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Pas de cadeaux de Noël derrière les barreaux

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Un texte de Xavier Savard-Fournier

Aucun cadeau n’est distribué, aucune décoration n’est installée et aucune visite particulière n’est acceptée, même s’il s’agit d’un moment où les demandes de visite sont plus fortes. Les affaires courantes se poursuivent et les demandes de visite doivent avoir été approuvées selon le même processus que le reste de l’année.

Mais si les règles de détention restent les mêmes, les personnes incarcérées sont fébriles durant le temps des Fêtes, et il s’agit d’une occasion unique d’intervention pour les agents de détention.

« C’est vraiment un moment de réflexion, un moment de fébrilité, où on sent qu’il y a une ouverture et qu’on peut aller toucher certaines émotions même chez les plus récalcitrants. Noël, c’est puissant », soutient Sandy Lapointe, directrice des services professionnels à l’Établissement de détention de Québec.

En cette période de l’année, l’ensemble du personnel est d’ailleurs plus attentif et invite les personnes incarcérées à utiliser leur moment derrière les barreaux, loin de leur famille, pour réfléchir et s’assurer de ne pas revenir le Noël suivant.

C’est un moment où on peut susciter une remise en question. Au retour des Fêtes, on peut dire : “Tu te souviens, c’était pas facile, passer Noël en détention.” On peut revenir là-dessus, on peut faire un bout de chemin.

Sandy Lapointe, directrice des services professionnels à l’Établissement de détention de Québec

Des activités à la carte

Selon les établissements de détention, il y a néanmoins des activités qui sont prévues pour les personnes incarcérées.

À Québec, par exemple, un goûter de Noël est offert et les dirigeants en profitent pour renouveler la banque de jeux de société de la prison.

Mais l’événement marquant du temps des Fêtes dans cet établissement est la messe célébrée depuis quatre ans par le cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, l’archevêque de Québec, à même le centre de détention.

« C’est Noël pour tout le monde et les gens qui sont incarcérés, les gens qui n’ont pas la liberté d’être avec leurs proches, qui ressentent davantage de douleur, ont besoin de cette présence », explique-t-il.

Pour lui, ce n’est pas une célébration comme les autres. Ses auditeurs sont très impliqués dans l’événement et il sent que ce moment les fait réfléchir.

Je les vois, ils doivent penser à leurs proches, à leur famille, aux gens qu’ils aiment, aux gens qui sont en dehors du centre de détention. Et je pense que ça leur fait vivre quelque chose qui goûte bon et ils ont besoin de ça.

Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, archevêque de Québec

Il y a même déjà eu une chorale de détenus dans des messes antérieures, mais l’initiative a été reléguée aux oubliettes. Ce genre d’activité est souvent liée à un bénévole qui tient le projet à bout de bras.

Quant aux personnes incarcérées qui ne sont pas croyantes ou qui pratiquent une autre religion, Sandy Lapointe affirme que les professionnels de l’établissement de Québec sont disponibles pour les appuyer au besoin.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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