B.C. records another 946 COVID cases over 1st December weekend, along with 11 deaths

Buy Local Week is wrapping up in our province and some say it's more important than ever to keep supporting B.C. businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and a year plagued by ongoing supply chain issues, wildfires, and devastating floods. Kristen Robinson reports.

B.C. has recorded another 946 new cases of COVID-19 over the past three days.

From Friday to Saturday, there were 351 new cases. From Saturday to Sunday there were 311 new cases and from Sunday to Monday there were 284 new cases.

In addition, 11 new deaths have been reported for an overall total of 2,362.

The number of active cases of the virus in the province is now 2,876.

Of the active cases, 241 individuals are currently in hospital and 89 are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation, the province said.

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From Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 58.3 per cent of cases. From Nov. 19 to Dec. 2, they accounted for 66.1 per cent of hospitalizations, the province said.

As of Monday, 85.5 per cent of eligible people ages five and older in B.C. have received the first dose of a COVID vaccine and 82 per cent have now received a second dose.

There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks in the province.

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COVID-19: B.C. reports another 405 cases, six new deaths

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

New SaskPower program aims to lower power bills in northern First Nations communities

A new SaskPower program hope to curb high power bills in First Nations communities in northern Saskatchewan.

The Crown corporation announced the Northern First Nations Home Retrofit Program — designed to provide a number of free home retrofits for eligible customers — on Monday.

A home assessment could result in a variety of upgrades. That includes improved insulation, upgraded pipes and even LED light installations aimed at saving energy and money.

“Not everywhere in the province is blessed with the ability of heating their homes with natural gas. Many communities in the north rely on electric heat, which is more expensive,” says Scott McGregor, media relations consultant with SaskPower. “This program is certainly designed to help offset those costs and help bring those power bills down.”

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According to SaskPower, the program is open to qualified northern First Nations communities in the province that use electric heat as their primary heating source.

“It’s a program that is designed to have northern First Nations who are eligible work directly with us,” said McGregor. “From there, the community would find eligible residents within the community. So when the community reaches back to us, we check their eligibility and then send one of our consultants out for the free advisory meeting.”

Participants will be visited by an energy efficiency advisor who will speak to them about their energy use and identify what retrofits will make the most impact on their consumption and bills, McGregor said. Advisors will also provide one-on-one coaching about energy.

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He added that SaskPower has already identified a number of communities which meet the initial requirements such as: Big Island Lake Cree Nation, Birch Narrows Dene Nation, Black Lake Denesuline First Nation and Canoe Lake Cree First Nation.

SaskPower expects the program to cost $3.77 million with 75 per cent of the cost being covered by federal government funding.

The program will be available until Mar. 31, 2024 in partnership with the Canadian government’s Low Carbon Economy Fund.

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

Saskatoon Afghan refugee featured in Global Gathering Place fundraising campaign

Farkhonda Tahery and her husband are settling into life in Saskatoon after being forced to flee Afghanistan when Kabul fell under Taliban control.

Education has been a lifelong pursuit for Farkhonda Tahery, long before the Afghan refugee arrived in Saskatoon almost three months ago.

As a girl, she loved to read, watch movies and paint. Growing up in Kabul, she first aspired to be a doctor like her father, but encountered philosophy and sociology in her later school years. It put her on the path to working at a research company in Afghanistan.

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“By our definition, life was very normal,” Tahery said in an interview.

She grew up in a time when the Taliban had largely been forced into hiding. Their fundamentalist beliefs, which prevent girls from being educated, were also suppressed.

Tahery attended university and achieved a bachelor’s degree.

Life began to change in April, according to Tahery, when U.S. President Joe Biden announced plans to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan.

“We saw the first red flags after that because some districts started to fall under the Taliban,” Tahery said.

While living in Kabul, she and her husband watched media reports of one provincial capital falling after another. By Aug. 15, the Taliban had taken control of Kabul.

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“The city changed just overnight,” Tahery said. “We lost our home to people that we never wanted them to have our homes.”

Their plan to leave via the airport in Kabul was interrupted on Aug. 26, when a suicide bomber launched an attack at a gate to the airport. Several dozen were killed right before Tahery and her husband were set to leave the country.

Instead, they travelled to another province, then Mexico and eventually Saskatoon. She still has family in Afghanistan, where Tahery said people don’t feel safe and grapple with a depressed economy.

“Worst of all, girls are not allowed to go to school. I have very close relatives that are just staying home because they cannot go to school,” Tahery said.

Tahery is now among the many people supported by Global Gathering Place (GGP), a resettlement agency in the city.

Since her arrival, Tahery has taken adult swimming lessons through the organization and taken part in winter preparedness sessions. She’s looking forward to outdoor activities like skiing.

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The resettlement agency connects newcomers with health care services and life skills training. The case management program helps people overcome barriers like language, illness and disability.

GGP has launched an online fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $5,000 by the end of the year. Tahery’s story is featured to promote the effort that raises money for unforeseen circumstances that the organization hasn’t budgeted for: things like transportation, medication costs and groceries.

The fundraising drive arises largely as a result of the pandemic. The influx of Afghan refugees has also had an impact, according to Melanie Baerg, GGP’s health and case coordination team lead.

“It means that we have an increased need for funding all around, and especially for this kind of emergency support that we provide to newcomers,” Baerg said.

Asked what she’d like the public to know about Afghan refugees, Tahery said the newcomers are capable of making their communities a better place.

“We are going to be good citizens.”

At least 215 Afghan nationals have come to Saskatchewan in recent months, according to data from the federal government. The figure could be much higher as a result of privately sponsored refugees and others who arrived through Canada’s humanitarian program.

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

Heavy rain, wind and snow in forecast for Nova Scotia: Environment Canada

When preparing a winter forecast, analog years are chosen – these are winter seasons when a similar meteorological set up was in place – including sea surface temperatures (La Niña or El Niño) and teleconnections, which are weather patterns in one part of the world that have ramifications thousands of kilometres away. Ross Hull shows us how this upcoming winter season in Eastern Canada may have similar patterns to the winter of 2007-08.

Nova Scotia could face some wild weather this week.

Parts of the province are currently under wind and rainfall warnings, while Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement about potentially significant snowfall for the entire province.

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Environment Canada is forecasting heavy rain — between 30 and 50 mm — for the Atlantic coast from Halifax County to southern Cape Breton.

The rain is expected to spread east to Cape Breton Monday evening.

It will end by Tuesday morning for mainland Nova Scotia and near noon for Cape Breton.

Strong, damaging winds are also forecast for that area. Maximum gusts of between 90 and 100 km/h from a southerly direction are expected through Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, the national forecaster also says a deepening low pressure system could bring snow across Nova Scotia from “from southwest to northeast Wednesday evening, as it tracks south of the province.”

Up to 15 cm could fall.

“There remains considerable uncertainty with regards to the track of the low, however at this time the highest snowfall amounts are expected along the Atlantic coast.” the special weather statement reads.

“Conditions will improve from west to east on Thursday.”

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

SPSA says rapid COVID-19 tests' expiration date extended

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) is clearing up questions about COVID-19 self-test kits with an extended expiry date.

On Oct. 18, Health Canada authorized a shelf life expansion from 12 to 16 months to the BD Veritor System for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2.

SPSA said the packaging was not updated to reflect the change as it wasn’t requested by the manufacturer.

“In Saskatchewan, information is sent out to each distribution site with these kits to explain the apparent discrepancy and to alleviate any confusion,” read a SPSA statement provided to Global News on Monday.

“Unfortunately, we cannot speak as to why a client was not informed about the extension of the expiry date for these tests.”

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SPSA said the 16-month shelf life applies to both newly bought BD Veritor System testing devices as well as those that were previously purchased and have not yet been utilized.

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

Slow starts still plaguing Edmonton Oilers

WATCH ABOVE: Some recent videos from the world of hockey.

For the first time this season, the Edmonton Oilers have a losing streak.

Time to panic?

“The sky’s not falling here,” captain Connor McDavid said Monday afternoon, a day after the Oilers were beaten 5-1 by the L.A. Kings, marking the team’s first back-to-back defeats of the campaign.

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“It’s an everyday league. You have to show up every game and give yourself a chance to win,” McDavid added, highlighting one of the Oilers’ big problems: they simply haven’t been showing up on time.

Los Angeles Kings' Tobias Bjornfot (7) and Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) battle for the puck during second period NHL action in Edmonton, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

Los Angeles Kings' Tobias Bjornfot (7) and Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) battle for the puck during second period NHL action in Edmonton, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The team’s first periods have often been lacking energy and production. They’ve been falling behind, having allowed the first goal in 14 of their 23 games.

“I don’t think there are tricks. I think it’s just a mindset,” defenceman Tyson Barrie said of the poor starts.

“I’ve been on some teams that have been notoriously slow starters. We certainly don’t want to be put in that category.”

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (22) reaches across Seattle Kraken right wing Joonas Donskoi toward the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Seattle.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (22) reaches across Seattle Kraken right wing Joonas Donskoi toward the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Seattle.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

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“I think there are ebbs and flows of the year,” McDavid said. “Obviously right now is a little bit of a lull. We can’t let that slide for too long.

“We’ve done a good job of not losing back-to-back games for a while. We can’t let it get to a third.”

As the sputtering starts pile up, head coach Dave Tippett has reached into his bag of tricks for a solution.

“One thing works one time and the other time it doesn’t work,” Tippett reflected.

“We have little challenges now and then. Shots or hits in a period to start the game — all those things we talk about all the time.”

Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett talks to his players during second period pre-season NHL game action against the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.

Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett talks to his players during second period pre-season NHL game action against the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

On Monday, Tippett decided keeping the players off the ice would be best. He changed the practice from mandatory to optional. Instead of skating, the players who dressed Sunday got in a workout and a video session.

“I watched the game again last night,” Tippett explained.

“We were a tired group all the way through. Heavy legs — not reacting to stuff.”

Tippett added that injured goalie Mike Smith may have been able to take part in a practice had there been one. Smith has been out since Oct. 16.

McDavid didn’t offer much when asked about the major penalty for boarding and game misconduct he received in the game against the Kings.

“I don’t talk want to talk too much about reffing or anything like that. The call was the call,” he said.

“It’s good that they have a chance to review it on the ice now. They stuck by their decision.”

The Oilers (16-7) will host the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night. Catch the game on 630 CHED with The Faceoff Show at 5:30 p.m. The game starts at 7 p.m.

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

'A lot to accomplish' for Alberta delegation at World Petroleum Congress

The 23rd World Petroleum Congress begins Sunday in Houston, and the Alberta government and City of Calgary will each be sending representation. As Matthew Conrod reports, political analysts are curious to see what type of messaging there will be around Alberta energy at the event.

A pair of high-profile Calgary politicians are in Houston, Texas this week, hoping to drum up business for the energy industry in the city and province.

On Monday, Mayor Jyoti Gondek left for the 23rd World Petroleum Congress, saying there are “a lot of things to accomplish.”

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“There are many conversations to have with mayors of other urban centers who have declared climate emergencies,” Gondek said before boarding her flight.

“There’s a great opportunity to partner with the private sector and talk about their goals on emissions reductions and the role that we can play as a city to help them advance their mandate – just a lot of opportunity to meet with people in the same place to talk about things that are commonly valued.”

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage was already in the southern state on Monday, touring the Enterprise Seaway terminal in Freeport, Texas.

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Savage said she was looking forward to taking part in events like ministerial panels at the international petroleum industry get-together she described as a “friendly audience.”

“I’m here to position Alberta as being a global leader not only in ESG (environmental, social and governance) — but a global leader in their ability to supply these markets with products that they need,” Savage told Global News.

Canada’s consul general in Dallas, Rachel McCormick, tweeted she had taken part in presentations with Emissions Reductions Alberta and Calgary Economic Development, touting the use of carbon pricing to drive innovation and energy transition to create jobs.

The mayor hoped to change some of the narratives about the province while in front of an international audience in Houston, citing a “public perception issue.”

“I think it’s incredibly important to get out there and talk about the things that we have been successful at, it’s important to talk about the fact that we are a city that’s a center of excellence and energy transition, and focus on the positives,” Gondek said.

“That’s the message that needs to get out to not only the rest of Canada but the rest of the world.”

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Less than three weeks ago, Calgary joined a large cohort of Canadian municipalities to declare a climate emergency. Gondek hopes that signal would bring increased investments to businesses and the city.

“We understand the amount of investment that’s going to be needed to make that change happen and that’s the kind of capital that I want to be talking about and attracting to our city,” she said.

Highlighting efforts like the net zero commitments from a coalition of oil sands companies, efforts to produce hydrogen and liquified natural gas was also on the agenda for the energy minister while at the petroleum congress.

Savage noted the demand at the Seaway terminal is being unmet.

“We have to continue to grow and increase production in Canada to get product to market,” the energy minister said. “So that’s the challenge down here: they need the product.”

“If they don’t get it from Alberta, they’re going to get it from somewhere else.”

Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault was in Calgary the weekend before the start of the petroleum congress, meeting with industry and local government representatives.

Gondek’s message to Guilbeault was congenial yet firm.

“I indicated to him that there was a willingness to work together with the federal government, as long as there’s an understanding that the targets we are setting are realistic, and it’s something that we jointly understand can be achieved,” Gondek said. “He was impressed to see the pathways to zero work that’s been done and he’s very interested in collaborating.”

Calgary will play host to the next world petroleum congress in 2023.

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

Conviction for murder of young B.C. couple reversed due to juror's bias: court ruling

A Washington state man was found guilty Friday of the 1987 double murder of a young B.C. couple. Snohomish County Superior Court jurors deliberated for two and a half days before reaching their verdict against William Earl Talbott in the trial that hinged on 32-year-old DNA evidence and cutting-edge genealogical technology. Talbott had been arrested last year in the deaths of 18-year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Jay Cook.

A Washington State man who was found guilty of two counts of aggravated murder of a young B.C. couple in 1987 has had his conviction overturned.

William E. Talbott II was arrested more than 30 years after the killing of 18-year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg and 20-year old Jay Cook.

In 2019, Talbott was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

However, he stated numerous “evidentiary and constitutional errors occurred at trial” including a biased juror.

In a ruling, the Washington State Court of Appeals found that under questioning a juror indicated she might have “difficulty with the topics and evidence of the trial, due to past traumatic experiences and as a new mother, such that she was unsure if she could be fair.”

The ruling states “since seating a biased juror is reversible error, we need not reach his other various challenges argued in briefing or the issues Talbott raises in a pro se statement of additional grounds for review. We reverse.”

At the time, Talbott’s lawyer moved to have the juror removed but the trial court denied the motion and the woman deliberated on the case.

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Man arrested in 30-year-old cold-case murders of young B.C. couple

In November 1987, 18-year-old Van Cuylenborg and 20-year-old Jay Cook were murdered on a trip to Washington state.

Van Cuylenborg and Cook each lived with their parents in Victoria.

On Nov. 18, 1987, the high school sweethearts decided to visit Seattle on an overnight trip.

They took the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, Wash., and drove down the Olympic Peninsula in a van. Investigators know they stopped to get gas at a business called Ben’s Deli. Receipts show they then took another ferry from Bremerton to Seattle.

However, investigators do not know what happened next.

READ MORE: 30 years after a young B.C. couple was killed, new DNA tech could crack the case

On Nov. 24, 1987, Van Cuylenborg’s body was discovered in a ditch 20 kilometres south of Bellingham, Wash. She had been sexually assaulted and shot.

One day later her wallet and keys were found behind a Bellingham tavern. The van was found next to the Greyhound bus station.

On Nov. 26, 1987, Cook’s body was found under a bridge near Monroe, Wash. He had been beaten and strangled.

Talbott was identified as a suspect through the use of genetic genealogy, which is the use of DNA testing in combination with traditional genealogical methods to establish the relationship between an individual and their ancestors.

It was the first arrest of a murder suspect using results from Parabon’s genetic genealogy service.

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

Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk suspended 2 games for kneeing

The Winnipeg Jets will be without one of their top blueliners for the next few games.

The NHL department of player safety suspended Jets defenceman Neal Pionk for two games for kneeing on Monday.

The suspension comes after Pionk collided with Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin in the third period of the Jets’ victory. The hit forced Sandin to leave the game with an injury and he did not return.

Pionk will lose $58,750 in lost salary.

In the video explanation of the suspension, the department of player safety said the onus is on Pionk to take an angle of approach that he can make a legal check. And it resulted in a forceful, dangerous, and direct knee-on-knee contact.

It’s the first time the 26-year-old has been suspended or fined in his five-year NHL career.

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Pionk was not given a penalty at the time of the incident, and the Leafs soon retaliated with Jason Spezza hitting a fallen Pionk in his upper body with a knee. It was not penalized either.

Spezza will have an in-person hearing via Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 7, and could face a suspension of five or more games.

It was a busy day for the NHL’s department of player safety who also levied a fine from the rough and tumble affair. Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds was docked $2,250 for cross-checking Jets forward Jansen Harkins.

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Pionk will miss Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes and Thursday’s match against the Seattle Kraken.

He’ll be eligible to return on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.

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

Mental Health Monday: Gift ideas to overcome stress and supply chain worries

With Christmas less than three weeks away, many holiday shoppers in the Okanagan are experiencing the stress of securing gifts from a supply chain crippled by a number of factors, including B.C.’s recent devastating floods.

“If things are not coming on time or they are not available or overpriced due to supply chain issues, there are other solutions,” Katherine White told Global News.

White is a University of British Columbia professor of marketing and behavioural science at the Sauder School of Business.

While the current supply chain strain has some holiday shoppers frantically checking their phones for shipping updates and worrying about which supplier will have that perfect gift in stock, she has suggestions for alternate gift ideas.

READ MORE: Canadians report shopping early, stock shortages ahead of Christmas 2021: Poll

“You could reuse items, you could repurpose items, you could recycle items before buying gifts,” White suggested.

White sees the challenge as an opportunity to lessen your impact on the environment while increasing the impact of the gift you give to a loved one.

“It could be something as simple as getting your kids to make crafts as gifts out of found items around the house,” White explained.

“It could be making cookies or writing a poem. It could be making a coupon book that has things like I will walk your dog for you or I will take you to lunch,”.

According to White, these types of ‘gifts from the heart’ — as opposed to items from a big box store — are often more memorable.

“Could you get someone a massage or babysitting or a housecleaner for a day or tickets to an event they would enjoy?” White said.

“There’s research that show that experiences make people more happy with what we received that do tangible goods,”.

This small shift in shopping could help reduce some stress as you try to navigate a supply chain crisis amidst another COVID-19 Christmas.

“It also has the nice added benefit of perhaps making a more meaningful connection with others,” White said.

A gift, that we could all use this Christmas.

 

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

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