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





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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Ottawa transit commission hopes to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for OC Transpo workers





Ottawa’s transit commission is pushing local and provincial health officials to recognize the role OC Transpo operators have played in keeping the city running during the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to bump train and bus drivers in the vaccination queue amid a recent surge in coronavirus infections affecting transit workers.

More than 100 OC Transpo staff across the entire organization have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to an update at Wednesday morning’s transit commission meeting.

Of those cases, 26 employees are currently recovering from the disease in self-isolation.

OC Transpo has seen a recent jump in COVID-19 cases, with Ottawa city council receiving reports of eight operators testing positive for the virus over a recent eight-day period.

Transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert attempted to find out how many of the total cases are traced to workplace transmission, but OC Transpo boss John Manconi said he’s been advised by medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches that he can’t share that information for privacy reasons.

Transit operators are listed in the second priority group of essential workers as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine sequencing plans, but several commissioners speaking Wednesday wanted to get the city’s bus and train drivers bumped higher in the order.

Councillors Riley Brockington and Glen Gower both put forward motions looking to get front-line OC Transpo employees prioritization in vaccine sequencing, but others pointed out that the much-debated public health topic of who gets the vaccine and when is well beyond the scope of the transit commission.

“We are not in a position in transit commission to be decreeing, or making an edict, about what group of essential workers is more at risk than others and should be prioritized. That should be left up to public health experts,” Wright-Gilbert said.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, who also chairs the Ottawa Board of Health, reflected on the board’s four-plus-hour meeting on Monday evening, during which vaccine sequencing and prioritizing essential workers dominated the conversation.

“Vaccine sequencing is obviously a very difficult maze to get through,” he said.

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COVID-19: Ottawa police announce end of 24-7 presence at Ontario-Quebec border





Less than two days after the Ontario government’s latest COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, calling for non-essential traffic to be stopped at the province’s borders with Quebec and Manitoba, the Ottawa Police Service has announced it is stopping its 24-hour checkpoints.

According to a statement issued by the service Tuesday evening, the around-the-clock border checkpoints were set to end as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday in favour of rotating checkpoints across the city throughout the day until Ontario’s temporary regulations end.

“Since the onset of the border operations, the OPS has been working closely with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) along with local stakeholders and interprovincial stakeholders (the City of Ottawa, the City of Gatineau, the Ontario Provincial Police etc.) to assess any local public health, traffic and safety impacts. The assessment resulted in today’s operational changes,” the statement said.

“The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travellers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time.”

The statement also said the police service, while working to comply with the provincial order, was focused on education and enforcement actions that “support improved public health outcomes and respect the concerns of our most marginalized and racialized communities”

Officers said they will be conducting daily assessments on border crossings and that there could be further changes.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said that the border closures are ultimately subject to the discretion of local police enforcing the regulations.

“Local police services are best positioned to determine the operational deployments necessary to ensure the continued safety of their communities,” the spokesperson said, noting that the order’s regulations still apply to individuals entering the province.

The temporary order restricts Quebec residents from entering Ontario. If prompted, individuals must stop when directed by an enforcement officials and provide their reason for entering the province.

The main exemptions to the restrictions include if the person’s main home is in the province, if they work in Ontario, if they’re transporting goods, if they’re exercising Indigenous or treaty rights, if they need health care or if there’s a basis on compassionate grounds.

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COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa: Nearly half of all residents in their 60s have at least one dose





OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health’s latest COVID-19 vaccination update shows that nearly half of all residents 60 to 69 years old have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a figure that has all but doubled in the past week.

OPH’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows 58,000 residents 60 to 69 have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 49.3 per cent of that age group’s population in Ottawa. Last Wednesday, OPH reported 30,000 residents 60 to 69 had had at least one dose, which was 25.4 per cent.

As age demographics get younger, the population grows larger and the coverage by percentage may appear to grow more slowly, even if clinics are vaccinating greater numbers of people. For example, the latest figures show that 83 per cent of people aged 70 to 79 have had at least one dose. By raw population that’s 60,000 people, only slightly higher than half of all people in their 60s.

Vaccinations are open through the Ontario portal to anyone 60 and older and, this week, the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for administration at pharmacies and primary care clinics to anyone in Ontario 40 and older.

OPH reported a new shipment this week of 25,740 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To date, Ottawa has received 305,130 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the provincial government.

The number of eligible residents (i.e. 16 and older) with at least one dose of a vaccine is now up to 28 per cent.

Tuesday was Ottawa’s second-busiest day for vaccinations overall, with the OPH reporting 9,729 shots administered. Last Friday saw 9,887 shots administered in a single day.


  • Ottawa residents with at least one dose: 248,668
  • Ottawa residents with two doses: 26,722
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with at least one dose: 28 per cent
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with two doses: 3 per cent
  • Percent of total population with at least one dose: 24 per cent
  • Percent of total population with two doses: 3 per cent


  • 10-19: 1.6 per cent (1,804 people)
  • 20-29: 8.3 per cent (13,452 people)
  • 30-39: 9.5 per cent (14,999 people)
  • 40-49: 12.9 per cent (17,350 people)
  • 50-59: 28.8 per cent (40,320 people)
  • 60-69: 49.3 per cent (58,627 people)
  • 70-79: 82.9 per cent (62,808 people)
  • 80-89: 87.5 per cent (29,358 people)
  • 90+: 89.2 per cent (7,893 people)
  • Unknown age: 2,057 people 

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