mean there's no chance of life in the clouds of Venus?"No, not at all," said Jane Greaves, lead author of both studies and a professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, in an email. "The discovery of time-variation is particularly exciting, as other things change too over time (like how much water is seen in the clouds)." WATCH | Scientists discuss their original finding of phosphine in the clouds of VenusVenus, roughly the same size as Earth, is often called our sister planet. It's believed to have had oceans billions of years ago. But today, it's considered inhospitable to life. The cloud-covered planet is the hottest in the solar system with temperatures hot enough to melt lead and a crushing carbon dioxide environment. Over the past few decades, some astronomers hypothesized that life could exist in a narrow region of the clouds, between 48 and 60 kilometres above the surface. That's where the phosphine was detected, which is why the study's findings were so exciting to some.However, there has been increasing skepticism about the September study. Several papers were published in response questioning not only the conclusions that the astronomers reached, but also the data itself.Questions aboundThe initial observations were taken by the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii in 2017 and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile in 2019. The high concentrations of phosphine detected with these telescopes, the researchers said, could not be accounted for by natural sources such as volcanoes, lightning or meteors burning up in Venus's atmosphere. The only thing left on the table, they said, was biological production. The study's authors knew there was "noise" in the data obtained from ALMA, perhaps from Earth's own atmosphere, but said they had ruled it out.A follow-up look at the telescopes at ALMA revealed some calibration errors that did explain some of the noise, which led other astronomers to further question the findings. One independent study suggested that instead of phosphine, the observations might have been detecting sulphur dioxide (SO2), a gas that is abundant in the planet's atmosphere.Another study, led by Therese Encrenaz, an astronomer at l'Observatoire Paris-Site de Meudon, looked at infrared data collected in 2015, where no phosphine was detected. The authors conclude that if phosphine does exist at all, it would be found in the upper atmosphere of Venus — above both where it was detected and that narrow region where life has been hypothesized.Even with the reanalysis by Greaves, Encrenaz doesn't believe the phosphine is produced biologically."Even if phosphine was present, they had no proof at all that there is life behind it, because they have no scenario to explain how microorganisms could form," Encrenaz said. "It's just an idea because they don't know how to explain it with regular processes.… I was a bit disappointed when I read their paper, because they should not have said so."Interactive | Click, drag and zoom to see Venus in 3DHowever, in another paper published in September on the pre-print server arXiv, researchers reanalyzing data collected by the Pioneer-Venus probe from the 1970s found the "data support[s] the presence of phosphine; although, the origins of phosphine remain unknown."David Grinspoon, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, said he welcomes the follow-up studies. Grinspoon was not involved in any of the studies but has been vocal in his support for the potential of life in the clouds of Venus."Whenever a new result is reported, especially one with potentially great significance, made with a difficult technique, it must be scrutinized and followed up with further observations and analysis," he said. "This is how science works."But he doesn't rule out the possibility that life could still exist in the clouds of Venus."If the phosphine goes away it certainly doesn't change my view of the possibility of life there, or really rule anything out. Why would the lack of an unlikely biosignature in an environment where it was never expected or predicted rule out life in a place? The logic does not make sense," Grinspoon said. "What we know about the clouds of Venus suggests that it is a possible habitat that should be explored further."So the jury is still out on whether or not the phosphine detection could be an indication of life, but astronomers hope that future observations — or a mission to the planet itself — could provide a better answer."We need new missions to Venus to directly probe the atmosphere with modern instruments," Grinspoon said. "No 21st century mission has ever directly studied the atmosphere of Venus."
B.C.'s police watchdog is investigating after a man went into medical distress and died during a confrontation with Vancouver police on Thursday night.Vancouver police say they were called to the Tim Hortons at Terminal Avenue and Station Street just after 6 p.m. because of a man who had been inside the bathroom for half an hour.At the time, staff at the coffee shop were trying to shut down the dining area and wanted the man removed, according to an email from VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin."When he came out of the restroom, he was agitated and aggressive which resulted in a physical altercation," Visintin wrote.Police say the man went into medical distress during that confrontation, and though paramedics were called, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.The Independent Investigations Office, which investigates incidents involving police that lead to serious harm or death, has been called in.
Donald Trump is reputed not to read much, and he certainly won't want to read about the trial of Nicolas Sarkozy, the former right-wing French president.Sarkozy's troubles after leaving office in 2012 hint at a blueprint for the outgoing U.S. president's legal future. Sarkozy is charged with corruption and influence-peddling after he left office. Like American presidents, French presidents have immunity while serving, in Sarkozy's case from 2007 to 2012.The accusation is that in 2013 he promised a position in Monaco to a French judge in return for top-secret information about one of several legal investigations into his affairs before and after he became president.Sarkozy denies it, and points out the judge never got a position in Monaco. He told an all-news station, BFMTV, in early November: "I'm not a hoodlum. I'm not rotten."Striking parallels The parallels between Sarkozy and Trump are striking, and one of them is that their electorates found their in-their-face presidential styles tiring. They were both retired after one term.In 2012, the French opted for a "normal" president. That was the term incoming president François Hollande used to describe himself. But the French quickly tired of "normality" and retired Hollande as well, after just one term.Instead, once again they opted for an activist, interventionist leader: Emmanuel Macron. Like Sarkozy, he likes fights and likes to pick them, even with foreign leaders and the foreign press. More on him later.Like Trump, Sarkozy has always loved the limelight. The French media call him a bête de scène, a political beast who craves public attention, whether good or bad. Like Trump, he was twice divorced and then remarried to a model, Carla Bruni, in his case while he was in office as president.'Allegiance or vengeance'In office, he was dubbed le président tous azimuts – the "all-out president", who dabbled in almost every policy.He appointed loyalists to most top posts, and several got into trouble for ignoring the boundaries of the law. Like Trump, he demands loyalty. As one French éditorialiste wrote in Le Monde, with Sarkozy it was either "allegiance or vengeance."And now, as an ex-president, Sarkozy finds himself waist-deep in not one, but three, legal swamps.The first swamp began in earnest on Thursday. It is the first time an ex-president has been in court facing a serious charge of influence peddling and corruption. If found guilty, he and his co-defendants face prison terms of up to 10 years.Phone taps and fake namesAnd another first: Sarkozy is the first French ex-head of state to have his phones tapped. Trump, who falsely accused the Obama administration of tapping his campaign's phones, might be sympathetic.The charge relates to moves by Sarkozy and his lawyer to persuade Gilbert Azibert, a judge on France's highest court of appeal, to give them a secret file relating to another police investigation into Sarkozy's dealings. In return, it's alleged that Sarkozy promised to use his influence to arrange a plum job for the judge in Monaco.The case became spicier when investigating magistrates discovered that Sarkozy and his lawyer and co-defendant, Thierry Herzog, realized they were being investigated. They took evasive action, hiding their discussions by using new phones and fake names. Sarkozy became "Paul Bismuth."That's when the order was given to tap their conversations.France's National Financial Prosecutor's office in 2017 described the defendants' efforts as "a pact of corruption". "Their methods were those of experienced offenders," it said.Harsh language, but equally harsh has been Sarkozy's response. In an interview with BFMTV in November, he talked of "Stasi methods," referring to the dreaded secret police in communist East Germany, and "a scandal that will sit long in the annals".Only the first of his trialsUnfortunately for Sarkozy, this is only the first of his trials. In the spring of 2021, he and several colleagues will go on trial for the so-called Bygmalion affair. The charge is that his re-election campaign in 2012 used the Bygmalion public relations firm to launder receipts, thus filling the campaign coffers with millions more than campaign finance laws allowed.The third possible trial involves tens of millions of dollars from, of all people, Moammar Gadhafi, the then-Libyan leader — money carried to France in suitcases to finance Sarkozy's winning presidential campaign in 2007.Half a dozen of Sarkozy's circle have found themselves in serious legal trouble, and at least three have been convicted of crimes. But the ex-French president has been careful to leave few written traces, preferring fake names and new phones.And, like Trump, he has used every legal avenue to drag out the process, all the while denouncing the legal establishment of France in virulent language.Trump is a businessman, and far richer than Sarkozy, a lawyer and a politician almost all his adult life. But like Sarkozy, Trump already faces investigations on several fronts, which he has dragged out by appealing against every adverse judgment.Enter MacronSarkozy's belligerence in office exhausted the French, but five years later they chose a new Lone Ranger of politics, who formed his own party and promised to rip up the old ways of doing things. There is not a hint of corruption about Emmanuel Macron, but his willingness to start fights, at home and abroad, is familiar. In the midst of the enormous COVID crisis, he lit a match that started a fire in the Muslim world. His speeches in October attacking "Islamist separatism", saying Islam is "in crisis", and defending France's right to protect caricaturists, including those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, drew the fury of Turkey's president and of the Pakistani government.Turkey's Erdogan said, "Macron needs mental treatment." France promptly recalled its ambassador to Turkey. Then Macron accused Erdogan of having "imperial inclinations", a reference to Turkey's aggressive military presence in the Mediterranean and in supporting Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia.The Pakistani minister for human rights accused France of treating French Muslims like Hitler treated the Jews before the Second World War. The French government exploded. "These despicable words are blatant lies, loaded with an ideology of hatred and violence," a foreign ministry spokesperson said.Along the way, Macron has taken on French unions, stripping them of some rights and advantages, and French journalists. To the media's fury, his government recently introduced a law making it a crime to publish images of police officers "for malicious purposes". Journalists and others demonstrated in their thousands. The law passed.Attack is the best defence; it is a line that Macron hews to with enthusiasm. This was the approach that worked brilliantly for Sarkozy and for Trump – until it didn't.
Germany will extend its restrictions until early January, Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday evening.View on euronews