Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
A prominent French-Canadian scientist who chairs France’s High Council on Climate says Canada needs to commit to a 2025 carbon pollution reduction target and strengthen its net-zero advisory body. Originally from Canada, Corinne Le Quéré is an accomplished researcher who is a professor of climate change science at the University of East Anglia and a member of the U.K.’s Climate Change Committee. She has worked at Princeton University, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, and the British Antarctic Survey. Le Quéré has led a new scientific analysis of global emissions, published March 3 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change, that found global pollution cuts need to increase tenfold to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement — a signal that much greater ambition is needed from many countries around the world. The analysis, “Fossil CO2 emissions in the post-COVID era,” points out that Canada is one of 150 countries where emissions increased between 2016, after the Paris Agreement was adopted, and 2019, the year before the pandemic. Canada’s emissions grew 0.1 per cent during this period, while emissions decreased in 64 other countries — including in all the other G7 nations. In an interview Tuesday, Le Quéré said Canada should be asking itself why other high-income countries can succeed at reducing emissions, and then “make a plan of action that is commensurate with the ambition.” That means Canada’s goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is too distant, she said. “Clearly, Canada needs to have targets that are much closer than 2050. It needs to have a 2025 target, a 2030 target. It needs to send really clear signals,” said Le Quéré. “The target that Canada should set for 2030 should be as ambitious as is feasible. That would be my message: If you want to be at net- zero emissions in 2050, you need to do most of the investments in infrastructure. All the electrification of cars, that needs to happen now, electric heating, you need industry to also be based on low-carbon electricity. All these investments need to happen now.” Le Quéré said experts in Canada’s energy system should be either setting the climate targets, or at least recommending them to the Canadian government, rather than the government coming up with targets for itself. Last week, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced a 14-member Net-Zero Advisory Body that is tasked with providing advice on “the most likely pathways for Canada to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” as well as advice on the “emissions reductions milestones leading up to 2050” and “near-term actions” to support the net-zero goal. These “milestones” are defined in the federal government’s legislation, Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, as being the years 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045 — meaning the government does not anticipate setting an earlier target in 2025. The lack of a 2025 milestone provoked criticism when the bill was introduced, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to respond that Canada would be “meeting and exceeding our 2030 targets” and noting the bill “lays out a framework of accountability and transparency” to ensure Canada reaches its net-zero goal. The legislation also gives the minister the power to determine the Net-Zero Advisory Body’s terms of reference, which Wilkinson revealed in February alongside the body’s membership. They show that the panel won’t be given its own secretariat, but instead will draw “logistical, administrative, and policy support” from the minister’s department, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and pull economic analysis and emissions modelling from other government departments. Wilkinson will also consult with the members “at regular intervals” on what they will be working on, and can “refer lines of inquiry” to the body. The terms of reference make it clear that the members will be expected to draw from “existing” research and analysis and commission new studies “where original research is necessary.” Le Quéré said independent outside scrutiny of Canadian policy is “vital” to achieve real emissions reductions. She said strong governance is what makes the difference over the long term. “The advisory board needs to be independent ... it needs support. It needs its own budget, it needs capacity to do analysis of Canada’s trajectory. And it needs to be able to criticize, every year, Canadian policy,” she said. “If you have a committee that has not got support, that doesn’t control its own budget, that doesn’t determine what it works on, then you never reach that level of expert independent scrutiny that really can accompany a change of that size.” Wilkinson has said the advisory body demonstrates Canada is “serious” about addressing the climate crisis and meeting global market demand. “By providing expert advice on how we can meet Canada’s goal of getting to net-zero emissions by 2050, the Net-Zero Advisory Body will help ensure we can continue to meet the environmental goals and economic ambitions of Canadians at the same time,” he said in a statement. The study released Wednesday showed both “good and bad news,” said Le Quéré. The researchers, hailing from the University of East Anglia, Stanford University and the Global Carbon Project, found annual cuts of 0.16 billion tonnes of CO2 on average among the 64 countries where emissions decreased during the 2016–2019 period compared to 2011-2015. That is about 10 per cent of the one billion to two billion tonnes annually that they calculated would be needed at the global level to meet the Paris goals. “We looked at where we were since the Paris Agreement, before COVID-19 — were we actually acting on tackling climate change? And what our study shows is actually, yes — there were lots of things in motion, many countries were succeeding in cutting their emissions, and there was a movement forward,” said Le Quéré. “But if you actually look at how big the cuts were, they’re very small compared to what we need to actually have an effective result in tackling climate change. That part really means that we’ve not understood the scale of the action.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
La séance du conseil de la municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) de Minganie du 16 février a souligné l’accent et les efforts mis sur le développement du territoire. Les différents volets du Fonds régions et ruralité du ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) ont été l’objet de trois résolutions distinctes. D’une part, le volet 2 – Soutien à la compétence de développement local et régional des MRC exige que ces dernières disposent d’une politique de soutien aux entreprises. La MRC de Minganie a donc mis à jour sa politique adoptée en juin 2020 afin qu’elle soit plus flexible et accessible aux entrepreneurs. D’autre part, le conseil a accordé un mandat d’accompagnement de 43 605 $ à la firme conseil Espace Stratégies pour déterminer le projet ou l’ensemble de projets qui ciblera la « signature innovation » de la MRC. « La firme va travailler avec nous et différents acteurs de la planification stratégique pour trouver le fil conducteur de notre développement territorial », détaille le préfet de Minganie, Luc Noël. La somme octroyée à Espace Stratégies provient de l’enveloppe de 192 538 $ du volet 3 du FRR. Finalement, dans le cadre du volet 4 – Soutien à la vitalisation et à la coopération intermunicipale, la MRC a autorisé la signature d’une entente de vitalisation entre les municipalités de Rivière-au-Tonnerre, Aguanish, Rivière-Saint-Jean et la communauté de Nutashkuan. L’entente, d’un montant de 1 125 685 $ pour cinq ans, n’est que « l’étape embryonnaire » du processus, juge M. Noël. « Là, on doit s’asseoir avec le MAMH et les territoires concernés pour faire un plan de match. » Grâce à la récente création d’Action entreprise Québec par le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI), la Minganie renforcera ses services d’accompagnement aux entrepreneurs et entreprises de la région. La MRC pourra embaucher au moins deux ressources supplémentaires à temps plein « jusqu’à concurrence de 900 000 $ » jusqu’en 2025. « Ce qu’on espère, c’est qu’on ait été assez performants pour que les ressources se rentabilisent elles-mêmes ou que le ministère continue de les payer », souhaite Luc Noël en soulignant la difficulté de compétitionner avec les grands centres pour attirer ce type d’employés. « Les gens qui ont le profil pour travailler dans nos départements de développement vont être en demande partout et on croit que notre région va passer bon deuxième », déplore-t-il. L’ensemble des modalités liées à l’octroi de la subvention n’est pas encore connu du conseil. Du côté du développement territorial, la MRC déposera sous peu au ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAC) le rapport d’étape de mi-parcours concernant l’élaboration de son Plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). « La réponse est très positive de la part des acteurs du milieu, on constate qu’il y a un engouement », a déclare Luc Noël. Un second mandat d’accompagnement a été adopté lors de la séance du conseil, cette fois à l’organisation à but non lucratif Communagir pour que celle-ci soutienne la MRC dans le cadre de l’élaboration et de la mise en œuvre de sa stratégie en développement social. Le mandat représente une banque d’heures ouverte jusqu’au 30 juillet 2021. Selon les besoins, l’accompagnement devra prendre entre 25 et 50 heures, ce qui signifie que la facture s’élèvera au plus à 5600 $. En matière de sécurité publique, le conseil a désigné quelles interventions il considère comme prioritaires pour la Sûreté du Québec : le contrôle de la consommation et le trafic de drogues illicites, particulièrement chez les jeunes, et l’application des règlements municipaux uniformisés. « Aussi, on demande aux agents de faire plus de surveillance en lien avec les véhicules tout terrain (VTT) et de maintenir une présence policière sur l’ensemble du territoire de la MRC », ajoute le préfet de Minganie. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Germany's financial watchdog warned of "an imminent risk" that Greensill Bank would become over-indebted on Wednesday as it imposed a moratorium on the lender making disposals or payments. BaFin's move is another blow to the bank's owner, Greensill Capital, which said on Tuesday it is in talks to sell large parts of its business after the loss of backing from two Swiss asset managers which underpinned key parts of its supply chain financing model. Greensill, which was founded in 2011 by former Citigroup banker Lex Greensill, helps companies spread out the time they have to pay their bills.
The Ontario Police College (OPC) has suspended in-person learning in response to a COVID-19 outbreak identified among at least 65 staff and students, and is working to evaluate virtual options for courses. The Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General confirmed on Monday, March 1 that 61 students and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The ministry did not answer several questions from the Express about details of the outbreak, including how so many cases could spread so quickly despite strict safety protocols being in place, and if there was a single event attributed to the spread. However, a person who has been inside the college multiple times throughout the COVID pandemic told the Express that they were concerned with an apparent lack of safety enforcement, particularly around face coverings. They had often seen “quite a few” personnel – mainly instructors – walking around the building without masks on, sometimes in groups with others. They saw the same people begin to wear masks in similar situations after the recent outbreak was reported, suggesting they didn’t have a medical exemption before. “They’re wearing them now.” They were worried about the example that set for recruits at the beginning of their professional careers in public safety. After class, recruits might be in their “pods” socializing in close proximity without masks. They noted many of the recruits would return to their home communities on weekends. Ministry of the Solicitor General spokesperson Brent Ross previously told the Express in September that police recruits are permitted to leave campus. Police recruits are expected to comply with COVID-19 health requirements when off campus. Upon return, they are required to undergo screening, including daily temperature checks. Southwestern Public Health unit mandated face coverings in workplaces (even those not open to the public) and indoor public areas. In indoor areas accessible only to employees, face coverings can be removed if physical distancing is maintained. The outbreak was first identified on Monday, Feb. 22. All staff and recruits – about 700 – were tested on Thursday, Feb. 25 and received their results in the following days. The case count soared to 65 on Monday, March 1, up from 27 the previous week. Recruits with a positive test are now self-isolating at the college, the ministry said. Southwestern Public Health said there was not a specific event that contributed to this outbreak. “We do not have any evidence that this outbreak was caused by a variant of concern,” said SWPH spokesperson Megan Cornwell, adding the health unit does not believe there is a risk to the public. The ministry said they have worked closely with the health unit to implement health and safety measures, including mandatory screening of staff and students, isolation as appropriate, on-site testing, and providing personal protective equipment. Recruits have been grouped into “pods” that consist of 8 to 10 people living together. They reside in individual bedrooms and share one to two bathrooms and a common area. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Protesters blocked some roadways in Lebanon for a second day on Wednesday after the currency's fall to a new low further enraged a population long horrified by the country's financial meltdown. In the past year, Lebanon has been through a popular uprising against its political leaders, the bankruptcy of the state and banking system, a COVID-19 pandemic and, in August, a huge blast that killed 200 people and destroyed parts of Beirut. The financial crisis has wiped out jobs, raised warnings of growing hunger and locked people out of their bank deposits.
For years, backyard chickens have happily pecked away inside a corralled space in the enviously large backyard behind a Topham Boulevard home. But after a complaint about the birds this past January and a subsequent a visit from the City of Welland, their days as a Welland family’s feathered friends are numbered — they must fly the coop by March 31, or face the consequences. Standing by the coop last Thursday, Ray Haymes and his partner Alicia Bedesky spoke of how their eight laying hens not only provided eggs but also valuable education for their children, five-year-old Sawyer and three-year-old Eloise. “This is just a few pets in our backyard,” Haymes said. Not so, says the city. “All residential areas within the urban boundary of the city don’t permit agricultural uses,” said Welland’s interim planning manager, Rachelle Larocque. Though the city’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law 2017-117, which dictates how landowners can use their property, doesn’t actually address backyard chickens, it does say property can't be used in a way not clearly spelled out. That could change in the coming year as the city reviews its official plan and explores allowing backyard chickens, Larocque said. The city’s bylaw and planning departments work together when complaints ring in about backyard chickens, something Larocque says is becoming common. During the past six months, some form of chicken inquiry comes in on a weekly basis, she said. In dealing with a complaint, the planning department confirms zoning allowances and a bylaw officer investigates. After their visit, Haymes said he received a letter from the city saying the birds had to fly the coop by the end of March. Bedesky started the “Backyard chickens Niagara” Facebook group and an online petition to illustrate neighbouring support for the hens, which had nearly reached its 500 signee goal as of Feb. 28. “We believe that every person should have the right to keep hens on their own property as long as they are doing so responsibly,” the petition reads. Chris Sowton and Jennifer Thompson, who belong to Bedesky’s Facebook group, had to get rid of their hens after a neighbour’s complaint and a bylaw visit. “We have a huge yard, it’s 1.3 acres, there’s plenty of room for chickens,” Sowton said from his Dain City home. “They’re wonderful pets, they’re actually quite lovely creatures.” Haymes has reached out to city staff and their ward councillor, Adam Moote, who told Niagara This Week that while he supports allowing backyard chickens, regulations would be needed to ensure they wouldn’t become a nuisance. Ultimately, Haymes wants to see the rules amended. Even a permit process would be better than prohibition, Bedesky said. Haymes has sought legal advice and will file a freedom of information request to dig into the complaint itself, which he suspects originated from a single neighbour whose feathers are ruffled for reasons he can’t understand — the chickens don’t smell or make noise, and they’re well taken care of, he says. If the hens aren’t gone by March 31, the city can lay a charge under the Provincial Offences Act, summoning the Haymes family to court, explained Ali Khan, Welland’s bylaw supervisor. It’s a process Haymes says he’s willing to see through. If multiple complaints were coming in, Haymes might understand, but he says their petition speaks for the neighbourhood: “There are a lot of people that feel the same way.” “It’s just something we believe in,” he said. “We’ve kind of been accidental advocates for the whole urban farming thing,” Bedesky added. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Loving classic films can be a fraught pastime. Just consider the cultural firestorm over “Gone With the Wind” this past summer. No one knows this better than the film lovers at Turner Classic Movies who daily are confronted with the complicated reality that many of old Hollywood’s most celebrated films are also often a kitchen sink of stereotypes. This summer, amid the Black Lives Matter protests, the channel’s programmers and hosts decided to do something about it. The result is a new series, “ Reframed Classics,” which promises wide-ranging discussions about 18 culturally significant films from the 1920s through the 1960s that also have problematic aspects, from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Mickey Rooney’s performance as Mr. Yunioshi to Fred Astaire’s blackface routine in “Swing Time.” It kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. ET with none other than “Gone With the Wind.” “We know millions of people love these films,” said TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, who is participating in many of the conversations. “We’re not saying this is how you should feel about ‘Pyscho’ or this is how you should feel about ‘Gone with the Wind.’ We’re just trying to model ways of having longer and deeper conversations and not just cutting it off to ‘I love this movie. I hate this movie.’ There’s so much space in between.” Stewart, a University of Chicago professor who in 2019 became the channel’s first African American host, has spent her career studying classic films, particularly those in the silent era, and Black audiences. She knows first-hand the tension of loving films that also contain racial stereotypes. “I grew up in a family of people who loved classic films. Now, how can you love these films if you know that there’s going to be a maid or mammy that shows up?” Stewart said. “Well, I grew up around people who could still love the movie. You appreciate some parts of it. You critique other parts of it. That’s something that one can do and it actually can enrich your experience of the film.” While TCM audiences will know her as the host of Silent Sunday Nights, this past summer she was given a bigger spotlight when she was selected to introduce “Gone With the Wind” on HBO Max to provide proper context after its controversial removal from the streaming service. She remembers drafting her remarks for that while also concocting this series. “I continue to feel a sense of urgency around these topics,” she said. “We’re showing films that really shaped the ways that people continue to think about race and gender and sexuality and ability. It was really important for the group to come together to think about how we can work with each other and work with our fans to deepen the conversations about these films.” TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz, Dave Karger, Alicia Malone and Eddie Muller will also be part of many conversations. The films that they’ve selected aren’t under the radar novelties either. As Stewart said, “they’re the classics of the classics.” The series, which runs every Thursday through March 25, will also show “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Gunga Din,” “The Searchers,” “My Fair Lady,” “Stagecoach,” “Woman of the Year” and “The Children’s Hour.” The selections allow the hosts to think about Hollywood films more broadly, too. For “Psycho,” which will be airing on March 25, the hosts talk about transgender identity in the film and the implications of equating gender fluidity and dressing in women’s clothes with mental illness and violence. It also sparks a bigger conversation about sexuality in Alfred Hitchcock films. During the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” conversation on March 18, they talk about why the film adaptation has a less feminist ending than the stage play, and Henry Higgins’ physical and psychological abuse of Eliza Dolittle. Not feeding her and stuffing marbles in her mouth are played for cute laughs in the film. Is it a commentary on misogyny or just plain misogyny? And on the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” night, airing March 11, Stewart discusses the complex legacy of Sidney Poitier. “His career is so important for the ways that white Americans really started to have more sympathy and understanding of Black people. But at the same time, there are aspects of his films that are clearly oriented primarily to white audiences,” Stewart said. “That opens up all kinds of complications for Black viewers who felt that he wasn’t a representative of the race as a whole.” Companies have lately taken to adding disclaimers before shows and films depicting outdated or stereotypical characters and themes. And in some instances, films have just been made unavailable. Disney has said that it’s 1946 film “Song of the South” will never be on Disney+. The classic film podcast “ You Must Remember This ” has an excellent series about the controversial movie and how it came to be. The goal of “Reframed Classics” is to help give audiences the tools to discuss films from a different era and not just dismiss or cancel them. And Stewart, for her part, doesn’t believe that you can simply remove problematic films from the culture. “I think there’s something to be learned from any work of art,” Stewart said. “They’re all historical artifacts that tell us a lot about the industry in which they were made, the cultures that they were speaking to.” —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
A man who plowed a rented van into dozens of people in Toronto in 2018 is guilty of murdering 10 people and attempting to murder 16, a judge ruled on Wednesday, dismissing a defense argument that a mental disorder left the driver unaware of how horrific his actions were. Alek Minassian, 28, told police he was motivated by a desire to punish society for his perceived status as an "incel" - short for involuntary celibate - because he believed women would not have sex with him. Minassian had pleaded that he was not criminally responsible.
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a thrill like few others on earth. The ocean is full of life here with a diversity that is unlike any other place of earth. The underwater volcanic structures and unique combination of ocean currents support a rich abundance of life. Sharks thrive here and scuba divers are thrilled to see them during their underwater adventures. But these scuba divers were not so thrilled when they finished exploring and underwater cave and they headed back to the open ocean. They found a group of sharks had entered the cave and were resting just inside the opening. White tip sharks are not likely to attack humans, unless provoked, but the divers were not able to pass through the narrow chamber without coming into direct contact with the 9-10 foot beasts. This would definitely be inviting trouble and the divers would be unable to easily turn and retreat back inside the caverns. The moment provided an excellent opportunity to gets some spectacular footage of the unusual scenario with the sharks backlit in an eerie fashion. The scuba divers had planned their dive well and they had plenty of reserve air at this point in the dive. They calmly waited and watched the sharks and eventually all of them swam out into the open water, leaving the exit clear. But for a few minutes, the large sharks in the exit were an intimidating sight indeed! People who venture beneath the waves are wise to remember that they are the visitors, or even intruders in this mysterious domain. Incorrect behaviour here can have immediate and disastrous consequences. The ability to stay calm during unexpected challenges is crucial to survival in a world where your air supply is limited.
York residents 80 and older can book appointments to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. York began taking appointments Monday, and you can book yours by visiting york.ca/COVID19Vaccine Approximately 20,000 appointments were booked across all five current COVID-19 vaccination clinics. “This is great news for many of our most vulnerable residents and another step forward in bringing an end to the pandemic through vaccination,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “The health and well-being of our residents continues to remain a priority and we thank public, private and health-care partners for their major role in helping to protect some of our most vulnerable residents.” Residents 80 years of age and older who are not able or comfortable booking an online appointment are encouraged to seek out a support person (caregiver, family member or friend) who can assist in booking this appointment on their behalf. York Region Public Health is working with our local health-care partners to provide COVID-19 vaccines for this newly eligible priority group at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital located in the City of Vaughan, operated by Mackenzie Health; Cornell Community Centre located in the City of Markham, operated by Eastern York Region North Durham (EYRND) Ontario Health Team (OHT), and Ray Twinney Recreation Complex located in the Town of Newmarket, operated by Southlake Regional Health Centre. “This is a very positive step forward. We are moving aggressively to vaccinate as many as possible within the province’s identified priority populations as vaccine supply becomes available,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “We are being as nimble as we can using different delivery models depending on the supplies of vaccines and the groups we need to immunize.” Walk-in appointments are not available; please do not visit a vaccination clinic without an appointment – you will be turned away. The team at Southlake Regional Health Centre is ready and well equipped to administer COVID vaccines. Not only are staff backed by months of preparation and procedures, the current vaccines are proving effective. Staff and medical experts are confident they have the situation well in hand, and can ably spring into action should a third wave arrive. As of Feb. 25, Southlake was treating 15 COVID-19 patients, with five in critical care beds. Dr. Charmaine van Schaik, co-medical lead, Vaccine Management Committee at Southlake Regional Health Centre, is eager to get the process rolling. While the hospital has no control over vaccine rollout, they’re administering both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The majority of long-term care residents, staff and front-line hospital workers have received both the first and second doses. Both are two-shot doses and the main difference is storage. The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept very cold, and requires special refrigeration, while the Moderna vaccine isn’t as temperature sensitive. Dr. van Schaik pointed out there have been very few adverse reactions to the vaccine, and staff are well equipped to handle any reactions. The mRNA vaccines, she explained, basically send instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of the “spike protein” found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. It triggers an immune response, teaching our bodies to fight. Dr. van Schaik said it’s not yet known whether follow-up or annual shots are necessary. The research and monitoring is still ongoing. Time will tell just how long the immune response stays in our bodies and whether it wears off. Initially, there were fears that those with certain food allergies couldn’t take the vaccines, but Dr. van Schaik said that’s not true. The only allergy is to the “recipe” of the vaccine, which contains Polyethylene gylcol. She said a common pain reliever such as Tylenol contains this substance. Research continues on vaccines aimed at children. So far, the research has concentrated on adults and seniors. There’s no question the answers will come, given the rapid pace of vaccine research. Dr. van Schaik noted the majority of recipients are grateful and positive to receive the vaccine. Citizens and staff are all getting more used to the procedure and efficacy of the vaccines. “We’re really happy to be getting more and more people vaccinated,” she said. They’re excited about getting the vaccine out to the greater population, especially vulnerable seniors, and “those who need it.” The vaccine, she stressed, is not a cure, but it does prevent or lessen the severity of the illness. What we don’t know is whether vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus. That’s why existing health measures are required and still enforced. While treatment opportunities continue to improve, masks may be with us for some time. Those with compromised immune systems should always wear them. Dr. van Schaik said York’s numbers have been stabilizing, but many do expect a third wave. She said they believe it will be similar to the current wave, led primarily by the more contagious variants. The key is for medical practitioners to be nimble and respond quickly. With York’s accelerated rollout, and experienced practitioners at the helm, residents are in good hands. Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The political crisis in Slovakia deepened on Wednesday after a member of the ruling coalition demanded a reconstruction of the Cabinet. The crisis was triggered by a secret deal to acquire Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine orchestrated by the country’s prime minister despite disagreement among his coalition partners. Richard Sulik, head of the Freedom and Solidarity party, said the situation in the coalition is so serious that “we can hardly continue this way.” “It’s evident we haven’t succeeded in the fight against the pandemic,” Sulik said. His party said unspecified changes in the government are needed for the coalition to continue. Sulik has often clashed with Prime Minister Igor Matovic over how to tackle the pandemic but the current crisis is the most serious problem the coalition has faced. Matovic has defended the deal to acquire 2 million Sputnik V vaccines, saying it will speed up the vaccination program in one of the European Union's countries hit hardest by the pandemic. But it was condemned by Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok, who was nominated to the post by Sulik’s party and who said the vaccine was a tool in Russia’s hybrid war against the West. Korcok said the purchase cast doubts on his country’s clear pro-Western orientation. Another coalition partner, the For People party, didn’t rule out an option to leave the coalition. The head of that party, Deputy Prime Minister Veronika Remisova, said any vaccine needs approval from the EU’s drug regulator. Matovic acknowledged on Wednesday that he acquired the Russian vaccine against the will of his partners but urged them not to use the conflict to destroy their coalition. “As the prime minister, I think it's my duty to do the maximum to save the lives and health of people in Slovakia,” he said in a video message. Remisova met Sulik and other leaders — including another critic of the Sputnik V deal, President Zuzana Caputova — over the crisis Wednesday. After the meeting, Sulik said his party was “by no means” in favour of early elections. Parliament speaker Boris Kollar, the leader of the fourth coalition party, We Are Family, called on his partners to put aside their disputes and negotiate a way to move forward. Kollar invited representatives of all the four coalition parties to meet later Wednesday. Pro-Western Matovic struck a deal last year to govern with the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party; the conservative For People, a party established by former President Andrej Kiska; and We Are Family, a populist right-wing group that is allied with France’s far-right National Rally party. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Karel Janicek, The Associated Press
“You never count your money,” sang Kenny Rogers, “when you’re sitting at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin,’ when the dealin’s done.” As it turns out, council for the MD of Pincher Creek was able to deal out some much-needed help to local organizations after gathering restrictions affected normal operations last year. The provincial and federal governments helped provide funding to municipalities through the Municipal Operating Support Transfer, which saw the MD receive $305,233. Under half of that amount will be used by the MD to make up for lost tax revenue in 2020; $50,000 of that portion was used to cover additional work-from-home expenses for MD staff, which included upgrading the IT system to improve software speed. Ironically, the MD’s system provider has been slow in making the upgrade to faster software and cannot guarantee the change will occur before March 31, which is when all of the MOST funding must be spent. Upgrading the system, said director of finance Meghan Dobie, remains a priority despite the hiccup. “It is something administration still wants to do to help improve the speed at which our IT software is working.” Rather than gambling on missing the deadline, council followed the finance department’s advice and approved using $6,700 from the tax rate stabilization reserve during its Feb. 23 regular meeting. Council also approved distribution of the remaining MOST funds — a total of $171,390.72 — to community organizations that experienced financial difficulties due to the pandemic. Twenty-six groups petitioned the MD for financial assistance, which totalled $431,000 in requested funds. While unable to meet the requested amount, the MD was able to deal out donations to 19 of those groups. Some of the more significant contributions include $10,000 to Chinook Lanes, $20,000 to the Family Resource Centre, $11,400 to the Livingstone Ski Academy Society and $21,434.50 to the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce. A full list of organizations approved for MOST funding can be found on the MD’s website at https://bit.ly/MD_MOST. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Pony Ma will make the proposal at the National People's Congress (NPC), which starts on Friday, the report said. "It is recommended to carry out government guidance and development in specific areas such as online education, online healthcare and financial technology," CNR cited Ma's proposal as saying.
Une simple photo relative à une histoire du vaccin de la COVID-19 qui au départ devait être somme toute banale est devenue virale sur le web au point ou des gens ont été injuriés, insultés et même menacés de se faire attaquer physiquement. Cette fameuse photo sur les réseaux sociaux indique que «l’hôpital de Baie-Comeau a trois cas de paralysie chez les employés qui ont reçu la première dose du vaccin. Il n’y a plus personne qui le veut maintenant à Baie-Comeau», peut-on lire une fois les fautes d’orthographe corrigées et la phrase restructurée. Une des personnes ciblées a contacté macotenord.com pour mettre en garde les journalistes contre les choses dites sur le web. «Il faut faire attention à tout ce que l’on rapporte et ce que l’on dit». Ensuite, elle a accepté de raconter les faits sous le couvert de l’anonymat par peur de représailles étant toujours à l’emploi du Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de la Côte-Nord. «Oui j’ai la paralysie de Bell. Et oui je travaille ici. Mais rien ne confirme le lien de ce diagnostic et le vaccin.» Elle ajoute: «ce sont des risques qui vont avec tous les vaccins. Les autres causes possibles de la paralysie de Bell sont le virus de l’herpès buccal ou le réveil du zona.» Cette dame assure que les médecins suivent l’évolution de son état de santé. Au CISSS, on a confirmé à Radio-Canada qu’un cas de paralysie faciale a effectivement été observé chez une personne ayant reçu une dose de vaccin contre la COVID-19 il y a quelques semaines. Le CISSS mentionne que la paralysie faciale n’a jamais été associée statistiquement à aucun vaccin. Néanmoins, ce cas a été compilé au registre du fichier central des effets secondaires post-vaccinaux par la direction de la santé publique de la Côte-Nord. Réactions vives Chose certaine, cette histoire de vaccins a créé un tollé sur les réseaux sociaux. Un tsunami de commentaires, parfois injurieux, ont inondé la toile. On parle de plus d’une centaine en moins d’une heure. «Ça ressemble à une belle fausse nouvelle de conspis. Je vais y croire quand une employée de cet hôpital va en parler», peut-on lire parmi tous ces commentaires pour la plupart peu élogieux. «Fake news pour faire peur au monde. Je travaille à l’hôpital et je me suis informée auprès de collègues, médecins, personne n’a entendu parler. Alors ne croyez pas tout ce qui se dit sur les réseaux sociaux», a écrit une internaute. «Un gars m’a menacé de contacter Facebook pour faire fermer mon compte uniquement parce que j’avais partagé la dite photo, sans émettre aucun commentaire» a publié un autre internaute précisant être un résident de Baie-Comeau, sans plus. Le CISSS précise que plus de 17 629 doses ont été injectées dans la région jusqu’à présent. Stéphane Tremblay, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
A Yellowknife MLA grew frustrated Tuesday as he sought to learn more about what the N.W.T. is doing to protect workers at the Gahcho Kué mine from COVID-19. An outbreak was declared at the mine on Feb. 3. Mining operations were suspended three days later. To date, 12 out-of-territory workers and eight N.W.T. residents have been connected with the outbreak. Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly put questions to Shane Thompson, the minister responsible for the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission. He wanted to know whether northern and southern workers had separate living quarters; whether people were wearing masks on the site; and what the protocols were for cleaning washrooms. To each question, Thompson had the same answer: it's up to the mine's owner to develop its own COVID-exposure plan, which must be approved by the WSCC and the chief public health officer, but is not dictated by them. "We have to respect that," Thompson said. "It's their plan." To that O'Reilly responded, "There seems to be some kind of top secret exposure control plan that he can't even share any info with me on the floor of this house." The frustration evident in his voice is similar to that raised by many business owners earlier in the pandemic, who were charged with drafting their own COVID-19 exposure plans. Though WSCC and the office of the chief public health officer were available to help business owners draft plans, some expressed frustration at the lack of direction, and the inconsistencies that came about as a result. Reached for comment, De Beers Canada, which owns the Gahcho Kué mine with Mountain Province Diamonds, was happy to share details from its COVID-19 exposure plan. "If we were asked to do so, Gahcho Kué Mine would be pleased to provide information regarding COVID-19 protocols and additional actions taken at Gahcho Kué Mine during the past week to MLA O'Reilly and all MLAs," spokesperson Terry Kruger said in an email. Kruger confirmed that masks are in wide use in all common areas "where physical distancing is not possible." He also said employees and contractors "work as a team, regardless of where they are from." All employees heading to the site undergo rapid antigen tests before traveling, and must test negative. They take further tests at regular intervals. "The use of face coverings, physical distancing protocols, good hygiene practices, daily health monitoring, documentation of daily contacts and other measures are also in place." Mountain Province Diamonds, which jointly owns the mine with De Beers Canada, announced plans to resume production at the end of last month. No vaccines for non-residents Kruger also said the company is promoting vaccination opportunities for all N.W.T.-resident employees and contractors. He was clear that non-resident employees were not, at this point, included. Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler raised concerns Tuesday that non-resident mine workers were getting prioritized to receive the vaccine ahead of local N.W.T. residents. Health Minister Julie Green assured her they were not. "The N.W.T. will not, will not prioritize non-residents over residents," Health Minister Julie Green said in response. "When all eligible residents have been vaccinated, and if there is vaccine … available, then the chief public health officer will look at the possibility of vaccinating rotational workers who are from outside of the territory."
WASHINGTON — The Senate Finance Committee easily approved President Joe Biden's pick to be America's top trade negotiator. The panel on Wednesday confirmed Katherine Tai to be U.S. trade representative on a voice vote. Her nomination, which has received strong bipartisan support, will now go to the full Senate for approval. Tai has promised to make sure that U.S. trade policy benefits America's workers, not just corporations, and to work more closely with U.S. allies to counter an increasingly assertive China. Fluent in Mandarin, Tai spent several years as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's head of China enforcement. She last worked as the top trade staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee, where she handled negotiations with the Trump administration over a revamped North American trade deal. Under pressure from congressional Democrats, Trump’s trade team agreed to strengthen the pact to make it easier for Mexican workers to form independent unions and demand better pay and benefits — decreasing the incentives for U.S. firms to move south of the border to take advantage of cheap and compliant labour. She and Biden have said little about how they will handle specific trade issues such as whether to keep President Donald Trump's import taxes on foreign steel and aluminum and on $360 billion worth of Chinese products. Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
The history of the western expansion of Canada is a fascinating account of perseverance, courage and conflict. For a long time, the focus of this time period emphasized the experiences of white settlers who immigrated from Great Britain, the United States and central and northern Europe. Recent scholarship and activities like Black History Month, however, are now making an effort to ensure other historical voices are heard — and Pincher Creek is taking steps to celebrate its own unique portion of the history of black pioneers in southern Alberta. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting, Coun. Wayne Elliott presented a motion to rename a street after “Auntie” Annie (though some sources have her first name as Amy) Saunders, a black woman who immigrated to southern Alberta in 1877. “Being it’s Black History Month, it seems kind of fitting that we honour someone to that magnitude that doesn’t seem to ever get any recognition,” Coun. Elliott said. Ms. Saunders was born in the United States and met Mary Macleod, the wife of Lt.-Col. James Macleod, the North West Mounted Police officer the town Fort Macleod is named after. In 1877, Ms. Saunders joined the Macleod family and worked as a nurse for the children on their ranch just east of Pincher Creek. She eventually operated multiple businesses in Fort Macleod (then known as the Town of Macleod) and Pincher Creek, including a restaurant and boarding house, and worked as a laundress. Understanding the historical context makes Auntie Annie’s story all the more noteworthy. Western Canada experienced a great influx of immigrants throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although the Canadian government actively promoted the area as the “Last Best West,” it also sought to exclude and dissuade specific groups of immigrants, including Chinese, Jewish and black people. As a former member of the British colonial empire, the Canadian government operated under the notion that white settlers were superior to other races and better suited to homesteading on the Prairies. Despite the prejudice, about 1,500 black Americans settled in Alberta and Saskatchewan between 1905 and 1912, most leaving Oklahoma to escape rising levels of racial violence. Rising political pressure from white constituents on the Prairies led to Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier signing an order in council in the summer of 1911 banning black immigrants from settling in Canada because they were “deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.” Though the order was never enforced, aggressive marketing by Canadian agents in the United States discouraging black Americans from moving to Canada cut down the number of black settlers, as well as unfair practices at the border that made it more expensive for them to travel into Canada. The fact Ms. Saunders was one of the first black pioneers to settle in Alberta, along with making her own success despite the racism and general prejudice of that time, is remarkable. She passed away in 1898 and is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in Pincher Creek. Coun. Elliott mentioned Auntie Annie was a figure in his own family’s history. “Going back, I was talking to my mom and she said my grandpa talked about what his dad said about her, and she was a very good cook,” he related. “So that’s going back into the 1880s, 1890s, so there is some history on my side.” To honour the memory of Ms. Saunders, and her role in Pincher Creek’s history, Coun. Elliott proposed renaming a section of Veteran’s Street to Auntie Annie Saunders Way, Avenue, Street or Parkway. The proposed renamed section would span from Scott Avenue to the eastern corner of Pioneer Cemetery. While entirely supportive of naming a street after Ms. Saunders, other members of council expressed concerns with renaming an existing road. “I’m completely in favour of honouring our historical figures, but I’m not in favour of changing street names,” said Coun. Scott Korbett. “New developments is where we should be doing this as we move forward, and I also wouldn’t want to honour someone with a street that’s not open.” A better location, Coun. Lorne Jackson added, would help commemorate Ms. Saunders better than the proposed section. “Annie Saunders was an amazing person, someone of colour back in those days that became an entrepreneur and was very successful and one of the richest people in town after a time,” he said. “I think a new street somewhere in town that’s a viable and well used street, and a sign that people would see and drive by all the time, would honour her in a better way.” After discussion, Coun. Elliott agreed to amend the motion to add Ms. Saunders to the town’s prioritized list of future street names. Auntie Annie is second in line after Warren Winkler, whose name was previously selected in a motion from 2017. Mr. Winkler grew up in Pincher Creek and was selected in 2007 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be the chief justice of Ontario. He was also named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2016 for his contributions to the advancement of Canadian labour law. More information on the history of black settlers immigrating to Canada can be read online in The Canadian Encyclopedia at http://bit.ly/CAN_PEDIA. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
The Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) wants to hear from people who have experienced racism and discrimination. The survey is gathering feedback to understand what racism and racial discrimination look like in Timmins. According to the TEDC, the goal is to "help foster a welcoming and inclusive community." “Cultural diversity plays a key role in economic growth and development,” TEDC’s chair Fred Gibbons said in a statement. “Communities that are open to different cultures and ethnicities benefit from an increased range of skills and experiences, creativity, and innovation.” The TEDC is conducting the survey as part of the Timmins Diversity Awareness Project. It is one of 85 projects across Canada funded through the Anti-Racism Action Program. According to the announcement, the project will include a public awareness campaign and a workplace-focused initiative, aimed to create and promote more inclusive communities and workplaces. Advisory group members include local residents, the City of Timmins, Timmins and District Multicultural Centre, Newcomers Encouraging Self-Empowerment in Timmins, Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Kunuwanimano Child and Family Services, Reseau du Nord, Université de Hearst, Collège Boreal, Northern College, Timmins Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Indigenous Advisory Committee. The 17-question survey takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. To access the survey, click here. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com