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COVID-19 vaccine arrives in remote First Nations across Canada – CTV News

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First Nations across Canada have begun to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccines as provincial immunization programs get underway and Indigenous leaders encourage people to roll up their sleeves.

Six of 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations on Vancouver Island were priority recipients of doses of Moderna’s vaccine last week, said Mariah Charleson, vice-president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council that serves about 10,000 members.

The council employs nurses who are among those administering vaccinations so people see a familiar face they know and trust, she said.

Health officials need to work with communities to ensure the COVID-19 vaccination program is culturally appropriate, she said, given impacts of the residential school system and discrimination in health care as outlined in a recent report by former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

“There are many people in our communities who our nurses may not have ever seen, because (they) will just never go for help,” said Charleson.

Released in November, Turpel-Lafond’s report sheds light on widespread racial profiling based on harmful stereotypes that affect the care Indigenous patients receive in British Columbia. Of more than 2,700 Indigenous people surveyed as part of the investigation, 84 per cent reported experiencing some form of health-care discrimination.

It’s understandable that many are reluctant to trust Canadian health officials, said Charleson, who’s encouraging people to get vaccinated.

“If you’re not doing it for yourself, do it for the elders in the community and the vulnerable,” she said in an interview.

Chief Simon John of Ehattesaht First Nation said he noticed some hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccines among residents of the Ehatis reserve on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island.

The community of about 100 members was hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 that spread to 28 people last month, so when John learned they would soon receive Moderna’s vaccine, he decided to lead by example.

“For us, as council, to take it first was our priority,” he said.

John said he received his first dose last Monday along with about 30 other Ehatis residents and 40 people in the nearby village of Zeballos, including some elders and band members living off-reserve.

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to at-risk members of remote First Nations for distribution by the end of February. As of last Monday, 10,700 doses of Moderna’s vaccine were available to First Nations and 5,300 had been distributed to 18 communities.

Indigenous Services Canada had confirmed nearly 10,000 cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across the country as of Friday, including 3,288 active infections, 452 hospitalizations and 95 deaths.

Canada’s advisory committee on immunization has identified Indigenous communities among priority groups for vaccine that’s in limited supply.

In Alberta, residents of remote First Nations and people age 65 or older living in any First Nation or Metis community are among those the province is prioritizing in its third phase of immunization starting in February.

In Saskatchewan, 4,900 doses of Moderna’s vaccine have so far been sent to northern regions, where health-care workers, staff and residents of long-term care homes, and people age 80 or older are first in line to be immunized, including those living in First Nation communities.

Initially, “First Nations were not really engaged in terms of where this vaccine should be allocated,” said Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, medical health officer for the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority.

More recently, communication about vaccine distribution has improved between communities and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, he said.

The province said it’s expecting to receive 5,300 more doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, with smaller cities serving as regional distribution hubs.

Manitoba, meanwhile, began shipping 5,300 doses of Moderna’s vaccine last week in order to reach people in all 63 First Nations in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Man found guilty of murder in 2018 Toronto van attack, life in prison likely

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By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – A man who plowed a rented van into dozens of people in Toronto in 2018 is guilty of murdering 10 people and attempting to murder 16, a judge ruled on Wednesday, dismissing a defense argument that a mental disorder left the driver unaware of how horrific his actions were.

Alek Minassian, 28, told police he was motivated by a desire to punish society for his perceived status as an “incel” – short for involuntary celibate – because he believed women would not have sex with him. Minassian had pleaded that he was not criminally responsible.

The defense failed to prove Minassian’s autism spectrum disorder deprived him of the capacity to know his actions were wrong, Judge Anne Molloy said in a verdict, live-streamed on YouTube following a trial held virtually due to the pandemic.

Molloy referred to Minassian as “John Doe” to try to deny him the notoriety he said he desired.

“Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed. His attack on these 26 victims that day was an act of a reasoning mind notwithstanding its horrific nature and notwithstanding that he has no remorse for it, and no empathy for his victims.”

“This case has in many ways and on many days been a struggle,” Molloy said. “This accused committed a horrific crime – one of the most devastating tragedies this city has ever endured – for the purpose of achieving fame.”

Minassian’s lawyer argued his autism spectrum disorder prevented him from knowing what he was doing was wrong when he drove the van into pedestrians on a crowded sidewalk.

The attack took place in April 2018 when Minassian drove a rented van down a busy sidewalk on a major street just north of Toronto, hitting one person after another. Those killed ranged in age from 22 to 94.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled and Minassian is likely to automatically get a life sentence, according to criminal lawyers following the case. A sentencing hearing will also allow for victim impact statements.

Minassian’s lawyer Boris Bytensky said he had not yet had a chance to read the entire ruling but he had “tremendous respect” for Molloy even if the verdict was “disappointing.”

He would not say whether Minassian would appeal. “Whether he chooses to appeal or not to appeal is his decision.”

Molloy read the names of the people Minassian killed and injured, listing their injuries: from fractured bones to bleeding brains.

“He had a functioning, rational brain, one that perceived the reality of what he was doing…. He chose to commit the crimes anyway. Because it was what he really wanted to do.”

The outcome was unsurprising given the evidence presented at trial, said Toronto criminal lawyer Daniel Brown.

“It’s not to say that others couldn’t avail themselves of a ‘not criminally responsible’ defence but in Mr. Minassian’s situation, he simply couldn’t.”

First-degree murder carries a life sentence without parole eligibility for 25 years. The question, Brown said, is whether the prosecution will seek to “stack” parole ineligibilities, for example so that 10 first-degree murder convictions render Minassian ineligible for parole for 250 years.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Grant McCool, Jonathan Oatis, Howard Goller and David Gregorio)

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COVID-19 pandemic could be over in Canada by September, microbiologist predicts – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
With more doses of COVID-19 vaccine arriving in Canada and guidance changing on administering the shots to citizens, a microbiologist suggests the pandemic will “probably” be over in this country by September.

“I think we’re about to go into that third act and finally put an end to the pandemic,” said Jason Tetro, the author known as the Germ Guy, noting many people have been trained to be pessimistic this winter.

The first shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Canada on Wednesday, the third COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in this country.

Late Wednesday, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued new guidance on administering the COVID-19 vaccine. The panel of medical experts says the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines can be given up to four months after the first.

Tetro tells CTV News Ottawa that after a glum few months, there is reason for optimism.

“We’ve got lots of doses coming; we’ve got three approved, we’ve got two others that are in the pipeline. I think we’re going to be definitely getting to that point where by the summer we’re going to be in a very good position and probably see the end of this pandemic by September,” said Tetro.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government will have enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to vaccinate all Canadians by September. Trudeau said Wednesday he’s “optimistic” the timeline could speed up.

“If we get to a point where we have the entire population vaccinated, at least with the first shot, it’s probably going to get us to a point where we’re going to be able to gather again, we may not even need the masks and while we still will probably be hesitant to get back to normal, we’re going to start looking a lot better by that time,” said Tetro.

The microbiologist says the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine gives Canada a variety of vaccine options to begin targeting different age groups.

Tetro adds the longer intervals between doses can speed up the timeline to vaccinate all Canadians against COVID-19.

“What we’re trying to do now is to remove the pandemic status of COVID-19 and maybe even bring it down by the end of this year to what would essentially be a common cold and flu status,” said Tetro.

He notes research from Scotland, Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and Israel shows one dose for all Canadians will make a difference.

“If we get everybody vaccinated with one dose, it doesn’t matter which one it happens to be, that’s going to give us the protection we need to be able to get through the seasonality and also to remove the pandemic emergency that we’re currently living through now,” said Tetro.

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Woman almost loses $580 after money order reported lost by Canada Post – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
They’re not used as commonly as they once were, but a money order is something you can buy at Canada Post that is supposed to be as good as cash.

The post office says it’s a safe and secure way to send funds in the mail, but a Brampton woman says that when her money order got lost she was initially denied a refund.

Elizabeth Diehl said she appreciates Indigenous art and tries to support Canada’s First Nations artists so she ordered six pairs of handmade moccasins as Christmas presents.

“I ordered them in November as they are always lovely to wear on a cold winter day,” Diehl said.

When they arrived, Diehl sent a money order for $580 to the woman who made them in Weagamow First Nation in northern Ontario.

A money order is the preferred method of payment in the fly-in community.

“She relies on Canada Post money orders because they don’t have active banks up there I believe,” Diehl said.

One month after sending the money order, the person contacted Diehl to say she had never received it.

Canada Post said it would take 45 days to investigate so Diehl sent another money order to make sure the woman would receive her funds for the moccasins.

Canada Post eventually told Diehl the money order was lost in the mail, but that she would only get back fees she paid for the money order, not the $580 dollars.

A customer service agent with Canada Post told her “unfortunately, because insurance coverage was not purchased at the time of mailing, we are unable to provide any additional compensation.”

Diehl said there was no mention of insurance coverage being needed when she purchased the money order.

When CTV News Toronto reached out to Canada Post, we were told insurance is not required for money orders and funds are guaranteed returned if a money order is lost and uncashed.

“We spoke to Ms. Diehl to let her know we are refunding her $580 money order as per our policies,” a spokesperson told CTV news Toronto.

Diehl felt if she hadn’t contacted CTV News Toronto she would not have received her refund.

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