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Notification program for residential school records problematic, say interveners in case

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Two people who acted as interveners in the Supreme Court case that decided the fate of residential school survivor testimonies are raising concerns about the process in place to preserve those records.

The program was formally announced on Monday. Survivors can choose to preserve their records or obtain a personal copy. If they don’t do either, their testimonies will be destroyed on Sept. 19, 2027.

Family members cannot consent on behalf of survivors who have died, meaning the records of people who have died in the time between their claim and the launch of MyRecordsMyChoice.com will be destroyed.

According to B.C-based Kwagiulth artist Carey Newman, who started a group that intervened in the Supreme Court case that decided the fate of survivors testimonies, the destruction of those records could leave a huge hole in Canada’s history.

“That was, maybe, the most heartbreaking part of this,” Newman said.

“Those survivors who have passed on, or who maybe don’t ever hear about this notification program who went through the incredibly difficult process of telling their story, and who did it with the intention of having that story preserved on the record, they have lost their voice.”

Newman said his group, the Coalition for Truth, advocated for a process that would redact survivors names from their testimonies, with an opt-in process for survivors to choose whether or not their names are included in the document.

They have lost their voice.– Carey Newman

Newman said it is unclear how many residential school survivors have died since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings were released.

He said losing such important information could potentially play into false narratives about residential schools.

“If they are allowed to let these be deleted in 2027, then that just feeds into that narrative that we already start to see happening, where people are downplaying the intention of residential schools, or the impacts of them,” he said.

“It’s really really disheartening as a person who looks at reconciliation as a long-term process.”

He said the question of what happens to a survivors records should have been asked when their testimonies were collected, not after the fact.

Newman said that if only 10 per cent of survivors choose to opt-in, only 3,800 records would exist.

He encouraged survivors who may be on the fence about preserving their records to think of the benefits to the future generations before asking for them to be destroyed.

Opt-in process not ideal for survivors: Newman

Newman also expressed concern about the tone of the messaging on the site.

“The way that those choices are delivered is also going to have a dramatic impact on how many [survivors] choose to keep their records,” Newman said.

B.C-based artist Carey Newman started the group Coalition for Truth. (CBC Archive)

He said the fact that the website seems to be a mostly digital effort, with some television and radio advertising, will also impact how many survivors choose to preserve their records.

Newman noted there will be no community engagement or information sessions hosted to raise awareness about the opt-in process.

He said his own father, who participated in the Independent Assessment Process, is not a tech-savvy man. Newman said it’s unlikely his father would go out of his way to obtain the necessary documents to consent to his story being released.

“By not bringing it to survivors in all ways possible, I think that that’s going to mean maybe they’ll hear a little bit about it, but the likelihood of them going online and downloading the form that they need to sign or send in to have their records sent to them or preserved, is diminished greatly,” he said.

“With 38,000 [survivors] that’s a massive undertaking.”

Process documents would also be destroyed

Newman said it’s not just the testimonies of survivors that would be destroyed in 2027.

The documents that dictated the process followed in the Independent Claims Process would also be deleted.

“Those will currently, no matter what, be destroyed, and that leaves the [Independent Claims Process] and the people who put that process together in the first place, zero accountability for the way that they made their decisions.”

He said those records should be preserved because they are a part of Canadian history.

‘A very difficult decision’

Ry Moran, the director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Manitoba, said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission first asked what would happen to survivor records in 2014.

He said it’s been a challenging process and the fact that the testimonies of residential school survivors contain very sensitive material needed to be considered.

“The courts themselves were wrestling with a less-than-ideal situation, to tell you the truth,” Moran said.

He said the court essentially had to choose between sacrificing individual privacy to preserve all records or risk losing some testimonies and create a process for survivors to opt-in.

Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, says the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report marks ‘a major stepping point in our country’s history.’ (CBC)

He said the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which also acted as an intervener in the Supreme Court case, had to weigh historical value against the trauma survivors experienced.

Moran said the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation was guided by survivors in backing the preservation of all records when they appeared before the courts.

He said the opt-in process that was announced on Monday is essentially a compromise between all of the parties who were involved in the court process.

“It would have been nice to see this dealt with earlier on, so that we’re not in this very awkward either, either scenario that we’re in,” Moran said.

“The critical thing is to make sure that survivors have the opportunity to exercise their free, prior and informed consent in terms of what they want to do with their history.”

What does Sept. 19, 2027 look like?

Moran asked if the destruction of residential school records is simply an IT officer pressing delete, or would there be a more formal ceremony, and if so, who would be involved, and what do they say?

“What do we say at that point in time about reconciliation, or what is the status of reconciliation in this country?” Moran asked. “What do we say about the status of healing in this country?”

He said the date really isn’t that far away and that it’s important to think hard about what will happen, and how we collectively feel as a nation on Sept. 27, 2027.

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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Kat Ferries on the future of chefs, or read posts from Quinn Taylor on bars or Justin Champagne on fine dining.

Kat Ferries is Sous-Chef at Stofa Restaurant and a 2020 San Pellegrino North American Young Chef Social Responsibility Award Winner.

Apt613: What is the current landscape for chefs in Ottawa?

Kat Ferries: There is such great talent in Ottawa with so many chefs either being from here originally or have returned after traveling and have since opened some incredible restaurants. Many chefs have focused menus that really highlight their strengths, their heritage, and their passion for food. Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay, Marc Doiron of Town/Citizen, Steve Wall of Supply & Demand, Daniela Manrique Lucca of The Soca Kitchen, and so many more are all cooking up beautiful and delicious food in this city.

If you care to make a prediction… Where is the food industry in Ottawa going for chefs in 2021?

The industry right now is, unfortunately, in a really tough spot. The pandemic has been so devastating on mental, physical and emotional levels for so many and I know that many of my friends in this industry are burning out. There are many discussions happening on work/life balance and what is healthy for everyone. Some may never return to the long, hard hours we are expected to put in day after day and instead opt for a more flexible schedule or hire more staff to lighten the load on everyone, with some even leaving the industry indefinitely. Some may throw themselves back into this industry 10x as hard and create some of the best restaurants and concepts we’ve yet to see. I think all that will happen after the pandemic though.

For this year, it’s mostly about survival and finding happiness in creating what we can in the spaces we have while following all the laws and guidelines from public health officials. I think we will see more chefs creating experiences for guests that we otherwise wouldn’t have: think pop-ups, virtual dinner clubs, cocktail seminars, collabs, etc.

Where in your wildest dreams could the Ottawa culinary community grow in your lifetime?

I would love to see the Ottawa community support more small, local restaurants so our streets are bustling late into the nights like they are in Montreal, New York, or Europe. Having a local restaurant to frequent should be so much more commonplace, where you can enjoy a night out more often than just Friday or Saturday night. I would also love to see many more of our local chefs highlighted for the amazing food they create!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

Turning all our restaurants into mini-markets for customers to enjoy the food and wine of their favourite places at home. We have bottle shops for all your wine, beer and cocktail needs as well as menus that reflect what each restaurant does best. Some have even pivoted to a point where they are 100% a store and have paused any type of “service-style” dining.

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Future of Ottawa: Fine Dining with Justin Champagne

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Justin Champagne on the future of fine dining, or read posts from Kathryn Ferries on chefs or Quinn Taylor on bars.

Justin Champagne went to culinary school at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He got his start in fine dining restaurants at C Restaurant under Chef Robert Clark, then at Hawksworth Restaurant under Chef Eligh. He staged at three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn under Chef Dominque Crenn before moving to Ottawa and spending five years at Atelier, working his way up to Sous-Chef. He’s now the Head Chef of Bar Lupulus.

Apt613: What is the current landscape of fine dining restaurants in Ottawa?

Justin Champagne: Ottawa punches well above its weight class when it comes to quality restaurants in general. Fine dining is no exception to that—we have some amazing chefs here that are doing really great things. We also have some phenomenal sommeliers in town that are a huge factor when it comes to a guest’s experience in a fine dining restaurant. While there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in town I do believe there’s room for more, and definitely room for more creativity and unique styles of cooking! I think we’ll see more small fine dining restaurants opening up, “micro-restaurants” where there’s maybe 20 seats. This will be over the next few weeks as the industry did take a big hit financially with COVID-19, but we still have a lot of great young chefs who have the fire inside of them to open their own location!

If you care to make a prediction… Where is fine dining going in Ottawa in 2021?

I’m not sure it’ll be 2021 or 2022 with the way the vaccine rollout and stay-at-home order is going, but I do expect there to be a wave of people looking to go out to fine dining restaurants. We’ve been cooped up cooking for ourselves or ordering takeout for over a year now. People are getting antsy and ready to go out and have fantastic meals again with exceptional wine and not have to worry about doing all the dishes afterwards!

Where in your wildest dreams could fine dining go in Ottawa in your lifetime?

That’s the fun part about “fine dining,” it can go anywhere and it can mean many things. Fine dining is about amazing service and well thought out, unique food that the kitchen spent hours fussing over, being meticulous in execution. Outside of that, you can have a lot of fun and be creative in different ways. My wildest dream I guess is that fine dinning restaurants begin to thrive and are able to charge without backlash the kind of prices that they need to charge in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff a proper living wage!!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

I’m not sure if I would really say there’s been a best “innovation” in my industry during the pandemic, but I will say that seeing the “adaptability” by all the restaurants in Ottawa has been incredibly inspiring. Ottawa’s food scene has always been a tight-knit community, “everyone helping everyone” kind of mentality. And this pandemic has really helped show that—restaurants helping restaurants through all of this!

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Ottawa’s Giant Tiger chain celebrating 60 years in business

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa staple, along with what might be the most famous cat in Canada, are celebrating a milestone Monday.

Giant Tiger is 60 years old.

“It all started with a very simple idea,” says Alison Scarlett, associate VP of communications at Giant Tiger. “Help Canadians save money every single day. Bring them products that they want and need. When you focus on those core principals, it really is quite simple to succeed.”

In 1961, Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The company now has more than 260 locations across Canada and employs roughly 10,000 people.

“If you were at our store on opening day 60 years ago, the in store experience would be a little bit different from your local Giant Tiger store today. So that’s changed. A lot of our products and offerings have changed or expanded as Canadian consumers wants and needs have changed or expanded,” says Scarlett.

The homegrown department store continues to be a favourite for many shoppers looking to for the best deals on everyday products.

Helen Binda has been shopping here for decades.

“Many years. I can’t remember when. I’ve always loved Giant Tiger. It’s always been a good store for me.”

“I think its amazing and I think that we need more department stores,” says shopper Fay Ball. “And if it’s Canadian, all the better.”

The Canadian-owned family discount store carries everything from clothing to groceries, as well as everyday household needs. They’ve also expanded their online store and like most retailers provide curbside pickup during the pandemic.

“Doing what is right for our customers, associates, and communities. That has enabled us to be so successful for all of these years,” says Scarlett.

To celebrate, Giant Tiger is hosting a virtual birthday party at 7 p.m. Monday with live musical performances from some iconic Canadian artists.

You can visit their Facebook page to tune in. 

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