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Forget letters to Santa! London students write to police on-duty Christmas Day

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London police officers received an unusual gift Christmas day when they arrived for duty: Handwritten letter of appreciation penned by students from London’s École Secondaire Monseigneur-Bruyère. 

Two grade seven classes wrote 100 letters to every officer working to keep the city safe rather than enjoying the festivities with their own families.  

Grade 7 teacher, Jennifer Miller, had her students write letters to London police officers working Christmas Day (submitted)

“It was all inspired by my father,” said Jennifer Miller, who teaches English to the students. “He’s a retired police officer and he loves Christmas.”

He’d told his daughter about his Christmas shifts in London being quiet and sometimes lonely.  

“When you get a difficult call it’s made more difficult because you’re away from your family,” Miller recalled her father telling her.  

She asked her dad this year to write an initial letter to students telling them about the ups and downs of policing. In the end, it kick-started the Christmas Day letter writing campaign. 

Old school approach

“They were right on board,” said Miller. “Some students even wrote four letters.”

Some of the students have parents who are officers. One wrote a letter to her grandfather. All of the letters are personally addressed and hand-written with messages of thanks

I realize how hard it must be to work while everyone else is celebrating.– Lina, École Secondaire Monseigneur-Bruyère student

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“We went old school! I told them no computers,” said Miller. 

“Some people might rob toy stores like in Home Alone. So I wanted to say thank you.– Gillian, École Secondaire Monseigneur-Bruyère student

Miller said most of the students have never interacted with police, unless they are a family member. Some students have had difficult experiences with police officers.

“So this is also a nice way to see police officers in a positive light. That they’re helpful and we should be thankful for them even though they sometimes do things that at times may seem difficult to swallow.”

About 100 letters were written by students to London police officers to brighten their spirits while they work on Christmas Day.

The school’s resource officer was able to get the names of all of people scheduled to work Christmas Day, both day and night shifts.  

Miller said, the students are probably the most excited. 

“Some of them just think that police officers are heroes and now they feel a little bit like a hero too.”

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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