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Christmas wish comes true for a little boy with a big sweet tooth

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Alex Cooke, The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, December 26, 2018 12:39PM EST

HALIFAX — Santa’s helpers came through this year for a little boy who only wanted one thing for Christmas: a chocolate bar his mom couldn’t find in Canada.

Danielle Comstock said her seven-year-old son Isaac loves chocolate of all kinds, but in recent weeks he’s found himself particularly drawn to Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Silk Bubbly bar, constantly watching YouTube videos and looking at pictures of the unusually-shaped bar.

“Usually his interests last for about six months and then he moves onto something new, but this time it’s chocolate,” said Comstock on Wednesday.

“First it was Hershey’s, then he got an interest in Cadbury.”

While Cadbury — a subsidiary of Mondelez International — sells aerated chocolate bars in Canada, Comstock said the company’s “Silk” brand, which has softer chocolate than its North American products, is difficult to find outside of India and South Africa.

Comstock spent the weeks leading up to Christmas scouring the international aisles of grocery stores and attempting to order the chocolate online, she said, but she couldn’t find any that could be shipped to her Halifax-area home.

So she took to social media and posted on a local buy-and-sell Facebook group asking if anyone had any ideas.

Shortly after, a stranger sent her a message saying her mother was flying from Hyderabad, India, to Halifax on Christmas Eve, and said she could ask her to bring along some of the chocolate bars.

“Sure enough, she contacted me and said her mother went to the corner store around the corner from her house in India, and found this chocolate bar and she picked up four of them,” said Comstock.

Comstock father-in-law picked up the chocolate bars from the Halifax airport in the wee hours of Christmas morning, just in time to wrap them up and get them to Isaac for Christmas.

Isaac’s reaction upon unwrapping the bars was “priceless,” Comstock said.

“When he opened it up, I could just see the joy in his eyes and how much it meant to him to have those chocolate bars,” she said. “It definitely made my Christmas, that’s for sure.”

She added that three of the four bars have been eaten — with Isaac sharing pieces of them with his family members — and they plan to save the wrappers and keep the final bar in its package.

“I kinda want to hide it, so we can have this memory forever,” said Comstock.

The woman who arranged for her mother to bring over the chocolate said she was happy to have a part in making the little boy’s Christmas.

“I didn’t do anything out of the way or do anything that would be difficult for me or her,” said Geervani Gangaraju, who moved to Halifax from India four years ago. “I’m a mom myself and I know how moms feel about their kids.”

On Christmas Day, Comstock sent Gangaraju a video of Isaac ripping the wrapping paper off the bars, emitting high-pitched shrieks of excitement, and jumping up and down with joy.

“That made my day,” laughed Gangaraju.

“The impact it had on that family makes me feel glad that I did that, and if more people can do that — just small little acts that are not huge hassles — we’ll live in a much better place.”

Comstock, meanwhile, said Isaac has now taken an interest in India, and dreams of travelling there someday.

“He’s becoming interested in geography too, so he wants to explore the world and maybe one day he will, and find all kinds of different chocolate,” she said.

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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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