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Father and son Mohawk ironworkers help raise record-breaking roller coaster

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In the four decades that Kim Baptiste has been an ironworker, he has worked more jobs than he can count.

But being a part of the crew constructing a thrilling new roller coaster will be one the Mohawk ironworker won’t forget. It’s the last major job he will be working with his son.

“We’ll have this to remember for ever,” he said.

The 57-year-old has been wanting to retire, but the opportunity to work with his son Kyle has kept him going. It’s something he never got a chance to do with his father, John, who was severely injured after falling from a job site.

“That makes working with Kyle, to me, the ultimate,” said Kim.

The Baptistes are from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in southern Ontario. Like many Mohawk communities, they’ve had a long history of connecting and erecting steel shaping iconic skylines in cities across North America.

“This trade has been very good for our people. It gives us a good life to provide for the next generation,” said Kim.

He has been an ironworker for 39 years, with about 35 of those spent on the road constructing high rises and stadiums across the United States and Canada.

Following in his father’s footsteps

Kyle, 28, followed in his father’s footsteps right after high school. He is among only a handful of young ironworkers from their community.

Kim Baptiste spent the majority of his ironworking career away from his home in Tyendinaga. The Yukon Striker job is two hours away from home, but he gets to work with his son. (Sian Lloyd/CBC)

“I’m proud carrying on that tradition that many other Native men carried on, not just my own family but with our people,” he said.

“There’s a little bit of pressure to live up to the name of all those before you. You want to keep up the name. It’s worldwide known that Mohawk ironworkers are some of the best ironworkers, so it’s some big shoes to fill but you gotta fill ’em.”

They’ve been able to work on and off together since Kyle finished his three-year apprenticeship.

“I like working with the old man,” he said.

Kyle Baptiste took on a three-year apprenticeship to become an ironworker after he finished high school. (Sian Lloyd/CBC)

“He can be a little bossy at times, just because I’m his kid and he expects more out of me than he does other people. But that’s a good thing because it only makes me a better person.”

World record-breaking coaster

The Yukon Striker will be the tallest, fastest, and longest dive roller coaster in the world when it opens at Canada’s Wonderland, north of Toronto.

“The 90 degree drop is 75 metres straight down into an underwater tunnel and you’re going to be going from zero to 130 km/h,” said Grace Peacock, director of communications at the amusement park.

The Yukon Striker will be the fastest, tallest, and longest dive roller coaster in the world when it opens in the spring at Canada’s Wonderland. (CBC)

“The people that we have here, the men and women, who are working on the Yukon Striker in the rain, the snow — it’s very appreciated because that’s the hard work that will bring this roller coaster to life.”

Construction for the entire project began in January and the ride is set to open to the public in the spring. The Baptistes’ work on the Yukon Striker wraps at the end of the month. While Kyle is excited to test the dive on the coaster in the new year, Kim said the real thrill is happening now.

“I’m definitely not scared, that’s for sure. It’s just that they don’t give the excitement of putting up iron.”

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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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