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Citizenship and self-care: Canadians share the bright spots in a challenging 2020 –



In a year that has been challenging on innumerable fronts, there have still been moments worth celebrating.

Whether it was welcoming a new addition to the family amid the COVID-19 pandemic or using the time to focus on self-care, many Canadians marked significant milestones this year — even during exceptionally difficult times.

CBC News Network recently asked audience members to share the best things that happened to them in 2020. Here are some of their responses.

Celebrating Canadian citizenship

Rachel Schafts and her husband, Daniel Kirshbaum, are originally from the United States and currently live in Quebec. Schafts said the couple officially became Canadian citizens at the end of September.

“This was a very lengthy and difficult process that took a number of years — and involved so many forms, tests and an interview that did not go well. But in the end, we succeeded and we’re so happy to call Canada home,” Schafts wrote in an email.

Rachel Schafts, right, and her husband, Daniel Kirshbaum, will remember 2020 as the year they became Canadian citizens after an arduous process. (Submitted by Rachel Schafts)

Improving physical and mental health

Breanna Halliday saw the pandemic as an opportunity to make positive changes in her life.

“I started working out every day, eating healthy and educating myself on how to truly take care of my body so I’m as healthy as possible,” Halliday wrote. “I was fortunate this year to make changes for the better.”

She also focused on her mental well-being, found a new job and took charge of her personal finances.

“I am now 30 pounds lighter, physically and mentally stronger, and working a better job that allows me to balance between work and personal and keeps me safe during these difficult times.”

Breanna Halliday used the pandemic as an opportunity to focus on her physical and mental well-being. (Submitted by Breanna Halliday)

Welcoming their first child

Nick Ebel and his wife, Jen, will always remember 2020 as the year the Hamilton couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Tilly.

“No matter how bad this year was, it will always be special for us,” Ebel wrote.

Nick Ebel, right, became a parent in 2020 following the birth of his daughter, Tilly. (Submitted by Nick and Jen Ebel)

… and new grandchildren

Phil Satim of  L’Île Perrot, Que., celebrated becoming a grandparent this year, as Nora Rose Lezniak joined his family.

Phil Satim welcomed granddaughter Nora Rose Lezniak to the family this year. (Submitted by Phil Satim)

Meanwhile, Darlene Levecque and her husband, Joe, welcomed their third granddaughter, Georgia Rae, on Nov. 28.

“She’s a beauty!” Levecque wrote.

Darlene Levecque celebrated the arrival of her third granddaughter, Georgia Rae, in November. (Submitted by Darlene Levecque)

Furry friends find new families

Elaine Gray said she was looking for a puppy a couple of years ago but was unsuccessful. But in March, just after the pandemic was declared in Canada, a fellow Dachshund owner told her about a puppy who needed a home.

“I received a picture and after one look replied back to say her name is Grace!” said Gray, who lives in Moncton, N.B., with Grace and her two other Dachshunds, Charlotte and Fergie.

A twist of fate at the beginning of the pandemic brought Grace, a Dachshund puppy, into Elaine Gray’s life. (Submitted by Elaine Gray)

In Fredericton, Paulette Ryan adopted Pheebs in August from the SPCA in nearby Oromocto, N.B.

“She has been a sweet and comical addition to our family,” Ryan wrote. “Not sure if Giggles, our grey tabby, always appreciates her.

“Pet therapy is the best.”

Paulette Ryan said adopting Pheebs, left, was the highlight of her year. Ryan’s other cat, Giggles, may disagree. (Submitted by Paulette Ryan)

On that subject, one Alberta family discovered a new sport that’s lifted their spirits during the pandemic: dog badminton.

“Harley, our American Staffordshire terrier, has been our therapy dog during the pandemic,” Gary and Linda Poignant of Sherwood Park wrote.

New beginnings for young couple

Chloe Pasternak can now call Adam Trapid her fiancé after the Thornhill, Ont., couple got engaged this year. “It has turned 2020 to become a much happier time for all of our families,” Pasternak wrote.

“My fiancé planned to have our parents be part of the special moment and it was such an amazing and happy time for all of us.”

Chloe Pasternak, right, and Adam Trapid of Thornhill, Ont., celebrated their engagement this year. (Submitted by Chloe Pasternak)

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Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers



The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit



Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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Indigenous group finds 751 unmarked graves at former residential school in Saskatchewan



An indigenous group in Canada’s Saskatchewan province on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar discovery rocked the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the new discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina.

He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters.

He said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations. Now we have evidence,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

“This is just the beginning.”

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the country’s residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

Cowessess First Nation has been in touch with the local Catholic archdiocese and Delorme said he is optimistic they will provide records allowing them to identify the remains.

“We have full faith that the Roman Catholic Church will release our records. They haven’t told us ‘No.’ We just don’t have them yet.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in VancouverEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)

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