Canada’s Reece Howden capped his first season on the World Cup circuit in style Sunday by winning the ski cross Crystal Globe as overall points leader.
Howden, from Cultus Lake, B.C., won four races and made two other podium appearances this season. The 22-year-old FIS rookie of the year finished ninth in the World Cup Finals at Veysonnaz, Switzerland.
WATCH | Howden takes gold in Sunny Valley on March 13:
Reece Howden of Cultus Lake, BC claimed his fourth World Cup ski cross victory of the season Saturday in Sunny Valley, Russia. 4:28
“I was trying to do the best that I could,” Howden said of the campaign. “After Val Thorens in December when I got a couple podiums I realized there was a possibility if I kept skiing well that I could win the Globe.
“It is just amazing, I am super-blessed and excited.”
Switzerland’s Fanny Smith won the women’s Crystal Globe. Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., was third in the points race.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling to hang on to third place in the overall World Cup,” Thompson said. “I’m proud of the skiing I did this year to earn that spot but disappointed to be ending the season injured.”
Smith took silver on Sunday behind Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund. Alizee Baron of France was third.
Florian Wilmsmann of Germany took the men’s gold ahead of Jonathan Midol of France and Germany’s Tim Hronek.
Kim Zavesky is desperate to return to her home in Golden, B.C.
After retiring last year, she and her husband — both Americans — sold their house in Chandler, Ariz., and moved most of their belongings to their second home in Golden, in southeastern British Columbia.
The plan was to rent a place in the United States for the first part of the year and spend the rest of the year in Golden. But then the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential traffic in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, blocking the couple from accessing their Canadian property.
“All my stuff is there, all my documents except for my passport,” Zavesky said. “It’s like not being able to go home.”
“The unfairness of it really bothers me,” Zavesky said. “Whatever the rules are, I just feel like it should be the same.”
Although Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their shared border to non-essential travel during the pandemic, they each crafted their own policies. That has sparked some confusion and frustration because the rules vary — depending on which border you’re crossing.
Political scientist Don Abelson said the different rules between the two countries isn’t surprising.
“You’re still dealing with two sovereign countries who have jurisdiction over their own border, and they certainly have jurisdiction and responsibility for developing their own policies,” said Abelson, a professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.
Snowbirds OK to fly south
The Canada-U.S. land border is set to stay closed until Dec. 21, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implied on Tuesday that the date could be extended.
“The [COVID-19] situation in the United States continues to be extremely serious,” he said on CBC Radio’s The Current.
Since the start of the border closure, the Canadian government has barred Americans from entering for non-essential travel by all modes of transport.
But while the U.S. has barred Canadian travellers from crossing by land, it still allows them to fly into the country. The U.S. has declined to tell CBC News why it made this decision, but in general, its air travel restrictions are less stringent than Canada’s.
“No way in hell we’re staying here,” said Claudine Durand of Lachine, Que.
If the land border is still closed when Durand and her husband head to Florida in late January, they plan to use a new service offered by Transport KMC. The Quebec company flies snowbirds — and transports their vehicles — across the Quebec-New York border.
“Basically, it solves our problem because we want to take our RV down,” Durand said, adding that she plans to take all COVID-19 safety precautions while in Florida.
Those who do must quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Canada.
Canada and the U.S. also have different rules for family member exemptions.
Following protests from families separated by the border shutdown, the Canadian government loosened its travel restrictions in June to allow Americans with certain immediate family in Canada to enter the country for any reason by both land and air.
In October, the government further widened the exemptions to include additional family members, as well as couples who’ve been together for at least a year.
U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders suggests the U.S. hasn’t bothered to loosen the restrictions as the pandemic drags on because separated family members can still fly to the country.
“There’s a huge alternative,” said Saunders, who’s based in Blaine, Wash. “There’s no restrictions on flying.”
WATCH | Some Canadians decide to spend winter in U.S. amid COVID-19:
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping some Canadian snowbirds from heading to the U.S. this winter, but they’re not all willing to take the risk for warmer weather. 2:07
One affected group that has found no way around the federal government’s travel restrictions are Americans who own property in Canada. Some of them argue they, too, should get an exemption to enter the country.
“I pay [property] taxes. I would more than live by the rules,” said Zavesky, who points out she has a place where she can quarantine for 14 days — her home in Golden, B.C.
Mark Brosch of Atlanta owns a cottage in Muskoka Lakes, Ont. He said he believes he should be allowed to enter Canada so he can check on a property that has sat vacant for 10 months.
“I get across the border and I go to my cottage and quarantine for 14 days,” he said. “I am less of a risk to the public in Muskoka than the people that travel back and forth from Toronto every weekend.”
When asked about property owners, the Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News in an email that U.S. visitors will be allowed to re-enter Canada when it’s deemed safe to do so.
“Travel into Canada for tourism and recreation purposes is currently prohibited, regardless of the ability of the traveller to quarantine for the full 14 days upon arrival,” spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau said.
As COVID-19 cases soar in Alberta and hospital capacity is stretched, the province has reached out to the federal government and the Canadian Red Cross for help, CBC News has learned.
A federal source with direct knowledge of the situation says Alberta has asked the federal government and the Red Cross to supply field hospitals to help offset the strain COVID-19 is having on the health-care system.
The source said Alberta would likely receive at least four field hospitals — two from the Red Cross and another two from the federal government. The source, speaking on condition of confidentiality, said there was no request for human resources to staff the hospitals and no request for support from the military.
The source said a formal request has still not been sent by the province, but officials have been discussing in detail the level of support Alberta could receive.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu is scheduled to speak with Alberta Health Minster Tyler Shandro on Wednesday to discuss the requests and what other supports Ottawa can offer the province during the pandemic.
A provincial government official confirmed to CBC News that a request had been made for field hospital help, but said the request represented contingency planning only at this point.
The official said Alberta Health Services is gathering resources and materials it may need, but there is no plan yet to staff or construct the hospitals.
An official from Public Safety Canada said they have not received any requests for field hospitals from any other provinces or territories.
Alberta continues to set new daily COVID-19 infection records and leads the country in the number of active cases per capita. It has also sometimes led the country in total active cases. For example, on Tuesday, there were 16,628 active cases in Alberta, compared to 14,524 in Ontario — a province with more than three times as many people.
On Tuesday, the province reported 1,307 new cases and a test positivity rate of 8.4 per cent. Alberta has reported more than 1,000 cases each day for nearly two weeks.
There were 479 people in hospital and 97 in ICUs on Tuesday, but the province will update those numbers on Wednesday afternoon at a news conference to be attended by both Premier Jason Kenney and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
CBC News will carry that news conference live here at 3:30 p.m. MT/5:30 p.m. ET.
The federal government is offering to send the Canadian Red Cross into COVID-19 hotspots as case numbers rise and parts of the country slip into a second wave, according to sources.
A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the government has been reaching out to hard-hit regions recently experiencing outbreaks and surges.
Depending on an individual region’s needs, the Red Cross could provide logistical support for testing centres and long-term care homes, help in isolating infected individuals, assist with feeding and caring for the sick and offer psychological aid, said the official.
The work would be covered by the $ 100 million in new funding the federal government gave the Red Cross back in May.
Over the summer, Health Canada worked with the Red Cross — a charity that receives funding from the Canadian government and has a long history of responding to disasters — to build up a civilian workforce to deploy during regional outbreaks in the event of a second wave of infections in the fall.
So far, the government has made contact with British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, and with Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor-Essex and the Peel region in Ontario, with plans to talk to Winnipeg today, the senior official said.
It falls to the provinces to make an official request for a Red Cross deployment.
Public Safety ready to coordinate
A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the department is ready to help coordinate a response “to any emergency situation at any time.”
“The Canadian Red Cross has done incredible work in supporting our provincial health systems throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mary-Liz Power in an email to CBC News.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we’ve been clear that our [responsibility] will as well. We will always be there to support Canadians.”
A spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross said conversations with public authorities are ongoing.
“The Red Cross continues to build its capacity to respond and remains committed to helping people where and when most needed,” they said.
The senior official said that Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has reached out to her counterparts in provinces experiencing surges to offer help.
The outreach effort comes as some regions grapple with a surge in cases
On Wednesday, Ontario health authorities said they are expecting new daily cases of COVID-19 to reach 1,000 in the first half of October. The province also confirmed another 625 new infections.
An ongoing wave of infections has prompted the Quebec government to shut bars, restaurant dining rooms and theatres for most of October in the most densely-populated areas of the province.
Carmen and Lara Messerlian only have one more sleep to go until they can finally squeeze their dad simultaneously in a giant bear hug.
The two sisters travelled from the United States, where they live with their families, to be with their father, John Messerlian, in New Brunswick.
He has stage four cancer of the kidneys and is dying.
The sisters crossed the Canada-U.S. border almost two weeks ago and have been self-isolating in a tent about nine metres behind their parents’ home in Rothesay.
“We’ll be able to go onto the patio and actually give our dad a proper hug,” said Lara, the younger of the sisters.
Messerlian has renal cell carcinoma and was sent to hospital in an ambulance at the beginning of June when his symptoms worsened.
He spent 10 days at the Saint John Regional Hospital. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, he was allowed one brief visit from his wife, Heleni.Eventually, the medical team suggested their dad stay in palliative care, where he could receive better treatment.
Instead, the family decided to bring him home, so he wouldn’t be in isolation.
Driving to the border ‘no matter what’
This isn’t the first time the sisters received a call like this about their father. His health has been deteriorating for five years.
So the sisters, who are only one year apart, did what they normally do — jumped in a vehicle and headed home to New Brunswick.
Only this time, they had to try to cross the international border that has been closed since the end of March because of COVID-19.
“There was no doubt, no matter what was happening, I would drive to the border,” Lara said.
“And if they turn me away, they’ll turn me away. But I would rather just get there and hope that I’ll be able to see my father.”
Sister recovered from COVID-19
Before they left, Lara travelled from Pennsylvania to her home in New York City. She was in quarantine at her in-laws’ home because she had tested positive for COVID-19 in early April, but has now recovered.
From there, she travelled to pick up Carmen in Boston. Then the duo set out for the border crossing at St. Stephen. They arrived at 2 a.m. on June 13, and were the only ones in line.
The sistershad to give an oath they would follow public health guidelines. If not, they were told, they could be fined up to $ 1 million and possibly face jail time.
The process took a total of 12 minutes.
“It was kind of scary for that moment,” Lara said. “We kind of had a moment of, are we doing the right thing? We don’t want to put anyone at risk and we don’t want to bring anything into the country.
“We certainly don’t want to be patient zero in New Brunswick.”
As a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, Carmen said she’s a strong believer of mitigation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“My sister and I took this very seriously.”
Lara, who works in public relations in New York City, said the border scene was intimidating, but she respected the patrol officers because they “had a serious job to do.”
“But we also had a serious situation and a family emergency we needed to tend to,” she said.
Once they arrived in New Brunswick, the sisters began their search for a place to stay in isolation.
Without any luck, they had to choose between spending a night camping for the first time in their lives or sleeping in Carmen’s van.
They chose camping.
“It was easy to choose this as opposed to an Airbnb,” Carmen said. “We could be close to my dad, which was a big factor.”
Camping for the first time
But they had to get some camping supplies. Just before Canadian Tire closed, the sisters were on the phone with a staff member in Rothesay. He was picking out all the supplies they would need. Then the items were picked up by a family friend.
“We [had] never pitched a tent, but we were going to do this even if it’s dark,” said Lara. “There was no light at the time, and there were mosquitos everywhere.”
He’s the perfect package of a person and he’s been unmatched in my life.– Carmen Messerlian
For the next two weeks, the sisters had two large tents, one for sleeping and one for work and leisure. They had lanterns, a makeshift sink, toilet and shower, which offered only cold water in the mornings from a hose. They also had an inflatable bed, which they said allowed them to have the best sleep of their lives.
“Everything, you would need for backyard living,” said Lara.
Throughout their camping experience, they were also checked on by police to make sure they were following the rules.
During their stay, the sisters said they were able to enjoy New Brunswick’s fresh air, eat chips and hang out as they did as teenagers.
“We could be like sisters again, sharing a room,” Carmen said. “It’s a tent, but it’s a room to us.”
But most important, they were able to be near their dad.
The sisters have spent the last two weeks talking with their father about everything, including the weather and childhood stories, and singing old songs he taught them when they were kids.
In his checkered pyjama pants and black T-shirt, he often sits or stands, gripping the deck railing, as Lara and Carmen chat on the lawn.
They’re looking forward to snuggling under the covers with their dad and listening to his heartbeat, which they have been doing during their visits since he was first diagnosed with cancer five years ago.
And although he might be a little slower and 25 pounds slimmer since the last time they saw him, he’s still their dad.
Their father grew up in Lebanonand moved from Europe to Canada in 1969, where he continued to chase his dreams as a musician. He is known by many as the Golden Sax of Spain.
The sisters described him as a feminist, human rights activist and a good cook, who made everything from scratch.
They said he’s also a fighter. And has escaped death more than once.
Carmen and Lara Messerlian returned home from the U.S. and are counting the hours until they can hug their father. Carmen is an epidemiologist at Harvard University. Lara works in public relations in New York City and had COVID-19 this spring. 16:43
Although they’re grateful for the time they’ve had together with him over the past two weeks, time might be running out.
A few years ago, Carmen said, she and her father made a pact that he would live at least until he turned 90.
He turns 87 at the end of August.
“He said to me, ‘I don’t want to break our pact. We made this goal together,’ ” Carmen said, trying to hold back tears.
“I said even if you’re not here at 90, we’re still here. We’re together. Nothing separates us.”
Not even a major border closure in the middle of a pandemic.
And no matter what happens, the two women promised they would throw a 90th birthday bash for their father in three years.
“He’s the perfect package of a person, and he’s been unmatched in my life,” Carmen said.
Gunfire could be heard from the Greek side of the River Evros at the Turkish border on Saturday, as migrants attempted to cross the waterway to get into Greece and the refugee crisis that intensified with Syria’s civil war shifted back onto the European Union’s doorstep.
Some people were seen wading through the water, while others used small, inflatable boats and paddled across. Earlier Saturday, Greek police fired tear gas to push back hundreds of stone-throwing migrants who were trying to cross the border from the Turkish state of Edirne.
The developments came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that his country’s borders with Europe were open, making good on a threat to let refugees into the continent as thousands of migrants gathered at the frontier with Greece.
The vast majority of the migrants were from Afghanistan and most were men, although there were also some families with young children. Iranians, Iraqis, Moroccans and Pakistanis were also gathered.
We are at the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Turkey?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Turkey</a>-<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Greece?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Greece</a> border – Greek border police have been frequently firing pepper/tear gas to hold people back. It got very crowded, many have spent the night here in freezing temperatures. More refugees and migrants are arriving, hoping to cross into Europe. <a href=”https://t.co/b4qdICev3q”>pic.twitter.com/b4qdICev3q</a>
Greece, which has tense relations with its neighbour Turkey at the best of times and was a primary gateway for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa in 2015 and 2016, has reiterated it will keep this round of migrants out.
Greece said it was sending police and army reinforcements to its land border and reinforcing controls along the sea border, where 52 coast guard and navy vessels were patrolling.
“The government will do whatever it takes to protect its borders,” government spokesperson Stelios Petsas told reporters.
Ankara said on Thursday it will no longer contain hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers living in its refugee camps after an airstrike on war-ravaged Idlib in Syria killed 33 Turkish soldiers.
Almost immediately, convoys of people appeared heading toward the Greek land and sea borders.
“This has nothing to do with Idlib,” Petsas said, adding that in the past 24 hours Greek authorities had prevented attempts by 4,000 people to cross the border.
Greece’s Skai TV aired live video from the Turkish side of the northern land border at Kastanies showing Greek riot police firing tear gas rounds at groups of migrants who were hurling stones and shouting obscenities.
A Reuters witness said there were about 500 people in the buffer zone between the two border posts, and beyond that on the Turkish side hundreds more.
Overnight, demonstrators hurled flaming pieces of wood at police, amateur footage filmed by a police official on the scene, which was seen by Reuters, showed.
An estimated 3,000 people had gathered on the Turkish side of the border at Kastanies, a Greek government official said. Kastanies is just over 900 kilometres north-east of Athens.
Without providing supporting evidence, Erdogan said on Saturday that some 18,000 migrants crossed borders from Turkey into Europe after his country “opened the doors” on Friday.
Greek police were keeping media about a kilometre away from the Kastanies border crossing, but the broader area, where the two countries are divided by the Evros River, was more permeable. A group of Afghans with young children waded across fast-moving waters of the river and took refuge in a small chapel. They crossed into Greece on Friday morning.
“Today is good,” said Shir Agha, 30, in broken English. “Before, Erdogan people, police problem,” he said. Their shoes were caked in mud. It had rained heavily the night before, and by early morning, temperatures were close to freezing.
Greece had already said on Thursday it would tighten border controls to prevent coronavirus reaching its Aegean islands, where thousands of migrants are living in poor conditions.
Nearly a million refugees and migrants crossed from Turkey to Greece’s islands in 2015, setting off a crisis over immigration in Europe, but that route all but closed after the European Union and Ankara agreed to stop the flow in March 2016.