Nathan Coleman tries to get the inside scoop on Shubenacadie Sam's prediction for this Groundhog Dog.
Nathan Coleman tries to get the inside scoop on Shubenacadie Sam's prediction for this Groundhog Dog.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
A First Nation in the Northwest Territories is expecting to receive an apology from the federal government for the contamination of its land. That's according to Ed Sangris, chief of Dettah, N.W.T., who says the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) are expecting the process for an apology from the federal government, for the harms caused by contamination from the former Giant Mine, to begin in June. A spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada confirmed that the federal government has never apologized for the harm suffered by Indigenous people following the development and contamination of land caused by mining in the North. For 70 years, Giant Mine produced over 237,000 tons of arsenic trioxide, and released poisonous dust into the air and water surrounding the mine. It is known by YKDFN as the "Giant Mine Monster" whose toxicity has displaced their people from deeply valued and respected ancestral homelands, infringing on their treaty rights. "The destruction of the system that we have always enjoyed is a very, very painful history," Sangris said. This federal apology would be the first of its kind in the North. To date, there has not yet been a federal apology issues to northern Indigenous people for the role the government played in the contamination of ancestral homelands. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC) Closure and reconciliation 'finally' After decades of grieving the loss of the spiritual and culturally significant area, the Yellowknives Dene says healing may finally be on the horizon. "We're finally going to have closure and reconciliation," Sangris told CBC. YKDFN is working with Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal and Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, to secure a resolution and receive cabinet approval. A spokesperson with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada did not directly confirm an apology was coming, but said, "We recognize the tremendous work undertaken by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on this important matter, and we are now working with the First Nation on the next steps regarding their request for apology and compensation." YKDFN leaders and members have demanded that the federal government apologize for contaminating their ancestral homelands that were mined without their consent. They also called for greater involvement in the $1-billion remediation project and for federal compensation. As early as the 1970s, the Yellowknives Dene called on the federal government to acknowledge the toll toxicity resulting from Giant Mine has taken on their people. In 2016, they were galvanized by a University of Ottawa report that highlighted the levels of arsenic in the water and surrounding area, extending into their territory. Workers pour a gold brick using a bullion furnace in Giant Mine, in 1952. The unique deposits of gold required that the ore be roasted at extremely high temperatures. 'Unfortunately, this roasting process also released arsenic rich gas, a highly toxic by-product,' according to a federal site on the history of Giant Mine. (George Hunter/N.W.T. Mining Heritage Society) Yellowknives Dene First Nation CEO Jason Snaggs told CBC they are "cautiously optimistic" after federal government has met with them a couple of times within the past month. "The progress is a clear signal of Canada recognizing and willing to move toward collaborating with Yellowknives Dene First Nation to address this legacy which has plagued the Yellowknives Dene for so many years," Snaggs said Federal government representatives are moving forward with a special claims process for an apology and compensation, along with immediate socio-economic benefits, and contracts for the remediation project, he said. Legacy of the Giant Monster The history of Giant Mine and its impact on the land will stand as a lesson, Snaggs said. So too will the apology. "It teaches future generations about the horrible legacy of the past and how at this point in history, the government of Canada came together to do what was right for the water, for the people to ensure that the legacy of the land is protected for generations to come," Snaggs told the CBC. Left, historic hunting and trapping areas recorded within or adjacent to Giant Mine, and right, current areas avoided by Yellowknives Dene First Nation for hunting of animals like moose and waterfowl. The Giant Mine 'really displaced our people from one of the most pristine areas,' said Chief Sangris. (Courtesy of YKDFN) "People will be able to see there's no better people than the people who live here, who will continue to live here for thousands of years, that are best suited to be stewards of the land and the water." According to a federal site on the history of Giant Mine, Yellowknife's 'gold boom' began in 1935, after bush planes made the area more accessible, prospectors poured in, looking for valuable minerals. Yellowknife experienced rapid growth in the mining industry, leading to the production of seven million ounces of gold, and "one of the longest continuous gold mining operations in Canadian mining history," says the website. The unique deposits of gold required that the ore be roasted at extremely high temperatures. "Unfortunately, this roasting process also released arsenic rich gas, a highly toxic byproduct," says the site. More than 237,000 tonnes of that arsenic has been stored in underground chambers, where it will be frozen in place. Snaggs said "we know that it will never return to how it was described by the elders as a breadbasket for the people." 'It displaced our people' Dettah Chief Edward Sangris said his ancestors described the area with sheer fondness. "They really enjoyed the area because of the abundance of wildlife, and plants, and it was one of the most sought after areas for the Yellowknives Dene. There was caribou in the winter, moose in the summer. It was really valued. Then came the devastation from the mine starting, along with exploration and development, which infringed on our treaty rights," he said. "It really displaced our people from one of the most pristine areas." "To reconcile with Aboriginal People, the government has to understand our way of life, our tradition, and our culture. They're finally realizing it's time to reconcile." Snaggs said he was grateful for the role that MP Michael McLeod has played in supporting their demands in the House of Commons. These developments would not be possible without YKDFN members and allies that supported and shared the Giant Mine Monster petition, which has garnered over 30,000 signatures, Snaggs said.
A new processing facility being built in Saskatoon could be part of the solution to a recent global shortage of computer chips and semiconductors for vehicles and electronics. There are 17 rare earth elements: cerium, dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, holmium, lanthanum, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, scandium, terbium, thulium, ytterbium and yttrium. These naturally occurring minerals are key components in modern electronics. They are used in making everything from electric cars to cell phones and wind turbines. University of Saskatchewan geological sciences professor Kevin Ansdell told Saskatoon Morning's Leisha Grebinski that rare earth elements are essential to modern global economic development. "I would foresee that the demand for the rare earth elements will certainly continue to increase, particularly with the drive globally to try and electrify transportation through electric vehicles," Ansdell said. "Every single electric vehicle has rare earth element components within it." Photo released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows rare-earth oxides, clockwise from top centre: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. Quest Rare Minerals claims a significant find in northern Quebec.(U.S. Department of Agriculture/Associated Press) Almost all of the mining and processing of these elements is done in China. Last week U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order that aims to strengthen supply chains, including those for rare earth elements. "Essentially, China controls the rare earth element market globally," Ansdell said. "So it's not just the U.S. The European Union is also very interested in trying to develop new supply chains that are not dependent on China." That new supply chain could run through Saskatoon, as the first Canadian rare earth elements processing facility is being built in the city. The $31 million facility was announced last August and will be financed by the province, and owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). It is expected to be fully operational by late 2022. Ansdell said the SRC has already done a small pilot project processing rare earth elements and will now be able to build on that expertise. He said the processing plant could turn out to be very significant for Saskatchewan, as there is only one other facility in North America that can process these elements and it only operates when the mine it is associated with in California is operating. "[The Saskatoon facility] can accept materials from essentially all over the world. And so it could be very interesting economic development locally." One company, Appia Energy Corp., says it has discovered pegmatites, rock formations that contain high-grade rare earth elements, in the northern Saskatchewan area of Alces Lake.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration's nominee for top Pentagon policy adviser was met with sharp criticism from Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, including accusations that he has been too partisan. Colin Kahl, who served as national security adviser to then-Vice-President Joe Biden during the Obama administration, faced repeated questions on his previous support for the Iran nuclear deal and how he would approach that issue now. And a number of GOP senators said they were troubled by partisan tweets Kohl put out during Donald Trump's presidency and they would oppose his nomination. It wasn't clear whether there was enough opposition to derail his nomination. “We know that there is a new administration and that we will have policy disagreements that we will all try to work through,” said the ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. “But how will you rectify the fact that many Americans, including those who work at the Department of Defence, know you only through your very partisan comments? How can we be confident that you will be a model of nonpartisan policy analysis — which is what the job requires — if you are confirmed?” Kahl said he worked on a bipartisan basis in his previous jobs in the Obama administration, which included a stint as deputy defence secretary for Middle East issues at the Pentagon from 2009 to2011. And he told the panel, “This is not a political job, it’s a policy job ... I have a long track record of putting politics aside and working on policy.” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and others read a number of Kahl's tweets that condemned Republicans and the Trump administration. Cotton said the “volatile” tweets would hurt his ability to work with Congress, adding “your judgement around war and peace are almost always wrong.” In response, Kahl offered an apology, saying the last few years have been politically polarizing and there were times he got swept up in that on social media. “There were a number of positions that President Trump took that I strongly opposed,” he said. "I think the language that I used in opposing those was sometimes disrespectful, and for that, I apologize.” Kahl got broader support from Democrats, including Sen. Maizie Hirono of Hawaii, who chastised committee members for slamming Kahl's tweets. ““That kind of criticism regarding tweets from folks who didn’t say anything about the kind of lying, racist tweets out of the former president, I think, is pretty rich,” she said. Others, including the panel chairman, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., sought commitments on improving Pentagon policies and relations with other countries that soured during Trump's tenure. Reed said he hoped that Kahl would help establish a strong defence policy office to ensure there is a unified effort on national security challenges and to repair ties with NATO and other allies. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
The municipality of Grey Highlands is calling in backup to assist in gathering public input for its Downtown Markdale Revisioning project. “In a pandemic world, as we know, we're all Zoomed out and tired of sitting at a computer screen. We wanted to make sure that this was a fulsome opportunity for the community to engage,” said Michele Harris, director of community and economic development for Grey Highlands. At a council meeting held on Wednesday, Grey Highlands council approved appointing The Planning Partnership as the consultants for the project. In 2018, the municipality purchased 20 Toronto Street North, a two-acre property located in downtown Markdale. Markdale is the largest settlement area in Grey Highlands with 1,200 residents. The rural community is also located near Highway 10 and Grey Road 12, which sees 9,300 daily travellers in the peak season. At the time of the purchase, the municipality declared the site would serve as “a place where cultural and market interests intermingle to catalyze the region’s economy and contribute to the revitalization of Markdale’s downtown core”. In late 2020, council moved the project forward, authorizing staff to proceed with an RFEI process that would seek out applicants to assist the municipality through the community engagement process. The RFEI also called on applicants to outline how they would create a plan to build awareness around the project; propose post-project recommendations on how to keep the community updated and provide a final report highlighting the results of the process. In early February, two submissions were recommended to proceed to the next step in the Downtown Markdale Revisioning RFEI. Fotenn and The Planning Partnership provided full RFP submissions to the municipality’s Technical Review Team in mid-February. “The committee was unanimous in my recommendation of the Planning Partnership, they're extremely experienced in this field, their firm's depth of expertise, their approaches to community engagement are going to be really interesting,” said Harris. The Technical Review Team includes three volunteer representatives from the community, as well as the CAO and Harris. During the presentation process the proponents were asked to identify their experience in understanding how zoning and planning regulations would need to be considered; the importance of the project as a catalyst for downtown revitalization; their approach to meaningful community engagement; and experience with similar projects. “This company had been using a lot of these virtual tools, in parallel with their traditional tools, prior to the pandemic,” Harris explained. “This is not new for them. They have the experience that I think really sets them apart from most of the other submissions we received.” Council approved spending $31,000 for the consulting portion of the project, which will be funded through the municipality’s working capital reserve. According to Harris, the project is expected to begin almost immediately and staff expect to deliver the final report from the consultants by the end of June. “We will be communicating out to the public what the process is and what the timelines are,” she added. “I'm really interested to see how the community embraces this.” Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
We might take a starry night sky for granted in our corner of the province, but Quetico Provincial Park has proven itself dedicated to providing a celestial haven for night owls that is guaranteed to be free of intrusive light pollution. The park has recently earned itself a certification from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) recognizing it as a Dark Sky park, a location that has met stringent regulations that help to curb the impacts of light pollution in the night sky, as well as the negative effects it can have on plants and animals - including humans. Quetico has now joined its "sister parks" Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in their Dark Sky Park designation, and is only the third Provincial Park in Ontario to achieve the feat. Trevor Gibb is the park superintendent for Quetico Provincial Park and he noted the recognition from the international association really highlights the efforts that park staff have made in order to keep the park as pristine as possible. "The Dark Sky Park designation is awarded to a park that has an exceptional quality of starry night skies and an exceptional nocturnal environment," he explained. "It has to be a park that's protected for scientific, natural, educational or cultural reasons and have opportunities for the public to visit the park and enjoy it. You have to meet a bunch of criteria to be considered for Dark Sky Park status, but the key criteria is just the quality of the night sky." Light and fixtures that aren't designed with dark skies in mind contribute to light pollution that both hampers the natural vistas of the Milky Way galaxy. Think of the glow you can see when driving at night as you approach the nearest town or city, or how few stars can be seen from inside of town versus out in the country. Light pollution can also have negative impacts on the natural processes and behaviours of plants and animals in the environment, similar to how it can throw off our circadian rhythms and make going to bed at healthy times much more difficult. In order to achieve that Dark Sky Park recognition, Gibb explained there were several steps, two years in the making, that had to be taken in order to reduce the amount of light that would beam up into the sky at night. "It was a lot of work," he said. "It's a voluntary process, but it's quite the rigorous application process with the IDA. One of the first things we had to do was an inventory of all of our light fixtures around the park, park offices and campgrounds, and then we had to create a lighting management plan to change all the lighting we needed to change to dark sky friendly outdoor lighting." The changes to fixtures doesn't mean taking them away, as that can create safety hazards. Instead, Gibb noted that new fixtures were installed that directed light downwards instead of allowing it to beam up into the night sky. Another step in the process was proving to the IDA that the night sky is "exceptionally dark, beautiful and free of light" as Gibb put it, which is obvious to anyone who has camped out under the stars at Quetico, but hard to convince with word of mouth alone. The answer, then, was plenty of legwork and some very late nights. "Starting in 2019, we sent our park rangers all over the park, but into the backcountry as well to do sky quality measurements in the middle of the night to measure the darkness of the night sky," Gibb said. "Over time, since this is an annual thing we'll be reporting on, it will show improvements or degradation of the quality of the night sky due to light pollution. We owe a huge kudos to our backcountry rangers for paddling all day long, clearing portages, and then waking up in the middle of the night. They have to take these readings during astronomical darkness. In August, that's the middle-middle of the night, like 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning." Gibb said there isn't a lot that will change for visitors to the park now that Quetico is Dark Sky certified. The park will have some new educational signage and publications to teach campers and other park visitors of the importance of keeping skies dark, and those who camp overnight will be encouraged to keep their own lights to a minimum in order to let everyone experience the majesty of the stars. "At Quetico and Ontario Parks, what we do is preserve the natural environment and we are concerned with maintaining the ecological integrity of our parks," he said. "This is just one way that we can do that by reducing our light pollution in our campgrounds and developed areas and promote the importance of natural night skies." For more information of the International Dark-Sky Association, their initiatives and the importance of combating light pollution, visit their website at www.darksky.org. Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
HONOLULU — The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled a tsunami watch Thursday for Hawaii that was issued after a huge earthquake occurred in a remote area between New Zealand and Tonga. The agency previously cancelled a tsunami warning it had issued for American Samoa. The magnitude 8.1 quake struck the Kermadec Islands region. The quake forced thousands of people to evacuate in New Zealand but did not appear to pose a widespread threat to lives or major infrastructure. It was the largest in a series of tremors that hit the region over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3. The Associated Press
Five straight home defeats for the first time in the club’s 128-year history. More than 10 hours since a goal from open play at Anfield. The stadium that was once a fortress for Liverpool is the now the scene of a scarcely believable implosion by the soon-to-be-deposed English champions. Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea on Thursday continued a staggering run of home form that came after Jurgen Klopp’s team went 68 games in a row unbeaten at Anfield. Formerly the owner of one of Europe’s most devastating attacks, Liverpool only managed one effort on goal against Chelsea. Mohamed Salah was substituted after barely an hour; Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino barely threatened either. Mason Mount scored the winner in the 42nd minute, cutting in from the left and curling home from the edge of the area for a goal that sent Chelsea into the top four and dropped Liverpool to seventh place. It was Chelsea's first win at Anfield since 2014. Qualifying for the Champions League looks to be increasingly unlikely for Liverpool, which is four points adrift of Chelsea and even behind Merseyside rival Everton. Eight months after winning the Premier League by 18 points, Liverpool is 22 points behind first-place Manchester City. NEW-LOOK ATTACK For the first time this season, Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho started a match with Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale and Dele Alli as the team's front four. None of the quartet scored, with Tottenham instead relying on an own-goal to edge past Fulham 1-0. Two of Spurs' new-look attack played a key role in the goal, Son crossing from the left and Alli providing the deft flick that was heading wide only for the ball to deflect into the net off Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo. Alli started a league match for the first time since the opening day of the season and might have done enough to keep his place in the team as Tottenham pushes to qualify for the Champions League. A second straight win left Mourinho's side five points off Chelsea. Fulham, which would have climbed out of the relegation zone with a win, was denied an equalizer in the 62nd after Josh Maja scored with a low shot just inside the area. The ball only reached him, however, after hitting the arm of Fulham midfielder Mario Lemina, and a handball was awarded following a VAR intervention. “I don’t know what he can physically do,” Fulham manager Scott Parker said. “Probably a bit of common sense needs to prevail in that rule.” EVERTON'S CHARGE Carlo Ancelotti is part of Champions League folklore as one of only three managers to have won Europe's elite competition three times. He might be back in it with Everton next season. Everton extended its unbeaten away record to nine games by beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 and climbed above Liverpool and West Ham into fifth place. Brazil forward Richarlison headed in the 65th-minute winner from Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross and now has four goals in his last four games. Next-to-last West Brom stayed nine points adrift of safety and looks to be going down after just one season back in the top flight. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80 Steve Douglas, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has eased the eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for funds under its $345-million pandemic recovery grant program. The province has also extended the deadline for businesses to apply from the end of this month to Aug. 31, or until all the money has been spent. Businesses with up to 149 employees must now show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in any one month between March 2020 and the time of application compared with the same time period during the year before. The grant program previously required businesses to show a 70 per cent drop at some point during March or April last year, plus additional revenue losses of 30 to 50 per cent from May 2020 until their application. Ravi Rahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says the province has been "nimble" with the program and the changes directly follow feedback from the business community. He says about $55 million has been distributed through the program so far and influx of applications hasn't slowed down, though he couldn't say how many more businesses may now apply given the latest changes. "Certainly we have some businesses that have applied that weren't able to get the funding because they didn't meet (requirements), and now we'll be able to call them and tell them that in fact they do have funding available." This is the second time the government has eased the program's eligibility requirements. Businesses may apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, with additional funds available to tourism-related businesses, which Kahlon says represent just over half of applicants to the program so far. The province says businesses don't need to resubmit existing applications and those received previously will be reviewed under the new criteria. In a statement, Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone urged the NDP government to eliminate the requirement that businesses must be at least 18 months old. Kahlon says the rule stands and businesses that apply by the new deadline must have been operating since last March, "so essentially anyone that had a business when the pandemic started can apply for this grant." B.C. is also offering up to $2,000 to be paid directly to professional service providers for businesses that need help creating a required recovery plan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid deportation. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a 5-3 conservative majority that ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. illegally and has lived in the country for 25 years. The man, Clemente Avelino Pereida, had been charged in Nebraska with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job and convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation. Not all criminal convictions inevitably lead to deportation, but Gorsuch wrote for the court that Pereida failed to prove he was not convicted of a serious crime. Under immigration law, “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime,” Gorsuch wrote. In a dissent for the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court instead should have ruled for Pereida because he was convicted under a law that includes serious offences, falling into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, and less serious ones. “The relevant documents in this case do not show that the previous conviction at issue necessarily was for a crime involving moral turpitude," Breyer wrote. Immigrants with criminal convictions who are facing deportation can ask the attorney general to allow them to remain in the country, if the conviction wasn't for a serious crime and they have lived here at least 10 years, among other criteria. Based on Thursday's ruling, Pereida can't seek that relief. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October. The Associated Press
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — As Lionel Desmond completed an 11-week program for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in August 2016, those responsible for his care were worried about something they couldn't figure out. Though he displayed symptoms considered common among combat soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, he was making little progress under treatments that usually produced results. Kama Hamilton, a social worker at the Montreal hospital where Desmond was treated in 2016, told a provincial inquiry Thursday he suffered from angry outbursts, combat-related flashbacks, impulsivity, irritability and hyper-vigilance. Yet, she said, "he didn't stand out as particularly (different) from the others." Hamilton, who tried to help Desmond with anger management and social connections, said the Ste. Anne's Hospital team was concerned that something was interfering with his treatment, given the fact that he had lost trust in the staff and still faced a "long road" to recovery when he was discharged on Aug. 15, 2016. The inquiry is investigating why, less than five months later, Desmond bought a rifle and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. During her testimony, Hamilton said she came to the conclusion that Desmond had a constant fear of being abandoned, a condition she said could be the result of a personality disorder or a head injury that impaired his cognitive abilities. On Tuesday, psychiatrist Robert Ouellette told the inquiry that Desmond appeared to have "mixed personality traits," including obsessive compulsiveness and paranoia. Ouellette said the paranoid traits caused Desmond to mistrust virtually everyone, including his wife. Desmond repeatedly told staff at the hospital that his main goal was to become a good husband and father, but he often expressed jealousy and anger towards his wife. During her testimony Thursday, Hamilton said she learned that aside from flashbacks to his combat duty in Afghanistan, her patient also complained about gruesome nightmares about his wife being unfaithful. Hamilton said that during an hour-long telephone conversation, Shanna Desmond told her that in the dream, her husband caught her sleeping with another man and responded by "chopping her to pieces." Despite the violent nature of the nightmare, Hamilton said she was confident Shanna Desmond was not in any danger, mainly because Lionel Desmond's recollection was intended as a cry for help rather than a threat. As well, she said Shanna Desmond had made it clear she and the couple's nine-year-old daughter had never been subjected to physical violence, and she didn't believe her husband would ever hurt them. Hamilton said Shanna Desmond was deeply concerned about her husband's welfare, noting that he had unpredictable, angry outbursts that resulted in him throwing furniture — but that was the extent of the violence she had witnessed during their marriage. Still, Hamilton said she also learned that the former infantryman would sometimes resort to passive threats of suicide as a means of controlling his wife. She said Shanna Desmond recalled one disturbing incident, when he texted her to say he would soon be watching his daughter "from above," and when she returned home, she found him obsessively cleaning a rifle he owned. "If someone is feeling vulnerable, they may try to find ways to gain control," Hamilton said. "Abandonment is a situation where you feel helpless." On another front, Hamilton said her patient complained about suffering a head injury while he was training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, though he was deemed medically fit after he regained consciousness. That led to speculation at Ste. Anne's about a possible brain injury, which could explain why Desmond had some cognitive challenges, including troubles with concentration, memory, organization and language. The treatment team agreed that Desmond should undergo a full neurological assessment, which was a recommendation that was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada as he was preparing to leave the program. The assessment was beyond the scope of the hospital. Desmond never received that assessment. In the four months before the Jan. 3, 2017 triple murder and suicide in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., Desmond received no therapeutic treatment. Earlier in the hearings, a psychiatrist at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., told the inquiry that Desmond desperately needed help when he returned home to Nova Scotia, but it was apparent he was "falling through the cracks." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
The province is sending some pandemic relief money to Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover to help the cultural institution get back on its feet. Lighthouse will receive $71,858 through the government’s Arts Recovery Support Fund. Lisa MacLeod, the minister overseeing the province’s tourism and cultural industries, announced the funding this week as part of a $25-million package for artists and arts organizations in Ontario. “Ontario’s arts sector was among the first and hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a ‘high-touch’ sector that depends on gatherings of people, and will take the longest to recover,” MacLeod said in a statement. Reopening venues like Lighthouse “will play an important role in the mental health and well-being of Ontarians and an equally important role in the province’s economic and social recovery,” MacLeod said. The funding was available for organizations and individuals who already receive grants through the Ontario Arts Council. Venues with operating budgets of over $1 million automatically qualified. “We’re so grateful for it, and we’re thrilled,” said Lighthouse executive director Nicole Campbell. “The government recognizes the arts and culture industry as being devastated during this time, with not being able to open for the last year.” Lighthouse closed its doors in mid-March of last year, which meant scrapping the entire summer season, the popular community show starring local amateur actors, and a crowded slate of off-season events. It added up to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in lost revenue, Campbell said. While the provincial money will help — as will almost $215,000 brought in by a summertime fundraising campaign — Campbell cautioned that there are more financial and logistical hurdles to overcome before the theatre can welcome patrons back. “We don’t want anyone to think that just by receiving this money, we can reopen,” she said. “With the regulations, up until a few weeks ago we couldn’t have anyone in the building. So we keep having to adapt.” One challenge for Lighthouse is even the loosest of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions means “severe revenue limitations,” Campbell explained, because a theatre that usually fits 350 patrons is limited to 50 per show. When Lighthouse can reopen is of keen interest to restaurants, hotels and bed and breakfasts throughout the region that rely on the theatre to bring in customers, as mentioned by Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett in the funding announcement. “This is quite welcome news for our Lighthouse Festival Theatre and all who enjoy its offerings,” Barrett said. “Lighthouse Theatre is an anchor for our area’s visitor-based economy.” Campbell expects to make an announcement about the summer season in the next few months. “We’re waiting as long as we can to announce anything,” she said, explaining that she and artistic director Derek Ritschel are mulling over scenarios that will ensure the safety of artists, patrons and staff. “We can pretty confidently say that we’re going to have theatre this summer,” Campbell said. “We just have a few different options of what it’ll look like.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration stepped up its condemnation of the coup in Myanmar on Thursday, demanding that military authorities stop their brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and release demonstrators and journalists who have been detained. The White House called the situation, including the arrest of an Associated Press journalist, “troubling” and of “great concern.” The State Department said it’s working with other countries to send a unified message to the military that its actions are unacceptable and will be met with consequences. The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top military leaders since the Feb. 1 coup, but stepped up pressure after security forces killed as many as 38 people on Wednesday. The administration says it’s in close touch with partners and allies, as well as with countries like China, to try to convince Myanmar officials to ease their heavy-handed response to the protests. “The detainment of journalists, the targeting of journalists and dissidents is certainly something that is of great concern to the president, to the secretary of state and to every member of our administration,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. At the State Department, spokesman Ned Price said the administration was “deeply saddened” by reports of deaths in the crackdown on protests. “This latest escalation in violence demonstrates the fact of the junta’s complete disregard for their own people, for the people of Burma,” he said. “It is unacceptable.” “We are deeply concerned about the increasing attacks on and arrest of journalists,” he said. “We call on the military to immediately release these individuals and to cease their intimidation and harassment of the media and others who are unjustly detained for doing nothing more than their job, for doing nothing more than exercising their universal rights.” Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw and several other members of the media were arrested last week while covering security forces charging at anti-coup protesters. They have been charged with violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned for up to three years. The AP and press freedom groups have called for Zaw’s immediate release, but there has been no response from the authorities. The U.S. and other countries have roundly condemned the coup and the ensuing crackdown on dissent to little effect thus far. Price said the United States was looking toward China, Myanmar’s most powerful neighbour and friend, to exert its influence on the military. “We have urged the Chinese to play a constructive role to use their influence with the Burmese military to bring this coup to an end,” he said. “There have been a number of conversations with Chinese officials at different levels, and our message in all of those conversations has been consistent: The world, every responsible constructive member of the international community, needs to use its voice, needs to work to bring this coup to an end and to restore the democratically elected government of Burma.” Earlier Thursday, footage of the brutal crackdown on protests against the coup unleashed outrage and calls for a stronger international response. Videos showed security forces shooting a person at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions. As the generals loosened their grip in recent years, the international community lifted most sanctions and poured in investment. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Cases of COVID-19 variants of concern continue to escalate in B.C., with 46 new ones announced today. Sixteen of the 246 total variant cases to date are currently active. Of the variant cases, 218 are the so-called U.K. variant and 28 of the South African variant. The majority of these cases are located in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions—178 and 60 in those two health areas respectively. About a quarter of the cases continue to be untracked in terms of transmission. Four of the people currently in hospital have variants of concern and two deaths in recent days have been in people with variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported 564 new cases, 12 of which are epidemiologically linked. B.C.’s cumulative case total has reached 82,473. Of the new cases, 168 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 279 in the Fraser Health region, 35 in the Island Health region, 36 in the Interior Health region and 46 in the Northern Health region. As cases rise across the province, particularly in the Lower Mainland, Richmond is also experiencing a surge. Between Feb. 21 and 27 there were 100 new cases recorded here, compared to 80 the previous week and less than half that number the week before. There are 4,743 active cases and 248 people hospitalized with the virus, 63 of whom are in critical care. A further 8,659 people are under active public health monitoring. Sadly, four people lost their lives due to COVID-19 since yesterday. There were no new healthcare outbreaks announced. To date, 298,851 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 86,746 of which are second doses. Henry also spoke today on an additional vaccination plan for first responders and other essential workers, using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Delivery of this vaccine will run “in parallel but separate from our age-based community-based immunization program,” she said. The province’s immunization committee is establishing who should receive that vaccine and in what order. Henry hopes to deliver a detailed plan to the public in the next two weeks, and she targeted March 18 as a possible date for that announcement. The initial AstraZeneca shipment will be used to address “ongoing clusters and outbreaks that are leading to rapidly increasing numbers in some places, some communities, to best protect our communities,” Henry said. She also acknowledged the uptick in new cases, and the rise of more transmissible variants, particularly in the Lower Mainland. “We can’t let these successes—the vaccines we have now—be diminished by a surge in cases that will lead us to a third wave.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Canada's premiers are demanding that Ottawa immediately give them an extra $28 billion for health care this year, with a promise of at least a five-per-cent hike in the annual transfer payment each year thereafter.
Finie la transformation de maisons familiales en logements touristiques saisonniers à Percé. La Ville serre la vis aux promoteurs immobilier et touristique pour s’attaquer à la crise du logement, amplifiée par la spéculation. L’achat de maisons dans le but de les convertir en hébergement touristique y est désormais interdit. Adopté mardi par le conseil municipal, le projet de règlement prévoit «étendre à l'ensemble de son territoire l'interdiction des résidences de tourisme comme usage additionnel à une résidence unifamiliale». En d’autres mots, Percé ne souhaite plus voir des maisons être achetées et ensuite transformées en logement touristique, soit un «flip», et inoccupées hors de la saison touristique. «Considérant que le nombre de résidences de tourisme croît considérablement d'année en année dans les secteurs où elles sont autorisées» et «que cette situation vient diminuer l'offre en logement sur le territoire pour de nouveaux résidents», le conseil municipal juge qu’il est «urgent» d’agir. «On veut voir des lumières allumées en hiver», résume simplement la mairesse de Percé, Cathy Poirier. «On vit une pénurie de logements très intense, et on perd des habitations potentielles chaque mois», explique-t-elle. «Ce n’est pas ce qui va régler le problème de pénurie de logements, mais on veut au moins stopper l’hémorragie.» Au cœur de cette décision, le plan d’aménagement récemment adopté par Percé, qui vise à augmenter sa population annuelle de 20%. «Ça s’inscrit parfaitement dans notre plan. On préfère de loin avoir trois nouvelles familles à Cap-d’Espoir que trois logements touristiques de plus», soutient la mairesse. La municipalité qui s’appuie sur le tourisme comme principal moteur économique avait déjà légiféré en la matière en 2019, mais seulement dans quelques secteurs centraux, notamment le village de Percé. L’interdiction sera bientôt en vigueur sur l’ensemble du territoire municipal. «Déjà, il y a deux ans, c’était une problématique de voir des maisons achetées pour de la location saisonnière. Avec la pandémie, ça s’est accentué et il y a beaucoup de spéculation. On veut agir avant qu’il soit trop tard, partout sur notre territoire», note Mme Poirier. Même si le règlement ne devrait entrer en vigueur que dans quelques mois, procédures réglementaires obligent, Percé met déjà sur pause l’obtention de permis pour l’hébergement touristique. «Tout s’est fait très vite. On a ramené le sujet il y a quelques semaines et tout le conseil abondait dans le même sens. Il fallait agir». Une «bonne affaire», selon les organismes d’accueil Cette intention de légiférer pour conserver la vocation familiale des résidences de Percé est bien reçue par les organismes d’accueil de la MRC du Rocher-Percé, qui sensibilisent les administrations municipales au problème de la transformation des logements depuis des mois. «C’est accueilli très favorablement», rapporte l’agente de Place aux Jeunes Rocher-Percé, Stéphanie Roy. «On sait que, maintenant, à Percé, les maisons à vendre vont être achetées par de nouvelles familles plutôt que par de grosses compagnies d’hébergement touristique qui vont les louer quelques semaines en été et les laisser vides en hiver», se réjouit-elle. Au cours de la dernière année, Mme Roy a vu plusieurs jeunes professionnels déplacer, reporter ou simplement abandonner leurs projets de vie en Gaspésie, faute de logements. «J’accompagne sans cesse de jeunes familles qui veulent s’établir ici, qui ont déjà trouvé un emploi dans la région, mais qui doivent tout annuler parce qu’ils ne trouvent pas d’endroit pour loger. C’est la base!», déplore-t-elle. «À chaque fois, c’est un petit pincement au cœur». Cette dernière note aussi que plusieurs néo-Gaspésiens doivent se rabattre sur des logements précaires ou temporaires «en attendant un vrai logement» qui ne viendra jamais. «En ce moment, on a au moins 12 familles qui habitent quelque part qui ne convient pas à leurs besoins et qui cherchent activement à quitter pour quelque chose de plus stable. Souvent, ils sont dans des logements qu’ils doivent quitter au printemps afin de permettre aux touristes d’y loger. Malheureusement, il y en a qui quittent la région parce qu’ils ne trouvent rien», se désole Stéphanie Roy. «C’est comme si on avait un gros avion rempli de personnes qui veulent venir vivre ici, mais pas de piste d'atterrissage. Finalement, ils font demi-tour ou atterrissent ailleurs», image-t-elle. L’approche de Percé suscite déjà l’intérêt d’autres municipalités gaspésiennes, mais aussi dans d’autres régions du Québec. «Le geste a été applaudi par des organismes d’accueil partout au Québec, et on sait que des discussions vont avoir lieu avec d’autres municipalités», rapporte Mme Roy. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
The sun had not yet crested the horizon on a cold Tuesday morning when a group of women from Six Nations crossed into a Caledonia construction site and set up a teepee. The occupation of the planned Douglas Creek Estates subdivision on Argyle Street started a chain reaction that would lead 15 years later to the ongoing standoff at 1492 Land Back Lane. “Some parts of it are like déjà vu,” said Dawn Smith, who stepped onto DCE on Feb. 28, 2006, and became a public face of the movement asserting Haudenosaunee land rights along the Grand River. “They experience what we experienced, but they’ve been there a lot longer than we were,” Smith said of land defenders who have held the McKenzie Meadows construction site since July, indefinitely delaying a 229-unit subdivision planned by Foxgate Developments while blocking key roadways in response to clashes with police. Within four months of Smith and her compatriots occupying DCE, after violent clashes and failed negotiations, the province bought the land from local developers to hold in trust, essentially surrendering the 99-acre property to Six Nations members who control it to this day as an unofficial extension of the reserve. How the occupation on McKenzie Road will end remains anyone’s guess, but a look back to 2006 may offer some clues. Origins of a conflict It’s easiest to start with what hasn’t changed. In July 2020, much like 2006 and two centuries before that, who owns the land along the Grand River remains an open question. Land defenders point to the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 as the justification for their claims of sovereignty over the DCE and McKenzie sites. Governor Frederick Haldimand granted approximately 10 kilometres along either side of the entire length of the Grand River — just shy of one million square kilometres in all — to the Haudenosaunee in gratitude for their allyship during the American Revolutionary War. Depending on who tells the story, the Haldimand Tract land was then legally surrendered by Haudenosaunee chiefs or “stolen fair and square” by corrupt colonial authorities, said Rick Monture, a Mohawk from Six Nations and professor of Indigenous studies at McMaster University. A land claims lawsuit launched by Six Nations Elected Council in 1995 to settle the question inches toward a November 2022 court date. In the meantime, developers of the Douglas Creek and McKenzie Meadows projects thought they were in the clear since the lawsuit seeks financial compensation and not the return of privately held land. Monture said the builders, and the governments who approved the land sales, should have known better. “I can’t believe they would even try to negotiate a land deal in an area that’s hotly contested. That makes no sense,” he said. The Douglas Creek occupation followed a pattern that has repeated itself at Land Back Lane — builders sought a court injunction to oust the occupiers, who refused to leave, and police tried different approaches to enforce the court order. “By April 20, the police came in and it was a full-scale raid,” said Smith, recalling the 2006 predawn clash between OPP officers and hundreds of land defenders and supporters who rushed to Douglas Creek. In response, demonstrators set up roadblocks and lit tire fires on the roads, just as happened after smaller-scale skirmishes between the OPP and those occupying McKenzie Meadows. “Where it sits right now — the precariousness of the situation, how it’s been this way for how long now — they’re experiencing a lot more than we did,” Smith said of the ongoing stalemate at Land Back Lane. Skyler Williams of Six Nations was 23 when he fought police on the ground at DCE. Now the spokesperson for 1492 Land Back Lane, Williams says he turns to people like Smith for guidance. Smith said Williams and others in the camp share her motivation for defending the land. “It’s my job as a woman to protect Mother Earth for the seven generations that are coming,” she said. “I feel that if more people sat and spoke with these young men and women, they would get a different understanding. They’re not there just to tear up roads and instigate riots. They’re there for a reason, and that reason I tuck into bed every night.” Passing the buck Things moved quickly after Smith and her compatriots stopped work at DCE, which her group calls Kanonhstaton, “the protected place” in Mohawk. Hundreds of residents and home buyers massed at the barricades to demand an end to the occupation and protest police inaction. Thus began what Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has described as “15 years of anarchy” in Caledonia. After the failed police attempt to clear the site, Ottawa and Queen’s Park started negotiating with Six Nations elected and hereditary leaders — a first for the area. Soon afterward, the province declared an indefinite moratorium on construction on the DCE land. This time, there have been no federal talks, and Premier Doug Ford has taken a hard line against the occupation. “What I’m hearing from residents is exactly what I heard 15 years ago,” said Barrett, a Conservative politician who at the time was also the provincial representative for Six Nations. “One thing has changed. They know it’s a different government now.” When news of the Douglas Creek occupation reached Queen’s Park, Barrett said he immediately crossed the floor to confer with the Liberal minister in charge of Indigenous affairs. The next day, he visited the site and met with clan mothers and some Confederacy chiefs, who asked for his help to liaise with elected council, the OPP and the federal government. “There is a bit of a formula here that’s followed,” Barrett said of the land defenders’ strategy of seeking nation-to-nation negotiations. “The messaging about rights and in this case land back, and the talk about, ‘It’s federal, and we want to meet with the governor general.’ I heard all this in 2006. That stuff just endlessly gets dragged out.” That’s exactly the problem, Monture said. No leader wants to solve the underlying issue. “It’s just this endless cycle of punting the ball to the province, the feds, First Nations, back and forth,” he said. “Meantime, our people grow more and more frustrated with it, and our neighbours grow more and more frustrated with us. So it works out in the best interest of Canada to let it simmer, since you let the next political party deal with it.” Monture worries what could happen “when that frustration boils over.” “They have to get serious about it soon,” he said. “We are a peaceful people. We’ve tried and tried and tried to put forward our complaints and our story. We’re just asking for some justice here.” Growing awareness, lingering frustration What was a conflagration in 2006 has been a slow burn this time around. Aside from minor clashes, the McKenzie Meadows occupation has not been marked by widespread violence. Still, there are those in Caledonia virulently opposed to what they consider a kind of urban warfare being waged against their community. Residents decry the vandalism in angry Facebook comments and invective-filled letters to the editor, saying if Canadians tore up roads and rail lines, they would be carted off to jail. Williams shrugs off such criticism. “We’re the nicest terrorists you’re ever going to meet,” he says with a laugh, referring to a since-retracted statement from Haldimand’s police services board calling the land defenders domestic terrorists. Williams said public sentiment feels different now than it did in 2006. Back then, Caledonia residents marched to the barricades with confrontation on their mind, whether with land defenders or police. This time around, residents organized a protest with Six Nations members, pushing the federal government for action on the land claim file. “The climate is way different. Way different,” Williams said. “We got people from town here walking across the police line to bring us food and love, and to come sit by the fire and talk and laugh. Gary McHale (a leader of the anti-Indigenous protests at DCE) wasn’t coming across the (barricade).” Canadians today are better educated about Indigenous issues, he added. “In 2021, the atrocities that have been committed against Indigenous people across the country aren’t secrets anymore. It is common knowledge now,” Williams said, listing off residential schools, the over-incarceration of Indigenous people, and murdered and missing Indigenous women as examples. “The government has said, yes, we are guilty of all those things, and so we need to reconcile with Indigenous people on a nation-to-nation basis.” Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt said opinion regarding Land Back Lane is “mixed” among his constituents, with many upset at seeing quiet detour routes clogged with traffic and having their tax dollars repeatedly go to repair damaged roads. “They’re frustrated that, once again, the community is the whipping stick of an ongoing dispute between the federal government and Six Nations,” Hewitt said. “They do not like the idea that if people in Caledonia choose to take a different position on this protest or other protests, that it could result in further closure of roads.” In 2006, Hewitt was a financial services adviser who headed the Caledonia Citizens’ Alliance, a group that lobbied the province to help the town during the crisis. “The federal government — whether it was today, 10 years or 100 years ago — has always known that there was a collision course that’s been set between First Nations people and our government,” Hewitt said. “There’s many opportunities along the way that that collision could’ve been avoided. Yet here we are, having the same conversations over and over again.” Hewitt contends the DCE occupation “was fully supported by many, if not the majority of those on the territory,” while in his view, the McKenzie standoff is not as broadly popular on Six Nations. “Fundamentally, they certainly do support a resolution of these outstanding claims that exist within the Haldimand Tract,” Hewitt said. “But to close roads to and destroy property, those efforts are not supported by most members of Six Nations.” Monture was quick to point out that he could not speak for the entire community — indeed, the diversity of opinion on the reserve is often cited as a complicating factor in talks with the federal government — but his sense is most residents are “quietly supportive” of the Land Back movement. “I think most of it is, ‘Here we go again, unfortunately,’” he said. “The mood in the community is, ‘Can’t we just resolve this and move forward?’” Monture has noticed a sea change in attitudes toward Indigenous grievances among Caledonians, even as the bypass and two key thoroughfares have been closed more often than not since July. “It’s tricky, because unfortunately the only way we can call attention to these things is when we make those stands that aren’t wildly popular,” he said. “There are friends and acquaintances of mine (in Caledonia) who kind of silently cheer us on, but they don’t want to do that (publicly) because they’re going to look bad to their white neighbours in town.” But that sympathy is not universal. Several Caledonia residents told The Spectator they are wary of publicly criticizing the current occupation because they fear retribution from land defenders and their allies. Some cited the violence and property damage carried out against residents living near DCE in 2006 — and the lack of police response — as the reason they are staying silent this time. But Bill Stoneman, who has lived in Caledonia for 65 years, said the McKenzie occupation feels less tense. Stoneman said while the roadblocks are “annoying,” he does not feel personally threatened. “It’s calmer. In ’06, they were terrorizing the town. It’s a lot calmer now,” he said. “It’s a safe area. They’re not antagonizing. In ’06, it was unsafe back in that area. This time they’re trying to stick to the issues.” Tension on the ground As the political wheels spin, the reality on the ground is dictated by land defenders and the police, who are tasked with enforcing a pair of Superior Court injunctions ordering the roads cleared and the McKenzie site returned to Foxgate Developments. The altercation between OPP officers and land defenders on the night of Oct. 22 — which saw a failed arrest attempt at the back entrance to 1492 Land Back Lane lead to supporters pelting a police cruiser with rocks and officers deploying a Taser and shooting rubber bullets — brought reinforcements to the scene near Kanonhstaton, Smith among them. “There’s quite a few people down there I care for a great deal, and I had to make sure everybody was OK,” she said. “The feeling down there that night, it was exactly the same as when it happened in 2006. It wasn’t the numbers that came out, but the numbers that were needed showed up.” Barrett has repeatedly encouraged the police to enforce the injunctions, while making it clear governments “do not interfere or direct operational decisions” of the OPP. “If I’ve been asked once, I’ve been asked several thousand times to tell the police to go in there and clear it,” he said. “The first reaction is, yes, this has to be nipped in the bud. Because, you know, reinforcements gradually arrive. Then it settles into something much more insidious for people who are living right next door.” Haldimand OPP Const. Rod LeClair said police “take no position” in land disputes and instead seek “open and peaceful dialogue” with demonstrators, an approached codified by the OPP Framework that guides the force’s reaction to “critical Indigenous incidents.” Williams said in practice, officers seek to “exploit divisions” within Indigenous communities while laying “nuisance charges” to deter supporters. “This is something that is playing out exactly the same today as it did 15 years ago,” he said. Police services board chair Brian Haggith — a retired Haldimand OPP officer who policed the DCE occupation — says the OPP’s Framework is flawed. “When lawlessness starts, it just doesn’t seem to be able to control it,” he said. Residents in 2006 criticized the OPP for letting Six Nations members wantonly break the law in plain sight, and Haggith said officers again stood by last fall as streets were torn up using stolen construction equipment. “Police officers in uniform are watching this occur, and no attempt to stop it. People just don’t understand,” he said. “When the circumstances change — when the protesters or demonstrators are no longer peaceful — it’s incumbent upon the OPP to change strategies in order to restore order and preserve public safety.” Ga’nogae, a Seneca chief from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, said officers are rightly showing more restraint this time. “(The government) kept the cattle prod to the OPP’s butt and said, ‘Come on, get those people off that land. Get those roads open,’” the chief said. “And the OPP, they learned from Ipperwash. They’re handling this with kid gloves, as they should be.” Split attention Beverly Jacobs, a Mohawk lawyer from Six Nations and associate dean of the University of Windsor law faculty, says the onus is on the government to avoid another standoff. She noted that Queen’s Park committed to “reconciling” Haudenosaunee land claims after the Douglas Creek standoff, but no progress was made, while more than 800 Caledonia residents and business owners wrung a $20-million settlement out of the province to compensate for their losses. Caledonia lawyer Peter Murray was involved in paying out that class-action lawsuit, and in November, his firm took the lead on organizing another legal action against the province and the OPP, prompted by roadblocks again cutting off access to town. “It’s fair to say that it’s less confrontational between the residents of Caledonia and the protesters than it was in 2006,” Murray said. “I’m not seeing the gatherings up at the Canadian Tire parking lot that we saw in 2006 — marching with the Canadian flag, that kind of stuff. It could be social media playing more of a role today. A lot of people are expressing their thoughts on social media as opposed to physically going there. But as far as the businesses are concerned, I’m afraid it could be very similar if it’s not resolved.” One problem with getting action from Ottawa is the Caledonia disputes, while disruptive locally, can’t compete for national attention with higher-profile conflicts such as the burning of Mi’kmaq fishing boats in Nova Scotia or Wet’suwet’en pipeline protests out west. “This isn’t that important to the majority of people in the country, which is why these steps these people are taking are counterproductive,” Hewitt said. “It’s not achieving the goals. Look at ’06. Show me the success as the result of that protest. Sure, you stopped a development, but that land — nothing’s happened, nothing’s changed.” That criticism misses the point, Williams said. “The way we live is quite a bit different than covering everything in concrete and asphalt and calling that progress,” he said. “To let the wildlife come back here, for the earth here to regrow and heal itself — that’s what progress is for us. To let Mother Nature do her bit, and let her take this land back.” Some residents have questioned the timing of the McKenzie Meadows occupation, wondering why land defenders let contractors clear the former farmland and install sewer lines before moving in. Williams blamed the pandemic, saying his group was ready to go in when work started in the spring, but that coincided with the arrival of COVID-19 to Six Nations. “Our entire community was locked down for those three months,” Williams said. “We were very concerned about (the virus) and wanted to make sure that everybody was going to be safe.” The pandemic didn’t stop some Six Nations members from blockading the Highway 6 bypass and the CN rail line from Feb. 24 to March 19, in solidarity with Wetʼsuwetʼen resistance to the pipeline. The protesters eventually retreated to Kanonhstaton, which has been a safe zone for land defenders throughout the McKenzie occupation. Monture suspects politicians are too busy managing the pandemic to pay much attention to a relatively low-priority land dispute in rural Ontario. “I don’t think people have the mental or emotional, or even the physical stamina now to put a lot of good thinking toward this,” he said. “We need to get through the pandemic first, and then go at it.” Sharing the land Things have not always been this tense in Caledonia. Locals remember decades, if not centuries, of neighbourly relations between Haldimand County and Six Nations, with residents intermarrying and intermingling at schools, shops, and social events. Some contend the DCE occupation soured that closeness and created divisions between the two communities. “The relationships were good. They worked for each other, helped each other out. It was a friendly camaraderie amongst people back then,” said Monture, whose father and grandfather were farmers on the reserve. They told him that in the 1940s and 1950s, their non-Indigenous neighbours knew the history and understood that the land along Plank Road — better known today as Highway 6 — was Haudenosaunee. He suspects the residents who massed at the barricades in 2006, some waving Confederate flags, were ignorant of the underlying issues at play. “I was shocked at the amount of animosity that was hurled at our people from folks in Caledonia,” Monture said. “Not so much this time — maybe it’s online more — but there was a palpable anger and mob mindset happening around Douglas Creek.” What’s next? With the occupation of McKenzie Meadows well into its eighth month and the trenches blocking the roads now repaired, the question of when the police will move in hangs over the camp. Williams knows McKenzie Road could yet become a battlefield. But, he says, they won in 2006. They may win again. “The amount of support across the country for our stand here has been amazing,” he said. “We know that resistance movements from Indigenous communities are growing. Our ally networks are massive and far-reaching across all Turtle Island. I think all of us have a shared struggle.” Smith sees an emotional parallel to DCE in what is happening on the ground in Caledonia today. “The way everybody’s come together as a family, that’s the way it was back in 2006,” she said. “Blood is blood. Whether we’re related by family or just we’re all Onkwehonwe. Just to know that this fight has been happening since day one. From 1492 — or the way our stories go, before that — we have fought to hold onto our way of life.” To Hewitt’s mind, protests at DCE did not spur political action on land claims, and this time will be no different if violent confrontation is the result. “What I’ve seen in the last 15 years is we’re more likely to see success for both communities by working together to find common ground than we are working opposed to each other, as we have been,” he said. “Sitting here blocking a road into a small town of 10,000 people isn’t getting the attention of Ottawa. It’s not getting the attention of Toronto. All it’s done is fan some flames of anger.” Thus far, Ford has given no indication he plans to follow former premier Dalton McGuinty’s lead and buy out the developers as a way out of the standoff. Rather than politicians simply waiting out the land defenders, Monture would like to see “a fair and sincere effort” to address land claims. “True leadership and courage — that’s what it’s going to take,” Monture said. Barrett said the answer must come from Six Nations, where elected and hereditary leaders have begun to smooth over decades of mistrust — created, Monture noted, by Ottawa supplanting the Confederacy with the band council — in order to negotiate with Ottawa as a united front. “The question I’ve been asking for 15 years — do you know who’s in charge?” Barrett said. “It’s really not the role of the provincial or federal government to step into that kind of argument. That’s internal to the community.” With occupations allowed to continue virtually unchallenged, Barrett sees the rule of law weakening. “It’s chaos. I really resent the intimidation that’s used to generate fear,” he said. “That’s not how we operate in Ontario or Canada.” To Smith, each land reclamation moves First Nations peoples one step forward to self-determination. “My passion is to see my governments sit at the table with your governments — face to face, heart to heart — and really try to come to a compassionate understanding that will benefit everybody,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
From spring through fall, it’s not unusual to find Beck Aurell swinging from limb to limb through the crowns of Island oak, maple or poplar trees. Gear similar to a rock climber’s holds her safely in the tree and she carries a pruning saw or chainsaw at her side. “I might be the only female bodied climbing arborist on PEI,” Beck said, explaining that arborists are tree workers with specialized skills and certifications. They typically focus on managing and taking care of trees in residential areas. She was most recently employed with Laird Tree Care out of Cardigan. While Beck identifies as gender non-binary she is perceived by most as female and is comfortable with she/her or they/them pronouns. This puts her at odds with the majority of people she has worked with in Canada and around the world. Beck loves outdoor, hands-on work and any day she can help preserve the life of a tree is a good day in her opinion. She said making her way into a male dominated field of work wasn’t particularly easy but there were a few things that lifted her up into the treetops. “My dad was very helpful,” she said. Beck’s father owns an arborist business in New Brunswick and encouraged her to challenge herself by climbing in her teens. “It was something fun we did together and he never questioned if I could do it.” While the average arborist seems to be a tall bulky or lean guy, Beck has found smart techniques and tools tend to level the playing field. With a 5 foot 2 inch tall female body, she is stronger than some might expect. Beck said sometimes customers meet her with surprised comments like “Oh, are you doing the work?” or “Where’s the foreman?” when she is the team lead for the day. “It might be hard to believe, but it doesn’t actually take a 6-foot bulky man to transport logs from point A to B, to work hard all day, or to do the work we do efficiently,” she said. Luckily most customers meet her with supportive comments. “Customers that are older women especially seem supportive, I think it might be because they’ve seen so much change over the years.” Beck said local queer and some feminist communities have been a tremendous source of support and their ideas have helped her the whole way through. “Queer communities tend to share the idea, if it feels right for you, break gender expectations without fear or embarrassment, with pride,” she said. “They’ve really showed me there are different ways to be a person that don’t fit specific gender roles.” Beyond that, seeing female arborists in the industry when she worked in Sweden or at events (like women’s arborist skills camps in the US or in iternational arborist climbing competitions) reassured her that she could succeed in this line of work. Co-workers who have welcomed her into group environments and given her the opportunity to do what she is capable of without underestimating her abilities have also played a helpful part. “Most of my co-workers have been great,” Beck said. “Most don’t think twice about having me on the crew and working together, especially once they see I am capable and reliable.” “This means a lot because sometimes it takes a minute for some of the guys to settle with the idea that I’ll be climbing and working on the same level or even as a leader with them. “Sometimes when a crew shows up on a job they’re not expecting a blonde woman in her 20s to be the foreman and there seems to be a bit of an ego thing that can go on. “Sometimes there is some pushback but for the most part, it’s no problem.” Beck said her crew on PEI has been an excellent and fun team to work with. She has some advice for anyone considering a field of work that may seem unusual for their gender. “Don’t be afraid to break expectations and don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “And if you can’t find anyone supportive, give me a call.” Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - Même si la baisse des nouveaux cas de COVID-19 observée depuis la mi-janvier se poursuit, la Direction régionale de la santé publique (DRSP) de Montréal espère retarder le plus possible la progression de la nouvelle souche du virus qui pourrait causer une troisième vague au printemps. Les variants gagnent du terrain Lors d’une conférence de presse tenue mercredi, la directrice de la Santé publique de Montréal, docteure Mylène Drouin, a souligné que les cas de variant représentaient 15 ou 16 % des cas positifs dans les premiers jours de mars, alors qu’ils ne comptaient que pour environ 12 % la semaine dernière. Le mois dernier, on estimait qu’ils représentaient de 8 à 10 % des cas. Il est désormais acquis que les variants font l’objet d’une transmission communautaire, même si les cas demeurent pour l’instant concentrés dans des secteurs géographiques précis et qu’ils sont principalement associés à des éclosions sous surveillance, surtout en milieu scolaire. La question n’est donc plus de savoir si, mais plutôt quand le variant B117, plus contagieux et plus virulent que la souche originale du coronavirus, deviendra prédominant dans la métropole. La santé publique évoque une fenêtre de trois et six semaines durant laquelle il faudra redoubler d’ardeur pour « supprimer le virus » tout en vaccinant un maximum de personnes vulnérables. Montréal toujours au rouge La docteure Drouin rappelle par ailleurs que Montréal se maintient sur un plateau avec des taux d’incidence qui demeurent élevés, malgré la diminution du nombre de nouveaux cas, diminution qui se poursuit après le pic observé en janvier. Avec 152 nouveaux cas enregistrés dans la dernière semaine, dans Ahuntsic-Cartierville, l’arrondissement demeure parmi ceux qui compte le plus de nouveaux cas, et ce même s’il s’agit de l’arrondissement qui a enregistré la plus forte baisse des nouveaux cas dans les deux dernières semaines. Comme les nouveaux cas, les hospitalisations étaient en baisse dans les trois centres hospitaliers du Nord de l’Île pour un total de 50 personnes alitées en date du 3 mars. Et pour la première fois depuis la fin janvier, le nombre de personnes aux soins intensifs est repassé sous la barre de 15. Chose certaine, Ahuntsic-Cartierville s’apprête à franchir le cap des 8500 cas depuis le début de la pandémie, et on y a rapporté deux nouveaux décès dans la semaine du 23 février au 1er mars, et quatre de plus sont venus s’ajouter au bilan depuis. Vaccination à vitesse grand V En date de mercredi, 20 000 personnes avaient déjà été vaccinées dans le cadre de la campagne de vaccination de masse à Montréal. Pour la seule journée du 2 mars, ce sont près de 1500 personnes qui avaient rendez-vous dans les centres de vaccination du CIUSSS du Nord. Mercredi après-midi, toutes les plages horaires disponibles à la clinique de vaccination de Cartierville étaient déjà réservées jusqu’à la fin mars, « ce qui démontre l’engouement des gens pour recevoir leur vaccin », souligne la porte-parole du CIUSSS. Elle assure que des améliorations continues seront apportées pour répondre aux problèmes qui n’ont pas manqué de survenir dans les premières heures de l’opération, dont les files d’attente. Elle réitère l’importance de ne pas se présenter plus de dix minutes à l’avance pour un rendez-vous afin d’éviter les rassemblements devant les centres de vaccination. Certaines « corrections » ont déjà été apportées, ajoute-t-elle, notamment concernant la possibilité qui a été offerte initialement aux personnes âgées de 60 ans et plus d’être vaccinées à titre d’accompagnatrices. Les directives ministérielles prévoient que seuls les aidants naturels de 70 ans ou plus peuvent ainsi se faire vacciner en accompagnant leurs proches à leur rendez-vous de vaccination. Les politiques ont été ajustées en conséquence, indique Lynne McVey. Pour l’instant, la vaccination n’est accessible qu’aux personnes qui sont en mesure de se rendre dans les centres de vaccination, mais des options alternatives pourraient s’offrir bientôt, dont la vaccination en pharmacie qui doit débuter le 15 mars. Le « cocktail variants et semaine de relâche » à surveiller Dans tous les cas, la Santé publique se dit confiante de pouvoir vacciner toutes les personnes de 70 ans et plus d’ici la fin mars. Entre temps, il faudra surveiller la situation au retour de la relâche scolaire, et il faudra plusieurs semaines pour évaluer l’impact qu’aura le « cocktail variants et semaine de relâche ». D’autant plus que c’est en grande partie dans les milieux scolaires que semblent se propager les variants. Plus largement, elle souligne que c’est chez les 5-17 ans, soit les enfants d’âge scolaire, et chez les 35-54 ans, soit le groupe d’âge des parents d’enfants en âge de fréquenter l’école, qu’on observe les plus fortes progressions de nouveaux cas. La directrice de la Santé publique rejette toutefois l’idée de revenir à l’enseignement en ligne et maintient l’objectif de garder les écoles ouvertes. Elle évoque d’ailleurs la possibilité, selon le niveau d’immunité collective fourni aux personnes plus vulnérables par la campagne de la vaccination de masse, d’adopter éventuellement « une gestion du risque différente » qui consisterait à accepter «certains types de transmission pour certains groupes, où les formes sévères de la maladie sont moins prédominantes ». Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Breaking with other Southern GOP governors, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended her state’s mask order for another month Thursday but said the requirement will end for good in April. The move came a day after President Joe Biden slammed the governors of Texas and Mississippi for deciding to lift their mask mandates, saying their actions reflect “Neanderthal thinking.” Ivey has faced political pressure to lift the mask order like her Republican counterparts but said she will follow the recommendations of medical officials and keep the mandate that was set to expire Friday in place until April 9. “We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer," Ivey said at a news conference. The governor called masks “one of our greatest tools” in preventing the virus’ spread but emphasized that she will not extend the mask order further, saying it will become a matter of personal responsibility when the mandate ends. “Even when we lift the mask order, I will continue to wear my mask while I’m around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same,” Ivey said. Medical officials welcomed Ivey’s decision after urging an extension, arguing that easing restrictions before more people were vaccinated could reverse recent improvements. Alabama’s rolling seven-day average of daily cases has dropped from 3,000 in early January to below 1,000 and hospitalizations are at their lowest point since summer. “This is very good news. This gives us a month to vaccinate more people and to get a better handle on the role of the UK variant,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association. So far only about 13% of Alabama’s 4.9 million people have received one dose of vaccine, according to state numbers. State Health Officer Scott Harris said vaccine supplies are increasing and if the state can get a cumulative total of 1.75 million shots delivered by early April, that would be a “terrific place to be.” Harris said about 500,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus and there are likely others who had it but didn’t know. “We are striving to reach this herd immunity point at some point,” Harris said. Dr. Ellen Eaton, who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said schools and organizations serving people who’ve yet to receive a vaccine will need to “carefully consider how to proceed” once the order ends. “For many, continuing masking will be necessary, such as in schools and colleges. But leadership in these spaces needs time to think through the health and policy implications of recommending masks in the absence of a mandate,” she said. Ivey faced backlash on social media for her decision, with some users sharing the phone number to the governor’s office and asking callers to voice opposition to the rule. And the Alabama Senate approved a resolution Wednesday evening urging Ivey to end the mask mandate. Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth also asked Ivey to end the mask requirement, which he has opposed all along, saying individuals can make decisions for themselves and follow safety rules until vaccinations and immunity levels are sufficient. “But we can do all of these things without a Big Brother-style government mandate looming over us,” Ainsworth said in a statement. The governor did lift some restrictions on how many people can sit as a restaurant table, but tables are still required to be 6 feet (2 metres) apart or have a partition. The order also allowed senior citizens to resume some activities and hospitals to increase the number of visitors patients can have from one to two ___ Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Kim Chandler, The Associated Press