Small businesses in B.C. in line for $18,500 relief for losses in wildfires

The British Columbia government is offering eligible small businesses increased relief funds up to a maximum of $18,500 for losses following this summer’s wildfire season.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said Wednesday, November 29, 2017 the province is partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to provide the money to small businesses as partial compensation for uninsured losses, insurance deductibles, minor repairs and clean ups.

Donaldson said funding is also available to not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous communities.

Finance Minister Carole James pegged the most recent government estimate of last summer’s wildfire damage costs at almost $660 million.

Donaldson said small businesses and others can apply for the new relief funds through the Red Cross, who will review each funding request on a case-by-case basis.

Auto insurance rates rise in Ontario despite Liberal pledge to cut by 15 per cent

Auto insurance rates are rising in Ontario, moving the Liberal government even further away from a self-imposed target of an average 15-per-cent reduction.

The Liberals promised in 2013 to cut auto insurance premiums an average of 15 per cent by August 2015, but after that deadline came and went, Premier Kathleen Wynne later admitted that was what she called a “stretch goal.”

Approved rates in the third quarter of 2016 increased by an average of 1.5 per cent, according to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

That knocks the average decrease since August 2013 – which at one point was over 10 per cent – back down to about 8.35 per cent, or a little over halfway to their goal.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said programs that will reduce rates further have yet to come into effect, so though reductions are taking time, “they’re happening.”

“Our target to reduce rates doesn’t change,” he said. “Our desire to have a sustained approach over a long period of time, that’s what we’re trying to establish.”

The government still wants to see rates cut by an average of 15 per cent, Sousa said, though there’s no longer a deadline attached to the goal.

Premier Kathleen Wynne called the work on rates so far a “success.”

“We’re going to continue to work with the industry to find other ways to take costs out of the system,” she said.

The promise in 2013 came as part of a deal to get NDP support for that year’s budget when the Liberals were still a minority government. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government is putting the interests of insurance companies over those of Ontario drivers.

“It’s no doubt that the Liberals have betrayed the discussions that we had during that minority parliament, but more importantly they’re betraying the people of the province yet again,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Sousa noted that the government has lowered the maximum interest rate that an insurer can charge for monthly auto premium payments and prohibited minor at-fault accidents from boosting premiums. As well, it has appointed a special adviser to look at ways to lower costs and further reduce rates.


5 things to know on National Aboriginal Day in Canada

By Josh Elliott,

Tuesday is Canada’s National Aboriginal Day, the annual celebration of the country’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. Here’s what you need to know about the day for recognition, reflection and education.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paddles in a a voyageur canoe on the Ottawa River following the National Aboriginal Day Sunrise Ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

1. 20th anniversary

Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, which was first established in 1996 by the governor general at the time, Romeo LeBlanc. National Aboriginal Day is held every year on June 21 to coincide with the summer solstice, a day that holds cultural significance in many aboriginal cultures.

2. Not a statutory holiday

National Aboriginal Day is not a statutory holiday in most of Canada, although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recommended that a statutory holiday be established to acknowledge the historic suffering of Canada’s indigenous peoples. In its recommendation #80, the TRC calls for the federal government to “establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

The Northwest Territories marks National Aboriginal Day as a territorial statutory holiday, and the Yukon is also considering making it a statutory holiday.

3. Celebrating arts, crafts, dancing and music

Many Aboriginal Canadians mark the day by inviting members of the public to share in their culture at pow wows, parades and festivals held across the country. The federal government has established a reference page for Canadians to look up events being held in their cities on Tuesday and later in the week, as National Aboriginal Month continues.

4. A good day to greet the sun

Aboriginal leaders and politicians from various levels of government gathered Tuesday morning in several cities across the country to mark the sunrise in special traditional ceremonies. In Toronto, for instance, Mayor John Tory joined Cayuga First Nations Elder Cat Criger and others for a sunrise ceremony and flag-raising at City Hall.

5. A good time to brush up on Truth and Reconciliation

National Aboriginal Day is meant not only to acknowledge Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, but to recognize their shared history – good and bad – with the rest of Canada.

Dr. Nadine Caron, a professor at the University of British Columbia, said all Canadians should be encouraged to review the 94 recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in their report released last July. “The TRC was a massive step forward,” Caron told CTV News Channel on Tuesday morning, adding that all Canadians should try to be “part of the solution the entire way.”

The document outlines many of the historic and present-day challenges facing Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, and recommends ways to improve the way they are treated going forward. “This document was meant for all Canadians,” she said.

With David Bowie’s blessing, astronaut Chris Hadfield’s ‘Space Oddity’ is back on YouTube

“Space Oddity” fans rejoice! Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s impressively awesome cover of the David Bowie classic is now back on the interwebs.

The video was taken down from YouTube after reaching more than 23 million hits. It features Hadfied’s playing and signing the ballad in space — I repeat, in space — aboard the International Space Station. It was reportedly the first music video ever recorded from space.

Hadfield had a one-year agreement with Bowie to leave the video up after it was released in 2013. When that expired, it was gone, for the most part — though like all things, if you’re crafty enough, it could be found.

Now Hadfield has inked a new two-year agreement with Bowie to re-post the historic and well-loved cover.

In a blog post on his Web site, Hadfield noted that the original video was posted in 2013 with Bowie’s permission, and he added that the singer and his representatives were “very gracious” throughout the process. It was removed in May when the first one-year agreement expired.

“Despite countless on-line expressions of frustration and desire, it wasn’t anyone’s ill-will or jealousy that kept this version of Oddity off YouTube,” Hadfield wrote. “It was merely the natural consequence of due process.”

Bowie has actually praised the cover, calling it “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created” back in 2013.

And after months of negotiation and grappling with the complex legal questions that surround copyright in space, they had a breakthrough.

“The reasons we originally made the video were multifold. It was in response to repeated widespread requests via social media. It was a fun Saturday project with my son, Evan. It was a continuation of the other music that I was playing and recording while on ISS. But maybe most importantly, it was a chance to let people see where we truly are in space exploration. We’re not just probing what lies beyond Earth – we inhabit it,” Hadfield explained.

“We’re proud to have helped bring Bowie’s genius from 1969 into space itself in 2013, and now ever-forward,” he added.

And so now, just because you can, take a listen:

UBC psychology professor Ara Norenzayan says many Canadians try to show their tolerance by assuming “everyone is the same.” But people are often different because of their ethno-cultural backgrounds.

Read more

Archeology student publishes paper on ancient, industrial-scale First Nations fishery


England’s monarchs were sacrificing to Woden and persecuting Christian missionaries when First Nations managed a vast, highly-productive, industrial-scale fish harvesting complex in the estuary of the Courtenay River.

At first, the elaborate arrangement of 300 ingenious traps on the sandy flats of the river mouth harvested herring, which still mass to spawn off the east coast of Vancouver Island every March.

But 700 years ago, perhaps in response to climate change, the technology was altered to exploit pink, chum, coho, chinook and possibly sockeye salmon.

Highly coordinated traps equal in technological sophistication to contemporary commercial fishing traps, enabled the operators to regulate escapement of spawning stocks and maintain abundance, precisely the sustainable resource management model we strive for today.

We know all this because Nancy Greene, a mature student at Malaspina College (it has since become Vancouver Island University), took a break from dreary course work surveying archaeological research in the Comox Valley one grey day in 2002.

Greene decided to visit a nearby site once excavated by Katherine Capes, a legendary early female archaeologist she had just been reading about.

The tide was extraordinarily low. Greene and her husband, David McGee, strolled there among the beach pools and seaweed of the exposed flats.

Greene noticed peculiar knobs of driftwood protruding from the sand. She stooped to examine one. It looked like the work of human hands. At that moment, she had an epiphany.

“I saw stakes everywhere … just everywhere I looked,” Greene told me not long after. “The more I saw, the more I realized that this was vast. I didn’t even know what to call them. I didn’t know they were called alignments. But I realized its potential importance as an archaeological site.”

Greene was looking at what may be the largest prehistoric archaeological feature on the Northwest Coast.

From that moment, Greene knew what her college project would be. She would map part of the site, locate each stake, record its position and, if possible, determine its age.

She had no inkling of the scale of her undertaking. It would take Greene, McGee and Roderick Heitzmann — a retired Parks Canada archaeologist who later came on board to advise on the arcane technical rules for writing up their findings as a scientific paper — a full decade. From 2003 to 2013, using precision surveying equipment, Greene and McGee mapped and recorded 13,000 of the 200,000 artifacts she now estimates the site holds.

It was exhaustive and exhausting work. To complete mapping, Greene recruited volunteers for a task that demanded meticulous detail and accuracy, but was hampered because the whole site is submerged for much of each day.

Her husband signed on. Mike Trask, an amateur paleontologist famous for discovering the West Coast’s first fossil elasmosaur (a long-necked, fish-eating reptile from the Cretaceous period) stepped up. Steve Mitchell, a professional surveyor, volunteered expertise and specialized equipment.

Next came the matter of paying for expensive carbon-dating tests to determine the age of organic material by measuring its radioactive decay.

Greene’s community also stepped up. Comox Valley Project Watershed Society provided funds. Comox Valley Regional District chipped in. The municipalities of Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland, the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the K’omoks First Nation, Hamatla Treaty Society, which includes the Wewaikay of Cape Mudge, the Weiweikum of Campbell River, the Kwiaka, the Tlowitsis and the K’omoks, all helped.

So did 27 individual and business donors, organized by then-Comox Valley Regional District director Jim Gillis into the “Stick in the Mud Club.” His idea was to mobilize a cross-section of the community as a non-traditional way of funding important local archaeological research.

Greene, McGee and Heitzmann have just published their research in the prestigious Canadian Journal of Archaeology. It documents a major discovery in Canada’s prehistoric landscape. Their paper charts with astonishing detail the immensity of the site, from defensive fortifications to huge refuse middens stretching three kilometres along adjacent shorelines and, of course, the huge geometric designs of curves, angles and parallels of the traps themselves.

Perhaps most fascinating among the many astonishing findings is how the technology — it was designed to capture fish at every stage of the tidal cycle — evolved over at least 1,400 years of continuous use as its operators adapted it to exploit climate-driven changes in the fishery.

“We have taken the research to a whole new level, which allowed us to critically analyze the data and draw some significant conclusions about this immense aboriginal fishery,” Greene says. “Our research is the first of its kind to study in detail these previously unknown marine fishing practices and it is the first indication of a long-term, sustainable, possibly industrial-scale aboriginal fishery on the Northwest Coast.”

Call it a triumph of citizen science.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest