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Tribunal begins hearing into complaint against Ottawa over discrimination against FN children

first_imgAPTN National NewsAfter years of legal wrangling a preliminary hearing started Tuesday in Ottawa looking into whether Canada discriminates against First Nation children living on reserves.That’s a claim advanced by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations.The allegation is that Ottawa shortchanges children on reserves when it comes to providing services.The result is more First Nation children are in care compared to off-reserve children.Both sides argued Tuesday over the ground rules for the hearing and about witnesses.APTN National News reporter Annette Francis has this story.last_img

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Investors lining up to get piece of Trans Mountain pipeline project

first_imgChris StewartAPTN NewsIndigenous investors are lining up to get financially involved in the multi-billion dollar Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.The $4.5 billion dollars project, purchased by the federal government, is currently on hold.The pipeline, if built, will see a large increase in the amount of bitumen flowing from the Alberta tar sands to the B.C. coast.Two consortiums have announced an interesting in buying all, or part of the pipeline and now a third group has joined the discussion.The Alberta based Iron Coalition wants to buy at least a 50 per cent stake in the pipeline.The coalition says that 30 Indigenous and Metis organizations in Alberta want to [email protected]@aptnchrislast_img

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Northeast BC unemployment percentage rises to 74 for July

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Stats Canada released their July unemployment numbers today which saw Northeast B.C. on top of the list.According to the survey, Northeast B.C. has a 7.4 percent unemployment rate, 1.4 percent higher than the next closest, the Thompson Okanagan.The survey stated that Northeast B.C. has an estimated labour force of 43,500 workers, 3,200 of which are unemployed. This time last year the regions unemployment rate was at 6.6 percent with 40,800 people in the workforce. Last month the workforce saw an increase of 600 workers while the number of unemployed also rose by 200.The unemployment percentages for all of B.C. is shown below:Northeast B.C.: 7.4 percentThompson-Okanagan: 6.0 percentKootneys: 6.0 percentNorth Coast and Nechako: 5.8 percentVancouver Island: 4.6 percentLower Mainland: 4.5 percentFor information on the national statistics visit StatsCanada.ca.last_img read more

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Former firefighter with PTSD sues Syncrude over suspended benefits dismissal

first_img“But if you flip that switch that many times, it gets stuck on and you’re always at that level of agitation or awareness.”Swan was on his day off in Kelowna, B.C., in May 2016 when he got a call from work telling him to get back to Fort McMurray, where a fierce wildfire was rapidly spreading.Unbeknownst to him at the time, his PTSD was in full force.Swan was assigned to watch over a pharmacist who stayed behind during the city-wide evacuation to fill prescriptions. Swan said he would have been better off keeping busy fighting the blaze. Swan has also complained to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.The allegations against Syncrude have not been proven in court and the company has not yet filed a statement of defence.Swan, 44, began working for Syncrude in 2002 as a heavy equipment operator at its vast mining operation north of Fort McMurray, Alta. In 2007, he joined the company’s fire department, which sometimes responds to calls in the surrounding community.“I was really good at it and loved it,” Swan said in an interview, a black lab named Jack who he’s training to be a service dog, at his feet.Swan said his PTSD built up over time and there was no single event that triggered it. On the job he had to deal with anything from injuries and illnesses to an explosion on site, he said.He said his adrenaline would ramp up every time and it was like flipping on a light. CALGARY, A.B. – A lawsuit filed by a former firefighter and paramedic against Syncrude Canada claims the oilsands giant wrongfully denied him benefits and fired him after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder related to his job.Mike Swan is seeking damages for lost compensation and benefits, improper paycheque deductions and in lieu of reasonable notice, says a statement of claim filed Dec. 19 in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.The suit is also asking for “moral or aggravated damages for bad faith throughout the employment relationship” as well as punitive damages.center_img “I remember feeling like I was vibrating, like there was nothing worse to me than not actually fighting the fire, and sitting in that parking lot just breathing smoke in.”Swan said the tipping point was when his then-fiancee left him, telling him she never knew what would set him off. His captain found him crying by an ambulance at work and suggested he get help through a company program.“It was useless. They wanted me to eat a salad and get some sleep.”His own psychologist, saying he’d likely had it for years, diagnosed Swan with severe PTSD in March 2017.At first, Swan thought he’d be back on the job after a few weeks.But the following May, his psychologist recommended he get full-time treatment, so he went off work.The statement of claim says Swan received the proper benefits and compensation until October 2017, when a mix-up at the Workers’ Compensation Board led to him losing a week of benefits and top-up pay.Then, in February of 2018, Syncrude told Swan he had to return to work within a week, even though his care team and the WCB did not think he was ready, the lawsuit claims. The statement of claim alleges his benefits and top-up payments were again suspended and improper deductions were made from his paycheque.The suit is seeking a declaration that Syncrude’s actions amounted to constructive dismissal.Syncrude fired Swan on Sept. 20 in what the lawsuit claims was wrongful dismissal.Company spokesman Will Gibson declined to comment on Swan’s specific case, but said “Syncrude values and supports its employees.”Swan said his disputes with Syncrude have worsened his mental health at a time when he should have been focused on getting better.He said he’ll never work as a firefighter or paramedic again because of his condition and he’s exploring retraining options through the WCB.The ordeal has ruined him financially, he added. His sister, with whom he’s been living in Calgary, has set up a GoFundMe page to help with legal and medical bills.“Think about every mental-health campaign that’s going on right now. What are they telling us? Put your hand up. Ask for help,” he said.“I asked for help. I’m still asking for help.”last_img read more

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Burundi experiencing deep political crisis with hundreds dead since April Security Council

Noting that in Bujumbura the situation is very tense, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told the Council that several neighbourhoods, especially those perceived to have opposed the President’s re-election for a third term in July, experience nightly exchanges of gunshots and grenade explosions. “Traumatized residents frequently discover mutilated bodies, victims of executions,” he stated, briefing the Council along with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, who echoed concerns that Burundi is at a dangerous “tipping point” and that the Council could intervene to prevent a replay “of past horrors.”Civil unrest erupted in April in Bujumbura after the ruling party elected President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate. While elections were considered relatively peaceful and conducted adequately, the UN reported that the overall environment was “not conducive” to an inclusive, free and credible process.“The May 22 killing of Zedi Feruzi, a key opposition figure, marked the beginning of a troubling pattern of politically-motivated assassinations and attacks,” Mr. Feltman noted. “Neither the conclusion of Burundi’s legislative and presidential electoral cycle this summer nor the inclusion of some key opposition figures in the governing coalition calmed the situation, which has instead grown more troubling.”Just this morning, at least two people were killed by a grenade attack in the Musaga neighbourhood in Bujumbura. On Saturday, at least nine people, including a UN staff member, were killed when unknown gunmen opened fire inside a bar in Bujumbura’s Kanyosha neighbourhood. The bar was alleged to have been a previous meeting venue of anti-third mandate demonstrators.“The crisis in Burundi is political at its core and cannot be resolved by a security clampdown,” the senior official stressed. “It is not credible to claim that a small group of criminals or traitors are behind the current violence. The problem is much deeper and thus more worrying.”For the deteriorating situation to improve, he said Burundian leaders will need to address the political deadlock that preceded and transcended the summer elections. “In this regard, the [Government] has established a commission for inter-Burundian dialogue, said to be open to all except those implicated in the failed coup d’état on 14 May,” he informed the Council. “While the UN in general supports national dialogue efforts, this commission will not be able to make much progress in the tense security context where members of political parties and civil society are frequently found dead on the streets,” he insisted. “With many media outlets closed down since spring and opposition leaders abroad afraid to return home, the Government has not established the conditions for credible and inclusive political dialogue. We encourage the Burundian authorities to do so as quickly as possible.”Meanwhile, he recalled that in October, the African Union Peace and Security Council agreed on a multi-pronged approach to address the situation, including the expansion of its human rights observers and military experts and the initiation of contingency planning for the possible deployment of an African-led Mission in the country.In addition, the UN Secretary-General is expected in the coming days to announce the appointment of a Special Adviser who will lead and coordinate UN efforts in support of Burundi.These events, he highlighted to the Council, are happening at a time when the mandate of the UN Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi is ending. Meanwhile, the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB) closed at the end of last year, at the request of the Government. For his part, the UN human rights chief underscored his deepening concern regarding the “increasingly grave human rights crisis” in the country.“At least 240 people have been killed since protests began in April, with bodies dumped on the streets on an almost nightly basis,” Mr. Zeid declared. “There have been hundreds of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in the past month alone, targeting members of the opposition, journalists, human rights defenders and their families, people attending the funerals of those who have been killed, and inhabitants of neighbourhoods perceived to be supportive of the opposition,” he continued.“Fear of this violence, and the spectre of more bloodshed, are driving ordinary Burundians out of their homes. There are now well over 280,000 internally displaced people and refugees across the Great Lakes region. To make matters worse, it is reported that armed groups are recruiting in some refugee camps in neighbouring countries, and that agents of the Burundi Government are also present to identify opponents,” he added. Meanwhile, he said that President Nkurunziza set an ultimatum last week for Burundians to hand in all weapons, warning that those who would not do so would be dealt with as “enemies of the nation.” He noted that recent inflammatory remarks by members of the Government have suggested that this crisis, which has involved targeting people for their perceived political affiliations, could increasingly take on an ethnic dimension. “The President of the Senate recently ordered local authorities to identify ‘elements which are not in order’ and to report them to the police for them to be dealt with,” Mr. Zeid warned. “He also called on the authorities to rally people to get ready to ‘pulverize.’ Phrases such as these recall language that this region has heard before, and should not be hearing again. They could signal the imminence of much worse, and more widespread, violence.”He said he believes that the strong interventions of many officials and States in recent days “may have great influence,” and urged neighbouring countries in the Great Lakes to step up their attempts to promote a credible and inclusive political dialogue in Burundi.“I also believe it is the responsibility of this Council to address a situation of profound concern, well-known for many months, and which could lead to even greater carnage,” Mr. Zeid added, appealing to its members to keep Burundi at the top of the Security Council agenda.He further stressed the essence of having an inclusive dialogue take place among all stakeholders in Burundi, in accordance with the Arusha Agreement which put an end to 12 years of massacres and warfare in 2005.In his remarks, Mr. Dieng emphasized that in light of all that is clearly happening on the ground, the United Nations could not fail to take appropriate action now. Otherwise Burundi would slide back into an “all too familiar chaos.”Further, he said that “if there was ever a time for [the President] and his Government to display courageous leadership, it is now.” Indeed, the Government must work to restore peace through dialogue and to de-escalate the crisis. Yet, this is not the Government’s responsibility alone, continued Mr. Dieng, stressing that the international community, the African Union, the East African Community and the UN have an indispensable role to play.The United Nations Security Council should take urgent measures, including support for African Peace and Security Council decisions. Holding those who had incited and committed violence accountable would also help. It is important in that regard to remind Burundi, as a State party to the International Criminal Court, that those engaging in atrocity crimes would face prosecution.“No one should underestimate what is at stake, he said, recalling that the country’s own history and that of its neighbour, Rwanda, has shown the tragic consequences of failing to act when leaders incite violence.Meanwhile, earlier today in a statement, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also reiterated his appeal to all national stakeholders, in particular the Government of Burundi, “to keep the interests of the people of Burundi uppermost and resolve all outstanding issues through an inclusive dialogue.” read more

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When cultural heritage is under attack human rights are under attack –

“It is impossible to separate a people’s cultural heritage from the people itself and their rights,” Karima Bennoune, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, said in a press statement. “Clearly, we must now understand that when cultural heritage is under attack, it is also the people and their fundamental human rights that are under attack.”On 1 March, a pre-trial procedure, known as a confirmation of charges hearing, was opened in The Hague by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a case related to alleged cultural destruction in Timbuktu, Mali.While stressing that she does not want to prejudge the ongoing individual case before the ICC, Ms. Bennoune said that the destruction of cultural heritage by States and non-State actors must be urgently addressed by the international community.“When mausoleums – as well as ancient Islamic manuscripts – were being destroyed by armed groups during their 2012 occupation of Northern Mali, various forms of cultural practice were also under attack, including music and religious practices,” she said.The UN expert welcomed the decision of the ICC Prosecutor’s Office, for the first time, to charge the destruction of cultural and religious sites, as well as historical monuments, as a stand-alone war crime.In a report to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 10 March, the expert will address further the links between destruction of cultural heritage and violations of cultural rights. She will also make key recommendations, including for international cooperation and technical assistance.She said that cultural heritage professionals on the frontlines of the struggle against destruction must be provided with the conditions necessary to complete their work, and asylum when necessary.“We must not wait to rally to the cause of at-risk cultural heritage defenders until we are mourning their deaths,” the human rights expert said, while honouring the memory of Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, retired chief of antiquities for Palmyra, killed in 2015.Moreover, tribute should be paid to ordinary people who step forward to defend cultural heritage, like those in Northern Mali who reportedly hid manuscripts beneath the floorboards of their homes to protect them or those in Libya who tried to peacefully protest destruction of Sufi sites, Ms. Bennoune said.The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Independent human rights experts, appointed by the Council, address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work. read more

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Renewable energy sources could be cheaper than fossil fuels within 10 years

Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). UN Photo/Evan Schneider The Renewables Global Futures Report: Great debates towards 100 per cent renewable energy also noted that more than 70 per cent of the experts expressed that a global transition to 100 per cent renewable energy is both feasible and realistic, with European and Australian experts most strongly supporting this view.The report also found that similar number expected the cost of renewables to continue to fall, beating all fossil fuels within the next ten years.Noting some challenges in achieving the 100 per cent transition, the report mentioned that in some regions, most notably Africa, the US and Japan, experts were sceptical about reaching that figure in their own countries or regions by 2050, largely due to the vested interests of the conventional energy industry.Also, the lack of long-term policy certainty and the absence of a stable climate for investment in energy efficiency and renewables hinder development in most countries, read the report.“When REN21 was founded in 2004, the future of renewable energy looked very different than it does today,” noted Arthouros Zervos, the Chair of REN21, adding: “at that time, calls for 100 per cent renewable energy were not taken seriously, today the world’s leading energy experts are engaged in rational discussions about its feasibility, and in what time frame.” The REN21 report is based on interviews with 114 renowned energy experts from all regions of the world.In addition to governments, REN21 also includes international organizations, industry associations, science and academia and the civil society, as well as UN agencies including the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). “[The report] is meant to spur discussion and debate about both the opportunities and challenges of achieving a 100 per cent renewable energy future by mid-century,” said Christine Lins, the Executive Secretary of Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) – a global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).“Wishful thinking won’t get us there; only by fully understanding the challenges and engaging in informed debate about how to overcome them, can governments adopt the right policies and financial incentives to accelerate the pace of deployment,” she added.At a press conference at UN Headquarters today, Ms. Lins said that 2016 was the third year in a row where the global economy continued to grow, by three per cent, but emissions related to the energy sector decreased. And that was mainly due to renewable energy and efficiency investment in China and in the United States.“And so, we actually really see that renewables are, on the one hand making their way into the energy systems of many countries, but also we see that we have come a long way. We have a 20 per cent of the world’s final energy consumption nowadays coming from renewables,” she added. read more

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Youth obesity increases 10fold in four decades UNbacked study reveals

“These data highlight, remind and reinforce that overweight and obesity is a global health crisis today, and threatens to worsen in coming years unless we start taking drastic action,” Fiona Bull, programme coordinator for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) at the World Health Organization (WHO), said Wednesday in a news release.The study led by Imperial College London and WHO was published in The Lancet, ahead of World Obesity Day on Wednesday. It looked at body mass index (BMI) from weight and height measurements of nearly 130 million people, including 31.5 million youth aged five to 19.Obesity rates in the world’s children and adolescents increased from less than 1 per cent – equivalent to five million girls and six million boys – in 1975 to nearly 6 per cent, or 50 million girls, and nearly 8 per cent, or 74 million boys, in 2016. Combined, the number of obese five to 19 year olds rose more than tenfold globally, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016. An additional 213 million were overweight in 2016 but fell below the threshold for obesity.“These worrying trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe, with healthy nutritious foods too expensive for poor families and communities,” said lead author Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial’s School of Public Health.He said that the trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and at greater risk of diseases, like diabetes, stressing the need to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, as well as the need for regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods.More youth will be obese than underweight by 2022The authors say that if post-2000 trends continue, global levels of child and adolescent obesity will surpass those for moderately and severely underweight youth from the same age group by 2022. In 2016, the global number of moderately or severely underweight girls and boys was 75 million and 117 million respectively.In conjunction with the study, WHO is publishing a summary of the plan that gives countries clear guidance on effective actions to curb childhood and adolescent obesity. WHO has also released guidelines calling on frontline healthcare workers to actively identify and manage children who are overweight or obese.“Countries should aim particularly to reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods. They should also reduce the time children spend on screen-based and sedentary leisure activities by promoting greater participation in physical activity through active recreation and sports,” Ms. Bull said. read more

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Election for staff representative to the Board of Trustees

Brock University’s Board of Trustees is seeking one new ongoing staff representative to serve a three-year term on the Board.The general bylaws of the Board of Trustees specify that the Board shall include two ongoing staff members, elected by the ongoing staff of the University, serving staggered three-year terms.As of July 1, 2017, there will be one ongoing staff vacancy on the Board.The University Secretariat will hold elections in May to select one representative from the ongoing staff for a three-year term commencing July 1, 2017.All ongoing staff of the University are eligible to serve, except those who report directly to the President or to a Vice-President. Nomination forms are available on the University Secretariat election website.The nomination form must be signed by at least three members of the ongoing staff and the nominee. The nomination form must be submitted in person, by interoffice mail or by e-mail to [email protected], no later than 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 28. The Office of the University Secretariat is located in ST1107.The election will be done by electronic voting, with the exception of those without an active e-mail address, who will receive a paper ballot.Voting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 10 and will close at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24.All eligible voters will receive an e-mail to their Brock e-mail account with a link to a secure electronic ballot. Those without an active e-mail account will receive a paper ballot which must be returned to the Office of the University Secretariat. Each voter may vote for one candidate as there is only one vacancy.  The candidate leading the poll will be declared elected to the three-year term.Contact Chabriol Colebatch, Secretary to the University, at ext. 3335 if you have any questions. read more

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Legendary singer will sing from the heart

The legendary Mavis Staples is coming to the Centre for the Arts.She’s won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And at 72, Mavis Staples just keeps on going.With a career spanning more than five decades, the venerable rhythm and blues singer has released 13 albums and 16 singles. It’s a serviceable resume for any musician, but Staples, a gospel and blues legend, is not about to quit.“I’m dedicated to singing,” she says in a phone interview from her Chicago home. “My voice is a God-given gift, and I can’t abuse a blessing.”Staples will appear at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre on Jan. 25 in one of about eight Canadian stops. Ten days earlier, she’ll perform in Oakland, Calif. for a 10th annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.The constant touring is a joy for Staples. She’s been playing gigs largely non-stop since her latest album You Are Not Alone was released in 2010, fitting in appearances on shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman.“Earlier this year, we were coming home for two days, changing luggage and leaving again,” she said. “We’ve never traveled that much in one year.”Staples started singing professionally in 1952 with her family group, the Staples Singers. Doing songs that ranged from gospel to mainstream pop, the group released albums on a number of labels, including Epic and Stax Records. Their hits included “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There.”Staples has received multiple accolades since then. She’s been named one of Rolling Stone’s greatest singers of all time. June 19, 2007 was officially Mavis Staples Day in Illinois in honour of her career and lifelong dedication to civil rights. June 12, 2005 was Mavis Staples Day in Chicago. She’s done a duet with Bob Dylan (2003’s Grammy-nominated “Gotta Change My Way of Thinking”). Last year, she won a Grammy for best Americana album.Staples never grows bored of her career. She continues to be inspired by new audiences and new artists, she says. Her most recent favourite is British singer Adele, who she met recently in the UK. The young singer, couldn’t believe the gospel legend had heard of her.“My sister had to tell her, ‘Mavis never goes out and buys a CD, but she went out and bought yours,’” she says.Staples’ philosophy is to be as joyous as possible. She hopes Centre for the Arts patrons at her show feel uplifted.“So many people are having a really hard time today,” she says. “I want to make them feel so good, they feel it for the next six months.”She recalls at time performing as a young singer in New York City and following a group that had worn costumes and jumped around. When Staples took the stage, she tried to emulate them.“My father took me aside and said, ‘What are you doing?’” she recalls. “‘You’re singing God’s music. You don’t need gimmicks. What comes from the heart goes to the heart. Sing from the heart and you’ll get through to people.’ And every time I go onstage now, that’s what I do.”When: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.Where: Sean O’Sullivan TheatreCost: $55To order: 905-688-5550 x3257 read more

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