Cold wind and waves in Birchy Bay, Nfld.
Cold wind and waves in Birchy Bay, Nfld.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
Digit Murphy has delivered the famous Herb Brooks speech to the Toronto Six. The NWHL expansion team's head coach invoked the words of the late Miracle on Ice coach in a social-media video. But if the Six lift the Isobel Cup in Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., the women will have beaten odds as the U.S. men's team did in upsetting the Soviet Union for Olympic hockey gold in the same building in 1980. The Six play their first NWHL games in Lake Placid starting Saturday. COVID-19 restrictions in Toronto limited the Six to fewer team practices than their more established American competition, Murphy said. "We've had maybe six or seven practices together," Murphy told The Canadian Press. "We're a brand new franchise doing everything during COVID. We don't even know what the other teams look like. We have no idea how fast they are. "If we win, this is definitely going to be Miracle 2.0. We're preparing for the real miracle and the Canadians win." The Six kick off the NWHL's compressed season against the Metropolitan Riveters in the first game of Saturday's tripleheader. The Six, Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps play each other in a round robin, followed by a playoff round to determine Isobel Cup semifinalists. The semifinals Feb. 4 and championship game Feb. 5 will be broadcast on NBCSN. The WNBA and National Women's Soccer League kept professional female athletes competing in 2020 despite the global pandemic by running competition hubs with certain restrictions to avoid the spread of the virus. The NWHL, which pays annual salaries reportedly up to $15,000, didn't crown a 2020 champion in its fifth season because of the pandemic. The sixth season will consist of 24 games over 14 days with no spectators in Lake Placid. The players will be tested daily among other COVID-19 precautions. "I think a lot of people are looking at us to see how we navigate this," said Six defender Emma Greco of Burlington, Ont. "We have a lot of eyes on us. It's really important for us to compete in the bubble especially because the finals and the semifinals are going to be on NBC Sports, which is a huge deal. "If we can pull this off, professionally, safely, it will send a big message to everyone about women's ice hockey." Six forward Emma Woods of Burford, Ont., will play her first games since February, 2020, when she was a member of Sweden's Leksand IF club. "It's been a while," Woods said. "We're all extremely grateful to have the opportunity to even be on the ice right now. Most teams aren't aside from the pros. "It's a great thing for women's hockey. We all want to grow the game. I think the bubble is kind of putting us on that platform and giving us the chance to do that." A two-week tournament plus the required 14-day quarantine upon return to Canada is a significant time commitment for Six players. Players under contract will be paid their full salaries despite the condensed schedule and players who opt out will also be paid their salary, the NWHL has said. The Six travelled by bus to Lake Placid on Thursday. The majority of the roster is Canadian NCAA Division 1 alumni with some who also played in the defunct Canadian Women's Hockey League. Most of Canada's national team players are affiliated with the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association and currently attending a camp in Calgary. The PWHPA has yet to schedule games or tournaments involving Canadians this season. A PWHPA all-star team of Americans, including 11 from the 2018 Olympic team, capped a two-week tournament against men's junior teams in Tampa, Fla., this week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A New York judge on Thursday denied the National Rifle Association’s bid to throw out a state lawsuit that seeks to put the powerful gun advocacy group out of business. Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to move ahead in state court in Manhattan, rather than dismissing it on technical grounds or moving it to federal court, as the NRA’s lawyers desired. James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state non-profit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. James is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over non-profit organizations incorporated in the state, such as the NRA, Cohen said. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said at a hearing held by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen also rejected the NRA’s arguments that James’ lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and should’ve been filed in Albany, where the NRA’s incorporation paperwork lists an address. The NRA’s arguments for dismissing the case did not involve the merits of the case. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, though it is headquartered in Virginia and last week filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to reincorporate in that state. The NRA, in announcing its bankruptcy filing last Friday, said it wanted to break free of a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” and that it saw Texas as friendlier to its interests. The NRA’s lawyers said at a bankruptcy court hearing on Wednesday in Dallas that they wouldn’t use the Chapter 11 proceedings to halt the lawsuit. After Thursday’s ruling, they said they were ready to go ahead with the case, including a meeting with lawyers from James’ office on Friday and another hearing in March. In a letter to Cohen in advance of Thursday’s heading, NRA lawyer Sarah Rogers said the organization had no position on seeking to stay the case through bankruptcy, but that it reserved right to seek such orders from bankruptcy court in the future. Normally, a bankruptcy filing would halt all pending litigation. James’ office contends that its lawsuit is covered by an exemption involving a state’s regulatory powers and cannot be stopped by bankruptcy. Assistant New York Attorney General James Sheehan said he hoped to bring the case to trial by early 2022. In seeking to dismiss or move the state’s lawsuit to federal court, Rogers argued that many of its misspending and self-dealing allegations were also contained in pending lawsuits in federal court — a slate of cases she described as a “tangled nest of litigation.” Part of Rogers’ argument for moving the state lawsuit to federal court involved an error in the state’s original filing that she said altered the timeline of when it was filed. James’s office filed its lawsuit on Aug. 6, but later had to amend the complaint to include a part that was left. That same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging James’ actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” Rogers contended that because of the filing glitch James’ lawsuit should be considered a counterclaim to the NRA’s lawsuit and handled alongside of it in federal court. Cohen rejected that, saying Rogers was placing “far too much weight on a non-substantive error that was quickly fixed.” “The attorney general filed first,” he said. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
Le maire de Baie-des-Sables et ex-préfet de la MRC de La Matanie, Denis Santerre, a confirmé son départ de la vie municipale en 2021 depuis décembre, à la suite de rumeurs entourant sa santé. M. Santerre s’explique sur la situation et dresse un bilan de son expérience politique. Les élections municipales de 2021 arrivent à grand pas, où il sera temps en novembre de nommer un nouveau conseil municipal à Baie-des-Sables. En effet, M. le maire ne pourra pas se représenter à nouveau pour un énième mandat, alors qu’il est maintenant âgé de 63 ans et aux prises avec des problèmes de santé. « J’adorerais pouvoir me présenter, mais malheureusement je suis atteint de la maladie du Parkinson, et elle s’est détériorée avec le temps. Sinon, c’est certain que je ferais d’autres mandats : les gens m’ont élu dans le passé avec un taux de participation à 74 %, et j’ai gagné 75 % des votes de la municipalité », a expliqué M. Santerre. La communauté l’a poussé dans le dos et encouragé depuis le début, a-t-il ajouté. « Quand on parle aux gens de Baie-des-Sables, ils disent qu’ils sont contents de ce qui a été fait par le conseil et de mes accomplissements à date », assure-t-il. Il mentionne notamment les installations et infrastructures de qualité dont ses citoyens bénéficient. Peu importe, M. Santerre ne pourra pas renouveler un mandat municipal, strictement pour des raisons de santé. Denis Santerre concluera sa douzième année à la tête de la municipalité et son troisième mandat au conseil municipal en 2021. Il se dit fier et satisfait du travail accompli, mais aussi fatigué après ces années. « Il faut aimer ça, car ça te demande beaucoup d’être maire, même pour les petites municipalités. S’ils sont sur le marché du travail en plus, c’est plus difficile. » Il défend qu’une de ses grandes qualités en tant que maire est d’être l’élément rassembleur au sein de sa municipalité. En effet, en entrant dans le monde municipal en 2009, ses concitoyens exprimaient des désaccords sur plusieurs dossiers, mais ils ont finalement été résolus. « Je souhaite donc que la prochaine personne à prendre la place soit à l’écoute de la population, qu’elle fasse des consultations publiques comme nous l’avons fait, par exemple », évoque-t-il. Le maire Santerre s’est d’ailleurs entretenu avec ses conseillers municipaux en décembre pour évaluer si une des cinq femmes ou l’homme étaient intéressés à se présenter comme maire, mais personne ne s’est avancé pour l’instant. Il juge que cette situation pourrait changer dans un futur rapproché.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
OTTAWA — Julie Payette resigned as Canada's Governor General Thursday, saying that to protect the integrity of her office and for the good of the country, it was time for her to go. Clouds of controversy have hung over Payette since she took over the post in 2017 but a storm was poised to break out with the imminent release of the results of an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. Payette apologized for the tensions at Rideau Hall in the last several months, but in a statement announcing her historic resignation — a first for a Governor General — she also suggested she disagreed with the characterizations of her leadership. "We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions," she said. "I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my viceregal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed," she continued. "Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times." She also suggested the move was made for personal reasons, citing her father's declining health. "So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation," she wrote. In a terse statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged he had received her resignation. “Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," he said. "Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review." Trudeau had previously defended Payette, even as the Privy Council Office hired a third-party investigator to examine allegations of workplace harassment in the office of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. That came after CBC reports alleged that Payette belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit. Payette had welcomed the review at the time, saying she was deeply concerned about the allegations. Payette, a former astronaut, was named to the position in 2017. Her predecessor David Johnston had been selected by the previous Conservative government using an ad hoc committee that was later turned into an official panel on viceregal appointments. But upon forming government in 2015, Trudeau abandoned that approach and moved the selection process inside his office. Payette's appointment was controversial from the outset. Shortly after she took the job, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charged unfounded, and it has since been expunged. But as details of that incident emerged, so did revelations that she was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both incidents raised immediate questions about how thoroughly she had been vetted for the job, and accusations she wasn't the right fit for it have dogged her ever since. She did not move into the official residence of Rideau Hall when she took the job, and nearly two years in, still wasn't living there, citing privacy concerns linked to ongoing renovations. The cost of those renovations became one of several issues that dogged her, as questions were raised about whether they were necessary or being done out of preference and at too high a cost to the taxpayer. Instead, Payette based herself in her home province of Quebec, where she has also spent a great deal of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. As reports of how she was allegedly treating her staff emerged, Trudeau expressed his confidence in her abilities, dismissing the idea of replacing her. During an interview on RED FM's The Harjinder Thind Show in Vancouver in September he said she was excellent. "I think on top of the COVID crisis, nobody's looking at any constitutional crises," he said. In the event a Governor General can't carry out the job, is removed, or dies, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada assumes the office's powers as long as necessary. "A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course, ” Trudeau said. While the Governor General is a largely symbolic position, it does have some constitutional importance, particularly during a minority government such as the one Canada has now. In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper asked then-governor general Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote he was expected to lose — a decision that was controversial at the time but in keeping with constitutional tradition. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
Irving Oil laid off about 60 employees at the Saint John refinery Thursday, citing the "extreme and serious impacts" of the COVID-19 pandemic. These positions represent about seven per cent of the refinery workforce, according to a news release issued by the company. The job losses come on top of reductions to the contractor workforce earlier this year to 225, from its first-quarter average of about 1,000. Irving Oil president Ian Whitcomb and Irving Oil executive vice-president Sarah Irving said the latest cut was a difficult decision. "The collapse in demand for motor fuels, jet fuel and other refined products, together with extreme market volatility, serious negative impacts to refining margins and high levels of uncertainty about the depth and duration of the downturn in our economies, continue to create prolonged and significant challenges," they said in a statement. "These challenges have forced our company — like others in our industry — to make major changes to our operations and we are sorry for the impact that these actions have had on our team." The company is committed to supporting its employees through this difficult transition, they said. No other details were provided. 250 job cuts last July Last summer, Irving Oil cut 250 people from its workforce in Canada, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, saying the challenges from the pandemic were "unlike any we have ever experienced." Those jobs represented about six per cent of its 4,100 employees. About 173 of the laid-off workers were based in New Brunswick, according to Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long, who said he had spoken to senior company officials about the cuts. "Most of those in Saint John," he had tweeted at the time. Irving Oil's corporate headquarters are in Saint John, where it operates its refinery, the largest in Canada. It is capable of producing more than 320,000 barrels per day. The company also owns Ireland's only oil refinery, in Whitegate, along with about 900 retail filling stations in Canada and New England. In May, Irving said it planned to buy and reopen the Come by Chance oil refinery in eastern Newfoundland, but the deal fell through in October without either party offering an explanation.
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
A yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is extremely concerning because it appears to be spreading more quickly among residents, public health officials said Thursday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said the unusually rapid spread of the virus at Roberta Place earlier this month prompted officials to start testing for a variant strain. Fifty-five people at the nursing home became ill within 48 hours of the first COVID-19 case being identified, said Dr. Colin Lee, the unit's associate medical officer of health. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported that 122 residents and 69 staff had been infected, and 19 residents had died. The variant was identified in six cases and further results are expected in the coming days, the unit said. "The problem is that this spreads so quickly to so many people that ultimately you're going to have a higher chance of more people severely ill and (more) deaths," Lee said. There's a "very high probability" that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants – strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, said Lee. Public health officials will be carrying out more testing at the home and will be trying to immunize as many residents and staff at the facility as possible, he said. An earlier immunization effort saw only 21 residents vaccinated as most others were already infected with COVID-19, he said. "We went in there on Saturday and immunized as many as we could," he said. The health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible so they can self-isolate if needed, said Lee. "One of our primary goals right now is to prevent the spread further, as it gets into households and other hospitals," Lee said. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical of health, said public health officials will also be stepping up infection prevention and control at the home. Yaffe said the source of infection is still hard to determine as the outbreak at the home is still under investigation. "At this point, we know a mutation is in there. The 501 mutation that’s associated with increased transmissibility ... We don’t know which mutant it is, or which variant of concern," she said. “So it’s hard to say right now how widespread it is because we don’t even know exactly what it is.” Last week, the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Roberta Place to help with the growing outbreak. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, along with other local organizations, has also been asked to help manage it. The Ministry of Long-Term Care said Thursday that it was working with its health partners to ensure staffing levels at the home were sufficient. “This development underscores the need for everyone to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our long-term care homes, especially as we find more evidence of new variants in our communities,” said spokeswoman Krystle Caputo. The nursing home's website says it can accommodate 137 residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Maple Leafs are looking for balance. And they're hoping their best player will be part of the solution. In the wake of Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton where Toronto severely limited Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl at 5 on 5, but also failed to offer much of anything going the other way in a plodding, mostly uneventful affair, the Leafs are aiming for more symmetry. "Just because we're defending well doesn't mean we can't be attacking and playing well in the offensive zone," said winger Zach Hyman. "You can have both. You don't have to have one without the other." What's unclear is whether Toronto will have star centre Auston Matthews to help lead the charge in Friday's rematch at Scotiabank Arena. The 23-year-old took the ice before Thursday's practice, had a conversation with assistant coach Manny Malhotra and another chat with a trainer before departing ahead of the formal session. "He just wasn't feeling great coming off the game," Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. "We'll have an update (Friday) morning." Toronto is already minus two options up front with veteran forward Joe Thornton, who suffered an upper-body injury against the Oilers, expected to miss time, and winger Nick Robertson (knee) unavailable. Keefe put his lines in a blender out of necessity Thursday, bumping Hyman into the top-6 alongside John Tavares and William Nylander, while Jimmy Vesey skated in Thornton's spot with taxi squad member Adam Brooks — a practice placeholder for Matthews — and Mitch Marner. "We'll see how it all comes together," Keefe said. "There's a lot of things happening. The health of our players in our lineup is one thing. (The) salary cap and how all those things move around affect a lot of different decisions. We'll see how it all settles." The Leafs gave up a fluke own goal, a power-play effort from Draisaitl that came off a fortunate bounce and an empty-netter in Wednesday's matchup that, despite a boatload of talent under one roof, never saw the expected fireworks materialize. "We negated the biggest offensive threats on their team," Keefe said. "It gave us a chance to win, but certainly we have to deliver on the other side of the puck as well." Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen, who seems to be finding his groove after some early hiccups, had a front-row seat to the on-ice chess match — the first of nine meetings between the North Division rivals in this abbreviated season. "I saw two teams that definitely locked it down pretty good defensively," he said. "Great teams do both things well. I think we have that ability. It's something we want to set the standard to do every night. "Even though you play well, you might not get the results you want." Oilers head coach Dave Tippett made the point after his team's practice Thursday that both rosters have a say in the other's ability or inability to score at even strength. "It's almost funny to me how everybody talked all (off-season) about Toronto and Edmonton have to defend better," he said of the offensive juggernauts' past troubles keeping the puck out of their respective nets. "And then Toronto and Edmonton actually defend well, and now they think it's a bad hockey game. "It just baffles me sometimes." Leafs blue-liner Jake Muzzin said finding a balance between trying to contain elite skill and pushing forward can be tricky. "Good players, you've got to focus in on them and take away their game," he said. "But on the flip side, you've got to realize we've got to focus on us, too, and make plays. "Maybe (on Wednesday) we focused a little too much on defending." As for Toronto's new line combinations, Hyman said he's looking forward to suiting up with Tavares and Marner after playing with both separately at different points in their careers. "Excited to get at it," Hyman said. "This year more than any year, your depth is going to be tested. Fortunately for us, we have a ton of guys who can move up and down the lineup." Keefe said despite the criticism of Wednesday's performance — it was far from easy on the eye — the Oilers deserved credit for a committed defensive effort. Now the Leafs need to respond. "They clearly came in with a plan," Keefe said. "It was two teams that were trying to respect each other's strengths and nullify them. Ultimately, as much as we didn't like our game ... we gave ourselves a chance. "There's lot of encouraging signs there. We've just got to put it all together. We'll stay at it." Notes: Toronto officially placed Robertson on long-term injured reserve. ... Edmonton winger James Neal (COVID-19 protocols) practised with the Oilers and could draw into the lineup Friday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is at a "tipping point" as health officials try to control the spread of COVID-19, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Thursday. Officials are giving time to see if present health orders are working, she said, adding that they won't hesitate to move the province into another tight lockdown if necessary. "We know that once the doubling time shortens to the point where you're doubling every day, that's exponential growth and we definitely don't want to see that," Russell said. "We definitely are at a tipping point." Russell said the number of new infections in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton zones appear stable after officials moved those regions to the red pandemic-alert level. The Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi zones will remain at the orange level, she said, adding that her biggest concern is the Edmundston region, which shares a border with Quebec. "The situation in (Edmundston) remains gravely concerning," Russell said. "The outbreak has spread into workplaces and adult residential facilities, which is deeply worrying." Health officials reported 32 new cases Thursday, bringing the province's active reported case count to 324. Of the new cases, 19 were identified in the Edmundston area. New Brunswick's case rate is about 132 cases per 100,000 people. Premier Blaine Higgs said the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton zones could move back to the orange level sooner rather than later. "If we continue to focus on protecting each other, we could move these zones to orange in a mater of days, not weeks or months," he said. University of Toronto professor Dr. David Fisman said New Brunswick's current situation is similar to where Manitoba was last fall, right before cases rose sharply after months of relatively few infections. “I have been suggesting to people that New Brunswick is on a knife edge right now and can go either way,” Fisman said in an email Thursday. Manitoba, which once had some of the lowest infection rates in the country, quickly became a cautionary tale as cases rose by several hundred each day by mid-November. Fisman said certain factors have preceded big waves in places that previously had a low case count, including the spread of COVID-19 in schools, meat-packing facilities, long-term care homes and among highly mobile young people. Dalhousie University immunology professor David Kelvin said reducing viral transmission among the young is key to controlling the virus, because cases in youth are often asymptomatic. Kelvin said in an email Thursday that strategies such as pop-up rapid testing may help identify hot spots among young people. He added, however, that more research may be needed to see what lies behind the New Brunswick case increases in order to project where trend is headed. “It could be New Brunswick is in the early stages and will continue on the exponential increase in cases,” he said, though there is also the possibility the numbers have plateaued as social events from the holiday season have subsided, he added. Fisman said he found the province's interventions "lagging," adding that shifting between various pandemic-alert levels isn't ideal when faced with a sharp increase in cases. "I think when you are hanging on to de facto COVID-free status, it is worth pulling out the stops and having a short, hard lockdown … the whole enchilada," Fisman said. "It is significant short-term pain, but as Manitoba showed, the cost of allowing things to spiral is far more painful." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. — By Danielle Edwards in Halifax and with files from Michael Tutton. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — A day after President Joe Biden’s inauguration went off with only a handful of minor arrests and incidents, more than 15,000 National Guard members are preparing to leave Washington, D.C. and head home. The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with co-ordination and the logistics so that troops can get home. Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into D.C. by the planeload and busload late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting. Military aircraft crowded the runways at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, carrying Guard members into the region in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Guard forces were scattered around the city, helping to secure the Capitol, monuments, Metro entrances and the perimeter of central D.C., which was largely locked down for several days leading up to Wednesday's inaugural ceremony. The U.S. Secret Service announced that the special security event for the inauguration officially ended at noon Thursday. The Guard said that it may take several days to make all the arrangements to return the 15,000 home, but it should be complete in five to 10 days. Guard members will have to turn in equipment, make travel plans and go through COVID-19 screening. Some local law enforcement agencies have asked for continued assistance from the Guard, so roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of the month. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Electricity from the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador is finally flowing into Nova Scotia. It's good news for Nova Scotia Power customers who have been paying — and waiting — for clean electricity to arrive from the energy megaproject since 2018. "We started to receive power from Muskrat Falls in late December," Jacqueline Foster, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power, said in an email. "This is an important step toward the commencement of the N.S. block of energy which we expect to take place later this year." Surplus power to N.S. One of four generating units at the big hydro dam in Labrador has been producing electricity continuously since mid-December, according to documents filed with Newfoundland and Labrador regulators earlier this month. St. John's, N.L.-based Nalcor, which owns Muskrat Falls, said electricity deemed surplus in Newfoundland is being sent across the Cabot Strait into Nova Scotia via the Maritime Link. Up to 83 megawatts — representing 3.46 per cent of Nova Scotia Power capacity — is moving through the 170-kilometre subsea cable between the two provinces. "Nalcor continues to export power over the Maritime Link to markets," said Nalcor spokesperson Karen O'Neill in a statement. "The amount of exported energy varies on a daily basis." O'Neill would not say which province is buying the electricity — only that it is being sold in the Maritimes. Foster, however, confirmed that Nova Scotia Power is getting the electricity, but she would not say how much. "The volume of energy we purchase under contract is considered commercially sensitive and confidential," she said. Ratepayers waiting 3 years to see benefit Nova Scotia Power ratepayers have been paying for the $1.57-billion Maritime Link since 2018, even without receiving a single electron from Muskrat Falls until a few weeks ago. They paid $109 million in 2018, $115 million in 2019, and $144 million in 2020. Customers will shell out $172 million this year for the Link, which is owned by Nova Scotia Power parent company, Emera. The cost has already been factored into rates. The 35-year "20 for 20" deal guarantees Nova Scotia at least 20 per cent of the electricity from Muskrat Falls in return for paying 20 per cent of the cost in the form of the Maritime Link. Emera's share of the overall cost is now considerably less than 20 per cent. It completed the Maritime Link on budget while Muskrat Falls costs have exploded by billions of dollars. An original budget of $2.9 billion now tops $10 billion. Green energy In a province still dependent on burning coal to generate electricity, Muskrat Falls plays a key role in Nova Scotia's lower carbon future. The green energy from Labrador is part of Nova Scotia Power's plan to meet renewable energy targets and wean the province from coal, which currently provides 60 per cent of electricity. MORE TOP STORIES
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
The provincial and federal governments have announced new funding today to support essential air carriers that serve remote First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. The funding will ensure communities have access to essential supplies, services and goods. Canada will be investing $11.1 million, while the province has earmarked $14.2 million to operate remote airports in 2020-21, including an additional $4 million this year to ensure safe operations during the pandemic. Today’s announcement includes Fort Albany First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Peawanuck and Attawapiskat First Nation. Across Canada, there are 140 communities with airports that were considered remote when the federal government announced the funding program last August. Out of 34 remote communities in Northern Ontario, 28 don’t have all-year-round access and rely on air carriers for essential services and goods. “While we continue to work together to limit the spread of COVID-19, we must also ensure remote communities continue to have the air connectivity they need for essential goods and services, travel and business," Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said in a statement. "This agreement with the Government of Ontario will allow for reliable air services to keep remote communities in Ontario connected to the rest of the country." The Ministry of Transportation owns and operates 29 airports, 27 of which support remote First Nation communities, according to the press release. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
The OPP is enforcing a new stay-at-home order and dispersing larger gatherings, but said it is not targeting individuals. The province introduced a new stay-at-home order Jan. 14, demanding people only leave for essential trips such as work, purchasing goods, exercise, caring for animals or others, or moving. The province also said law enforcement would be empowered to issue fines under the order. OPP spokesperson Const. Iryna Nebogatova said the attention the order has received has brought more complaints, which drive enforcement. She added gatherings - limited to five people outdoors - are the main source of the complaints. “I do understand the stay-at-home order under the emergency management and Civil Protection Act, Reopening Ontario Act are quite confusing,” Nebogatova said. “What we are focusing on here would be the large gatherings, the gatherings whether they’re indoor or outdoor. “The individuals are not the focus of this enforcement,” she added. In a press release Jan. 15, OPP said it could levy fines of $750 for failing to comply with the order and/or $1,000 for preventing others from complying. However, the press release added that officers will not arbitrarily stop an individual or vehicle to check compliance with the orders. “Individuals are not expected to provide proof of essential work,” OPP said. “Officers can ask an individual to identify themselves if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual is violating an act.” The province said bylaw enforcement can also issue fines under the order, but Dysart et al bylaw officer Robert Mascia said he is redirecting complaints to OPP. “If the OPP require assistance in enforcement measures, the municipality’s bylaw department will gladly help,” Mascia said. Cottagers being allowed County resident Donna Pugh said she called police on a cottager neighbour who visited their secondary residence this past weekend. But Pugh said OPP indicated that it is allowed – and they were not going to attend to address someone travelling to a secondary residence. “Our premier of the province has strongly told us all to stay home,” Pugh said. “Then to see our County booming with people who don’t live here all the time, when they’re asked to stay home, I just find that really frustrating.” The order states someone can travel to another residence if they intend to be there for less than 24 hours and are attending for an essential purpose; or if they intend to reside there for at least 14 days. Nebogatova did not directly address cottager enforcement when asked but said there are exemptions for people to leave their homes under the order that should be respected. “We are requesting that the members of the public voluntarily comply with the new stay-at-home order to limit their mobility outside their homes except for essential reasons,” she said. Pugh said despite the province’s words, the enforcement is not going far enough. “The whole thing doesn’t have many teeth,” she said. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
“If I ever got a chance to speak to the Biden administration, I would plead my case,” said Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis, president of Natural Law Energy (NLE). That “case” would be the value in continuing the United States’ portion of the 1,897-kilometre Keystone XL pipeline which travels from Hardisty, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Montana and South Dakota, ending in Steele City, Nebraska. Yesterday, in his first day in office, new U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor Donald Trump’s Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline border crossing. NLE, a group of three Alberta and two Saskatchewan First Nations, has been working towards a $1 billion investment in the TC Energy-owned Keystone XL pipeline. “It's a disappointment, right? It really is because it's going to affect many First Nations, even the tribes in the United States. It's going to affect them because TC Energy was almost close to actually signing up joint venture partnerships with those in the United States side,” said Francis. He says chairmen of the Nebraska tribes have told him that Biden wants to create jobs and this pipeline meets that goal. First Nations involvement was recognized by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a scathing address late Wednesday afternoon that condemned the new U.S. administration for rescinding the permit and not respecting its closest ally and trading partner. “Let me also point out that TC Energy has made tremendous progress in bringing on board First Nations on both sides of the border as potential equity partners,” said Kenney. However, not all U.S. tribes support the pipeline. The Native Organizers Alliance applauded Biden for his decision. “Farmers, tribal councils, ranchers, and Native non-profit organizations have been instrumental in raising awareness around the significant threats to the health and resources of Native peoples living in the path of the pipeline. And sovereign tribes have taken the issue to court to protect their territories and the Missouri River bioregion for all,” said NOA executive director Judith Le Blanc. Earlier Wednesday, in anticipation of President Biden’s decision, Calgary-based TC Energy shutdown its operation. Kenney said that shutdown had cost 2,000 people their jobs. Francis admits Biden’s actions were not unexpected. In fact, the too-close-to-call November U.S. election had dampened some of the activity undertaken by NLE. Late last year, NLE hired consultants Price Waterhouse Canada to round up investors for the $1 billion investment. Investors were found but nothing was finalized. “(Price Waterhouse has) done their job on that. But really it was, of course, the election. That's what they were waiting for also,” said Francis. Also of note were preliminary talks with the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. The Crown corporation created by the Alberta United Conservative Party government offers loan guarantees from $25 million to $250 million for Indigenous-led natural resource projects. “Say the project and partnership was at the point they were ready to paper the deal, we would not be in a position to offer a guarantee at this time, because there is a huge risk in respect to the way the American election may go. We don’t want to put Alberta taxpayer dollars at risk,” AIOC CEO Alicia Dubois told Windspeaker.com last October. Trump’s approval of Keystone XL came after outgoing President Barack Obama nixed the project. Biden had promised to cancel the project should he win. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer money in the Keystone XL pipeline. The Biden administration is saying no to the project now, says Francis, but he is a “glass is half-full” person. He believes Biden’s decision is political as the new president is “getting away from everything Trump has put his stamp on.” “I'm not going to give up on it because, really, Keystone XL is going to be the safest, most environmentally-friendly pipeline that is. We just have to go back to the drawing table and really re-evaluate what have we got to do to make it even more environmentally friendly?” said Francis. He believes that part of that discussion with the Biden administration has to include the science around the pipeline that makes it environmentally safe and the ongoing need for oil. Francis is hopeful there is a future for Keystone because “it really is such a big project that it could mean, in every community that we have signed up, it'll make an economic difference.” In the meantime, Francis says NLE remains involved with TC Energy. “Whenever there is something, a project that is available, if they are going to approach us to see if we have interest and, of course, we're going to show interest, because any economic development or project that we can actually put our hand on to make it more green, more environmentally friendly, we want to be there to back it up,” he said. While Keystone XL pipeline is a set back for Nekaneet First Nation, it is not the only project driving the economics for that Treaty 4 Nation. “I’m always involved with the province (of Saskatchewan). I’m always talking to them in every which way,” he said. Francis said he has received band member approval to develop a section of land along a 1.5 km-stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. He says investors are committed to a gas station in that area and there are talks about a possible Tim Hortons franchise. However, since COVID-19 hit, development has stalled. NLE members also include Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and three Alberta First Nations: Ermineskin Cree, Montana, and Louis Bull Tribe. Each member was to share equally in the benefits from the Keystone XL pipeline project. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia has restored an online portal through which the public can submit freedom of information requests, almost three years after the site was shut down because of a security breach. The new site was launched Thursday and allows people to track the progress of requests, pay fees and receive responses. The site was shut down in March 2018 after a 19-year-old downloaded documents from the site to his home computer. About 7,000 documents were accessed over two days, affecting 700 people. The young man wasn't charged because he told officers he had used a widely available software to search for documents about a teachers' labour dispute, and it became clear to authorities that the basic firewalls weren't in place. The province says it has updated and improved security features on the site to prevent further breaches. Paula Arab, Nova Scotia's Internal Services minister, said the province has a five-year contract worth $760,000 with two companies to operate the site. Arab said it took time to set up the portal because the project was split into several parts. One portion involved receiving requests while another involved disclosing documents. Added security measures also required time, she said. "We wanted to do as many security tests as we could and to come up with the right solutions, and we took seriously two reports given to us following the (security) breach," Arab said. The new access to information application site can be found at iaprequest.novascotia.ca. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Toronto Mayor John Tory has joined a chorus of Canadian politicians in urging Pfizer-Biotech to produce more COVID-19 vaccine. Tory followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, among others, in speaking directly to executives from the pharmaceutical multinational. Tory said he wanted to make a constructive case after the company said it would not be able to fulfil next week's order to the federal government. "The best way to go about these kinds of conversations is to make your case as a Canadian, which I did, and as the mayor of the largest city in the country, and to try to make Canada's case," Tory said. Trudeau has said he spoke to Pfizer on Tuesday and Ford said he was in contact with the pharmaceutical manufacturer on Wednesday. Tory said he knows members of Pfizer's management team from his previous career as a business executive, and that he reached out to them in concert with the federal government. "I'm trying to help the country's efforts to try to see if we can't get more supply," the mayor said. "I can't tell you what results my intervention, or anybody else's, will have." Toronto has had to shut down its two vaccination programs until the federal government provides more doses to the city's public health unit. An immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre closed after two days of inoculating front-line health care workers. The city also paused a pilot in shelters for people experiencing homelessness. Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto's chief medical officer, said everyone's frustrated with the shipping delay, because the vaccine offers people hope. "Having it slowed down and having the change in course is not what we wanted," De Villa said. "But we expect there will be eventually vaccine coming available and we'll do our very best." De Villa said there were 986 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto on Thursday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus. The update included 102 cases from earlier in the week that had previously gone unreported because of a technical error. Councillor Joe Cressy, chairman of the Toronto Board of Health, joined Tory and De Villa at the Thursday afternoon news conference. All three detailed the city's ongoing efforts to support racialized communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Toronto, Ontario Health, hospitals, and community health providers have been working to improve access to testing in those neighbourhoods. Toronto reports nearly 271 testing clinics have been booked in more than 20 different city-owned facilities, with 89 more dates to come in January at 12 different sites. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — Elizabeth Shelby had her inauguration outfit planned weeks in advance: blue jeans, a Kamala Harris sweatshirt, a green coat, and pink Chuck Taylors as an homage to her sorority’s colours and Vice-President Harris’ signature shoe. And pearls, just like the ones Harris wore when she graduated from Howard University, was sworn into Congress, and was sworn in as the first woman, first Black and South Asian person, and first Alpha Kappa Alpha member to serve as vice-president. Shelby, a member of the Alpha Psi chapter of AKA, had hoped to wear her pearls at the inauguration in Washington, D.C. Instead, she donned them at home in Nashville, Tennessee. Following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, AKA, the oldest sorority of the historically Black fraternities and sororities that make up the Divine Nine, called off inauguration events and urged members to stay home. So countless AKA members celebrated the historic moment in their living rooms, on Twitter and on Zoom calls. “I wanted to help show Kamala that her sisters are behind her always,” Shelby said. “I wanted her to look out and see a sea of pink and green and know that this is her moment.” After the Capitol insurrection, Shelby cancelled her plane tickets and hotel reservation. The rioting robbed many AKAs of their feeling of safety at the inauguration and beyond, she said, and many members have been telling each other to stop wearing their letters in public for safety reasons. But Shelby said that didn't stop her from celebrating at a Zoom viewing party with her local graduate chapter. “I’m not going to let this take the joy out of this moment,” she said. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, joined AKA in 1986 at Howard University, one of the country’s oldest historically Black colleges and universities. When she accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in August, she thanked AKA, saying, “Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha.” Soon after, donations in increments of $19.08, marking the year, 1908, when the sorority was founded, started flowing in to a Biden-Harris campaign fundraising committee. Alpha Kappa Alpha declared on Twitter that Jan. 20 would be Soror Kamala D. Harris Day, and encouraged members to share photos of their celebrations with the hashtag #KamalaHarrisDay. Andrea Morgan, who became an AKA the same year Harris did, posted photos of her pink sweater and pearls on Twitter with the hashtag, which she told the AP “makes us feel closer together even when we're far apart." “If we were able to be there in person, I don’t think you’d be able to look anywhere without seeing pink and green,” said Genita Harris of the Delta Omega Omega chapter in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. "Now on social media, this is a showing of our solidarity, of our love and support for our soror.” She said group chats with her sorority sisters were “going bananas” during a historic moment for the sisterhood and for HBCUs. “It’s been the same story of white men for centuries," she said. “Now a new story is being written, and it’s our story.” AKA soror Josclynn Brandon booked her plane tickets to D.C. the day Biden announced Harris as his running mate in August. When the 2020 presidential election was called, CNN was playing on her phone on the dashboard of her car. She pulled over and cried. “I knew then that I was going to see Kamala Harris make history,” she said. “It confirmed that Black women and women of colour are so much more capable than some people believe us to be.” Brandon made plans to be in D.C. from Jan. 13-21 to celebrate the sorority’s Founders’ Day on Jan. 15, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration, all in the same city where AKA was founded. After the Jan. 6 insurrection, she, too, cancelled her trip. “It did rob me of my feeling of safety while going to D.C., and it robbed me of the moment of seeing a Black woman and sorority sister become VP right in front of me,” she said. “But it took away so much more than just me going to D.C. It takes away from this celebration and robs our incoming administration of the full celebration they deserved.” Brandon watched Harris' swearing-in from her home in Indianapolis while wearing a sweatshirt with a photo of Harris from college and the words, “The Vice-President is my sorority sister.” “I’m still going to celebrate,” she said. “I’m not going to let that group’s action take away this moment. I don’t want to let them win.” Shelby grew up hearing young Black boys say they wanted to be president after Barack Obama made history as the country’s first Black president. Now, she hopes Black girls will have those dreams too. “It’s a historic moment,” she said. “To see not only a woman but a woman of colour and member of the Divine Nine become vice-president is something I never even dreamed of happening as a little girl growing up in America.” “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” she continued. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It is such a joy to know that she is one of us, that she represents us. She is truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams.” — Fernando is a member of the Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christinetfern. Christine Fernando, The Associated Press