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Daily Inter Lake – Local News, Troy students trade classroom for the outdoors

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A Canada goose in full-throated “honk” passed overhead and every single student immediately looked skyward.

They stood gawking at the goose on a recent Friday morning along the Kootenai River in Troy’s Roosevelt Park. They followed the bird until it flew out of sight.

Sandy Compton, program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, observed the rapt attention of the sixth-graders and smiled.

“We try to get kids outside where they’re not always looking at their phones,” he said.

Compton, along with Henry Jorden, another staff member for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, and several volunteers were hosting a Winter Tracks outdoors education event for two sixth-grade classes from W. F. Morrison Elementary School.

It wasn’t really winter weather. And the dearth of snow reduced the odds of encountering wildlife tracks.

Yet the students appeared to be engrossed as they circulated through four separate stations: Animal adaptation; wilderness survival; tree identification and “leave no trace.”

Gene Reckin, a retired science teacher, asked students at his station a series of questions about animals and mammals. Several students, including Trevor Guinard, answered correctly and confidently.

Chris Reichert and Russ Gautreaux walked students through identifying several species of trees common to the region.

Karie Lee, who has spent weeks in the mountains equipped only with primitive gear, talked to students about how to survive in the backcountry if circumstances yield a crisis. Among other things, she taught the sixth-graders how to construct a “debris hut” for an emergency shelter.

Jane Jacoby, conservation director for the Yaak Valley Forest Council, shared with students the principles and practices of “leave no trace.”

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness was formed in January 2005 to advocate for wilderness designation for the rugged and spectacular region west of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

The proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness spans the Montana-Idaho border and provides the backdrop for the communities of Clark Fork, Hope and Sandpoint.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks began offering Winter Tracks classes six years ago as one way to build connections in Idaho and Montana.

The nonprofit will offer 11 classes this year. Participants will include students in Libby, Troy and elsewhere.

Compton said the Winter Tracks program is a valuable tool for outreach but noted it’s not intended to recruit wilderness advocates.

“We don’t proselytize,” he said. “We just show up and offer our classes and teach kids how to do things outside.”

He said the nonprofit believes the path to wilderness designation for Scotchman Peaks involves connection and collaboration with people who live and work in the region.

“If you want to be part of the neighborhood, you have to be good neighbors,” Compton said.

Troy sixth-grade teachers Louise Roberts and Al Arpin expressed enthusiasm for the Winter Tracks program.

Arpin said it is important to get the students “outside the four walls” of school to introduce them to experiences that add tangible meaning to what are often just concepts in school.



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Thanksgiving, large gatherings to blame for surge in COVID-19 cases in Ontario, officials say

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As Ontario saw record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases over the weekend, health officials on Monday are putting some of the blame on large gatherings that may have taken place over Thanksgiving two weeks ago. 

In York Region, 16 people, including three infants, are believed to have contracted the novel coronavirus following a Thanksgiving gathering. 

Three families gathered at a home in Vaughan over a span of two weeks around the Thanksgiving weekend.

At least one person attended despite having mild symptoms. 

One family member then went to work while symptomatic and infected two additional individuals. 

“Every time we socialize with anyone beyond our immediate household, there’s a risk that we enter into,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s medical officer of health. 

“This particular cluster illustrates that sort of a risk.”

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister Christine Elliott pointed at Thanksgiving gatherings as one of the factors for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. 

“We are also starting to see some of the numbers go down in some of the modified areas but because of the impacts of Thanksgiving, we’re not seeing that happening quite as quickly as we’d like to,” Elliott said.

Weddings, religious service exempt from provincial gathering limits

This past weekend, nearly 100 people, many without masks, congregated outside a Toronto church for a wedding on Saturday. 

A woman, whose identity CBC News agreed to protect because she fears repercussions from the community, was passing by when she saw the gathering and spoke out.

“It was wrong,” said the woman.

“It was going against everything we’re being asked to do right now and it gives the impression that what they’re doing matters more than keeping the rest of the people safe,” she said. 

Ontario has restricted gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors in areas that are in Stage 2 — Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

But religious services, like weddings — even in hotspots like Toronto — are exempt, as long as the venue is at less than 30 per cent capacity. 

In a briefing Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the rules may need to be changed.

“I think we have to take another look at those regulations,” he said. 

“Any large gathering, no matter how careful you are, has a certain risk associated with it.”

PC MPP under fire for maskless photo at indoor gathering

Meanwhile, a Progressive Conservative MPP is under fire for not wearing a mask while posing for a group photo.

Sam Oosterhoff posted the picture on social media over the weekend but later deleted it. 

“I think it was shocking,” said Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca on Monday. 

“I think it was inappropriate and I think there definitely needs to be consequences for Mr. Oosterhoff.”

Oosterhoff, who is also the parliamentary assistant to the education minister, apologized for the picture, saying he should have worn a mask when taking the photo, given the proximity of the people around him.

Critics have called for his resignation, saying he was not following his government’s pandemic guidance. 

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Premier Doug Ford said that’s not going to happen. 

“Hey guys, everyone makes mistakes,” said Ford. 

“I have 100 per cent confidence in Sam. He does a great job representing his area. People love him out there and he came out and apologized.”



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‘A community champion,’ philanthropist and former Ticats owner, David Braley dies at 79

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Hamilton is mourning the loss of David Braley, a former owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with three decades of success in the Canadian Football League, a supporter of sport in the city, and an honoured philanthropist. 

Braley, who had owned the BC Lions since 1997, passed away in his Burlington, Ont. home at age 79, says a media release from the team.  

In a tweet, Mayor of Hamilton Fred Eisenberger called Braley a “community champion.”

“David Braley’s contributions live on and continue to make our city a better place,” he wrote. “His passion for community, arts & sport was immeasurable.”

He also journeyed into politics, when former Prime Minster Stephen Harper appointed Braley to the Canadian Senate in 2010, where he served for nearly three years. 

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2019 “for his contributions to the Canadian Football League, and for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic leadership in his community.” 

His philanthropy was remembered in a tweet Monday from Hamilton Health Sciences which said “We are profoundly saddened by the passing of David Braley. He was a champion for the people of Hamilton and contributed so much to improving medical education and research to the benefit of the global community.”

In a media release Bob Young, caretaker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said “I and the Tiger-Cats mourn David’s passing. He was an enthusiastic Hamiltonian and a wonderful benefactor to our community’s hospitals and universities. The CFL and Hamilton communities have lost a great leader and champion today.”

The first team Braley owned in the Canadian Football League (CFL) was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1989 to 1992, when it returned to community ownership.

During his first season of ownership, the Ticats went to the Grey Cup.

“While David was well known for his role with the BC Lions, he was also always, at heart, a Ticat fan. Our sincerest condolences go out to David’s family, and his wide circle of friends and admirers across our community,” said Young. 

Braley went on to collect four Grey Cups during his time as an owner in the CFL. Three of them were with the BC Lions, and his last was with the Toronto Argonauts, which he owned from 2010 to 2015.

The Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. 

He also acted as chairman of the CFL’s Board of Governors and served as an interim commissioner from March to November in 2002. 

Braley was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2012), McMaster Sports Hall of Fame (2007) and Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2006).

Tributes to man whose name adorns buildings across the city are being posted on social media. 

Along with contributions to football, Braley championed sport in Hamilton by helping to bring the World Cycling Championships to the city in 2012. 

He was also part of southern Ontario’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which saw Tim Hortons Field host all 32 soccer matches. 

“David Braley…was our champion in every sense of the word,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement. 

“David didn’t just talk about this idea. He lived it. An owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as well as the Argos and Lions, he often stepped in to sustain and turn around franchises when they needed him the most.”

Braley was born in Montreal in 1941, but moved to Hamilton two years later. The Ticats say he discovered his true passion for football after attending his first Tiger-Cats game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. 

He played high school football at Westdale Secondary School, studied sciences at McMaster University, and worked with General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Hamilton and then with London Life Insurance.

In 1969, he purchased William Orlick Industries, which is now known as Orlick Industries, and transformed it into a leading manufacture of aluminum die-cast auto parts that provided hundreds of jobs in the Hamilton area. 

Braley has donated over $125 million to various organizations, says the Ticats media release. 

From August 2006 to June 2007, he donated $50 million to McMaster’s medical school and another $5 million for the university’s athletic centre, which is named after him. 

Braley also gave $10 million to Hamilton Health Sciences for a new cardiac, vascular and research institute, also named after the philanthropist, and $5 million to St. Joseph’s Healthcare for operating rooms and kidney care. 



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Andrew Wilkinson resigning as B.C. Liberal leader after worst party showing in decades

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Andrew Wilkinson has resigned as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, two days after the party had its worst provincial election outcome in decades.  

Wilkinson announced his resignation in a very brief address to the media on Monday. He said he has asked the party’s president to begin the work to find his successor and that he will step down when his replacement is found.

“Leading the B.C. Liberals has been a great honour, but now it’s time for me to make room for someone else to take over this role,” he said. 

Wilkinson took no questions from reporters.

Saturday night’s election results saw John Horgan’s B.C. NDP capture a majority of seats, a disastrous outcome for the Liberals that led to the possibility that Wilkinson, who was elected leader in 2018, would lose leadership of his party.

The Liberals face a projected loss of 12 seats in the legislature after voting day. As many as 525,000 mail-in ballots will be counted in the next two weeks. 

The announcement comes after a disastrous outcome for the B.C. Liberals in Saturday’s provincial election. 1:40

The B.C. NDP is projected to take 55 of B.C.’s 87 ridings, compared to 29 for the Liberals and three for the Green Party.

It will be the first majority government for the NDP in British Columbia since 1996, and while the B.C. Liberals will stand as the Official Opposition, it will be with the lowest seat count the party has had since 1991.

Wilkinson, 63, served in several cabinet positions when in government, including minister of justice and advanced education.

Reaction to results

Wilkinson addressed constituents and the media Saturday night. He acknowledged the NDP were “clearly ahead” based on preliminary results, but did not concede, saying the race wasn’t over until the mail-in ballot count.

“We’ll have more to say going forward but for now we all have a responsibility to be patient, to respect the democratic process and to await the final results,” he said before leaving the stage at his campaign headquarters.

But Wilkinson appeared to concede on Sunday evening, saying he phoned Horgan around 5 p.m. PT to offer his congratulations.

“The people of B.C. have spoken,” Wilkinson wrote in a tweet.

Horgan thanked Wilkinson for his dedication to the people of B.C., acknowledging the challenge he faced serving as Opposition leader.

“I’ve done that job, and I’ve often said it is the toughest job in politics,” Horgan said in a statement. “Mr. Wilkinson led the Official Opposition through a very challenging time for our province. He ran a spirited campaign and I wish him the best in the future.”

Wilkinson seemed to have trouble connecting with voters during the campaign.

He made comments about renting being a “wacky time of life” and described domestic violence victims as “people who are in a tough marriage“. 

Wilkinson also did not immediately face the press after sexist comments were made by candidate Jane Thornthwaite during a video conversation he was a part of. 

Who’s next?

Dianne Watts, former Surrey mayor and runner-up in the last B.C. Liberal leadership race, told CBC on Monday she felt Wilkinson’s wait time before addressing the sexist comments likely did not sit well with voters.

When asked if she was up for the task of replacing Wilkinson should the party look for a new leader, Watts laughed.

“Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt,” she said.

Longtime Liberal and Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond’s name has been floated as a possible replacement.

She told CBC’s Daybreak North on Monday it’s a role she is not considering.

“It’s not something I’ve ever aspired to,” she said.

Bond said she’s focused on serving her constituents and is looking forward to being part of a Liberal party that will need to explore what it will take to resonate further with British Columbians. 

“My job is to be part of this team as it asks some really hard questions about did we do, what do we need to do and how do we begin to re-engage with British Columbians in every corner of this province,” Bond said.



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