Neighbours in three adjacent houses in Scarborough have turned their front lawns into a lavish winter wonderland of lights and decorations.
Neighbours in three adjacent houses in Scarborough have turned their front lawns into a lavish winter wonderland of lights and decorations.
Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
Bumped from online lessons, staring into black screens and teachers’ voices cutting out – that’s been the education experience for some rural students in the region since learning went remote. But two weeks in, the options to support rural families who have poor internet access and also live in cellphone dead zones are still few and far between. “You can hear every morning, ‘You’re glitchy, you’re getting cut out, I can’t hear you,’” Kelly Elliott said. “Everyone is struggling.” The Thames Centre deputy mayor lives in an area that can’t get consistent cell service. Coupled with slow internet, online learning becomes challenging for her two children. “We’re making it through the best we can,” Elliott said. “I think that’s all we can do.” While most school boards are supplying LTE-enabled devices to support families without internet access, they do no good if they can’t get a cell signal, like at Elliott’s house. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce says it's up to individual school boards to come up with plans for these families. “School boards are required to make provisions and adaptations for those students who are unable to learn remotely due to connectivity issues to ensure the continuity of learning,” said Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for the minister. Clark said the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government has invested nearly $1 billion to expand rural broadband and cellular service. Last week, Lecce announced $80 million to buy more online learning and connectivity devices. In-person learning outside of COVID-19 hot spots is scheduled to resume Jan. 25. Elliott said the province’s response puts too much onus on already strained school boards and teachers. “Everybody is just looking to everyone else to come up with a solution is the most frustrating part,” she said. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario slammed Lecce’s approach. “ETFO has repeatedly expressed concern to the Ministry of Education about gaps in equitable and consistent access to live streaming/synchronous learning,” president Sam Hammond said in an email. “Issues with internet connectivity, and limited access to high-quality internet service and devices continue to disadvantage students across Ontario.” Hammond said educators are doing their best to adapt to support all students, including providing paper resources when necessary. “These challenges will not disappear tomorrow,” he said. “This is why the provincial government must invest in additional safety measures now so we can resume in-person learning, which provides the best experience for learning, quality delivery, and is the most equitable model for all students.” Avon-Maitland parent Amy VanStraaten, who lives on a farm with spotty internet near Rostock, 10 minutes from Stratford, said her children are “off to a bumpy start” with online learning. Her children are in kindergarten and Grade 1. While the Avon-Maitland school board provided her with an LTE-enabled device for her kids, it uses Rogers cellular data, which doesn’t cover her area. “We’re kind of in limbo right now,” she said. Jane Morris, an Avon-Maitland superintendent, said they’re aware of three families in the region who aren’t able to connect with the Rogers LTE-devices. The board has acquired Bell SIM cards and is supplying those to families starting Thursday in hopes it gets the students online. “If that doesn’t work, we’re going to have to try to figure out what telco (telecommunications company) does provide coverage to those specific addresses,” Morris said. Some 200 LTE devices have gone out in the Avon-Maitland region. Families who opted not to do online learning receive paper packages by mail every two weeks. Morris said she wouldn’t want families forced into this option due to lack of internet. “It doesn’t provide the kind of rich educational experience that I think families need.” Since online learning began Jan. 5, VanStraaten has been using her personal cellular data to connect her kids to online learning and has already run through her monthly 20 gigabytes in just two weeks. She said the poor-quality connection is disrupting her children’s learning and social development. “The kindergartener, with not being able to see her class and teachers, a lot of what they’re doing is very visual . . . she’s having a really hard time,” VanStraaten said. “We’ve basically said we’ll join when internet allows.” Her daughter in Grade 1 is struggling as well when she can’t see or hear her classmates and teacher. “She’ll get frustrated and just burst into tears,” her mother said. VanStraaten said more could have been done to prepare for remote learning and to support rural families who can’t connect by broadband or cellular service. “It’s frustrating that we’re this far into (the pandemic), looking at another lockdown which we all saw coming and we are still waiting for a solution,” she said. She hopes the pandemic is a catalyst for the provincial and federal governments to prioritize investments in rural broadband service. “We’ve been saying it since the early 2000s. It's 20 years later and we still have this problem.” firstname.lastname@example.org The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
CBC "acted improperly" by firing a reporter who leaked to a news site that the network forced him to take down a tweet criticizing broadcaster Don Cherry, an arbitrator has ruled. Ahmar Khan, who worked in CBC's Manitoba newsroom as a temporary reporter/editor for a year before his termination in December 2019, is now entitled to be reinstated for a minimum of four months or receive four months of compensation, arbitrator Lorne Slotnick wrote in his ruling. "His chosen method of publicizing an internal CBC decision ordering him to take down a tweet was, in my view, like other public comment from CBC employees, not intended to harm the CBC or its reputation, nor is there any evidence that it did so," Slotnick wrote. CBC had said Khan was fired — not because of the tweet — but for both the leak and for homophobic and other disparaging remarks he was found to have made online. But Slotnick ruled those reasons "amounted to, at most, a minor indiscretion" and were "far overshadowed" by a breach of privacy that uncovered Khan's activities. "Consequently, my conclusion is that the CBC acted improperly by dismissing him for cause," Slotnick wrote. Khan declined to comment about the decision when contacted by email. He tweeted one word — "Vindicated" — early Wednesday. Meanwhile, in a statement, CBC restated that its actions against Khan "were not related to his tweet regarding Don Cherry." The network added: "As was noted in the ruling, our actions were not considered discriminatory and there was no breach of Human Rights law." Cherry was fired in November 2019 after an outburst on Hockey Night in Canada in which the controversial commentator spoke about Remembrance Day and his outrage over "people that come here" — referring to immigrants — and don't wear poppies. Khan was offended by Cherry's remarks and tweeted that his Coach's Corner segment should be cancelled. He said Cherry's "xenophobic comments being aired weekly are deplorable." When CBC management learned of Khan's tweet, he was told it violated the policy on reporters expressing opinions, according to Slotnick's ruling. Khan, who was 23 at the time, was asked to delete the tweet, which he did, reluctantly, and he wasn't disciplined for his actions, the decision says. But Khan also told management that he believed CBC's policies were being applied selectively, and in a way that was harmful to journalists of colour, according to his testimony, which ran for seven days over several months last year. He testified he wasn't satisfied with the answers he got from management and decided to leak what had transpired to the news site Canadaland, which published the story on Nov. 14. Khan testified he was conflicted about telling Canadaland, but felt a discussion was necessary about race and the CBC and about how its journalism policies were, in his view, silencing employees of colour. Later that November, another CBC reporter, Austin Grabish, using a shared company laptop that Khan had used, discovered Khan's personal Twitter and WhatsApp accounts were still logged in, and found messages that included an admission that Khan had contacted Canadaland. "I noticed a WhatsApp screen that I was unfamiliar with and opened it," Grabish said in a statement to CBC on Thursday. "I was shocked and disappointed to see both a thread of misinformation about the CBC and several homophobic messages. "As a gay man, I know what it's like to be marginalized and grew up repeatedly being the subject of regular homophobic slurs and bullying because of my sexual orientation." However, Slotnick found that Grabish had conducted a search of Khan's WhatsApp account to find some of these messages. In another message, Khan referred to management as "assholes" for accusing him of violating CBC journalist policies. Khan had also sent a message to Andray Domise, a columnist with Maclean's magazine, who subsequently posted a tweet saying that CBC had made Khan take down the original tweet. Grabish relayed what he found to management, who took screenshots of some of the messages. Khan was fired on Dec. 3, 2019, in part, according to the decision, for "contacting external outlets about the order to delete the Cherry tweet, and for making disparaging comments about CBC management and its policies." He was also cited for making a homophobic slur on WhatsApp where his profile identified him as a CBC employee, says the ruling. Khan testified the alleged slurs were a joke among friends, according to the ruling, and reiterated that position Thursday in an email to CBC. "A friend and I were mocking a friend who uses that word in an effort to tell him to not use that language as it's derogatory and hurtful," he wrote in reference to the homophobic slur cited by Grabish. Grievance filed The union representing Khan, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), filed a grievance on his behalf, alleging the CBC violated the collective agreement, the Canada Labour Code, the Privacy Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It argued Khan had a reasonable expectation that his messages, even though they were on a company laptop, were private and that they should not have been used by management in the decision to fire him. The union also claimed that Khan was not seeking vengeance or to embarrass someone, but was calling for a public discussion about CBC's journalism policies and how they were silencing employees of colour. In his ruling, Slotnick said Khan had a reasonable expectation of privacy for his messages and that his right to privacy was violated, which "tainted the entire process that led to the termination of his employment." He said it was clear that Grabish could not have found what he did without conducting a search and that any suggestion that all the messages were on the screen when Grabish opened the laptop defies logic, given that some of them were months old. Slotnick also said he agreed with the union that "if employees could lose their jobs for privately criticizing their bosses — even if in crude terms — this country would be facing a severe labour shortage." WATCH | Cherry says he regets choice of words: He also rejected the notion that the CBC's reputation had suffered. "In an institution and an atmosphere where controversy is inherent in the nature of the product, my view is that it is an unfounded leap of logic to suggest that Mr. Khan's actions regarding a tweet somehow affected the CBC's reputation," he wrote. Kim Trynacity, CBC branch president of the CMG, said the union is extremely pleased with the ruling, which "upheld the reasonable expectation of personal privacy" for employees. "In trying to settle this grievance, it must be noted CMG has always focused on how management treated Khan, and how it dealt with a situation of a racialized temporary employee," she said in a statement. "Management failed to respect Khan's reasonable expectation of privacy which is a clear violation under our collective agreement."
A Yukon farmer was in court Wednesday asking for more time to file an appeal to an order requiring him to get rid of his goats. Jim Dillabough appeared before Yukon Supreme Court Justice Edith Campbell in Whitehorse, arguing that he had always opposed the order but didn't have the financial resources to formally fight it. Dillabough's legal issues stem from the fact that he owns about a half-dozen goats, which he keeps on his property along the Klondike Highway outside of Whitehorse. He was convicted in October of failing to keep the animals in an approved enclosure, a requirement under a territorial animal control order that came into effect in 2020. The order is intended to prevent the spread of a pneumonia-causing pathogen, Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae or M.ovi, from domestic goats and sheep to wild populations. Following his conviction, a judge ordered Dillabough to either slaughter his goats or move them outside the territory; to date, he's done neither and is also about three weeks past the 30-day deadline to appeal court decisions. He filed an application in December asking for an extension. Goats have 'every right' to be on property, he argues The hearing of the application Wednesday was scheduled to take 20 minutes but went on for nearly two and a half hours, with Campbell often pausing the proceedings to explain legal concepts or procedure to Dillabough, who was self-represented. She also took the unusual step of having Dillabough sworn in as his own witnesses, noting that he was both giving evidence and making legal arguments at the same time. Dillabough told the court that he had opposed his conviction and the subsequent order about his goats "from the get-go," but didn't have the money to order transcripts of the trial that he needed to file a formal appeal. He also said he couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, explaining that he had called two but both had asked him for $5,000 up-front. "What did you do after that?" Campbell asked him. "Well, I had to do it myself," he replied, referring to mounting a legal appeal. Dillabough levelled a number of accusations at Yukon government animal health officials throughout his submissions, alleging that "they're trying to force some of us right out of business" and that no one would come out to check his goat fence or test his animals for M. ovi. You people want to screw up agriculture? Don't forget you have to eat too. - Jim Dillabough, Yukon farmer He also argued that the animal control order made no sense, questioning why anyone would spend money to build a proper enclosure only for their goats or sheep to be killed if the animals ended up testing positive for M. ovi. He claimed he had never seen any wild sheep or goats near his farm (Dillabough lives in thinhorn sheep habitat range), and that the fence he'd built around his goat enclosure was the strongest in Canada. His goats, he argued, had "every right to be on [my] property." "There's no way I'm going to give up my livelihood," Dillabough said. "I was out there raising animals before any of you were born." Rules matter, Crown says Territorial Crown Megan Seiling argued against granting Dillabough's application. "There really needs to be special circumstances in place because the rules are there for a reason," she said, later adding that just because he doesn't like the rules doesn't mean he doesn't need to follow them. Dillabough had plenty of time to deal with both his animal and then legal issues, Seiling argued, noting that officials had tried to work with him for months to get him to comply with the animal control order before finally charging him. He also gave no indication that he intended to appeal his conviction until the government filed a legal petition to seize his goats. Seiling argued there was an added need to deal with the matter because it was an ongoing offence, not a one-off, and sends a poor message to the "many" other goat and sheep farmers who had suffered "significant" costs in order to comply with the control order. "[Dillabough] waited for the consequences to come to him," she said. "At the end of the day, the rules matter … It's not in the interest of justice to allow this appeal to be heard." Dillabough remained defiant to the end of the hearing, accusing Seiling of "bitching" about how he had filed his legal paperwork and at one point muttering, "You people want to screw up agriculture? Don't forget you have to eat too." Campbell is expected to give her decision on Dillabough's application next month.
Karsen Roy has made her mark as a leader on the soccer pitch, on the ice, and within Country Day School. Last year, her work was recognized by the Town of Aurora with the 2020 Youth Volunteer Award, part of the Town’s Community Recognition Awards program. The Youth Volunteer Award is presented to a citizen up to the age of 19 who has made a significant contribution to the community through volunteerism and being a positive leader. “Karsen Roy is an exemplary youth who cares deeply about her community,” said Mayor Tom Mrakas, who presented the award virtually in June. “She has accumulated more than 220 community service hours by contributing to a variety of programs and projects. She is a high-level athlete who spends a lot of time volunteering with various groups like the Special Needs Soccer Program and the Younger Panthers Team. She has supported organizations like Me to We, Run for the Cure, and was one of the original members of the Country Day School Cares team. This group is [comprised] of students and faculty members who organize schoolwide food and non-food donation drives and deliver homemade lunches to the homeless.” She was also honoured for her work on Country Day School’s annual Terry Fox Run and efforts to underscore the immediacy of the annual event to her peers. “I wanted to express my gratitude in receiving this award as it truly means a lot to me,” said Karsen. “Thank you so much for the Town of Aurora for giving me a chance to volunteer in the community while bettering myself. Something else I would like to mention while I have the chance is that in my efforts to volunteer, it has always come from my sincere hope to make the community a more generous, genuine and inclusive environment. “Volunteering has taught me to trust the process, to reach out to those in need, to teach others, but not only to teach them but to learn from them as well. Just before I conclude my thank you, I want to explain that volunteering has never been about the award given to me in the end or reaching the 40 hours of volunteering community service required to graduate; it has always meant that the processes and lessons taught will carry a much greater value with me in the end.” Added Mayor Mrakas: “She spreads her sunshine and positivity wherever she goes. Not only is she a wonderful role model for young people, she reminds all generations that our hearts do not have a limit and giving is an action that never runs dry.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
East Ferris is pulling the plug on its community centre rink and curling ice in Astorville due to the uncertainty of escalating provincial restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jason Trottier, chief administrative officer, said Thursday that the ice will come out Monday following discussions during their community emergency management meeting. “We tried to make it work,” Trottier said about the decision to open the rink this winter despite not knowing if groups would be able to rent enough hours to justify the expenditure. “But it doesn’t make sense now,” he added, noting the provincial restrictions extending the shutdown until Feb. 10 was only leaving a month or so of hockey. And Trottier said there’s no guarantee there won’t be further extensions. The cost of keeping the ice plant running without customers and prospect of more dead time without revenue left little recourse, he said. George Suszter, president of East Nipissing Minor Hockey Association, said the decision isn’t surprising considering the complexity of the pandemic restrictions, cost and unknown timeframes. “I understand their decision because the taxpayers will have to pay the brunt of the cost,” he said, although as a sport program administrator it “would be nice to have had an option.” Suszter said it is “kind of sad to hear because even if the players are not able to play hockey right now they had hope in a month it would come back.” The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit was telling municipalities Thursday to close their outdoor rinks as well to further protect from viral transmission. The province had said Tuesday that outdoor rinks could stay open if protocols and limits on numbers were maintained. And Trottier said East Ferris was going to keep their Corbeil rink in the Bill Vrebosch Park open before hearing the health unit edict. Suszter said they actually had almost 90 percent of their membership totals from the previous year even though it was under modified playing rules. Hockey was giving the youth and the parents an opportunity for in-person interaction that’s important for mental health, he said. “It brought joy and happiness to the kids, it was a glimmer of normality” in unprecedented times, Suszter said. “People need to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Mankind is not made to isolate from others.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
In the first wave of COVID-19, Aurora rarely had more than 20 active cases of COVID-19 at any one time. Now, there are more than 100 active cases of the virus, most of which have been acquired within the community. By Tuesday, January 12, Aurora was grappling with 104 active cases of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of 718 confirmed cases of the virus within the community, 23 of which have proved fatal. 591 cases are now marked as recovered. The twenty-third Aurora resident to lose the fight against COVID-19 was a 90-year-old female resident of Willows Estate, a long-term care home in Aurora’s south end, one of two active long-term care outbreaks in the community. She lost her fight at the residence on January 11 after receiving positive test results and the onset of symptoms on January 4. The twenty-second resident, this time a 91-year-old female resident of Kingsway Place Retirement Residence, lost her fight at Southlake on January 6 after receiving positive test results on December 16. Willows Estate was issued an order under the Province’s Health Protection & Promotion Act on Thursday. The order instructs Willows Estate, which has been in outbreak mode since Christmas Eve, “to take a series of actions to ensure the health and safety of their residents and staff,” said Patrick Casey, Director of Communications for the Regional Municipality of York. The order, issued by Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, states that York Region Public Health “has received information and conducted inspections evidencing” that the residence has “inadequate staffing levels to meet the needs of residents; has inadequate senior leadership (supervisory staffing) presence on the institution’s units, at all times, to ensure appropriate adherence to IPAC (Infection Prevention and Control) measures; and has inadequate and/or insufficient IPAC knowledge and processes to protect resident needs and requires assistance from York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Public Health Ontario, and the Local Health Integration Network to provide IPAC expertise to the institution to help contain the stop of COVID-19 outbreak at the institution.” According to Patrick McCarthy, President & CEO of OMNI Health Care, which operates Willows Estate, the residence will work closely with the Region, Southlake, and the Ministry of Long-Term Care to support staff and residents. “The situation evolved rapidly over several days, as test results were received by the home,” said Mr. McCarthy. “In addition to the increase in residents affected, several key staff from the leadership and nursing team were quarantined and unavailable. OMNI mobilized its response team with our Director of Operations on site to assume leadership. As well we have brought in management and nursing staff on site from other OMNI homes as support, and recruiting additional staff and agency contract staff to supplement our existing staffing during the outbreak. “We continue to work closely with York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health and have arranged a site visit this week with federally sponsored Canadian Red Cross for IPAC and possible ongoing staffing supports.” At press time this week, 32 of Aurora’s 104 active cases of COVID-19 were related to institutional outbreak. 71 active cases are attributed to local transmission or close contact, with 94 new cases in this category reported to York Region Public Health in one week alone. 1 active case is attributed to workplace cluster and there are zero travel-related cases.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Saskatchewan Rivers School Division trustees are continuing professional development despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually there are provincial gatherings to help trustees, but they've stopped since the start of the pandemic. Some discussion about that issue took place at the board’s regular meeting on Monday. Education director Robert Bratvold said they're really focusing on learning and development, even though the circumstances can make it challenging. The board will engage in a planning seminar on Jan. 15 and 16 to review and discuss a number of items related to effective governance and leadership. One topic of conversation will be a letter the board received from the School Community Council of Wild Rose School about their trustee representative in the school clusters. “It came as a correspondence item that the board was informed about and then further discussion about that will happen at the seminar,” Bratvold explained. The letter states that another meeting should be held between the parties on Jan. 19. “Obviously, there is some communication and some understanding of what the role of the school clusters are and what a role of a trustee is and those sorts of things, so (there are) lots of opportunities for communication,” Bratvold explained. Bratvold added that trustees will be participating in over 20 online modules scheduled in 90-minute blocks over the next month through the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). He said these sessions will support new and returning trustees in their role as educational leaders and as effective voices in local government. “I know there are going to be over 20 sessions on everything from legal aspects of being a trustee to student support services to anything you can imagine to make them a better trustee. Our trustees are taking part in those sessions in a big way,” Bratvold said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says one person in B.C. has been diagnosed with the South African strain of COVID-19. She also says she's saddened and disturbed at reports of racism against First Nations communities that have experienced outbreaks.
With its own unique brand of “magic realism,” the novel Chasing Painted Horses has provided no shortage of inspiration for the Aurora Public Library and community groups as One Book One Aurora 2021 gets underway. As The Auroran reported last week, Drew Hayden Taylor’s novel about confronting old, yet vivid memories is at the centre of the Library’s (APL’s) annual campaign to get all of Aurora reading from the same page. “This book has been so magical that so many people are coming on board,” says Reccia Mandelcorn, APL’s Manager of Community Collaboration, who says she often has the same criteria in picking a book for the campaign: will it sustain interest for months? “This year, when I had my ‘beta readers’ read the books on my shortlist, I got everyone’s opinion on it. One of the things I was hearing from all my wonderful community members is to stay away from anything that was too dark, even if it was a really good book, because although we need important themes to build upon, they all warned about not having anything that was too dark or graphic during this very difficult time that we’re all experiencing.” That was just one determining factor and it certainly fit the bill. Ms. Mandelcorn says she loves the theme of “magic realism” and has loved fantasy and fairy tales since childhood. Chasing Painted Horses, she says, has its pages infused with this magic, along with themes of art, homelessness and Indigenous life, all woven together by an Indigenous voice in Drew Hayden Taylor. Among the activities beginning to fall into place surrounding Chasing Painted Horses is a writing workshop led by Marnie Maguire, a writing contest for adults and teens encouraging people to tap into their imaginations and a photography contest sponsored by The Auroran for teens and adults alike depicting art found in unexpected places. “I am hoping that the photography contest will inspire,” says Ms. Mandelcorn. “We want to expand art participation. This year, the Town of Aurora is partnering with us on a community art project installing chalkboards on the fencing around Library Square. People will be invited for an all-ages community event to come and draw and that will pick up on the theme of the book’s ‘Everything Wall’ [which has a central role in the novel]. We’re inviting people to take pictures of what they draw and there will be prizes every week for the best drawing, as is what happens in the novel.” Additional programming touches upon the themes of homelessness with virtual events slated to be hosted in conjunction with the Social Planning Council of York Region and the Affordable Housing Coalition of York Region. “We will be continuing programming on the need for affordable housing in our area as brought up by the theme of Harry, a homeless person in the book,” says Ms. Mandelcorn. “I am very excited about retaining that partnership with them; we did some programming with them this year and it was wonderful. I am very excited they are on board again.” An art exhibition, A Carousel of Horses, exploring the horse as symbols of power, and a virtual author visit with Drew Haden Taylor on Saturday, October 23, at 2 p.m., round out the lineup. All this affords plenty of time for Aurora residents to read the book. In years past, previous One Book One Aurora selections have been placed free of charge in small lending libraries dotted around the community intended to allow readers to pick up, read, return or pass on their volume. The fine details of the roll-out are still forthcoming but Ms. Mandelcorn says she’s eager to hear readers’ reactions, as well as the community conversation that will come. “The book is accessible and can be read at different levels,” she says. “I am hoping teens might pick up the book as well. I’m hoping to expand to a wider group so we’re not just having the ‘book club set’ but teens and young adults start enjoying this initiative and be exposed to some Indigenous writing. Drew’s writing is humorous, magical and not necessarily what you think of. Maybe in the past, Indigenous writing or writing from Indigenous authors has been pigeonholed. That is something people are going to pick up from this book because Drew is Indigenous, but his writing stands on its own. “For so short a book, it is so rich. You can find so much in it. It’s just so open for the reader to discover for themselves what the are seeing and maybe what they see in themselves and society, too.” For more on One Book One Aurora and associated programs and events, visit onebookoneaurora.com.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — Chuck Schumer is used to drinking from a firehose. But the incoming Senate majority leader has never taken on such a torrent of challenges, with the opening days of both the Biden administration and Democratic control of the Senate coming at the very moment an impeachment trial gets underway. A 38-year veteran of Congress who first came to the Senate during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Schumer is a 70-year-old bundle of energy with one overriding mandate: Help Joe Biden become a successful president. To do so, he’ll have to leverage the narrowest possible majority — a 50-50 Senate with the incoming vice-president, Kamala Harris, delivering the tiebreaking vote. It's a tough assignment. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. But the goodwill Schumer enjoys with key members, and his careful management of the party's constituencies, could help ease the way. “Chuck Schumer has done a remarkable job as our caucus leader the last four years holding our caucus together," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as he entered the Senate chamber during last Wednesday's Electoral College count, speaking just before a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol and the situation turned dire. Then Schumer appeared. “What did I just give a quote about? Our capable majority leader!" Coons said. “Again!" a jubilant Schumer exclaimed. “More adjectives! More adjectives!" Less than an hour later, Schumer was in peril, under the protection of a Capitol Police officer with a submachine gun standing between him and GOP leader Mitch McConnell as the mob breached the building. The ransacking of the Capitol has brought impeachment to the Senate's door again and set Republicans on their heels. And it's put a spotlight on whether the polarized, diminished chamber can process Biden's agenda. Take the installation of Biden's Cabinet. The Senate has traditionally tried to confirm a batch of the most important nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the days thereafter. But to do so requires the co-operation of the entire Senate. Democrats slow-walked many of Trump's Cabinet picks four years ago after a crushing election loss, but there's a palpable sense that Republicans may be more co-operative now, at least when confirming national security nominees and picks like Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. Schumer seeks — and is used to operating in — the spotlight, whether he’s helping run the unwieldy, increasingly divided Senate, micromanaging his beloved Democratic caucus or crisscrossing New York. Any of these is a full-time job. And they don’t always point him in the same direction. For instance, Biden is preaching bipartisanship, and Schumer wants to help, but tensions are inevitable with ardent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ambitious Bronx Democrat whom Schumer allies are watching closely as he runs for a fifth term in 2022. Schumer was a force in Biden's decision to “go big” on Thursday with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill that was bigger than earlier Biden drafts. Progressives hailed the measure. Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. Senate rules are unforgiving, but Schumer and McConnell are hoping to establish a dual-track process to confirm nominations even as the trial unfolds. McConnell and Schumer have a tortured, tense relationship after years of bruising political battles and fights over Supreme Court nominees. They rarely talk spontaneously and have no hesitation in slinging barbs that earlier generations of leaders managed to avoid. But Biden and McConnell are long-standing friends, and the Kentucky Republican — pondering a “guilty" vote in Trump's second impeachment trial and still absorbing the disastrous Senate losses in Georgia — appears inclined to help Biden as best he can. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer. What is more, Democratic control of the chamber comes with filibuster-proof treatment of Biden's nominees, with only a simple majority needed, though Republicans could easily force delays. McConnell and his Republican caucus want to “reasonably co-operate on the national security nominations,” said Hazen Marshall, a former McConnell policy aide. “His view has traditionally been that presidents deserve their staff, unless their staff are crazy or criminals." But GOP senators are sure to drag their feet on less urgent Cabinet posts given the experience under Trump, when even former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., had to endure delays. But with the economy slipping and the public appalled by the melee in Washington, GOP resistance to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package or his slate of Cabinet picks may not be as resolute. “There's a lot to do, but Democrats are on the right side of all of it," said former Schumer strategist and confidant Matt House. “These are good problems to have." Amid the dizzying pace, Schumer also tends to New York. A Brooklyn native, Schumer makes a visit to each of the state's 62 counties every year. And his spur-of-the-moment visits to local events like high school graduations and, more recently, unannounced drop-ins on community Zoom calls are the stuff of legend. Last Thursday, little more than 24 hours after the Capitol riot, Schumer hopped on a call with a community board in Sunnyside, Queens. He spent the opening minutes thanking board members. “You guys and gals do a great job — I know what it’s like," Schumer said, according to the Sunnyside Post. “When things go bad you hear about it; when things are great you hear nothing.” And after Trump's impeachment Wednesday, Schumer heaped praise on local New York media members in a call with publishers and broadcasters thanking him for steering stimulus dollars to struggling news outlets, according to an account by the Syracuse Post Standard. But he had to jump. “Pelosi has called me and Biden, so I won’t be able to be on for too long," Schumer said. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Friday: ITALY Roma will be looking to put pressure on the top two in Serie A when it visits Lazio in the capital derby. Roma is third in the standings, three points behind Inter Milan and six below league leader AC Milan. Roma drew against Inter in its last match, which came on the back of three successive victories. However, Lazio is finding its feet after injuries and Champions League commitments took their toll. Lazio has won its past two matches and risen to eighth in the league, five points below the top four. GERMANY Third-place Bayer Leverkusen faces a tough task away at Union Berlin, which is exceeding all expectations in fifth after a strong start to the season. Leverkusen was briefly the Bundesliga leader last month but hasn't won any of its three league games since, though there was a morale-boosting 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the cup on Tuesday. It will be Leverkusen's first game since completing the signing of Dutch defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah from Manchester United on Wednesday. Injuries to other players mean he could make his debut against Union. FRANCE Monaco travels to play Montpellier with its attack clicking after 10 goals in three games. Coach Niko Kovac took a while to find the right balance in his first season in charge. But he seems to have figured out how to use France striker Wissam Ben Yedder and German forward Kevin Volland as a front pairing. Volland has netted in his past four games, and the return of attacking midfielder Aleksandr Golovin from injury should also help Monaco's push to break into the top three. Monaco is in fourth place and can close the gap on third-place Lille to three points if it wins at Stade de la Mosson, where Montpellier's home form has been less strong than in recent seasons. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Police are searching for more possible victims after an alleged child abduction earlier this week. Curtis Poburan, 52, was arrested Tuesday after allegedly luring a 10-year-old boy from a park in west Edmonton. A call to the Edmonton Police Service led to the arrest and the boy found physically unharmed at a nearby shopping complex. Poburan has been charged with abduction of a child under the age of 14 and criminal harassment. The child is receiving support from the Zebra Child Protection Centre. "We believe that the accused may have been in other areas of the city and may have been doing the same luring in other parks or areas," Det. Rob Davis with the EPS Child Protection Section said during a media availability Thursday. Police are asking anyone with any information to come forward. Davis said Poburan befriended the boy and escorted him away with the offer of a vape pen. He said the suspect had been released on probation in early December. According to court records, Poburan was sentenced Dec. 11 after being convicted on a criminal harassment charge. He was previously convicted in 2016 of abducting a person under 14. Last July, police issued a public warning that Poburan was a convicted sexual offender being released and that he posed a risk to the community. Witness called police Police said Wednesday evening they had charged Poburan with abduction of a child under the age of 14 and criminal harassment. At around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to reports of a suspicious person near 177th Street and 69th Avenue in west Edmonton. Police said they were told a man was trying to lure a child away from the area. Police said that when they arrived, a witness directed them to a nearby shopping complex where they found the child and took a suspect into custody without incident. "Thank you to that person who made the report," Brooklyn Alcock, director of justice partnerships and supports with the Zebra Centre, said Thursday. "You don't always have to be right to make a report but in this situation, we were able to help that child." The suspect had two imitation firearms when he was arrested, police said. Poburan has also been charged with use of an imitation firearm in the commission of an offence, two counts of possession of an imitation weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, three counts of breaching probation and failure to comply with an order. A publication ban is in effect for the child's identity.
As construction work continues on Library Square, money for its operations has been included as part of Aurora’s 2021 Operating Budget. In the last Council meeting before the winter break, local lawmakers formally signed off on a 1.96 per cent increase on the municipal portion of the tax bill. This increase includes half-a-per-cent for Library Square, and a further 0.5 per cent will be factored into the 2022 Budget. The approval came after Councillor Rachel Gilliland made a motion, which ultimately fizzled at the table, to defer the half-percent increase in 2022. From her perspective, the 0.5 per cent increase in 2021 and 2022 was based on a business plan that, in her view, might be in need of some revisions given present uncertainty. “We get an opportunity to save this year and maybe we will have a re-assessment then,” she contended, noting there are still sponsorship opportunities that could come forward to help offset Library Square’s operating costs. “I do feel we are all in the same boat where we…want to have a thriving Library Square that is functioning and paying for itself, and also giving back to the community.” When asked by Councillor John Gallo what the impacts might be of deferring these operating costs until next year, Director of Finance Rachel Wainwright van Kessel said Library Square has a project manager already in place and there are ongoing costs related to the displacement of the Aurora Cultural Centre from 22 Church Street for the duration of the construction. Deferring these costs for another year might save in 2021, she said, but those costs might increase in the interval. “It leaves us pretty tight,” said Town CAO Doug Nadorozny on the possibility of deferring the issue. “If there are other expenses – for example, the Aurora Cultural Centre or other things we want to start early with regards to Library Square operations, we would have to come back to Council to find the funds for that if everything was spent as per the plan. We would have to add 0.5 per cent onto the budget for next year just to get us at ground zero.” Asked by Councillor Michael Thompson how ongoing talks over the final governance model that will ultimately run Library Square might be impacted by a deferral, Mr. Nadorozny said neither the governance model nor business plan were cast in stone. “We know we’re going to have three or four different entities that are all going to play a role in the overall performance of Library Square,” Mr. Nadorozny continued. “Depending on where that governance model goes and what resources are required by the various entities, you could start to deviate off the $720,000 plan.” Replied Councillor Thompson: “While we have done our best to forecast the operational impact of Library Square, there still remains the potential that it could increase based upon the governance model and the needs of the various organizations, be it the Library, be it the Aurora Cultural Centre, or some hybrid model like that. So, in deferring this for next year, there is a possibility that it is only 0.5 but there is also a possibility it could be more.” Mr. Nadorozny agreed that that is a possibility. “We’re not exactly pinned down to the operating model for Library Square and its various entities,” he concluded “I am merely suggesting by deferring this to 2022, which is very doable, you would add 0.5 to the budget. If there were other stresses, we would have to find savings somewhere else or [go] beyond the 0.5.” The motion to defer the operational funding for Library Square was defeated on a vote of 5 – 2 with Councillors Gilliland and Gallo voting in favour.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
There is sometimes a perception that disordered eating is a challenge most often faced by women and girls, but this is a perception that is being challenged by the Aurora-based Riverwalk Wellness Centre as they aim to ramp up help for males looking to overcome and recover. Riverwalk, formerly Eating Disorders of York Region, recently received an anonymous donation specifically to help them reach males in the community who might be struggling. “We are deeply appreciative for the donation,” says Riverwalk Executive Director Janice Morgante. “We receive calls every day from individuals looking for support and it can be from anywhere, even Nunavut because support is so hard to find.” Riverwalk was founded in 2004 after several families came together after the death of a young woman, who used resources from her memorial fund to start an agency to address urgent and unmet needs for those suffering from disordered evening. It is a grassroots organization which offers a variety of assistance and support programs well beyond their home base of York Region. This most recent donation enables them to meet further needs that were previously unmet. “If I am speaking to someone who is a male, or calling about a male they know, after we have gotten to know each other a bit in that conversation I can explore with them the support that can be made available that they otherwise may not be able to manage without this donation,” says Ms. Morgante. “It’s the same conversation I would have with anyone, but unfortunately we don’t have the donors at this point, although that could change, who would want to make contributions for which we can issue an official income tax receipt and allow us to support even more people. “As an example, we have been getting calls from students who have no financial means; they are not working, they are not on campus, they have no contact with what might have been on-campus support, although that was likely not specialized around disordered eating, but they have really stressful situations as many people do right now. My heart breaks for students. I can tell you from first-hand experience how the room lights up when we’re able to address real financial need.” The donation will also help to provide outreach to the male population. Although Ms. Morgante says she has no firm reasons on why males are sometimes more reluctant to seek help, she says that this demographic sometimes flies under the radar. “Someone in that person’s circle just doesn’t think about it,” she says. “That is where information is so helpful. There isn’t anyone who is immune to anxiety, depression, stress and trauma, and all of the aspects of difficult coping that we’re experiencing right now with COVID. There isn’t any reason to think that one person over another would be inclined to use food as a way to cope. "Another aspect is, using the lens of common sense, younger individuals and children have access to food in their home and not to the liquor store, and hopefully not to their local drug dealer. No one goes out of their way to decide they are going to use food as a coping strategy, or any other substance. All of us needs coping strategies and hopefully somewhere along the way we have acquired positive coping strategies but, of course, that is not always the case. “Now, we’re able to offer support to a 13-year-old boy whose single mom would not have the financial means to get him the help he needs. In this case, it was a teacher who noted the difference in the young boy from last year to this year and alerted mom. It can be that we’re all so busy coping ourselves that we might not be paying as much attention to, for instance, males and the negative coping strategies that might be prevalent.” We’re all human and we all need help in unique ways, she says, but it is sometimes the case that people don’t know that their coping strategies are detrimental – and it can take a while before that moment of realization arrives. Through Riverwalk’s Faces of Recovery campaign, people who have been down that road highlight when they “awoke” to the fact their health was suffering and why they sought support. “We look at this as a circle of support – a ‘circle’ because we know all of us are flexible, we move forward, we move back, not necessarily in a straight line when we decide something doesn’t seem right and we would like to find out more,” says Ms. Morgante. “Specialized knowledge of disordered eating is extremely important because those who mean well that are not informed can cause more harm, quite unintentionally. “A diagnosis [for our programs] is not required. Someone can just have some thoughts, concerns and questions, and, on our website, you will see a list of questions they can review and ponder. If they feel indeed there was something they wanted to know more about or seek some more support around, we’re here.” For more information on Riverwalk and the services they provide, visit edoyr.com. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. The announcement comes a day after word that Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
The city is urging residents in Ward 22 to get out and vote in the Scarborough-Agincourt byelection on Friday despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Friday's byelection is being held to replace Jim Karygiannis, who was removed as city councillor last year due to a campaign spending violation in the 2018 municipal election. Twenty-seven candidates are running for municipal office. There are 65,793 people eligible to vote. In an email on Thursday, Mayor John Tory urged people to go to the polls and cast their ballots in the byelection. "I want to reassure residents that health and safety has been a top priority for this election and that City staff have been working with Toronto Public Health to make sure all safety protocols are in place," Tory told CBC Toronto. "Your vote matters." The city said in a news release this week that the byelection will proceed as planned on Friday. "Government services, including elections, are essential for the continuity of government," the city said in the release. "Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt has been without representation since September 24, 2020, and it is important that the electors are able to exercise their democratic right to vote." The city said the city clerk, with the help of Toronto Public Health, has reviewed the provincial stay-at-home order that took effect in Ontario on Thursday and determined that the vote can and will proceed. City government can carry out byelection, province says The Ontario health ministry said in an email on Thursday that the city can hold the byelection according to the regulation of the Reopening Ontario Act. The province is currently under a second state of emergency and a provincial stay-at-home order as officials try to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. "The byelection is not prohibited by the Emergency Order," the ministry said. General rules for areas in Stage 1, which include Toronto, state: "Nothing in this Order precludes operations or delivery of services by the following in Ontario: 1. Any government. 2. Any person or publicly-funded agency or organization that delivers or supports government operations and services, including operations and services of the health care sector." Pandemic precautions will be in place at all polling stations to keep voters safe. "These measures include health screening, reduced touch points, physical distancing, occupancy standards and specialized health and safety positions in all voting places," the city said in an email. According to the city, a total of 2,227 voters cast ballots on advance polling days on Jan. 8, 9 and 10. The city sent out more than 4,000 mail-in ballot packages and 1,280 have been returned to the city and tabulated. Ward includes temporary hotel shelter Ward 22 includes the Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto East, which is housing 330 people who were formerly experiencing homelessness, a number that has been confirmed by the city's shelter, support and housing administration. "Toronto Elections provided information flyers to be posted in the facility, as well as copies for distribution to residents so they understand where, how and when they can vote," the city said in the email. The Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN), a non-partisan organization that aims to address inequities across the district through civic engagement, has said the ward has many seniors and a substantial population of people born in China and that population is diverse. Ward boundaries run from Victoria Park Avenue to the west, Midland Avenue to the east, Steeles Avenue East to the north and Highway 401 to the south.
Plans for a controversial open pit gold mine on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore have been pushed back by several years amid uncertainty over its water supply. Atlantic Gold intended to begin construction at its Cochrane Hill property next year and enter production in 2023. Now it says an environmental impact statement won't be ready until late 2024. An investor presentation from parent company St Barbara Limited last month linked the new schedule to a decision by the provincial government last fall that left the project's water supply undetermined. In October 2020, the province said it needed to further evaluate plans to declare 684 hectares in and around Archibald Lake as a protected wilderness area. The designation would have denied the Atlantic Gold its planned water source. The presentation contains a note on Cochrane Hill: "Decision in October 2020 on Archibald Lake defers any decision on conservation subject to outcome of [environmental impact statement] process." 'Salmon rivers and gold mines don't mix' The delay at Cochrane Hill is being welcomed by opponents like Mike Crosby of the Nova Scotia Salmon Association. "That's a good thing," he said. "However, I think it should be pushed off to eternity." He and other critics say the mine's six-year production life and the jobs it will create are not worth the risk to the nearby St. Marys River. Millions of dollars have been spent in an effort to restore the river and bring back Atlantic salmon. "The fact is salmon rivers and gold mines don't mix," he said. "The mine is close enough that every model that's been built says that should a catastrophic event happen at a tailings pond … it would obliterate the whole river system," he said. Company juggling other projects Cochrane Hill is one of three proposed open pit "satellite mine" projects the company is juggling on the Eastern Shore. The others are Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream. All are designed to supply gold ore to a central processing plant at Moose River where the company's Touquoy Mine is already up and running. Dustin O'Leary, Atlantic Gold's Nova Scotia spokesperson, said the delay at Cochrane Hill, first reported in the Guysborough Journal, is connected to the permitting schedules for Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream. "St Barbara Ltd remains committed to the Cochrane Hill Gold Mine project and the positive benefits it will deliver to our province's Eastern Shore," O' Leary said in an email to CBC News. What the company told investors Craig Brownlie, Atlantic Gold general manager, updated investors on the schedule on Dec. 15. "For Cochrane Hill, the time horizon appears to be a little longer. But the focus will be on getting Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream approved and into production, then focusing Atlantic Operation's efforts on advancing the Cochrane Hill project as seamlessly as possible." he said according to a transcript. Brownlie said the company wants Beaver Dam in production by mid-2023. That also worries Crosby and Kris Hunter of the salmon federation. Hunter said Beaver Dam is also near another ecologically sensitive area where millions of dollars have been spent to restore Atlantic salmon. "Delay in the Cochrane Hill project we view as good news for now. It means the project's not going ahead right away. But we are concerned that it does mean that Beaver Dam is going to be moving forward. So this is sort of good news, I guess. But it's also bad news kind of as well, too," Hunter told CBC News. Mine says its committed to the environment O'Leary said the company is taking into account community concerns, including those surrounding St. Marys River. "Our operations respect the local environment and aim to coexist with all local water bodies. The proposed mine plan takes into account environmental considerations and regulations, as well as community input and social objectives," he said. Atlantic Gold says Cochrane Hill will employ 202 people when in production. It would extract two million tonnes of gold-bearing ore per year. The mine waste tailings pond will be contained with an embankment 70 metres high. The company said it will need between 300,000 and 500,000 cubic metres of water initially and then 50 cubic metres a day during production. MORE TOP STORIES
As we approach a full year of living in the midst of a global pandemic, Community & Home Assistance to Seniors (CHATS) is putting increased emphasis on expanding social engagement for seniors. Expanding Social Engagement for Seniors is a new program launched by CHATS this winter to help older residents stay connected and keep minds active. Launched in conjunction with the Alzheimer Society of York Region, York Region EMS, the York Regional Police, March of Dimes, Human Endeavour and CareFirst, the Expanding Social Engagement for Seniors program includes kits packed with a variety of products, from crossword puzzles and games to our new group of daily essentials such as face masks and alcohol wipes. In addition to these products, the kits contain information about local resources. “Most importantly, it is designed to help people feel they are connected and that there are resources out there they can call on at any time to support them if they should need it,” says Christina Bisanz, CEO of CHATS, which serves both York Region and South Simcoe. “This is a project we launched just after the holiday season and these kits have been, and are being, delivered throughout the area to a number of elderly people in the community.” This is just one initiative being carried out by CHATS throughout the winter. It has been a busy season for the organization, having recently taken part in Aurora’s Christmas Dream Dinner, which provided special turkey dinners to people in need within the community and beyond. Key in CHATS’ role in this were their own frontline workers who support older adults across many municipalities. In just one example, on December 22, personal support workers Samanta Breen and Karen Fredrick finished an overnight shift at an area seniors’ residence when they heard someone calling for help. The PSWs walked the floor listening at each door until they could pinpoint the sound, says Ms. Bisanz. “The person's voice was getting very faint, and she was unable to answer the door (the tenant not being a CHATS’ client, the PSWs did not have a key to get in),” said Ms. Bisanz. “Another PSW, Gregy Biolley, called 911 and waited in the lobby door until first responders arrived. Meanwhile, Samanta and Karen kept reassuring the tenant that help was on the way. By the time the first responders arrived the tenant was no longer responding. Police broke the door open and found the tenant unconscious. EMS transported the tenant to hospital. “We are very proud of how swiftly and purposefully our PSWs responded when they felt someone needed help. Their training and professionalism shone through. PSWs are not always acknowledged for what they do and how they help, but they are certainly among the heroes in healthcare.” The pandemic has caused us to redefine how we define our frontline workers, and CHATS’ volunteers have been front and centre from the very beginning – and continue to be. In addition to delivering the Expanding Social Engagement kits, they have been very active on the phones with their telephone reassurance programs and Meals on Wheels programs to help older residents stay connected and healthy in body, mind and spirit. “We’re still looking for volunteers to help with telephone calls, people that might have some experience or expertise in online programming would be helpful,” says Ms. Bisanz. “If they have some ideas to bring that we can put online that would be great. We are still looking for volunteers for Meals on Wheels delivery and we have really increased the number of clients now receiving Meals on Wheels. As people are more reluctant to go out, we certainly want to facilitate their ability to stay in their homes. Those meals have become even more important as sort of food security and good nutritional options and they are delivered right to their doors in a contactless way. If anybody is interested in volunteering activities for CHATS, we certainly encourage them to give us a call and see what opportunities exist in their respective areas. “We’re still a way from going back to the way things were and we probably won’t be exactly back to the way things were and our clients, they have been patient but it has been difficult. It has been difficult for the seniors and it has been difficult for their family members to continue to keep them safe at home. People are getting anxious and are looking for the time when they can come back together and that is all going to be very dependent on a successful course of having people be vaccinated and not only to protect themselves but to protect the elderly in our community. We’re very hopeful that vaccination program will continue to roll out and will continue to roll out quickly, and will also be getting to not only the frontline workers in the community, the PSWs, the drivers, the recreation programs, those who are doing front-facing work with the elderly need to be on the priority list for vaccination as well as the seniors just as much as some of the other priority population. We are hopeful there will be a recognition of the importance of also protecting those frontline essential workers and those seniors who are at home but definitely at higher risk.” For more, including how to get involved, visit chats.on.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran