Supporters of a commission that would study and consider reparations for Black Americans are renewing their efforts as the death of George Floyd and the ravages of COVID-19 bring renewed attention to the nation’s racial disparities. (Feb. 17)
Supporters of a commission that would study and consider reparations for Black Americans are renewing their efforts as the death of George Floyd and the ravages of COVID-19 bring renewed attention to the nation’s racial disparities. (Feb. 17)
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Breaking with other Southern GOP governors, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended her state’s mask order for another month Thursday but said the requirement will end for good in April. The move came a day after President Joe Biden slammed the governors of Texas and Mississippi for deciding to lift their mask mandates, saying their actions reflect “Neanderthal thinking.” Ivey has faced political pressure to lift the mask order like her Republican counterparts but said she will follow the recommendations of medical officials and keep the mandate that was set to expire Friday in place until April 9. “We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer," Ivey said at a news conference. The governor called masks “one of our greatest tools” in preventing the virus’ spread but emphasized that she will not extend the mask order further, saying it will become a matter of personal responsibility when the mandate ends. “Even when we lift the mask order, I will continue to wear my mask while I’m around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same,” Ivey said. Medical officials welcomed Ivey’s decision after urging an extension, arguing that easing restrictions before more people were vaccinated could reverse recent improvements. Alabama’s rolling seven-day average of daily cases has dropped from 3,000 in early January to below 1,000 and hospitalizations are at their lowest point since summer. “This is very good news. This gives us a month to vaccinate more people and to get a better handle on the role of the UK variant,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association. So far only about 13% of Alabama’s 4.9 million people have received one dose of vaccine, according to state numbers. State Health Officer Scott Harris said vaccine supplies are increasing and if the state can get a cumulative total of 1.75 million shots delivered by early April, that would be a “terrific place to be.” Harris said about 500,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus and there are likely others who had it but didn’t know. “We are striving to reach this herd immunity point at some point,” Harris said. Dr. Ellen Eaton, who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said schools and organizations serving people who’ve yet to receive a vaccine will need to “carefully consider how to proceed” once the order ends. “For many, continuing masking will be necessary, such as in schools and colleges. But leadership in these spaces needs time to think through the health and policy implications of recommending masks in the absence of a mandate,” she said. Ivey faced backlash on social media for her decision, with some users sharing the phone number to the governor’s office and asking callers to voice opposition to the rule. And the Alabama Senate approved a resolution Wednesday evening urging Ivey to end the mask mandate. Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth also asked Ivey to end the mask requirement, which he has opposed all along, saying individuals can make decisions for themselves and follow safety rules until vaccinations and immunity levels are sufficient. “But we can do all of these things without a Big Brother-style government mandate looming over us,” Ainsworth said in a statement. The governor did lift some restrictions on how many people can sit as a restaurant table, but tables are still required to be 6 feet (2 metres) apart or have a partition. The order also allowed senior citizens to resume some activities and hospitals to increase the number of visitors patients can have from one to two ___ Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Kim Chandler, The Associated Press
The municipality of Grey Highlands is calling in backup to assist in gathering public input for its Downtown Markdale Revisioning project. “In a pandemic world, as we know, we're all Zoomed out and tired of sitting at a computer screen. We wanted to make sure that this was a fulsome opportunity for the community to engage,” said Michele Harris, director of community and economic development for Grey Highlands. At a council meeting held on Wednesday, Grey Highlands council approved appointing The Planning Partnership as the consultants for the project. In 2018, the municipality purchased 20 Toronto Street North, a two-acre property located in downtown Markdale. Markdale is the largest settlement area in Grey Highlands with 1,200 residents. The rural community is also located near Highway 10 and Grey Road 12, which sees 9,300 daily travellers in the peak season. At the time of the purchase, the municipality declared the site would serve as “a place where cultural and market interests intermingle to catalyze the region’s economy and contribute to the revitalization of Markdale’s downtown core”. In late 2020, council moved the project forward, authorizing staff to proceed with an RFEI process that would seek out applicants to assist the municipality through the community engagement process. The RFEI also called on applicants to outline how they would create a plan to build awareness around the project; propose post-project recommendations on how to keep the community updated and provide a final report highlighting the results of the process. In early February, two submissions were recommended to proceed to the next step in the Downtown Markdale Revisioning RFEI. Fotenn and The Planning Partnership provided full RFP submissions to the municipality’s Technical Review Team in mid-February. “The committee was unanimous in my recommendation of the Planning Partnership, they're extremely experienced in this field, their firm's depth of expertise, their approaches to community engagement are going to be really interesting,” said Harris. The Technical Review Team includes three volunteer representatives from the community, as well as the CAO and Harris. During the presentation process the proponents were asked to identify their experience in understanding how zoning and planning regulations would need to be considered; the importance of the project as a catalyst for downtown revitalization; their approach to meaningful community engagement; and experience with similar projects. “This company had been using a lot of these virtual tools, in parallel with their traditional tools, prior to the pandemic,” Harris explained. “This is not new for them. They have the experience that I think really sets them apart from most of the other submissions we received.” Council approved spending $31,000 for the consulting portion of the project, which will be funded through the municipality’s working capital reserve. According to Harris, the project is expected to begin almost immediately and staff expect to deliver the final report from the consultants by the end of June. “We will be communicating out to the public what the process is and what the timelines are,” she added. “I'm really interested to see how the community embraces this.” Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
A new processing facility being built in Saskatoon could be part of the solution to a recent global shortage of computer chips and semiconductors for vehicles and electronics. There are 17 rare earth elements: cerium, dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, holmium, lanthanum, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, scandium, terbium, thulium, ytterbium and yttrium. These naturally occurring minerals are key components in modern electronics. They are used in making everything from electric cars to cell phones and wind turbines. University of Saskatchewan geological sciences professor Kevin Ansdell told Saskatoon Morning's Leisha Grebinski that rare earth elements are essential to modern global economic development. "I would foresee that the demand for the rare earth elements will certainly continue to increase, particularly with the drive globally to try and electrify transportation through electric vehicles," Ansdell said. "Every single electric vehicle has rare earth element components within it." Photo released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows rare-earth oxides, clockwise from top centre: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. Quest Rare Minerals claims a significant find in northern Quebec.(U.S. Department of Agriculture/Associated Press) Almost all of the mining and processing of these elements is done in China. Last week U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order that aims to strengthen supply chains, including those for rare earth elements. "Essentially, China controls the rare earth element market globally," Ansdell said. "So it's not just the U.S. The European Union is also very interested in trying to develop new supply chains that are not dependent on China." That new supply chain could run through Saskatoon, as the first Canadian rare earth elements processing facility is being built in the city. The $31 million facility was announced last August and will be financed by the province, and owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). It is expected to be fully operational by late 2022. Ansdell said the SRC has already done a small pilot project processing rare earth elements and will now be able to build on that expertise. He said the processing plant could turn out to be very significant for Saskatchewan, as there is only one other facility in North America that can process these elements and it only operates when the mine it is associated with in California is operating. "[The Saskatoon facility] can accept materials from essentially all over the world. And so it could be very interesting economic development locally." One company, Appia Energy Corp., says it has discovered pegmatites, rock formations that contain high-grade rare earth elements, in the northern Saskatchewan area of Alces Lake.
OTTAWA — Canada is on the cusp of authorizing a fourth vaccine for COVID-19, raising the possibility that every Canadian adult will be offered at least one dose before Canada Day. Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said Thursday the review of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine "is going very well." "It's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days," Sharma said at a virtual news conference from Ottawa. Johnson and Johnson, which was authorized in the United States last weekend, would join Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca on Canada's list of approved vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna have been in use since December, with more than 1.5 million Canadians now vaccinated with at least one dose. Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said that with new vaccines being approved and moves by provinces to delay second doses, more Canadians will be vaccinated at a faster rate. All provinces have indicated they will accept a recommendation made Wednesday by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to delay second doses of vaccine by up to four months. The new guidelines say the science shows a first dose is so effective that delaying the second dose so everyone can get a first dose more quickly, is better both for individual protection and to establish herd immunity in Canada. Canada had been expecting enough doses of approved vaccines to vaccinate every adult with two doses by the end of September, based on Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all requiring two doses given 21 or 28 days apart. Canada is in line to get 26 million more doses of Pfizer and Moderna, and at least 3.5 million of AstraZeneca by the end of June. Those deliveries alone would be enough to offer a first dose to every Canadian over 16 years of age by Canada Day. No vaccines are approved for use on children under the age of 16 yet. Another 20 million doses of AstraZeneca and 10 million from Johnson and Johnson are to arrive by September, but it's not yet clear how many will arrive by June. Another 55 million doses expected from Pfizer and Moderna between July and September would more than cover the necessary second doses. The national advisory panel's recommendation to delay doses is the latest adjustment to vaccine guidelines that some fear may make Canadians hesitant to trust the vaccines. "We're very concerned about that," said Sharma. "We want to make sure that people have confidence in the decisions that are being made about vaccines." She said experts are basing vaccine decisions on evidence as it is presented. With more data coming almost daily about the vaccines, including how they're faring as millions of doses are administered around the world, new and changing guidance is not surprising. "The responsible thing to do is to make sure that we get all that information and incorporate that into our decision-making," she said. "So definitely, the messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message, and it never changed. But that's not what science does." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2020. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
by Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (ANNews) - Colby Delorme, chair of the Calgary-based Influence Mentoring Society, announced recently that actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have donated $250k to the society. A collaborative organization, Influence is a new initiative aimed at building capacity, talent, and career opportunities for Indigenous students by facilitating a mentor-protégé relationship. “This project exemplifies the spirit of reconciliation whereby Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who believe that providing mentoring opportunities for post-secondary, Indigenous youth, adapt a two-way mentoring model, and in doing so work together to build stronger relationships while improving cross-cultural understanding and appreciation,” said Delorme in a press release. “Further, Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People affirms this importance, stating that ’Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.’ The acting couple said that they were happy to support the program, "We are so happy to support the Influence Mentoring program that will help Indigenous youth in Canada, who are trying to successfully complete their post-secondary pursuits and enter the job market for the first time," Reynolds said. "All too often, diverse groups are left behind in the things we take for granted. This program aims to rectify that imbalance." The pair are well known for contributing generously to philanthropic endeavours in Canada. They donated $1 million to food non-profits Feeding America and Food Banks Canada at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. They similarly donated $200,000 to an institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia to help promote Indigenous women's leadership in June 2020, and in November donated $250,000 to each Covenant House Toronto and Vancouver. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — As Lionel Desmond completed an 11-week program for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in August 2016, those responsible for his care were worried about something they couldn't figure out. Though he displayed symptoms considered common among combat soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, he was making little progress under treatments that usually produced results. Kama Hamilton, a social worker at the Montreal hospital where Desmond was treated in 2016, told a provincial inquiry Thursday he suffered from angry outbursts, combat-related flashbacks, impulsivity, irritability and hyper-vigilance. Yet, she said, "he didn't stand out as particularly (different) from the others." Hamilton, who tried to help Desmond with anger management and social connections, said the Ste. Anne's Hospital team was concerned that something was interfering with his treatment, given the fact that he had lost trust in the staff and still faced a "long road" to recovery when he was discharged on Aug. 15, 2016. The inquiry is investigating why, less than five months later, Desmond bought a rifle and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. During her testimony, Hamilton said she came to the conclusion that Desmond had a constant fear of being abandoned, a condition she said could be the result of a personality disorder or a head injury that impaired his cognitive abilities. On Tuesday, psychiatrist Robert Ouellette told the inquiry that Desmond appeared to have "mixed personality traits," including obsessive compulsiveness and paranoia. Ouellette said the paranoid traits caused Desmond to mistrust virtually everyone, including his wife. Desmond repeatedly told staff at the hospital that his main goal was to become a good husband and father, but he often expressed jealousy and anger towards his wife. During her testimony Thursday, Hamilton said she learned that aside from flashbacks to his combat duty in Afghanistan, her patient also complained about gruesome nightmares about his wife being unfaithful. Hamilton said that during an hour-long telephone conversation, Shanna Desmond told her that in the dream, her husband caught her sleeping with another man and responded by "chopping her to pieces." Despite the violent nature of the nightmare, Hamilton said she was confident Shanna Desmond was not in any danger, mainly because Lionel Desmond's recollection was intended as a cry for help rather than a threat. As well, she said Shanna Desmond had made it clear she and the couple's nine-year-old daughter had never been subjected to physical violence, and she didn't believe her husband would ever hurt them. Hamilton said Shanna Desmond was deeply concerned about her husband's welfare, noting that he had unpredictable, angry outbursts that resulted in him throwing furniture — but that was the extent of the violence she had witnessed during their marriage. Still, Hamilton said she also learned that the former infantryman would sometimes resort to passive threats of suicide as a means of controlling his wife. She said Shanna Desmond recalled one disturbing incident, when he texted her to say he would soon be watching his daughter "from above," and when she returned home, she found him obsessively cleaning a rifle he owned. "If someone is feeling vulnerable, they may try to find ways to gain control," Hamilton said. "Abandonment is a situation where you feel helpless." On another front, Hamilton said her patient complained about suffering a head injury while he was training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, though he was deemed medically fit after he regained consciousness. That led to speculation at Ste. Anne's about a possible brain injury, which could explain why Desmond had some cognitive challenges, including troubles with concentration, memory, organization and language. The treatment team agreed that Desmond should undergo a full neurological assessment, which was a recommendation that was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada as he was preparing to leave the program. The assessment was beyond the scope of the hospital. Desmond never received that assessment. In the four months before the Jan. 3, 2017 triple murder and suicide in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., Desmond received no therapeutic treatment. Earlier in the hearings, a psychiatrist at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., told the inquiry that Desmond desperately needed help when he returned home to Nova Scotia, but it was apparent he was "falling through the cracks." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, avoiding a potential clash with moderates in their own party who were wary of reigniting the “defund the police” debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. Approved 220-212 late Wednesday, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named for the man whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked demonstrations nationwide. It would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement while creating national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability, and was first approved last summer only to stall in the then-Republican controlled Senate. The bill is supported by President Joe Biden. “My city is not an outlier, but rather an example of the inequalities our country has struggled with for centuries,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who represents the Minneapolis area near where Floyd died. Floyd’s family watched the emotional debate from a nearby House office building and said “defunding the police” is not what the legislation is about. “We just want to be treated equal. We just want to deescalate situations,” said Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew. “We want to feel safe when we encounter law enforcement. We’re not asking for anything extra. We’re not asking for anything that we don’t feel is right.” Democrats hustled to pass the bill a second time, hoping to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. But the debate over legislation turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that supporters were intent on slashing police force budgets. Though this bill doesn't do that, moderate Democrats said the charge helped drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country last November. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Teas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. Republicans quickly revived the “defund the police” criticisms before the vote. “Our law enforcement officers need more funding not less,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis. Still, even the House’s more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, ultimately backed the bill. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill’s prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Another possible point of contention is provisions easing standards for prosecution of law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without legal protections, fear of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it. “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity as well as those changing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci released a statement on behalf of the Floyd family saying the House was “responding to the mandate issued by thousands of Americans who took to the streets last summer to raise their voices for change.” “This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of colour and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of colour,” Crump and Romanucci said. “Now we urge the Senate to follow suit.” That may be a taller order. Even though Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. Bass acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But she said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how “the scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, Bass conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50. She said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding, “Hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” ___ Lisa Mascaro contributed. Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
Windsor will be working with existing shelters when it comes to providing services at a hotel it's in the process of purchasing to house people experiencing homelessness, according to a city councillor. Rino Bortolin says organizations such as the Salvation Army, Downtown Mission and The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women will not lose funding or be left in a lurch because of the city's plan to buy a facility of its own. "We as a city are not really the most direct [or] hands-on. We will be working with our partners on the ground to provide these services," explained the Ward 3 councillor, who represents a large section of the downtown core. "This is about everyone working together for a better system. By no means is the city leaving our partners and doing something rogue." Few details of the plan, including the location of the facility, have been released right now. But Bortolin said he anticipates more information will be provided in the next week or two. Andrew Teliszewsky, chief of staff for Mayor Drew Dilkens, told CBC News in an email Wednesday that city council had approved the deal during an in-camera meeting earlier this year and the legal steps to acquire the site are already underway. The planned purchase follows the Review of Emergency Shelter Services in Windsor Essex. A copy of the review on the city's website is dated July 14, 2020. Teliszewsky said it went to council in the fall of 2020. Among its findings was the need for more shelter space dedicated to women with or without children, youth and young adults. "The one thing that was a glaring need for specifically for families and specifically for women was increased services," said Bortolin. "So increased services means a bigger shelter." City tapping into provincial funding However, the recommendations section of the review also advises that the city deliver services through third-parties — namely the shelters and organizations already doing the work. "Direct delivery has the potential for higher costs and would not allow the city to leverage the resources and existing expertise of community partners to meet shelter needs," it reads. The review goes on to add that Windsor should explore opportunities for more family shelter beds and a dedicated facility, but notes funds "are currently not available to support" the investment in a building. When asked why buy a hotel, rather than investing in the services already running shelters in the city, Teliszewsky said the city is already regularly paying to house families in hotels when shelter space runs out. He also pointed to provincial funding that includes a grant program under which municipalities can buy a facility. "The province made available funding and we didn't want to leave it on the table," he said. "It provides the opportunity for the city to acquire a property, where in previous years we have been renting, so it relives an operating budget line item and will give us flexibility to implement some recommendations from the Emergency Shelter Review, which council had endorsed." Long-term goal is permanent housing Officials also said that just because the city is purchasing the site, does not mean it will be the one operating it. Ron Dunn, executive director of the Downtown Mission, said Wednesday evening that he was just hearing about the plans to purchase a hotel, but described the move as "progressive." "We need maybe smaller shelters. The hotel seems to fit that bill," he said. "[The mayor] did state that he's going to work with existing shelters. There's only three of us, so I think it's great." The Downtown Mission on Victoria Avenue is one of three shelters currently operating in the city. A review which went to council states ore services for women and young persons are needed in the community. (Dale Molnar/CBC) Bortolin said the need for services for the homeless community should be clear to anyone walking through downtown. While shelters serve an immediate need and can offer a bed for a night, they're just a start. "The long-term effort is permanent housing," he said. "The one cure for homelessness is housing"
Regina police say a 35-year-old woman was physically assaulted and pulled from her vehicle Thursday morning. The woman was getting into her car on the 1500 block of 11th Avenue around 10 a.m. Thursday when she was assaulted by a man she does not know. He then made off with her vehicle, turning south on St. John Street, according to a police news release. The woman sustained minor injury from the assault, police say. Her vehicle was later located on the 1800 block of Ottawa Street. The suspect is described as having a light skin complexion and medium build, and was wearing a black hoodie at the time of the theft. Police are asking anyone who has information that could assist with this investigation to contact the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
TORONTO — North American stock markets dropped Thursday despite efforts by the chairman of the Federal Reserve to reassure investors that interest rates aren't about to increase. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 194.95 points at 18,125.72, despite strength in the energy sector as oil reached its highest level in more than two years. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 345.95 points at 30,924.14 and the S&P 500 index lost 51.25 points at 3,768.47. The Nasdaq composite fell 274.28 points or 2.1 per cent to 12,723.47, the lowest level since early January. Market jitters followed as the 10-year U.S. bond yields again increased above 1.5 per cent. Investors are worried that the U.S. vaccine rollout will spur a quicker economic recovery and prompt the central bank to hike interest rates sooner than they expect. Fed chairman Jerome Powell tried to tame expectations by insisting Thursday that rates won't rise and quantitative easing won't taper off until the U.S. reaches his maximum employment goals. "The market was not reassured by that because after the speech the market continued to go down," said Pierre Cleroux, chief economist for the Business Development Bank of Canada, adding he thought Powell's message was clear. The United States is still down 10 million jobs from before COVID-19 struck. "The initial recovery was quite strong, but since November they haven't created a lot of jobs because the second wave of the virus was very important in the U.S.," Cleroux said in an interview. Powell said he's willing to accept inflation rising above two per cent, saying it won't change the bank's long-term inflation goals. Canada's largest stock index dropped even though the energy sector had a strong day on higher crude oil prices. The April crude contract was up US$2.55 at US$63.83 per barrel after hitting an intraday high of $64.86. The April natural gas contract was down seven cents at nearly US$2.75 per mmBTU. Crude climbed to its highest level since October 2018 after OPEC decided Thursday not to raise its production for April despite a recent rise in prices. "This is sending the signal that they are going to wait until they readjust production to the increase of the demand," Cleroux said. Canadian oil producers got a lift with shares of MEG Energy Corp. surging 9.8 per cent while Vermilion Energy Inc. rose 5.6 per cent and Cenovus Energy Inc. gained 4.9 per cent. Despite the oil price increase, the Canadian dollar slipped, trading for 79.13 cents US compared with 79.17 cents US on Wednesday. Consumer staples were the only other positive sector on the day. Health care, technology and consumer discretionary were the biggest laggards among the nine losing major sectors. The health care sector, which includes cannabis producers, lost 4.9 per cent as Aphria Inc. fell 8.2 per cent. Technology decreased 3.3 per cent as shares of Kinaxis Inc. plunged 17 per cent, Lightspeed POS Inc. fell 9.1 per cent and Shopify Inc. was down 5.8 per cent. Materials were also lower as metal prices fell with gold hitting its lowest level in nine months. Hudbay Minerals Inc. decreased 7.7 per cent. Cleroux believes Thursday's market sell-off will be temporary because inflation is still low. "This worry that interest rates are going to increase faster than expected, I don't think it's based on solid grounds so I think the market is going to come back." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:HBM, TSX:SHOP, TSX:LSPD, TSX:KXS, TSX:APHA, TSX:MEG, TSX:VET, TSX:CVE, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
The head of Canada's largest private sector union says air passengers who couldn't use their tickets because of the pandemic will get refunds. Jerry Dias said Air Canada has already agreed to the refunds, which has been a sore point among consumers starting in March when travellers were forced to stay home. As Sean O'Shea reports, Dias says refunds are a condition for an airline aid package.
OTTAWA — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 6:55 p.m. Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus, can begin booking on March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will available starting March 10. --- 5:50 p.m. Alberta is reporting 331 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths due to the illness. The province says 33 more cases of variants have been detected, bringing that total in Alberta to 541. There are 245 people in hospital with COVID-19, and 47 of them are in intensive care. --- 5:35 p.m. British Columbia's provincial health officer says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be distributed to first responders and essential workers in the province. Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C.'s immunization committee should have the distribution plan in the next few weeks, and until then, the vaccine that arrives will be used in hot spots where COVID-19 infections have flared. The province has another 564 cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths, for a total of 1,376 people. Henry says another 46 cases of variants of concern have been uncovered, bringing the total cases of variants that originated either in the United Kingdom or South Africa to 246. --- 3:50 p.m. Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the case involves a man in his 60s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. They say the man initially tested negative but was tested again after developing symptoms. P.E.I. has 23 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 3:25 p.m. Health officials in Saskatchewan say there are another 169 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths. There are 146 people in hospital, with 20 people in intensive care. The province says its seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 148. National data shows Saskatchewan leads the country with the highest rate of active cases per capita. --- 3:15 p.m. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his province will be delaying the second dose of vaccines to speed up immunizations against COVID-19. He says people will get their second shot four months after the first, which falls in line with a recommendation from Canada's national immunization committee. Saskatchewan health officials are expected to speak at a COVID-19 briefing this afternoon. Earlier in the week, Moe said delaying the second doses for up to four months would mean every adult in the province could be immunized at least once by June. --- 2:35 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today. Health officials say three new cases are in the Edmundston region, and that the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case. There are 36 active known infections in the province and three patients are hospitalized with the disease, including two in intensive care. A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory as the B.1.1.7 mutation. --- 1:45 p.m. Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines will be distributed in some Ontario pharmacies starting next week. Health Minister Christine Elliott says most doses of that vaccine will go to pharmacies in a pilot project. The Ontario Pharmacists Association's CEO says the pilot will begin at 380 sites in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex. Ontario has said it will prioritize people between the ages of 60 and 64 for the AstraZeneca doses. --- 1:35 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 51 news COVID-19 cases and two deaths. Northern regions continue to be hardest hit. High case numbers in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation have prompted the chief and council to ban public gatherings and require people to stay home except for shopping, medical care and work in essential services. --- 1:30 p.m. Alberta's Opposition NDP is calling for an immediate public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak at the Olymel pork processing plant in Red Deer. It also wants today's planned reopening of the plant put on hold. The plant was shut down in mid-February, after an outbreak that has caused three deaths and infected more than 500 employees. The company says Alberta Health has given it a green light to start a gradual reopening with slaughter operations today. Cutting room operations can resume tomorrow. --- 1 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today. Health officials say four new cases are in the eastern health region, which includes St. John’s, involving people between the ages of 40 and 69. Three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. The fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. --- 12:45 p.m. Nunavut is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today. All the new cases are in Arviat, a community of about 2,800 and the only place in Nunavut with active cases. Arviat has been under a strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed. The community's hamlet council also ordered a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to curb the spread. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says contact tracing is ongoing in the community. There are 14 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat. --- 12:30 p.m. Health Canada says a decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be announced in the "next few days." The word came today from Dr. Marc Berthiaume, director of the regulator's bureau of medical sciences. Once approved, the J&J product would become the fourth vaccine available for use in Canada. It was approved last weekend in the United States. --- 12:15 p.m. Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says nearly 400,000 people were vaccinated in Canada in the last seven days. He says that's the most in a single week since immunizations began on Dec. 14. Njoo says more than two million doses have been administered now, with about four per cent of Canadians getting one dose and almost 1.5 per cent now vaccinated with two doses. --- 12:05 p.m. Nova Scotia is lifting some of the restrictions in place in Halifax and surrounding communities as COVID-19 cases decline in the region. Officials say rules that came into effect on Feb. 27 limiting restaurant hours, prohibiting sports events and discouraging non-essential travel in and out of the area will end on Friday at 8 a.m. Rules for residents of long-term care homes remain unchanged, but those living in care facilities may only have visits from their two designated caregivers. Officials say the restrictions for long-term care residents will remain in place in the Halifax Regional Municipality and neighbouring areas until March 27. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 707 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including four in the past 24 hours. Health officials say hospitalizations rose by eight, to 626, and 115 people were in intensive care, a drop of five. The province says it administered 16,619 doses of vaccine yesterday, for a total of 490,504. Quebec has reported a total of 290,377 COVID-19 infections and 10,445 deaths linked to the virus. It has 7,379 active reported cases. --- 10:50 a.m. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say all three cases were identified in the health region that includes Halifax. Two cases involve contacts of previously reported infections while the third is under investigation. Nova Scotia has 29 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 994 new cases of COVID-19. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 298 of those new cases are in Toronto, 171 are in Peel and 64 are in York Region. There were 10 more deaths in Ontario since the last daily update and more than 30,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden tried to maintain bipartisan momentum for a new infrastructure program by meeting Thursday with Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House. The meeting was about “what we’re gonna do to make sure we once again lead the world across the board on infrastructure," Biden said. “It not only creates jobs, but it makes us a helluva lot more competitive around the world if we have the best infrastructure.” Spending on infrastructure appears to be the next major priority for the Biden administration after its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package clears the Senate, likely along hardened partisan lines. The prospect of funding roads, bridges, ports, broadband and other infrastructure is a chance for Biden to rebuild his relationship with Republicans. It also allows him notch a policy achievement that evaded both the Obama and Trump administrations. Biden met Thursday with eight members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, a follow-up to a February 11 meeting with senators on infrastructure. The president laid the groundwork for an infrastructure package during last year's campaign by proposing $2 trillion in “accelerated” investments to shift to cleaner energy, build charging stations for electric vehicles, support public transit and repair roads and bridges. The plan emphasizes the importance of addressing climate change and creating unionized jobs. There is a need for infrastructure spending. The American Society of Civil Engineers on Wednesday graded the nation's infrastructure as a lacklustre “C-.” The group said $5.9 trillion must be spent over the next decade for safe and sustainable roads, bridges and airports. That recommendation is about $2.6 trillion more than what the government and private sector spend. Republicans say they want to invest in infrastructure, but they appear to disagree with Biden's focus on the environment and the possibility of financing any program with debt after the federal government has already borrowed heavily to combat the economic fallout from the pandemic. Their concern is that infrastructure would ultimately become a form of the Democratic-proposed “Green New Deal” that would move the country away from fossil fuels. Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the ranking Republican on the transportation committee, left the Thursday meeting with a series of markers for Biden to win bipartisan backing. “First and foremost, a highway bill cannot grow into a multi-trillion dollar catch-all bill, or it will lose Republican support," Graves said in a statement. “Second, a transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill that primarily focuses on fundamental transportation needs, such as roads and bridges. Republicans won’t support another Green New Deal disguising itself as a transportation bill." Still, the committee chairman, Oregon Democrat Pete DeFazio, described the meeting with Biden as productive and refreshing after conversations with former President Donald Trump led to minimal progress on infrastructure. DeFazio said they discussed paying for the plan, but he declined to go into specifics. “The difference between talking to Joe Biden about infrastructure and what goes into it and how we’re going to get it done and Donald Trump is like, it’s just a whole different world,” DeFazio said. "It’s way better.” Josh Boak And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday: SPAIN Valencia hosts Villarreal in a regional derby amid speculation about the possible sale of the struggling club. Villarreal coach Unai Emery once had Valencia regularly in the top four of the Spanish league when he managed the side almost a decade ago. But owner Peter Lim sold off the team’s top talent last summer, and now there are rumours he could be listening to offers for a buyer. Emery’s Villarreal is in seventh place and with hopes of securing a Europa League berth despite a poor run of seven consecutive rounds without a victory. In 14th place, Valencia’s main concern is staying out of the relegation battle. GERMANY Schalke's fifth coach this season takes charge of the struggling former title contender in a game which is vital to avoiding relegation. Dimitrios Grammozis has never coached in a top-division game before as last-place Schalke faces Mainz, the team one place above. Schalke is already nine points from safety with one league win all season and crushing debt. It fired coach Christian Gross after last week's 5-1 loss to Stuttgart before appointing Grammozis. Mainz has two wins from its last four Bundesliga games and can escape the relegation zone with a win, overtaking Arminia Bielefeld and big-spending Hertha Berlin. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Les membres des Caisses Desjardins de Saguenay présentement aux études postsecondaires sont invités à un spectacle gratuit et virtuel de l’humoriste Guillaume Pineault, le 25 mars prochain. Les directeurs des Caisses savent à quel point les étudiants ont été touchés, isolés par la pandémie. Leur quotidien a été grandement chamboulé dans la dernière année. En plus des plus de 100 000 $ remis en bourses et de l’aide apportée à différentes organisations qui les touchent directement, les Caisses de Saguenay cherchaient un nouveau moyen de soutenir spécifiquement leur clientèle de ce groupe d’âge. « Nous avons donc décidé de leur offrir une pause, une soirée énergisante, pour mettre un peu la pandémie de côté et faire le plein de positivisme en vue des derniers moments de l’année scolaire. Nous allons offrir un spectacle d’une heure de Guillaume Pineault, en virtuel, à tous les membres aux études postsecondaires, et ce, gratuitement », explique le directeur des communications des Caisses Desjardins de Saguenay, Patrice Vachon, lors d’un entretien avec Le Quotidien. Une invitation sera envoyée à plus de 5000 étudiants postsecondaires membres des Caisses de Saguenay pour assister au spectacle qui se tiendra à 19 h sur la plateforme Zoom, le 25 mars prochain. Tous les membres éligibles devraient avoir reçu cette invitation jeudi matin. Les Caisses espèrent que les jeunes verront cette soirée comme une pause bien méritée en vue de leur fin de session qui approche à grands pas. « On a toujours une préoccupation, comme Caisses et comme administrateurs, de rejoindre les jeunes. On a trouvé ce moyen pour répondre présent. La santé mentale nous préoccupait aussi beaucoup », ajoute Luc Guillemette, directeur général de la Caisse Desjardins de Jonquière. Ce genre de surprise s’inscrit dans les avantages exclusifs des membres des Caisses. Ces projets mis en place touchent les différents groupes membres de la Caisse et, cette fois, ce sont les étudiants postsecondaires qui ont été choisis. « On espère faire une petite différence. Nous ne sommes pas encore sortis des mesures de distanciation, il n’y a pas encore de spectacles à grand déploiement, donc je pense qu’il arrive à point. On espère qu’ils seront plusieurs à être présents », souligne le directeur. Dans l’invitation se trouve le lien pour prendre part à cette soirée. Pour ceux qui sont éligibles et qui n’auraient rien reçu, ils peuvent se rendre au pretpourmabourse.com pour recevoir leur invitation. Il faut obligatoirement être étudiant à temps plein ou à temps partiel pour la session d’hiver 2021. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
A First Nation in the Northwest Territories is expecting to receive an apology from the federal government for the contamination of its land. That's according to Ed Sangris, chief of Dettah, N.W.T., who says the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) are expecting the process for an apology from the federal government, for the harms caused by contamination from the former Giant Mine, to begin in June. A spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada confirmed that the federal government has never apologized for the harm suffered by Indigenous people following the development and contamination of land caused by mining in the North. For 70 years, Giant Mine produced over 237,000 tons of arsenic trioxide, and released poisonous dust into the air and water surrounding the mine. It is known by YKDFN as the "Giant Mine Monster" whose toxicity has displaced their people from deeply valued and respected ancestral homelands, infringing on their treaty rights. "The destruction of the system that we have always enjoyed is a very, very painful history," Sangris said. This federal apology would be the first of its kind in the North. To date, there has not yet been a federal apology issues to northern Indigenous people for the role the government played in the contamination of ancestral homelands. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC) Closure and reconciliation 'finally' After decades of grieving the loss of the spiritual and culturally significant area, the Yellowknives Dene says healing may finally be on the horizon. "We're finally going to have closure and reconciliation," Sangris told CBC. YKDFN is working with Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal and Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, to secure a resolution and receive cabinet approval. A spokesperson with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada did not directly confirm an apology was coming, but said, "We recognize the tremendous work undertaken by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on this important matter, and we are now working with the First Nation on the next steps regarding their request for apology and compensation." YKDFN leaders and members have demanded that the federal government apologize for contaminating their ancestral homelands that were mined without their consent. They also called for greater involvement in the $1-billion remediation project and for federal compensation. As early as the 1970s, the Yellowknives Dene called on the federal government to acknowledge the toll toxicity resulting from Giant Mine has taken on their people. In 2016, they were galvanized by a University of Ottawa report that highlighted the levels of arsenic in the water and surrounding area, extending into their territory. Workers pour a gold brick using a bullion furnace in Giant Mine, in 1952. The unique deposits of gold required that the ore be roasted at extremely high temperatures. 'Unfortunately, this roasting process also released arsenic rich gas, a highly toxic by-product,' according to a federal site on the history of Giant Mine. (George Hunter/N.W.T. Mining Heritage Society) Yellowknives Dene First Nation CEO Jason Snaggs told CBC they are "cautiously optimistic" after federal government has met with them a couple of times within the past month. "The progress is a clear signal of Canada recognizing and willing to move toward collaborating with Yellowknives Dene First Nation to address this legacy which has plagued the Yellowknives Dene for so many years," Snaggs said Federal government representatives are moving forward with a special claims process for an apology and compensation, along with immediate socio-economic benefits, and contracts for the remediation project, he said. Legacy of the Giant Monster The history of Giant Mine and its impact on the land will stand as a lesson, Snaggs said. So too will the apology. "It teaches future generations about the horrible legacy of the past and how at this point in history, the government of Canada came together to do what was right for the water, for the people to ensure that the legacy of the land is protected for generations to come," Snaggs told the CBC. Left, historic hunting and trapping areas recorded within or adjacent to Giant Mine, and right, current areas avoided by Yellowknives Dene First Nation for hunting of animals like moose and waterfowl. The Giant Mine 'really displaced our people from one of the most pristine areas,' said Chief Sangris. (Courtesy of YKDFN) "People will be able to see there's no better people than the people who live here, who will continue to live here for thousands of years, that are best suited to be stewards of the land and the water." According to a federal site on the history of Giant Mine, Yellowknife's 'gold boom' began in 1935, after bush planes made the area more accessible, prospectors poured in, looking for valuable minerals. Yellowknife experienced rapid growth in the mining industry, leading to the production of seven million ounces of gold, and "one of the longest continuous gold mining operations in Canadian mining history," says the website. The unique deposits of gold required that the ore be roasted at extremely high temperatures. "Unfortunately, this roasting process also released arsenic rich gas, a highly toxic byproduct," says the site. More than 237,000 tonnes of that arsenic has been stored in underground chambers, where it will be frozen in place. Snaggs said "we know that it will never return to how it was described by the elders as a breadbasket for the people." 'It displaced our people' Dettah Chief Edward Sangris said his ancestors described the area with sheer fondness. "They really enjoyed the area because of the abundance of wildlife, and plants, and it was one of the most sought after areas for the Yellowknives Dene. There was caribou in the winter, moose in the summer. It was really valued. Then came the devastation from the mine starting, along with exploration and development, which infringed on our treaty rights," he said. "It really displaced our people from one of the most pristine areas." "To reconcile with Aboriginal People, the government has to understand our way of life, our tradition, and our culture. They're finally realizing it's time to reconcile." Snaggs said he was grateful for the role that MP Michael McLeod has played in supporting their demands in the House of Commons. These developments would not be possible without YKDFN members and allies that supported and shared the Giant Mine Monster petition, which has garnered over 30,000 signatures, Snaggs said.
From spring through fall, it’s not unusual to find Beck Aurell swinging from limb to limb through the crowns of Island oak, maple or poplar trees. Gear similar to a rock climber’s holds her safely in the tree and she carries a pruning saw or chainsaw at her side. “I might be the only female bodied climbing arborist on PEI,” Beck said, explaining that arborists are tree workers with specialized skills and certifications. They typically focus on managing and taking care of trees in residential areas. She was most recently employed with Laird Tree Care out of Cardigan. While Beck identifies as gender non-binary she is perceived by most as female and is comfortable with she/her or they/them pronouns. This puts her at odds with the majority of people she has worked with in Canada and around the world. Beck loves outdoor, hands-on work and any day she can help preserve the life of a tree is a good day in her opinion. She said making her way into a male dominated field of work wasn’t particularly easy but there were a few things that lifted her up into the treetops. “My dad was very helpful,” she said. Beck’s father owns an arborist business in New Brunswick and encouraged her to challenge herself by climbing in her teens. “It was something fun we did together and he never questioned if I could do it.” While the average arborist seems to be a tall bulky or lean guy, Beck has found smart techniques and tools tend to level the playing field. With a 5 foot 2 inch tall female body, she is stronger than some might expect. Beck said sometimes customers meet her with surprised comments like “Oh, are you doing the work?” or “Where’s the foreman?” when she is the team lead for the day. “It might be hard to believe, but it doesn’t actually take a 6-foot bulky man to transport logs from point A to B, to work hard all day, or to do the work we do efficiently,” she said. Luckily most customers meet her with supportive comments. “Customers that are older women especially seem supportive, I think it might be because they’ve seen so much change over the years.” Beck said local queer and some feminist communities have been a tremendous source of support and their ideas have helped her the whole way through. “Queer communities tend to share the idea, if it feels right for you, break gender expectations without fear or embarrassment, with pride,” she said. “They’ve really showed me there are different ways to be a person that don’t fit specific gender roles.” Beyond that, seeing female arborists in the industry when she worked in Sweden or at events (like women’s arborist skills camps in the US or in iternational arborist climbing competitions) reassured her that she could succeed in this line of work. Co-workers who have welcomed her into group environments and given her the opportunity to do what she is capable of without underestimating her abilities have also played a helpful part. “Most of my co-workers have been great,” Beck said. “Most don’t think twice about having me on the crew and working together, especially once they see I am capable and reliable.” “This means a lot because sometimes it takes a minute for some of the guys to settle with the idea that I’ll be climbing and working on the same level or even as a leader with them. “Sometimes when a crew shows up on a job they’re not expecting a blonde woman in her 20s to be the foreman and there seems to be a bit of an ego thing that can go on. “Sometimes there is some pushback but for the most part, it’s no problem.” Beck said her crew on PEI has been an excellent and fun team to work with. She has some advice for anyone considering a field of work that may seem unusual for their gender. “Don’t be afraid to break expectations and don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “And if you can’t find anyone supportive, give me a call.” Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
The province is sending some pandemic relief money to Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover to help the cultural institution get back on its feet. Lighthouse will receive $71,858 through the government’s Arts Recovery Support Fund. Lisa MacLeod, the minister overseeing the province’s tourism and cultural industries, announced the funding this week as part of a $25-million package for artists and arts organizations in Ontario. “Ontario’s arts sector was among the first and hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a ‘high-touch’ sector that depends on gatherings of people, and will take the longest to recover,” MacLeod said in a statement. Reopening venues like Lighthouse “will play an important role in the mental health and well-being of Ontarians and an equally important role in the province’s economic and social recovery,” MacLeod said. The funding was available for organizations and individuals who already receive grants through the Ontario Arts Council. Venues with operating budgets of over $1 million automatically qualified. “We’re so grateful for it, and we’re thrilled,” said Lighthouse executive director Nicole Campbell. “The government recognizes the arts and culture industry as being devastated during this time, with not being able to open for the last year.” Lighthouse closed its doors in mid-March of last year, which meant scrapping the entire summer season, the popular community show starring local amateur actors, and a crowded slate of off-season events. It added up to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in lost revenue, Campbell said. While the provincial money will help — as will almost $215,000 brought in by a summertime fundraising campaign — Campbell cautioned that there are more financial and logistical hurdles to overcome before the theatre can welcome patrons back. “We don’t want anyone to think that just by receiving this money, we can reopen,” she said. “With the regulations, up until a few weeks ago we couldn’t have anyone in the building. So we keep having to adapt.” One challenge for Lighthouse is even the loosest of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions means “severe revenue limitations,” Campbell explained, because a theatre that usually fits 350 patrons is limited to 50 per show. When Lighthouse can reopen is of keen interest to restaurants, hotels and bed and breakfasts throughout the region that rely on the theatre to bring in customers, as mentioned by Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett in the funding announcement. “This is quite welcome news for our Lighthouse Festival Theatre and all who enjoy its offerings,” Barrett said. “Lighthouse Theatre is an anchor for our area’s visitor-based economy.” Campbell expects to make an announcement about the summer season in the next few months. “We’re waiting as long as we can to announce anything,” she said, explaining that she and artistic director Derek Ritschel are mulling over scenarios that will ensure the safety of artists, patrons and staff. “We can pretty confidently say that we’re going to have theatre this summer,” Campbell said. “We just have a few different options of what it’ll look like.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
VICTORIA — British Columbia's provincial health officer says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be given to first responders and essential workers, but it still needs to be determined which industries will be included. Dr. Bonnie Henry says the first shipments of the recently approved vaccine are expected in the province next week and the B.C. Immunization Committee is developing a detailed plan of who should be immunized and when. She says she expects the plan will be finalized around March 18, and in the meantime, the initial supply will be used to address ongoing outbreaks that are leading to rapidly increasing case numbers in some communities. Henry also apologized to long-term care residents and health-care workers whose second dose of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was suddenly postponed this week after B.C. decided to extend the gap between first and second shots to four months. She says the decision was not taken lightly, but it did need to be made quite rapidly because the province was approaching a time when tens of thousands of second doses were scheduled to be given. Henry reported 564 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the virus to 1,376, and she also says two of those who died had variants of concern. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press