Highlights of this day in history: Josef Stalin consolidates power in USSR; World War II's naval Battle of Guadalcanal begins; Women's rights pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Actress-turned-royalty Grace Kelly and singer Neil Young born. (Nov. 12)
Highlights of this day in history: Josef Stalin consolidates power in USSR; World War II's naval Battle of Guadalcanal begins; Women's rights pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Actress-turned-royalty Grace Kelly and singer Neil Young born. (Nov. 12)
A historic meeting between Israel's prime minister and Saudi Arabia's crown prince has sent a strong signal to allies and enemies alike that the two countries remain deeply committed to containing their common foe Iran. Last Sunday's covert meeting in the Saudi city of Neom, confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh, conveyed a coordinated message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that Washington's main allies in the region are closing ranks. It was the first publicly confirmed visit to Saudi Arabia by an Israeli leader and a meeting that was unthinkable until recently as the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said an independence referendum that could wrench apart the United Kingdom after Brexit should take place in the earlier part of the devolved parliament's next term, which begins next year. If there was another referendum and if Scots voted out, it would mark the biggest shock to the United Kingdom since Irish independence a century ago - just as London grapples with the impact of Brexit. The pro-independence Scottish National Party leader said she anticipates that a vote will take place "in the earlier part" of the next Scottish parliament, which begins next year.
Manitoba Education is leaning toward a temporary period of remote learning for K-12 students in early 2021, should COVID-19 case counts remain high in the coming weeks. Sources have told the Free Press the department hinted about its plans during a meeting with school board superintendents Thursday afternoon. Among the call-in conference agenda items were the status of both the winter break and schools’ levels on the pandemic response system. During the meeting, the province suggested it is considering moving schools to the most severe level on the system — critical (code red) — for a minimum of two weeks, starting as early as Jan. 4, to ensure widespread distance learning. Sources said Manitoba Education indicated the department doesn’t favour extending the upcoming break — which is scheduled for Dec. 19 to Jan. 4, but the province’s top doctor will have the final say. If schools enter the critical phase in the new year, there would be no need for an extended closure of schools to reduce community transmission since the majority of students would be learning at home. Except for Steinbach-area schools, which entered the most severe level on the response system earlier this week, all classrooms in Manitoba remain in the restricted (code orange) phase. That means the majority of the approximately 210,000 learners in the province continue to attend in-person classes, which have been reorganized to emphasize two metres of physical distancing between pupils. In code red, remote learning becomes universal for all students — although critical service workers’ children in K-6, and older students with disabilities, may access supervision at school to complete their remote work, be it online or paper packages. A downgrade in code for all schools would be an extreme move, given both Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen and Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, have repeatedly said schools are the best environments for student learning and well-being. When the province announced last week the Hanover School Division and surrounding schools were to enter code red as of Nov. 24, officials indicated it was a precautionary measure to address a skyrocketing test positivity rate in the region (40 per cent). Principal Emery Plett said the transition from orange to red has gone fairly smoothly at Steinbach Christian School, one of 28 facilities affected by the announcement. That is, in part, because of the school’s experience with learning disruptions in the spring, Plett said. His advice for other administrators who might experience the same change in coming weeks? “Make plans, but be flexible, and make sure you’re supporting your teachers as they work at making the transition,” said Plett, whose K-12 school is attended by 317 students — including the son of the education minister. Both the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and Manitoba School Boards Association declined to comment on specifics about what sources told the Free Press was discussed in the Thursday meeting. School board association president Alan Campbell was on the call. “The position of school boards has always been clear,” Campbell said, “whether it’s an extended break or a move to code red or whatever it may be, when child care is going to become a consideration because kids aren’t in school, the earlier (the announcement), the better.” A spokesperson for Manitoba Education said in a statement the province is monitoring the situation closely and no final decision has been made about an extended winter break.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
LIBOURNE, France — Jim, from Taiwan, slipped a face mask inside the greeting card he sent to Santa and marked “I (heart) u." Alina, 5, asked in her Santa letter written with an adult's help that he please use the front door when he drops in, because the back door is reserved for Grandma and Grandpa to minimize their risk of contamination.And spilling out her heavy little heart to “Dear Father Christmas,” 10-year-old Lola wrote that she is wishing “that my aunt never has cancer again and that this virus no longer exists.”“My mother is a care-giver and sometimes I am scared for her,” Lola explained, signing off her handwritten letter with, “Take care of yourself Father Christmas, and of the Elves.”The emotional toll wrought by the pandemic is jumping off pages in the deluge of “Dear Santa” letters now pouring into a post office in southwest France that sorts and responds to his mail from around the world.Arriving by the tens of thousands, the letters, notes and cards — some mere scribbles, other elaborate labours of love in colored pens — are revealing windows into the tender minds of their young authors, and of adult Santa fans also asking for respite and happiness, at the tail end of a year of sickness and tumult.Like this letter from young Zoe, who limited her requests to a music player and amusement park tickets because “this year has been very different from others because of COVID-19.”“That’s why I am not asking you for many thing(s) to avoid infection,” Zoe wrote, signing off with “Merci!” and a heart.In theory, and often in practice, any letter addressed "Pere Noel" — French for Father Christmas — and slipped into any post box around the world is likely to wend its way to the sorting office in France's Bordeaux region that has been handling his mail since 1962. Toiling out of sight among vineyards, his secretariat of workers (who call themselves “elves”) spends the months of November and December slicing open envelopes decorated with hearts, stickers and colours, and spreading Santa magic by responding on his behalf.From the first letters opened at the secretariat from Nov. 12, it quickly became apparent how the pandemic is weighing on children, says the chief elf, Jamila Hajji. Along with the usual pleas for toys and gadgets were also requests for vaccines, for visits from grandparents, for life to return to the way it was. One letter in three mentions the pandemic in some way, Hajji says.“The kids have been very affected by COVID, more than we think. They are very worried. And what they want most of all, apart from presents, is really to be able to have a normal life, the end of COVID, a vaccine,” she says.“The letters to Father Christmas are a sort of release for them. All this year, they have been in lockdowns, they have been deprived of school, deprived of their grandpas and grandmas. Their parents have been occupied by the health crisis and whatnot. So we, of course, can tell that the children are putting into words everything they have felt during this period."“We are like elf therapists," she adds.Replying to 12,000 letters per day, the team of 60 elves sets aside some that move them or catch the eye. Lola's is among those that have stood out so far, with its heartfelt confession to Santa that “this year more than the others, I need magic and to believe in you.” The elves say their sense is that children are confiding worries that they may not have shared with parents.Emma Barron, a psychiatrist specializing in the mental health of children and adolescents at the Robert Debré pediatric hospital in Paris, says landmark dates, including birthdays and holidays like Christmas, provide structure in childhood. Amid the pandemic's uncertainty, the Dec. 25 anchor of Christmas is particularly important to kids this year.“Children are quite surprising in that they can adapt to many things,” Barron says. “But rhythms, rituals and things like that are an integral part of children's mental stability."As the letters flood in, it's also clear that this goes beyond childhood. Santa is proving a beacon to adults, too, with some writing to him for the first time since they were kids.One asked for “a pandemic of love.” A 77-year-old lamented that “lockdown is no fun! I live alone.” A grandparent asked Santa to “say ‘Hi' to my two grandkids that I won't be able to see this year because of the health situation.”“Your mission will be hard this year," wrote Anne-Marie, another adult suppliant. "You will need to sprinkle stars across the entire world, to calm everyone and revive our childhood souls, so we can dream, at last, and let go.”—-Follow AP’s virus coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakJohn Leicester, The Associated Press
Construction jobs numbers are down provincially since the beginning of the pandemic, but that doesn’t reflect the reality in the north, where major resource development projects and steady activity in residential, non-residential, and road-building, have kept the industry strong, said a B.C. business analyst. “As much as there's a bunch of bad news around from this virus, the resiliency of the northern communities and northern economies… is the hidden bit of good news in this whole pandemic circumstance we find ourselves in,” said Ken Peacock, chief economist for the Business Council of BC. Many industries are doing okay in 2020, and some – the resource industries, along with, resource and non-resource manufacturing – have shown employment growth, said Peacock. Productivity dropped in the construction sector under COVID-19, but not by much, said Northern Regional Construction Association CEO Scott Bone, who estimated companies lost about 20 per cent productivity due to public health protocols. “Traveling to a worksite, we used to be able to throw four people in a crew cab and drive,” said Bone. “You can't do that anymore.” Now, it’s two people per truck, resulting in more vehicles, more fuel, more unplanned costs for the contractor and owner. Despite the many operational cost increases under COVID-19, construction has carried on. Contractors, legally bound to get work completed on deadline, are resilient and adaptable, said Bone. “They're very quick to adapt to things that come at them very quickly,” said Bone. “We saw that when COVID hit them.” The pandemic hasn’t caused significant construction site shutdowns that Bone knows of, and none are in sight. There are $120 billion worth of capital investments in B.C. in industrial and commercial projects ongoing or planned for construction or tendering this year or the next, said Bone. About $65 billion of that is in the north, namely, the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the LNG Canada facility, and BC Hydro’s Site C Dam. “All three of those projects are now ramping up,” said Bone. “We're seeing a good uptake in the opportunities for the construction industry as a result.’ The investment is so massive, procurement of goods and services has a big effect on the provincial economy, and while the spin offs are concentrated in the north, economic benefits also flow down to Vancouver, said Peacock. “Spending in Metro Vancouver kind of gets lost in the magnitude of the Metro Vancouver economy, so you don't see and feel the impact as much,” said Peacock. “Up in the north, where the economies are smaller, the lift from these large projects is much, much more significant and much more beneficial.” Most of the 180 Northern Regional Construction Association member contractors are very busy, said Bone. “They're working 24/7 to keep up with the work that they've got,” he said. The same seems to apply to contractors in the smaller communities of the Robson Valley. “The hardware and the building supply stores are as busy as anything,” said Dannielle Alan, Area H director for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. “All of our contractors are absolutely swamped.” According to the Canadian Home Builders Association (BHBA), in 2019, new home construction, and renovations and repairs created 1.3 million on and off-site jobs in Canada, equalling $83 billion in wages. Of that, about $159 million was paid in wages for 2,500 jobs in Prince George. Home construction jobs numbers for 2020 are not yet available. “There's actually a shortage of lumber, people are doing so much construction and renovating,” said Alan. Valemount has several active construction projects as well, according to Deputy Mayor Pete Pearson. An affordable housing development is underway, along with some single-family residential activity, he said. “We've had quite an influx of younger families moving to town,” said Pearson. “So, we're seeing a few new builds. “There's the combined housing and daycare facility that's pretty much almost shovel-ready,” said Pearson. “Generally, we're in pretty good shape.” The Trans Mountain campus and construction camp have also generated employment, Pearson said. “Our local contractors have been working on plumbing, gas fitting, and electrical with the camp setup,” said Pearson. “So, there's definitely been a positive spin off in the trades.” The challenges facing the construction industry are skilled labour shortages, not a lack of available work, said Bone. More young people need support to take up trades such as electrical, plumbing and carpentry and the construction association is collaborating with the Prince George school district to help make that happen. “There’s a huge gap between those that are going into the trades and getting trained and what we need going in the future,” Bone said. @FranYanor / Fran@thegoatnews.caFran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
Les travailleurs étrangers qui possèdent un permis temporaire de travail fermé dépendent de leur employeur, ce qui les rend très vulnérables en cas de rupture de leur lien d’emploi. Ayant perdu son emploi quelques mois après son arrivée au Québec, Tiffany Mirzica s’est retrouvée plongée dans une situation d’extrême précarité et poussée à se démener pour subvenir aux besoins de sa famille et régulariser son statut migratoire. Ce qui a débuté comme un projet prometteur d’immigration économique pour la Parisienne d’origine martiniquaise et sa famille s’est vite transformé en un cauchemar. « Je pouvais demeurer en sol canadien jusqu’à l’expiration de mon visa mais ma situation était très complexe, car je devais trouver un nouvel employeur qui accepterait de refaire toutes les démarches d’immigration. » « Pourtant, j’avais mis cinq ans à préparer mon projet d’immigration, assistant à tous les salons de l’immigration possibles en France et en faisant deux voyages exploratoires au Québec avant d’immigrer avec ma famille », dit la mère monoparentale de 3 enfants entre 6 et 14 ans. Tomber dans la précarité aussitôt Mme Mirzica a été recrutée en France pour un poste de cadre dans une entreprise en gestion immobilière et est arrivée au Québec avec ses enfants et sa mère en juillet 2017. Lorsque son emploi s’est terminé abruptement quelques mois plus tard, elle s’est vue dans l’impossibilité de travailler ailleurs en raison des restrictions de son visa. « Je faisais partie de la catégorie des personnes qui se retrouvent noyées dans les démarches administratives d’immigration et laissées pour compte, c’était un enfer ! », dénonce-t-elle. Ayant dépensé toutes ses économies dans son déménagement au Québec avec sa famille, elle a lancé un appel à l’aide aux autorités municipales d’Anjou où elle résidait à ce moment-là, mais il est resté vain. « On m’a conseillé de rentrer chez moi et de revenir une fois que j’aurais les fonds pour m’en sortir », déplore-t-elle. Des Samaritains et des organismes à la rescousse Elle a trouvé du soutien auprès de l’école de ses enfants qui les a inscrits au Club des petits déjeuners et leur a offert des vêtements de neige neufs. « Je ne les remercierais jamais assez de nous avoir aidés ! », lance-t-elle. Le Centre humanitaire d’organisation de ressources et de référence d’Anjou (CHORRA) leur a fourni pour sa part un soutien alimentaire. Mme Mirzica a pu se remettre sur pied grâce également à ses proches, à ses voisins et à la propriétaire de son logement à Anjou qui lui a permis de reporter le paiement de son loyer. Bénévolat et entrepreneuriat Incapable d’être embauchée par un nouvel employeur en raison de son permis de travail fermé, Mme Mirzica se lance sur le chemin du bénévolat entre 2017 et 2018, œuvrant notamment pour la place des femmes dans le milieu entrepreneurial. « Mon but en immigrant ici était d’offrir un meilleur avenir à mes enfants et d’apprendre et me nourrir de la culture québécoise, mais aussi de laisser ma petite patte. » Du soutien trouvé en région « J’ai rencontré Tiffany en mars 2019 lors de la Journée portes ouvertes de la Ville de Saint-Hyacinthe où nous participions comme exposant », dit Ana Luisa Iturriaga, directrice générale de Forum-2020, organisme dont la mission est d’attirer et de soutenir les nouveaux arrivants dans la région de Saint-Hyacinthe. L’organisme a accompagné 499 nouveaux arrivants en 2018 et 600 en 2019, la majorité étant des immigrants. La députée de Saint-Hyacinthe et vice-présidente de l’Assemblée nationale Chantal Soucy déplore la lenteur des démarches d’immigration, soulignant le besoin grandissant d’arrimage entre les besoins de main-d’œuvre dans la région et les immigrants. « Nous avons accompagné Mme Mirzica, car elle s’est retrouvée sans emploi et dans le néant en raison de son permis fermé et de la complexité des démarches entre les deux paliers du gouvernement. » Tomber entre deux chaises Trois mois avant l’expiration de son permis de travail, une entreprise locale s’apprête à embaucher Mme Mirzica. Toutefois, en raison du délai de traitement de la demande et du changement dans l’admissibilité du poste offert, la démarche a échoué. « Ils ont déboursé près de 4000 $ en frais administratifs et d’immigration pour me recruter mais ç’a été un enfer ! », déplore-t-elle. En juillet 2019, son visa arrive à échéance et elle se retrouve avec sa famille avec un statut implicite au Canada. Elle est alors aiguillée par le bureau de la députée vers John Sanchez, responsable diocésain au diocèse de Saint-Hyacinthe, accompagnateur de personnes en situation précaire, notamment les familles à statut précaire, les réfugiés et les travailleurs agricoles de la région. Les difficultés pour régulariser son statut « Tiffany avait épuisé ses ressources administratives pour régulariser son statut et son dernier recours était de se rendre à la frontière pour sortir et rentrer au pays à nouveau. » Le 17 mars dernier, ils se rendent donc ensemble au poste frontalier de Lacolle. Voyant qu’elle ne détenait plus de statut légal au Canada, les agents frontaliers ont interpellé et interrogé Mme Mirzica pendant plusieurs heures. « Étant une femme persuasive et connaissant tout sur les démarches d’immigration et ayant de forts arguments en main, elle a pu convaincre les agents de la laisser entrer à nouveau au pays », raconte M. Sanchez, originaire de Colombie. « On a fini par m’accorder un visa de visiteur et un délai d’un mois pour régulariser ma situation », indique Mme Mirzica. Ayant réussi à obtenir un permis d’études, elle poursuit actuellement un programme en arts, lettres et communication au cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe et travaille à l’Association Aide en immigration (AAI), ne sachant toujours pas ce qu’il adviendra de son avenir au Québec.Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Les foyers d’éclosion de COVID dans des sites d’exploitation pétrolière albertains se multiplient. Cette croissance a des répercussions dans d’autres provinces. Ainsi, depuis le début de septembre, la majorité des nouvelles personnes infectées à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador sont des résidents de cette province, récemment revenus de leur travail en Alberta, et faisant régulièrement la navette entre les deux provinces pour gagner leur vie. Selon les plus récentes informations diffusées sur le site Internet du gouvernement de l’Alberta, des foyers d’éclosion sont actifs dans deux sites de la pétrolière CNRL, deux sites d’Imperial Oil, deux de Suncor et un site de Syncrude. La majorité de la main-d’œuvre de ces installations situées au nord de Fort McMurray est composée de travailleurs qui font la navette vers leur résidence située dans d’autres régions albertaines et d’autres provinces. La découverte de leur contamination survient souvent lors de leur retour à la maison. Ce phénomène est particulièrement important et visible à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador. Entre le 1er septembre et le 25 novembre, le nombre de nouveaux cas à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador est passé de 269 à 324. Parmi ces nouveaux cas, selon des données colligées par CBC Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador dans un reportage du 24 novembre, 18 de ces nouveaux cas venaient directement de l’Alberta et 16 d’entre eux étaient des travailleurs de retour de cette province. Tous les autres venaient également d’ailleurs au pays ou dans le monde. Pour le moment, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador est la seule province qui n’a pas de contamination communautaire, soit aucun cas dont la source n’a pas été déterminée. Ainsi, le 25 novembre, la médecin en chef de cette province, la Dre Janice Fitzgerald, a annoncé un nouveau cas d’infection venant tout droit de l’Alberta, une femme d’une quarantaine d’années. Elle a également indiqué qu’un nouveau foyer d’éclosion avait été déclaré sur le site de l’Imperial Oil à Cold Lake, en Alberta, où travaillent plusieurs personnes de la province la plus à l’est du Canada. Deux jours plus tôt, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador enregistrait son premier cas dans une école. La petite fille contaminée est une proche d’une personne revenant, elle aussi, de l’Alberta. En raison du grand nombre de Terre-Neuviens qui travaillent ailleurs au Canada, le gouvernement de cette province diffuse une liste des lieux où des foyers d’éclosion ont été déclarés. Dans cette liste, on retrouve majoritairement des pétrolières, les mêmes qui ont été recensées par la Santé publique albertaine. Selon les années, de 15 000 à 25 000 personnes de cette province travaillent ailleurs au pays et dans le monde. Quitter son chez-soi, pour subsister Pourquoi autant de Terre-Neuviens doivent-ils partir si loin pour travailler ? Depuis le moratoire sur la pêche à la morue annoncé le 2 juillet 1992 par le ministre fédéral des Pêches, John Crosbie, des dizaines de milliers de pêcheurs et de travailleurs d’usine de poisson de Terre-Neuve se sont retrouvés sans emploi. Depuis, ils s’expatrient loin et temporairement, à l’extérieur des frontières de leur province, pour gagner leur vie, notamment en Alberta. Selon une étude du regroupement de chercheurs universitaires Partenariat On the Move, réalisée à partir de données de Statistique Canada, l’Alberta est devenue depuis 2014 la première province de destination pour ces travailleurs, soit pour 57 % d’entre eux. Statistique Canada rapporte aussi qu’entre 2014 et 2019, plus de 11 000 personnes sont déménagées dans la province albertaine. Mesures sanitaires Aujourd’hui, toutes les personnes qui arrivent à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, doivent s’isoler pendant 14 jours, à l’exception des travailleurs essentiels et de ces travailleurs en rotation. Dans leur cas, ils peuvent mettre fin à leur isolement si un test, effectué 7 jours après leur arrivée, est négatif. Ceux qui arrivent depuis un site où il y a un foyer d’éclosion doivent s’isoler durant 14 jours.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
As the pandemic raged in spring, Americans tapped into newfound baking and gardening skills. Now, the Christmas tree industry is hoping that as 2020 draws to a close, that affinity for feel-good and old-fashioned will bring a boost for business. (Nov. 27)
An average 400 Grade 7-12 students in the North End have been reported “inactive” during the school year for the last decade. Despite being registered in the Winnipeg School Division, they are not actively participating at their home school and their families have not reported a move. The WSD data (from 2009 to 2019) obtained by the Community Education Development Association indicates hundreds of students stop attending class at some point after Sept. 30, the annual head-count day in Manitoba, in any given year. “We know the COVID pandemic has created even more stress on North End students and that more students are disengaging from school, so this is a challenge that’s just going to get further exacerbated,” said Tom Simms, co-director of CEDA. Keeping students “active” in the public education system is the motivation behind a new collaborative project between CEDA, Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. Together, the partners have founded Indigenous Education Caring Society — a non-profit charitable organization that will offer students a culturally sensitive alternative to standard middle and high schools in the division. The organizations have secured a $500,000 capital grant from the Winnipeg Foundation, as well as support from the Thomas Sill Foundation, to launch off-campus learning environments with built-in access to community support services for students in the North End. Students will be able to access both academic lessons and resources to find stable housing, as well as leadership opportunities in the community. Kayla Stubbs, interim executive director at Ndinawe, said her hope for the project is that it will provide Indigenous youth with “equal access to education, teachers and programs that will help them thrive.” “Community-based programming provides a unique opportunity to utilize Indigenous lenses in developing effective tools for community youth to succeed,” Stubbs wrote in a statement to the Free Press Thursday. After surveying the North End for facilities and learning many buildings are in disrepair, Simms said the most cost-effective option is to build two campuses — with the hopes of expanding in the future — from the ground up. Vacant lots on Selkirk Avenue and Arlington, Salter and McGregor streets are being eyed as possible sites. In the meantime, the IECS is trying to secure an agreement to have the division rent classroom space and staff it with program teachers, who will be employed by WSD. The funding the division collects annually for students who become inactive should be redirected, Simms said, adding, “the basis of the proposal is to have the funding for the student follow the student.” The official definition of an inactive student is a pupil in Grade 7-12 who has left WSD between Oct. 1 and May 31 inclusive, and for whom there is no record of re-entry in any area school in the current year. The purpose of collecting the counts is to provide a baseline of withdrawals, but the division cautions the numbers should not be viewed as exact records because they do not account for students who have registered in other divisions. Directors in charge of the WSD programs were not available for comment Thursday. In a statement, division spokeswoman Radean Carter said WSD administrators look for “all sorts of ways” to encourage students to return to their learning and re-engage them in school. “Our partnerships with CEDA and off-campus programs have been among the successful ways that this has been achieved,” Carter said. The division currently has 13 off-campus programs. Among them, the North District Off-Campus Program, administered through Isaac Newton School, which serves Grades 7-9 students who are disengaged from traditional schooling. Simms praised the division for its openness to the project, as well as the fact it collects data on inactive students. Schools alone can’t fix inactivity, he said, “there needs to be partnerships.” The IECS programs are expected to launch sometime in the 2021-22 academic year.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11 p.m. EST on Nov. 26, 2020:There are 353,100 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 136,894 confirmed (including 6,947 deaths, 118,491 resolved) _ Ontario: 109,361 confirmed (including 3,575 deaths, 92,915 resolved) _ Alberta: 51,878 confirmed (including 510 deaths, 37,316 resolved) _ British Columbia: 29,973 confirmed (including 384 deaths, 19,998 resolved) _ Manitoba: 15,288 confirmed (including 266 deaths, 6,177 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 7,362 confirmed (including 40 deaths, 4,176 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,257 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,078 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 465 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 353 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 327 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 295 resolved) _ Nunavut: 155 confirmed (including 5 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 70 confirmed (including 68 resolved) _ Yukon: 42 confirmed (including 1 death, 29 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 353,100 (0 presumptive, 353,100 confirmed including 11,799 deaths, 280,929 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.The Canadian Press
B.C.'s police watchdog is investigating after a man went into medical distress and died during a confrontation with Vancouver police on Thursday night.Vancouver police say they were called to the Tim Hortons at Terminal Avenue and Station Street just after 6 p.m. because of a man who had been inside the bathroom for half an hour.At the time, staff at the coffee shop were trying to shut down the dining area and wanted the man removed, according to an email from VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin."When he came out of the restroom, he was agitated and aggressive which resulted in a physical altercation," Visintin wrote.Police say the man went into medical distress during that confrontation, and though paramedics were called, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.The Independent Investigations Office, which investigates incidents involving police that lead to serious harm or death, has been called in.
The team at the IISD Experimental Lakes Area is celebrating a successful, albeit pared down, research season and preparing to continue COVID-19-safe protocols into the winter. This spring, the spread of the global pandemic made it clear a regular season at the world-renowned freshwater research facility operated by International Institute for Sustainable Development (about 70 kilometres east of Kenora, Ont.) would be impossible. “This year, we decided to really prioritize our long-term monitoring work for our 52-year data set, which tells us about how our lakes are changing in everything from fish populations to insects to water chemistry,” said ELA deputy director Pauline Gerrard. That long-term data set has proved especially important in the study of climate change and the impact on the boreal forest’s water systems. It is one of the most comprehensive freshwater data sets in the world. In a normal year, some 60 staff and scientists would be out at the lakes. This year, research was conducted by small teams of seven people. The teams isolated for two weeks before arriving at ELA, as well as two weeks after their return home. One team was assigned to conduct water chemistry monitoring, another went out in the spring and fall to collect fish samples and analyze them. They were also able to squeeze in monitoring for a long-term oil spill study ongoing at the remote research centre, Gerrard said. The best news of all: there were no COVID-19-positive tests among researchers. However, the remote research teams did not have the same break from pandemic isolation periods the rest of the public had this summer, and with Manitoba now back under code red restrictions, it’s been a long year for her team, Gerrard said. “There’s definitely just a fatigue with isolation,” she said. “But I think people felt proud and pleased to be able to get the work done.” The priority now is to keep this up through the winter, and to begin planning possible ways to start new projects at ELA in 2021. A key priority is starting work on a microplastics project, led by University of Toronto researchers. Gerrard is also hard at work on a fundraising campaign so the facility might be able to get some more up-to-date lab equipment. With a smaller team on a time crunch, the need for better equipment out there was highlighted, she said.Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
It's that time of year, when property management companies switch over from lawn services to snow removal.But this year is different.Christopher Thacker, owner of Mr. Mow It All, has been in the business of mowing lawns and shovelling driveways for 14 years, since he was just twelve years old. But Thacker says his company may eventually be driven out of business if insurance premiums continue to skyrocket.His company's mandatory liability insurance has risen from $5,000 when he first stared to paying almost $70,000 just last year — and this year, his insurance broker told him to expect it to almost double."It's getting absolutely out of control," Thacker says. "It just keeps growing every year."Thacker says all of the property owners he works with require him to have liability insurance. As a result, he says, he has had to raise his prices about three to five per cent each year, resulting in a lot of pushback from clients.With increased costs of living added on to the mounting insurance expenses, Thacker says his company cannot afford to continue the way that it is."Each year is kind of like a gamble as to whether or not we're going to be able to stay in business or if the insurance companies are going to price us out of doing our jobs." Thacker is also not the only person facing significant hikes in the cost of insurance. Insurance has become a growing issue for many business owners in the landscaping industry.Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association says some members are reporting insurance premium increases "anywhere from 25 to 300 per cent.""Some cannot obtain insurance at any cost," DiGiovanni says.Many insurance companies have decided to exit the snow and ice sector entirely because of an abundance of slip and fall claims, he says.Terry Nicholson, vice-president of Clintar Landscape Management and chair of Landscape Ontario's snow and ice committee, told CBC Toronto his company has also seen rapidly increasing premiums.Nicholson called insurance the "largest single threat" to his business, one of the largest snow-removal contractors in Canada."It has certainly put a lot of cost pressure on the business and a lot of our contractors are multi-year contracts so when we get these increases from the insurance company, it's difficult to pass those increases onto our clients because we're mid-contract," Nicholson says.Over the last four years, Nicholson says he has seen three insurance companies abandon the snow removal industry all together. "It's very stressful when it comes to insurance renewal, there are very few options left for us — and it seems every year they become fewer and fewer." 'Safety problem that will affect everybody'DiGiovanni told CBC Toronto one of the causes for the increases is that many insurance companies will not cover snow and ice operations — despite how profitable that business may be. In addition, DiGiovanni says deductibles are also increasing. "It'll force many of them who can't get insurance to actually get out of the business and so what is at stake is the safety of our parking lots and our streets and sidewalks because it is going to be difficult to actually get the job done," DiGiovanni says."It's a safety problem that will affect everybody."The skyrocketing rates will eventually drive many landscaping companies out of business, he adds.DiGiovanni also blames it on the insurance market continuously fluctuating internationally. "Because insurance is so interdependent, when there are claims in different parts of the world it affects everybody," he said. A bill that is aiming to put a limit on more frivolous lawsuits is currently working through Ontario legislature. Bill 118, Occupiers Liability Amendment Act, would amend the current Occupiers' Liability Act to provide that no action be brought for the recovery of damages for personal injury that is caused by snow or ice against an occupier or an independent contractor employed by the occupier.DiGiovanni says he is hopeful for a solution to this issue but in the meantime, he hopes this will not drive all of the smaller operators out of the market.
FORGET the gymnasium — driveways, sidewalks and parking lots are becoming popular alternatives for phys-ed students keen to both work out and volunteer to shovel snow in their communities this season. With Manitoba public health officials promoting outdoor learning as much as possible to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 amid the pandemic, teachers are finding creative ways to keep students active outside no matter the season. Tim Morison was clearing his driveway in Starbuck earlier this year, when he realized he was participating in a perfect phys-ed lesson. Not only is shovelling an intense physical activity, he said, but also an opportunity to both learn how specific muscles work (in this case, biceps, triceps, quads, hamstrings and calves, among others) and the importance of community involvement. “I’ve always been a firm believer that we take care of the community; community comes first,” said Morison, who teaches phys-ed at Starbuck School in the Red River Valley School Division. “And trying to teach these kids how… doing something for someone else can cheer them up — especially during this time, when everything’s so negative with COVID.” Morison recruited his students to deliver flyers to houses and businesses around Starbuck (located 30 kilometres west of Winnipeg) to inform residents the school’s phys-ed students planned to help clear snow in town throughout the winter. On such days, the phys-ed teacher said he plans to take each of his classes out to walk around with shovels to clear as many driveways as possible during the school day. “Now, we’re just waiting for snow,” Morison said, adding the first significant snowfall of the season occurred during an in-service school day last week. He put out a request to families anyway and more than 10 students showed up to clear snow, even though they had the day off. In the Manitoba capital, the phys-ed department at Maples Collegiate has a similar idea. The Winnipeg high school put out a call to families asking if anyone within walking distance from the facility was interested in having students clear snow during school hours. “We are hoping to help clear the snow of homes of seniors, those living with a disability/illness, or those that can use the extra help,” states the notice. Less than 24 hours after it was sent, phys-ed teacher Matt Medwick said at least seven people had signed up for the volunteer service. “This is just one more thing that might really help people feel better in general, on both ends,” Medwick said. Maples teachers have been incorporating activities such as mindfulness and yoga to improve students’ mental health this term. Research shows learning in natural environments is beneficial to students’ stress levels, overall well-being, and helps them focus when they return to a classroom setting. “When teachers conduct that kind of a lesson, they’ll see a major increase in interest and motivation, when kids are allowed to explore questions they have,” said Mike Link, assistant professor of education at the University of Winnipeg, who researches the link between outdoor education and student well-being. Link said the pivot to outdoor lessons during the pandemic will likely affect how much time educators spend outside in the future, given they have now experienced first-hand the positives of teaching outdoors. Starbuck principal Dale Fust said the school will continue to promote outdoor phys-ed in the future, given how successful Morison’s snow-shovelling idea and overall programming has been this fall. Morison — who was booted from the school’s gymnasium when it was converted into two classrooms — has created a winter survival unit. He’s teaching students how to build a shelter, start a fire, boil water, and diagnose frostbite and hypothermia. “We’re reaching the kids who don’t necessarily succeed in a traditional phys-ed environment — the traditional volleyball, sports kind of thing,” said Fust, who oversees the K-8 school of approximately 170. The buy-in from kids has been phenomenal, Morison said. “I’m going to carry on with this for the rest of my career.”Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Halifax Regional Police are warning people who flout pandemic restrictions they can expect to see more fines given out as the province looks to halt the spread of COVID-19 with tougher measures.Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said earlier this week police will be stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, especially illegal gatherings.That means everyone who walks through the door of a party exceeding the maximum number of guests as outlined by the province will be handed a $1,000 fine — not just the host.Const. John MacLeod, a spokesperson with the Halifax Regional Police, said the force is making sure that message is heard loud and clear."We know that people are not following the rules. And it's important for us now to start looking at this and to make sure that people can expect to see more fines and increased enforcement," MacLeod said in a recent interview."It's a very serious time right now, and with this spike in COVID, it's important that, you know, we do what we can to curb the spread."114 active cases in N.S.Nova Scotia reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the number of total active cases in the province to 114. Most of those cases are in the Halifax Regional Municipality.The gathering limit for most of Nova Scotia without social distancing is capped at 10 people.In the Halifax area and parts of Hants County, households can have no more than five visitors at any time, plus however many people reside in the home. The gathering limit in public for those areas is no more than five people, or up to the number of members of immediate family in a household. Those limits are in place until at least Dec. 9.The new enforcement direction comes after police broke up a Halifax house party with about 60 people in attendance on Nov. 2. A single $1,000 ticket was issued under the Health Protection Act.More than 500 calls to police this monthMacLeod said police have gotten 4,640 calls on Public Health restrictions, including physical distancing, failing to isolate, illegal gatherings and mask-wearing, between March and this week.The majority of those calls to Halifax police were made in April, when 929 were logged. In October, there were 690 calls. As of midweek, 563 calls had been made in November.Although the volume of calls has gone up and down depending on how strict the restrictions are, MacLeod said police are prepared to handle any spike in complaints and will deploy resources as needed to ensure the safety of the public.Some people have told CBC News they called police to report infractions and were directed to Public Health instead.MacLeod said enforcement is collaborative and other agencies have been tapped to handle specific aspects of public health measures."It really depends on the specific circumstances as to what resources are required," he said.Quarantine Act violationsIn rural areas of the municipality, RCMP investigate calls regarding COVID-19 regulations and officers determine what actions to follow, said Sgt. Andrew Joyce."The new direction has not changed our procedures at this time," he said.Between March and Nov. 22, Halifax RCMP received 1,506 COVID-19-related calls, including 768 in regard to the Quarantine Act. The federal act states that travellers entering Canada must isolate for 14 days.In RCMP jurisdictions outside Halifax, Joyce said about 2,400 calls were received between March and October.Rural police prepared for possible casesOutside the Halifax area, police forces in rural parts of the province have all been asked to take the new enforcement direction seriously.Chief Scott Feener of the Bridgewater Police Service said they mostly see complaints about people not self-isolating or physically distancing, but rarely big gatherings."Basically since summer … public response has been exceptional," Feener said.The force has only had about 140 calls come in since March regarding COVID-19 issues.But if COVID cases spread into rural areas like Bridgewater, Feener said police are prepared to make some internal changes around scheduling and other tactics to ensure there are enough officers to respond to calls and reduce possible exposures.MORE TOP STORIES
The Nunatsiavut government will be holding a by-election after an ordinary member of the Nunatsiavut Assembly had his Inuit land claims beneficiary membership revoked.Edward Blake Rudkowski has been a beneficiary since 1986, first as a member of the Labrador Inuit Association before the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act was passed in 2005. He was also Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly.He said he was advised by Nunatsiavut officials that because he was removed from the Labrador Inuit Enrolment Register, he could no longer hold his seat in government."I feel no differently about myself this morning than I did this time last week," Blake Rudkowski told CBC's Labrador Morning. "I don't feel any less Inuit, any less Indigenous."According to a press release from Nunatsiavut, the decision to revoke his membership was due to a review. > My grandparents would be upset beyond belief to see this sort of thing going on. \- Edward Blake RudkowskiBlake Rudkowksi said the day after he won the 2018 election, a losing candidate went to the Office of the Registrar of Beneficiaries and asked for a review of his membership, which under the land claims agreement is allowed. But he said after 34 years as a beneficiary, the timing seems odd. "When we are living in an era with so many concrete issues to deal with, when we have so many people dealing with homelessness and addiction and food insecurity … people turning upon their own and people fighting among themselves … is unimaginably counter-productive," he said. 'Blood quantum' too lowBlake Rudkowski said he was told he only had 17.14 per cent Inuit blood quantum. According to the land claims agreement, a member needs to have 25 per cent. "I couldn't begin to hazard a guess at how someone comes up with a number of 17 per cent," said Blake Rudkowski.The government said it plays no role in determining the membership of any individuals, as the beneficiary enrolment process is independent from Nunatsiavut.However, Nunatsiavut said there are other ways to become a beneficiary other than hitting a genetic benchmark for Inuit heritage. An individual can either apply as an Inuk or they can enrol as a person with 25 per cent Inuit descent, although it is unclear as to how the membership committee arrives at a percentage.CBC News has left messages with the beneficiaries registrar for clarification on Blake Rudkowski's situation. There also is a method that allows an individual to apply for a membership if they have settled on the land and follow the customs and traditions. "There's quite a few opportunities for an individual to highlight how they have connection to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement," said Nunatsiavut First Minister Tyler Edmunds."The process tries to demonstrate and test how an individual is connected."Edmunds said there also is an appeal process that can be taken if an applicant is unsuccessful in obtaining a membership and has further proof of their Indigenous heritage.Future unclearBlake Rudkowksi said he is undecided whether he will appeal, and doesn't yet know what his future holds. "What the next steps are is still unclear. I truly have not decided on where to go with this at this point," Blake Rudkowksi said."My grandparents would be upset beyond belief to see this sort of thing going on."Edmunds said he wanted to thank Blake Rudkowski for the work he has done for the beneficiaries over the years. "I can remember my first call with him when I was Speaker, and he was just ready to dive head first into his responsibilities as ordinary member," said Edmunds."I worked closely with Ed over the last couple years and I know he has had a tremendous passion for his work. I think a lot of people can easily see that."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
DES MOINES, Iowa — Democrats once dominated Koochiching County in the blue-collar Iron Range of northern Minnesota. But in this month's presidential election, President Donald Trump won it with 60% of the vote.That's not because voters there are suddenly shifting to the right, said Tom Bakk, who represents the area in the state Senate. It's because, he said, Democrats have steadily moved too far to the left for many rural voters.“We’ve got to see if we can get the Democratic Party to moderate and accept the fact that rural Minnesota is not getting more conservative,” said Bakk, who announced last week that he would become an independent after serving 25 years as a Democrat. "It’s that you guys are leaving them behind.”While Democrats powered through cities and suburbs to reclaim the White House, the party slid further behind in huge rural swaths of northern battlegrounds. The party lost House seats in the Midwest, and Democratic challengers in Iowa, Kansas, Montana and North Carolina Senate races, all once viewed as serious threats to Republican incumbents, fell, some of them hard.Though Democrats’ rural woes aren’t new, they now heap pressure on Biden to begin reversing the trend. Failure to do so endangers goals such as curbing climate change and winning a Senate majority, especially with GOP Senate seats in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin up in 2022.“The pressure for Democrats has to be on conveying an economic message for rural America,” said Iowa Democrat John Norris, a former candidate for governor. “We have a great one to convey, but we haven’t put enough emphasis on it.”It has become a defining dynamic in almost every state where Democrats dominate urban areas and, for at least two elections, have clear momentum in the suburbs.While Trump sought to squeeze more out of his mostly white, working-class base, he made little ground in places he barely won or lost in 2016, and slid in suburbs across the industrial and agricultural north. Instead, he supercharged his focus on places he won big last times.Trump lost Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, after winning all three in 2016. But he won at least 60% of the vote in 126 counties in the three — 14 more than in 2016, according to Associated Press and state elections data. All of those counties are lightly populated.Perhaps more telling, Trump increased his winning percentages in 90% of the counties where he reached the 60% mark in those three states four years ago. That includes all 24 counties where he won at least 70% of the vote last time, even while Biden was vastly outspending Trump on advertising.The rural runaway was even greater in Iowa and Ohio, where polls late in October gave Biden's campaign hopes of a close race or narrow win, only to see him lose them by the same margins Clinton did.Trump's greater dominance in rural Ohio surprised even Republican strategists. In Ohio's 6th Congressional District, 18 counties that hug the Pennsylvania border and Ohio River, Trump improved from 64% of the vote to more than 66%.“I'll be the first to say I was doubtful President Trump could exceed what he did in 2016,” said Ryan Steubenrauch, a senior adviser to 6th District Republican Rep. Bill Johnson.Though Biden fulfilled Democrats' long-sought goal of carrying Georgia and Arizona, albeit narrowly, it wasn't because he concentrated on reaching beyond their metro hubs, said Steve Jarding, a veteran Democratic strategist who has long argued for greater party engagement in rural America.“Democrats have found a way to win in the country, at least they believe this to be the case, by not concentrating much in big parts of the middle of the country," he said. “That's a scary proposition.”Jarding worries that by winning Arizona, Georgia and the northern swing states without addressing the rural economy, Democrats might believe the states are now trending their way as the result of favourable population and demographic shifts.“We didn't win Georgia because we had a great message to rural Georgians,” said Jarding, who helped Mark Warner win the Virginia governorship in 2001 by advising him to campaign aggressively far from the booming Washington, D.C., suburbs. “If Democrats say, look, we got into Georgia and we won it without having to talk about rural issues, they are dead wrong. It will flip back."In clinging to their majority, House Democrats lost rural seats, notably the one held for 30 years by Rep. Collin Peterson in western Minnesota. The setbacks prompted accusations from moderates that the party's prominent liberals, such as New York Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, had become representative of a party foreign to America's farming and small manufacturing towns.“I would argue everyone talks about the big tent. It’s not as big as it used to be,” Minnesota's Bakk said.Biden campaigned little in person, even less in rural areas. Trump, on the other hand, whipped up enthusiasm at rallies in places like Wausau, Wisconsin, in the state's rural north where he dominated, as well as Saginaw in Mid Michigan, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, surrounded by counties he carried by more than 70%, even 80%.Democrats also spent little time and money combatting Trump's attacks.Unanswered, Trump's claims that Biden and other Democrats are proponents of socialism and eliminating police departments, as unfounded as they were, resonated in small towns, according to VoteCast, an Associated Press survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.“We have to address this in a really more aggressive way,” said veteran Democratic strategist James Carville, especially Trump's claims that Democrats are anti-police. “There were some serious kind of headwinds there.”Democrats need to not just defend against attacks but recruit more candidates among rural Americans and argue that progressive policy is to their advantage.“We obviously have a brand problem in rural America,” said former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat defeated in 2018. “But if you want to be an alternative, you can't go there empty-handed.”Heitkamp credits Biden for including specifically rural provisions in his policy plans, such as a transportation component in his health care proposal, considering many people in sparsely populated areas must travel some distance to see a doctor.For now, Democrats' future in rural America rests largely on how Biden is viewed there, Heitkamp said.“A good way to start out would be to make sure in his inaugural speech and state of the union, he talks about rural America,” she said.Thomas Beaumont, The Associated Press
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian police have moved a female transgender Instagram celebrity, Millen Cyrus, to a special cell following public outrage over her initial placement in a male detention cell after she was arrested as a suspect in a drug case.“As for her status on her ID, she is a male, and we do not have a transgender status here. So to avoid something we do not want, we placed her in a special cell by herself. That is our policy on it,” Jakarta Police spokesperson Yusri Yunus said Friday.Cyrus, 21, whose birth name is Muhammad Millendaru Prakasa, has more than 1 million followers on Instagram. Her account of her experiences as a transgender woman on YouTube has been viewed more than 6 million times.She was arrested on Sunday in a police raid on a hotel room in which 0.36 grams of crystal methamphetamine was found. Police announced then that she had been placed in the men’s detention cell at Tanjung Priok Port Police Station, following her identity on her ID card.That triggered criticism from rights groups and on social media in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.Yunus said police are still determining whether she was a drug user or dealer.The group Human Rights Watch said moving Cyrus to a special cell was a good decision by police.“Most trans women are imprisoned in male prisons, so they experience sexual harassment there,” said Andreas Harsono, the group's senior researcher in Indonesia.“The simplest one is verbal abuse. Some physical abuse happens too. It is not in the cell at the prison but in closed areas,” Harsono said.He said more than 2,000 LGBT people have been arrested in Indonesia because of their sexual orientation since 2014.LGBT communities have recently come under siege, although homosexuality is not illegal, except in conservative Aceh province.In February, some members of the House of Representatives proposed a bill that would define homosexuality as deviant and require lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to report to authorities for rehabilitation.Edna Tarigan, The Associated Press
Canada Post is promising changes at Iqaluit's post office, but Iqalummiut can forget about home mail delivery or a single, larger post office facility coming any time soon.The corporation, facing mounting pressure as wait times grow and winter sets in, says it isn't just delivering "lip service" this holiday season. And Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell — a longtime critic of Canada Post — is optimistic the community should start seeing a difference very soon.Along with the extended hours and additional staff customers expect around Christmas, the corporation's general manager of government and community affairs says, fundamentally, they're trying to find a solution to systematically change how mail is delivered in Iqaluit.In the short term, Chad Schella says Canada Post is looking at how it can make it easier for post office staff to find parcels, thereby reducing the wait times — in which customers are sometimes waiting up to an hour in line to pick up mail.> If all the things we're working on don't result in a better experience for our customers, don't result in better service, then we would have failed. - Chad Schella, Canada Post's general manager of government and community affairs"It's just doing it differently than the way we've done it and the way we do it in other communities. Because everything is flown in, we're looking at how we can pre-sort a lot of this stuff so that it then doesn't have to be resorted when it gets to Iqaluit," said Schella."He's been very good," Bell said of Schella, noting a stark difference in the level of communication between Canada Post and the city than in previous years. "He told us a bunch of things, and then things were changing. I do feel like they're trying."The situation at Iqaluit's post office — namely long lines, staff shortages and parcel backlogs — became so dire that Canada Post brought together a special team from different departments specifically dedicated to coming up with solutions for Iqaluit. The group was formed this summer and has been "meeting weekly to help solve problems in the short term," Schella said."It's like putting together a puzzle. Every change you want to make has implications on four or five other pieces of our operation," Schella said.'Nothing is off the table'In the long term, Schella says the organization is trying to redesign a system — and facility — to replace a network the city has long outgrown.Schella says Canada Post knows there aren't enough PO boxes (there are roughly 400 people on the wait list right now); it knows the demand on general delivery has "gone through the roof"; it knows going to two places to pick up mail is brutal; and it knows it doesn't have enough space and storage.The trouble is trying to find a facility, and a mail-delivery system, that not only fits today's needs, but also anticipates future growth."We don't want to move into a facility that we're going to outgrow in a year or two from now, and we're back in the exact same situation," Schella said."So we are looking at the projections for not only the growth of Iqaluit, but for our own e-commerce volume growth and what patterns and projections we have.""We understand how hard it is to find a location," Bell said, adding the city has "demanded" Canada Post operate in one location in order to improve service."We fought for and finally got our new city hall. It's not easy to have to get a new location."Home delivery 'not an easy or simple fix'While Schella says "nothing is off the table," home delivery is not an option under the current system.Although the idea has been an opportunity private businesses in the city have jumped on, Schella said Iqaluit's civic addressing system makes it impossible for Canada Post to pursue."We'd have to ensure that there was municipal addressing in place so that every building had a designated physical address as well as a mailing address. And then that would have to match up with all of our systems and address management systems and everything that goes with it," Schella said."I don't know if I'm giving it justice or not, but that would not be an easy or simple fix to this solution."Also at play is the fact Canada Post home delivery workers are represented by a different union than the workers at Iqaluit's post office. Although Schella said bringing in "parcel lockers" is also an idea being floated."I guess what I would ask for the community is for them to judge us by their experience, and that experience will hopefully improve," Schella said"Because at the end of the day, if all the things we're working on don't result in a better experience for our customers, don't result in better service, then we would have failed. There's no question about it."
Pascale Annoual believes there is healing in quilting. She is spearheading an initiative in collaboration with the Indigenous Health Centre of Tiohtià:ke and Arts Racines & Therapies Montreal to bring comfort and community — through quilting — to the seven children of Joyce Echaquan. Echaquan was an Atikamekw woman from Manawan who died two months ago, shortly after recording herself as staff at Joliette Hospital hurled racist insults at her.Now, Annoual is inviting people to make squares for seven quilts that will be gifted to each of Echaquan's children. "We get into this sense of not knowing what to do or how to respond," Annoual said. "Quilting, sewing and doing something like this turns into a meditative time, so we're active, but at the same time we're reflecting and sharing our thoughts and feelings.""We're able to translate that in a sense into an object that offers that comfort, and that reassurance, and that presence, to say 'we're here with you, and we're here as long as you need us to be'," she added. As an art therapist, Annoual says coming together for a collaborative project like this one can help people address their grief, especially when the grief is collective, and the death had significant public attention.She hopes the initiative will show Echaquan's children they're not alone, and they have a community to support them for the long haul. "We can't go back and change the past, but we can certainly signify to the children to whom we're going to be offering this comfort quilt that we're there and we're present," she said, adding it's a way for people to share the burden. Annoual said whereas buying something is a quick gesture, slowing down to create a gift for someone — and imbuing it with the symbolism of a warm, comforting blanket — is more meaningful. She explained that with each mindful stitch, the quilt, made together as a collective, has as great an impact on the volunteers as on the project's recipients. She hopes the quilters can also find ways to integrate Echaquan's favourite colour, purple, to be a "positive, strong and courageous reminder of her life.""We hope it will have all the effects of comforting," she said. Annoual has been in touch with Echaquan's uncle, to make sure the gift would be well received, and so as not to impose on Echaquan's husband and children. Anyone looking to get involved can visit the 7 quilts for Joyce Echaquan Children Facebook page. Calls for government to adopt Joyce's PrincipleThe quilting initiative comes as Indigenous leaders renew their calls on the government to adopt Joyce's Principle. Joyce's Principle, named after Echaquan, is a document created by the council of the Atikamekw Nation and the Atikamekw Council of Manawan, which aims to guarantee that Indigenous people have equitable access to health and social services without discrimination.The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador stated the province needs to move beyond "petty politics" and adopt Joyce's Principle. "Today I appeal to all political parties in the National Assembly to join forces to adopt and rapidly implement Joyce's Principle," wrote Picard."What is at stake here, on a human, social and political level, must leave no room for partisan pettiness."