Play ball: Montreal hosts 19th edition of open goalball tournament – Montreal


Thirteen Canadian and American teams are competing for the title of the best goalball team of the year.

Goalball was invented after the Second World War as a means of rehabilitation for people who became blind during the war. It entered the Paralympic Games in 1976 in Toronto.

READ MORE: 11 things you didn’t know about the sport of goalball

“It was invented for visually impaired or blind athletes,” said Nathalie Chartrand, executive director of the Quebec Blind Sports Association.

Played in a gymnasium, the game’s objective is to roll or bounce the ball into the opponent’s net while the other team tries to block the ball with their bodies. The ball contains a little bell to help players determine where it is on the court.

READ MORE: Rivard wins Canada’s first Paralympic gold medal

The sport is also a unique experience for spectators because they need to be absolutely silent to help the athletes focus and concentrate.

“Goalball is pretty special because there are three opponents on each side. But we need four goal judges, one timer, one marker, two ten-second timers and two referees, so there’s 10 volunteers,” said Chartrand.

During the tournament’s 19th edition, men’s teams from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, California, New Jersey, Delaware, D.C. and Quebec will compete.

Women’s teams from Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia will also be playing.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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More than half of Ontario municipalities opt in as willing cannabis store hosts


More than half of Ontario’s eligible municipalities have opted in as willing hosts to cannabis stores as the first locations are set to open in a little over two months.

Municipalities have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to tell the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario if they are opting out of hosting the stores within their boundaries. A list on the AGCO’s website has not yet been updated to reflect Monday votes from cities such as Brampton and Vaughan, but so far 248 municipalities are listed as opting in, while 71 have opted out.

The remaining 95 are listed as unknown. Those that do not notify the AGCO of their preference by the deadline will by default be considered to have opted in.

Though Ontario has 444 municipalities, only 414 were set to make decisions on pot stores, as upper-tier municipalities such as Peel Region, which includes the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, won’t be able to opt in or out.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said that giving municipalities the opportunity to choose was the right thing to do.

« I recall when the Liberal government forced on municipalities wind turbines — you had no choice, they were in your community, » he said before a budget consultation in Mississauga, Ont.

« Municipalities were cut out of the opportunity to choose and what we’ve done with cannabis is given them that right to choose … If they opt out that’s fine, that’s their choice to do so, they can always opt back in. »

AGCO lottery awarded licences to 25 entities

Currently, recreational marijuana can only be bought in Ontario through a government-run website, but 25 entities were selected through an AGCO lottery to apply for retail licences to open stores in April.

The licences were divided regionally, with five going to the east of the province, seven in the west, two in the north, six in the Greater Toronto Area and five in Toronto itself.

The licence winners had until the end of last week to turn in their applications to the AGCO, and the agency said Tuesday that all had done so. Now they will have to submit requests for store authorizations, and those will be subject to a 15-day public comment period. There are no big cannabis industry names among the 25 winners, with sole proprietorships making up the vast majority.

If retail licence holders aren’t ready to open by April 1 they will face fines of up to $50,000.

Hamilton is one of the cities that has opted in, after a public survey showed support for the stores, the city said.

« Hamilton will now receive substantial financial assistance from the provincial government to regulate these shops, ensure cannabis products sold are regulated by Health Canada and shut down illegal dispensaries in our city, ultimately removing funding from the black market, » Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a statement.

The province has pledged $40 million over two years to help local governments with the costs of legalization, with each municipality receiving at least $10,000. A first payment was to be issued on a per household basis, but a second payment doled out after the January deadline will go only to those that opt in.

In nearby Oakville, which has opted out of hosting cannabis stores, the town noted that municipalities wouldn’t be able to regulate the locations of the outlets through zoning rules or limit the number of stores.

« We are supporting a wait and watch approach at this time, » Mayor Rob Burton said in a statement. « Municipalities just don’t have enough input into cannabis retail stores when it comes to notice, location, zoning and licensing. »

Oakville will reconsider its decision in December.


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Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School hosts fair to guide students toward career options – Montreal


Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School picked up where the Lester B. Pearson School Board dropped off.

The school held its own career fair day for students in grades 9, 10 and 11 when the school board cancelled its career day last fall.

READ MORE: The $100K entry-level job you can get here in Canada

Hundreds of kids had a break from class as they toured more than a dozen kiosks made up of CEGEPs, trade schools and vocational job opportunities.

The annual event aims to help students continue their education or find future job opportunities as traditional career paths often don’t fit all student needs.

“I have taken pamphlets and have people explain stuff, so it’s cool,” Jayden Alleyne, a Grade 11 student, told Global News.

This year, only students from PCHS could attend after the school board cancelled its event in November due to bad weather.

WATCH: EMSB holds career fair

Staff members and students of PCHS were thrilled to attend and be part of the abbreviated career day.

“It’s not a one size fits all thing for kids,” said PCHS principal Colleen Galley. “Every kid is different and I think what has happened over the years is we’re moving from thinking you have to go CEGEP and university to be successful.”

“There are so many different pathways to success.”

LBPSB officials hope to host a much larger career fair day next year with students from all of its member schools.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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The influencers: How Ottawa uses popular online hosts to get its messages out


Florence Lavoie is 22 years old, works at home producing and distributing French language videos on YouTube. It’s lightweight, slice-of-life stuff, mostly: tips on makeup, dating, shopping and diet (one September post ranking lip balm flavours picked up 34,000 views).

She’s been posting videos online since age 10. Her bubbly, upbeat on-camera persona has earned her north of 85,000 subscribers — enough to make YouTube her full-time job, enough to bring her to the attention of the Government of Canada, which hired her in March to produce and distribute a short online video warning young people about the dangers of opioid abuse.

« There is an agency from Montreal that contacted me and talked to me about the project, » Lavoie said. « So already I was interested in sending a nice message to the young people that follow me, because there’s a crisis and people can get involved and touched by that. »

A ‘new era of celebrities’

The Public Health Agency of Canada paid Lavoie and four other social media influencers $17,700 in total to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid misuse. Lavoie’s video earned her $6,600.

« It’s like the new era of celebrities, if I can say (that). People look up to us and they’ll take our advice, » she said.

Nice work if you can get it — and you can get it if you try. The Trudeau government has been actively courting people with significant online audiences to help it communicate its messages to the Canadians who tend to tune out traditional government communications strategies.

Florence Lavoie holds forth on her YouTube channel. « Younger people don’t really watch television anymore, » she says. (CBC News)

Lavoie said the logic behind the recruitment of social media ‘influencers’ like her is obvious to anyone under 30: young people live online — and they don’t like being preached to by older ‘experts’.

« Younger people don’t really watch television anymore and don’t really connect to ads like that because they don’t really speak to them, » she said.

Her opioid video took the form of a conversation between herself and her 15-year-old brother. In it, they talk about the mortal risks involved in taking unknown drugs and strategies for coping with an overdose. No lectures, no screeds against recreational drug use — just a little brother getting some potentially life-saving advice from his older, cooler sister.

« We spoke about the crisis in a way that was natural, » Lavoie said, adding that when she took the federal government’s contract, she made it clear that she wasn’t going to be telling young Canadians « oh, don’t take drugs, you’re just going to die and go (to) prison.

« I didn’t want to share a message like that because even though drugs are not good, well, some people are going to be taking some and you just want to tell them what are the risks. »

The Public Health Agency of Canada hasn’t limited its influencer outreach to the youth market. The agency spent $4,000 on sponsored content published on the website UrbanMoms, which targets Canadian parents with both heavy and light takes on the problems of raising a family (recent posts included pieces on nipple care and allergy-proofing your house). The site reaches just under 100,000 Canadians every month.

Natalie Milne, VP of Maple Media. « If you have a very specific target audience that you’re trying to reach, influencers are an exceptional way of reaching that audience, » she says. (CBC News)

« It was a good fit because UrbanMoms already has the established audience in that demographic that the government was looking to reach. So they were trying to get the message out to parents who have kids who are about to embark on their teenage years, » said Natalie Milne, vice president of the Toronto-based digital publishing company Maple Media, which manages the UrbanMoms site.

« If you have a very specific target audience that you’re trying to reach, influencers are an exceptional way of reaching that audience and they deliver the message in a really authentic and organic voice. »

All sponsored content on Maple Media’s sites is identified as such, said Leslie McCormick, the company’s campaign manager.

« We put a statement at the bottom of the content that says that this piece is sponsored by Health Canada, in this instance, but the opinions are our own. And we always include links out to the client’s site, » McCormick said.

‘Established credibility’

Two other federal government departments — Global Affairs and Public Safety — report having hired online influencers to get the word out.

Public Safety has spent $181,028.20 on social media influencers since 2015 as a part of its public relations campaigns promoting things like protecting sensitive personal information online.

The government is still using ‘traditional’ TV talking heads as a spokespeople — but now, those spokespeople are also helping to expand its social media footprint.

Public Safety paid $133,000 to HGTV home reno expert Bryan Baeumler for his help in promoting the government’s Flood Ready campaign, a program to encourage Canadians to flood-proof their homes.

« Social media influencers have access to large audiences, where they have established credibility and authority on issues that matter to Canadians, » said Tim Warmington, spokesperson for Public Safety Canada.

« By partnering with influencers and leveraging their reach, we can seek to engage with Canadians while making efficient use of public funds. »

Elizabeth Dubois of the University of Ottawa says the federal government’s use of online ‘influencers’ in its communications strategy comes with some risks. (CBC News)

Not everyone is convinced that influencers always offer the best means of getting government messages to hard-to-reach audiences. Elizabeth Dubois, a University of Ottawa academic who studies the political use of digital media, said there’s a risk of fracturing the audience for essential government information.

« By selecting particular influencers, we’re essentially selecting parts of the Canadian public, » she said. « Which means that the parts of the Canadian public who connect with those influencers get the information, and everyone else doesn’t. »

The ‘bot problem

And Dubois warns that any government use of online influencers has to make certain, in an age of weaponized online disinformation, that the people being hired truly are who they say they are — and are being read by actual people.

« If we’re selecting influencers based on their reach but their reach has actually been manipulated by a bunch of ‘bot accounts that have been created to inflate how important they seem, we end up accidentally investing resources in something that’s not actually going to pay out because it’s not real people following those influencers in the first place. »

Others say the trend toward delivering government messaging through online influencers is only going to accelerate — because it works.

« I think it’s about time, » said John White, a branding expert with Social Marketing Solutions in Fort Collins, Colorado.

« Government always kind of lags behind. I think that government is slowly catching on and seeing the success that the business world is having with influencer marketing, seeing how they can implement it into their messaging to move their audience. »


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Montreal City Hall hosts annual holiday open house – Montreal


Montrealers stood in line outside city hall Saturday morning, waiting for a chance to visit with Santa and catch a glimpse of Mayor Valérie Plante for the city’s annual holiday open house.

Once inside, children and their parents could partake in various activities, from crafts to face painting to, of course, a photo shoot with Santa and the mayor.

READ MORE: Montreal elementary school gets Christmas treat from Generations Foundation

Firefighters and police officers were also on hand, some playing live music and others distributing colouring books and other goodies.

Plante, for her part, took the time to greet residents and wish them happy holidays.

WATCH: Making the holidays brighter for some Montreal families

“It’s so great to be here today,” she said.  “It’s such a great moment for me to talk to citizens and families.”

READ MORE: ‘I felt like I was important’: Batshaw tradition spreads holiday cheer one gift at a time

When asked if she had a Christmas wish, Plante said she was looking forward to spending some quality time with family, adding it was her wish for all Montrealers.

“We work hard, we dedicate a lot of our energy for our jobs,” she said, “But then, it’s time to also cool down with our family and loved ones so we can get energized.”

Visitors to city hall were also encouraged to meet other elected officials in council chambers and take part in a tour to learn more about the democratic process.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Calgary Firefighters Toy Association hosts Christmas party, gives toys to 4,300 kids – Calgary


Thousands of children received gifts at the 51st annual Calgary Firefighters Toy Association Christmas party at the Stampede Corral on Sunday.

The volunteer-led organization collected toy donations for 4,300 kids in need. The Salvation Army and Calgary school boards suggested a list of 1,928 families for the association to invite to the event.

Family of Calgary firefighters carries on Christmas tradition for nearly 70 years

“We host this event every year because we know there are many children and families in our city who don’t have the resources to have a truly happy holiday,” said Mark Hagel, president of the Calgary Firefighters Toy Association.

The party was organized by members of the Calgary Fire Department and featured a holiday lunch, live entertainment by the Prairie Dogs and a visit from Santa, who arrived in an antique fire truck.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Lindsay Wellness Fair hosts 45 vendors to promote health and screening – Peterborough


The City of Kawartha Lakes held its 2nd Annual wellness fair on Thursday. From health screenings to live demonstrations, its purpose is to bring health and wellness, together with businesses, under one roof.

“We have a naturopath, chiropractor, physiotherapists, sleep specialist in CPAP, individuals that are dealing with orthotics and footcare,” said Samantha Yip, a workplace health and safety officer, with the City of Kawartha Lakes

Among the vendors, the City of Kawartha Lakes paramedics featured an automated CPR device.

READ MORE: Peterborough Public Health nurses hold information picket

“It doesn’t get tired like a human being would get. It plugs into the back of an ambulance and it does perfect CPR — it frees our hands, so we can now give medications, we can manage an airway,” said primary care paramedic, Evan Forbes.

Meanwhile, the Community Care Health and Care Network was highlighting the importance of screening.

“Some of the programs we screen for is breast, cervical and colorectal screenings, so if you’re eligible for a pap test, or if you’ve had a mammogram recently, those are some of the things our primary care team can help connect the dots with,” said health promoter, Jordan Prosper.

Even though colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in Ontario, Prosper says most people aren’t familiar with its screening process. He says it isn’t just as simple as going for a colonoscopy.

“There’s actually a simple at-home test that you can do called an FOBT kit that we’re really encouraging our clients that are eligible for colorectal screening to complete,” said Prosper.

Another at-home test comes from LEX Scientific Inc. which offers a way to detect radon levels in homes.

The company says one in 16 homes in the city of Kawartha Lakes has high radon levels. The radioactive gas comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil and can accumulate in homes.

“It can reach cancer-causing levels in our basement, so it’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and the first if you’re a non-smoker,” said Elyssa Loewen from LEX Scientific Inc.

This year’s fair featured more than 45 vendors and even included a free flu shot clinic, and was held at the Lindsay Armoury.

Man charged after police say he submitted fake Oxycodone prescriptions to Northumberland pharmacies

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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