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Ottawa doctor returns from Haiti, lucky to be alive he says

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An Ottawa doctor is happy to be alive after returning from a medical mission in Haiti. Dr. Émilio Bazile flew back home Saturday after a harrowing escape through the strife-torn country.  Dr. Bazile says he truly thought he was going to die as he and several other health professionals scrambled to find a way out of Haiti. Bazile was born and raised there and says it is not the country he remembers from his childhood.

The images in Dr. Émilio Bazile’s mind are still as vivid as the photos he took there:  blockades manned by hundreds of angry Haitians armed with bottles and rocks targeting anyone trying to cross, even him. 

“I got hit on that side,” Dr. Bazile says, wincing as he recalls the rock hitting him, “so I try to do that.”

Dr. Bazile says he can still see the face of the woman who threw the rock at him.

‘‘Her face, the anger the hate in her face,” he says, “with that rock she was throwing at me.”

Bazile, who is a psychiatrist here in Ottawa and cardiologist, travels to his home country of Haiti twice a year with other health professionals offering free medicine and health care. But clearly this trip was unlike any other the group has ever taken.

“When I yell and scream,” he recalls, “I thought I was going to die. It was terrifying.”

For more than a week, protests have been spreading throughout Haiti over soaring inflation and unemployment.  The demonstrators are demanding the president step down. That’s put Canadian tourists, missionaries and health professionals at risk.

“Disappointment,” says Cinthia Pietrantonio, a Canadian tourist who returned from Haiti yesterday, “It was not the vacation we expected and sadness because as we were leaving, the situation for Haitians.  It’s a horrible situation.  We felt for them.”

Air Canada was operating one final flight Monday before suspending the route.  A group of Canadian nurses had planned to be on that flight, hoping to take a helicopter to the airport.

Lauren Davey is a volunteer from Canada who was stuck in Hairi, “That (helicopter),” she said in a phone interview, “will take us to airport in Port au Prince that will take us to catch our Air Canada flight at 3:05.”

In Montreal yesterday, there were many emotional reunions, as 151 travelers on a special Air Transat flight returned home. Those flights will continue.

“It was very chaotic,” said one man returning home, “It was very difficult.  Really bad.”

Despite all that, Dr. Bazile says he will return to his home country:  their work in Haiti is too important to stop.

“I have to return,” he says softly, “I have to.”

In fact, Dr. Bazile says he’s already got a return trip planned for July.  He says they’ll be more cautious and avoid place he’d have gone in the past.  He says they save lives down there so he must return.

 

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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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

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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

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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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