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79-year-old ballet dancer finds way to live out childhood dream

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As a child, Fay Richardson wanted to dance, with the grace and movement of ballet captivating her.

“There just seemed to be a freedom in the ability to use your body that way,” she recalled.

Fay Richardson is the oldest dancer in her class, as well as in her dance school, Youth Ballet of Saskatchewan. Her instructor, Barb Cameron, says she is an inspiration to all students and proof that everyone can dance, no matter what level they are at. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

It wasn’t in the books for her, with her family moving far from any place near a dance school, and as she notes, “Dance was not something that everybody could afford either.”

But now, at the age of 79, Richardson is living out her childhood wish, as the oldest dancer at the Youth Ballet of Saskatchewan, a Regina-based dance school.

Richardson says she fell in love with ballet as a little girl because of the dancer’s grace and freedom. However, she says that ballet was less accessible when she was a child. She attended her first ballet class at age 45 and has not stopped since. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

As the instructor tosses out a list of steps, Richardson listens carefully and balances her way through an arabesque across the room, breathing heavily by the end.

With a dash of self-consciousness, she admits that she isn’t as speedy or as limber as the other dancers. While they may twirl around the room, she may only be able to do a spin a couple of times before getting dizzy.  

“I can feel my balance go. I’ve been told I have to stay standing up and I think it’s wiser to quit at that point,” she said, laughing at herself.

Richardson says ballet helps keep her memory strong and her body flexible and healthy. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Richardson began dancing as an adult at the age of 45, and found even if grace wasn’t something that just flowed naturally, she enjoyed the motion of ballet.

“There was a joy and kind of an excitement in learning something new, learning it about my own body, learning it about dance itself.”

Richardson practises at the barre with her teacher Barb Cameron. Cameron and Richardson have been dancing together for decades. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

And while she’s had those thoughts about quitting, each time, her fellow students have encouraged her to stick with it, at whatever speed or level she can.

“And I thought, if they don’t mind having me in the class, then fine. And I really respect them for that,” she said.

Richardson says her advice to anyone who is hesitant about trying something new is to “be brave.” (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Instructor Barb Cameron calls Richardson “an inspiration” and says she reminds everyone, including the school’s youngest students, that dancing can be for everyone.

“Keeping dancing, and doing ballet at her age, it’s incredible,” said Cameron. “There’s not many people that do it, so we’re just thrilled to have her.”

The encouragement from her fellow dancers fills Richardson with emotion.

“It feels special, because I am doing it and I like it,” she said.

“It’s also special in the way that the others don’t say give up, or get out and let us show off at a better level. They bring me to their level, somehow.”

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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision

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One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada

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An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care

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With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

https://www.ottawamatters.com/local-news/ottawa-covid-19-hospitalization-data-of-severe-illness-shows-half-of-cases-coming-from-community-not-just-long-term-care-homes-3136152

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