Pair of oversight roles vacated ahead of first Calgary city council meeting

A pair of oversight roles associated with the City of Calgary have been vacated.

On Tuesday, Calgary Police Commission chair Bonita Croft announced she was leaving the commission after two years as chair and another as a member.

And Nov. 30 will be the final day for integrity commissioner Meryl Whittaker, after less than a year of being in that position.

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The work to find a new integrity commissioner begins Monday, when the newly-elected city council appoints members of the public to a selection committee. The four-person committee will include one former councillor, and will work with an external recruitment firm to eventually recommend a new commissioner.

In a notice dated Sep. 30, former mayor Naheed Nenshi wrote that Whittaker’s departure was tied to her decision to retire.

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“The timing of her departure will allow Ms. Whittaker to support the next city council through its orientation and help position them for success,” he wrote.

Whittaker replaced Sal Lovecchio, who suddenly departed the role in 2020. Whittaker was announced to the role on Nov. 26, 2020, following an eight-month search process.

Whittaker’s work included investigating Evan Woolley calling Coun. Sean Chu an “ignorant moron” on Twitter, determining it violated the councillor code of conduct. Woolley apologized.

Croft’s departure from the police civilian oversight body comes at a time when police have been under increased scrutiny for their current and past actions.

“Certainly the work of the commission on (the police investigation of allegations against Chu) and everything else will continue with my departure, and I know that the rest of the commission is anxious to move on with that work,” Croft said.

Croft said the past two years have been a “very busy time” for her after she took on increased responsibilities in a VP role with Suncor Energy.

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She also mentioned some highlights during her tenure: modernization of the Calgary Police Service to include EDI, financial accountability, and processes and controls, all during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday was Croft’s final police commission meeting. She had shared her decision to leave the volunteer role with then-mayor Nenshi “weeks ago” and more recently with Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

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Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal left the police commission after he won in the federal election and Croft’s departure leaves a pair of seats open on the commission.

Croft leaves at a time when city council annually fills vacancies on boards, commissions and committees.

She expects her replacement on the commission to be named by its Nov. 30 public meeting. And the commission will be deciding on a chair shortly after.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

2 Delta, B.C. residents charged after cannabis edibles found in Halloween candy last year

Two Delta, B.C., residents have been charged with violations of the Cannabis Act after a local parent found edibles in their child’s Halloween candy last year.

The investigation led Delta police to a suspected illegal cannabis extraction lab in November 2020, where thousands of edibles, associated packaging, labelling materials and equipment were seized.

Two people were charged on Tuesday with two counts each of possession for the purpose of distribution, and one count each of altering cannabis by use of an organic solvent.

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“Charge approval on this investigation came at a timely point,” Insp. Guy Leeson said in a Thursday press statement.

“Fortunately last year, the parent spotted the suspicious candy before anything was consumed. And we had no other similar complaints related to trick or treating.”

The investigation began after a Delta constable reviewed an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip about suspected Cannabis Act violations, leading her to an “associated website,” said the release.

The same officer also reviewed a file on an incident that took place on Halloween last year, in which cannabis edibles were found in the bags of two children, packaged with “a distinctive cartoon style logo.”

The constable realized there were similarities in the packaging, and police were able to obtain a search warrant for the suspected illegal lab at a residence in North Delta.

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“She did some really good leg work on this file,” said Leeson, citing the department’s ‘No Call Too Small’ policy.

“‘No Call Too Small’ also means that our officers have the time to review files, and make important connections that could otherwise be missed. Those small things can become pretty large investigations.”

The police service is reminding parents to check their children’s Halloween candy this year before allowing them to consume any treats.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

USask changing COVID-19 vaccination requirement for winter term

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) is making changes to its COVID-19 vaccination policy, requiring anyone who accesses campus to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

“To be able to safely offer more in-person instruction and campus activities, we have made the decision to require anyone on our campuses or in our workplaces to be fully vaccinated, beginning at the start of the Winter Term,” USask president Peter Stoicheff said in a news release.

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At present, USask said 99 per cent of faculty, 96 per cent of students, and 95 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated.

As per the university’s current policy, individuals are able to submit a negative COVID-19 test result to access campus, but starting Jan. 4, anyone accessing campus will need to show proof they’ve received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This includes individuals accessing the PAC, Huskie games, libraries, dining facilities, and any building, office and classroom on campus. The requirement also extends to all vendors and contractors.

Stoicheff said the winter term will see more in-person campus activity so USask sought public health guidance to inform their measures for the new term.

“The expert guidance has confirmed for us that vaccination is the single most effective public health measure to reduce spread and prevent harms of COVID-19 in our community, and that testing protocols are not preventive, but reactive, and should only be used in situations where vaccination is not an option.”

Stoicheff said for fully vaccinated individuals who have submitted their vaccination status through PAWS, there is no further action required at this time. When individuals are eligible for their third (booster) shot, they will need to provide proof of receiving it to continue to be considered fully vaccinated.

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Stoicheff said USask understands there are some people who are not able to be fully vaccinated on grounds protected by The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

“(USask) will continue to consider accommodation requests for these individuals in accordance with the requirements of the Code. Previously approved accommodations will continue through the Winter Term, and those individuals receiving them will need to continue submitting regular negative test results.”

Stoicheff said only those with approved accommodations will be allowed on campus “as appropriate and in limited circumstance” without being fully vaccinated.

Campus members who choose not to be fully vaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 4 will be required to move to remote or online work and learning environments, where possible.

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USask said they made this announcement two months in advance of the winter term in order to give everyone enough time to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so.

Further details about the upcoming winter term will be provided in the coming weeks.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Belleville, Ont. police officer charged with assault after OPP investigation requested

OPP have charged a Belleville, Ont., police officer with assault following an independent investigation requested by the local chief.

According to OPP, the Belleville police chief asked OPP to investigate allegations of an incident involving a 36-year-old man in custody that took place on Sept. 17.

Thursday, OPP said their professional standards unit completed their investigation and charged Belleville police Const. Laura White with assault.

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OPP wouldn’t give any more details about the event that led to the investigation but said that Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit was not involved in the matter because no serious injury occurred during the incident.

Belleville police say White has been placed on administrative leave.

She is scheduled to appear in a Belleville court on Nov. 18.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: No new cases reported in Guelph for the 2nd day in a row

WATCH: British Columbia is the first place in Canada to announce plans to make COVID-19 booster shots available to the general public.

For the second day in a row, Guelph’s public health unit is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 as the city’s total case count remained at 5,089.

As of Thursday, active cases in the city fell to seven with two new recoveries reported.

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Total resolved cases climbed to 5,037 and the city’s coronavirus-related death toll stands at 45.

Six new cases have been reported in Wellington County, where the total case count during the pandemic has reached 2,058.

Active cases remained at 20 in the county with six recoveries reported. The death toll in the county related to the novel coronavirus stayed at 38.

Across Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, there are two cases being treated in hospital and both are in intensive care.

The local school boards are reporting no active COVID-19 cases among staff and students in Guelph and Wellington County.

The University of Guelph is reporting one active case on campus.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says 85.4 per cent of eligible residents — those who are turning 12 in 2021 or older — are considered fully vaccinated, while 88.2 have received one dose of vaccine.

In Guelph, 90.7 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated and 93.5 per cent are partially vaccinated, while in Wellington County, 78.2 per cent are fully vaccinated and 80.6 per cent have received one dose.

So far this week, about 1,400 vaccine shots have been administered, including about 350 first doses, roughly 900 second doses, and 150 third doses.

Third doses are being offered to specific high-risk groups, such as organ transplant recipients and residents of high-risk congregate settings.

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Public health is publishing COVID-19 vaccination rates within the local secondary and elementary schools.

As of Thursday, 79.5 per cent of eligible students in the Upper Grand District School Board have been fully vaccinated, while 81.8 per cent have had two doses in the Wellington Catholic District School Board.

Upper Grand says 89.7 per cent of its permanent employees have attested to being fully vaccinated as of Oct. 20, while Wellington Catholic says 94.4 per cent have attested to being fully vaccinated as of Oct. 15.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Halloween: B.C. RCMP offer safety tips, reminders to trick-or-treaters, homeowners

With Halloween nearing, RCMP agencies throughout B.C. are reminding the public to have a safe weekend.

Along with asking motorists to slow down on Sunday evening, police doled out several tips to trick-or-treaters and homeowners.

“Make no bones about it, Halloween is an exciting time for children of all ages,” said Chilliwack RCMP Insp. Steve Vrolyk.

“We encourage parents to talk with your kids about being safe before starting out for the evening, and remind motorists to slow down and be watchful for pedestrians.”

In the North Okanagan, an RCMP resource officer will be visiting classrooms this week to share Halloween safety tips.

“Talk to your children about Halloween safety and ensure they are dressed up in costumes that can be seen,” said Agassiz RCMP Sgt. Mike Sargent.

“Drivers, remember, to slow down and be diligent on this spooky night.”

Below are tips offered by B.C. RCMP detachments.

Trick-or-treaters

  • Do not participate if you are sick;
  • Trick-or-treat with a group or an adult;
  • Dress in bright colours and use reflective tape or glow sticks;
  • Wear make-up. It’s harder to see in a mask;
  • Costume weaponry should be easily identifiable as an imitation;
  • Use a flashlight. Stay in well-lit areas;
  • Carry a cellphone if available;
  • Include a non-medical mask as part of your costume;
  • Stay on sidewalks or to the side of the road;
  • Face traffic when you are walking down the road without sidewalks;
  • Only go to well-lit houses;
  • Never go inside the home or car of someone you don’t know;
  • Stay on the doorstep or sidewalk;
  • Watch for vehicles;
  • Have an adult inspect your treats before eating them.

Homeowners

  • Don’t participate if you’re sick;
  • Keep porch lights or external security lights on;
  • Keep doors clear and accessible and avoid decorations that are flammable or can pose a tripping hazard;
  • Don’t invite children inside your home;
  • Only pass out commercially wrapped candy and snacks;
  • Keep pets indoors, as they may be easily scared by children in costumes.

Motorists

  • Slow down and drive with extra caution. Excited trick-or-treaters sometimes forget pedestrian safety rules;
  • Ensure that your vehicle lights are on as soon as dusk hits;
  • Be very careful backing up or exiting driveways;
  • Have a plan for getting home safely if you’re planning on drinking or consuming drugs;
  • Slow down and proceed with caution when entering and exiting driveways or backing up.

Police also said, “if you see something, say something,” noting that Halloween is also popular with criminals.

“While you are out in your neighbourhoods,” said the RCMP, “keep your eyes open for criminal or suspicious activity such as vandalism and property damage, and report what you see to your local RCMP detachment.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Quebec coroner's report into Carpentier girls' deaths urges change in handling of disappearances

A Quebec coroner who investigated the deaths of two young sisters killed by their father is recommending broader criteria for triggering Amber Alerts and the creation of a dedicated police unit to investigate children’s disappearances across the province.

Those are among several recommendations from coroner Sophie Régnière stemming from the killings last year of Romy and Norah Carpentier and the suicide of their father, Martin Carpentier.

The girls and their father vanished after their car was involved in a serious accident on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire, Que., southwest of Quebec City, on July 8, 2020, just before 9:30 p.m.

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It was not until 3 p.m. the next day, July 9, that an Amber Alert was broadcast.

In reports made public Thursday, the coroner concludes the girls’ deaths likely occurred on the afternoon of July 9, and their bodies were found on July 11 not far from each other.

Martin Carpentier took his own life in the hours after the girls’ killings, but his body was only found on July 20.

The coroner recommends Quebec provincial police conduct an exhaustive overview of their procedures when a child disappears.

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She found that a number of factors hampered the investigation and if handled differently, it might have helped locate the girls more quickly and possibly prevented their deaths.

She says that Martin Carpentier’s actions were triggered by an impending divorce from the mother of the two girls and he was fearful of losing access to them. Romy, 6, was Carpentier’s biological daughter but Norah, 11, was not and he had adopted her when she was born.

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The disappearance gripped the attention of the province, especially in the town of just over 6,000 people where it played out and in the family’s hometown of Levis, across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Siloam Mission announces new CEO, commitment to improve Indigenous relationship

Siloam Mission has a new CEO.

The Winnipeg mainstay — which has provided shelter and support for members of the city’s homeless community since 1987 — announced Thursday that Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud will head up the organization beginning Nov. 15.

Whitecloud comes to Siloam from community charity Just1City, which supports programming for underserved communities in Winnipeg’s core.

With Whitecloud’s hiring come additional commitments for Siloam to improve its relationship with the city’s Indigenous community after a series of consultations.

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“Tessa brings a real passion and deep knowledge of our community to Siloam, and we are very excited to welcome her into the role of CEO,” Garth Manness, Siloam’s board chair, said in a statement.

“We have been listening to our community, and are committed to doing better in the future – and we know Tessa is going to be part of that. Her expertise, experience, and love for those we serve will position her well to help move our organization forward.”

Siloam parted ways with its previous CEO and board chair in early 2021 following strong criticism about the organization’s relationship with the Indigenous community.

A social media group calling itself Not My Siloam criticized the Christian organization in 2020, focusing on a lack of cultural and spiritual sensitivity to Indigenous people who use its services.

The organization pledged to improve that relationship and strengthen its connections to the Indigenous community, and said it will be implementing a number of recommendations, including increased Indigenous representation at the executive and staff levels, as well as education for staff and creating culturally relevant programming.

 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Families & doctors share stories of ill and dying children on new website to help others

WATCH ABOVE: Families of a seriously ill or dying child are often faced with fear, anger and a lot of questions. Kendra Slugoski takes a look at a new website launched by medical teams and other parents who want to show families they're not alone.

Arizona Cardinal-Burns was happy and loved.

The nine-year-old spent her final months with family, immersed in her Cree culture.

“Arizona was a very happy outgoing girl. She enjoyed dancing powwow,” said her mother, Sharice Cardinal. “She attended a lot of ceremony.”

In October 2020, Arizona was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumour.

Arizona Cardinal-Burns died from a brain tumor at just nine-years-old.

Arizona Cardinal-Burns died from a brain tumor at just nine-years-old.

“It was the worst type of brain tumour that somebody could have,” said Cardinal.

After a four month battle and with family by her side, Arizona passed away on Feb. 6, 2021.

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“I’m still processing it. It’s really tough. I find a lot of comfort in my culture, my family, the Stollery,” said Cardinal.

The ASSIST pediatric palliative care team at the Stollery Children’s Hospital helped Arizona and her family live out her days as best she could.

The team, said Cardinal, would deliver medication to their home in the middle of the night and during COVID-19 restrictions, made sure Arizona was able to continue spiritual healing with her family.

“They did everything.”

Tara Wren, nurse coordinator with the pediatric ASSIST team, has been working with families at their most devastating times for the past 15 years.

“It’s a very special role that I deeply cherish,” said Wren.

Wren and the team are by a child’s side to help with anything causing distress.

“So pain, irritability, family support just in coping through news they’ve received,” added Wren. “Walking with them each step of the way as we try to optimize whatever quality for their child.”

Often times families will focus on a goal — planning for an event like Halloween or making it to the Christmas holidays.

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“Sometimes it might be something like a child who wants to get outside for a few minutes,” said Wren.

“How can we do that with everything that’s going on for the child, either in hospital or in their home?”

But Wren said away from the hospital, many family members need more — and more time process the unthinkable.

“Families, I think, are often looking to know that they’re not alone.”

Wren pointed to a new website that could help families cope and offer “small comfort.”

Launched by The Canadian Virtual Hospice, the site CaringTogether.life is a free bilingual resource for families caring for a seriously ill or dying child. The website also provides information and support for pregnancy loss.

Pediatric palliative care specialists have contributed information and videos, along with families who have been through the palliative care journey.

Carla Garrett, whose son Xavier was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was eight-months-old, shared her experience on CaringTogether.life.

She wrote she “was in shock, confused and hurting” as her baby went for life-saving surgery. Garrett said the word palliative was difficult to digest — especially since her son was still going through treatment.

“Palliative care was for my grandma or someone else with end-stage cancer. Not a child, not my baby!”

Garrett wrote she came to realize her son wasn’t dying in that moment — and their journey was just beginning.

She said there are so many decisions and questions that “just aren’t topics you bring up at your weekly mom’s group. Nothing kills a room more quickly than talking about the plans for your child’s funeral or who you want to be there when they take their last breath.”

Xavier died shortly before his eight birthday.

Dr. Mary-Pat Schlosser, a pediatric physician and pediatric palliative care specialist at the Stollery, said “palliative care in children can be quite different than palliative care in adults.

“There are children that we will follow for decades sometimes because of their serious illness and their life-limiting illness but they aren’t necessarily at end-of-life.”

Schlosser said CaringTogether.life will allow families to get information whenever and wherever they need it.

“Things like how to talk to other people about the diagnosis and the illness. How to talk to your family about it,” Schlosser said. “How to respond to people offering help.”

The site covers other difficult topics like end-of-life care and the impact on siblings.

“There are also some things that families, I think, are afraid to ask,” said Schlosser, “because it’s uncomfortable, it’s scary.

“Asking about what does the time of death look like? And what do I have to do afterwards?”

Some families, said Schlosser, want to have that information ahead of time to prepare for something so terrible.

There are also families in remote parts of Alberta or the Northwest Territories that choose to stay at home with their child.

CaringTogether.life will allow those families and medical teams to use the website as a source of trusted information.

Sharice Cardinal didn’t have access to the webspace during Arizona’s battle with terminal cancer, but she called the Stollery team “her website” since they answered her questions at any moment. Still, having a place to go online would have helped, said Cardinal, “even just getting simple information on something that you would text your doctor to ask.

“Everybody learns differently, especially through traumatic times.”

Cardinal said her most cherished lesson came from Arizona.

“She showed me kindness. She showed me love. She showed me forgiveness, she showed me everything as a parent. They say we teach our kids but our kids are our teachers.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital to receive first MRI machine

After years of having to offload patients elsewhere, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) is finally set to receive its own magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek shared the news during a Thursday morning media conference outside the hospital.

“This is a number of years’ work, but how this will change the face of medical care in our community is immense,” Yurek told Global News.

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Yurek says that work involved fundraising support from the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation, an endorsement from STEGH’s board and a medical team at the hospital that’s ready to hit the ground running.

“For me, it was consistent conversations with the Minister of Health and her chief of staff over the last three-plus years trying to make this happen,” Yurek added.

“Thankfully, they saw the benefit of doing this investment here in St. Thomas.”

The province’s share of the funding is tied to a $30 million investment in the 2021 budget to support MRI services across Ontario.

STEGH president and CEO Karen Davies says the machine is expected to receive its first patient within a year.

STEGH president and CEO Karen Davies says the machine is expected to receive its first patient within a year.

Andrew Graham / Global News

STEGH president and CEO Karen Davies describes the MRI machine as an important tool in diagnostic imaging, especially for the hospital’s integrated stroke unit.

Davies says having a machine of their own will bring a lot of relief to a lot of people.

“To not have to move patients to Woodstock or London for an MRI is significant, not only for that patient in the moment, but for the care team as well, and in the pressures that it puts onto other hospitals when we depend so highly on them,” Davies said.

She adds that STEGH has been anticipating the announcement for some time and already had the space available to support an MRI machine.

“We’re looking at within a year, we’ll have our first patient in the MRI unit.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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