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Residential school survivors write every senator in Canada, asking for Lynn Beyak's ouster – CBC.ca

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A coalition of residential school survivors and their supporters wants senators to know the personal impact that Sen. Lynn Beyak’s public praise for the schools has had on their lives.

The group is sending a letter to every senator in Canada this week — in advance of their Sept. 22 debate on the senator’s discipline — asking them to extend Beyak’s suspension from the Senate.

“Ms. Beyak spilled a bucket of racist rhetoric in one of the most powerful institutions in this country,” says the letter, obtained by CBC News. “The sludge seeped out to communities, schools, hospitals, places of work and was especially felt by residential school survivors and their families.”

The senator from Dryden, Ont., was first suspended from the Senate in 2019. The move came after she declined to remove letters from her website that described First Nations people as lazy and inept and refused to apologize for posting them. 

Beyak also publicly stated that residential schools were “well-intentioned”, despite the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s conclusion that the residential school policy was cultural genocide.

Failed sensitivity training

She was ordered to complete education and training to improve her understanding and awareness of Indigenous issues before returning to her Senate seat, but that training has been mired in controversy.

After failing to complete a course designed by the Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Beyak did a total of 24 hours of video-based training with the University of Manitoba in a course designed by then-dean of law Jonathan Black-Branch. 

Black-Branch quietly left his post in June, but not before reporting to the Senate that Beyak is fit to resume her duties. Beyak also apologized in the Senate.

Senators must listen to survivors, not non-Indigenous experts, said Garnet Angeconeb, a survivor of Pelican Lake Indian Residential School and one of the authors of the letter.

‘Red flags’

“All of a sudden she’s a changed person? The sincerity questions come into play,” Angeconeb said. “There are some red flags and I’m sorry but I, as a survivor, do not readily accept her apology given what’s happened and who designed the last training program for her.”

Angeconeb said he personally has felt the sting of racism as a result of speaking out about Beyak.

The letter sent this week to senators quotes hate mail that was sent to Angeconeb after an interview with CBC’s As it Happens in 2018 about the racist letters on Beyak’s website.

“Get your shit together and stop whining and leaching [sic] off the system,” says the letter sent to Angeconeb from someone with the initials M.L.

The Senate is set to discuss Senator Lynn Beyak’s discipline when it resumes sitting this month. (CBC News)

“What is said in Parliament, in this case the Senate, reverberates in the community,” Angeconeb said. “In this case we certainly have heard negative stories, and we’ve experienced negative situations because of what was said about residential schools, because of what was said about Indigenous people.”

The letter to senators asks them to suspend their decision on reinstating Beyak until:

  • Beyak has made a public apology in person, in northwestern Ontario, “and made concrete commitments to address the harm done and heal relations.”
  • The Senate has answered questions about the appointment of Jonathan Black-Branch and the training course he designed for Beyak.
  • Beyak provides further evidence of “her efforts to educate herself, especially at the regional level, with input from Indigenous people, particularly from survivors of the residential school system.”

‘A lot of damage’

Angeconeb said there is no easy path to having Beyak removed from the Senate permanently, but he hopes, with additional training, Beyak might see for herself that she’s undeserving of the role.

“If she’s sincere, then she needs to really deliver on what she says and really advocate for the people that she represents in the region and look at these issues from a different perspective,” he said.

“There’s a lot of damage that remains and I think the best thing for her to do is for her to sit back, and watch and get involved from outside the chamber and let somebody else do the job of promoting good relations.”

The Senate provided the website of an Ottawa lawyer as the contact for Lynn Beyak when CBC inquired about reaching her for comment. The lawyer did not respond to calls or emails from the CBC.

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Canadians are still flocking to parks and businesses as country braces for second wave – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Even though the back-to-school season has coincided with a steady rise in Canada’s active COVID-19 case count and fears that a second wave may soon be upon us, Canadians do not seem to be meaningfully adjusting their behaviour when it comes to leaving the house.

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said Sunday that a lot of Canadians seem to be taking a “we can do whatever we want” approach to their life in recent weeks.

“It feels to me like a lot of people just threw up their hands and said ‘I’m tired of this. I’m hugging, I’m going out, I’m seeing friends,'” he told Sunday on CTV News Channel.

That feeling is backed up by data compiled by Google and Apple, which shows that Canadians are spending more time in parks and at businesses than they were even in the first half of the summer, when the country first emerged from its various pandemic-imposed lockdowns.

Google bases its public mobility reports on information gleaned from users of its services who allow the company to keep track of the destinations they visit.

According to its most recent report for Canada, dated Sept. 11, Canadians are spending 151 per cent more time in parks than they were before the pandemic began.

This can be partially explained by the calendar; of course a park will be busier in September than it was in February. More telling, though, is that based on Google’s data, park usage has steadily increased over the past few months – from 80 per cent above the baseline level in early June to 140 per cent in mid-July to 150 per cent on Sept. 11.

SPENDING LESS TIME AT HOME

Also increasing has been Canadians’ activity in retail and recreation settings – what Google terms “places like restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries, and movie theatres.”

At the height of the lockdown, in early April, activity at these establishments was as much as 80 per cent below Google’s pre-pandemic baseline. That number has slowly crept back up ever since, even surpassing it on Labour Day weekend before settling in for a longer stay just below the baseline.

Labour Day weekend also represents a peak in Apple’s mass-collected mobility trends report for Canada. Apple found that requests made for driving directions were 88 per cent higher on Sept. 4 than they were on Jan. 13 (their pre-pandemic baseline), while requests for walking directions were up by 80 per cent. Both numbers were at their highest points in 2020. (Requests for public transit directions were about two-thirds of their pre-pandemic levels, or about four times what they were at the height of the pandemic.)

Time spent in grocery stores and pharmacies has been slightly above Google’s baseline for the past month, suggesting Canadians may be doing more supermarket shopping to make up for the decreasing number of meals eaten out.

The amount of time spent at home, meanwhile, has fallen from 20 per cent in early May to 10 per cent in mid-July to eight per cent on Sept. 11.

Taken together, all of this implies Canadians feel safer leaving their homes now than they did not only early on in the pandemic, but also for most of the summer.

That would certainly make sense if the novel coronavirus was still slowing its spread across Canada – but aside from Atlantic Canada and the territories, that’s hardly been the case.

Canada’s active case count has been rising since early August and is more than double what it was one month ago, according to a CTV News tally. Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia have all begun to re-enact some of the restrictions lifted earlier in the summer. All four provinces show similar patterns in the Google data, with their residents spending less time at home and more time out in public than they were even a month or two ago.

“We know what to do; we just aren’t necessarily doing it as well as we could,” Dr. Brian Conway, president and medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, said Sunday on CTV News Channel.

“Certain individuals are making decisions … not to follow all of the public health recommendations, and this leads to an increase in cases.”

IS IT QUARANTINE FATIGUE?

Because of the increasing COVID-19 diagnosis numbers and rolling back of reopenings, there is a rising belief that Canada is on the precipice of a second wave of the pandemic.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, told CTV News Channel on Sunday that she believes “some form of a second wave” is already underway in Ontario and Quebec.

“We don’t know yet if it’s going to be a big wave or one of those smaller waves that we can control. That really, really depends on how people manage themselves,” she said.

Dr. Theresa Tam said this week that “the time to act is now,” noting that the daily new case numbers more accurately reflect how society was responding to the virus two weeks ago than how it is responding today.

Of course, the rising numbers do not come as a surprise to Canada’s chief public health officer. She warned in July that Canada could see a “backslide” if too many Canadians continued to ignore public health advice, and cautioned in August that the fall would be a “period of challenge” due to cooling weather and the back-to-school period.

On the surface, something doesn’t add up. The warnings from authorities have been constant and consistent, and are starting to come true – and yet Canadians are still spending more time in public, where contact with the virus is more likely.

One possible explanation is that quarantine fatigue has set in.

Also known as pandemic fatigue, response fatigue and many other terms, quarantine fatigue is essentially the idea that citizens are tired of the pandemic and no longer take the necessary precautions to stop it.

This is why “we can’t let our guard down” is such a common refrain from political and medical leaders – both in Europe, where the World Health Organization is now warning about quarantine fatigue as cases skyrocket, and in Canada, where authorities hope to avoid the same scenario.

Barrett said that Canadians “really need to take to heart” the advice from public health leaders, spending less time outside the home and keeping their social circles to a small number.

“If people are able to do the things that have already been suggested, we may be able to keep a handle on things,” she said.

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Canada adds more than 800 new coronavirus cases, 6 deaths – Global News

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The number of Canadians who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus grew by 865 on Saturday, while the national death toll rose by six.

There have been 142,654 cases since COVID-19 was first diagnosed in Canada in late January and 9,211 deaths overall.

Across the country more than 7.7 million tests have been conducted throughout the pandemic, and 87 per cent of all cases are resolved.

The number of new cases being reported daily has increased by more than 60 per cent in the last two weeks, and demand for testing has increased sharply as well.

Read more:
Quebec Premier François Legault and his wife test negative for COVID-19, to remain in isolation

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said on average about 849 cases were reported per day in the last week.

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“I urge all Canadians to take action now to slow the spread of the virus. In addition to strict adherence with personal protective measures (e.g. physical distancing, handwashing and wearing non-medical masks where appropriate), we must all reduce our number of contacts to a minimum,” she said in a statement.

“Most importantly, stay home and isolate yourself from others if you are experiencing any symptoms, even if mild.”

The vast majority of the new cases occurred in Ontario and Quebec, though Saturday’s numbers are incomplete because the territories, Alberta, B.C. and P.E.I. do not release daily statistics on the weekend.






1:49
More for health care dollars, fiscal stabilization program changes tops Jason Kenney’s wish list for throne speech


More for health care dollars, fiscal stabilization program changes tops Jason Kenney’s wish list for throne speech

Quebec announced 427 new infections, bringing its total to 67,080. Five deaths were recorded, three of which occurred earlier this month, officials said.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Premier François Legault said Saturday he has tested negative for COVID-19 but would remain in isolation until Sept. 28.

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Legault and his wife were tested after meeting with Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole — who has since tested positive.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford announced the province would be extending restrictions on private events to all areas of the province.

Read more:
New COVID-19 gathering restrictions expanded to all of Ontario

Earlier in the week, new limits on the number of people allowed to gather were announced for virus hotspots such as Toronto and Ottawa.

“Over the past several days, we have seen alarming growth in the number of COVID cases in Ontario,” Ford said.

“The alarm bells are ringing. And too much of it has been tied to people who aren’t following the rules. People who think it’s OK to hold parties, to carry on as if things are back to normal. They aren’t.”






3:43
New study examines COVID-19 antibodies in pregnant women


New study examines COVID-19 antibodies in pregnant women

Ontario added 407 new cases on Saturday and one new death was announced. The province has seen a cumulative total of 46,848 infections.

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Officials in Saskatchewan said they hit a record high in testing on Friday, with 2,873 samples taken. There were 11 cases discovered. Overall, the province has seen 1,787 cases and 24 fatalities.

Read more:
Saskatchewan reports 11 new cases of COVID-19, hits single-day testing record

In Manitoba, 18 new cases were reported Saturday. The province has the lowest cumulative case total in Western Canada at 1,558, including some cases considered presumptive.

Nunavut reported its first two confirmed cases Saturday. The two people diagnosed are workers at the Hope Bay Mine, located southwest of Cambridge Bay, officials said. They are believed to have been exposed to the virus in their home province.

“Hope Bay Mine is an isolated location, and no Nunavut residents currently work there. The risk of COVID-19 spreading in our communities because of these cases remains very low,” Health Minister George Hickes said in a statement.

There are currently no other active cases in Canada’s North. The infections previously announced in Yukon and Northwest Territories — 20 in total — have long been resolved.

Three out of four provinces in Atlantic Canada provided updates on the pandemic Saturday but no new cases were announced. There are only a handful of active cases remaining in the region.

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On Friday, British Columbia added 179 new cases, though 40 of them dated back to early August, and Alberta reported 107 new positive tests.






0:54
Coronavirus: Yaffe says Ontario is in a wave, but unclear if province has entered the ‘big second wave’


Coronavirus: Yaffe says Ontario is in a wave, but unclear if province has entered the ‘big second wave’

Read more:
Manitoba sees 18 new COVID-19 cases, one new infection at Gordon Bell High School

On Saturday, the U.S. coronavirus death toll was poised to reach 200,000, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Around the world, more than 30 million people have been diagnosed with the illness, and nearly 954,000 people have lost their lives.

—With files from The Canadian Press, Mickey Djuric, Ryan Rocca and David Lao, Global News

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

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Canada's green agenda not hijacked by COVID-19: environment minister – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the pandemic hasn’t hijacked the government’s “big green agenda,” and warned that if left unaddressed climate change will have more of an impact on Canadians than COVID-19.

Wilkinson admitted that the government’s priority is dealing with the pandemic, but said they will be thinking about the investments they must make “in the context of the looming crisis that is climate change.”

“At the end of the day, if we do not address the climate issue, the impacts that we will feel from that will be significantly greater than what we’re feeling from COVID-19,” Wilkinson told Evan Solomon during an online exclusive interview with CTV Question Period.

Speaking to reporters as he announced his intention to prorogue parliament in August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the throne speech will give the government an opportunity to build a recovery plan that allows Canada to “build back better.”

“This is our chance to build a more resilient Canada, a Canada that is healthier and safer, greener and more competitive, a Canada that is more welcoming and more fair. This is our moment to change the future for the better,” Trudeau said at the time.

However, insiders have told The Canadian Press that the throne speech will have three main priorities: measures to protect Canadians’ health and to prevent another lockdown; economic supports through the pandemic; and eventual rebuilding measures.

With the focus on the pandemic apparent, questions are circulating about the level of green investment that will actually be borne out of the looming throne speech. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is among these skeptical onlookers.

Speaking to Solomon on Wednesday during an episode of CTV Power Play, May said she’s made it clear to the prime minister that if he plans to leave real climate action out of the throne speech, he won’t be getting her party’s support.

“I made it very clear to the prime minister: without a commitment that we live up to the requirements of the Paris Agreement…we can’t vote confidence,” May said.

“When Joe Biden calls Donald Trump a climate arsonist, I don’t want to be calling Justin Trudeau a climate arsonist. He’s got a little bit of time left.”

Further raising the concern that the pandemic might be putting green initiatives on the back burner, the Liberals have also failed to plant a single one of the two billion trees they pledged to get in the ground over the next 10 years.

When pressed on the delay, Wilkinson admitted the pandemic has been a factor in slowing the tree planting efforts.

“The two billion trees commitment remains, it will be something that we will be looking at doing going forward. As you well know, we didn’t have a budget this year because of the pandemic and we’ve been living with this pandemic for six months,” said Wilkinson.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News’ Rachel Aiello

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