Connect with us

News

She survived the Holocaust and died of COVID-19. Her family says pandemic's human toll is lost in the numbers – CBC.ca

Published

 on


The last time Jeff Shabes saw his mother alive, dementia had transported her back to the nightmare of her childhood, screaming out for her late mother and father in Siberia where they fled from occupied Poland and terrified she’d miss her train to safety. 

Malvina Shabes survived the atrocities of the Holocaust. But COVID-19 took her in only a matter of days.

In their final moments together, Jeff Shabes — sitting across the room in full protective gear — repeated to his mother the stories she so loved to tell him, like how as a little boy, he made her sandwiches when she was unwell after suffering a miscarriage.

“I hadn’t called my mother ‘mummy’ in, I don’t know, 45 years,” he said. “So I referred to her as, you know, ‘I love you mummy, you’ll always be a part of our lives and memories. And it’s OK to close to your eyes. We want you to close your eyes and be with dad.”

As he left the room, the screaming went on. But Shabes was sure his mother heard him. Less than 24 hours later, she was gone.

Somewhere along the lines though, as the spectre of a global pandemic went from looming threat to daily reality, the human toll behind daily case counts and testing numbers seems to have slipped from collective sight, he said.  

“That’s one of the reasons that I agreed to do this. It’s the main reason,” Jeff Shabes told CBC News.  

‘So much more than just a number’

“We have to educate people that these are not just 1,500 cases a day and 13 deaths. There are families that are suffering not just after the loved one has passed away, but during … It’s so much more than just a number.”

Born in Krakow in 1929, Malvina Shabes was forced to flee Poland at the age of 10 along with her two-year-old brother, grandparents and nanny. Their journey ended in Siberia, Russia, at a labour camp, where food could be scarce and they often had to be hidden to survive. 

Born in Krakow in 1929, Malvina Shabes was forced to flee Poland at the age of 10 along with her two-year-old brother, grandparents and nanny. She arrived in Canada in the 1940s at the age of 19 and married soon afterward. Her husband of 60 years died seven years ago. (Submitted by Jeff Shabes)

After the war, Malvina went back to Poland briefly and onto Germany, before coming to Canada in the late 1940s at the age of 19. Not long afterward, she married and had two sons, Jeff and his brother Steven.

Over the years, family and friends were her number one priority, Jeff said. When her own mother was diagnosed with blood cancer, she and her brother resolved to find a doctor who could help. Her mother survived until the age of 93. 


CBC News wants to learn more about the Canadians we have lost during the pandemic. If you would like to share the story of someone who has died of COVID-19, email us at COVID@cbc.ca


Malvina and her husband celebrated 60 years of marriage before he died seven years ago. But in recent years, she began experiencing dementia.

She was moved to a home that specialized in care for dementia patients and found a way to adapt, participating in virtually all of its programs to the extent that she could and her appearance — as ever — remained immaculate. 

“She always had her hair done and her nails done,” Shabes said with a laugh, recalling how he’d never seen his mother with grey in her hair until recently. “She was really truly quite the matriarch and an elegant person.”

In recent years, Malvina Shabes was moved to a home that specialized in care for dementia patients and found a way to adapt, participating in virtually all of its programs to the extent that she could and her appearance — as ever — immaculate. She insisted on elegance, her hair and nails always done, her son told CBC News. (Submitted by Jeff Shabes)

‘Easy to lose track of the faces, the lives, the tragedy’

But stories like Malvina’s are increasingly lost amid the daily din of numbers, said Toronto geriatrician Nathan Stall. That’s not just a matter of sentiment, he said, but ultimately has an impact on policy itself.

“Once you pass a milestone like like 10,000 deaths, it becomes easy to lose track of the faces, the lives, the tragedy the families are experiencing,” Stall said. “And that could be something that would motivate us to change our approach during the second wave.”

WATCH | New figures show the second wave could be hitting long-term care homes:

By far most Canadian COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term-care homes, where residents and staff have faced unsafe conditions. New figures show it could be about to happen all over again. 1:59

Canada surpassed 11,000 COVID-19 deaths this week. 

Somewhere over 96 per cent of those who have died in Canada of COVID-19 are over the age of 60. And close to 80 per cent were long-term care residents, Stall said. 

“I would argue that those people aren’t the types of people that most Canadians identify with. There’s a bias we speak about called an identifiable lives bias … We react most emotionally and most directly when it comes to public policy and action for the types of lives that we identify with.” 

Consider a turning point in Canada’s COVID-19 story, he said: “It wasn’t the death of a long-term care resident… it was actually the NBA shutting down. It was Sophie Gregoire Trudeau catching COVID. It was Tom Hanks. That’s what actually made us act.”

Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said Canadians have to some extent lost sight of the human toll behind COVID-19 numbers. (CBC)

Now, as a second wave has taken hold, there appears to be more of focus on business and keeping doors open rather than on the human cost of the resurgence, he said.

“There seems to be a sort of acceptance, a really chilling acceptance of the death of older adults and those living in long-term care homes.”

‘Waking up everyday and checking the numbers’

Holding provincial news briefings outside a long-term care home rather at businesses would be one way to keep the focus on victims and workers on the frontlines, Stall said. 

“If we dehumanize what’s going on with COVID-19, I think it’s easy for the population to also think that there is this acceptable trade-off.

“I think in some respects, the Canadian experience has been waking up everyday and checking the numbers… But I think that our leaders could play a role in changing that and putting the focus back on the tragedy that so many Canadians are experiencing and sadly will continue to experience over the next several months.” 

Asked late last week by CBC reporter Mike Crawley about whether his apparent focus on the impact of COVID-19 on businesses was equal to his concern for the pain of families, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference: “Nothing weighs more on me than when I talk to family members on the phone… I met a lady the other day that came up to me and said, ‘I want to thank you for doing a great job and I lost both my parents in long-term care a week apart two weeks ago.

“I take hundreds of calls. I’m one of the few elected officials in this country … that’s up till midnight in his office taking personal calls and listening to the concerns. Does that weigh on Mike? It weighs on me, I can assure you… if you don’t think this weighs on me, you don’t know me very well.”

Statistics are ‘people with the tears wiped off’

Since his mother’s death last Tuesday, Shabes and his family have held prayers each night.

But like so many families that have lost loved ones to the virus, their grieving process has been anything but normal. 

Since his mother’s death last Tuesday, Jeff Shabes and his family have held prayers each night. But like so many families that have lost loved ones to the virus, their grieving process has been anything but normal.  (CBC)

“We can’t be there to just hold on to one another,” he said. “It’s a time for consolation and really the beginning of a long healing process. We don’t have that.”

Reasons like that mean Canadians can’t afford to lose sight of the lives behind the numbers, Stall said.

“There’s a line that I’ve come back to often during the pandemic from really one of the most famous epidemiologists who died nearly a century ago, Sir Austin Bradford Hill,” he said.

“Health statistics represent people with the tears wiped off.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

3 Nova Scotians appointed to the Order of Canada – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Three Nova Scotians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours.

They are among the 114 appointees announced Friday.

The list includes eight companions, 21 officers, one honorary member and 84 members. The full list can be found here.

“Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation,” said a statement on the office of the Governor General’s website.

Appointments are made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. More than 7,000 Canadians have received the honour since its inception.

Jeff Dahn of Halifax, who has led groundbreaking research on lithium-ion batteries, was appointed as an officer.

Dahn is considered a pioneer of lithium-ion battery research. (Jill English/CBC)

In 2017, he won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his work in making batteries increasingly efficient. He also won a Governor General’s Award for Innovation in 2016.

Dahn works out of a lab at Dalhousie University. He also began a five-year research partnership with Tesla In 2016.

In the statement, the Governor General’s office also commended him for “his mentorship and adroit bridging of academia and industry.”

Dahn could not be reached for comment Sunday.

‘It’s humbling’

Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Wilson and John Eyking were appointed as members.

Wilson, a plastic surgeon in the Halifax area, was appointed “for his nationally recognized expertise in reconstructive and plastic surgery, and for his volunteer work on international medical missions.”

“It’s humbling, but a very nice addition to a great career,” Wilson said of the honour.

In the mid-80s, Wilson became the first person east of Montreal to dedicate himself to doing plastic surgery for children.

“It was a very satisfying thing for me to be able to look after a lot of the children who have either had to travel, or that hadn’t had, sometimes, the attention they would’ve had otherwise,” he said.

Wilson has spent more than 30 years doing plastic and reconstructive surgery for children. (Submitted by Ken Wilson)

In the mid-90s, Wilson began working with Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgeries and dental care to children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. He travelled a couple times a year to do surgery in underdeveloped countries, and he estimates he went on about 46 missions.

In the late 1990s, Wilson became the chief of surgery at the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax, a position he held for more than a decade.

He stopped practising five years ago, but Wilson now works as a medical consultant for Doctors Nova Scotia and is chair of the board for Operation Smile Canada.

“It was a wonderful career,” said Wilson. “I gotta say, I’ve been very lucky over the years to have the opportunity to do what I did.”

While there is no ceremony this year due to COVID-19, Wilson was mailed his snowflake insignia, as well as a “lovely book” detailing the history of the Order of Canada and the many recipients over the years.

‘All in a day’s work’

Eyking, a farmer and entrepreneur who founded Eyking Farms, was recognized for his “personal and professional dedication to the Cape Breton community, particularly within the agriculture industry.”

Eyking, of Millville, N.S., immigrated to Canada in 1963 from the Netherlands. He started a farm, which later grew into a family operation run by him, his wife and their 10 children.

He is also an inductee of the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Reached by phone Sunday, Eyking, 89, was modest about his appointment. He credited his farm’s accomplishments to the work of his large family.

“For me, it was all in a day’s work and I enjoyed it,” he said.

He, too, received a parcel from the Order of Canada, and said he enjoyed the book.

“There’s quite a few Cape Bretoners in there,” he said.

The recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

MORE TOP STORIES

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

Published

 on


The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

Published

 on


The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending