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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

Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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LIFESTYLES

Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash

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The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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LIFESTYLES

OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada

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OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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