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Pet project: Winnipeg photographer captures squirrels in human scenarios

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CTVNews.ca Staff, with files from CTV Winnipeg


Published Monday, December 24, 2018 8:05PM EST

A Winnipeg woman is using photography and some intricate dioramas to capture squirrels in a new light.

To many they may be garden-wrecking nuisances, but to nature-loving photographer Debbie Vokey, squirrels are her subject matter.

Vokey’s pet project is taking photos of the squirrels in her backyard, engaged in human activities.

“I think we need to embrace even what people call rodents. I don’t like to use that term for the squirrels,” Vokey said.

She’s been snapping photos of live squirrels in various scenarios since 2015. Vokey creates intricate and life-like — but not life-sized — sets laced with peanut butter to lure the squirrels onto the scene and capture them in action.

From carrying canoes and playing in a sandbox, to playing the drums and pushing a sleigh, Vokey estimates she’s captured up to 10 different squirrels in action at home and at her cottage.

IN PICTURES: Setting the scene for squirrels

“They’re one-sixth scale, which is like Barbie so I’m very lucky that way because it’s easier to source Barbie things,” Vokey said of her sets. She uses miniature objects picked up at craft sales, online, or created from household items.

To help capture the scenes, Vokey had a custom-built kitchen window installed. From inside she’s able to point and shoot without scaring the critters away.

“The number one question about the project is, is it real?” Vokey said.

It is.

“Certainly no stuffed squirrels. So they’re just wild and not really trained, habituated maybe to come for food but not really trained so, I can’t make them do what I want,” Vokey said.

You can view the entire catalogue of squirrel snaps, and some of the other creatures she’s captured in the process, on Vokey’s website.

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LIFESTYLES

University of Windsor establishes first Canadian transportation cybersecurity centre

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The University of Windsor will be the site of Canada’s first organization dedicated to countering threats to the connected transportation marketplace.

The SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will focus on developing the skills, innovations and policy to secure connected and autonomous vehicles.

Researchers will partner with industry, government and community stakeholders.

Co-founding and heading up the centre will be Dr. Mitra Mirhassani of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dr. Ikjot Saini of the School of Computer Science.

In the past year, the two University of Windsor professors were both recognized as being among Canada’s top talents in the automotive cybersecurity field.

“Hardware and software vulnerabilities could put personal information and vehicle safety in jeopardy,” said Mirhassani.

“Transportation systems are especially susceptible to attacks from malicious actors due to the complexity, implementation costs and lifecycles of equipment and platforms.”

The SHIELD centre is a continuation of the Windsor region’s focus on developing its cybersecurity ecosystem.

The province has already designated the area as the regional tech development centre for cybersecurity and border logistics.

The cybersecurity centre got a further boost this week with the announcement of a memorandum of understanding with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association (APMA).

APMA and SHIELD will collaborate to develop market-based technologies to meet the needs of producers and consumers and build academic programs to address industry’s evolving requirements.

“We hope that this partnership will help to advance a cybersecurity culture shift in the industry in Canada,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe.

“There is much work to be done to protect our collective interest in advancing this country’s globally competitive automotive sector.”

The centre will also promote the sharing of knowledge among parties to advance standards and enhance policies in the field.

Part of the plan is to offer micro credentialing through the university’s Continuing Education programs.

“We plan to offer consultation and test services to small- and medium-sized Canadian companies that will help them stay up to date,” said Dr. Saini.

“Open-access publications and public webinars will widely share the latest information.”

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Hamilton police charge ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protest organizers in two separate events

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TORONTO — Hamilton, Ont., police say they have charged two organizers of an anti-mask protest group for holding events that allegedly violated public health rules.

Police say the events were held in downtown Hamilton on Jan. 3 and Jan. 10.

The force alleges that 40 people attended first event and 60 attended the second.

Current provincial restrictions limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people outdoors.

Police say they informed the “Hugs Over Masks” organizers that the planned Jan. 10 gathering would result in charges, but they went ahead with the event.

They say a 27-year-old man and 38-year-old woman are facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act that carry a minimum fine of $10,000 if convicted.

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Ontario issues stay-at-home order to start Thursday as Ford declares state of emergency

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Premier Doug Ford is declaring another state of emergency, effective immediately, in response to surging COVID-19 infection rates.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Ford announced Ontario is issuing a stay-at-home order, effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

It requires people to stay home except for essential activities such as accessing health care or shopping for groceries.

The new measures also include restricting the hours of operation for non-essential retail stores such as hardware stores to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Addressing big box stores, which are allowed to remain open, Ford said an inspection blitz is coming to ensure they are following proper protocols.

“I’m going to come down on them like an 800-pound gorilla,” he said.

Schools in Hamilton, Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex will not return to in-person learning until Feb. 10.

Other public health regions, including Halton and Niagara, will find out when students can return to class by Jan. 20.

Schools will now require students in grades 1-3 to wear masks and masks will be required outside where physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Child-care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.

The premier announced the restrictions shortly after the province released new projections that show the virus is on track to overwhelm Ontario’s health-care system.

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