Raptors Over Everything host William Lou breaks down Toronto's come-from-behind win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.
Raptors Over Everything host William Lou breaks down Toronto's come-from-behind win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
On sait que la relâche ne sera pas tout à fait comme les autres. C’est pourquoi l’administration contrecœuroise a entrepris de mettre sur pied une série d’activités destinées aux jeunes de la région. Question de garder leurs pieds, les mains et leurs méninges bien actifs durant cette semaine de pause annonciatrice du printemps. Programmées entre le 1er mars et le 5 avril prochains, ces activités sont regroupées sous quatre rubriques sur le site de la Ville: Les détectives, Le spa à la maison, Les amateurs de nature ainsi que Les Indécis. Le coût d’inscription est de 5 $ pour les résidents de Contrecœur. Chaque catégorie comprend des idées en lien avec la thématique proposée, que ce soit du bricolage, du sport, une expérience scientifique ou un atelier culinaire. Afin de concevoir les activités, les initiateurs du projet ont par ailleurs fait appel à divers partenaires incluant le Zoo de Granby. Les jeunes auront en effet l’occasion d’en apprendre davantage sur le bien-être animal en général et sur nos amis félins en particulier. Ils auront aussi la chance de participer à des activités virtuelles sur la glu galactique et la magie du papier avec Technoscience. Ou encore dépenser de l’énergie lors d’un entraînement familial avec l’entreprise locale KinéCible. Les fans d’humour auront également de quoi s’occuper durant la relâche. Ces derniers pourront en effet assister au spectacle virtuel de Vincent Fecteau. Le programme comprend par ailleurs des jeux-questionnaires sur des séries télé populaires organisées par La Dame de Cœur – Pub Ludique. Des ateliers de breakdance ou de dessin sont aussi offerts par les productions Katomix. Pour participer aux différentes activités proposées, les Contrecœurois doivent s’inscrire d’ici au 24 février sur le site de la Ville. Les places sont disponibles en quantité limitée. Durant la relâche, d’autres activités sont proposées aux familles ailleurs dans la MRC. Les jeunes et leurs parents peuvent notamment emprunter des patins, skis de fond, tubes à glisser et raquettes de 10 h à 17 h au parc Le Rocher à Saint-Amable. Le tout, afin de prendre l’air et se dégourdir les pattes le temps d’un agréable après-midi à l’extérieur. À Verchères, trois ateliers interactifs sont proposés aux jeunes de la municipalité. Le 2 mars, les enfants peuvent ainsi assister à l’atelier de magie de Magislain dès 9 h. Le lendemain à 10 h, à celui de dessin offert par Sheltoon. Le 4 mars à 9 h, les curieux peuvent pour leur part participer à l’atelier de Science en folie. Des activités sont également proposées sur le site de la Ville de Sainte-Julie, dont certaines dans le cadre des Julievernales. Les résidents de tous âges pourront donc profiter des patinoires, sentiers et jeux d’évasion s’ils ont envie de bouger. Ou encore bouquiner à la bibliothèque dont les heures d’ouverture sont disponibles sur le site de la Ville. Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
(CBC - image credit) While there's still no timeline for when in-class education will resume, following an outbreak of a coronavirus variant that put Newfoundland and Labrador in Alert Level 5 lockdown, the provincial teachers' union is hoping to get more information that will lead to stricter safety protocols in schools. Dean Ingram, head of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, said Wednesday he'd received no "specific information," but has heard that around a dozen teachers, in addition to over 100 students, were infected with the B117 variant at Mount Pearl Senior High. Eastern Health did confirm that 145 students and/or staff at Mount Pearl Senior High have been infected with COVID-19. That accounts for the largest portion of the approximately 185 students and/or staff associated infected at 22 schools around the Eastern Health region, including five high schools, four junior high schools, and 13 elementary schools in the St. John's metro area. Eastern Health initially said specific information on the other schools involved wouldn't be released, citing privacy concerns. In an about-turn, however, the health authority disclosed the names of the schools Wednesday evening. It did not say how many positive cases were connected to each school. "It is important to note that numbers do not distinguish between whether a case attended school or not during his/her period of communicability," the statement said. Ingram said the NLTA wants to know more. "I want to stress that we're not seeking information just for the sake of information; respect for privacy has to be sacrosanct," Ingram said. "That being said, though, we do know that the residents of this province were informed last spring of how many cases were connected to the Caul's cluster, and I don't see how the extent of the current outbreak is any less important." That information is something he hopes will be provided by public health officials or the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District before any decisions are made about resuming in-person classes. I'm not sold on full disclosure, I'm not sure that's gonna prove anything or help anybody. - Don Coombs The NLESD said it is up to Eastern Health to make any such announcements, and when the health authority did name the 22 schools, it caught the district off guard. "It was a little surprising to us, because it has been a departure from normal practice," said Tony Stack, the district CEO, on Thursday morning. Ingram said the NLTA has long been concerned about whether guidelines around mask-wearing and physical distancing in schools go far enough. "We do believe that there's an opportunity to learn from the experience and reconsider what public health precautions for our schools should look like, but this does require full disclosure of how all our schools have been affected, including what's known about the interactions at school, but also various school-sponsored activities as a source of transmission," Ingram said. "What concerns me right now, and what's concerned the association since last July, is that our teachers, our students, their families, are subject to significantly lesser public health protocols and precautions in schools than you'll find in any other public place in this province." Ingram said the outbreak could serve as an example of what can happen if safety precautions aren't strict enough, or aren't followed. "I think the most important thing is to take what we've seen and move forward. Take what we've seen to date as to what can happen in our schools if an outbreak occurs and build plans to strengthen and reinforce the necessary measures. We need to protect our schools; protecting our schools protects our communities," Ingram said. A drive-thru COVID-19 swabbing site was set up at the Summit Centre in Mount Pearl to get more testing done during the outbreak. "When we have a position where our students can safely return to our schools, part of that assurance of safety has to be enhancing public health measures within the schools to ensure that when students return, the likelihood of a repeat of what we've seen these last two weeks is as minimal as possible." That certainly seems to be on the mind of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, who said during Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing that the variant may change things. "I think right now what we're seeing, our initial investigation, at least, at Eastern Health, we're certainly seeing spread not just within the school but in social activities as well, through sporting events and through other social activities," Fitzgerald said. "This variant certainly does change the way we look at things, and we are looking at all of that right now as we look to how we move out of Level 5." 'I'm not sold on full disclosure' Don Coombs, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, said given the smaller number of infections at other schools, he's not sure releasing detailed information would be helpful. "I'm not really sold on that. I don't think it serves any purpose. The school in Mount Pearl was identified because of numbers, but … we don't want to target smaller schools in rural Newfoundland," Coombs said. "As long as we've got the protocols in place, from a federation point of view … I'm not sold on full disclosure. I'm not sure that's gonna prove anything or help anybody. I think that may be a stigma that will be in some smaller communities, and certainly we don't want that on our young students and adults. There's enough stress on the parents now and on the students with virtual learning, being at home, trying to adjust." Don Coombs is the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, which represents 254 schools in the province and as many as 60,000 parents and guardians of students at those schools. District CEO Stack agreed. "I'm not sure what it accomplishes, releasing the names of schools," Stack said, adding he is concerned about how students and staff will be affected by the announcement. When it comes to safety protocols in schools, Coombs said in the last year, measures in place have generally been effective. The outbreak is an obvious exception. "I think for the most parts it's proven to have worked. It's an unfortunate incident that's happened, that it's escalated, to involve students at a school," Coombs said. Coombs said it's best to defer to public health officials like Fitzgerald on when it will be safe to resume in-class learning, but he doesn't expect that to happen in the immediate future. "We want to take direction from Dr. Fitzgerald; she's the expert in this field … and from our point of view, as long as the federation of school councils is hearing from the parents that the want their kids back in a healthy, safe environment, that's what we want," Coombs said, adding he has "full confidence" in advice from Fitzgerald and the public health team. "Let's ensure we do things right. Let's not jump the gun." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Sheikha Latifa, one of the daughters of the ruler of Dubai, has written to British police asking them to reopen their investigation into the kidnap of her older sister from a street in Cambridge in 2000, the BBC reported on Thursday. In a handwritten letter seen by the British broadcaster and dated 2018, Latifa asked Cambridgeshire Police to refocus on the case of her sister Shamsa, now 39, who was captured aged 18 and has not been seen in public since. The Dubai government's media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 25 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as chief of the defence staff as he is investigated on unspecific allegations. Sajjan said in a release late Wednesday that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is doing the investigation. Sajjan said he takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and continues to take strong action on any allegation of misconduct that is brought forward "no matter the rank, no matter the position." Sajjan said as of Wednesday he has appointed Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre as acting chief of the defence staff. He said he will have no further comment at this time due to the ongoing investigation. Military investigators are probing allegations of sexual misconduct against McDonald's and Eyre's predecessor, Gen. Jonathan Vance. Global News has reported that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked, and that he made a sexual comment to a second, much younger soldier in 2012, before he was appointed chief of the defence staff. Vance has denied the allegations raised by Global and The Canadian Press has not verified them independently. --- Also this ... OTTAWA — A new poll suggests months of controversy has not dampened Canadians' strong support for expanding access to medical assistance in dying. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to the Ipsos web-based poll, commissioned by the advocacy group Dying with Dignity Canada, favoured removing the provision that allows assisted dying only for people whose natural deaths are "reasonably foreseeable." That provision was struck down as unconstitutional in a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling. The Trudeau government has introduced Bill C-7 to bring the law into compliance with that ruling. It would expand access to intolerably suffering people who are not nearing the natural end of their lives. Dying with Dignity, a charitable organization, is in favour of expanding access to the procedure. The bill has been strenuously opposed by disability rights groups who maintain removal of the near-death requirement devalues the lives of people with disabilities, some of whom they fear could be coerced — either directly or indirectly through societal attitudes and a lack of support services — into ending their lives prematurely. But the poll found equally strong support for removing the foreseeable death requirement — 68 per cent — among respondents who identified as having a chronic physical or mental disability that has a substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Just eight per cent with disabilities were strongly opposed, another 24 per cent were somewhat opposed. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... With its long-term facilities for immigrant children nearly full, the Biden administration is working to expedite the release of children to their relatives in the United States. U.S. Health and Human Services on Wednesday authorized operators of long-term facilities to pay for some of the children’s flights and transportation to the homes of their sponsors. Under HHS’ current guidelines, sponsors can be charged for those flights and required to pay before the government will release children. Those costs can sometimes exceed $1,000 per child. An internal memo sent Wednesday authorizes facility operators to use government funding for transportation fees if a sponsor can't afford the commercial airfare. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... Members of a group supporting Myanmar's military junta have attacked and injured people protesting against the army’s Feb. 1 seizure of power that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The chaos complicates an already intractable standoff between the military and a protest movement that has been staging daily large-scale demonstrations. At least several people were injured in the attack Thursday in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city. Fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are urging Myanmar's military to make some concessions to help ease tensions. Social media giant Facebook announced it was banning all accounts linked to the military following the army’s takeover, saying the ban was precipitated by events including “deadly violence.” Facebook already has banned several military-linked accounts since the coup, including army-controlled Myawaddy TV and state television broadcaster MRTV. The bans also apply to Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. --- On this day in 1998 ... Canadian author and humorist W.O. Mitchell died at age 83. --- In entertainment ... The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. --- ICYMI ... A Quebec dairy farmers group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. The Quebec Dairy Producers says it will follow the recommendations of Dairy Farmers of Canada's new working committee examining the use of palm oil supplements in cow feed, while insisting that the common practice doesn't raise health or safety concerns. The inquiry comes in response to consumers' concerns that butter has gotten harder, but some experts question whether spreadability is a widespread issue. Calgary food writer Julie Van Rosendaal posits that butter has become firmer as farmers have added palm fat supplements to livestock feed to keep up with pandemic-fuelled demand for baking ingredients. Alejandro Marangoni, a food science professor at University of Guelph, says while components of palm oil found in milk fat can affect the melting point of butter, there's no data to support "sensationalist" claims of a great hardening. David Christensen, a professor emeritus of animal and poultry science at University of Saskatchewan, says Canadian farmers have used palmitic acid products to increase milk fat production for about two decades. Christensen says if the consistency of butter has changed, it could be related to the palmitic acid content, or changes to the methods processors use to produce butter. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
(CBC - image credit) Crosbie Williams is no stranger to barn fires, having lost a family farm years ago, but seeing Woodland Dairy's building in the Goulds engulfed in flames Monday night has stayed with him in the days since. "When you see the home for the cows go up in smoke and the cattle as well — there's no other way to say it, except it's absolutely terrifying, in every aspect. And it changes somebody from that day on," Williams, who runs nearby Pondview Farms, said. The blaze ripped through the barn, killing scores of cows — Williams estimated about 60 to 90 total perished — with little left of the structure, which he called "a complete loss." Williams was on the scene, which he said was "chaos," as more than 20 firefighters and volunteers spent hours getting the fire under control. The aftermath has rocked its owner, Michael Dinn and his family, he said. "As you can imagine, they're all over the place right now, it's been an extremely difficult time," Williams told CBC Radio's On The Go Wednesday. Dinn was relatively new on the dairy scene, said Williams, with about six years of farming under his belt after starting in the field through the industry's new entrant program. "He was doing a phenomenal job," Williams said. Dinn had been working hard to develop his land, and Williams hopes that the fire, as devastating as it was, can be put in the past. "It's been said to me that he has plans to rebuild, and I hope he does. Michael Dinn's an extremely hard worker," Williams said. In the days since the blaze, online fundraisers and other supports have popped up, as friends and the agriculture community come together to help bridge any gaps Dinn may be facing. "That's our hope, and I will certainly support him in any way that we can, and you know, it's my hope that this continues for him," he said. Williams said memories of his own family's barn fire of 1968 came flooding back as he saw Monday's fire, and he knows of many other farmers who feel the same. "It brings everything back. Absolutely terrible," he said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit) N.W.T. MLAs seek a slew of mechanisms to improve addictions treatment in the territory including aftercare and permanent funding for harm reduction measures like managed alcohol. Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos said there are no adequate aftercare programs to support people in their recovery. She wants three facilities staffed with mental health workers built in the South Slave, central N.W.T. and the Beaufort Delta to provide those programs. "With the structure and routine suddenly gone, when they return home, people can easily slip back into their addictions," she said. Health and Social Services MInister Julie Green said there are no firm plans to construct those facilities, but a working group in her department is considering aftercare in the N.W.T and an addictions recovery survey that is currently being conducted will inform that work. Few culturally-relevant services Dehcho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge said he wants an alcohol and drug counsellor in his community who is not affiliated with the government. "(Alcohol) is also affecting many of our youth and young men," said Bonnetrouge, adding there a few culturally-relevant services in communities. "Most alcoholics need someone they can confide in, someone that they trust, someone that they know," he said. The health and social services department supports the Dene Wellness Warriors and the Rhodes Wellness College's Northern Indigenous Counselling program, whose first graduates come out next year, said Green. "We see a unique opportunity here to hire these N.W.T. residents who have the specialized counselling training and to bring them into our communities," said Green. The department of health recently reformed its community counselling program to allow same-day appointments without a wait list, and walk-in availability for 19 communities. MLA Ron Bonnetrouge encouraged the health minister to establish non-government positions for alcohol counselling in communities. Sustain managed alcohol programs beyond pandemic: Johnson During the pandemic, the territorial government established some managed alcohol programs that delivered alcohol to prevent withdrawal. Other programs, such as the one Spruce Bough, have some clients provided access to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis as determined by a physician. MLA Rylund Johnson said harm reduction measures should be continued beyond the pandemic and sustained through government long after the COVID-19 money dries up. "As these programs emerged, they were not fully funded or true managed alcohol programs," he said,. He added they require medical professionals and social workers for supervised consumption. Green said her department has a mandate to establish a managed alcohol program in the N.W.T. "We are currently exploring options to make that a reality," she said. Health Minister Julie Green said her department is collecting data from managed alcohol programs established during COVID-19. The health department is gathering data from programs in Yellowknife and Inuvik where managed alcohol was provided during the pandemic. The information should be analyzed by the spring, said Green. Spruce Bough is funded until September 2021, and Green says the department will work with the Yellowknife Women's Society to sustain the program once funding expires. Establish navigator supports to prevent evictions: Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler asked the health minister to work with Housing Minister Paulie Chinna and establish health and social service supports for people who risk eviction during recovery. "People struggle with housing stability and affordability especially during after care and post treatment," said Semmler. Green said local housing organizations should be made aware of community counselling programs and that previous pilot programs, like a navigator position in Behchokǫ̀, showed promise. Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler said health and housing departments need to bolster supports to prevent evictions against people in recovery. Funding issues On Tuesday, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty suggested the territory allocate specific funds to in-territory treatment options using the proceeds of roughly $57 million in annual liquor and cannabis sales. He said the territory profits off of alcoholism but doesn't help people struggling with addiction. In 2019, for example, the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission made $33 million. Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the money goes into the consolidated revenue fund, which is spent on all departments in the N.W.T., including health and social services, and housing. Green said the health department is reviewing its spending in the face of rising health care costs. The N.W.T. will try to contain costs internally but that plan will not be made public, said Green. Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty says the territory should allocate one or two per cent of its alcohol profits to in-territory treatment.
Bonhomme Carnaval has been a great success so far, says Centre Culturel La Ronde’s executive director Lisa Bertrand. The two-week carnival wraps up Saturday, Feb. 27, with a virtual Bill Bestiole show, a concert from the Lapointe family and the reveal of Bonhomme. Wednesday, the centre held a cooking workshop with Julie Lefebvre, who’s a member of La Ronde’s fundraising committee. During the live-streamed event, Lefebvre showed people how to make a green salad and Coquilles Saint-Jacques, a dish involving shrimps and scallops. When choosing what to cook, Lefebvre said she was looking to make something that would cater to everyone. For those who aren’t into seafood, Lefebvre advised using chicken instead. “It is a perfect winter meal on a snowy carnival day,” she said, adding Coquilles Saint-Jacques is her favourite dish to make. La Ronde’s technical director Luc Chalifoux was on hand, helping set up the equipment to live stream the event on Facebook and Zoom. The carnival has had a lot of great feedback, according to Bertrand. She said Bonhomme has been making visits to different schools in Timmins and Iroquois Falls. “The kids were so happy even though there were some kids Bonhomme said hi through the window. We went to schoolyards and we kept our social distancing,” Bertrand said. The virtual dance class with Melissa Kelly-Lavoie attracted around 600 to 800 students, Bertrand said. The window decorating contest has wrapped up and people can vote for the best-decorated window on La Ronde’s Facebook page until Friday at 5 p.m. The unveiling of Bonhomme’s identity will be announced Saturday. This year, three dance teachers were chosen as candidates. Voting for who is Bonhomme closes Saturday at 10 p.m. “We are pre-recording the reveal of the Bonhomme because we have three dancers, so we’re going to have a different way of revealing this year,” Bertrand said. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
The work depicts a rarely seen view of Paris in the nineteenth century. 'Scène de rue à Montmartre' shows how the busy suburb used to be a rural, tranquil place.View on euronews
Alphabet Inc's Google will change procedures before July for reviewing its scientists' work, according to a town hall recording heard by Reuters, part of an effort to quell internal tumult over the integrity of its artificial intelligence (AI) research. In remarks at a staff meeting last Friday, Google Research executives said they were working to regain trust after the company ousted two prominent women and rejected their work, according to an hour-long recording, the content of which was confirmed by two sources. Teams are already trialing a questionnaire that will assess projects for risk and help scientists navigate reviews, research unit Chief Operating Officer Maggie Johnson said in the meeting.
His work now is on the city streets and his tool is his mobile phone linked to Facebook Live - streaming the nationwide protests against the coup that toppled elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ended a decade of tentative democratic reforms. "Despite the difficulties, citizen journalists and media are posting in every possible way," Thar Lon Zaung Htet, 37, told Reuters. With established media under ever greater pressure, the story of Myanmar's anti-coup protests is being shaped for its people and the world by journalists and citizens streaming and sharing snippets of video and pictures.
BERLIN — A German man has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing information on properties used by the German parliament to Russian military intelligence, prosecutors said Thursday. The suspect, identified only as Jens F. in line with German privacy rules, worked for a company that had been repeatedly contracted to check portable electrical appliances by the Bundestag, or the lower house of parliament, federal prosecutors said in a statement. As a result of that, he had access to PDF files with floor plans of the properties involved. The Bundestag is based in the Reichstag building, a Berlin landmark, but also uses several other sites. Prosecutors said, at some point before early September 2017, the suspect “decided of his own accord” to give information on the properties to Russian intelligence. They said he sent the PDF files to an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin who was an officer with Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. They didn't specify how his activities came to light. The charges against the suspect, who is not in custody, were filed at a Berlin court on Feb. 12. The court will have to decide whether to go ahead with a trial. Relations between Germany and Russia have been buffeted by a growing list of issues in recent years. In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and part of the GRU agency over a cyberattack against the German parliament in 2015. In addition, a Russian man accused of killing a Georgian man in broad daylight in downtown Berlin on Moscow’s orders in 2019 is on trial in Berlin. And last year's poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was flown to Germany for treatment and then arrested immediately after he returned to Russia, has added another layer of tensions. The Associated Press
(Submitted by Helcim - image credit) Tech companies in Alberta are enjoying a bumper year in spite of the pandemic, but they say measures are needed from the province to stay competitive with other jurisdictions. Tech CEOs and conglomerates say retraining programs for workers, providing fiscal incentives to keep companies in Alberta and adjusting tax measures are major areas where the provincial government could make a huge difference for the industry. They're hoping to see some of those steps in Thursday's budget. "The government needs to re-establish investor incentives that promote interest in investing with Alberta-based tech companies. Alberta needs to be a competitive place to invest because, at the moment, other provinces are doing a better job to support their tech industries and investor interest," said Vince O'Gorman, the CEO of Vog App Developers. One of the biggest problems facing tech growth in Alberta is talent "brain drain" to other places, like the United States. O'Gorman says those tax and investor incentives would enable companies to attract and retain the skilled workers needed to expand the industry here. Helcim, a Calgary-based company, wants to see an emphasis on training — and retraining — Albertans to work in tech. "I hope to see the government continue to find new ways to support working with our post-secondary institutions on creating fast-track training for not just developers but data scientists, quality assurance specialists, financial analysts and more," said Nicolas Beique, CEO of the online payment company. His CFO echoed that priority. "We believe the Alberta government needs to create a clear financial path for more mature individuals to access retraining programs while supporting startups to hire more inexperienced talent. Investing in training junior talent brings a huge productive output to our tech industry in Alberta, but that output is delayed during the onboarding and training of new recruits," Marjorie Junio-Read said. Success needs a boost The tech sector has been an outlier during the pandemic, with many companies seeing growth in revenues and staffing. Calgary and Edmonton both broke records for venture capital investments in 2020. "Alberta is coming to play in the tech and innovation space," Minister Doug Schweitzer said shortly after being appointed to the jobs, economy and innovation file. The tech sector has been a personal focus of his in the months since. However, companies have warned policymakers that the success is precarious and won't be sustainable without the support of effective policy. The Council of Canadian Innovators has asked the province to consider four key pillars when developing tech sector measures for this budget: Securing access to capital, markets, talent and building a strong framework to retain promising companies in Alberta. "Any sort of investment or funding really needs to have metrics attached to it and really make sure that any investments are really getting value for the province," said Benjamin Bergen, the executive director of the council. "That's something that a lot of governments have struggled to do in the past, not just in Alberta, but nationally." The council has asked the government to use the budget to provide strategic funding to specific companies with proven concepts, along with investing in retraining and upskilling workers. Companies in Alberta have stated that incubator and accelerator programs, which have traditionally been used, often don't result in cash getting to smaller enterprises. While each expressed gratitude for the increased spotlight from the government on their industry, the companies said the dollars could be used more efficiently. Accidental damage to the private sector Sometimes the provincial government's efforts actually cause damage, according to the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories. The council says private labs in Alberta are losing $10 million a year in business to a provincial program called InnoTech — run as a subsidiary of the government's Alberta Innovates program. "They use their tax favoured position to undercut private sector businesses and basically provide testing that is cheaper than the private sector is right now. So it's basically a case of waste and duplication as well as unfair competition," said Tony Araujo, president of the council. The council is calling on the government to privatize InnoTech in this budget. Araujo says the 90 labs he represents in Alberta don't want tax cuts or investor incentives, they just want the government to stop competing against them for contracts. "The fact that InnoTech Alberta is there in the way is actually discouraging innovation from private sector companies." A 2018 Conference Board of Canada report ranked Alberta as 19 out of 26 in a jurisdictional comparison of innovation. The Opposition has proposed its own plan for tech growth ahead of the provincial budget, saying an NDP government would create a $200-million venture capital fund for Alberta tech companies. All of the companies and organizations are keeping a wary eye on talent and innovation slowly draining from Alberta into other provinces and the U.S. They say that will be the biggest consequence of not having adequate incentives and programs introduced soon.
BERLIN — Hundreds of German police officers conducted co-ordinated raids early Thursday in Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg in the investigation of an organization banned over allegations of Islamic extremism. Some 850 police, including SWAT teams, were involved in the raids of apartments linked to members of the organization known as Jama'atu Berlin, the state Interior Ministry said. The organization, whose name translates literally as the “Berlin Group," was banned by Berlin's state Interior Minister Andreas Geisel ahead of the raids on the grounds it was a “very radical” group that followed the Islamic State group's ideology. “The ban is another clear signal to all religious extremists,” Geisel said. “We will fight the roots of terror. We will tolerate no place where terror is preached and the so-called Islamic State is glorified.” Authorities said the organization espoused an anti-Semitic ideology and advocated “armed jihad and terrorist attacks on civilians.” The raids were meant to secure its assets and look for evidence, authorities said, and no arrests were announced. The organization consisted of two groups — one of women and one of men — who would meet regularly in private homes and parks, and spread their ideology over the internet and with flyers in public spaces, authorities said. The Associated Press
(John Robertson/CBC - image credit) Atlantic Canada's largest Mi'kmaw community is preparing to launch a moderate livelihood fishery that will focus first on lobster. Fish harvesters met this week in Eskasoni First Nation to discuss the development of a plan, with fishing to begin later this spring. "Our first concentration is going to be in the lobster industry, which is deemed to kick off probably in May," said fishing captain Jibby Paul. "From there on, we will continue on with appendices to be inserted into our moderate livelihood plan." Last fall, fishermen from Eskasoni joined members of the Potlotek First Nation in carrying out one of the province's first self-regulated Indigenous fisheries. Paul said Eskasoni's moderate livelihood fishery will be far-reaching. "We expect to be fishing all of Atlantic Canada because we are the biggest First Nations band here," he said. Council to develop long-term plan Fish harvesters in the community are expected to provide advice to Eskasoni's chief and council in developing its own fishery guidelines. Paul said two moderate livelihood co-ordinators will be appointed over the coming weeks to help guide the process. He said there is no time limit on when the plan will be completed. "Time-frame factors are not a concern to us," Paul said. "It's not an overnight issue — it's a long-term plan." Mi’kmaw harvesters from Potlotek First Nation took to the water on St. Peters Bay to launch a moderate livelihood fishery on Oct. 1, 2020. The community is expected to work in co-operation with the federal government to ensure that catch is landed responsibly. "We'll work among ourselves to develop this plan that we modify and restructure, so the government and Department of Fisheries and Oceans will be very satisfied with the plan that we have set forth," said Paul. "And this is all based on the conservation and science, so we work with that department." Due to gathering limits, Paul said fishers will be able to provide input into the plan's development without having to attend meetings. Still waiting for 'moderate livelihood' to be defined The Supreme Court of Canada's landmark 1999 decision in the Donald Marshall Jr. case affirmed a treaty right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. But after waiting more than two decades for "moderate livelihood" to be defined, the Mi'kmaq are moving ahead on their own. On Wednesday, Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton said his community is in the planning stages of developing its own livelihood lobster fishery, and will be seeking feedback from the community in the coming months. Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation says the community is making plans for its own self-regulated fishery. Sipekne'katik First Nation was the first to launch a moderate livelihood fishery on Nova Scotia's southwest coast in St. Marys Bay last September. That fishery faced tense and sometimes violent opposition by non-Indigenous fishermen, many of whom argued the fishery would hurt lobster stocks. Sipekne'katik First Nation and Potlotek First Nation have launched separate lawsuits against the Nova Scotia government over the right to sell seafood harvested through a moderate livelihood fishery. MORE TOP STORIES
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The advocate general for European Union's highest court on Thursday urged the court to rule that Hungary violated the bloc's laws on asylum when it passed legislation narrowing the possibilities for asylum-seekers to receive international protection. The non-binding opinion from the European Court of Justice's Advocate General, Athanasios Rantos, states that the 2018 amendments to Hungary's asylum laws — which prohibited asylum-seekers who passed through safe countries en route to Hungary from receiving international protection — violated EU law. “By introducing that ground for inadmissibility, Hungary has failed to fulfil its obligations under the Procedures Directive,” Rantos wrote, referring to the EU's asylum protocols. Opinions by advocates general are often but not always followed by the European Court of Justice, which will make a final ruling on the case at a later date. The European Commission, the bloc's executive branch, brought the case before the court as part of an infringement procedure it launched against Hungary in 2018 over its non-compliance with asylum law. Rantos also advised the court to rule that a Hungarian law that cracks down on organizations and individuals that provide legal assistance to asylum-seekers violates EU law. The legislation, known as the “Stop Soros” law, was an amendment to Hungary’s criminal code that threatened aid workers and human rights advocates working with asylum-seekers with up to a year in prison. It was approved by the Hungarian parliament in 2018. The law was named after Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a pro-democracy advocate who has long been a target of the Hungarian government. Hungary's right-wing government has been a staunch opponent of immigration, and its treatment of migrants have brought it into frequent conflict with the rest of the 27-nation EU. Last year, the country closed its transit zones — enclosed areas along the southern border with Serbia used to hold asylum-seekers while their asylum requests were being decided — after the European court ruled they amounted to detention and thus violated EU law. Last month, the EU’s border control agency, Frontex, suspended operations in Hungary after the government in Budapest did not comply with a December ruling by the European court that ordered Hungary to grant protection to asylum-seekers as required by law and to stop returning them to Serbia. The country's prime minister, Viktor Orban, claims he is seeking to protect Hungary's conservative Christian identity and to defend Europe from immigration from the Mideast and Africa. Justin Spike, The Associated Press
(Jennifer Harris/submitted - image credit) Lalia Halfkenny was the first Black New Brunswick woman to graduate from an institute of higher education at a time when few Black Canadians had access to any schooling at all. Halfkenny was the only Black graduate in her class at the Acadia Ladies Seminary in 1889. Theresa Halfkenny, who believes she is likely a descendant, said stories of accomplishments like Lalia Halfkenny's need to be kept alive. "When we first found out and heard about it, we were like, 'Oh my gosh'," she said. Like Lalia, Theresa is from Dorchester. She moved to Amherst, N.S. years ago, where she still lives. Theresa Halfkenny is a likely descendant of Lalia Halfkenny. She is on the board of the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, where she focuses on cultural events and stresses the importance of valuing and sharing history. Halfkenny is on the board of the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, where she focuses on cultural education. She helps to organize cultural events, and speaks in schools stressing the importance of valuing and sharing history. "There's so much here that is so rich," she said. "Those of us that are involved in trying to keep this alive, it's been a little bit difficult because sometimes it's hard to get the youth to come on board with it." But Halfkenny said there is a renewed interest in Black history since conversations around anti-black racism have become part of mainstream conversation. "It's so important that we do that for our youth, but then it's also important that we do that for others in the community." She said everyone is worse off when Black history is erased from the history books. Halfkenny said she wasn't aware of Lalia Halfkenny's achievements until about ten years ago. That's when her story was rediscovered by Jennifer Harris, professor of English at the University of Waterloo. She encountered Lalia Halfkenny's name when she was researching historic Black families in the Sackville area. Because it's such a distinctive name, Harris started tracing the family. Jennifer Harris, professor at Waterloo University, said it took two years of research to put together Lalia Halfkenny's life story. "I came across this reference to a Lalia Halfkenny in an educational context and I was surprised because I'd never heard of her," said Harris. Other prominent educated Black families like the Winslow sisters who were the first women to graduate from the University of New Brunswick and Edwin Howard Borden, the first Black Nova Scotian to graduate from Acadia University had been written about, but not Halfkenny. "I wanted to know more," said Harris. After two years of pouring over microfilm, writing to archives and ordering records, she'd put together a story that seems to have gone untold for decades. Lalia Halfkenny was born to an unwed mother in 1870 in the Sackville area. Soon after, the family moved to Dorchester to live with relatives. Despite Lalia's difficult beginnings, the Halfkenny family had a reputation as skillful stonemasons. "They traveled and built all kinds of fabulous buildings in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine," said Harris. Little access to education At the time, schools in New Brunswick were segregated, often denying Black children access to an education. According to Harris, in Dorchester, "it was a little bit easier for Black New Brunswick families to get into the school system for a whole host of reasons." In her research Harris found that Dorchester was better of financially than many communities and it's possible the Halfkenny's reputation as skilled labourers gained them access. Whatever the reason, Harris said under the circumstances, for Halfkenny to continue on to Acadia Ladies Seminary, "she must have excelled." Harris said family support played a major factor in Halfkenny's schooling. It's who you know "Lalia Halfkenny probably got to go to the Acadia Ladies Seminary because her great uncle Yates Hamilton was the janitor," said Harris. "He was the much beloved janitor who had a wonderful relationship with the president and he sponsored her." Having a member of her family at the school most likely gave her access to education other Black families would not have had. Harris said proof of Halfkenny's academic excellence was found in newspapers of the time, that talked about her giving talks in Halifax. She wanted to continue her education at the Boston School of Elocution, but didn't. "I suspect it was a funding issue," said Harris. Ushered into the kitchen Instead, Halfkenny looked for work. "What we know is that for Black women of a certain level of education in the 19th Century in New Brunswick, it wasn't easy," said Harris. Twenty-eight banners have been affixed to light posts along Fredericton's Queen Street to celebrate New Brunswick's Black history, including one featuring Mary Matilda Winslow. She refers to a quote from Mary Matilda (Tilly) Winslow, who graduated from UNB a few decades after Halfkenny. "Whenever she went to apply for a job, she was ushered into the kitchen," said Harris. "This is someone who'd been top in her class and she just kept being taken to the back." Like Winslow, Halfkenny went on to find success in the United States, working in Virginia as a teacher. Tragic end Halfkenny's life was cut short when she died at the age of 26, most likely of consumption. Harris said the trail blazer volunteered in a home for African American families who were living in poverty. "It seems quite likely she contracted something there and died relatively young." Her early death is another reason why Halfkenny's story may have faded for a time, but Harris says her death didn't go unnoticed. Records show that her students showed up at the train station and sang as her coffin was loaded aboard. "Which is heartbreaking," said Harris. Halfkenny's body was returned to Nova Scotia, "where there was a recognition of her life and her contributions." "She was very much a valued and beloved individual who made a difference in people's lives, even in such a short time frame," said Harris. Harris continues to study Black history in the Maritimes, but said there are others doing important work too. She notes Harvey Amani Whitfield at the University of Vermont and the founding director of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design's Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery, Charmaine Nelson. Theresa Halfkenny said she's glad the work is being done to rediscover, and preserve the region's rich Black history. She's doing her part as well on a small scale with her own children and community, by putting a together a history of her own life. "I notice there are pieces of history that even I never shared with them, and so now they're asking questions," said Halfkenny. "I do believe we all have a story to tell and we all have something to offer and we always have things that were done that did contribute to the communities that we live in."
(Jackie McKay/CBC - image credit) Nunavut's Health Minister Lorne Kusugak is defending his department's plan for vaccination clinics in the territory, and specifically in the capital, Iqaluit. In the legislature on Tuesday, Kusugak faced criticism for a "lack of communication" about the vaccine rollout from Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone. "My constituents have been telling me that they feel that the government of Nunavut's communication on the vaccination rollout plan has been lacking. I can't help but agree," Arreak Lightstone said in the Legislative Assembly. In Iqaluit, the vaccine was only available to members of priority groups and residents 60 and older, until recently. In the Legislature on Tuesday, Kusugak said that Iqaluit Public Health had already moved on to vaccinating residents 55 and older and was now ready to vaccinate residents age 45 and older. More than 1,100 Iqaluit residents already received their first dose, Kusugak said, adding that a city-wide vaccination clinic will happen later in March. Arreak Lightstone said it's the first he had heard about the change. "There has been no public announcement about the adjustments and there is no indication on the website," Arreak Lightstone said. "This is the first time that we have heard that there is somewhat of a phased-in approach for the vaccination of Iqalummiut, which I guess will be conducted in different age brackets." Vaccinations in Nunavut currently depend on how many doses arrive from the federal government, and when. The territory is announcing clinics as those doses arrive. In smaller communities, vaccination clinics have been scheduled for the entire population. But in larger centres, restrictions have been put in place, focusing first on elders and front line workers. Health minister throws shade at MLA over vaccine dispute Kusugak denied Arreak Lightstone's claim and applauded the long hours being worked by public health staff to vaccinate city residents. "The public does know, Mr. Speaker, and it is unfortunate that Mr. Lightstone didn't know, but the public seems to know. We are on top of it," Kusugak said. "It's amazing how we have vaccinated over 1,000 people in Iqaluit, and Mr. Lightstone didn't even know there was a vaccination happening." A few hours afterwards, a public service announcement was released by the department saying Iqaluit residents aged 45 and over can get vaccinated starting March 1. "At this time, Iqaluit Public Health asks that only Iqalummiut who are in the identified priority groups call to make an appointment," a spokesperson from the ministers office said in an email. Iqaluit Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone says it's unclear in Iqaluit who in is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Outside of the capital, anyone can call to sign up for a future vaccination clinic. "As mass immunization clinics for adults in all other communities in Nunavut started in early January and will continue throughout February and March, it is appropriate for individuals eligible to receive the vaccine to contact their local health centre to book an appointment," the department said. Upcoming dates for clinics in communities have also been announced. Before the announcement, Pond Inlet MLA David Qamaniq said dates for community clinics have been unclear. Clinics are currently scheduled until mid and late March, but Pond Inlet has yet to have a clinic scheduled. Qamaniq asked if second doses will have to wait until April or May for some communities that haven't seen vaccination clinics yet, even though the territory had hoped to vaccinate 75 per cent of the eligible population by the end of March. Kusugak said clinic dates can be weather- and charter-dependent, so communities might not know specific dates for their clinics until two or three days before they take place. "We will take another look at the rollout plan and see where we could tweak it to make some improvements," he said. Kusugak also reminded residents that the vaccine doesn't mean residents will be able to travel without isolating.
(Nancy Russell/CBC - image credit) About 75 Stratford, P.E.I., households took part in the town's free water audit program in 2020, the first year it was offered in the Island community. "Four or five years ago, Stratford introduced the water meters to set up a system for monitoring water use within the residential homes, so the watershed group partnered with the town in an effort to reduce water use within homes," said Emily VanIderstine, watershed co-ordinator. "The watershed group was seeing a lot of impact on our freshwater streams, especially in the Fullerton Creek conservation area, which is one of the town's major well fields." Checking for leaks VanIderstine said she starts the audit by teaching homeowners how to read their water meter, and how to check it for leaks. For the second part of the water audit, she goes around the home, to different bathrooms and in the kitchen, and measures the flow of each fixture, to measure how much water each faucet is actually using. She also asks the homeowners questions about their water use habits. VanIderstine says the water audits usually find a leak, about 95 per cent of the time. Finally, based on the questions and measurements, she said the home gets a rating out of 100 and recommendations on how to reduce their water use. "We've been finding quite a few leaks in most homes, especially older homes, I'd say probably 95 per cent of the time, " VanIderstine said. "I guess because people aren't normally looking for them, so you can go years without checking for leaks, especially in the older homes where maybe people have never looked." 'Shocked' at water bill VanIderstine said Stratford residents have a range of reasons for signing up for a water audit. "A lot of the times it is because of the high water bill where people are quite shocked at how much it's costing them. And then as we go into the homes, people are more interested in the conservation side of it as well," VanIderstine said. "We've had a few where it's been purely for the conservation side, but the majority of them are because of the cost of their bills." For the second part of the water audit, VanIderstine goes around the home, to different bathrooms and in the kitchen, and measures the flow of each fixture, to measure how much water each faucet is actually using. VanIderstine said some water leaks have led to hefty bills. "We've had people where their bill ended up being $1,000," VanIderstine said. "The first thing they usually do is they'll call the town and say, my water bill is extremely high. What happened? What can I do? The town usually directs them toward me." VanIderstine said if she can't find the source of the leak, the town can send a utility staff person to help. Useful advice Homeowners Wendy Wittenberg and Tim Rob had a water audit done at their home in February 2020, not long after they moved in. "Since we bought this house, and it was already a little bit old, we wanted to have as much checked as possible and look into ways to improve things," Rob said. "Partly it's indeed lowering the bill and also just wanting to use less water." Homeowners Wendy Wittenberg and Tim Rob had a water audit done at their home in February 2020, not long after they moved in. As a result of the audit, Rob said the family decided to replace two toilets that were old and had been using a lot of water. "We had leaks. I already fixed one before the water audit, in one toilet, and there was actually another leak in another toilet and I didn't know about that," Rob said. They also replaced their dishwasher and washing machine, based on the recommendations from the audit. "I would definitely recommend to have this done so you would know if you have a leakage, if you can save some money and water," said Wittenberg. The home gets a rating out of 100 and recommendations on how to reduce water use. VanIderstine said COVID definitely impacted the number of participants in the program, which launched in January 2020, with a goal of 200 households per year. The program was put on hold several times, and new COVID measures mean wearing masks and social distancing during the audits, and fewer home visits per day. "We also have to sanitize all of our equipment between each home so before we were doing four to five audits a day going from home to home, whereas now there's a bit of a break in between. "We're doing less audits a day just to reduce kind of interactions with the public to keep our contact tracing numbers a bit lower." Monitoring streams The audits pause during the summer, and the watershed crew heads out to monitor water levels, which is the second component of the program. "We've been keeping track of the number of audits we've been doing ... we're keeping track of the amount of water each home is using, the amount of leaks," VanIderstine said. "We're also measuring water volume in streams, and we're hoping that as the program goes on, we see those volume measures increase and the homeowners' use decrease." The audits pause during the summer, and the watershed crew heads out to monitor water levels, which is the second component of the program. VanIderstine said the program will continue for two more years, with funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the town. More from CBC P.E.I.
(Maria Jose Burgos/CBC - image credit) Yusuf Shire was at a work meeting in Fredericton when a newcomer from Burundi called. The man had just been held at gunpoint at his home on Gregg Court near the University of New Brunswick. The caller's voice trembled as he spoke to Shire in rapid sentences about what he and his roommates had just gone through. Without hanging up, Shire rushed a co-worker out the door and asked him for a drive to Gregg Court. The newcomer was no longer there, but Shire got permission from police to collect some of his belongings. "I remember thinking his life could have been taken," said the 32-year-old Shire, who is originally from Somalia. When Shire found him, the man was in shock and alone in a hotel room, where police had taken him. Like many New Brunswick newcomers from African countries, this man had known that Shire, the president of the New Brunswick African Association, would be the person to call for help. The Gregg Court incident that Shire was called to last fall is the subject of a criminal case now before the courts. Ubuntu Shire is used to getting phone calls late at night or in the middle of a work day that require him to drop what he's doing and, since he has no car, pay for a cab or ask a friend for a ride to where he's needed. And Shire does so willingly every time. When he left a Kenyan refugee camp for Canada in 2007, he carried a small bag of possessions and a big lesson. It came from his grandparents when he was growing up in the camp: helping others always comes first. Almost every day, Shire would see his grandparents bring orphaned kids to their shelter at the camp to eat. "Without knowing these people, they were helping them," said Shire. "They raised them as family." Yusuf Shire in the Fredericton airport welcoming newcomers. In Africa, he said, this philosophy of kindness is called ubuntu. "Ubuntu means 'I am, because we are.' That is our culture. It is our way of life." Shire has a full-time job as a settlement worker at the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, and volunteers nights and weekends with the New Brunswick African Association. Sometimes, the people who call him are victims of racist attacks who need him to be their interpreter with police or to follow up with reported incidents. Other times, they need Shire to translate documents to English from Swahili or Somali or accompany them to apartment viewings and school appointments. Every so often, the calls and emails come from a much greater distance, from Africans who want to know more about the quality of life in New Brunswick before they emigrate. "I can take the load," he said. "I do this for my community. That is ubuntu." WATCH | Yusuf Shire describes the work done by the NBAA for immigrants from African countries Finding funding The New Brunswick African Association was created in Fredericton in 1999. Its headquarters are a tiny office in the Fredericton Intercultural Center with red tile floors, a desk, an old couch and colourful posters about the group tucked in a corner. The African Association is made up of nine volunteers, who organize anti-racism programs, soccer games and community food distribution and who help immigrants from African countries find housing and jobs. Today, the association helps about 800 immigrants across the province. Shire works nights and weekends trying to help answer the needs of immigrants from African countries. Once a year, the group receives a grant from the government to pay for a two-day event called AfroFest, which is hosted in different New Brunswick cities each year. People throughout Canada come together during the event with dance, music, food and workshops on African culture. "But the grassroots community work, those are the things that we have no support for from the government yet," said Shire. The group holds community fundraisers to help pay for its work. "We put our time and sometimes our own money as we try to create programs and awareness regarding these issues, especially when it comes to racism and violent attacks in our community." The 2020 AfroFest was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and plans for this year are uncertain. But this year, Shire will apply for government funding and try to expand the work done by the association. He can see ways to put the money to use. For instance, he would like to set up a scholarship fund to help African youth going to college or university. Fatuma Ali, the group's vice-president, works closely with Shire. She is from Kenya and moved to Fredericton with her son and daughter in 2017. "For me, the dream is to employ people to have more programs for kids and teenagers." Ali is a full-time student at St. Thomas University, where she's studying sociology and gender studies. Every week, she drives Somali women in Fredericton, some of whom are single mothers, to their medical appointments and shopping and gives them lessons on personal hygiene. Based in Ottawa, the Burundi Drummers attended AfroFest in Moncton last year. Hands-on work According to Shire, Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton are the New Brunswick cities with the highest number of African immigrants, with the latter topping the list because many newcomers speak French. "Our community shares upcoming programs and events with each other and we used to have a lot of potlucks," said Shire of a time before COVID-19. The community, tight-knit as it is, also shares stories of racist attacks when they hear of one near them. And these stories are always shared with Shire. Owan Ahuka and his family have had support from Shire for eight years. In the last year, Shire has met some people from African countries who have been victims of attacks in Fredericton. For example, the man who was held at gunpoint in a Fredericton house by a white man. Someone has been charged in the case, which is still before the courts, but for weeks this man and the other victims were afraid to leave their home, even though they were moved to a new house in the city. "We were doing wellness checks," Shire said. "We connected them with victim services, so they can get counselling. The anxiety is there, the depression is there." Shire would buy them groceries and visit them every few days. Volunteers with the New Brunswick African Association prepare and sort the food that they will then distribute to the African community in Fredericton. "It's making them think, 'Is this the right place to live?' It puts the work on NBAA again to try to convince them to stay," said Shire. Shire is also familiar with the attacks against immigrants on Doone Street, a public housing neighbourhood in Fredericton's north side. Owan Ahuka's family lives in Wilson Row, a cul de sac off Doone Street, and was victim of attacks by neighbours. "He tried to help us solve problems and follow up on incidents," Ahuka, 23, said of Shire, whom he's known for eight years. "Even before he was president, he was a close person to us." Not afraid A lot of the work Shire does is exhausting and might sound frightening. Cabbing in the middle of the night to homes where cars have been slashed. Rushing to the hospital to tend to people with wounds. Getting calls related to standoffs. Translating depressing accounts of situations from Somali to English, back and forth, over and over again. But Shire is not afraid, and he's definitely not exhausted. Last year, one of the Black History Month activities organized by the association was to bake mandazis, which are fried dough desserts similar to doughnuts. They originated in the coastal region of Kenya and Tanzania. Shire loves New Brunswick, and he wants members of his community to feel the same way. "I tell people if they stay here, they can be part of the change. Moving to a bigger city won't make any difference. You can experience these issues anywhere you go." "We know the issues of our community better than anybody else. We must lead this conversation, but we won't be able to without support." Keeping a tradition alive Shire still remembers how every month in the refugee camp, his family would wait for food from the United Nations, not knowing what they would get. Two kilos of flour, some oil. Living in a camp is a lot of waiting without knowing what will happen next, he said. But now, Shire spends his days planning for the future — with people he met on his arrival in Canada and who have become family, but also, and for those still trying to leave refugee camps. "My grandparents, in a foreign country without knowing people, they dedicated their life in helping the orphaned kids and people in our community," said Shire. "I want to continue this tradition." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.