Alibaba-linked payment processing service Alipay expands in Canada

Alipay, the mobile payment processing service that emerged from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is expanding its Canadian presence.

The company is partnering with mobile payment app SnapPay in a move that will allow Alipay’s 520 million global users to use their Alipay mobile wallets to pay for products and services at participating Canadian merchants that accept SnapPay both in-store and online.

“By partnering with SnapPay, we are connecting sought-after Canadian retailers and brands with Chinese consumers who want to be able to pay with a familiar payment method,” Alipay North America president Souheil Badran said. “We are thrilled to expand our reach in Canada with SnapPay.”

Alipay launched in Canada last year, but Monday’s announcement will see the service expand significantly. Monday’s pact will make it easy for Chinese shoppers to use their Alipay mobile wallets to purchase items from Canada and elsewhere online, and then ask them if they want to pay in either U.S. dollars or Chinese yuan.

Canadian businesses exported more than $19 billion worth of goods to China last year, the largest amount to any single nation aside from the United States. 

In addition to making it easier for merchants who accept Alipay to sell goods to the Chinese market, the service may also boost in-person business, as Canada is becoming a major tourism destination for Chinese travellers.

“We want to continue offering Chinese consumers visiting Canada the ability to pay as they would in China,” Alipay North American President Souheil Badran said. “But we also want to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market.”

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was on hand at the event, urging Canadian small businesses to think big. “If you are not globalized, you will never be able to survive,” he said. “Think globally.”

Alibaba was launched in 1999 and Alipay came a few years later in 2004. Within a decade, the service had grown enough to eclipse PayPal as the world’s largest online payment platform.

Currently, the service has more than 520 million active users.

More than 700 Canadian merchants, including Arcteryx, Canada Goose, Lululemon, Viva Naturals, Aldo and SunRype, already accept Alipay, but Monday’s announcement should expand that presence.

Alibaba expands payment processing service Alipay in Canada

Alipay, the mobile payment processing service that emerged from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is expanding its Canadian presence.

The company is partnering with mobile payment app SnapPay in a move that will allow Alipay’s 520 million global users to use their Alipay mobile wallets to pay for products and services at participating Canadian merchants that accept SnapPay both in-store and online.

“By partnering with SnapPay, we are connecting sought-after Canadian retailers and brands with Chinese consumers who want to be able to pay with a familiar payment method,” Alipay North America president Souheil Badran said. “We are thrilled to expand our reach in Canada with SnapPay.”

Alipay launched in Canada last year, but Monday’s announcement will see the service expand significantly. Monday’s pact will make it easy for Chinese shoppers to use their Alipay mobile wallets to purchase items from Canada and elsewhere online, and then ask them if they want to pay in either U.S. dollars or Chinese yuan.

Canadian businesses exported more than $19 billion worth of goods to China last year, the largest amount to any single nation aside from the United States. 

In addition to making it easier for merchants who accept Alipay to sell goods to the Chinese market, the service may also boost in-person business, as Canada is becoming a major tourism destination for Chinese travellers.

“We want to continue offering Chinese consumers visiting Canada the ability to pay as they would in China,” Alipay North Badran said. “But we also want to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market.”

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was on hand at the event, urging Canadian small businesses to think big. “If you are not globalized, you will never be able to survive,” he said. “Think globally.”

Alibaba was launched in 1999 and Alipay came a few years later in 2004. Within a decade, the service had grown enough to eclipse PayPal as the world’s largest online payment platform.

Currently, the service has more than 520 million active users.

More than 700 Canadian merchants, including Arcteryx, Canada Goose, Lululemon, Viva Naturals, Aldo and SunRype, already accept Alipay, but Monday’s announcement should expand that presence.

Toasting to roasting: Inuit-owned coffee company teams up with Indigenous farmers in Peru

The idea began brewing over a pot of steaming coffee.

That’s how Pamela Gross describes launching Kaapittiaq, a new Inuit-owned coffee company rooted in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

“What more of a way to feel proud of our culture than having a business that’s Inuit owned and run,” said Gross.

Pamela Gross

‘What more of a way to feel proud of our culture than having a business that’s Inuit owned and run,’ says Pamela Gross of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Kaapittiaq means “good coffee” in Inuinnaqtun, a regional Inuit language in western Nunavut. Gross is the executive director of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, which owns Kaapittiaq.

The society hopes to create a steady stream of funding for cultural programs such as parka and qulliq-making workshops, and teaching children their Inuinnaqtun language.

But while researching how to get into the industry, Gross says, she learned the business could also help indigenous coffee bean farmers in Peru, by buying the beans directly from them.

“They have the climate to grow the beans and harvest them,” said Gross.

“We have the opportunity to sell them to different people who come up north.”

Coffee pickers in Peru

The coffee-growing region in the Colasay district of Peru is so remote, farmers haul the beans off the mountains using donkeys. (Submitted by Erci Vasquez)

North-south connection

Kaapittiaq is sourcing the beans through Cafe Vasquez, in Barrie, Ont.

Owned by Peruvian native Erci Vasquez and her husband Stuart, the company buys coffee from farmers in northern Peru — for a fair price — and transports it to larger centres to sell to coffee distributors.

Now, for the first time, Cafe Vasquez is helping to facilitate direct trade between the farmers and coffee companies.

“The idea is to [connect] the people from the Arctic to my town,” said Vasquez. “It’s fantastic.”

This is the company’s first collaboration outside of Peru.

Map of San Francisco, Peru to Nunavut

Coffee beans picked in San Francisco, Peru, will travel to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. (CBC)

The coffee farmers are from five villages in the Colasay district of northwestern Peru, with Vasquez’s home of San Francisco being the largest.

The region is so remote, farmers haul the beans off the mountains using donkeys.

They’re often forced to sell their crops at lower prices because they don’t have the means to sell their beans in larger cities, said Vasquez.

Direct trade through Cafe Vasquez is changing that.

“The farmers will get more money for the coffee so it will be good for all the families,” said Vasquez.

Similar to many Inuit communities in Nunavut, Vasquez says people in her region are worried about preserving their culture, including language, traditional dance and clothing.

The profit from the beans will also help pay for a new cultural centre and programs in Peru.

Coffee farmers in Peru

‘The farmers will get more money for the coffee so it will be good for all the families,’ said Erci Vasquez of Cafe Vasquez. (Submitted by Erci Vasquez)

10,000 pounds this winter

The Kitikmeot Heritage Society has received $70,000 from the Nunavut government to get the business started. The goal is to roast 10,000 pounds of coffee this winter.

The next harvest is scheduled for November. Once the beans reach Canada, they will be roasted and packaged for now at the Beaver Rock Roastery in Barrie, Ont.

The plan is to eventually set up a small scale roastery in Cambridge Bay, managed by a small team of Inuit staff.

Kitikmeot coffee roasters

The board of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society gives the coffee roasting operation in Barrie, Ont. a thumbs up. They hope to eventually roast their Kaapittiaq coffee in Cambridge Bay. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Back in Cambridge Bay, the Kitikmeot Heritage Society is still finalizing Kaapittiaq’s branding — something that “screams Inuk,” says Pamela Gross.

“It’s very exciting we’ll be able to buy our own coffee,” she said.

The heritage society plans to land Kaapittiaq on the shelves in Nunavut’s grocery stores, hopefully next year. They’re also feeling out northern airlines and hotels.

“As Indigenous peoples across the world, we have all been colonized,” said Gross.

“This is a great opportunity for both communities in the north and the south to create better revenue for our communities, which will in turn change the cycles that we face with colonization.”

She says part of that includes securing jobs in Nunavut communities that are owned and operated by Inuit.

“Which we will do with this business,” said Gross.

Coffee Mug

(Kate Kyle/CBC)

Northern airline operators threatened by ‘absurd’ Transport Canada rules, says advocacy group

Controversial new rules proposed by Transport Canada, which would put restraints on pilot flying time, are being called “absurd” and “stupid” by some in the industry in the North.

The changes could force some northern air operators — and supporting businesses in communities — to shut down, says Glenn Priestley, executive director of the Northern Air Transport Association (NATA).

“Many communities will lose their aviation lifelines, or have the cost of the service increase dramatically.” – Glenn Priestley, Northern Air

“If these rules go through by Transport Canada, regarding flight and duty times, there’s going to be a significant increase in the cost to deliver all forms of northern and remote society services,” he said.

“Or there will be a reduction in services — one or the other.”

Either way, it will “impose economic hardship on Canadians and communities,” said Priestley, whose group advocates for a safe, sustainable northern transportation system, and has been lobbying Ottawa to consider the unique situation in the North.

​”Many communities will lose their aviation lifelines, or have the cost of the service increase dramatically,” he wrote in a letter to MP Wayne Easter, chair of the standing committee on finance, for consideration ahead of the federal budget.

The rules, which are still being reviewed by Transport Minister Marc Garneau, are designed to prevent pilot fatigue through a “very complicated formula of flight and duty time,” Priestley said.

They would limit shifts by capping the hours that can be worked or the number of takeoffs and landings that can be done.

There are also strict guidelines on how much rest must be taken at night as well as after shift lengths and before a pilot can fly again.

‘Never seen more controversy’

Joe Sparling, president of Yukon-based Air North, said the proposed rules make no sense and it’s not surprising the air industry is furious.

“You know I’ve probably never seen more controversy or objection to any rule-making,” he said.

While he applauds efforts to make air travel safer, Priestley says the new rules are aimed primarily at the “heavy guys,” those pilots flying commercial jetliners — not the flights of bush pilots, medevac pilots and others who serve the North.

However, the rules are being imposed as “one size fits all,” he said.

“They tried to apply the rules all the way down to the operator of a Beaver [single-engine bush plane] on floats, such as Ahmic Aviation in Yellowknife. It’s just not the same,” he said.

“We’re really quite angry about it. We keep having these southern problems and southern solutions applied to northern operators who don’t have the problem in the first place.”

pe-mi-twin-otter

The cost of doing business could become taxing for some small operators in Canada’s North, says an advocacy group for northern airlines. (Royal Canadian Air Force)

Priestley cites the use of Twin Otter planes to transfer fuel from barges to mining camps as an example. The flight might just be 10 minutes, but it is done repeatedly.

Under the new rules, pilots would reach their maximum number of takeoffs and landings before the job is complete.

“So what used to be done in a day will now take three days,” Priestley said. “That’s an example of something we’ve been doing for years, never had a problem, but now it’s going to really cut back on how the work is done.”

That means tying pilots up for longer periods, Priestley said. It also means companies would incur extra costs to house them at camps or need to hire additional pilots to get the work done sooner.

Glenn Priestley

Glenn Priestley, of the Northern Air Transport Association: ‘It’s been a heck of a battle and the battle continues.’ (Courtesy Glenn Priestley)

Another example Priestley gives is the operation of the northern medevac system. A flight might take less than an hour but a crew might sit for several hours waiting for the patient to be stabilized.

“That’s where your duty time gets eaten up,” Priestley says.

“So even if you only flew for half an hour, if you spend too long there you may run out of duty time and might not be able to fly back.”

The crew and the patient could be stranded until the mandated rest time for the pilot has passed. Or a second crew would need to be brought in.

There are about 30,000 medevac-type flights every year in Canada and “a lot of these flights will have to be done differently at increased costs,” Priestley said.

Sparling said another consequence is the loss of opportunity for employees to alter shifts or ask for flexibility in hours of work. That means staff would be permanently stuck on the same shift.

“The ability to transition crews one shift to another, you need to have a practical way of doing it, and the whole notion that an extra five minutes can trigger a need for 24 hours rest is absurd,” he said.

Garneau has stated, when it comes to the proposed rules, that travellers have the right to expect their pilots to be in good shape on the job, both physically and mentally. 

“Is it important for the pilot to be well rested? Absolutely. You’ll never hear me deny that [but] you can’t set it in stone,” Priestley said.

“You can’t put it in the national regulations of Canada that this fits for everybody.”

De Havilland Beaver

The same rules that would apply to commercial jetliners would impact small operators, even those using float planes. (Air Saguenay)

Neither Priestley or Sparling are aware of pilot fatigue ever being blamed for a serious incident in Canada.

The proposed changes were prompted by concerns in the U.S., where there were a series of accidents in which fatigue may have been an issue, said Priestley.

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board has no trending issues related to fatigue, he added.

Transport Canada considering ‘certain flexibility’

​Transport Canada declined a request for an interview but sent an email response.

The agency said it “recognizes that fatigue management is a complex issue” but that Canada’s proposed rules align with today’s scientific data, international standards, and best practices.”

It is, however, looking at allowing a “certain flexibility” in the rules.

“For example, pilots who ferry surveyors mornings and evenings could rest during the middle of day to maximize flying hours and split-shift provisions could also be used to manage unique work environments,” the statement said.

The agency said it has reached out to all air operators to learn about the cost impacts the new regulations could have on their operations and has held consultations to address concerns.

“Smaller operators and their associated organizations felt like the one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable for their unique type of operations, however, they did not provide alternate regimes supported by science to address this situation,” the statement said.

Trial begins in the murder of inmate at troubled Ontario jail

Deb Abrams has been preparing for the last four years to walk into a London courthouse and face the person charged with killing her 29-year-old son, Adam Kargus.

“This has been going on for almost four years,” Abrams tells CBC’s The Fifth Estate in an interview for an upcoming documentary set to air later this year. “I have to stay strong for my son.”

“I want justice for Adam…so that there isn’t another Adam.”

Anthony George, Kargus’s cellmate inside the Ontario provincial jail, Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC), has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death on Oct 31, 2013. The trial starts today and is expected to last three weeks.

A class action lawsuit was certified on behalf of over 10,000 EMDC inmates against the Province of Ontario. The claim seeks over $300 million in damages on behalf of inmates incarcerated there.  

The statement of claim alleges an unsafe environment, overcrowding, lack of care, lack of supervision and lack of sanitary conditions. It also alleges that the jail fostered an atmosphere of “violence, brutality and intimidation.”

EMDC has been embroiled in one lawsuit after another over allegations that inmates’ rights are routinely violated inside the detention center.

Six staff were fired after Kargus’ death for failing to do their jobs. However, three of the guards were able to get their jobs back in April 2017 after an Ontario’s grievance settlement board found that the actions of the guards that led to their firing in this case, “have gone on for years, if not decades, and they were open and obvious.”

High number of deaths

The board ruled that, “there can be no questions that managers were aware of the practices at EMDC that deviated from written policy…”

One guard who worked at EMDC for decades shares concerns for the high number of deaths at EMDC.

“No one deserves to die in an institution like that. And that’s something that’s become too prevalent at that jail,” he spoke to The Fifth Estate about his time there on the condition that we protect his identity because he fears retribution. “It’s tough to really feel any sympathy for what goes on in there. But, I’ve said all along, nobody deserves to die in there.”

Deb Abrams

Deb Abrams reads one of the last letters her son Adam sent her before his death. (CBC)

Back in her hometown of Sarnia, Ont., Abrams acknowledges that her son Adam had a drug addiction and had struggled to stay clean when he landed in jail.

A tattoo with his name is inked on her left hand. Around her neck, she wears a silver necklace that holds the vial of ashes of her son. A bumper sticker on her jeep reads, “Justice for Adam.”  

She pulls out the last letter her son wrote to her from jail before he died in which he promises to turn his life around.

“Dear Mom, I just wanted to write to express my honest to God gratitude for all your support in all of this…My heart and soul are filled with love to know I have such support…I am going to seek counseling upon my release.”

“He didn’t get that chance,” Abrams says holding the letter in her hands.

7 right whales entangled this summer, new data shows

New figures show at least seven North Atlantic right whales got entangled in fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this summer, and two died as a result.

Two of the whales were freed by rescuers, including Joe Howlett, who was killed during one of the missions.

A fifth whale wrestled itself free of fishing ropes, while the fate of the other two animals is unknown, according to the New England Aquarium figures.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc says he is concerned about “hundreds of feet of rope” floating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

But he stopped short of promising changes to fishing gear, saying the government still must consult with scientists, including U.S. experts.


DEEP TROUBLE | Right whale in peril

After an unprecedented number of deaths this summer, CBC News is bringing you an in-depth look at the endangered North Atlantic right whale. In a series called Deep Trouble, CBC explores the perils facing the right whales.


“The commitment I can make is that next year’s season will be different than this year’s season in terms of our preparedness, in terms of the discussion we’re having around fishing gear, marine transportation, real-time surveillance,” LeBlanc said in an interview.

“All of these measures will be brought together in a co-ordinated way.”

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc says he is concerned about ‘hundreds of feet of rope’ floating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (CBC)

The future is bleak for an entangled whale.

Many animals will carry the gear for months, if not years, before slowly succumbing to their injuries, according to Philip Hamilton, a research scientist at the New England Aquarium.

“It is heartbreaking because of the suffering,” he said.

Snow crab gear a culprit

In 2015 and 2016 combined, at least three whales got tangled up in fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including one that died from its injuries.

In those cases, Hamilton said, scientists are sure the whales were caught up in snow crab gear.

Given the location of the seven whales found entangled this year, it’s “likely” they were also victims of snow crab gear, he added.

Snow crab trap

A rusted snow crab trap crafted from rebar sits on a Miscou Island beach after it was cut from the dead body of a North Atlantic right whale. (Submitted: Liam Shea)

Just last week, scientists cut a snow crab trap from a right whale carcass during a necropsy performed on Miscou Island.

Wrapped in heavy ropes, the animal had apparent deep cuts on its body, mouth, fins and blubber.

CBC News sought interviews with snow crab fishing representatives but no one was available.

‘We’ve just lost a big chunk of the population’

LeBlanc has said that every suggestion is on the table, as the federal government faces mounting pressure to protect a species at risk of disappearing.

At least 14 whales have died in the Atlantic Ocean this summer, including at least 11 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. No more than 500 of the animals remain.

According to Hamilton’s research, only one in four or five carcasses washes ashore, meaning the true death toll could be much higher.

“If that were the case, then we’ve just lost a big chunk of the population,” said Hamilton, who described the deaths as “profoundly discouraging.”

So far, the federal government has closed a crab fishery early and is forcing large ships to slow down in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“That speed limit will move as we get information on the migration of the whales,” the minister said.

The government will “massively” increase the amount of aerial and on-the-water surveillance to develop better real-time data on the animal’s’ movement, LeBlanc said.

The department is also considering limiting the amount of rope floating on the surface, as a condition of a fishing licence.

No immediate changes for rescuers

As Transport Canada continues to investigate Howlett’s death, LeBlanc said the federal government will move quickly to make changes once the results are in.

But LeBlanc didn’t say what those changes could entail.

“The best way to go forward probably is a combination of governmental resources [and] expertise from other partners.”

Philip Hamilton

Philip Hamilton, a research scientist at the New England Aquarium, calls the deaths of whales caught in fishing gear ‘heartbreaking’ because of the amount of suffering the animals endure.

The federal government is responsible for managing the at-risk species. But for years, a team of volunteers in the Maritimes has carried out whale rescues with minimal financial compensation from government.

The Campobello Whale Rescue Team — co-founded by Howlett in 2002 — has called for more help.

“Our department will be happy to have conversations with them about the best way we can support the work they do,” LeBlanc said.

“But we also have other partners who are doing a great deal of work in this area as well.”

How an unprecedented number of deaths put the endangered North Atlantic right whale’s future in peril2:57

The government is figuring out how to spend $1.5 billion announced last fall as part of an Oceans protection plan.

That could include putting more money into endangered species and “partners” like the Campobello team, LeBlanc said.

“To be honest, the tragic passing of Mr. Howlett has made that discussion more urgent and more real,” he said.

“Because in no way will I authorize putting the lives of our staff or anybody else who’s working with us in a circumstance that might be dangerous without having every possible effort to ensure their safety.”

The federal government has placed limits on whale rescues since Howlett’s death, suspending right whale rescues. Fisheries and Oceans must give permission before launching a rescue mission for any other whales.

Coast guard broke rules

Earlier this month, a Canadian Coast Guard ship was fined for going too fast in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

LeBlanc, who oversees the coast guard as fisheries minister, said he was “profoundly unhappy” when he learned the ship sped past the 10-knot limit.

He put his “unhappiness” into a letter directed to the commissioner of the coast guard.

“He assured me that he has put into place a series of measures that should prevent that kind of unacceptable conduct from happening again,” LeBlanc said.

Bautista leads Jays past Yankees in likely final home game

Jose Bautista had two hits, drove in one run and scored another to help lift the Blue Jays to a 9-5 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday in what was likely his final home game in a Toronto uniform.

Bautista, a six-time all-star and two-time silver slugger, was met by a loud ovation each time he stepped to the plate. He brought back Usher’s “OMG” as his walk-up music — the song he used during his 54-homer 2010 season.

Bautista walked in the third and scored on a three-run double from Russell Martin, then drove in Teoscar Hernandez with a bases-loaded single in Toronto’s four-run fourth inning. He nearly scored later in the frame but was tagged out at home plate.

The Blue Jays challenged the call, which was upheld after a video review. Bautista singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch in the first inning, flied out to right in the sixth, and hit a high pop out in the eighth in his final at-bat.

Fans celebrate Bautista

Bautista was replaced by Ezequiel Carrera in right field after Roberto Osuna got the first out of the ninth, hugging each of his teammates as he left the field and waving at the fans as he stepped into the dugout.

Jose Bautista salutes Toronto crowd in Rogers Centre send off2:12

The 36-year-old signed a one-year deal with Toronto prior to the 2017 season that includes a mutual option for 2018 that’s unlikely to be picked up.

Bautista waved to the crowd of 47,394 when he took his spot in right field before the game. The Blue Jays close out the season with a pair of three-game series in Boston and New York next week.

Marcus Stroman (13-8), who was wearing a black Bautista jersey during warmups in the bullpen, allowed three runs, five hits and four walks and struck out two through 5 2/3 innings.

Stroman 3 innings shy of 200

Stroman, three innings shy of reaching 200 for a second straight year, left the field to a loud ovation after walking Todd Frazier. He clapped at the fans and tapped his chest as he disappeared into the dugout.

Hernandez led off the game with a homer for Toronto (73-83), Morales added two runs batted in, Josh Donaldson drove in one and Darwin Barney hit a sacrifice fly.

Jaime Garcia (5-10) lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, five runs and three walks with four strikeouts.

Aaron Judge hit two homers and drove in three, Greg Bird had an RBI and Didi Gregorius cashed in a run for the Yankees (86-69).

Manitoba Metis Federation bans spotlighting

Manitoba Metis Federation members have voted to ban spotlighting. 

Night hunting, however, will still be allowed, in remote and northern areas of Manitoba. 

The MMF defines spotlighting as “chasing animals in motorized vehicles, including trucks, snowmobiles, ATVs, boats, etc. with artificial lighting.”

A bright light is shone into the eyes of animals such as moose, elk and deer, causing the prey to stop moving and therefore making it easier for them to be killed.

Spotlighting is illegal in many provinces, but legal for Indigenous people in Manitoba. 

Alfred Anderson, the MMF’s minister of natural resources, said Saturday that spotlighting is “a dangerous practice.”

“Personally myself I’m against night-lighting but I’m for night hunting,” he told CBC News on Saturday. “The dangers of night lighting are causing a lot of safety issues, wounded animals, farm animals getting shot and human beings getting shot at.”

On Sunday, following community consultations, members voted at the MMF’s annual general meeting in favour of banning spotlighting. 

The first resolution passed by the delegates at the Annual General Assembly prohibits dangerous night spot-lighting,” said MMF director of communications Jonathan Hamel in an email.

Night hunting allowed in northern Manitoba

MMF delegates voted to continue to allow night hunting — and even the use of artificial lights — under some circumstances. 

A second resolution passed Sunday prohibits night hunting in southern Manitoba, but “permits non-dangerous night hunting, including the use of natural or stationary artificial lights, in non-Agro Manitoba,” Hamel said.  

Anderson said “non-agro-Manitoba” is essentially north of The Pas. 

“Where there is signficant land development, private lands and local populations, Night-Hunting … will not be undertaken,” the resolution states. “Within … Central and Northern Manitoba, and away from settlements and local populations, the practice of Night-Hunting … will continue to be allowable.”

The Metis Laws of the Harvest will be updated to reflect the passage of the resolutions, he said. 

Spotlighting became a flashpoint of controversy after reports of spotlighting near farms. In January, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister came under fire for saying divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people over hunting at night are “becoming a race war.”

Saskatchewan banned “spotlighting” in 1998 with the support of Indigenous communities. 

Self-governance

First Nations Canadians have a right to hunt for food at night, a right protected by the Constitution Act of 1982, provided it is done safely and under certain conditions — such as on reserves, unoccupied Crown land or private land with permission.

In 2012, Manitoba and the Manitoba Metis Federation negotiated a harvesting agreement that further defined Metis’ hunting rights. The Metis Laws of the Harvest are non-binding, the MMF notes.

The text of the resolution prohibiting night-hunting in southern Manitoba states, “this direction does not extinguish or give up the Metis right to harvest at night in any way; it simply puts Metis-created limitations on this aspect of our inherent right bsaed on our collective decisions and self-government.”

More to come. 

Sacred site developing $3.1M multimedia show in rural Quebec

A group of Capuchin brothers will bring their vision of nature and spirituality to visitors of the Ermitage Saint-Antoine with a new $3.1 million multimedia show and revamp of the site.

The federal government has committed about $1.5 million and the Quebec government is contributing $890,000 to the project. The rest of the $3.1 million will come from the Ermitage’s fundraising.

The pilgrimage and tourist site is located on the shores of Lake Ouiatchouan in Lac-Bouchette, about 300 kilometres north of Quebec City.

“The project will generate real spinoffs for the region,” Georges Arseneau, director general for Canada Economic Development (CED) in Quebec told CBC.

CED predicts the Ermitage’s proposed multimedia show and new screening room will boost tourism by more than 20 per cent and will create eight jobs in the otherwise devitalized community.

According to the federal government, the investment will also help position Quebec and Canada as a major tourist destination.

A spiritual show

ermitage

The grounds include a restaurant, bakery, chapel and museum. (submitted Ermitage Saint-Antoine )

The site is maintained by Capuchin brothers who follow the values of St. Francis of Assisi, a saint known for his strong connection to nature, and penchant for preaching to birds.

True to form, birds sing on the line to anyone who calls the site. And many do call — the Ermitage had about 85,000 visitors in 2016.

Visitors come from Quebec, Canada, the United States and Europe. Guy Thibeault, spokesperson for the site, says tourists are starting to come from China as well.

The site is popular with tourists, thanks to its natural surroundings, and pilgrims, because of its Catholic credentials.

It is one of Quebec’s five national sanctuaries, joining a list which includes Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory. It was also recognized as a sanctuary by Pope Jean Paul II.

Despite its remote location, the Ermitage manages to reach tourists with its healthy online presence, complete with social media videos. 

The multimedia show the Ermitage has received funding for is still in the works. Thibeault said visitors can expect it to include spirituality, Franciscan values and the natural beauty and history of the site.

110 years of history

The Ermitage Saint-Antoine was founded by priest Elzéar DeLamarre in 1907 as he sought a place where he could live like a hermit in nature.

He chose a sparsely populated area in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region and began building the sanctuary.

“He just wanted to create a place to relax for himself, his monk friends and his family,” said Thibeault. 

Of course, the site included a chapel and when he rang its bell the sound carried across Lake Ouiatchouan. Curious church-goers started streaming in by boat to see why there was a bell.

ermitage chapel

The Ermitage Saint-Antoine was founded in 1907. (submitted Ermitage Saint-Antoine )

DeLamarre invited them to stay and pray. The site has been welcoming visitors ever since.

When DeLamarre died in 1925 maintaining the site was taken up by the Capuchins, in accordance with the priest’s wishes. 

Fate of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota goes to public hearings

Minnesota kicks off public hearings this week on whether regulators should allow Enbridge Energy to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The replacement would have higher capacity than the existing pipeline and run along a new route in some areas — two characteristics that opponents say shows it’s more like a new pipeline than a replacement.

Environmental and tribal groups say they expect hundreds of people to protest and march against the project before Thursday’s hearing in St. Paul. They’ve been buoyed by a recent review from the state Commerce Department, which surprised opponents and Enbridge alike by concluding the project isn’t needed and won’t benefit Minnesota. But Enbridge says Line 3 is a critical piece of infrastructure for petroleum shippers and refineries in the region.

Oil pipelines have become an increasingly contentious national issue amid concerns about oilsands oil and climate change, the danger that spills pose to water supplies, and the rights of Native Americans who live along the routes. The fight over the Dakota Access pipeline drew thousands of protesters to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, stalling work on that project for months.

Here’s a look at some of the issues with Line 3:

The pipeline

Calgary-based Enbridge wants to replace Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, because it now runs at just over half its original capacity of 760,000 barrels per day and the costs of maintaining it are growing. The pipeline runs from Hardisty, Alberta, clips a corner of North Dakota, and crosses Minnesota on its way to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Construction has already begun in Canada and Wisconsin. Overall, it’s about a $7.5 billion US project.

The replacement would follow much of Line 3’s current corridor, although Enbridge wants to use a more southerly new route across much of northern Minnesota that would cross the Mississippi River headwaters and pristine lake country where Ojibwe bands harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights.

Enbridge’s project manager for Line 3, Barry Simonson, said the new pipeline would use state-of-the-art technology and stronger steel to ensure safety, which he said is Enbridge’s paramount concern.

The decision process

The hearings will be conducted in nine Minnesota cities this month and next, starting Tuesday in Thief River Falls. The state Public Utilities Commission will consider the testimony as it decides whether the replacement is needed and, if so, whether it should follow Enbridge’s preferred route or an alternative path.

An administrative law judge will hold several additional days of more formal hearings in November, using a trial-like format in which the official parties to the case can cross-examine witnesses. Separate proceedings will consider whether the environmental review was adequate. The PUC isn’t scheduled to make its final decision until April.

The PUC is independent but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton appointed all five commissioners. Dayton has said he’ll await the rebuttals of the Commerce Department’s position that project proponents will file before announcing his own views.

The opponents

Environmental groups spearheaded by the Sierra Club are organizing a rally at the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon, featuring Native American jingle dress dancers, followed by a march to the hearing at a downtown St. Paul hotel.

The groups include Honor the Earth, led by indigenous rights activist Winona LaDuke, who depicts Line 3 as the next Dakota Access fight. They also include Youth Climate Intervenors, a group of 13 Native Americans and other young people who won official standing to participate in the regulatory proceedings.

“This is Canadian oil passing through Minnesota’s watershed and through our land, our treaty areas, our wild rice areas, the Mississippi headwaters,” said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth. “It’s a massive pipeline and if it leaks we will bear the impact of it.”

Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club are among several North American and European groups that sent a letter to 36 banks last week urging them to stop financing Enbridge.

The supporters

Simonson said Enbridge will use the public process to explain why replacing Line 3 is important to Minnesota and surrounding states, and how the new line will better protect the environment. The company hopes that will help overcome opposition, he said.

“I don’t think anyone wants another Standing Rock to happen in Minnesota,” he said.

Canadian oil shippers and Midwest refineries say they need the added capacity and improved reliability the replacement would provide. Business and labour groups want the construction jobs Line 3 would create.

Looking ahead

If Minnesota’s PUC blocks the project, Enbridge could be expected to appeal. The company would still be able to use its upgraded pipeline sections in Canada and Wisconsin, although capacity would be constrained by the old Minnesota segment.