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Governor General urges Canadians to enjoy the outdoors in annual New Year's message –



Gov. Gen. Julie Payette today encouraged Canadians to get outside and enjoy the winter in her annual New Year’s message.

Canada’s “breathtaking beauty” deserves to be celebrated and explored, she said.

“This time of year, we tend to cuddle inside and seek warmth,” said Payette. “But once outside, it is so worth it.”

For this year’s message, Payette continued her practice of avoiding the more formal, regal backdrops preferred by previous governors general in their end-of-year messages, and instead spoke from the grounds of the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park in the Outaouais region of Quebec.

(In 2017, she delivered her message while skating on the ice rink erected beside her official residence, Rideau Hall.)

In this year’s address, the governor general said Canadians can be proud of having an international reputation as “team players” and “peace seekers.” She also highlighted Canada’s diversity and paid tribute to Indigenous people in Canada.

Payette commemorated Canada’s fallen soldiers by reminding Canadians of her visit to Europe earlier in the year to mark the 75th anniversary of key events in the Second World War.

Finally, she urged Canadians to stand up to hate and violence and work together for the common good.

Julie Payette’s New Year’s message

“Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.

“My country is not a country. It’s winter. That’s the least we can say.

“This time of year, we tend to cuddle inside and seek warmth. Mostly because — as Gilles Vigneault points out in his famous song — ‘to avoid where the flakes swirl with the wind in this land of blowing snow.’ But once outside, it is so worth it.

“Whether you were born here or chose to come and live here. Whether you’re just passing through or came here to seek refuge. This is your country — a land of breathtaking beauty that deserves to be explored and celebrated — rain or snow or shine.

“For we are so fortunate. We share values and interests. We can be proud of our diversity and we are recognized around the world as open, curious, team players, peace seekers, peacekeepers.

“And we are accomplished. Like the Indigenous people, who have been living here on this ancestral land for thousands of years. Those who taught us to survive in the cold, to appreciate the gift of nature, and the importance of community. 

“I have seen it everywhere I have been this year. Canadians are out there making a difference as artists, scientists, athletes, entrepreneurs. Young or old, every one of us is an ambassador. 

“This past year in particular, we were also reminded that the peace we enjoy was won at a terrible cost. We went to France, to Holland and to Italy to commemorate the Second World War. For 75 years ago, our Canadian soldiers were fighting to help liberate Europe from tyranny. What is striking when we visit Canadian war cemeteries abroad are the rows and rows of identical tombstones — all engraved with a single maple leaf, a name, a date.

“As I watched our veterans — these brave soldiers from another era — walking amongst the graves of their fallen comrades, I could not help but be moved. Many had died before their 20th birthday. Some had died just before Christmas. All died in a distant land, far away from home.

“It forces us to reflect on the meaning of life — its surprises and its friendships but also its injustices and its suffering — and it forces us to reflect on the absolute necessity to stand up against hate and violence and to work together hand-in-hand for the common good. 

“The great Gilles Vigneault also captured this essence in his beautiful winter poem. He wrote: ‘My home is your home. With time and space, I build a fire and prepare a place. For people, near and far. For we all share a human race.’ 

“I hope that you’re enjoying the holiday season with people you love, with friends and family. I hope that you’re staying active, and that you are lending a hand, in your own personal way, to those who have less and those who are in need. 

“Happy New Year to all of you. Happy New Year, Canada.”

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Canada reports more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases, 7 deaths – Global News



Winnipeg police say a woman has died and several other people have been injured in a collision involving a vehicle that was fleeing police.

The crash happened at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the area of Salter Street and Boyd Avenue, police said in a statement.

According to police, officers tried to pull over a vehicle for a traffic stop but the driver “took off at a high rate of speed.”

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Vehicle-pedestrian collision on Portage Ave. leaves one person in critical condition

Seconds later, the vehicle hit another car in the nearby intersection of Andrews Street and Boyd Avenue.

Four people in the vehicle that was struck — including an infant and a child — were sent to hospital.  A woman who was in that vehicle has died from her injuries, police said.

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Two people from the vehicle that had fled police were also transported to hospital.

Police said most of the victims are in critical or serious condition.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates serious incidents involving police, has been called to investigate.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada's death toll could hit 16000 by the end of 2020, new modelling warns – CTV News



Canada could see as many as 16,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of the year if current public safety measures don’t change, according to new modelling from the United States that has provided accurate assessments of the American death toll.

But a Canadian pandemic modelling expert says that, while anything is possible, the American model may not be capturing the whole picture in Canada.

The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington suggests Canada could see 16,214 deaths by Jan. 1 based on the current situation. If public safety mandates are loosened, such as physical distancing, the death toll could be even higher, hitting a projected 16,743 lives lost.

Universal masking in public spaces could curb those numbers and save thousands of lives, the model suggests, pointing to countries like Singapore that have successfully put in place masking protocols that are 95 per cent effective. Singapore has reported 27 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

If Canada were to successfully implement similar rules, the modelling predicts a death toll of 12,053.

So far Canada has reported 9,256 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 150,000 cases. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned earlier this week that the country is at the beginning of a second wave of infections as he urged Canadians to take public health guidance seriously.

Quebec is leading the country with new cases of COVID-19. On Saturday, the province reported another 698 cases, the highest daily infection numbers since May.

Dionne Aleman, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in mathematical models for pandemic prediction, said the IHME model is “simplistic” and does not account for regional differences across the country.

While a second wave of COVID-19 infections has started, Aleman points out that deaths are not in a second wave. COVID-19 deaths in Canada peaked in April and May, when more than 100 people died in connection with the virus daily. Those numbers have remained much lower in recent months, with five deaths reported on Friday.

“The fact that deaths are not tracking with infections as they did in the first wave indicates that vulnerable individuals are taking more precautions to protect themselves now, and it is reasonable to assume those precautions will continue as the second wave gets worse. This model does not account for the fact that some people are behaving differently from others, and thus, the projected deaths are likely overstated,” Aleman told on Saturday over email.

The latest modelling by the Public Health Agency of Canada does not offer predictions to the end of the year, but suggests that, based on current rates, the death toll could steadily rise to 9,300 lives lost by Oct. 2.

The IMHE modelling has proven to be accurate. Earlier this year, the model predicted that the U.S. would hit 200,000 deaths in September, a grim milestone that happened earlier this week. Now, the model predicts the U.S. death toll will nearly double by the end of the year, reaching 371,509 by Jan. 1.

The IMHE model also predicts daily infections — a number that includes people who aren’t tested for COVID-19 — could hit more than 19,000 by the end of the year.

Aleman said it’s important to remember that, even if a person doesn’t die from COVID-19, the consequences of getting sick can be serious.

“There are numerous examples of otherwise healthy individuals with severe reactions to COVID taking several weeks and even months to recover, and there are indications that there could be long-term health consequences,” she said.

“We should view these projections of exponential infection increase with great concern, and we as individuals should take every reasonable precaution to stem this increase before it is too far out of control. Wearing masks is easy and effective, and we should do it.”

Infections may be on the upswing, but Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Saturday that limiting personal contacts as much as possible can help once again flatten the curve. She encouraged Canadians to take time this weekend to chat with loved ones about how to keep their bubbles safer.

“Even if people attending an event are part of your extended family, as has been the case with some of these private gathering outbreaks, it doesn’t mean they are not infected, even if no one appears to be unwell,” Tam said in a statement.

“Despite the very real concern of a large resurgence in areas where the virus is escalating, there is still reason to be optimistic that we can get things back to the slow burn.”

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B.C. university launches 1st peace and reconciliation centre in Canada –



The University of the Fraser Valley hopes its new Peace and Reconciliation Centre (PARC) — which the school says is the first of its kind in Canada — will help contribute to a more equitable society.

Professor Keith Carlson, the centre’s chair, said institutions like universities and governments can often reinforce unequal power structures by excluding knowledge and experience from historically-marginalized communities.

The PARC was established to counter that by “bringing new voices to the table,” he told Margaret Gallagher, guest host of CBC’s On the Coast on Thursday. 

Aside from collaborating with academic departments like Peace and Conflict Studies, the PARC will offer funding and scholarships to students and faculty, as well as community members not affiliated with UFV “who are looking for partners and allies to change the world,” said Carlson. 

The Abbotsford-based university says it has received substantial funding from the Oikodome Foundation, a local Christian charity.

UFV launched the PARC Thursday with a virtual event featuring speeches from Steven Point, the first-ever Indigenous chancellor of UBC, and former Ontario Premier Bob Rae, now Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations.

‘Deep listening’

Jacqueline Nolte, dean of UFV’s college of arts, said the university envisions the PARC as a hub for constructive dialogue, research and creative expression aimed at building trust among diverse communities. 

“We will facilitate deep listening and mediation such that all people will feel heard and acknowledged,” she said in a news release. 

The scope of the centre won’t be narrow.

Along with relations between Indigenous people and settlers, Carlson said the centre could address everything from domestic violence to interfaith conflicts in the Middle East and Ireland. 

Carlson, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous and community-engaged history, echoed Nolte’s words.

“What we’re saying [is] that we value Indigenous ways of knowing,” Carlson said.

“The structures that underlie racism need to be dismantled so that everybody in this country […] will be able to enjoy all the privileges that anybody who’s of European descent [has].”

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