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‘Sensory Friendly’ shopping experience in Arnprior




Mark Harrison knows the struggles some people face in public places.

“My family and I are aware of sensory issues, with both my boys being on the autism spectrum.”

Harrison says loud noises, like vacuums and power tools can leave his two sons Jacob, 4, and Liam, 2, disoriented. Creating a safe space for his boys and others with sensory issues is something the new grocery store owner wanted to try.

“It was something that just kind of made sense.”

Harrison became the franchise owner of the Arnprior No Frills store in November. Since then, he’s tried to do several things to make the shopping experience better for customers, but it was one of the store’s employees Carol Greer, who came up with the idea of a “sensory friendly shopping experience” after seeing something similar online.

“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” says Greer.

The No Frills store held its first sensory shopping experience on February 4, from 8-10am. For the two hours, lights in the store were dimmed, music was turned off, announcements and pages over the store PA system were also eliminated and both customers and staff were asked to refrain from wearing strong scents.

“It was definitely eye opening for me,” says Harrison, “a lot of people were saying I suffer from chronic migraines… or I have anxiety so I don’t feel comfortable shopping regular hours.”

After the successful event, Harrison decided to do it again this week and has now added a second, evening experience, Tuesday February 12.

“People said I can’t make it Monday morning, can you try and evening? So we’re trying that just to see what the results are.”

Working at the checkout counter Greer has a chance to speak with customers on the way out,

“The response has been really great, people have been coming in specifically during this shopping period to be able to experience it and we’ve had wonderful feedback.”

Greer says the quiet experience is having an impact on her too,

“I kind of like the down time, the calmness and I’m sure other coworkers do too.”

Harrison says right now he has no concrete plans to expand the sensory experience instead he’s waiting to hear from customers to see if it’s something they want.

“We’ll see the impacts. I really want to hear from my employees and see what their feedback is as well as from customers, and we’ll go from there.”

The next sensory friendly experience will be from 6:30-9pm Tuesday February 12.  


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa




With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV




A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence




Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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