Bruce Heyman, Former United States Ambassador to Canada, joins Global's Dawna Friesen to outline the key states, in his opinion, Biden needs to wrest from Trump to secure victory n the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.
Bruce Heyman, Former United States Ambassador to Canada, joins Global's Dawna Friesen to outline the key states, in his opinion, Biden needs to wrest from Trump to secure victory n the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Two Halifax Transit bus drivers refused to work last week after multiple passengers entered their buses without wearing masks, renewing union calls to enforce Nova Scotia's mandatory mask rule."Both operators refused," Ken Wilson, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 which represents Halifax Transit workers, said in an interview with CBC's Mainstreet Monday. "One refused Thursday evening and another operator refused Friday evening."It was about passengers not wearing masks and so under the [Occupational Health Safety] Act, the operators have the right to refuse unsafe work." Masks became mandatory on all transit buses and ferries in July, but there are no penalties in place for not complying.Individuals don't have to wear a mask if they have a medical condition that keeps them from doing so."There are very few valid medical reasons to not wear a mask," Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in July when masks were made mandatory.Wilson said about 90 per cent of passengers wear masks, but it's the others who concern drivers."We're not allowed to enforce or to advise — we're to take everybody at face value that if they say they have a medical condition, they do," he said.He says the municipality should start enforcing mask use on public transit to protect drivers and passengers."The confusing part is that we can deny entry to someone not wearing a pair of shoes or not wearing a shirt but when you don't have a mask, you have to take a seat and that doesn't make sense and that's the problem," he said.Wilson said the transit drivers refused to operate their buses because they felt unsafe amid a resurgence of COVID-19, which has brought on community spread."My operators, my members are stressed. They've been on the front lines for over 10 months. I don't think anybody thought this is going to go this long. Now it could be almost another year before we get a vaccine in this part of the region," Wilson said."People are COVID-fatigued. They're stressed. They're worried about bringing this home to their families ... and it's really opened my eyes to the way we're being treated as workers for the transit agency."A spokesperson with Halifax Transit said "the obligation to wear a mask rests with the individual" and there are no plans to change the current protocol."Halifax Transit will continue to adhere to public health guidelines regarding education and enforcement of the use of masks," Erin DiCarlo, a spokesperson for Halifax Transit, said in an emailed statement Monday."Operators may remind passengers of the requirement to wear a mask, but passengers who are not wearing a mask will not be denied entry, as some passengers may have medical reasons that prevent them from wearing one."MORE TOP STORIES
Jac’s Boutique in Kemptville held a silent auction to raise money for Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. It was Jac’s Boutique employee, McCall Laframboise, who came up with the idea for the auction. Big Sky Ranch is in desperate in need of support, because they had to close their doors to the public due to the pandemic. This meant that many of their programs, which usually help with fundraising throughout the year, had to be cancelled. “They do great things at Big Sky Ranch,” McCall says. “This way I could support them and support Jac’s Boutique.” Big Sky Ranch’s Office Manager, Pauline Lafleur, says they were thrilled when McCall reached out to them to offer their support. “We were very happy and grateful that the animals were remembered, even though we have been closed since March because of COVID-19,” she says. “The animals are still in people’s hearts!” Jac’s Boutique ran the auction through their Facebook page and raised $655, with everything going for above the starting bid. Owner, Jackie Taylor, decided to match the dollars raised, bringing the grand total to $1,310. “It feels amazing, especially around the holidays,” McCall says about the success of the auction. “I know they need food for the animals, and it’s great that we were able to help out in this way.” This time of year is difficult for the sanctuary, because of higher costs. They also have to keep in mind that hay will have to be ordered for the spring, so this auction couldn’t have come at a better time. “We are humbled and amazed by the dedication, generous hearts, kindness, and community spirit of everyone in Kemptville, and all the surrounding communities,” Pauline says. Big Sky Ranch is still open for adoptions and surrenders, and they currently have about 119 animals at the sanctuary, most of whom are now in the barns for the winter. The ranch has been in operation for 15 years and has found forever homes for over 3,500 animals, and housed many others who needed a safe, comfortable place to spend the rest of their lives. They are currently in need of Lysol wipes, Clorox bleach spray, and bleach, as well as feed for the animals, which can be purchased at Willows Agriservices in the South Gower Business Park. Monetary donations can also be made through their website www.bigskyranch.ca.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
VANCOUVER — A legal battle over a missing diamond-encrusted eagle statue valued at nearly $1 million will continue, more than four years after the artwork was stolen during a robbery in Delta, B.C.In a unanimous ruling issued Monday, the B.C. Court of Appeal has sided with Lloyd's Underwriters and agreed that a default judgment against the insurer should be set aside.Ron Shore, president of a company called Forgotten Treasures International, won the judgment in 2018 requiring Lloyd's to pay a claim for the loss of the sparkling statue.Court documents show Lloyd's denied Shore's claim, arguing he violated conditions of the insurance policy, including that the statue be constantly safeguarded by two people.The eight-kilogram gold creation studded with 763 diamonds and appraised at $930,000 was going to be the final prize in an international cancer fundraiser.Justice Peter Voith agreed with a B.C. Supreme Court decision that set aside the default judgment, saying the insurer appears to have solid evidence to oppose the claim.On its website, the Supreme Court says default judgments can be filed against defendants if they fail to respond to the notice of a civil lawsuit, do not comply with the rules or a response to a civil claim is withdrawn.With the default judgment set aside, the matter may return to Shore's civil claim filed in May 2018, alleging breach of contract and failure to investigate the insurance claim in a timely manner, among other things.The statue remains missing after Shore reported it was taken in May 2016 by what the court describes as "unknown assailants'' as he placed a knapsack carrying the statue in the trunk of his car.Shore made an emotional plea for the return of the statue at a news conference shortly after it was taken, saying two men ambushed him, hit him over the head with a large flashlight and stole the eagle, plus a less-valuable decoy.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
A local writer has published a book of poetry that reflects the highs and lows of the COVID-19 pandemic. Katie Nolan is no stranger to creative writing; but she says she hadn’t written a lot of poetry until the pandemic hit in March. “It just seemed like there were so many unbelievable things happening that I just got an urge to start writing about it in little, short, observational ways,” she remembers. “Haiku is such a great format for that.” Katie has not only been writing daily haikus, but she has also been sharing them on Facebook, garnering a lot of support from her network. As soon as she started posting, she found that a lot of people connected and resonated with her poetry, which drove her to write and share even more. “I sort of got to the point where I had this table at home that was just covered with post-it notes with all the haikus on them. There were so many things to say. It just happened very organically and, as I saw that people were enjoying reading the poems, I just kept going.” Katie’s new book of poetry includes 238 haikus, one a day from March 25 to October 31, which reflect the variety of feelings and emotions that come with living through a global pandemic. At first, some of them were kind of funny, reflecting the disbelief that many people were feeling during the early days of COVID-19. As the pandemic drew on, they morphed into having a more serious tone, epitomizing some of the other world events happening at the time, as well as the deteriorating mental health that many are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. “A lot of the poems deal with how we can maybe help each other through hard times. But there is also a kind of back and forth between us as humans and this virus that has turned our lives upside down.” Katie decided early on that she wanted to put together a collection of the poems, so that her readers online could have a hard copy of the haikus. She partnered with local artist, Meredith Luce, who illustrated the collection with one black and white image for each of the months represented in the book. “Seeing Meredith’s concepts for each month was so emotional for me, because she’s pulled out the phases of the pandemic and kind of what some of our hot issues were as you span that given month. To see them all depicted like that as a flow of images is really amazing.” For Katie, writing the haikus has been a very meditative practice and an interesting way to connect with the community. “It’s kind of a way to connect with people and maybe give voice to some of the things that are hard to say sometimes. It’s just a small thing everyday that I do. It doesn’t take much time. But, taken all together, it becomes a bigger piece that really tracks the trail we’ve walked.” The first edition of COVID Pandemic in Seventeen Syllables is being printed locally at COBA Studios in Merrickville. It is $10 and is now available for pre-order at www.luceends.com. All profits from the book will be going to support local charities, and books ordered before November 25 are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas. Katie hopes that this collection of haikus will help people feel connected, and that they see some of themselves reflected in the pages. “[I hope] they enjoy having a kind of diary, if you will, of what this year has been about.” To keep up with Katie’s writing and her daily haikus (which are ongoing), find her on Facebook under Katie Nolan, author.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are proposing $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter and vowing tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.The government's fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families next year as well as to put cash into skills training and to create new jobs.For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of business payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March.There is also money for long-term care facilities and the stock of the nation's personal protective equipment, while dropping federal sales tax on face masks and shields.Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's update makes clear the measures will be removed once the economy improves, although the timing is tied to the path of the pandemic.The cost to date has the federal deficit reaching $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Freeland's update largely adds cash to existing programs, but tees up work already underway to craft a spring budget. She said it will focus on an economic recovery that will include a three-year stimulus plan worth up to $100 billion, depending on the twin paths of the economy and the pandemic."If it's pre-committed and locked in, the risk is you overstimulate the economy, whereas this seems more that if things go the other way, there's more to come, which will support growth," said RBC chief economist Craig Wright.While the details have yet to be worked out, Freeland said the stimulus plan will include time-limited spending on things like a green economy bio-manufacturing — the industry that makes vaccines and medication.Freeland argued some of the down-payments on that plan are in Monday's update, including proposed grants for homeowners to make energy-efficiency upgrades. Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the economic statement provides some short-term help, but it still "presents a plan to create a plan" for recovery.There is no specific "fiscal anchor," a measurement to moor government spending to keep it from drifting off target, guiding the plan. In its place are economic indicators like the unemployment rate and hours worked that the Liberals will use to decide when spending can ease off or when the taps need to be opened wider."As we build our growth plan, and as we deploy it, the measure we're going to be looking at to see if we've got the job done is really around jobs," Freeland told reporters.Rebekah Young, director of fiscal and provincial economics with Scotiabank, said the scant details about long-term plans will likely create unease in financial markets."The creation of vaguely defined guardrails with no real line of sight on the end of stimulus spending, let alone its composition, has arguably added more uncertainties to the fiscal outlook rather than less," she said.The country has recovered about three-quarters of the three million jobs lost during spring lockdowns. The Finance Department estimates the unprecedented spending to date prevented a further loss of about 1.2 million jobs.The document Monday updates the accounting on many programs, showing under-spending on some that the Liberals now want to top up, such as the wage-subsidy program that is now supposed to cost over $83.5 billion. A revamped commercial rent-relief program will cost $2.18 billion this fiscal year. The two programs are, combined, estimated to cost about $16.2 billion next year.Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, noted the changes to business aid will help small businesses plan for an uncertain foreseeable future."Still, it is disappointing that government has not announced further fixes for new businesses and self-employed Canadians, who remain ineligible for nearly all of the key support programs," he said.Spending next year on extra child benefits will send $1,200 tax-free to families with net incomes up to $120,000, and $600 for families that make more than that.The cost will be about $2.4 billion, a little more than the $2 billion for extra Canada Child Benefit payments this year, bringing the total cost for the program next year to $27.9 billion.And while the document includes money for long-term care facilities, there is no specific bump planned in health transfers for the provinces. What the Liberals are proposing is to provide more money to provinces that see sudden drops in revenues through an existing fiscal-stabilization program, an increase provinces asked for last year.To pay for some of it, the Liberals are proposing to make digital companies like Netflix and Airbnb collect and remit sales tax on their products.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — For eight long hours, Nick Beaton was in agony as he waited to learn what had happened to his missing wife.By the early afternoon on April 19, he knew a lone gunman disguised as a Mountie had killed several people in rural Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer shot him dead at a gas station north of Halifax.And he knew a woman had been killed on a road in nearby Debert, N.S., but no one would tell him who it was."I just wanted to know," Beaton said in an interview. "Maybe it wasn't her out there. Maybe she's just wounded and down a side road bleeding out. Maybe I can go and help her. Maybe I can save her. Eight hours of that."At 5:50 p.m., two plainclothes officers arrived to deliver the awful news: his wife Kristen was dead, one of the gunman's 22 victims — though Beaton insists the number should be 23 because the official count does not include the couple's unborn child."I was in my backyard bawling my eyes out, and I was on my knees praying," Beaton said, his voice cracking with emotion. Seven months later, Beaton says he wants to know why it took so long for the RCMP to tell him what had happened that grim day.That question will be among the many complex and heartbreaking issues that will be examined by a federal-provincial inquiry that is now preparing for public hearings. The three commissioners leading the inquiry were handed broad terms of reference on Oct. 20. Here are four other questions they will face:1\. Were red flags ignored before the shooting started?The RCMP have confirmed the gunman killed 13 people near his summer residence in Portapique, N.S., on the night of April 18, and another nine people the following day in northern and central Nova Scotia.In all, Gabriel Wortman spent 13 hours killing people he knew and others he didn't.Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says there's evidence to suggest that key warning signs were ignored long before the shooting started."A lot of people knew that Mr. Wortman was a pretty troubled individual who was doing some odd things," MacKay said in an interview. "But nothing was done."As early as May 2011, police in Nova Scotia were told Wortman had said he wanted to "kill a cop" and was feeling mentally unstable. An officer safety bulletin, distributed by the Truro Police Service, said a police source had indicated Wortman was upset about a police investigation, had access to weapons and was having some "mental issues."An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed the police force received the bulletin, but Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said she couldn't comment on how the Mounties responded, because the records were purged long ago. The one-page bulletin, however, wasn't the first detailed warning that police received about the shooter.Former neighbour Brenda Forbes says that in the summer of 2013, she told the RCMP that Wortman owned a cache of weapons and was prone to domestic violence. She said neighbours described how he had beaten his common-law spouse behind one of the properties he owned in Portapique.But none of those neighbours would corroborate the story to police at the time. MacKay said the behaviour of those people deserves closer scrutiny. "The failure of others to substantiate and support her statements on either the firearms or domestic violence led (the police) to do nothing," MacKay said.2\. What role did misogyny and sexism play in the mass killing?After the killings, several of the gunman's neighbours came forward to describe the man as jealous, controlling and abusive. And police confirmed that on the night the killing started, he had bound and attacked his longtime partner.The inquiry has been tasked with examining the role of intimate-partner violence, which is something activists Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald say is key to explaining what happened."His neighbours were afraid of him, and he had a history of violence," said Sarson, who together with MacDonald founded the advocacy group Persons Against Non-State Torture. "The women he was connected to, he didn't respect their equality."MacDonald said exploring the role of gender-based violence will be important because there is evidence of a link between misogyny and mass killings. "If we understand the impact of misogyny and sexism, we'll start to prevent atrocities like this," she said.Researchers say the motives of men who commit mass shootings are often complex and difficult to discern, but one factor connects many of them: a history of hating women.In more than half of all mass shootings in the United States from 2009 to 2017, an intimate partner or family member of the perpetrator was among the victims, according to a study by the U.S. gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.3\. What could the RCMP have done to end the carnage sooner?For Nova Scotia lawyer Robert Pineo, this is the key question facing the inquiry. "It just seems to me like a complete failure in tactics and command," he said in an interview. Pineo says there is evidence the RCMP's efforts to track and contain the killer were inadequate."We know that not very many police were dispatched to Portapique in the beginning hours," said Pineo, whose law firm is behind two proposed class-lawsuits, one that names the gunman's estate and another that names the RCMP and the Nova Scotia government.He also raised questions about the number of roadblocks that were set up and the warnings issued to the public as the killer eluded police while driving a car that he had modified to look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.The RCMP have faced criticism for failing to use a national alert system, which would have allowed them to warn residents about an active shooter through messages on TV, radio and wireless devices. Instead, they used Twitter to provide updates on the killer's last known whereabouts.Beaton said the use of Twitter never made sense to him. "We got (Alert Ready) texts about COVID, but we didn't get alerts about a crazed gunman shooting, killing and burning things," he said.4\. Did the perpetrator have ties to the Mounties or organized crime?Published reports citing anonymous sources have suggested the shooter was an informant for the RCMP and may have had links to organized crime. The RCMP have denied having any relationship with the killer.MacKay, however, says the Mounties are constrained from saying anything publicly about their sources to ensure their safety."If there is some kind of link, and they are not telling the truth about that, my understanding is that there is nothing illegal in that if it is to protect the identity of an informant," MacKay said. "They can legally misinform people right up to the courts. But they are not allowed to lie to judges about that."Since the upcoming inquiry has quasi-judicial status and will require testimony under oath, this could put the RCMP in a difficult position."If there was a link, then it raises questions about how much they knew about his questionable character," MacKay said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
One man was killed in an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C., on Saturday, according to RCMP.Two people were snowmobiling in the Power King/Bijoux Falls area when the avalanche happened just before 2 p.m. PT. One of the snowmobilers was buried in the snow, according to a statement Monday.A search and rescue team, as well as avalanche-trained searchers from Prince George, B.C., later found the man dead.RCMP said he was 35 years old and originally from Dawson Creek, B.C. The second sledder was unhurt.The B.C. Coroner's Service is investigating the man's death. RCMP did not release any further details.A "significant" storm left up to 70 centimetres of fresh powder in the area on Saturday. Avalanche Canada said there were "very dangerous avalanche conditions" in the treeline and alpine at the time.
MONTREAL — A provincial commission looking into the protection of vulnerable children in Quebec recommended on Monday the appointment of a youth-protection director to oversee the entire provincial system.The Laurent Commission released a preliminary report Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its final report, initially due today, until April 2021.The proposed provincial director of youth protection would act as a "guardian angel" and would have a role similar to that of a deputy minister, providing some consistency in how cases are handled across the province.The commission found that the proportion of youth protection cases that are before the courts can vary from 30 per cent to 70 per cent from one region to another, suggesting the interpretation of the law needs to be clarified.Having a director in place would mean they'd be better able to act on the numerous recommendations expected in her report due next year, said Regine Laurent, a nurse and former union leader who is heading the commission.The commissioners recommend that the best interests of children should be at the heart of all interventions made by youth protection. Laurent says that means the child must be talked to about their present situation and their future, and their rights must be respected.The special commission was sparked by the 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl from Granby, Que., after she was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department.However, Laurent's mandate was open-ended, casting a wide net on the system and how users navigate it.Among the recommendations outlined Monday was that youth protection do better in dealing with Black and Indigenous youth, with services better adapted to the realities of those communities. Laurent deplored the over-representation of these families in the youth protection system.She also had positive words for those in the network who are overworked and under tremendous pressure.“The workers are also in distress. They believe that the conditions of practice do not allow them to provide quality services, at the right time and in line with needs," Laurent said.Hearings began in October 2019, and the commission said it has heard from more than 300 witnesses.The commission also held 42 “regional forums” where it heard from more than 2,000 citizens and other stakeholders from across Quebec.In a statement, junior health minister Lionel Carmant said the Coalition Avenir Quebec government intends to act swiftly on the recommendation of a director."The safety and well-being of every child is a top priority for the government," Carmant said. "The creation of a position of national director of youth protection is very interesting and goes in the direction of my reflection."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lia Levesque, The Canadian Press
Brock will extend its upcoming holiday break by delaying the start of the winter term by one week. Classes will start on Jan. 11. An announcement was made Monday in a letter from Lynn Wells, provost and vice-president academic, who said the decision comes after two weeks of consultations with students, staff and faculty members. The extension of the holiday break will require changes to the academic calendar. The winter term will now end on April 9. Exams will take place April 13 to 23. The exam period for the winter term will be shortened by two days. The spring/summer term will start as scheduled and the dates for reading week will also remain the same. The calls for change also came at the hands of four Brock students — Celeste Lynette, Emma Allan, Riley Monaghan and Jack Allan. Lynette created an online petition urging the university to consider the change. “Due to the pandemic, this school year has been undoubtedly challenging and tolling on university students and our mental health,” said Lynette. “We, the students of Brock University, are asking for an extension to our winter break like many other Canadian universities have granted their students.” The petition garnered nearly 6,000 supporters. Leaders of Brock’s graduate and undergraduate student organizations welcomed the decision. “The partnership between student associations and the University remains strong, collaborative and results-oriented,” said Christopher Yendt, president of Brock’s graduate students’ association. “We are excited that this student-centred approach has resulted in meaningful action to address some of the challenges students are facing.” Students’ union president Asad Jalib also applauded the move. “The leadership at Brock University continues to demonstrate that it is receptive to student needs and in touch with the student body,” said Jalib. Said Wells: “We have heard from many students, staff and faculty members that this extension will provide valuable time to rest and, in many cases, to catch up and better prepare for the winter term. “For those who are travelling or who are coming to Brock from abroad, this extra time will facilitate the completion of the mandatory self-isolation period,” she added. Niagara College had already planned to have a three-week holiday break. “Under the college’s existing schedule, fall term classes end Dec. 18, and winter term classes begin on Jan. 11,” said corporate communications manager Michael Wales “This provides students with a three-week break between terms, which we hope will give them the opportunity for a safe and restful holiday season before resuming their studies.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was somber today as she announced 46 more people lost their lives to COVID-19 last weekend. Eighty per cent of these people were living in longterm care, which Henry says speaks to the fact that the virus can cause such devastation when it gets into care homes. Health Minister Adrian Dix added that this is a “difficult and gutting time under these circumstances.” Henry listed five new healthcare outbreaks and declared two to be over. There are now 62 active outbreaks in the healthcare sector, including 57 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and five in acute care facilities. These outbreaks currently account for 1,338 active cases, including 847 residents and 487 staff members. Under current rules, staff at longterm care homes can only work at one location, but are permitted to have secondary employment such as being a private home aide. Dix said that the single-site order is “critically important,” but that all people are part of the order that aims to protect longterm care. “We can’t prevent people from having the means to live and the needs that they have in their family, but we do pay a lot of attention—all of us in healthcare—to making sure that we’re monitoring our health every day before we’re going to work and making sure that we’re not participating in risky activities,” said Henry. Between Friday and Sunday, there were 2,077 new cases of COVID-19 around the province—750 of those from Friday to Saturday, 731 Saturday to Sunday, and 596 in the last 24 hours. Three of the weekend’s new cases are epidemiologically linked. Henry also noted an additional 277 historical cases in the Fraser Health region based on the data correction from last week, bringing BC’s cumulative case total to 33,238. Of the new cases, 371 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 1,365 in the Fraser Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 212 in the Interior Health region, 73 in the Northern Health region and one new case in a person who normally lives outside Canada. The number of active cases has risen to 8,855. There are 316 people in hospital across BC—a number that has doubled in less than three weeks—of whom 75 are in critical care. There are 10,139 people being actively monitored by public health. One new community outbreak was announced at Newton elementary school in Surrey, which has been closed for the next two weeks with students and staff self-isolating. For a list of community exposure events, click here. For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
More than a year after Derek and Emilie Muth left Calgary to adopt their daughter Zoe in Nigeria, they're finally returning home. But the couple says their ordeal contains lessons for the federal government on how it could improve its citizenship process for those in urgent need."We feel an obligation to take ownership over what we've seen with systemic prejudices and systemic injustices … Because we're citizens of Canada who've gone through immigration, which is pretty rare, we feel an obligation to effect change somehow," Derek Muth said. "This whole story is already not private because we were forced to go to the media. So we might as well use it the best we can … and hopefully something policy-wise changes."The Muths' adoption of their two-and-a-half year-old daughter was finalized in October 2019, but her citizenship was delayed when Canadian immigration staff were repatriated, because of the pandemic, from the only government office in West Africa that could finish processing their paperwork. Zoe has sickle cell anemia, and had contracted a life-threatening infection while in hospital in Nigeria, leading to sepsis and severe anemia requiring a blood transfusion.> If this is the treatment of Canadian citizens, then I can't imagine what refugees go through. — Derek and Emilie MuthShe and the Muths relocated to Barbados — one of the few countries that allows Canadian and Nigerian visitors to stay for months without visas — so they could receive better medical care. When the pandemic hit, all three were stranded in the Caribbean.There, the family say they went months with government officials seemingly not even opening their documents, according to an access-to-information request filed by their lawyer, and, until CBC News reached out, no reply from the immigration minister to their urgent requests for repatriation.But they said after news stories were published in September, there was suddenly a flurry of activity.Earlier this month, Zoe's citizenship application was finally approved. The Muths say they were told by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that's because an official was flown from Canada to Ghana to review their electronic file, which could have been viewed remotely. The official then interviewed the family over the phone."They ended up doing the interview over the phone, which is a massive head-scratcher, because back in March when … we were begging for repatriation, the answer from [IRCC] was that an interview might be required and [the Ghana office was] not doing interviews … and fast-forward eight months later and they do the whole thing over the phone anyways," Derek said."They had all the digital copies of our application, all the files."Emilie says, during that interview, the officer also accused the couple of breaking a Nigerian adoption law, based on the wait period before adoption finalization.But the law in question had been changed years ago and the couple was in compliance — something they knew but the Canadian officer seemingly did not.The official requested more paperwork via the family's lawyer and the matter was cleared up in a week or two. "Afterwards, I sent [IRCC and the Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino] a letter saying 'Your officer is making life-changing decisions for our family based on a misunderstanding of the law.' So it's just, it was really concerning and troubling for us," Emilie said.Their 13-page letter sent to the minister recommends changes they say the government should make to prevent other families from facing a similar situation. The recommendations focus on how to streamline the process for those in urgent need. "Without intervention from your office, ill treatment and undue hardship will continue for families who are opening their homes, hearts and finances to provide a Canadian future for a child in need. After going through this, I'm pondering — if this is the treatment of Canadian citizens, then I can't imagine what refugees go through," the letter reads.An IRCC spokesperson confirmed that Zoe's citizenship was approved after an officer went to the Ghana office to review their application, but would not provide more details. The IRCC also said, without addressing the Muths' specific complaints, that sometimes additional steps in the citizenship process are required to ensure adoptions meet the requirements of international conventions, and that time frames can vary even from case to case within a country."While IRCC officers have encountered some challenges in processing applications during the pandemic, officers continue to assess applications for adoption to ensure the adoption meets the requirements of the Citizenship Act, before recognizing a child as a presumptive Canadian," the IRCC said in a statement.MP Raquel Dancho, the Opposition critic for immigration, spoke with the Muths and on Wednesday asked the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration if IRCC would be doing a comprehensive review."International adoptions are a complicated business because so much depends on the host country," deputy immigration minister Catrina Tapley responded — without addressing that the delays were on the Canadian side. Dancho says the government has struggled to effectively manage immigration during the pandemic. "The Muth family's heartbreaking story is a clear indication that Canada's immigration system is failing to treat newcomers with dignity, compassion or respect," she said in a statement.The Muths arrived in Calgary on Monday afternoon.Emilie says, despite the problems they faced, she doesn't want to discourage others from adoption."It's hard, but it's worth it," she said. "The meaningful things in life are rarely easy."Now, they say their focus is on helping Zoe adjust to life in Calgary and, once it's safe, catching up with their loved ones."We would love to come back and have everybody at the airport and give big hugs to grandma and have a nice, really emotional time … but I mean, we've been isolated for 13 months, so it's still going to be way better [to be back,]" Emilie said.
A sunny Saturday in May 2009 took a dark turn when a boater in the Salish Sea north of Washington state's Orcas Island found a body floating in the water.The discovery sparked a mystery that has stumped authorities until earlier this month, when DNA profiling and cross-border collaboration brought closure to what had become an 11-year-old cold case in the U.S., and an 11-year-old missing person's case in B.C.B.C. RCMP say the body has been identified as Penticton man James Neufeld, last seen leaving home in his green Plymouth Voyager van on Jan. 21, 2009.The vehicle was found two weeks later at Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park in the Fraser Canyon, and the fate of the 55-year-old left to speculation. But this past September, the first step toward ultimately solving both mysteries came when the cold case of the unidentified body was reactivated with the understanding that updated DNA records might provide a new lead.According to Washington's San Juan County Coroner Randy Gaylord, a tooth sent to a lab in Baltimore was used to create a DNA profile which was then added to the FBI's the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS.Because of the proximity to the border, the information was also shared with Canadian authorities. "We know that the Salish Sea crosses the boundary and people who die in Canada may float to the United States and vice versa," said Gaylord. Once in receipt of the new information, the B.C. Coroners Service was able to cross reference it against its own database."Mr. Neufeld's relative's [DNA] profile was present in our database and once the San Juan County Coroner sent us the profile, we entered it just to do a general search and it matched," said Laura Yazedjian, identification specialist with the B.C. Coroners Service.Gaylord says solving the cases is both sad and somewhat remarkable."It is believed he went into the [Fraser River] at the park," he said. "If you do a Google search from the Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park to where he was found, it's about 220 kilometres. It's just a remarkable distance for human remains to travel."He never thought it would take so long to identify the remains because there were two strong leads in 2009: forensic dental records and a four-inch medical plate from a previously broken left arm that had a model number on it.Information about both were circulated in Canada and the U.S. 11 years ago, but to no avail. "We put the dental records out ... but there was no hit. And the reason why is because Mr. Neufeld had not visited the dentist in 20 years," said Gaylord."So the second approach we thought would be successful is to follow up with the medical plate... We called 19 different hospitals in Canada from the East Coast to the West Coast. And every hospital gave us the same same answer: without the name of the person, the date of the installation or surgical procedure, they weren't able to identify who it was."Yazidjian hopes the positive identification helps bring Neufeld's family some closure."To be able to give them some answers after this long is one of the main reasons I do my job," she said.
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — Toronto FC striker Ayo Akinola has been rewarded for his breakthrough MLS season with a call-up to the U.S. national team. The 20-year-old has been invited to the U.S. training camp for a Dec. 9 exhibition against El Salvador in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Akinola was born in Detroit and moved to Canada at the age of one. He is eligible for play for the U.S., Canada and Nigeria with Canadian team officials hoping he will eventually choose their side. His younger brother Tom has spent time in the Canadian youth ranks.The U.S-El Salvador game is a friendly so Ayo's international options remain open.The powerful young forward already has ties to U.S. Soccer, however. He played for the U.S. at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and was on the roster for the 2019 U-20 World Cup before hurting an ankle, which caused him to be dropped.He made his pro debut for Toronto II on June 15, 2016, and his MLS debut on July 4, 2018.He turned heads this season with five goals in his first two games at the MLS is Back Tournament in July. Akinola finished the season with nine goals in 15 games.Efrain Alvarez, an L.A. Galaxy midfielder who started for Mexico in last year’s final of the Under-17 World Cup, was also called up.Alvarez can become eligible to play for the U.S. and would have to apply to FIFA for a one-time switch of association. Eleven of the other 21 players could make U.S. debuts.Alvarez was born in Los Angeles on June 19, 2002, and played for the U.S. Under-15 team before switching to Mexico’s U-15s. He scored four goals in seven matches at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup in Brazil, including a 79th-minute equalizer on a 26-yard free kick against the Netherlands in the semifinals, a game El Tri won on penalty kicks.Alvarez was 15 when he made his professional debut for the United Soccer League’s LA Galaxy II on Oct. 7, 2017, and 16 when he made his Major League Soccer debut for the Galaxy on March 2, 2019. He scored his first MLS goal against Portland this Sept. 2.Daryl Dike, an 18-year-old Orlando forward, is also on the roster. Born in Edmund, Oklahoma, he is eligible to play for the U.S. and Nigeria. Dike played for the University of Virginia in 2018 and 2019, then debuted for Orlando this July 25.Other possible debuts include: goalkeepers CJ Dos Santos and David Ochoa; defenders Julian Araujo, Kyle Duncan, Marco Farfan and Mauricio Pineda; midfielders Frankie Amaya and Cole Bassett; and forward Chris Mueller. The roster averaged 22 years, 201 days as of Tuesday and five international appearances.Midfielder Paul Arriola is the most experienced player with 33 appearances. He returned from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Nov. 8. Arriola, 25, became a U.S. regular before getting hurt during a pre-season game against Orlando on Feb. 15.Midfielders Sebastian Lletget and Kellyn Acosta, and defenders Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman are the only others with more than 10 appearances. Acosta has not played for the U.S. since January 2019.Because the match is not on a FIFA fixture date, clubs are not required to release players.Dos Santos is the lone Europe-based player. No players were included from the teams remaining in the MLS playoffs: Columbus, Dallas, Kansas City, Minnesota, Seattle New England, though some could be added from the losers of this week’s Dallas-Seattle and Minnesota-Kansas City matches.The Americans returned to the field this month for the first time since March with a 0-0 draw at Wales and a 6-2 win over Panama in Austria, using mostly Europe-based players.The U.S. is preparing for the delayed start of World Cup qualifying next September. Next year’s schedule also includes the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal against Honduras in June, followed by the CONCACAF Gold Cup from July 10-Aug. 1, a tournament most top players are likely to skip.Four matches this year are the fewest for the U.S. since it played three in 1987.The roster:Goalkeepers: CJ Dos Santos (Benfica, Portugal), Bill Hamid (D.C.), David Ochoa (Salt Lake)Defenders: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls), Marco Farfan (Portland), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago), Sam Vines (Colorado), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado), Frankie Amaya (Cincinnati), Cole Bassett (Colorado), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)Forwards: Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC), Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy), Paul Arriola (D.C.), Daryl Dike (Orlando), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago), Chris Mueller (Orlando).\---With files from The Associated Press This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020The Canadian Press
The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has a new baby.Amanda McDougall confirmed to CBC News that she gave birth to a son on Saturday evening. McDougall said she, along with her fiancé and stepson, are brimming with love for the new addition. She first spoke of her expanding family last summer while announcing her mayoralty bid. In October, the former first-term councillor and non-profit leader defeated incumbent Cecil Clarke by nearly 4,000 votes. During her run to the mayor's seat, McDougall spoke of chauvinistic attitudes she encountered. Time away with babyEarlene MacMullin, the deputy mayor, will be stepping into McDougall's shoes as she takes time off to be with her family. "Whether it's a week, or two weeks, or a month, between myself and staff [carrying out her duties] … and she's always just a phone call away," said MacMullin."The important thing right now, really, is to give her and her family the time that they need to adjust to the new bundle."MacMullin said mom and baby were expected to leave the hospital on Monday.Advice for McDougallEmily Lutz was caring for a toddler when she decided to run in the Municipality of Kings County in 2016. Now she has a five-year-old, two-year-old and five-month-old baby.Lutz has raised a newborn as a councillor, and in her current role as deputy mayor. She admits to encountering misogynistic attitudes in balancing work and family responsibilities. "Being a young mother does not negate your ability to do your job, and in fact it enhances your ability to do your job," Lutz said. "It can certainly add a new level of complexity, but it's very much something that goes hand-in-hand."She has some advice for McDougall: Don't be afraid to delegate tasks and don't be too hard on yourself."It's OK to take time away," she said. "Folks take time away from council for a number of different reasons."'It's a wonderful thing'Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood was asked whether McDougall might be the first Nova Scotian to give birth while holding the mayor's office."I have no idea, and I actually don't think it matters," Mood said. "I think it's a wonderful thing. That's what women do. They give birth."But there's no glossing over the impact McDougall's motherhood will have on municipal politics, Mood said. "It's an amazing example that she's set. It almost gives women permission to step into politics and know that, you know, the path has been forged before them." When she announced her mayoral bid, McDougall said having a baby would be a constant reminder that council decisions must take into account future generations.MORE TOP STORIES
Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama; Former communist official Sergei Kirov is assassinated in Leningrad; Beatlemania arrives in America; Actor and director Woody Allen is born. (Dec. 1)
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):6:40 p.m.British Columbia health officials say 46 people died from COVID-19 over the weekend, the highest number they have yet reported.The figure brings the total number of deaths in B.C. to 441 and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says about 80 per cent died in long-term care facilities.She says the deaths reflect the challenges COVID-19 is creating and, as we face a “significant storm surge” in cases, she says we need to push back against the virus by continuing to reduce our contacts and stick with our households.Henry also announced a total of 2,364 new cases, including all those diagnosed between Friday and Monday and another 277 historical cases added in a data correction.\---5:45 p.m.Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Johnson & Johnson has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for Health Canada's approval.It's the fourth potential vaccine sent for assessment in Canada and the first that would require one dose to confer immunity instead of two.Health Canada has been examining vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca since October, when those companies sent partial data on their drugs for what's called a "rolling review."If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine meets Health Canada's standards for safety and effectiveness, the Canadian government says it has a deal to buy 10 million doses and an option on up to 28 million more.\---5:45 p.m.Alberta is reporting a new record of daily COVID-19 cases.The province says there are 1,733 new infections — 13 fewer than Ontario announced today.Alberta’s previous high was 1,731 new cases on Saturday.The province says there have also been eight new deaths and 453 people are in hospital, with 96 of those in intensive care.\---3:20 p.m.Health Canada has confirmed that it should be ready to approve another vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of December.Last week, Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said the emergency review of Pfizer's vaccine was the most advanced and that Canada should be ready to greenlight it when the U.S. does. That is expected to happen around Dec. 10.Today, a spokesman said other vaccines should also be approved at the same time they are given emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.Moderna today applied for that U.S. approval and the FDA will meet Dec. 17 to consider it, a time frame Health Canada said Canada will also be on track to meet.\---2:10 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138.Fifteen of the cases are in the central zone, which includes Halifax, and the other is a school-based case connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, N.S., that was reported on Sunday.Premier Stephen McNeil says there continues to be strong public interest in the asymptomatic pop-up rapid-testing locations around the province.Health officials say 628 tests were administered at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Dartmouth yesterday with six positive results.\---2:05 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting 342 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths. The government enacted strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, yet the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent. The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says people have to reduce the number of contacts they have if the numbers are to come down.\---1:25 p.m.The Northwest Territories has confirmed one new case of COVID-19.But the new case will not be included in the territory's tally of infections because the individual contracted the virus before arriving.Chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola says one close contact of the non-resident worker, who entered the territory on an exemption, has been identified and is in isolation.Kandola says all high-risk essential workers are now being tested for COVID-19 upon entry to the territory.\---1:20 p.m.Nunavut will start lifting lockdown measures on Wednesday as more people recover from COVID-19.The territory reported four new cases today, bringing the total to 181, and the chief public health officer says 73 people have recovered.Dr. Michael Patterson says only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks and travel to the community will still be restricted.The territory-wide lockdown was put in place on Nov. 18 and Patterson says restrictions will be reintroduced if another outbreak occurs.\---1:10 p.m.Yukon is offering extra help to tourism-dependent businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean says $1 million will go to tourism operators and food and beverage businesses that rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their revenues.McLean also announced a total of $300,000 for culture and tourism non-profit organizations.She says the two newly created programs are part of a broader funding package for the Yukon tourism industry that will roll out over three years. \---12:52 p.m. Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 today.The woman is a close contact of a previously identified travel-related case.Another infection announced Sunday has been found to be travel-related.Newfoundland and Labrador now has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:44 p.m.Public Heath officials in New Brunswick are reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today.There are two cases in the Moncton region, two in the Saint John region, one in the Bathurst region and one in the Fredericton region.The total number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 501, including 374 recoveries and seven deaths. The number of active cases is 120 with no one currently hospitalized due to the virus. \---12:12 p.m.The COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting drop in commuter traffic is prompting another refund for Manitoba drivers. The province says it plans to offer rebates of an average of $100 per policy-holder by early in the new year, subject to approval from the Public Utilities Board.Another refund worth an average of $150 was offered earlier this year. The province says a sharp drop in traffic has resulted in fewer collision claims to Crown-owned Manitoba Public Insurance.\---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.The province's Health Department says there are 693 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 28 more than the previous day.Ninety-four people are in intensive care, an increase of two.Officials say eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours, 14 others were from the last week and one occurred on an unknown date.\---10:40 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19. Eight more people have died due to the virus in the province.Tougher public health restrictions under the provincial framework take effect in five regions today, with Windsor-Essex moving to the strictest level short of a lockdown.Haldimand-Norfolk is moving to the orange level, while Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern are going into the yellow level.\---10:30 a.m.A spokeswoman for the American biotech company Moderna says the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month.Global deliveries, including to Canada, to begin in the first quarter of 2021.It applied to Health Canada for approval in October.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven death on Monday.
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
There is no doubt in Georgina Lightning’s mind that had an organization like Creatives Empowered been there when she first started acting, “intimidation and fear” wouldn’t have been what controlled her life then. Creatives Empowered launched late November. It’s a collective of Alberta-based artists and creatives who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who empower each other as an allied community. “Creatives Empowered would have been so valuable. It would have blown my mind,” said Lightning who has built a career as an actor, director, writer and producer in both the television and film industry. And all of that in spite of Hollywood. In 1990, Lightning, a member of the Samson Cree Nation, left Edmonton to attend a three-year prestigious acting academy in Los Angeles. She graduated top of her class, won awards and was ready to take on any acting role. “But once I got to Hollywood, I was completely heartbroken… I can play anything on the planet, but Hollywood didn’t see me as that. The second I walk in they see an Indian. They see a race before they see talent. They don’t even look at talent. They see a race. They see ‘She doesn’t fit.’ That’s how racist it is,” said Lightning. She soon learned that there were two seasons for Native Americans to audition. In spring, they auditioned for the western movies that were shot over the summer. Late in the year, they were called on for American thanksgiving productions. In response to these lack of opportunities, Lightning eventually co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions and Native Media Network. “I trained at a classical school so I could play any role, be considered an actor. I didn’t want to be an Indian actor. I wanted to be an actor. I really truly believed if I worked hard enough, excelled, was a cut above the rest, I could make it. That would be my ticket in…. I was qualified, but they still didn’t let me in. It did not matter what kind of credentials I had. So it was colour before talent,” said Lightning. That is a story far too often told by non-Whites in the entertainment and media industries, says Creatives Empowered creator Shivani Saini. “I think it’s safe to say for anyone who is Black, for anyone who is Indigenous, for anyone who is a Person of Colour, that we would all collectively agree that this equity is long overdue. Now is the perfect time for us to start,” said Saini, who is South Asian. Saini has worked in both professional media and the arts for 25 years. Among her work is marketing and communications director for the world premier of Making Treaty 7, and associate producer for the first seasons of the TV drama Blackstone. Inequity, she says, manifests in a variety of ways: negative stereotyping; lack of acknowledgement of the talent of BIPOC; always being considered “emerging talent” even after years of experience; and the belief that hitting a “diversity target” means a mediocre project or result. “Anyone who is Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour who, for example, has found themselves to be fulfilling a diversity target somewhere can probably relate to the experience of being tokenized. And tokenism is in and of itself really discriminatory and racist.” “I think it’s safe to say it’s just time for this to start to change. It’s so exhausting for us to be walking into rooms, walking into spaces and for us to be tokenized, for us to be stereotyped, for us to be viewed differently because of these mindsets that exist about BIPOC or IBPOC talent,” said Saini. It's an exhaustion that Lightning can relate to. She remembers always having to work harder, always being worried about being seen as a failure, always pushing herself to be a better actor. And she remembers keeping her silence when she was the target of abuse. “When you do speak up about assaults and abuses against you, they turn against you. It’s like I’m the one who’s punished. You learn (to stay silent),” she said. Saini had been thinking about Creatives Empowered since 2019 as she had a “mixture of professional experiences within that year that were both really empowering and some of which were really disempowering.” But it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic hit that she had the time to develop the concept further. And then there was the building awareness of inequalities, awareness sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, other Black people and Indigenous people. “We really are living in an unprecedented time right now. I think there’s just a tremendous opportunity we have to leverage what’s going on to really create true equity within Alberta’s arts and culture sector,” said Saini. “We all know it’s a necessity. The work has to be done,” said Lightning, who is back in Alberta working on a number of projects. Creatives Empowered is an opportunity for BIPOC to support and encourage each other emotionally and financially, she adds. “Now is the time for change. What are we going to do with a platform for moving forward? This initiative with Creatives Empowered it’s about bringing Indigenous or People of colour into the fold, and not just exploiting them. It’s empowering them, letting them be intellectual property owners and that’s where the value is,” said Lightning. Longer term goals, Saini said, is having Creatives Empowered serve as an organization that can find ways to work with key stakeholders in the Alberta cultural sector. It would become a resource or a point of access for the larger communities to tap talent. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of the advocacy work by building those relationships,” said Saini. Already Creatives Empowered has attracted a large number of members and that base keeps growing. “I really do believe that if we can develop a really strong membership base then it’s going to help to dismantle a lot of those negative stereotypes, because we’re going to be able to show the cultural sector that we do, in fact, exist and that our talent is beautifully potent. It’s really important, I think, for this space, this community to exist,” she said. Membership for BIPOC individuals and BIPOC organizations is free and open to Alberta-based artists and media professionals. There will be a fee for ally organizations based on their annual operating budgets. At this point, says Saini, Creatives Empowered remains a collective. That may have to change in order to access government funding or donations. Saini and Lightning understand there is much ground to be broken down before equity for BIPOC is achieved in Alberta’s cultural and media sectors and that it’s going to take time. “With the dialogue with racism and the global discussion on inclusivity and with all that’s happening … it’s time now. It’s being shaken up by force and now everyone is forced to look at reality,” said Lightning. “What I think is very exciting about the time we're living in is that I think we're actually going to be able to make some real significant progress even within my lifetime… I never thought I would see the kind of time we're living in right now where there's this level of awareness, this type of conversation happening around equity,” said Saini. CFWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CFWE, CFWE