LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
An Oxford County micro-farmer is sowing the seeds of a campaign to grow fresh produce for rural families in need this summer. Jeffrey King, from Lakeside, a small village south of St. Marys, plans to support families hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering fresh vegetables from his garden through the growing season. “I just thought, 'What can I do, doing what I do, to help others?' ” he said. “I can grow food. I’m good at growing food.” A volunteer firefighter and stay-at-home dad of two boys, King has been micro-farming and selling his garden produce to locals for years. But this year, he’s making a switch, aiming to expand his endeavours and donate the produce to children and families struggling financially. He’s working with municipal officials and local schools to identify families in need in Lakeside, Embro, Thamesford and area. “In our community, we don’t have food banks, we’re very rural,” King said. “I’d like to find a few families within our own community, it’ll give you that sense of community support.” King is raising money online to cover the costs of seeds and supplies and to expand his operation. He said for about $800 a family, he can provide fresh produce — cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beets — weekly for the bulk of spring, summer and fall. Since King launched his online fundraiser, other local vendors have offered to contribute other essential items, like hygiene products, to his weekly deliveries. He aims to support six to 10 families through the year. “They can take the money they would’ve spent on groceries and put it toward things like rent, hydro … and not have to worry about the large expense of food,” King said. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
The Acadian documentary Belle-Île in Acadie by Moncton filmmaker Phil Comeau won its 100th award over the weekend at Vancouver's French-language film festival. Like the Acadian people it features, the film that premiered at Moncton's Festival International du Cinema Francophone en Acadie in 2019, has since travelled all over the world, said Comeau, who splits his time between Moncton and Montreal. Separated from Acadie for over 250 years, Comeau said it was “mind-blowing” how connected Acadians from all over the world felt connected to the place their families had been deported from generations earlier. Making the film, Comeau said he “learned Acadian culture is stronger than I imagined.” The film focuses on Acadians, in particular those from Belle-Île-en-Mer, an island of the coast of Brittany in France, who travelled to the Maritimes for the 2019 Congres Mondiale, hosted that year by Prince Edward Island and southeastern New Brunswick. Comeau said while he has attended all of the Acadian congresses, when he heard about the Belle-Île group, he saw the potential for a film. It was a moving experience, and a hopeful one, making the documentary, he said.. In one scene, the group received an apology from a woman who is a descendant of Loyalists who took over an Acadian farm in Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia. In other scenes, Acadians, gathered en masse, are seen celebrating their culture in the streets. “People see hope in the film,” Comeau said, noting it's a story that conveys Acadian resilience and pride. Louise Imbeault, president of Société Nationale de l’Acadie, the organization which oversees the World Acadian Congress and a contributor to the film’s financing, said, “sometimes you talk about feel-good movies - this could be a feel-good doc. “I think people want to hear stories where there are things that last in an ever-changing world,” she said, calling it a story of people from one side of the Atlantic still having a lasting connection with people on the other. The documentary also exposes the different experiences of various groups of Acadians. The ancestors of the group visiting from Belle-Île were deported from Acadie and held in England as political prisoners before being released and returned to France eight years later, said Comeau. This is a different history from those who were able to stay hidden in the region during the deportation or settle in different areas of New Brunswick or down the eastern United States. “It’s a different history, a different story,” he said. The experience of displacement is one many groups of people can relate to, Comeau said, noting that there are millions of refugees displaced from other parts of the world at this moment in time, and still other groups who have ancestors with similar experiences. Comeau surmises that may be why the film has done so well on the festival circuit, and is still being requested for screenings. While the film has earned awards and critical praise, significant achievements in his career as a filmmaker, Comeau says he's most touched when the film is screened and well-received in areas where Acadians have settled. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
An outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at St. Eugene Catholic Elementary School in east Hamilton. In a letter to families on Tuesday, the school’s principal said the outbreak was declared “after an epidemiological link was identified between today’s case and an earlier case at the school.” The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board has reported three confirmed cases of the virus — a staff member on Feb. 23, a “third-party employee” on Feb. 22 and a student on Feb. 15 — at the school. “The outbreak is related to the group currently in quarantine,” the letter reads. The board says students and staff at St. Eugene should continue to attend school “unless directed otherwise” by public health. This is the fourth outbreak in a Hamilton school — third in the Catholic board — to be declared in the last week. An outbreak was declared on Feb. 17 at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School on the west Mountain, which currently has nine positive cases — five students and four staff. The west Mountain school is closed to in-person learning until March 1 as a result of the outbreak. COVID-19 testing was offered to all staff and students at St. Teresa of Avila on Feb. 20. The HWCDSB said 60 tests were conducted — 23 PCR tests among those self-isolating and 37 rapid tests for other staff and students. The board said on Monday all 37 rapid tests came back negative, and that it is still waiting on the PCR test results. Three staff cases have been reported at St. Ann Catholic Elementary School in central Hamilton, which has been in outbreak since Feb. 18. An outbreak was also declared Feb. 17 at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s A.M. Cunningham Elementary School, located in central Hamilton, after two students tested positive for the virus. Schools in Hamilton reopened for in-person learning on Feb. 8 with enhanced health and safety measures in place after weeks of remote learning. Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
The Canadian men's soccer team will join the Raptors and Blue Jays in Florida next month. Canada Soccer announced Tuesday that Canada, ranked 73rd in the world, will shift its first home game in World Cup qualifying to Orlando's Exploria Stadium — on March 25 against No. 169 Bermuda — due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The game will be considered a home match in a neutral venue. There will be no fans allowed in the stands. After facing Bermuda, Canada has two away matches — March 28 at the 193rd-ranked Cayman Islands and June 5 at No. 200 Aruba. Canada's other home game in the first qualifying round is June 8 against No. 141 Suriname. Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, said no decision has been made yet on the site for the Suriname matchup. "We're going to continue to work with our provincial and Public Health Canada authorities for the best venue for us for June," he said in an interview. "No decisions have been made. "But it's a changing landscape. We certainly want to play in Canada and we'll do our best to be playing in Canada." The Orlando stadium is currently hosting the SheBelieves Cup, which features the Canadian women and three other teams including the U.S. Montopoli said the Canadian women's experience in Orlando and CONCACAF's positive view of the venue and its COVID-19 protocols had prompted Canada Soccer to choose it. The Canadian men played at Exploria Stadium in November 2019, losing 4-1 to the U.S. in CONCACAF Nations League play. The stadium is home to Orlando City SC of MLS and the NWSL's Orlando Pride. Toronto FC is also looking at shifting its base of operations to Florida, with Orlando a possible site at least for the start of the MLS season, which kicks off April 17. The Toronto Raptors are playing home games in Tampa this season, while the Blue Jays are starting their season with home games in Dunedin. Canada is one of 30 CONCACAF nations, divided into six groups for the first round of World Cup qualifying in the region covering North and Central America and the Caribbean. The group winners advance to a round of head-to-head knockout matches with the three victors joining No. 9 Mexico, the 22nd-ranked Americans, No. 47 Jamaica, No. 50 Costa Rica and No. 64 Honduras in the final round The top three teams from the eight-team final qualifying round-robin round will qualify directly to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fourth-place team qualifies for a FIFA intercontinental playoff. Several previous qualifying road maps were rendered useless by the global pandemic, with international match windows coming and going without play. The Canadian men, who are co-hosting the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and the U.S., have only ever qualified for one World Cup — 1986 in Mexico where they exited after failing to score in losses to France, Hungary and the Soviet Union. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's Cabinet is starting to fill out, with nominees for agriculture secretary and United Nations ambassador gaining Senate approval Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he intends to wrap up the remaining nomination votes quickly. “At a time of acute national challenge, we need qualified leaders atop our federal agencies — and fast,” he said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “And that’s what we intend to do.” Schumer couldn’t resist a jab at former President Donald Trump, saying that all Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly qualified for their positions, a stark departure from the calibre of nominees the Senate was made to consider during the previous administration.” But one of Biden's nominees, Neera Tanden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, is clearly in trouble in the evenly divided Senate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he opposes her confirmation. Here's what happened Tuesday: UNITED NATIONS The Senate voted 78-20 to approve career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, a Cabinet-level position. A 35-year foreign service veteran who resigned during the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield will have to address multiple international relationships that were altered by Trump's erratic and isolationist style. “This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health and global human rights. “We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.” During confirmation hearings, Thomas-Greenfield faced some criticism from Senate Republicans who labeled her soft on China, citing a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute in which she praised China's massive infrastructure and influence program in Africa. She said the speech had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies. She said of China, "They are a threat to their neighbours, and they are a threat across the globe.” ___ AGRICULTURE The Senate voted 92-7 to confirm Tom Vilsack for a return engagement as agriculture secretary. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same department under former President Barack Obama. In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, heavily endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels, saying, “Agriculture is one of our first and best ways to get some wins in this climate area.” Vilsack received minimal pushback or criticism during confirmation hearings. One of the few “no” votes came from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders said he would have liked "somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture.” Vilsack also heavily backed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps, or SNAP — as a key instrument in helping the country’s most vulnerable families survive and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. His Trump-era predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had sought to purge hundreds of thousands of people from the SNAP-recipient lists. ___ HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Becerra told senators that “strong federal leadership” was needed to confront the coronavirus pandemic. He also pledged to work to expand health insurance coverage, curb prescription drug costs and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in medical care. Currently California's attorney general, Becerra appeared Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He has a second confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Finance Committee, which will vote on sending his nomination to the Senate floor. On Tuesday, he pledged to work to expand the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, though he's previously supported a government-run system like “Medicare for All.” Although Democrats have backed Becerra, Republican opposition has grown louder. “I'm not sold yet,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the ranking Republican on the health committee, said, addressing Becerra. “I’m not sure that you have the necessary experience or skills to do this job at this moment.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has called Becerra “famously partisan.” As California attorney general, Becerra filed 124 lawsuits challenged Trump administration actions. ___ INTERIOR Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden's nominee to lead the Interior Department, fielded sharp questions from Republicans over what some called her “radical” ideas that include opposition to fracking and to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The New Mexico congresswoman said she was determined to “strike the right balance” between conserving public lands and energy development. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. Haaland's hearing centred on her and Biden's intentions regarding the future of fossil fuels. Her hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was adjourned after nearly 2 1/2 hours and will resume Wednesday. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., displayed a large chart featuring a quote from Haaland last November, before she was selected as Biden's nominee. She said then: “If I had my way, it’d be great to stop all gas and oil leasing on federal and public lands.” Manchin, the panel's chair and a Democrat from coal-dependent West Virginia, has said he is undecided on Haaland’s nomination. In response to questions from Manchin and others, Haaland said the U.S. will continue to rely on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas even as it moves toward Biden’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to clean energy “is not going to happen overnight,” she said. ___ Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report. Ashraf Khalil, The Associated Press
(Google Maps - image credit) A former Calgary high school teacher recently charged with 17 sexual offences against former students has died but police say the investigation continues. The body of Michael Andreassen Gregory, 57, was found on Vancouver Island. His death is not considered suspicious. The BC Coroners Service confirmed it is investigating the death of a man who matches Gregory's description. Last week, Gregory was charged with six counts of sexual assault and 11 counts of sexual exploitation in connection with incidents alleged to have taken place while he taught at John Ware Junior High School in southwest Calgary between 1999 and 2005. Gregory was a teacher at the school from August 1986 until September 2006. Police say the investigation will continue and are encouraging anyone with information to still come forward. "When a suspect or accused passes away before an investigation is complete, we still finish examining all the evidence to try to learn what happened," said police in a release Tuesday. "This hopefully allows us to give some closure and supports to victims, and helps ensure that no one else who still can be charged was involved in any offence." Police began their investigation last September when a woman reported she and other female students had been undressed by Gregory, exposing them to him and their peers during an unsanctioned canoe trip. Detectives from CPS's sex crimes unit identified five other women who reported sexual interactions with the same teacher between 1999 and 2005. "It is believed that the teacher used his position of trust to groom female students and get them into situations where a range of sexual activities could occur … young people cannot give free and informed consent for any sexual activity with a person in a position of trust," police said in an earlier release.
The review of Grimsby's council structure continues. Grimsby council recently narrowed down the options on the table, voting in favour of considering three to eight wards, seven to nine councillors and keeping an election by ward voting system. Grimsby council heard this report at the committee of the whole meeting on Feb 16. Among other conclusions, a report from StrategyCorp suggested that current ward boundary structures in Grimsby no longer accurately represent the population, given the already unequal spread of residents across the town. The report further suggested that this problem is likely to worsen in the future as the population is expected to grow, specifically in Ward 4. Another question that arose was the possibility of minimizing or increasing the number of councillors and number of wards. The conclusion, per the report, said “the current structure is not obviously broken in a way that would require a change. At the same time, a reduction in the size of council to seven, or even five, is preferred by many as a means of improving decision-making.” John Matheson of StrategyCorp, who was presenting the report to council, said a decision didn’t need to be made right away, and various scenarios would be explored and shared in a later report, likely presented in June. As for election systems, the report suggested that the town’s current election by ward system should suffice for the time being, as opposed to an at large election system. Per the report, this is primarily because of “risk that the loss of wards could lead to the loss of local representation,” and there is “no obvious problem” with the current system. Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
Melaine Simba will never forget the months she spent inside her home on Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation, south of Yellowknife, with her windows tightly shut to prevent wildfire smoke from seeping in. It was the summer of 2014 and she was following public health orders to stay inside during the Northwest Territories’ worst wildfire season on record. “There were fires all around us,” Simba told The Narwhal. “I couldn’t go outside, and I couldn’t take my son outside.” “It was just so hard to breathe in that smoke with all the falling ash.” According to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the wildfires caused extremely poor air quality during the more than two months of unrelenting smoke exposure. This led to a sharp increase in respiratory illnesses, with vulnerable populations, such as children and Indigenous people, disproportionately affected. The study also found that public health advisories asking people to stay inside during the wildfires were “inadequately protective,” possibly because people grew tired of the long period of isolation. With climate change contributing to longer and more intense wildfire seasons, the study authors say there’s an urgent need to be far more prepared in the future. “A really big take home of this study is that climate change is bad, and it is going to get worse,” Courtney Howard, the lead author of the study and an emergency physician in Yellowknife, told The Narwhal, adding that smoke exposure levels during the wildfires were believed to be some of the worst ever studied globally. “We are going to need new, proactive approaches as we go into a warmer, smokier state on this planet.” Warmer temperatures caused by climate change can spur drier conditions, increasing the risk of wildfires. In 2014, moderate to severe drought conditions and lightning strikes were the catalyst for 385 fires that impacted 3.4 million hectares of forest in the Northwest Territories. According to the federal government, temperatures across the North are warming more than twice as fast as the global rate. In Yellowknife, between 1943 and 2011, the annual average temperature in the city increased by 2.5 C. The average level of particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air was five times higher than normal during the 2014 wildfires, compared with the two previous years and 2015. PM 2.5 — inhalable particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter — is associated with a range of respiratory conditions. The study found this increase in particulate matter was associated with an increase in visits to the hospital for asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma-related emergency room visits doubled, with the highest rates found in women, people older than 40 and Dene. Visits for pneumonia increased by 57 per cent, with men, children and Inuit particularly affected. And visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease increased by 11 per cent, with men, the Inuit and Dene populations and people over 60 showing the greatest risk. While the results suggest that Indigenous people were more affected, Howard said it’s difficult to say for sure because they may have been more likely to go to the ER due to lack of access to medical clinics. The demand for medicine that helps alleviate the symptoms of asthma surged, too. The dispensation of salbutamol, the agent found in puffers, increased by 48 per cent. “In fact, one of the pharmacies ran out over the course of the summer,” Howard said. Supply chain problems “demonstrated a lack of resilience,” she added. The study also sheds light on systemic issues that contribute to worse health outcomes in vulnerable populations, including Indigenous people. “Climate-related health effects impact all populations but are likely to disproportionately affect communities living at the frontlines of rapid climate change, as well as those experiencing systemic racism, socioeconomic and health disparities, and/or the enduring effects of colonization,” the study states. Protracted periods of isolation, a lack of exercise, fear and stress during the wildfires also had negative impacts on people’s mental health and way of life, according to a 2018 report that Howard was also involved with. “Livelihood and land-based activities were disrupted for some interviewees, which had negative consequences for mental, emotional and physical well-being,” the report states. During the summer, Indigenous people across the territory fish, hunt and visit old villages and the gravesites of relatives, Jason Snaggs, the chief executive officer of Yellowknives Dene First Nation, told The Narwhal. The wildfires prevented people from taking part in these cultural activities, he added. “This leads to depression, and you have sort of a compounding effect, in terms of colonialism, the effects of residential schools, intergenerational trauma,” Snaggs said. “Some people were visibly traumatized by this event.” Sheltering in place can lead to increased rates of family violence, including violence against Indigenous women, Snaggs added. During the 2016 wildfires that tore through Fort McMurray, Alta., calls to a local family crisis centre increased by upward of 300 per cent, according to Michele Taylor, executive director of Waypoints, an emergency shelter for women and children. Howard said the 2014 wildfires were a seminal event in people’s understanding of climate change in the region. “At the time, ecological grief and eco-anxiety hadn’t really shown up in the evidence base,” she said. “Looking back at our analysis, I think we can easily apply those terms to what we found and say it was a trigger for ecological grief and anxiety for a lot of people.” Howard said communities — particularly Indigenous communities — need to be better equipped to withstand wildfires. Some homes in Indigenous communities are overcrowded and aren’t built to the same standards as those elsewhere in the territory. Howard emphasized the need to address this problem first and foremost. The BMJ study recommends governments install ventilation systems in old and new homes ahead of wildfire season. Doing so would ensure residents have access to clean air without having to leave the house. “Our infrastructure decisions need to be based on the temperature and precipitation patterns that we’re anticipating for the coming century as opposed to the ones we had in the last one,” Howard said. The study also recommends primary health-care practitioners identify people who may grapple with respiratory illnesses and ensure that air filters and puffers are readily available prior to wildfire season. “That will allow people to manage their symptoms at home and never get to the point where they’re stuck in the emergency department,” Howard said. “The sooner particularly vulnerable people have access [to air filters and puffers], the better.” In 2014, the City of Yellowknife waived user fees for a multi-purpose recreation facility so residents could go there to breathe clean, filtered air and exercise, Howard said. But not everyone in Yellowknife is afforded the same level of access. N’Dilo, which is part of Yellowknives Dene First Nation and is located in Yellowknife proper, only has one space people can gather in during a wildfire — a 45-year-old gym that isn’t equipped with a filtration system to keep air clean. The study suggests that public health practitioners use satellite-based smoke forecasting to determine whether clean air shelters are needed in advance of wildfire season and, if necessary, make more available. The 2018 report — which documented the experiences of 30 community members from Yellowknife, Dettah, N’Dilo and Kakisa who lived through the wildfires — found there was a consensus among participants about the need for improved communication and coordination at the community and territorial levels as wildfires intensify. Howard said residents and health-care providers need to proactively prepare for wildfire season every year. “We need to be viewing wildfire season the same way we view cold and flu season.” Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
La Ville de Sutton mandatera une firme d’ingénierie en bâtiment pour faire une nouvelle étude sur l’état du centre culturel et communautaire John-Sleeth ainsi que sur les coûts pour le rénover et le mettre aux normes. La dernière étude, en date de 2019, n’est plus d’actualité avec les coûts en construction qui ont explosé dans la dernière année. Les rapports d’expertise réalisés en 2018 et 2019 sur le bâtiment ont été dévoilés vendredi dernier. Les experts consultés recommandaient de nombreux travaux, mais le coût de ceux-ci ne dépassait pas, à l’époque, 1,2 M$. Le rapport pour la mécanique du bâtiment proposait des rénovations se chiffrant, en 2019, à 232 650 $. La firme d’architecture parlait quant à elle de travaux estimés à 658 200 $. Et des travaux d’approximativement 224 200 $ étaient recommandés pour la structure. Devant cette estimation, des citoyens qui souhaitent la survie du bâtiment construit en 1886 se sont questionnés encore plus sur la nécessité d’étudier d’autres options que la rénovation. Le maire Michel Lafrance a réitéré d’entrée de jeu, en visioconférence, qu’aucune décision n’a été prise. La reconstruction fait partie des options, mais le conseil n’a toujours pas tranché. Il a constaté que le dossier soulève les passions. M. Lafrance l’a observé sur les réseaux sociaux, mais aussi dans sa boîte courriel où il a reçu plusieurs courriels en faveur, mais aussi en défaveur de la rénovation. Mise à jour Comme les choses peuvent avoir évolué depuis bientôt deux ans et que les coûts pour les matériaux de construction ont augmenté, les élus souhaitent avoir des données à jour. «Il y a eu une discussion lundi, en caucus, et la municipalité va accorder un mandat à une firme d’ingénierie en bâtiment pour mettre l’ensemble des études à jour, annonce le directeur général Pascal Smith en entrevue. On a plusieurs études en structure, en mécanique et en architecture. Donc, on va donner un mandat pour reprendre l’ensemble du travail et d’arriver, dans un seul document, avec tous les coûts pour la rénovation et la mise aux normes du bâtiment.» Le rapport actualisé devrait être livré en avril prochain. «Évidemment, ça va être disponible», ajoute le maire. Consultation publique Afin d’obtenir un mandat clair de la population sur l’avenir du centre John-Sleeth, la municipalité veut organiser une consultation publique. La façon dont sera tenue la consultation publique n’est pas déterminée encore, mentionne Me Smith. «On va essayer de faire ça, je dirais, à la fin du printemps, début été.» Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's top elections administrator on Tuesday urged state lawmakers to move all of this year's municipal elections to 2022 and bump back next year's primaries from March to May due to delayed Census data. Census numbers play a crucial role in how legislative districts are redrawn every decade. But even though the data was supposed to be delivered by next month, the federal government does not expect to have it ready to be released until September because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina is now either the first state in the nation or among the first to put forward a plan that pushes local government contests to 2022. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, cited the Census setbacks as the driving force behind her recommendation to postpone the elections. She noted that 62 of the more than 500 municipalities across the state need the Census data because candidates submit paperwork or voters cast ballots based on their specific ward or district. While it's possible for many of the remaining local governments that do not require districts or wards to go forward without the Census data, Bell called on lawmakers to follow her advice in order to address redistricting and avoid confusing voters. “It is very difficult for voters to understand why one municipality would be having an election, while another is not, especially when they're accustomed to those elections being held at the same time,” Bell said. She noted it's unlikely redistricting would be completed in time for the December filing deadline ahead of the March 2022 primary. Every 10 years, states are tasked with creating new maps for state legislative and congressional races. Because of the delayed Census, Bell is asking leaders to endorse her 2022 recommendations for a May 3 primary, July 12 runoff primary and Nov. 8 general election. “We would propose that the municipal elections coincide with those election dates." The 2022 primaries include bids for U.S. Senate and House, judicial races and state legislative seats. Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said she was not aware of any other places where Census delays could cause municipal elections to be delayed. Underhill noted there's a bill in Connecticut that would move municipal elections to November, but that is likely more of a reflection of a national trend of states adjusting their calendars for local races to boost voter turnout than a response to the delayed Census. Michael Li, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center who focuses on redistricting, noted that a bill was filed in Texas earlier this month that would give the governor, lieutenant governor and state House speaker the ability to move the state's 2022 primary if a redistricting plan is not in effect by Sept. 1. He believes the Census lag could become a catalyst for states like North Carolina to transition local elections to even-numbered years. In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has the ultimate decision on when to hold the elections, and the state elections board is tasked with carrying out the plan. Some state elections officials are concerned with the proposed overhaul to the voting timetable, particularly in places where updated Census data is not needed to carry out local contests. “It causes me some heartburn to think about making a sweeping change that's going to affect the election schedule proposal," said Stacy Eggers, a Republican member on the state board of elections. Scott Mooneyham, a spokesman for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, said Bell's plan could actually lead to more confusion among longtime voters whose communities are unaffected by the Census but will experience later elections. “I’m not suggesting the Board of Elections can do magic and fix this problem, but I’m not at all convinced that having a one-size-fits-all approach to this is the best approach,” Mooneyham said. Damon Circosta, the Democratic chairman of the board, said he shares concerns about a lack of timely voting but added, “There's really no good solution, and I trust the General Assembly will do what they need to do to give us the direction we need.” ___ Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson. ___ Anderson is a corps members for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Bryan Anderson, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Police are still seeking a suspect in the slaying of a Montreal-area woman on Sunday who had told authorities days prior about being the victim of alleged death threats. Provincial police said there have been no arrests in the killing of Marly Edouard, 32, known in Haiti's music scene as a former manager, producer and radio host. A command post was set up near her home in the Montreal suburb of Laval on Monday; a police spokeswoman said Tuesday she had no new information to provide. Djimy Ducasse, who lives in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and co-owned a music agency with Edouard, said in an interview Tuesday the community to which Edouard was closely tied is taking her death hard. Edouard came to Canada in 2016 and, two years later, set up Symbiose509, a Laval-based promotion, marketing and events agency with Ducasse, which operated in Haiti. Ducasse said he met Edouard in 2013 when she was managing rap stars in Haiti and he was hosting a radio show. It was a friendship that would continue with the pair becoming business partners. “We became good friends, we spoke all the time, we spoke about business, we spoke about everything and nothing,” said Ducasse, who last spoke to her on Friday — the same day she reported alleged threats to local police. Ducasse said they spoke about some tasks she wanted him to do and some recent health problems she'd encountered, but she never mentioned anything about threats on her life. He said he had tried calling her Sunday but Edouard never responded, which he said was unlike her. On Monday, Ducasse was alerted to Montreal media reports that Edouard had been killed. Quebec provincial police have classified Edouard's death as a homicide and have said her body bore marks of violence when it was found Sunday in the parking lot of her condominium building. Meanwhile, Quebec’s police watchdog is investigating the Laval police's response to the alleged threats Edouard reported last Friday. The Bureau des enquetes independantes said Edouard had called 911 to ask for help from Laval police on Feb. 19. The call was placed about 12:40 p.m. to police; officers met with her and left, according to the watchdog agency. Less than 48 hours later, Edouard was found dead. Edouard was described by Ducasse as kind and driven. She had been involved in the music scene in Haiti at a very young age and had worked with many artists in the country. Some artists took to social media to pay their respects to her. “Marly isn’t someone that went unnoticed,” Ducasse said. “Everyone who was part of the rap scene in Haiti, it was nearly impossible to not have worked on at least one project with Marly Edouard. It’s why her death hits hard for a lot of people in Haiti." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Tyson Koschik/CBC - image credit) The government of Nunavut announced the schedule for the next round of COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the territory. In a news release Tuesday, it said the dates are subject to change based on the delivery and supply of the Moderna vaccine. Clinics for residents to receive first doses of the vaccine will be held in: Iqaluit, beginning March 1, for those 45 years old and over, at Iqaluit Public Health; Sanirajak, on March 5 and 6, at Arnaqjuaq School; Arctic Bay, from March 8 to 10, at the community hall; Clyde River, on March 15 and 16, at Quluaq School; and Pangnirtung, from March 15 to 17, at the community hall. Clinics for residents to receive their second dose will be held in: Kugaaruk, on March 5 and 6 at Arviligruaq Ilinniarvik School; Sanikiluaq, on March 8 and 9, at the community hall; Coral Harbour, on March 12 and 13, at Sakku School; Naujaat, on March 16 and 17 at Tusarvik School; Kimmirut, on March 29 at Qaqqalik School; Qikiqtarjuaq, on March 29 and 30, at Inuksuit School; Kugluktuk, from March 29 to 31, at Jimmy Hikok School; Taloyoak, on April 5 and 6, at Netsilik School; and Iqaluit, on weekdays and Saturdays at Iqaluit Public Health for priority groups only. Public health officials said residents who received their first dose should receive a reminder from their health centre about their second doses. They said residents must be in the same community for both doses. "Call your local health centre if you missed the first clinic in your community and want to receive the vaccine," the release states. It added that priority will be given to Nunavummiut who are scheduled for their second dose. "If no additional doses are available, a wait list will be created and individuals will be able to receive their first dose once additional vaccine supply is sent to the territory," reads the release.
VANCOUVER — A report commissioned by the BC Salmon Farmers Association says millions of juvenile salmon and eggs will be destroyed because of a federal decision to phase out fish farms in British Columbia's Discovery Islands. The report by economics firm RIAS Inc. says more than 10.7 million young salmon and eggs will be destroyed over the course of the 18-month phase-out. The industry association says in a news release that salmon farmers operate in five-year cycles and were expecting to transfer the young fish to farms that are fallowing when they reach maturity. The report also estimates the farm closures will results in the loss of 690 jobs in the salmon industry and put at risk an additional 845 jobs in indirect industries like car rental companies and veterinary colleges. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan announced in December her decision to phase out the farms after hearing unanimous opposition from local First Nations. She said licences for the Discovery Island would receive a final 18-month extension to allow existing fish on the farms to mature to harvest. "While the culling of any fish would be unfortunate, industry leaders would have known for months prior, if not years, that a final decision would be made by December 2020 regarding the future of the farms," Jordan's office says in a statement. The statement cited a recommendation by the Cohen commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye in 2012 that fish farm licences should only be renewed on an annual basis in the region. The commission said the Discovery Islands act as a bottleneck along wild salmon migration routes. Eliminating the fish farms was one of its key recommendations. The recommendation was also contingent on Fisheries and Oceans finding more than a minimal risk to migrating sockeye by September 2020. Last fall, the department reported finding nine pathogens from farmed Discovery Islands salmon, but said they posed minimal risk to wild stocks. "B.C. salmon farmers are asking that the decision be set aside to give everyone with a stake in salmon farming time to develop a plan to minimize the serious impacts of this decision," the industry association says. The Fisheries Department says it's working with the provincial government, industry, First Nations and other stakeholders to transition away from open-net pen farming by 2025. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(skyscraperpage.com - image credit) Two patients who didn't have COVID-19 when they entered a St. John's hospital are now ill with the virus, in addition to another staff member at the facility. Multiple sources in the health-care system have confirmed to CBC News that the two patients at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital were not COVID-positive when they were admitted earlier this month. On Feb. 10, an Eastern Health employee at St. Clare's learned they were positive while at work. That person didn't break any rules or regulations — they had been told by the health authority that the current policy meant they would continue to work their scheduled shifts at the hospital after getting swabbed for the virus, and before their result was available. "There was some suggestion that the individual wasn't following public health guidelines, but they actually were," Eastern Health president and CEO David Diamond told CBC News last week. The health-care worker, whose test later confirmed they had COVID-19, was asymptomatic while working in the St. Clare's ward where the two patients subsequently contracted the virus. It's not clear whether the Eastern Health employee is linked to any of the three cases — the two patients and the staff member — who contracted COVID-19 at the hospital. The two St. Clare's patients have since been admitted to the COVID ward at the Health Sciences Centre, CBC was told. Eastern Health won't confirm any details After the province identified coronavirus variant B117 as the cause of the outbreak that has gripped the metro region for over two weeks, Eastern Health changed its rules, requiring staff to self-isolate after a COVID-19 test. They can now return to work only after they have been confirmed negative. While hospitals across Canada have repeatedly battled outbreaks within their walls, it's believed to be the first time this type of spread has happened in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, Eastern Health would not confirm or deny whether, in fact, a patient contracted the virus while in a hospital. The health authority declined multiple requests for comment before issuing a statement by email to CBC. It would not answer specific questions from CBC, citing privacy concerns. "In cases where low numbers are involved and the risk of identification of individuals is too high, Eastern Health is unable to confirm or provide details of employees, physicians or patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 at individual facilities," the statement says. Two unions that represent health-care workers in the province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees and the Registered Nurses' Union N.L., also declined to comment. The health authority suspended all visitation in the affected St. Clare's ward, a general surgery unit, after it learned of the employee's positive test on Feb. 10. As of Feb. 16, 512 health-care workers were in isolation as of Monday, including more than 400 in the Eastern Health region. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, his second run at the Cabinet post. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same department for former President Barack Obama's entire administration. He was confirmed Tuesday on a 92-7 vote. In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, heavily endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels, saying, “Agriculture is one of our first and best ways to get some wins" on climate change. He proposed “building a rural economy based on biomanufacturing” and “turning agricultural waste into a variety of products.” He pledged to work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to “spur the industry” on biofuels. With systemic racial inequity now a nationwide talking point, Vilsack also envisioned creating an “equity task force” inside the department. Its job, he said, would be to identify what he called “intentional or unintentional barriers" that prevent or discourage farmers of colour from properly accessing federal assistance programs. Vilsack also heavily backed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps, or SNAP — as a key instrument in helping the country's most vulnerable families survive and recover from the pandemic era. His Trump-era predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had sought to purge hundreds of thousands of people from the SNAP-recipient lists. Ashraf Khalil, The Associated Press
If you’re keen to support Indigenous youth getting up on the mountain, here’s your chance. The First Nations Snowboard Team (FNST) for the Kamloops region is holding a raffle, which will serve as one if its main fundraising events for the season. Money raised will go towards paying for the cost of coaching and equipment, all of which is covered by the team for participants. This year, 32 Indigenous youth are involved with the program. Leeann Eustache, one of the organizers of the raffle, said the club has been a terrific outlet for her son, helping him build his confidence. “He’s hoping he can one day go up [to Sun Peaks] with his friends,” she said. The FNST has so far been up twice this year. The team is easy to pick out, as the riders sport cool black jackets with Indigenous artwork on the back. Established in 2004, the FNST organization has hundreds of members and 12 regional teams across Canada. The FNST recreation program offers a season pass, 10 days of coaching, along with youth leadership, mentoring and instructor-training programs. The FNST high performance team consists of experienced snowboarders who have an aspiration to compete. “They compete at B.C. provincials, Western Canadian championships, with the goal of competing at nationals, NorAm and World Cup, with the ultimate goal of the Winter Olympic Games,” said Eustache. FNST athletes are also given the opportunity to become certified snowboard instructors, allowing increased employment options. All FNST members must sign athlete agreements requiring them to maintain a C+ average in school or be seeking tutoring, not smoke/vape or drink alcohol, be a community member of good standing and attend 90 per cent of all organized activities. The FNST raffle is registered through the British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. Tickets are $5 each or two for $10. First prize is $1,000, second is $750, third is $500, and fourth is $250. Only 2,000 tickets will be sold. The cut off date for ticket sales is March 11, with the draw being conducted on March 14. If you’d like a ticket you can contact Lee Ann Eustache on Facebook, text her at 250 318 0304 or email her at email@example.com. E-transfers will be accepted. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
La crise de logements dans les communautés, dont celle de Uashat mak Maliotenam met en lumière les besoins criants liés à la surpopulation au sein d’une même maison, mais également de l’itinérance. De bonnes nouvelles viennent enfin d’être annoncées. Un projet visant l’aboutissement de plus de 200 logements abordables, sur une période de 5 ans, a été confirmé grâce, à l’aide de Services Autochtones Canada. L’étape, actuellement embryonnaire, permettra d’entreprendre des démarches afin de construire des maisons supplémentaires dans les communautés. Les constructions sont évaluées aux environs de 45 M$, sur 5 ans. Il s’agit, en moyenne, de 40 maisons par année. «La surpopulation dans les maisons et la difficulté d’accès à des logements sociaux qui conviennent aux besoins des familles sont au cœur des préoccupations de plusieurs communautés des Premières Nations partout à travers le Canada. La construction de nouvelles unités de logements et de maisons adaptées chez nous permettrait de combler une partie de nos besoins.», mentionne le Chef Mike Mckenzie. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord