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Fort McMurray hockey team forfeits season after backlash over ‘disrespectful’ video

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An uproar in Fort McMurray, Alta., over a viral video that some considered racist has led to a minor hockey team forfeiting the remainder of its season because of safety concerns.

Parents of players on the Fort McMurray Midget ‘A’ Junior Oil Barons issued a statement this week strongly criticizing the “brash actions” of the Fort McMurray Minor Hockey Association after an online video surfaced last month showing young hockey players dancing to the song Electric Pow Wow Drum by A Tribe Called Red.

“The video showed a few team members, some of them Indigenous, engaging in a motivational dance,” the parents said in their statement, issued Wednesday. “This was not intended as a derogatory or racist act.”

The parents said they are telling their side of the story after “failed attempts” to come to a resolution with the minor hockey association.

On Jan. 21, hours after the video surfaced online, the association issued a media release saying it was “devastated” by the players’ actions in their “disrespectful” video.

“It is wrong and will not be tolerated. The display of ignorance is sad and gravely unfortunate,” association president Travis Galenzoski said in the statement. “These players will know how deeply impactful their wrong actions are.”

The statement no longer appears on the association’s website or social media feeds.

Players received death threats

In their own statement, the parents said the hockey association’s actions “contributed to team members receiving death threats, threats of harm, and humiliating and degrading comments about them on social media.”

At least one team member had a “police presence” after the hockey association’s statement, “in direct response to threats made against them.”

The parents said the hockey association failed to consult with anyone from the team before publicly condemning the video and the players’ actions.

“FMMHA’s media statement was released within three hours of the video surfacing,” the parents said. 

“This action, coupled with the failure to contact any staff member on the video about the video, demonstrated a lack of thorough investigation to the facts of the video and breached the fiduciary duty it owes to its players in looking after their safety and best interests.”

The hockey association identified the team name, allowing people to “identify, locate and publish personal information about the players on the team, as well as their upcoming schedule for the remainder of the season,” the parents said.

Shane Kearney, the father of a player not in the video, told CBC News the video was meant “as a way to pump the boys up before the game.

“We felt like they [the association] owed the boys a public apology.”

Roxanne James, a parent whose son was also not in the video, said players had to deal with threats and criticism.

“They were ridiculed,” she said. “They were humiliated.”

CBC has sought comment from the association but has not heard back.

The video shows players, some in skates and Junior Oil Barons hockey uniforms, dancing to the tune. One player uses the lid of a garbage can as a drum, striking it with a hockey stick. Some laughter is heard in the background.

CBC has chosen not to publish the full video because the players range between the ages of 15 to 18.

‘They were ridiculed. They were humiliated’

In another statement on Jan. 23, a lawyer for the McKay Métis Association said two boys in the video are Indigenous.

Dwayne Roth said the boys were pow-wow dancing in the locker room before the game and the dance was intended to reflect their culture and motivate the team.

“Rush to judgment based on out of context video clips is becoming all too common and poses real danger to the reputation and safety of those incorrectly labelled.”

In their statement, the parents said they decided to forfeit the remainder of the season because it was “too dangerous” for the players, their families and others involved.

The team forfeited a total of six games, including two scheduled for this weekend.

The team has paid a $2,100 penalty for dropping out but has decided to take part in provincial play-downs “in hopes to end the season on a positive note.”

The parents slammed the hockey association for ignoring “one of the basic tenets of today’s inclusive and tolerant societal norms, namely, not understanding the other side and rushing to a rash, often incorrect, judgment.”

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Ottawa sets monthly record for total COVID-19 cases with 99 new cases on Friday

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Sixteen days into October, Ottawa has already set the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today, and three more deaths linked to novel coronavirus.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health had reported 108 new cases of COVID-19, but there is sometimes a lag in COVID-19 case reporting between Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 39 new cases in Ottawa, while Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases.

There have been 1,511 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa in October, surpassing the September record of 1,413 new cases.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 5,908 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 301 deaths.

Across Ontario, there are 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 213 new cases in Toronto, 135 in Peel Region and 62 in York Region.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

One more person was admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reports 47 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including eight in the intensive care unit.

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

The number of active cases of COVID-19 increased on Friday.

There are 792 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, up from 777 active cases on Thursday.

A total of 4,806 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

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Ottawa mayor rejects possible return of Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, ‘I really don’t think they work’

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Mayor Jim Watson does not want to see police checkpoints return to the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, saying “I really don’t think they work.”

Earlier this week, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin told the Ottawa Citizen that police checkpoints could return to the Ottawa-Gatineau border at “any time,” with the final decision in the hands of the Quebec Government. Earlier this month, Dr. Brigitte Pinard of the Centre Integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais said border checkpoints were “possible,” adding “right now, our message is to limit large gatherings.”

When asked by CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts about the possibility of police checkpoints returning to the Ontario-Quebec border, Watson said he did not think they worked back in the spring.

“There were so many gaps when the police were not there, and people just figured out I’ll go at an earlier time or a later time. We saw police officers sticking their heads in the car with no masks, so that was not healthy for those individuals,” said Watson Friday morning.

“It’s a costly expense when our police are stretched already to the limit trying to do the work, to have them set up at five different bridge points potentially 24 hours a day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and I think the money is better spent.”

On April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec set up checkpoints along the Ottawa-Gatineau border to limit non-essential trips into Gatineau. Gatineau Police estimated the random police checkpoints between April 1 and May 17 cost the service more than $400,000.

Mayor Watson tells CTV Morning Live that the Quebec Government’s decision to move Gatineau into the “red zone” two days after Ontario moved Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 should help.

“We are a close relationship and when things happen in Gatineau there’s often a trickle effect over here and I think the fact that we’re both in the red zone, and Quebec of course is the worst hit province, at least levels the playing field for our restaurants and bars,” said Watson.

“I think in the past what had happened was our restaurants and bars would close and then the ones in Gatineau would stay open, and then people from Ottawa would go over there irresponsibly, in my opinion, and then come back potentially with the virus and spread it here.”

While border checkpoints would limit the non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border, Watson says that’s not the way to beat COVID-19.

“The message is very clear, stick to your household. This is not the time to have an AirBNB party or a keg party in your backyard, or have 20 people or 30 people in for an engagement party. I know a lot of these get-togethers are important socially for people and emotionally, but we have to ask people to be reasonable and responsible, and this is not the year to do those kinds of things.”

Roberts asked the mayor if he would have a conversation about border checkpoints with Gatineau’s mayor.

“I had it the first go-around, but at the end of the day I also respect their jurisdiction and their autonomy. It is the province that would have to impose that, not the municipality,” said Watson.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s an effective use of resources. We want to continue to get the message across that we can win this battle against COVID-19 if we socially distance, we wear a mask, we actually follow the simple rules that are put forward.”

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Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police

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OTTAWA — A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Ottawa Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

“The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa,” police said in a news release. “When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject.”

Police say none of the residents of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the woman attending work.

Ottawa police say this is the first person they have charged under the Quarantine Act during the pandemic.

The woman is charged with failing to comply with entry condition under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm under section 67 of the Quarantine Act.

The maximum penalty for causing risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm is a $1 million fine and three years in prison. For failing to self-isolate for 14 days, she faces a $750,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Police did not release the name of the woman, nor where she worked. The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office issued a statement following the announcement of the charges.

“Mayor Watson was disturbed to learn about the alleged carelessness of the individual in question. This type of reckless behaviour could have harmed their colleagues, and more importantly, the residents of the long term care home. We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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