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Canada to mark national day of observance to commemorate those who died of COVID-19 – CTV News



Marking a national day of observance to commemorate those who died due to COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says March 11, 2020 will be remembered as the day when life in Canada changed.

Delivering a speech in the House of Commons on Thursday, Trudeau said in a “heartbreaking” year with much loss, Canadians have showed persistence, solidarity, and compassion.

“Every Canadian we lost to this virus will be remembered. Every shift done by a frontline nurse, every mask made by a Canadian worker will not be forgotten. We are stronger together, today, tomorrow and always,” said Trudeau.

Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus a pandemic. Worldwide, 118 million people have contracted COVID-19, and nearly three million people have died. Canada has reported more than 896,000 COVID-19 cases to date, with more than 22,000 related deaths.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also honoured lives lost in his own speech to Parliament and recognized the unintended mental health and economic consequences of the pandemic.

“Youth mental health presenting as anxiety or eating disorders are alarmingly on the rise. The true cost of this pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of Canadians of all walks of life has been staggering,” O’Toole said.

He also thanked frontline health care workers who he said helped him personally. O’Toole and his wife tested positive for the virus in September, 2020.

The Conservative leader took issue with the pace of vaccine rollout in Canada, stating that businesses deserve to know when they can open up shop again. So far, more than two million Canadians have received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. According to CTV News’ vaccine tracker, Canada ranks 55th in the world in population vaccinations.

“Like many Canadians, we’re frustrated by the slower pace of vaccines than elsewhere, but we want the government to succeed for the health and well-being of Canadians so we can get our lives back to normal,” said.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet used his time to also recognize teachers, health care and child care workers, and the most vulnerable.

“The pandemic has made the most vulnerable among us even more vulnerable. People who are isolated, who live in poverty, who suffer from anxiety are suffering even more,” he said speaking in French.

“Seniors are distressed in many ways as well, they are the most fragile among us.”

It was a sentiment shared by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh who has long advocated for better conditions for seniors living in long-term care, where COVID-19 hit hard and made an already grim situation worse.

“It is with great sadness when we reflect on who felt this pandemic the most and who bore the brunt of this pandemic, we come up with the answer that [it was] our seniors, particularly seniors living in long-term care,” he said. “It’s a national shame that’s the case.”

According to November data from Statistics Canada, Canadians age 85 and older have accounted for more than half of the excess deaths reported amid the pandemic.


Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who has become a trusted face since the pandemic began, providing almost daily updates about Canada’s fight to contain the virus, released a statement on Thursday noting how challenging the year has been.

“We have all made many sacrifices and have faced exceptional challenges, from balancing multiple roles and providing critical supports to Canadians in need, to financial uncertainty and experiencing a sense of loneliness and isolation; some have lost family and friends to COVID-19,” the statement reads.

Days earlier, Tam expressed optimism about Canada’s vaccination efforts following Health Canada’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military general in charge of the logistical end of the vaccine rollout, told reporters on Wednesday that Canada was moving into its ramp-up phase in the national mass immunization campaign.

In total, by the end of June Canada is on track to receive 36.5 million doses and by the end of September a total of 117.9 million doses of currently-approved vaccines.

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti told CTV News Channel on Thursday that the past year has given Canada the opportunity to consider revising its approach when faced with a future pandemic.

“If something like this happens again, what can we do better? And I think one of the big things is we used a blunt tool – lockdown — and clearly that didn’t address all the very important structural inequities such as occupational health and [the pandemic] hitting marginalized people much harder than the rest of the population. It’s very important we address that,” he said.

Chakrabarti said the pandemic won’t completely expire anytime soon but he expects it will eventually take a different form.

“Especially in a place like Canada, where we have a temperate climate, we’ll likely see it in the winter time similar to influenza but it’s not going to be something that’s disruptive to our lives.”

With a file from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello

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Basketball trailblazer denied Canadian permanent residency, must return to U.S. –



Bilquis Abdul-Qaadir, the trailblazing basketball player who set up an academy for girls and coached multiple sports at an Islamic school in London, Ont., has been denied permanent residency in Canada and will have to go back to the United States. 

“We’ve been here for two years, my son is Canadian, and we would love to be part of this country, but we finally got the message from immigration that we were denied permanent residency. It’s very unexpected,” said Abdul Qaadir from her London home. “I’m at a loss for words. I’ve single-handedly brought sports to an underserviced community. It’s heartbreaking.”

Abdul-Qaadir and her husband, A.W. Massey, moved to London from Tennessee three years ago.

She said she hasn’t been able to work in Canada since August, when her work permit expired and wasn’t renewed by a Canadian border official. 

“We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do. We aren’t sure. We’re angry and we’re tired. We put our heart and soul into this application. We felt like we checked all the boxes.” 

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and her husband, A.W. Massey, moved to London, Ont. three years ago from Tennessee. (Submitted by A.W. Massey)

Abdul-Qaadir led a four-year battle against the International Basketball Federation, which banned religious head coverings on the court. She won, but sacrificed her basketball career to do so.

She had been the leading high school point scorer for both boys and girls in Massachusetts, and went on to play for the University of Memphis in Tennessee, where she was the first woman to play in a hijab in NCAA Division 1. 

Alongside her motivational speaking gigs, she teaches at the London Islamic School and has opened a basketball academy in London, but all that is now up in the air. 

On Thursday, Abdul-Qaadir got a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that said she doesn’t “meet the requirements for immigration to Canada.” 

She applied for permanent residency as an athletic director at the London Muslim Mosque, but her duties — including developing, managing and supervising the school’s physical education and athletic programs, as well as being the head coach for the basketball, volleyball and cross-country teams — are “inconsistent with the actions” of an athletic director. 

“I am not satisfied that your stated duties is sufficient to indicate that your role involves plan, organize, direct, control and evaluate the operations of comprehensive fitness programs at this organization. I am also not satisfied that you performed a substantial number of the main duties for this [job classification],” IRCC wrote in her letter.   

Abdul-Qaadir said she doesn’t know if she and her husband will fight the refusal. 

Abdul-Qaadir set the state record for the highest all-time high school scorer for men and women in Massachusetts. ( Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photographer)

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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Mastercard expands cryptocurrency services with wallets, loyalty rewards



Mastercard Inc said on Monday it would allow partners on its network to enable their consumers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency using a digital wallet, as well as reward them with digital currencies under loyalty programs.

The credit card giant said it would offer these services in partnership with Bakkt Holdings Inc, the digital assets platform founded by NYSE-owner Intercontinental Exchange.

Founded in 2018, Bakkt went public earlier this year through a $2.1 billion merger with a blank-check company. Shares of the company were up 77% at $16.19 on Monday.

Mastercard said its partners can also allow customers earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of loyalty points.

The company had said in February it would begin offering support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year.

Last year, rival Visa Inc had partnered with cryptocurrency startup BlockFi to offer a credit card that lets users earn bitcoin on purchases.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, touched a record high of $67,016 last week after the debut of the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange traded fund. It has more than doubled in value this year.


(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to work in Shenzhen, after extradition drama – Global Times



Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, returned to work at the tech giant’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday after almost three years fighting extradition to the U.S. in Canada, state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Times reported.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, completed three weeks of quarantine last week after returning to the southern city of Shenzhen where a crowd of well-wishers chanting patriotic slogans awaited her at the airport.

“Over the last three years, although we have struggled, we have overcome obstacles and our team has fought with more and more courage,” she said in a speech at an internal company event that was circulated online.

The extradition drama had been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.

Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

She was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors last month to end a bank fraud case against her.


(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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