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Indigenous billboard artwork, second vaccine dose expansion: In The News for June 23

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 23 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 23 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A project to raise awareness about the remains of children found on residential school sites will see the work of eight Indigenous artists displayed on hundreds of billboards across Canada.

Campaign director Lisa Cherry says the project was organized by Artists Against Racism after a First Nation in British Columbia announced last month that ground-penetrating radar had detected what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school site.

Cherry says art can break barriers, educate and heal.

The works will be on more than 500 digital billboards on street corners, in subways and on rural roads for the entire month.

Betty Albert, a Cree artist based in Winnipeg, is showcasing her piece called "215" in honour of the children.

She says she hopes it will help people realize the atrocities of what happened at the schools.


Also this ...

More Ontarians living in designated hot spots for the Delta COVID-19 variant are eligible to book earlier second vaccine doses starting today.

Health units covering Toronto, Peel, Halton, Porcupine, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Waterloo and York, Hamilton, Simcoe-Muskoka and Durham are considered hot spots for the more infectious virus variant.

People in those health units who received a first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 30 can move up their second shots today.

The provincial vaccine booking portal will open to those eligible at 8 a.m. this morning.

The province says sometime next week, all adults who received a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna's product can book a second appointment as soon as 28 days after their initial shot.

Second doses were initially booked four months after the first in Ontario but the province is shortening that timeline as more vaccine is expected in province. 


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is launching an inquiry into her agency's past oversight of the federal government's boarding school program for native American children. 

Haaland told tribal leaders from across the United States during a virtual address Tuesday that the investigation will focus on compiling and reviewing decades of records to better understand the loss of life at the schools while they were in operation. She says the process will be long and difficult and won't undo the legacy of pain that has resulted. 

The recent discovery of children’s remains buried at the site of what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school has magnified interest in that legacy both in Canada and the United States.

In the U.S., the unprecedented work will include compiling and reviewing decades of records to identify past boarding schools, locate known and possible burial sites at or near those schools, and uncover the names and tribal affiliations of students, Haaland said.

“To address the intergenerational impact of Indian boarding schools and to promote spiritual and emotional healing in our communities, we must shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past no matter how hard it will be,” she said.

Haaland said the process will be long, difficult and painful and will not undo the heartbreak and loss endured by many families.

Starting with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, the U.S. enacted laws and policies to establish and support Indian boarding schools across the nation. For over 150 years, Indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced into boarding schools that focused on assimilation.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

CANBERRA, Australia — A plague of mice that has ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia has forced the evacuation of a prison while authorities repair gnawed electrical wiring and clear dead and decaying mice from wall cavities and ceilings.

Prison officials said Tuesday that around 200 staff and 420 inmates will be transferred from the prison in rural New South Wales state to other prisons in the region during the next 10 days while cleaning and repairs take place. 

Millions of mice have caused havoc in the grain-growing region of Australia’s most populous state for months, devouring crops and haystacks as well as invading homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and prisons. 

The most common complaint about the plague is an ever-present stench of mice urine and decaying flesh. People report being bitten by mice in bed. Mouse carcasses and excrement in roof guttering are polluting farmers’ water tanks and causing sickness.

Plagues usually happen when rain follows several years of drought. The current plague is the worst that many can remember in some areas.

Government mouse researcher Steve Henry said mice numbers had begun to plateau as the species always stops breeding during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

But numbers could explode again if conditions are right in the spring.


On this day in 1908 ...

Fire destroyed half the city of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. The blaze left 1,000 people homeless and caused $2 million in damage.


In entertainment ...

Avril Lavigne invited a real-life skater guy to her TikTok debut, bringing skateboarder Tony Hawk with her when she jumped on the popular social media platform with her first post this week.

The clip features Lavigne in full retro pop-punk glory while she lip-synchs the words of her 2002 hit "Sk8er Boi." A quick zoom into her trademark loose necktie cuts to Hawk wearing a similar look while doing tricks on a halfpipe.

While Lavigne didn't reveal much detail on how the idea came about, she posted several behind-the-scenes photos on Twitter showing the pair as they filmed the clip.

As of midday on Tuesday, the TikTok post had pulled in three million likes, while her account had amassed more than 930,000 followers.

The buzzworthy moment comes as Lavigne, who is from Napanee, Ont., uses her social media accounts to tease the release of new music. She recently returned to the scene with "Flames" a duet with her pop-punk boyfriend Mod Sun.



Owners of a new vacation spot in Cape Breton hope the enduring legacy of singer-songwriter Rita MacNeil will draw fans to their sprawling waterfront property after it was repurposed as a three-unit Airbnb rental dubbed Rita's Retreat.

MacNeil, known as Cape Breton's first lady of song, died in 2013 at the age of 68 after complications from surgery.

Property manager Victoria Serwatuk says her father came across the home in Coxheath on the real estate market before the agent told him it was owned by MacNeil. She says the family decided the space was too big to live in full-time, but they saw the potential to give MacNeil's fans a unique space that kept some of her items intact.

"We want to keep the legacy going," Serwatuk added.

"All of the architecture is done by her and specifically designed for her."

Visitors can select from three listings on Airbnb — the main cottage, a space called Rita's suite or a bachelor space.

Serwatuk says the family doesn't intend to "abuse" MacNeil's name but rather pay tribute to her lasting influence. 

They also informed her son Wade Langham about their plans before the property opened. She says they reached a business agreement with Langham to purchase coal-shaped chocolates from him, as a tribute to MacNeil's solidarity with miners.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press