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Rescuer of 11-year-old found facedown in snow was in the ‘right place at the right time’





He wasn’t on duty on Thursday, but when a Foam Lake, Sask., volunteer firefighter heard about a missing 11-year-old girl, he knew he had to do something to help with the search.

“I was at a work and I’d seen cop cars taking off from different directions from town here at Foam Lake,” said Cole Maksymytz, recalling the scene when police received word at about 5 p.m. that the girl had wandered away from her Bankend home. The tiny hamlet is located about 200 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

He followed the police and talked with officers, who explained to him that a 11-year-old girl had been at home sick, and wandered away from the house while her mother was away, some time between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.. The mother had seen tracks heading west from the house, but couldn’t find her daughter nearby, recalled Maksymytz.

“I was thinking Jesus, if it was one of my kids, I’d want somebody, I’d want everybody that could help out there helping,” said Maksymytz, who has four children of his own.

Small footprints in the snow

Officials told him they had crews on the search and didn’t need extra help, but Makysmytz kept his eyes peeled as he drove toward home with two of his children with him in his truck.

“Driving down the back road, I noticed on the field, a trail. At first, I thought maybe it was a deer or a moose or something,” he said, explaining a closer look revealed footprints.

“‘Well, this could be her,'” he recalled thinking. “It had to have been, because the footprint was so small.”

Maksymytz followed the trail in his truck, until his kids piped in to say they saw something black up ahead.  

Cole Maksymytz’s two children, Danica, 6, and Cade, 4, were in the truck when with their father when they spotted something black lying ahead of them. (Submitted by Cole Maksymytz)

“So we drove up there and there she was, laying face-first in the snow,” he said, adding his thoughts immediately went to whether she was alive.

At this point, it was 7:40 p.m. in the evening, and the girl had walked nearly six and a half kilometres from her home, he said.

Relief filled him when he checked and found the girl still breathing, with Maksymytz quickly carrying her to his truck.

“It happened that my daughter knew this girl because she goes to school with her,” he said, adding his six-year-old daughter was able to tell him the girl’s name as they drove her back to the police and the ambulance.

I’m happy I did something to save someone’s life.– Cole Maksymytz, volunteer firefighter

On Friday, he learned the girl was recovering well, after receiving treatment for hypothermia and injuries related to exposure.

It reminded him of why he wanted to be a volunteer firefighter in the first place, to help people.

“I’m happy I did something to save someone’s life,” he said. “It just so happened that I was in the right place at the right time.”

Maksymytz also serves in the Wishart fire department. His fire chief there, Darrell Bzedl, was among the locals giving credit to the volunteer for his actions. 

“He went above and beyond to do what he did,” said Bzedl, adding, “We have a good ending thanks to it.”


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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches





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





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





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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