Given the logistical challenges Canadian winters can pose, Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, said 'dry runs' for COVID-19 vaccine distribution are a great way to resolve problems in advance.
Given the logistical challenges Canadian winters can pose, Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, said 'dry runs' for COVID-19 vaccine distribution are a great way to resolve problems in advance.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — Canadian rescue crews are helping to search for a small plane off of the B.C. coast after United States officials received a mayday distress call. The U.S. Coast Guard says in a tweet that crews are searching the waters between Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash., for a downed Cessna 170. It says one man was reported aboard the aircraft. The coast guard says the flight originated from Ketchikan, Ala. Lt.-Cmdr. Tony Wright of the Canadian Forces Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria says the pilot described his location during the mayday call Tuesday afternoon. Wright says Canada is supporting the search with the Canadian Coast Guard's Sir Wilfred Laurier vessel and a CC-115 Buffalo aircraft out of Comox, B.C. He says they are searching along with an American helicopter and vessels. "We're supporting the U.S. Coast Guard," Wright said, adding he had no other information immediately available. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Même en tant que fonctionnaire québécoise, Coura Felwine Sene ne peut obtenir ses papiers d’immigrations. Tout commence au Sénégal en 2015. Coura Felwine Sene rêve de s’établir ailleurs. Le nom « Québec » circule autour d’elle et l’attire. Pour émigrer, elle fait affaire avec une agence locale afin d’obtenir les papiers. « J’ai payé 1200 dollars pour l’admission et le certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ). L’agence s’occupait de toutes les démarches », explique-t-elle. C’est là pourtant que, sans le savoir, elle se fait flouer. L’agence et les documents délivrés s’avèrent frauduleux. Mais personne ne s’en rend compte, ni elle, ni les fonctionnaires d’ici chargés de vérifier la crédibilité des documents. Ainsi, tout se déroule comme prévu à son arrivée au Québec. Son certificat d’acceptation est échangé contre un permis d’étude. Elle s’installe à Rimouski. Après quelques années à jongler entre les études et un emploi — « j’ai passé mes nuits à l’Université », dit-elle —, elle renouvelle son CAQ sans problème. Dès sa formation terminée, elle décroche un emploi à temps plein dans un des ministères québécois. On lui offre un statut de travailleur temporaire, qui expire en janvier 2023. Déterminée à s’installer pour de bon au Bas-Saint-Laurent, elle entreprend alors les démarches pour obtenir sa résidence permanente. Elle doit d’abord passer par Québec pour obtenir un nouveau certificat. Alors qu’elle en est à rassembler ses papiers, tout bascule. « J’ai demandé au ministère de l’Immigration un duplicata de mon premier CAQ. C’est là qu’ils se sont rendu compte du caractère frauduleux. » « Le numéro du dossier est à mon nom, mais le numéro de référence correspond à un autre individu au Sénégal », détaille-t-elle. Elle se dit atterrée que les fonctionnaires puissent renouveler ses papiers, pour ensuite les invalider. « Pourquoi ont-ils annulé le CAQ qui expire en août ? J’ai fini mes études depuis. Je n’en ai plus besoin. » Qui plus est, argumente-t-elle, elle aurait sans doute pu obtenir tous les papiers pour une résidence permanente sans cette copie du CAQ. « Il ne fallait pas appeler », lui aurait-on dit au ministère. Depuis, elle multiplie les recours pour demeurer au Québec. Elle porte plainte en justice au Sénégal et obtient gain de cause. Les autorités sénégalaises font fermer l’agence frauduleuse et arrêtent les propriétaires. Son employeur, le gouvernement du Québec, lui offre un permis de travail fermé. Ce document lui permettrait de postuler sur Arrima, la nouvelle plateforme numérique de sélection des immigrants. Or, avec une mention de fraude de son dossier, Coura Felwine Sene ne croit pas en ses chances. « C’est sûr qu’ils ne vont pas me choisir. » Prise dans un cul-de-sac administratif, elle ne peut croire qu’elle pourrait devoir quitter la province. Elle soutient avoir dépensé près de 100 000 $ pour ses études et son installation à Rimouski. « J’ai le droit d’être respecté. Ça fait cinq ans que je suis ici. Je travaille. Je ne reçois aucun chômage. » « Je suis très découragée. J’ai pleuré toute la fin de semaine. » L’avocate en immigration Nadia Bourra ne s’étonne pas du refus du gouvernement. « On peut être citoyen canadien et ensuite perdre ce statut, si le point de départ était frauduleux. […] S’il y a eu une fraude, c’est normal que le gouvernement refuse. Il ne peut pas permettre cela. » Le ministère québécois de l’Immigration ne commente pas les dossiers particuliers. Par courriel, une porte-parole confirme toutefois que « la ministre peut rejeter la demande d’une personne qui a fourni, dans les cinq ans précédant l’examen de la demande, directement ou indirectement, un renseignement ou un document faux ou trompeur ». « Sur l’ensemble des demandes reçues pour les dossiers « étudiants » de 2016 à 2020, ce sont 0,07 % des demandes qui ont reçu une décision de refus pour ce motif, en moyenne, par année », ajoute-t-elle. Mme Sene confirme ces statistiques. « L’agent m’a dit que c’est la première fois qu’il voit un cas comme ça. » Elle laisse cependant entendre que d’autres compatriotes pourraient se retrouver à la fois victimes de fraude et d’une erreur administrative. « Je suis la première victime, mais il y en aura d’autres. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Inaya Mirza’s bully, another student in her Grade 4 classroom, is a lot quieter online. “When she was at school every day, she would be talking about this girl,” said her older sister, Maryam Mirza. “She was doing poor academically because she was so stressed.” The bullying — name-calling, rumour-spreading and gossiping — stopped when classrooms were shuttered. “Now, she’s happy,” said Maryam, 23, an early-childhood educator. “She kind of misses her friends, but, at the same time, she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to deal with the bully.” Nearly 60 per cent of public school students surveyed reported being bullied pre-COVID, according to a new report on bullying released Friday by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. Amid the pandemic, that number dropped to about 40 per cent. The report was initiated by the board after the death of 14-year-old Devan Selvey, who was stabbed outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in October 2019. Kristine Bolton, a parent to two students in the public board, said her eldest daughter, a Grade 10 student at Sir Winston Churchill, suffers from anxiety. “She didn’t feel safe all the time there with what happened with Devan,” she said. “She’s been scared.” Bolton said the 15-year-old puts a lot of pressure on herself to perform academically. “She blacks out during tests,” her mother said. “So being in the comfort of home, she’s not going through that and her marks have been really good so far.” Bolton said her kids have excelled with remote learning — each for a different reason. “Our youngest one, she’s always had a lot of struggles, unfortunately, in school,” Bolton said. Her daughter, a 12-year-old student in Grade 7, had been at a Grade 3 or 4 level for a couple of years, her mother said. Now, she is doing math between a Grade 6 and 7 level. “When the remote started last year after March break, I was able to give her that one-on-one support,” she said. “Her grades have improved.” Jennifer McTaggart, a clinical psychologist with the child and youth mental health program at McMaster Children’s Hospital, said success with remote learning “is going to vary based on the kid.” “I think there are some children who are thriving in remote learning,” she said. Self-directed learners and students who are easily distracted by may prefer to learn in a more independent environment. Remote learning might be a welcome break for students who are shy, have an anxiety disorder or suffer from bullying. But, she said, it’s “a double-edged sword.” “Getting out of the situation really does reinforce the anxiety, so our kids aren’t learning how to deal in these social situations,” she said. “There’s a temporary relief, but I also worry our children aren’t getting the benefit of learning how to work through those situations, which is important to our social development.” Sixteen-year-old Elena Kowalchuk, a Grade 11 student at Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School, is “kind of made for online learning,” her mother says. “She’s highly motivated, she’s got an excellent work ethic, she’s got really good work habits,” said Michelle Castellani, who is a high school teacher. But, despite her daughter’s success with remote learning, Castellani said she will “100 per cent” be going back to the classroom once schools reopen for in-person learning. “It’s not so much for the academics that I would send her back, it is for that little bit of a social piece,” she said. “It’s important for kids to get out of the house.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
The current public health order will remain in effect until Feb. 19, 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan announced Tuesday. At a press conference, Premier Scott Moe explained that numbers are moving in the right direction but measures should continue. “The restrictions that we have are working but we need to leave them in place for a while longer,” Moe said. Measures remaining in place for another three weeks include limiting private indoor gatherings to immediate households with some exceptions for people living alone and caregivers and private outdoor gatherings remaining at a limit of 10 as long as physical distancing can be maintained. On the business side, most retail and personal services are still reduced to 50 per cent capacity and large retail locations are reduced to 25 per cent capacity. Restaurants remain limited to four customers per table and three meters between tables for in-person dining. As well, places of worship, concert venues and theatres are limited to a maximum of 30 people “I ask everyone to continue following the public health orders and the guidelines to keep yourself and those around you safe. These measures are working when we follow them as the vast majority of Saskatchewan people and businesses are doing,” Moe said. Chief Medical Health Officer Saqib Shahab explained later that public health measures are either seen as too much or too little depending on whom you are talking to. “You know they do try to strike a fine balance between minizing cases as long as the guidelines are followed and letting people work and enjoy other amenities as possible. According to Shahab these measures have to be balanced with economic mental, health and social costs of stricter measures. Obviously it does impact some people more than others in terms of what their interests are,” Shahab said. “The downward trend shows that if all of us abide by public health principles it has a significant impact on our case numbers. Making measures more stringent would always be an option, unfortunately, if our case numbers ramped up,” Shahab said. Moe explained that the gradual decline in case numbers can be seen in 232 cases reported Thursday and a seven-day average of 254, down from 321 on Jan. 12. He added that active cases are down to 2,665 which are the lowest since late November and down from the peak of 4,763 on Dec. 7. The province also began issuing tickets to establishments that fail to abide by public health orders. Tickets of $14,000 each were issued Tuesday morning to Crackers and the Crazy Cactus in Saskatoon and Stats Cocktails and Dreams in Regina. “There have been a small number of mainly bars and restaurants who may not have been following (orders), putting their staff, putting their customers and essentially putting their communities at risk.,” Moe said. Moe said that he had asked for an increase in enforcement and that was one reason the tickets were issued. “There have been three tickets with significant fines that have been issued to bars in Saskatoon and Regina. Some other investigations are ongoing and they may result in additional fines,” Moe said. According to both Moe and Shahab, issuing fines and penalties are a last resort but have become necessary. “What we really desire is compliance, for everyone to follow all of the public health orders and the guidelines that are in place. That is how we will continue to reduce our case numbers so that hopefully in three weeks from now we can start to maybe look at easing some of the restrictions that are in place,” Moe said. Shahab reminded people to familiarize themselves with guidelines and comply as citizens and business owners. “It’s not just up to the business owner. As a customer in a retail location or restaurant or bar, it is up to us to comply. I think when we don’t comply we put our friends, family, the business, the community at risk,” Shahab said. When asked by why these businesses had their names and fines released Moe said that they should be released. “It’s our hope that we wouldn’t have to release any more as compliance is always the effort. I have said over the course of the last few weeks that we are going to be and I was encouraging all of those involved to increase the enforcement,” Moe said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered the Department of Justice to end its reliance on private prisons and acknowledge the central role government has played in implementing discriminatory housing policies. In remarks before signing the orders, Biden said the U.S. government needs to change “its whole approach” on the issue of racial equity. He added that the nation is less prosperous and secure because of the scourge of systemic racism. “We must change now,” the president said. “I know it’s going to take time, but I know we can do it. And I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well." Biden rose to the presidency during a year of intense reckoning on institutional racism in the U.S. The moves announced Tuesday reflect his efforts to follow through with campaign pledges to combat racial injustice. Beyond calling on the Justice Department to curb the use of private prisons and address housing discrimination, the new orders will recommit the federal government to respect tribal sovereignty and disavow discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community over the coronavirus pandemic. Biden directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a memorandum to take steps to promote equitable housing policy. The memorandum calls for HUD to examine the effects of Trump regulatory actions that may have undermined fair housing policies and laws. Months before the November election, the Trump administration rolled back an Obama-era rule that required communities that wanted to receive HUD funding to document and report patterns of racial bias. The order to end the reliance on privately-run prisons directs the attorney general not to renew Justice Department contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities. The move will effectively revert the Justice Department to the same posture it held at the end of the Obama administration. “This is a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration,” Biden said. The more than 14,000 federal inmates housed at privately-managed facilities represent a fraction of the nearly 152,000 federal inmates currently incarcerated. The federal Bureau of Prisons had already opted not to renew some private prison contracts in recent months as the number of inmates dwindled and thousands were released to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic. GEO Group, a private company that operates federal prisons, called the Biden order “a solution in search of a problem. ” “Given the steps the BOP had already announced, today’s Executive Order merely represents a political statement, which could carry serious negative unintended consequences, including the loss of hundreds of jobs and negative economic impact for the communities where our facilities are located, which are already struggling economically due to the COVID pandemic," a GEO Group spokesperson said in a statement. David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, noted that the order does not end the federal government’s reliance on privately-run immigration detention centres. “The order signed today is an important first step toward acknowledging the harm that has been caused and taking actions to repair it, but President Biden has an obligation to do more, especially given his history and promises,” Fathi said. Rashad Robinson, president of the national racial justice organization Color of Change, expressed disappointment that policing was not addressed in the executive action. “President Biden’s executive orders to not renew contracts with for-profit prisons and to investigate housing discrimination wrought by Trump administration policies provide important steps forward, but do not go far enough,” said Robinson, who noted that he had hoped Biden would have moved to reinstate an Obama-era policy barring the transfer of military equipment to local police departments. The memorandum highlighting xenophobia against Asian Americans is in large part a reaction to what White House officials say was offensive and dangerous rhetoric from the Trump administration. Trump, throughout the pandemic, repeatedly used xenophobic language in public comments when referring to the coronavirus. This memorandum will direct Health and Human Services officials to consider issuing guidance describing best practices to advance cultural competency and sensitivity toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the federal government’s COVID-19 response. It also directs the Department of Justice to partner with AAPI communities to prevent hate crimes and harassment. The latest executive actions come after Biden signed an order Monday reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender people from serving in the military. Last week, he signed an order reversing Trump's ban on travellers from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. Biden last week also directed law enforcement and intelligence officials in his administration to study the threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States, an undertaking launched weeks after a mob of insurgents loyal to Trump, including some connected to white supremacist groups, stormed the U.S. Capitol. White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said Biden sees addressing equity issues as also good for the nation's bottom line. She cited a Citigroup study from last year that U.S. gross domestic product lost $16 trillion over the last 20 years as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans. The same study finds the U.S. economy would be boosted by $5 trillion over the next five years if it addressed issues of discrimination in areas such as education and access to business loans. “Building a more equitable economy is essential if Americans are going to compete and thrive in the 21st century," Rice added. Biden’s victory over Trump in several battleground states, including Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, was fueled by strong Black voter turnout. Throughout his campaign and transition, Biden promised that his administration would keep issues of equity — as well as climate change, another issue he views as an existential crisis — in the shaping of all policy considerations. Biden, who followed through on early promise to pick a woman to serve as vice-president, has also sought to spotlight the diversity of his Cabinet selections. On Monday, the Senate confirmed Biden’s pick for treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, who is the first woman to lead the department. Last week, the Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin as the nation’s first Black defence secretary. ___ Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo and Aaron Morrison contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
A group of doctors and advocates are calling on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to address what they call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in long-term care homes by bringing the military back for support and embarking on hiring and training drives.
From a dream to an award-winning short story to a novel to be published by HarperCollins Canada. It’s all “surreal,” says author Jessica Johns. Johns’ debut novel “Bad Cree” was the subject of a bidding war between three publishing houses. “Everybody connected with my work in such a deep and meaningful way,” said Johns. But she was drawn to work with HarperCollins because of the connection she felt with the editor Aeman Ansari. Johns felt that same connection with agent Stephanie Sinclair from the CookeMcDermid Agency. In fact, after reviewing the list of authors Sinclair represented – including Billy Ray Belcourt, Lee Maracle and Joshua Whitehead – Sinclair was the only agent Johns approached. They also connected on another level: both women are Indigenous. Johns is a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation located in Treaty 8 territory in Alberta, and Sinclair is of Cree, Ojibwe and settler descent. “As an Indigenous person I think I have a fundamental understanding of some of the underlying themes that many other writers that I'm working with are talking about in a way that I don't know another agent would,” said Sinclair. But it was the story Johns was telling that pulled Sinclair in. “I think we need more books that are truthful in all of its complexities of characters, complexities of plots and scenarios but that are also infused with joy, and I think that Jessica struck that balance perfectly. I think that’s really hard to find. I found it immediately just wonderful to read,” said Sinclair. The book also fit into Sinclair’s goal to curate a list of works with “political leanings” as says her profile on the literary agency’s website. “In many ways (Johns’) sort of normalizing and humanizing an urban Indigenous experience in a way that I think challenges how people think about stereotypical Indigenous people. I think that she's also offering insight and perspective into the joy that exists within many, many Indigenous families we don't hear enough about,” said Sinclair. “What I hope to accomplish with my list is to have the books that I contribute to bringing into the world change the conversation and change the landscape and challenge how people think about each other generally not just Indigenous people,” Sinclair said. The short story “Bad Cree” won the Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize in 2020. Johns said when she was writing the short story it had not been her intention to turn it into a novel. “Once I finished it, the story didn't really leave me. I felt like there was more to say. The characters were still kind of there for me and there is more I wanted to do,” she said. Writing the novel was “completely different” than writing a short story. “The short story was supposed to be short, so I’m cutting words, I’m trying to condense and make it concise. And with the novel I'm trying to open it up. I'm trying to expand. I'm trying to dig into scenes,” explained Johns. She is also a poet and says her poems are more narrative and her short stories integrate poetic elements. “Bad Cree” is about a Cree woman who is able to take things to and from the dream world. The ability manifests suddenly and she doesn’t know why. When the dreams escalate and become frightening she returns home to Treaty 8 territory in northern Alberta to find answers. She hasn’t been home for a while because of family issues but upon her return she reconnects with her mother, sister, aunt and cousin. They band together to figure out what’s going on, sort through why this is happening and what she has to do. Considering the content of the short story-turned-novel, it’s not surprising that the concept came from a dream Johns had. The supernatural, mystical aspect of novels have long been a popular draw for readers. “I think right now there may be a greater appetite for sure,” said Sinclair. “There were many, many publishers who were very eager to talk to her about it.” “Bad Cree” won’t be on the bookshelves until 2023. “It’s an industry standard actually which Jessica is experiencing. We sell the book and then the editor takes a year or two to work on the substantive changes, the stylistic changes, the copy edit, then getting it all typeset and designed and then it goes to print and gets published,” said Sinclair. Substantive edits ensure that characters are fully developed, that there are no holes in the plot line, and that the point of view remains consistent. Those “big picture” changes, said Sinclair, don’t change Johns’ story. “It just strengthens it.” Johns, who resides in Vancouver, will be balancing that ongoing work with her job as managing editor of the literary magazine “Room.” “Working on the novel is worked into my everyday life. I do it every single day. I have deadlines with my editor. It’s changed my immediate goals,” she said. Sinclair sees her job as matchmaker between author and publisher and it’s a role she’d like to have with Johns for a long time to come. “I hope that we will work together for the next 20 years … and I hope to see her next many, many books,” said Sinclair. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
VICTORIA — Health officials say more COVID-19 cases have been linked to community clusters related to social gatherings and a ski resort in British Columbia's Interior. The Interior Health authority says in a news release that 46 new cases linked to a cluster first identified Jan. 20 in the Williams Lake area have been identified. Thirteen staff at Cariboo Memorial Hospital have also tested positive, but Interior Health says the hospital is safe to visit for appointments or emergency care. A total of 314 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the region since New Year's Day and the health authority says most transmission occurred at recent social events and gatherings. Interior Health also says an additional 11 cases have been linked to a community cluster at Big White Ski Resort, bringing the total cluster of cases to 225. It says 21 cases there are active and three of those who recently tested positive live or work at the resort. "Everyone is reminded that socialization must be limited to immediate household bubbles. Please do not invite friends or extended family to your residence for a visit or gathering," Interior Health says in the statement. Provincial health officials say the number of daily cases of COVID-19 is too high and repeated calls for everyone's help to bend the curve. The province recorded 407 cases Tuesday, bringing the total number of active infections to 4,260. Among those, 313 people are hospitalized, including 71 in intensive care. An additional 14 people died in the past day and the death toll in B.C. from COVID-19 rose to 1,168. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say in a joint statement that now is the time for anyone who has put aside public health precautions to join or rejoin efforts to stop the spread. They say it is especially critical with the presence of variant strains of COVID-19 in B.C. "For the many who have been doing your part, you may be asking 'What more can I do?'" Dix and Henry say in the joint statement. "Be the voice of support and encouragement for those who may be wavering in their resolve." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador first felt the onset of COVID-19 on Sunday and was tested after returning to the capital on a commercial flight from an event in central Mexico, his spokesman said on Tuesday. Spokesman Jesus Ramirez said that passengers on the flight were being contacted, and that journalists traveling with the president were recommended to isolate. Lopez Obrador had a fever on Sunday and was still experiencing some mild symptoms by Tuesday, including a minor headache, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in an evening news conference.
A special kind of cold is needed for mukluks. The traditional Anishinaabe footwear crafted out of moose hide with a fleece lining and adorned with coloured glass beads and rabbit or beaver fur doesn’t wear well in mild, wet winter weather, but rather when it’s cold and dry. That’s something Alley Yapput, an Anishinaabe Two Spirit artist, learned growing up with his grandmother Clara Yapput during the 1970s and 1980s in Nakina, Ont., about 300 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. His grandmother was known in the area for her beadwork and other crafts, and a young Alley kept close watch. Decades later, Alley is sharing his teachings with his mother Madeline, who in her 60s has recently learned how to bead and make moccasins like her own mother used to. Unlike her son, however, she didn’t grow up learning from her parents. Clara Yapput, who was born Christmas Day, 1918, and was from Aroland First Nation, an Ojibway community not far from Nakina, was a master in the craft of beading and sewing items such as mukluks, moccasins and mittens. She also made miniature snowshoes, cradles and birch-bark baskets with willow branches. Clara and her husband Lloyd, a Cree man born along the shores of the Albany River next to James Bay, raised their family in Aroland and Nakina. An active couple, they spent summers working as hunting and fishing guides or building cabins for local tourist outfitters. Clara and Lloyd had 10 children and spoke Cree and Ojibway at home, where Madeline and her siblings also learned to speak Ojibway fluently. In 1957, when Madeline was five years old, she was sent to residential school more than 800 kilometres away in the Kenora, Ont., area. She would spend the next several years in the residential school system, returning home to her family for the summers. “It’s not a happy place where I went,” she says about her experience in the government and church-run schools she attended. “I lost a lot of my language and culture.” Madeline says she would have learned the careful craftmanship of handmade items such as moccasins and miniature snowshoes from her mother if she had stayed home. Instead, she says, such teachings “just all went away.” As a teenager, Madeline returned home to her family in Nakina and had Alley, the first of three children. She let her parents raise Alley, a customary practice among Anishinaabe families in the north. Madeline says her son had a good upbringing with her parents, picking up the Ojibway language and syllabics. “I was very happy that he learned a lot of culture from my mother,” she says. Her mother continued to bead until she could no longer see because of cataracts. Clara passed away in 2001 at age 83. Alley says he spent a lot of time by his grandmother’s side, learning and observing. Eventually, like his mother, Alley was also sent away to school. In Grade 9, he moved to Sioux Lookout, where he lived with a non-Indigenous family who didn’t understand the Ojibway language. “You lose that connection,” he says. Armed with his grandmother’s traditional sewing and beading skills (“It’s all in my head – a lot of memory in there,” he says), Alley got into the “moccasin game” about 15 years ago while living in Winnipeg, sewing moccasins part-time for an Indigenous company while continuing his own beadwork and sewing on the side. He moved back to Thunder Bay more than three years ago, shortly after his aunt died of cancer, wanting to ensure his mother wasn’t alone without any family. Visiting his mother at least once a week, Alley would often bring his sewing and beadwork with him and encouraged his mother to give it a try. She started off with small items, beading poppies and Christmas pins. When Alley was hired by an organization to teach a moccasin-making workshop for residential school survivors, Madeline joined in and made her first pair of moccasins. “She’s a really quick learner,” Alley says. Sharing his mother’s work on his Facebook page, Madeline started to get requests for her items, and hasn’t stopped taking orders – or learning – since. One of the duo’s latest projects was a matching pair of beaded gauntlet mittens for Madeline and her partner – a first for Madeline, who noted it was a challenging project, particularly fashioning the mitts’ thumb. It took Madeline and Alley about two weeks to complete both pairs. At times, the handiwork can be a delicate, tedious process of stitching tiny seed beads onto leather or other material, using one or two threaded needles. “Sometimes it’s frustrating what you bead – your thread doesn’t go right, [so] I put it away and relax,” Madeline says with a laugh. Crafting together has become a way for mother and son to stay close, particularly after the death of Alley’s youngest sister last summer. As a single person, he’s thankful he can still visit his mom in her home, where she lives with her partner, under the current pandemic restrictions. Madeline works on custom orders from her living room, sitting in her recliner with a tray of beads in her lap and her dog Jasper, a small Shih Tzu-cross, close by. Alley sits on the couch, where he works on mukluks featuring a more intricate (and contemporary) design – Baby Yoda. When asked how it makes her feel that people want to buy her work, Madeline lights up. “Oh my God, my heart just bursts,” she says. She’s even received a custom order from as far away as New York – appropriately enough, it was for a matching set of moccasins for a mother and child. Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
The province of Saskatchewan set another new record for deaths related to COVID-19 Tuesday with 14. There were two additional deaths reported in the North Central zone , one in the 40-49 age group and one in the 80 and over age group. The Saskatoon zone reported two deaths in the 60 to 69-year-old age group, two deaths in the 80-years-old and over age group and one in the 70 to 79-year-old age group and 50 to 59-year-old age group. Regina reported deaths in the 70 to 79-year-old age group, 50 to 59 year-old age group and 80-years-old and over age group The Far North West and South East also reported one death in the 80-years-old and over age group. The South East also reported a death in the 70 to 79-year-old age group. The number of deaths in the province has grown to 268. There were 232 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 31 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 139 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 55 active cases and North Central 3 has 98 active cases. There was one case with pending information added to the North Central zone. There are currently 208 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 175 reported as receiving in patient care there are 28 in North Central. Of the 33 people reported as being in intensive care there are two in North Central. The current seven-day average is 254, or 20.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 22,646 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 2,665 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 19,219 after 839 more recoveries were reported. Tuesday. There were 362 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan, bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 34,080. As of Jan. 25, 104 per cent of the doses received have been administered. This overage is due to efficiencies in drawing extra doses from vials of vaccine received. There were no doses administered in North Central on Monday. However 23 doses were administered in the adjacent North East zone, which includes Melfort, Nipawin and Tisdale. There were 2,160 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Jan 25. As of today there have been 495,292 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Sherbrooke — Après 12 années à y servir les Sherbrookois en famille, les propriétaires du Restaurant Twist éteindront les fourneaux le 28 mars prochain. Le bâtiment du 4590, boulevard Bourque vient d’être vendu à la Fromagerie Victoria, qui y ouvrira sa première succursale estrienne. Métek Demers, l’un des copropriétaires, contenait difficilement son émotion, mardi, quelques minutes après que ses parents Johanne et Renaud, son frère Hugo et lui en eurent fait l’annonce sur la page Facebook du restaurant. En une heure, la publication a suscité de nombreuses réactions en plus d’être partagée près de 300 fois par la communauté. « Nous avons dû y songer longuement, car nous avons un restaurant qui fonctionne très bien. L’offre que nous avons reçue était intéressante quand on pense à toute l’incertitude économique actuelle et à la baisse de main-d’œuvre disponible », explique Métek Demers à propos de cette difficile décision. Celui-ci précise d’ailleurs que le recrutement était particulièrement ardu en cuisine dans ce restaurant de 235 places, mais qu’il compte sur une équipe « en or ». « Ils comprennent bien que c’était une opportunité pour nous à saisir, ajoute-t-il. Évidemment, il y a de l’émotion dans l’air, car nous avons eu de bonnes années tous ensemble. » Le Restaurant Twist et la famille Demers sont apparus de nombreuses fois dans les pages de La Tribune, depuis l’annonce de son ouverture en 2009 dans ce bâtiment qui était à l’époque connu comme « l’ex-Coquetier », en passant par l’introduction des « voleurs acrobates » dans le toit du bâtiment, en juin 2013. Heureusement, ceux-ci étaient repartis les mains vides. Comment M. Demers aimerait-il qu’on se souvienne des lieux? « Nous sommes un restaurant familial chaleureux et qui a à cœur que nos clients soient satisfaits. Nos employés sont également très importants pour nous », confie-t-il. Une suite n’est pas exclue Dans sa publication, la famille Demers, qui a également été propriétaire du restaurant Demers par le passé, encourage les Sherbrookois à profiter de ses repas jusqu’à la fin. « Nous avons vécu de beaux moments avec vous au cours de toutes ces dernières années. Que ce soit pour déjeuner ensemble les dimanches matins, un dîner rapide en semaine ou bien un bon souper en famille », souligne-t-elle. Celle-ci précise également que le Restaurant Twist demeure sa propriété. Elle n’exclut donc pas de redémarrer les activités dans un autre local « dans un avenir rapproché ». « Jusqu’à la fin mars, nous avons encore beaucoup de clients à servir. Par la suite, nous allons voir où la vie nous mène. Qui sait si la restauration nous appellera à nouveau? », conclut Métek Demers. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Calgary Board of Education (CBE) trustees voted unanimously at a public board meeting Tuesday to close Rosscarrock School in the city's southwest. Trina Hurdman, trustee for wards 1 and 2 said with roughly 70 students enrolled at the school this year, it's an unfortunate, but necessary decision. "[Community schools are] really the living beating heart of their communities, and we want to support them as much as possible ... But unfortunately, there are sometimes other realities that get in the way," she said. "This time, it's not only financial impacts, but the low student enrolment has started to impact the learning opportunities in quite a significant way, even more so than two years ago." Wards 11 and 13 trustee Julie Hrdlicka said after six decades serving students this is a "tough decision." But, low enrolment not only limits student opportunities, but impacts funding. "The province requires you to have 85 per cent capacity rate for schools to receive all of their maintenance dollars, and those dollars, of course, are used to invest in infrastructure for the school," she said. "As we've heard, Rosscarrock has capacity of 18 per cent and this just means that we're going to receive less dollars to maintain that building." Hurdman said students and the overall system will be better served by designating these students to other nearby schools, where there is more robust programming and better social opportunities. "Two schools that are still close by, but unfortunately not perhaps as close as they were" she said. The CBE said last fall only six students pre-registered for Rosscarrock's kindergarten class. As a result, they were asked to enrol at two nearby schools where they will now continue. Administration at the CBE first recommended the closure of the school in 2018. In 2019, Rosscarrock School was saved from closure in a 4-3 vote. Next September, students usually designated to Rosscarrock will either attend Wildwood School to the north or Glendale School to the south.
Canadians believe their politicians are lacking compassion more than any other leadership quality right now, according to a recent online poll conducted by Leger with a panel of respondents. While compassion was a quality seen as lacking for many leaders, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs had the lowest compassion rating of any Atlantic Canadian premier, earning a score of 5.7 on a 10-point scale from respondents. By comparison, Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King had a compassion score of 7.8 from respondents. The poll was conducted while the province was in yellow phase, prior to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick. Higgs's compassion score is the third lowest in the country, coming out ahead of Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Albert Premier Jason Kenney. When asked by Brunswick News for his response to these polling results, Higgs said, “Well, I’m obviously disappointed that this would be the outcome [of the poll]. However, throughout this whole process I’ve tried to balance what we need to get through this, as individuals and as a province, so that at the end of COVID – which we do see, that end in sight – we actually have a province that can survive and provide employment.” Université de Moncton political scientist Donald Savoie said compassion just isn’t a part of Higgs’s brand. “The competent manager is the image he wants to project,” said Savoie, adding if your brand is fiscal prudence, it’s difficult to project compassion. Higgs’s highest score, a 7.3, was for decisiveness. He also scored a 6.9 per cent for managing the pandemic, a score which is higher than many other leaders, but lower than that of Nova Scotia or P.E.I.’s premiers. Higgs also had one of the lowest scores for collaboration; residents gave him a 6.3, the third lowest score in the country. Higgs’s compassion score is likely a result of his approaches to problems and the way he has been communicating to the public, said Mount Allison University political scientist Mario Levesque. “Higgs doesn’t appear friendly, seems more feisty and quick to temper,” said Levesque. “He’s champing at the bit. He has a very narrow agenda and doesn’t like to be pulled away from it.” By contrast, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King could be delivering similar news or restrictions, but he seems more open in his delivery, Levesque added. He noted that it may help that King is a former comedian. The public's perception of compassion is also likely influenced by the way a variety of policy files have recently been handled, which may be giving Higgs some baggage, said Levesque, citing moves to reduce rural hospital ER access and not moving forward on an official inquiry into systemic racism. Joanna Everitt, a political scientist at University of New Brunswick, said while it is clear compassion is not an adjective many associate with the premier, it doesn’t mean they aren’t satisfied with his leadership. Although his cumulative leadership score also fell below other Atlantic premiers, character traits should not be confused with performance satisfaction or willingness to vote for someone, although they can form the basis of these other assessments, said Everitt. Higgs said he is looking forward to working closely with public health, his colleagues and the other parties. He said he thinks in the end “we will measure performance on actual results, not opinions. I feel confident that at the end of the day, we're going to look back on this and say New Brunswick came through this in a way like no other province, because we've got a province left when we actually get through COVID.” A total of 3,801 online surveys were conducted through Leger’s online panel, LEO and partner panels. Interviews were conducted from Dec 4 to 20, 2020. Leadership scores offered by the study were a cumulative average on the 10-point scale calculated from the sum of scores on six attributes: trustworthiness, transparency or openness, decisiveness, good communication, compassion and collaboration. As a non-probability internet survey, a margin of error was not reported. If the data were collected through a random sample, the margin of error would be plus or minus 1.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
TORONTO — Shortstop Marcus Semien agreed to an $18 million, one-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the agreement was subject to a successful physical. Semien will become the second star and fourth free agent added by the Blue Jays during a slow off-season amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Toronto gave outfielder George Springer a $150 million, six-year deal. Toronto also agreed to one-year contracts with right-handers Kirby Yates ($5.5 million) and Tyler Chatwood ($3 million) and re-signed left-hander Robbie Ray to an $8 million, one-year contract. Semien hit .223 with seven homers, 23 RBIs and .679 OPS in 53 games last season, his sixth with Oakland. He earned $4,814,815 in prorated pay from a $13 million salary. Semien finished third in AL MVP voting in 2019, when he hit 33 homers with 92 RBIs with an .892 OPS. Toronto went 32-28 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, finishing third in the AL East behind Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees and qualifying for the expanded post-season despite behind forced to play home games in Buffalo, New York, due to Canadian government restrictions on travel. The Blue Jays were swept in two games by the AL champion Rays in a first-round series. They have an emerging young core and are adding major contracts while younger players such as Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. relatively low salaries because they remain shy of eligibility for arbitration. It is not clear where the Blue Jays will play home games when the 2021 season starts. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Gillies, The Associated Press
A Saskatchewan woman says she is scared for her life after she was brutally arrested by three RCMP officers after a trip to the local emergency room to get her two-year-old son’s arm examined at the end of December. Emily Kammermayer, a member of Lac La Ronge Indian Band, is facing multiple criminal charges including assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer, in what RCMP called a physical altercation between officers during her arrest at the La Ronge Health Centre on Dec. 29. The 20-year-old woman said the RCMP officers tackled her to the ground, punched her repeatedly in the head and face and that one officer placed a knee on the back of her neck. Ms. Kammermayer said the officers then hog-tied her, carried her to a police vehicle and drove her to the detachment. While in custody, she said, officers continued to violate her as she lay on the ground, still bound by her wrists and ankles behind her, telling her to hop like a bunny into the cell and laughing. “I felt as if my limbs and neck were being torn apart,” she said. “It was worse than childbirth or surgery.” She said she was eventually untied and allowed to speak to legal aid. Complaining of a headache and blurry vision, Ms. Kammermayer, who is also epileptic and being investigated for possible multiple sclerosis, was given Advil by paramedics. When she was released that evening, Ms. Kammermayer said she travelled to a Prince Albert hospital more than 200 kilometres away where she was examined for a concussion and possible broken vertebrae. RCMP said they responded to a complaint of an assault between an adult woman and physician at the La Ronge Health Centre around 1 p.m. on Dec. 29. A communications officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed in a statement that staff members called RCMP regarding an incident on Dec. 29, citing there is zero tolerance for violence against patients, staff and physicians. Ms. Kammermayer said she took her son Holden to the emergency department for an X-ray on the advice of her mother, a nurse. She said a doctor’s refusal to do an X-ray frustrated her and she yelled at him and slammed the door of the examination room. The door is alleged to have hit the physician, which she says led to the assault with a weapon charge against her. Ms. Kammermayer said as she was gathering their belongings, she lunged to catch her son who was running and that’s when she was tackled by the RCMP officers. Kim Beaudin, the national vice-chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents non-status and off-reserve status Indigenous and Métis groups, said what happened to Ms. Kammermayer is a case of systemic racism in health care and unprofessional conduct and police brutality. “All because a mother, an Indigenous woman, was trying to get medical attention for her son,” Mr. Beaudin said. “It’s a classic move by the RCMP to overcharge and underprotect Indigenous peoples.” Ms. Kammermayer said she filed an online public complaint with the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission against the three constables on Dec. 31. The RCMP confirmed its Professional Responsibility Unit is investigating the complaint and that the North District Management Team is also reviewing the incident. NDP public safety critic Jack Harris said the report involving Ms. Kammermayer is “unfortunately consistent” with concerns that have been raised over the past six months during a study on systemic racism in policing. He called on Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to follow up with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on the incident. Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Mr. Blair, said the allegations made by Ms. Kammermayer are deeply concerning. Ms. Power said the government has confidence in processes under way at the RCMP and in the courts to bring clarity to this situation and to advise whether any corrective action should be taken based on facts and evidence. Mary-Ellen Turpel Lafond, the director of the University of British Columbia’s Residential School History and Dialogue Centre who reported on racism against Indigenous people in B.C.’s health care system in November, said that while she does not know the circumstances of the Saskatchewan case, it shows many of the attributes that she examined in hundreds of B.C. cases. She noted the cases involved hospital security, emergency services and police interacting with Indigenous peoples in a disturbing way that often reflected “racism, prejudice, bias and profiling.” Senator Yvonne Boyer, a Métis lawyer who has studied systemic racism in health, also said that the allegations brought forward by Ms. Kammermayer do not surprise her. When Joyce Echaquan died in a Quebec hospital in September after live-streaming abuse she endured, the senator said there were hundreds of others Indigenous women who had endured similar experiences. “Emily is one of those hundreds,” she said. “I hope that by coming forward there will be some more focus on eradicating systemic racism within the health care system.” With reports from Kristy Kirkup and Patrick White Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
Australia recorded a 10th straight day of no new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, allowing its most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) to relax coronavirus restrictions after controlling a fast-spreading cluster. Victoria state, which is hosting the Australia Open tennis tournament, has gone three weeks without a local case. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt tweeted Wednesday marked the 10th day of no community transmission of COVID-19 Australia wide, adding the country's success comes at a time when global coronavirus cases have crossed 100 million with the death toll surpassing 2 million.
Musician Adrian Sutherland is committed to a life in his remote home on the Attawapiskat River where it flows into James Bay in Northern Ontario. As a community serviced only by air and winter ice road that’s a big commitment for a touring musician who has spent the better part of the past decade as the lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Midnight Shine. Sutherland originally assembled the group as a backing band for an intended solo project. “I got a grant at the time to record a bunch of music I had written before the band even came together,” he says on the line from his home in Attawapiskat. “So that basically got put on the back burner once the band was formed back in 2011, and we just kind of kept running with it,” Sutherland explained. “We all felt that it was something very good and positive and we all wanted to keep it going.” A member of the Āhtawāpiskatowi ininiwak Cree community, Sutherland is a man who possesses a rich and diverse background of experience. A former paramedic, he wears many hats in the territory. He’s a Master Corporal with the Canadian Ranger Patrol, and with his wife Judy and their four children, he owns and operates a local eatery called The Moose. In addition to his family business and army reserve work, the Midnight Shine front man has dedicated himself to numerous community cultural initiatives. Sutherland was instrumental in bringing the ArtsCan Circle to his community. He’s an Artist Ambassador for the Downie Wenjack Fund. He launched a local music program with the assistance of the MusiCounts charitable organization, which works with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to bring sustainable music programs to in-need schools and communities across Canada. He’s also a vocal critic of the Canadian government in regard to its failure to secure clean drinking water for remote Indigenous communities and Sutherland has strong opinions on how COVID-19 protocols have left many community members locked out with few options to survive. In addition to the ongoing water issues, Sutherland’s James Bay community has also suffered from overcrowded housing and poor medical facilities which he feels has been made worse by the current pandemic. “It’s certainly exacerbated the problem and I think it has really exposed the situation and the types of conditions that exist up here.” “Personally, I think there's just a lot of things happening up here right now with all the restrictions that are being put on us, even the delivery of the vaccinations,” Sutherland said. “I haven’t heard anything in the community about how they’re going to roll it out. Which leads me to wonder about healthcare and how the planning of all this is supposed to unfold.” Finding himself locked down in his northern community, physically separated from the other three members of Midnight Shine, Sutherland decided it was a good time to revisit his original intention of releasing some solo material that he had been working on before COVID shut everything down. “No one has expressed that they didn’t want to continue on as Midnight Shine,” Sutherland says. “It was just a good time for me to step away for a while. We had done three albums together and it just felt like the right time, especially since the pandemic came down, even more so now that we can’t perform or get together at all. It just seems more timely now for me to put my efforts toward a solo project.” Working with Toronto musicians, brothers, and songwriting partners Chris Gormley and Matt Gormley, Sutherland recorded his solo compositions with producer Carl Jennings just before everything went into lockdown. Unable to tour the new material the Cree songwriter decided to sit on the masters for a while to wait and see how things played out. In October 2019 Sutherland released his first single from the sessions called Politician Man. Coming to his audience with a pop rock sound the Attawapiskat musician admits that his songwriting with Midnight Shine often had political overtones that were much subtler than his debut solo single. “I try to do it in a way that invites people in for conversation and not like punching you in the nose with it. Politician Man is completely the opposite. It's more in your face,” he said. As the pandemic persisted Sutherland continued to focus on running his family business and adventuring out on hunting excursions with his children. He also invested time in building a modest recording studio, as well as putting work into his first book of memoirs, commissioned by Penguin Random House Canada, which is slated for release next year. He admits that his experience writing the book so far has been more straightforward and less demanding than song structure. His compositions are influenced by his life in the north, incorporating aspects of his Cree language and traditional percussion to create underlying soundscapes within the songs with the intention of capturing the sonic ambience of the natural world that surrounds him. While embedded deep into the pandemic lockdown Sutherland was inspired by Indigenous blockades, grassroots citizen initiatives, and social justice movements like Black Lives Matter to release his second solo recording Respect The Gift, which he had been sitting on for more than a year. “We wrote this song almost as if we knew what was coming here. It’s kind of weird when you listen to the lyrics,” he says. “It's about challenging the state and rising up together. We can't continue the way we have. We all know that now. We all can see that. It’s about rising up and shining light on the darkness and trying find ways to coexist and move together.” Adrian Sutherland’s inspiring new single, Respect The Gift, is accessible on all the popular music streaming platforms, and it’s also available to download at midnightshine.bandcamp.com Windspeaker.com By David Owen Rama, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin held their first conversation as counterparts Tuesday in a phone call that underscored troubled relations and the delicate balance between the former Cold War foes. According to the White House, Biden raised concerns about the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, Russia’s alleged involvement in a massive cyber espionage campaign and reports of Russian bounties on American troops in Afghanistan. The Kremlin, meanwhile, focused on Putin’s response to Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining U.S.-Russia arms control treaty. While the readouts from the two capitals emphasized different elements, they both suggested that U.S-Russia relations will be guided, at least at the beginning of the Biden administration, by a desire to do no harm but also no urgency to repair existing damage. The two presidents agreed to have their teams work urgently to complete a five-year extension of the New START nuclear weapons treaty that expires next month. Former President Donald Trump's administration had withdrawn from two arms control treaties with Russia and had been prepared to let New START lapse. Unlike his immediate predecessors — including Trump, who was enamoured of Putin and frequently undercut his own administration's tough stance on Russia — Biden has not held out hope for a “reset” in relations. Instead he has indicated he wants to manage differences without necessarily resolving them or improving ties. And with a heavy domestic agenda and looming decisions needed on Iran and China, a direct confrontation with Russia is not likely something Biden seeks. Although the leaders agreed to work together to extend New START before it expires Feb. 5 and to look at other areas of potential strategic co-operation, the White House said Biden was firm on U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, while Russia is supporting separatists in the country's east. Biden also raised the SolarWinds cyberhack, which has been attributed to Russia, reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 U.S. election, the poisoning of Navalny and the weekend crackdown on Navalny's supporters. “President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defence of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies,” the White House said. Biden told Putin in the phone call, first reported by The Associated Press, that the U.S. would defend itself and take action, which could include further sanctions, to ensure Moscow does not act with impunity, officials said. Moscow had reached out last week to request the call, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Biden agreed, but he wanted first to prepare with his staff and speak with European allies, including the leaders of Britain, France and Germany, which he did. Before he spoke to Putin, Biden also called NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to pledge U.S. commitment to the decades-old alliance founded as a bulwark against Russian aggression. The Kremlin's readout of the call did not address the most contentious issues between the countries, though it said the leaders also discussed other “acute issues on the bilateral and international agenda.” It described the talk as “frank and businesslike” — often a diplomatic way of referring to tense discussions. It also said Putin congratulated Biden on becoming president and “noted that normalization of ties between Russia and the United States would serve the interests of both countries." Among the issues the Kremlin said were discussed were the coronavirus pandemic, the Iran nuclear agreement, Ukraine and issues related to trade and the economy. The call came as Putin considers the aftermath of pro-Navalny protests that took place in more than 100 Russian cities over the weekend. Biden’s team has already reacted strongly to the crackdown on the protests, in which more than 3,700 people were arrested across Russia, including more than 1,400 in Moscow. More protests are planned for the coming weekend. Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Putin’s best-known critic, was arrested Jan. 17 as he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had spent nearly five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Biden has previously condemned the use of chemical weapons. Russian authorities deny the accusations. Just from the public accounts, Biden's discussion with Putin appeared diametrically opposed to Trump's relationship with the Russian president. Trump had seemed to seek Putin's approval, frequently casting doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, including when he stood next to Putin at their 2018 summit in Helsinki. He also downplayed Russia’s involvement in the hack of federal government agencies last year and the allegations that Russia offered the Taliban bounties. Still, despite that conciliatory approach, Trump's administration toed a tough line against Moscow, imposing sanctions on the country, Russian companies and business leaders for issues including Ukraine, energy supplies and attacks on dissidents. Biden, in his call with Putin, broke sharply with Trump by declaring that he knew that Russia attempted to interfere with both the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections. ___ Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Matthew Lee And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press