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Canada pledges to review border policy regarding Indigenous nations





The federal government is pledging a review of border laws and their effect on Indigenous rights. 

One Liberal MP involved is calling the U.S./Canada border an “onerous imposition” and “undue burden” on Indigenous nations whose territory extends into both Canada and the U.S.

Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary for Crown-Indigenous Relations, says he believes the border has had the effect of “impeding on cultural and traditional activities, which include hunting, cultural exchanges and simple mobility.” 

He says the government is open to considering changes. 

“First Nations have — through no fault of their own — found their historic location divided by the Canada/U.S. border have faced significant challenges,” Miller said. 

Miller is the MP for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–​Île-des-Soeurs in Quebec. The border crossing in nearby Cornwall, Ont., has now added signs in the Mohawk language

Canada Border Services Agency has trilingual signage at the border crossing in Cornwall, Ont. to include Mohawk. (Canada Border Services Agency)

Some animal parts, firearms forbidden under current rules

Current laws prevent cross-border hunting and the carrying of certain animal parts across the border, which has been a source of frustration in Yukon.

Miller acknowledged there is a safety risk to allowing weapons but says “we’re open to further discussion with communities” as the federal government considers change.

“There is an undertaking from this government to be more sensitive,” he said.

“There are certain things that can be addressed in a more sensitive fashion as opposed to imposing the hard letter of the law. If border services agencies are able to ascertain people without putting the gears on them, that is a significant step in the life of someone who regularly crosses the border.”

A written response from Crown-Indigenous Relations says the government is “recognizing that the border can present challenges to mobility, traditional practices, economic opportunities, as well as to family and cultural ties to Native American communities in the United States.” 

However laws haven’t yet changed. 

“The new measures do not change current laws around the cross-border movement of food, firearms, animal parts and other goods. These measures are intended to set a tone and clear direction for greater awareness and understanding of Indigenous issues at the border,” reads the response. 

Change on status cards will mean faster processing at border

The federal government is already pledging to speed up the process of people using Secure Certificate of Indian Status Cards to cross the border by making the cards machine-readable. 

The government is also pledging “cultural training” and says it will recruit more Indigenous people to work with border services.

Millar says there is no date yet for consultations. He says consultations will mark a “first step” on a complex process. 

“These aren’t for tomorrow,” Miller said. “It is a longer process if you need to change the law.”



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Ottawa unveils funding for poultry and egg farmers hurt by free-trade deals





Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free-trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada’s agriculture minister announced Saturday.

Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference.

“Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow,” she said.

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free-trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday, Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years — beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year.

Payments based on formulas

David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future.

“I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on,” he said.

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Employee of Ottawa Metro store tests positive for COVID-19





Metro says an employee of its grocery store on Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says the employee’s positive test result was reported on Nov. 25. The employee had last been at work at the Metro at 50 Beechwood Ave. on Nov. 19.

Earlier this month, Metro reported several cases of COVID-19 at its warehouse on Old Innes Road.

Positive test results were reported on Nov. 2, Nov. 6, Nov. 11, and Nov. 19. The first two employees worked at the produce warehouse at 1184 Old Innes Rd. The other two worked at the distribution centre at the same address.

Metro lists cases of COVID-19 in employees of its stores and warehouses on its website

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Tinseltown: Where 50-year-old ‘tough guys’ become youngsters again





Audy Czigler wears glitter like a Pennsylvania miner wears coal dust. It’s on his face and hands, in his hair and on his clothing. It’s an occupational hazard that he says he just can’t get rid of.

And when he’s sifting through job applications from people wanting to work at his Tinseltown Christmas Emporium on Somerset Street W. in Hintonburg, the glitter is a consideration. For he’s not looking for people who can simply endure it; no, he’s screening for people who revel and carouse in glitter, for those for whom the 10,000th playing of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is as refreshing as the first, for those who believe that the 12 days of Christmas last 365 days a year. The believers.

Sure, he has heard the voices of skeptical passersby on the sidewalk outside his shop, especially in the summer months when visions of sugarplums have receded from many people’s minds.

“I hear them out there a few times a day,” he says, “wondering how a Christmas store can possibly survive year-round.

“I want to go out and tell them,” he adds, but his voice trails off as a customer approaches and asks about an ornament she saw there recently, of a red cardinal in a white heart. Where is it?

There’s scant room for sidewalk skeptics now, crowded out by the dozens of shoppers who, since October, have regularly lined up outside the store, patiently biding their time (and flocks) as pandemic-induced regulations limit the shop to 18 customers at a time.

Once inside, visitors will be forgiven for not first noticing the glitter, or even the rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside playing on the speakers. For there’s no specific “first thing” you notice. The first thing you notice is EVERYTHING — a floor-to-ceiling cornucopia of festivity, reminiscent perhaps of how the blind man in the Gospel of John may have felt when Jesus rubbed spit and mud in his eyes and gave him sight for the first time.

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