by Karen Langlois
Three years ago Mike lay in an Edmonton hospital bed. He hadn’t been able to breathe properly for years and no one knew why. In the end it was necessary for him to be airlifted to Edmonton and placed at the top of the urgent list for a double lung transplant. He made it through this very difficult surgery and we stayed in Edmonton for the arduous recovery. His transplant was a miracle of modern medicine. Another miracle of modern medicine – vaccines.
Covid-19 came along and we have been in lockdown for eighteen months. True lockdown. No running to Timmy’s for a coffee. No seeing Mike’s transplant doctors in person. And for Mike, one of the most difficult things, no playing music for others. We rely on amazing family and friends to bring us what we need. We have turned our music teaching studio into an ongoing FaceTime call.
COVID-19 is a disease that attacks the lungs and it most likely would kill my husband. He has a severely compromised immune system due to the anti-rejection medication he takes every twelve hours. Covid-19 would latch on to him and not let go. So we have stayed home.
The news of vaccines was a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Maybe now a chance to regain some semblance of normalcy. See our parents, get our own groceries.
But, that tiny light is dimming when I hear about so many people refusing this little miracle, the vaccine. These are people I thought I knew: relatives that I considered to be educated and rational, professionals in the community and students who are receiving misinformation from adults who should know better.
As Mike and I have received our first and now second vaccine doses, we share this good news with family, friends and students. All virtually of course! The majority of people are just as elated as we are. We will be able to see each other again!
It is heartbreaking to hear the opposite response from other relatives and friends. They tell us they will not receive the vaccine. This is scary. This snuffs out that light. We do not know how well the vaccine will protect Mike because he is so severely immunocompromised. We need everyone around us to receive the vaccine. We need everyone to embrace this miracle of modern medicine. This light.
You, who will not get the vaccine, will be the ones who keep the pandemic going. You will be the ones who keep Mike locked inside the house. You will take away all the beauty and excitement of this incredible world for him. You will stop him from playing music.
Would you accept the miracle of a lung transplant if it would keep you alive? Please think about that when you will not accept two needles in the arm. Mike has fought for his life once. Do not make him fight for it again.
Karen Langlois is a local artist and music teacher. She lives in Prince Albert with her husband, Mike, and cat, Poco.
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Don’t make my husband fight for his life again
by Karen Langlois
SGI cheques a sign safety is improving
My family, along with many citizens, recently received a cheque from SGI. I don’t think this has ever happened, has it?! The cheque came as a refund to vehicle owners because of reduced vehicle accidents in our Province over recent years.
I wish to congratulation MADD Canada, the provincial Government and our Prince Albert Carlton MLA, Joe Hargrave, for the legislative emphasis placed on reducing impaired driving in Saskatchewan. Through his leadership as Minister of Crown Investments Corporation, changes were made to further discourage driving while impaired. This “encouragement” has reduced the impaired driving deaths from the 2019 10-year average by 60%. That is significant because lives have been saved. It is also no coincident that driving more safely reduces costs of insurance for every person who owns a vehicle. The refund is tangible proof.
Personally, I would have preferred that these savings were directed to increase the care and support for the people who live in our Province’s special care homes. It is desperately needed. Stating that, I have no doubt people were appreciative of Government acknowledging the improved driving practices of our citizens through this refund. As always, leadership is critical when introducing meaningful change. Thanks to Mr. Hargrave for this initiative. It is saving lives. Let’s keep it up Saskatchewan!
Brian B. Martin
Letter to the editor: Downtown businesses
I just got a parking ticket from downtown. I was three minutes late. I was making a purchase at a local small business. The owner is seriously thinking of closing her doors forever because business is so slow downtown that economically it does not pay to try and stay open.
The City penalizes customers from trying to support downtown businesses. I can make the equivalent purchase in a big box or franchise store but I choose to help our local independent businesses trying to earn a living downtown.
I am heartbroken that we are losing our downtown as a vibrant, integral centre of our community. The City should rethink how to encourage more traffic in our city centre, supporting businesses by reducing metered infractions; for example making the first hour of parking free.
Letter to the editor: By the people, for the people
While these words, spoken by Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg, were related to the cause of democracy, they sprang to my mind as I considered the international Covid crisis.
Considering the fact that much of the funding for research towards finding a vaccine has been bankrolled ‘by
the people,’ should it not be universally ‘for the people?’ Perhaps I am idealistic, but if we could find our way to waiving trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, and if manufacturers around the world were able to ramp up production of the vaccine to ensure that everyone young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong could be vaccinated, wouldn’t we all be safer?
Sure, Canada might lag behind other developed nations in immunizing our population, but let us not lose sight of the overall picture. The ‘me first’ approach to obtaining and stock-piling vaccines by the world’s wealthiest countries, is not the answer. To bring this pandemic to an end, the majority of the world needs to be immunized.
Letter to the editor: This community needs Marion Aquatics to stay open
To Mayor Dionne and Prince Albert City Council:
Self-Care. Personal Well-Being. Life-Work Balance.
Mindfulness. Buzzwords that have become everyday lingo due to this Covid-19 pandemic.
We are reminded by our government leaders, our employers, our co-workers, our friends, our loved ones to stay strong through one of the most difficult challenges any of us will likely face in our lifetime.
As a regular user of the Marion Aquatics pool, the Aquacise program is an integral part of my personal well-being. I ask that you keep the doors open, at least until the new facility is operational.
Marion Aquatics programming is critical to the personal self-care of citizens, of all ages, of Prince Albert as well as surrounding communities.
You have listened to the user groups of Marion Aquatics in the past. Please do so again.
Put the people of your community before your pocketbook.
Letter to the editor: Marion Aquatics
To Mayor Dionne and Prince Albert City Councillors,
Canada’s federal government has begun to put compassion ahead of corporations during the COVID-19 pandemic, realizing people are more important than saving money. There are still gaps in their realization of the damage that Canadians resulting from the “trickle-down” market economy that obviously does not work, but they are making an effort.
You and city council, Mayor Dionne, understood that three years ago when you helped to keep Marion Aquatics open. We are grateful and we thank you. And now we need your help again for the same reason.
Marion Aquatics is in constant use, though less so because of the pandemic, serving citizens from children to the elderly. For many, it is critical to their health, and a tow– to three-year loss of pool time waiting for the new facility will exacerbate some serious health problems. Frank Dunn Pool, also fully utilized, cannot accommodate all who would use Marion. Preventive health practices cost much less in the long-term.
The closure of Marion Aquatics would be another sad hollowing out of downtown Prince Albert, once vibrant and pretty, and struggling to stay so. Furthermore, the new facility may be too far away and expensive for many people, even with adequate busing service.
While some say city people don’t want to support rural people using city facilities, remember that Prince Albert’s economy relies on us as this city was premised on serving agricultural businesses.
We underpin the economy and also serve city dwellers who use lakes for recreation. Let us not let this Trump-style of divisive rhetoric destroy a good relationship.
Please support your citizens by helping to keep Marion Aquatics open. Thank you.
An open letter to Canadians – we can help India breathe
We’ve all seen or heard about it by now — India collectively struggling to breathe under the latest crushing wave of COVID-19. Sons and daughters running between hospitals, trying to find a bed for a sick parent. Family members taking to social media to find an oxygen tank as a loved one gasps for breath. Orphaned children left behind and now at risk of trafficking. While most of us have seen it in the news, many of us in Canada have heard the painful stories directly from Indian family members and friends.
The exponential increase in COVID-19 cases in India – a country representing almost one fifth of the planet’s population – is alarming. In the past two months, the number of new cases grew from around 18,000 to more than 410,000 per day. In the past 24 hours, India registered about half of all new COVID-19 cases worldwide. There are significant risks of further virus mutation and global spread.
What happens in India matters to all of us. It is painfully ironic that India is a major producer of vaccines to the world – including to Canada. Many lower income countries have also been counting on shipments and donations of vaccines from India to help their own vaccination efforts. This too is now at risk.
Although the pictures in the news from India may look different from what we see here at home, we feel this personally. In Canada, we continue to see our own emergency rooms and ICUs pushed to the brink as they care for people affected by this virus and its mutations. That’s why we know how important it is to take urgent action to stem the tide.
As the CEOs and executive directors of leading Canadian humanitarian response agencies, working together as the Humanitarian Coalition during major emergencies, we know that Canadians are quick to help their global neighbours in their hour of need.
That includes India.
Many of our agencies have long-standing relationships with partners and sister organizations in India. Our colleagues on the ground have asked for our assistance and they are guiding our response to ensure the swift, efficient and effective use of our support. Currently, they are working hard to provide desperately needed oxygen, PPE, medical supplies, food, hygiene items and vaccine promotion. Together we are making a difference, but we need to do more.
The Humanitarian Coalition is calling on Canadians to join us in meeting the pressing needs during this crisis. By working together, we save on costs, deliver direct impact, and ensure stronger programs.
Helping India at this urgent moment is both the right thing and the smart thing to do. By working together through the Humanitarian Coalition, we are saving more lives.
And that is the Canadian thing to do. Canadians can donate for emergency assistance to India online at www.together.ca or by phone at 1-855-461-2154.
- Paula Tenaglia, Interim Executive Director, Action Against Hunger
- Andy Harrington, Executive Director, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
- Karin Achtelstetter, Executive Director, Canadian Lutheran World Relief
- Barbara Grantham, President and CEO, CARE Canada
- Richard Morgan, Executive Director, Humanitarian Coalition
- Alexis Gaiptman, Executive Director, Canada, Humanity & Inclusion
- Zaid Al-Rawni, CEO, Islamic Relief Canada
- Lauren Ravon, Executive Director, Oxfam Canada
- Denise Byrnes, Executive Director, Oxfam Québec
- Lindsay Glassco, President and CEO, Plan International Canada
- Danny Glenwright, President and CEO, Save the Children Canada
- Michael Messenger, President, World Vision Canada
Letter to the editor: City should keep Marion Aquatics open
A recent article in the Prince Albert Daily Herald by the Canada Safety Council outlined in detail the importance of swimming lessons to the well-being and safety of children. I am sure the many hundreds of children who learned to swim at Marion Aquatics over he past 40 years would agree. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary for this important contribution to our community.
The proposed closing of the pool, which is impeccably maintained, well-used and deeply-appreciated, seems a poorly thought out decision, and one without community consultation. The proposed new recreation facility is a long way off. The closure of the pool strands the many people, mostly seniors who benefit from the fitness and well being of aquacize.
The pool has also been home to the Pikes swimming program and the synchronized swimming club.
The long history of Red Cross swimming lessons at the pool is sacrificed, as are many other services the pool provides.
Many members of the community would like the mayor to step back, reconsider the decision, consult the appropriate stakeholders and examine ways the city could keep Marion Aquatics open.
The hundreds of citizens who use the pool for fitness, recreation, swimming lessons and aquatic programs would be grateful.
Ecosystems and the czars
This was supposed to be already settled with the “war in the woods” at Clayoquot Sound back in the 1990s but greed never rests. The czars of forestry want to cut down the last of the virgin rain forests on Vancouver Island. It must be their ambition to destroy every remnant of that ecosystem left in the world. An ecosystem packed with ancient knowledge and teachings that have nurtured life over the centuries. An ecosystem that naturally cooperates with the other ecosystems of Earth. One of the miracles of Creation and once it’s gone its not going to come back.
For those of us that understand and care ecosystems are very important because they are the foundations of life.
Some of the lumber czars understand, but they don’t care. Another yacht, another mansion, conquest over nature in general has more exotic allure than life on Earth. We can’t expect the czars of industry or their political lackeys to want to understand or care. Those practicalities would cut into the rewards of their devastation.
The work boot guys on the front lines, in the media clips, with the chain saws, that labor for the czars are disposable. After the last thousand-year-old cedar falls the boys get their pink slips. Those people have as much value to the lumber czars as the ancient cedar. Once the clear cut is finished, there is no monitory value left. Scrap the chainsaws, scrap the operators, scrap the ecosystem. The czars promise no dignity or sustained employment.
Ecosystems such as the forests can offer sustained employment for ever if properly managed.
Any guy with a wood lot and a small mill can tell you that. At one time those little guys predominated providing quality, affordable products, building Canada until the czars and their political lackies breathed death by greed into the industry and the ecosystem by capturing and grossly mismanaging the renewable forestry resources. Mismanagement just like what caused the collapse of the cod stocks in the Grand Banks. Greed, selfishness, conquest, blind capitalist mentality brings reproductive ecosystems to their knees.
Many of us allow this to happen simply because of our inactivity to stop it.
Only informed, caring, humans coming together in mutual cooperation can stop this stupidity but that means we have to step up and fight for life on and of the Earth.
Ecosystems may not be that familiar or glamorous to most lost in an unnatural concrete jungle of urban consumerism with all its propaganda and technical glitter.
Ecosystems don’t offer themselves with window dressing other than the soothing, motherly, embrace of nature. Ecosystems express themselves in more ancient, natural, subtilties. Like creating and offering the necessities for life on Earth.
Conservative criticism of Bill C-22 misrepresents motion’s intent
Gary Vidal, Conservative Member of Parliament for Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River recently sent constituents a pamphlet which emphatically states that the passing of Bill C-22 puts “our Community at Risk” and calls it the “no more jail time for criminals’ Bill”.
If passed, Bill C-22 will repeal mandatory minimum penalties (MMP) in a number of drug offences. Repealing certain MMPs will help ensure that a person found guilty of an offence is sentenced appropriately. Bill C-22 allows for a greater use of conditional sentences and requires police and prosecutors to consider diversion measures and alternatives to criminal charges for simple drug possession offences.
Before the Harper government came into power, there were mandatory minimum sentences for a total of 24 federal offences. By 2015, that number had tripled. Keeping people in prison longer in overcrowded conditions, along with cuts to programming and the dismantling of transitional supports that assist with community reintegration did nothing to make our communities safer.
Mandatory minimums are often advertised as being ‘tough on crime,’ while in reality, they are toughest on those who are already most marginalized and victimized. Bill C-22 addresses the over-incarceration rate of Indigenous peoples as well as Black and marginalized Canadians.
In 2020, 30 per cent of federally incarcerated inmates were Indigenous adults, despite making up only 5 per cent of the country’s population. The portion of those incarcerated under mandatory minimum penalties has grown from 14 per cent in 2006-2007 to 26 per cent in 2016-2017.
Gary Vidal, the Shadow Minister of Indigenous Services, appears to be out of touch with the community he serves. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) is actively reaching out to municipalities, asking for their support to strengthen Bill C-22. A recent PA Herald article indicates that the Mayor of La Ronge questions whether the money spent to hire three additional RCMP did anything to reduce crime in La Ronge or if the money should have gone to organizations “that reduce crime in different ways.” The Mayor of Saskatoon says in order to have safer communities we need a balance of enforcement and ways to address root causes of crime. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police applauds the goals of Bill C-22 and the government’s commitment to these societal issues.
It costs taxpayers $70,000 per year to keep someone in jail. The additional cost associated with the Mandatory Minimum sentences would likely have served Canadians better and made our communities safer had it been spent on up-stream initiatives that address the issues that nurture crime…..like poverty, like a lack of mental health services or substance abuse treatment.
Paula Marshall, executive director of the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network in Nova Scotia advocates for judges to take a broader look at the systemic factors that lead people to be in trouble with the law in the first place. “Justice in our First Nations communities is not about what’s happening in the courts, justice also includes health policies, it includes educational policies, it includes funding for capacity building and employment. That’s what’s going to bring change in our communities….”