March 4, 2022

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This Manitoba community has a vaccination rate of 24% against COVID-19. Here’s why

Outsiders depict Willie Penner’s rural Manitoba community as one divided over COVID-19 vaccines, but that isn’t how he sees it. Within the company he keeps, Penner, who is unvaccinated, doesn’t hear any discord.

Nobody in his bubble is vaccinated against COVID-19. Not his wife working in health care, nor his brothers and sisters living near and far. His in-laws and his good friend have no interest in the vaccine. His church says the choice is his. 

In the Rural Municipality of Stanley, 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg, Penner is living in a bubble of the unvaccinated. He wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“Only [person] I feel pressure from is Dr. Roussin in Winnipeg,” he said, naming Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer and the person who in many ways is the public face of the province’s pandemic response. “That’s where you feel the pressure. He wants people to get vaccinated and everybody has the right not to.”

Only 24 per cent of eligible people, as of Tuesday, have received their first dose, according to the province’s data. (In the City of Winkler, which the municipality surrounds, 41.3 per cent have rolled up their sleeves). Stanley’s vaccination rate is the lowest of any Manitoba health district and the second-worst vaccination rate reported by any province.

Manitoba’s Southern Health region, which encompasses the RM of Stanley, made up roughly half of the province’s new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, but is only home to around 15 per cent of the population.

WATCH | Manitoba community divided over vaccines, mask mandates: 

Manitoba community divided over vaccines, mask mandates

An explanation for Stanley’s low vaccination rate cannot be attributed to a single cause, residents and historians say. Any account deserves a nuanced, layered understanding, they say, but it stems at least partially from generations of conservative Christians who feel the government has repeatedly turned on them.

“There is this long history of viewing the social structuring parts of government, and if you think in terms of religious terms, as the encroachment of the world on the Christian,” said Hans Werner, a retired Mennonite studies professor from the University of Winnipeg. Read more on this story here.

James Bond back in action

(Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

English actor Daniel Craig walks on the red carpet after arriving for the world premiere of the much-delayed James Bond film No Time to Die at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Tuesday. The film hits screens in Canada on October 6.

In brief

Canadian seniors living in long-term care homes and other congregate-care settings should get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, Canada’s vaccine advisory body recommends. Residents of such sites, including retirement homes and assisted-living facilities, “are at increased risk for COVID-19 infection because of their daily interactions with other residents and staff,” said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in updated guidance released online Tuesday. “They are also at increased risk for severe disease because of their age and underlying medical conditions.” The rise of the more transmissible delta variant is one reason to offer maximum protection to vulnerable people in congregate-living environments, the recommendation said. The amount of time that has passed since residents received their initial vaccinations is a factor in the recommendation — given that older adults may “have a less durable response to vaccines and/or past infection compared to younger adults.” Read more about the booster shot recommendation

WATCH | NACI recommends COVID-19 booster shots for seniors in long-term care: 

NACI recommends COVID-19 booster shots for seniors in long-term care

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has denied an application to extend an injunction against old-growth logging blockades on southern Vancouver Island, writing that the actions of RCMP officers have put the court’s reputation at risk. Justice Douglas Thompson handed down his reasons for judgment yesterday, writing that “it is not just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case” to grant Teal Cedar Products Ltd.’s request for an extended injunction order against protests blocking the forestry company’s access to its tenure in the Fairy Creek watershed area north of Port Renfrew. Thompson acknowledged that allowing the injunction to expire could cause serious harm to the company’s interests and to the rule of law. “On the other hand, methods of enforcement of the court’s order have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree,” he said. As of Monday, police have made more than 1,100 arrests in connection with their enforcement of the injunction order. As of Sept. 13, 101 criminal contempt charges have been approved by the B.C. Prosecution Service, according to the court decision. Read more about the court decision

As overdose deaths keep surging in Canada, the movement to decriminalize illicit drugs is gaining steam, with one of the country’s largest mental health facilities joining national advocates and several major cities in putting pressure on the federal government to act. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto is for the first time formally pushing for countrywide drug decriminalization as well, CBC News has learned. In a new policy statement being released publicly today, the hospital is calling on the federal government to decriminalize all drugs while working with the provinces to ramp up treatment and harm-reduction services and replace the “unregulated, toxic” drug supply. “The driving factor behind the shift has been the harms we’re seeing,” said Dr. Leslie Buckley, chief of the addictions division at CAMH, during an interview. Read more on this story here.

The Federal Court is expected to issue a decision today on whether a landmark human rights tribunal compensation order for First Nations children should stand. In the fall of 2019, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered Ottawa to pay $40,000 — the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act — to each child affected by the on-reserve child welfare system since 2006. The tribunal said the parents or grandparents of those children (depending on who was the primary guardian) would also be eligible for compensation, as long as the children were not taken into the child welfare system because of abuse. Today’s decision could leave Ottawa on the hook for billions of dollars in compensation. The federal government has argued the tribunal overreached and was wrong to order compensation. Ottawa called for a court order to set aside the tribunal’s decision and dismiss the claim for monetary compensation, or an order to set aside the tribunal’s decision and refer the matter back to the tribunal for review. Read more on the court case here.

Judy Pelly, 69, is a trusted adviser to some of Saskatoon’s most vulnerable people and most powerful institutions. On any given day, the residential school survivor may smudge and tell her story in a sharing circle with gang members or victims of domestic violence, then jump on a Zoom call to provide cultural advice to high-ranking officials from the Saskatoon police service, city hall, the provincial health authority or the University of Saskatchewan. She works with 30 organizations. “I usually like to go by cultural adviser or knowledge keeper. People use elder, and I don’t feel like I quite fit that yet. I’m not wise enough,” she said with a chuckle. Pelly rarely turns down a request for help and works long hours, seven days a week. She focuses much of her time on helping institutions and agencies implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action. “I’m getting calls every single day. I can’t keep up,” Pelly said. How a “damaged little girl” from Cote First Nation emerged from her own trauma and became such a revered voice in the province’s truth and reconciliation process is a remarkable story of resilience and grace. Read more about Pelly here.

WATCH | Knowledge keeper helps trauma survivors heal:  

Residential school survivor uses her trauma to help others heal and fight systemic racism

As Canada marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, some businesses are finding ways to embrace reconciliation even though they’re not covered by the new statutory holiday. “It’s absolutely crucial that private businesses prioritize anti-racism work, prioritize this type of reconciliation,” said Sheena Russell, founder of Made with Local, a granola bar company based in Dartmouth, N.S. Russell and her local bakery partner are closing on Thursday to give staff time to learn about Indigenous experiences and support cultural change. For Chandos Construction in Calgary, president Tim Coldwell said a full-day shutdown simply was impossible to organize. So the company, which does commercial buildings and has offices in five provinces, came up with another solution to mark the day. Despite the logistical challenges of managing 100 active job sites in three time zones, most of Chandos’s 500 employees, plus a few hundred contractors and subcontractors, will put down their tools at the same time on Thursday for 90 minutes. Read more about how businesses are marking the day.

Now for some good news to start your Wednesday: There is an unending amount of stories and anecdotes about the curling community in Canada and how it could be thought of as one big family. Perhaps the story of curlers Adam Freilich and Charles Gagnon best exemplifies this. Frielich, 28, is the third for Team Comeau out of New Brunswick. Gagnon, 49, is the lead for Team Lawton out of Quebec. For years, the two have been competitors on the ice — but they recently became lifelong teammates. Freilich has been battling Stage 5 kidney failure for the last couple of years, desperately trying to find a donor. This past May, his team took to social media putting out the call for anyone who might be a match and able to donate a kidney. Gagnon answered that call. A week ago, Freilich and Gagnon underwent successful kidney transplant surgery. Read and watch more about the curlers’ new bond.

Opinion: Winnipeg student ‘a brave young Canadian’ for sitting during anthem, says military vet

As a veteran of the Canadian Forces, Bruce Marshall feels a need to say how proud he is of Skyla Hart — the Winnipeg teenager who’s been protesting the treatment of Indigenous people by sitting for the national anthem in class. “I commend her as a veteran, because her action takes courage,” he says. Read Marshall’s column here.

Front Burner: Stories from inside Canada’s hospital crisis

Even with 80 per cent of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, hospitals in many parts of the country are facing an unprecedented crisis: staff shortages, intensive care units (ICUs) nearing capacity, protests and violence.

Today, we speak to doctors and nurses about how the fourth wave is pushing Canadian health-care systems to their breaking point — and how that could have long-term consequences.

Front Burner29:37Stories from inside Canada’s hospital crisis

Today in history: September 30

1962: Canada becomes the fourth country to have a satellite in space with the launch of Alouette 1 from Cape Kennedy, Fla. The satellite cost $3 million and weighed 146 kilograms. It spent a decade studying the ionosphere from an altitude of 1,000 kilometres before being deactivated.

2003: Premier Pat Binns leads the Conservatives to a rare third majority government in the P.E.I. election. The last time a P.E.I. government won three consecutive majorities was in the 1880s. 

2004: Major League Baseball announces the Montreal Expos would be relocating to Washington, D.C., for the 2005 season. That night, the Expos played their final home game in Montreal after 36 seasons.

2008: Financial markets nosedive in the wake of the rejection of a $700-billion US package negotiated by U.S. congressional leaders to bail out the financial industry. The Dow industrial average plummets 778 points — at the time its biggest-ever single-day loss — while Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index falls almost 841 points.

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