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Smoky skies, poor air quality across Canada as nearly 900 wildfires burn – CTV News



Parts of seven provinces and one territory were subject to air quality alerts Tuesday as smoke from nearly 900 active wildfires caused hazy conditions and health risks.

Environment Canada issued the weather advisories in the morning for major cities including Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa, as well of all of New Brunswick. A stronger smog warning covered much of southern Quebec, including Montreal and Quebec City. By 8 p.m. EDT, the advisories had been downgraded to weather statements about the possibility of “high levels of air pollution due to smoke from active forest fires,” and Ottawa no longer had a statement or advisory in place.

The agency’s alerts covered much of B.C.’s interior and northeast, western and northern Alberta, eastern and northern Saskatchewan, Ontario’s far northwest, all of southern Ontario, most of southern Quebec, all of New Brunswick, and Thebacha Region in the Northwest Territories.

However, the worst air quality in the country at that time was said to be in Winnipeg, based on the federal air quality health index (AQHI). The city’s poor air quality held up through the evening.

Manitoba’s largest city was said to have an AQHI value above 10 Tuesday morning, representing a very high risk to human health. The air quality improved to a level of eight, or high risk, by Tuesday evening. 

High-risk air quality levels were also reported Tuesday morning in Edmonton, Regina, Montreal and Quebec City. By evening, only Regina and Quebec City had air quality levels improve to moderate and low risk, respectively.

In all of these cities, the air quality was expected to start improving later Tuesday and through Wednesday. However, there was no sign of any impending rain, which would make a big difference in both reducing the smoke and combating nearly 900 wildfires that have caused the haze. 

Nearly 300 wildfires were burning in British Columbia as of Tuesday evening, including one that flared up late Monday, resulting in an evacuation order from the Osoyoos Indian Band. There were 68 wildfires burning in Alberta as of Monday, 171 active in Saskatchewan as of Tuesday, 130 in Manitoba as of Sunday, and 165 in Ontario as of Tuesday evening. Yukon has added eight new fires since Monday with dozens of active fires ongoing Tuesday evening, and the Northwest Territories is battling 37 active fires as of Tuesday evening.

Four fires in Ontario are of particular concern for firefighters, including a 16,000-hectare blaze that is seven kilometres from the evacuated Poplar Hill First Nation.

As is the case with other forms of smoke, smoke from wildfires can be hazardous to human health. Symptoms can include increased coughing, headaches and shortness of breath.

There is also emerging evidence that even a little bit of exposure to wildfire smoke may worsen eczema and other skin conditions, and that its fine particular matter is more dangerous to our health than car exhaust.

Environment Canada warns that children, seniors and those with cardiovascular issues are at increased risk of smoke-related symptoms, and that anyone exposed to wildfire smoke should limit outdoor activity and hydrate often.

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Basketball trailblazer denied Canadian permanent residency, must return to U.S. –



Bilquis Abdul-Qaadir, the trailblazing basketball player who set up an academy for girls and coached multiple sports at an Islamic school in London, Ont., has been denied permanent residency in Canada and will have to go back to the United States. 

“We’ve been here for two years, my son is Canadian, and we would love to be part of this country, but we finally got the message from immigration that we were denied permanent residency. It’s very unexpected,” said Abdul Qaadir from her London home. “I’m at a loss for words. I’ve single-handedly brought sports to an underserviced community. It’s heartbreaking.”

Abdul-Qaadir and her husband, A.W. Massey, moved to London from Tennessee three years ago.

She said she hasn’t been able to work in Canada since August, when her work permit expired and wasn’t renewed by a Canadian border official. 

“We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do. We aren’t sure. We’re angry and we’re tired. We put our heart and soul into this application. We felt like we checked all the boxes.” 

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and her husband, A.W. Massey, moved to London, Ont. three years ago from Tennessee. (Submitted by A.W. Massey)

Abdul-Qaadir led a four-year battle against the International Basketball Federation, which banned religious head coverings on the court. She won, but sacrificed her basketball career to do so.

She had been the leading high school point scorer for both boys and girls in Massachusetts, and went on to play for the University of Memphis in Tennessee, where she was the first woman to play in a hijab in NCAA Division 1. 

Alongside her motivational speaking gigs, she teaches at the London Islamic School and has opened a basketball academy in London, but all that is now up in the air. 

On Thursday, Abdul-Qaadir got a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that said she doesn’t “meet the requirements for immigration to Canada.” 

She applied for permanent residency as an athletic director at the London Muslim Mosque, but her duties — including developing, managing and supervising the school’s physical education and athletic programs, as well as being the head coach for the basketball, volleyball and cross-country teams — are “inconsistent with the actions” of an athletic director. 

“I am not satisfied that your stated duties is sufficient to indicate that your role involves plan, organize, direct, control and evaluate the operations of comprehensive fitness programs at this organization. I am also not satisfied that you performed a substantial number of the main duties for this [job classification],” IRCC wrote in her letter.   

Abdul-Qaadir said she doesn’t know if she and her husband will fight the refusal. 

Abdul-Qaadir set the state record for the highest all-time high school scorer for men and women in Massachusetts. ( Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photographer)

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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Mastercard expands cryptocurrency services with wallets, loyalty rewards



Mastercard Inc said on Monday it would allow partners on its network to enable their consumers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency using a digital wallet, as well as reward them with digital currencies under loyalty programs.

The credit card giant said it would offer these services in partnership with Bakkt Holdings Inc, the digital assets platform founded by NYSE-owner Intercontinental Exchange.

Founded in 2018, Bakkt went public earlier this year through a $2.1 billion merger with a blank-check company. Shares of the company were up 77% at $16.19 on Monday.

Mastercard said its partners can also allow customers earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of loyalty points.

The company had said in February it would begin offering support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year.

Last year, rival Visa Inc had partnered with cryptocurrency startup BlockFi to offer a credit card that lets users earn bitcoin on purchases.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, touched a record high of $67,016 last week after the debut of the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange traded fund. It has more than doubled in value this year.


(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to work in Shenzhen, after extradition drama – Global Times



Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, returned to work at the tech giant’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday after almost three years fighting extradition to the U.S. in Canada, state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Times reported.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, completed three weeks of quarantine last week after returning to the southern city of Shenzhen where a crowd of well-wishers chanting patriotic slogans awaited her at the airport.

“Over the last three years, although we have struggled, we have overcome obstacles and our team has fought with more and more courage,” she said in a speech at an internal company event that was circulated online.

The extradition drama had been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.

Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

She was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors last month to end a bank fraud case against her.


(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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