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‘Jar of hearts’: P.E.I. woman gathers 365 messages of support for ailing friend

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CTVNews.ca staff, with a report from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker


Published Saturday, December 29, 2018 7:48PM EST

When health complications began taking a toll on a friend, a P.E.I. woman collected 365 messages of love and support so that he would have something to lift his spirits every day for a year.

Leslie Labobe of Lennox Island First Nation lost two toes to diabetes in 2017.

In September, he fell and suffered compression fractures in his spine.

Being bedridden was particularly difficult for a man who used to work helping others as a paramedic and on humanitarian missions across the world.

“I did, I think, about eight natural disasters,” Labobe said. “From 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Los Angeles earthquakes, Georgia floods (and the) Puerto Rico hurricane.”

Madlene Sark has been friends with Labobe for more than two decades. Recently, she says, she began noticing changes in her once-bubbly friend.

When he posted a cry for help online, she realized that he was falling into a dark place.

“I saw a post on Facebook at one time and just the morale in the post was not Leslie,” Sark said. “It was like I was reading something from a stranger.”

Wanting to help, Sark took to social media to ask Labobe’s friends from across the globe to send kind words his way. More than 200 people responded.

From their responses, Sark handwrote 365 messages on paper hearts and stuck them in jars to create what she calls a “jar of hearts” so that Labobe could have a message of support every day for a year.

Sark explained that she did it “so that he knew every single day, that no matter what, he’s cared for.”

Labobe says that he was speechless when he first opened a jar. It was exactly the pick-me-up that he needed.

“At 12:01 every night, I open up one of the jars and it just gives me inspiration,” he said.

With a CTV Atlantic camera rolling, Labobe opened one of those messages.

“Les, you are a very strong and courageous person with a heart as big as the universe,” Labobe read aloud. “You are an amazing man and I am so proud to call you my friend.”

Labobe plans to hang all the hearts on his Christmas tree next year.

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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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