Tag Archives: ‘What

Brazil has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Latin America. ‘So what?’ says President Bolsonaro

With infection rates spiralling, some big city ICUs on the verge of collapse and COVID-19 spreading into remote corners of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s president earlier this week responded to the pandemic’s growing ferocity with a simple quip: “So what?”

From describing coronavirus as a “little flu,” to urging Brazilians to ignore the “hysteria” and get back to work, President Jair Bolsonaro has said Latin America’s most populous country must “face the virus like a man, damn it, not like a little boy.”

While doctors scramble to treat patients, and local officials urge respect for social distancing measures, the Brazilian president has continued to hold political rallies.

“Bolsonaro remains one of the last standing deniers of the risk posed by the pandemic,” said Jimena Blanco, a political risk analyst from consultancy Verisk Maplecroft. “With the president denying the threat of the pandemic, you get a lot of people defying lockdown measures.”

‘The system is collapsing’

Brazil has more than 87,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 6,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, giving it the highest number of cases in Latin America.

The actual number of cases is at least five times higher due to a lack of effective testing, especially in rural areas, said Dr. Natalia Pasternak Taschner, a medical researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Sao Paulo.


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro sits next to his wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, wearing a protective face mask, during the swearing ceremony of his new justice minister at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia on April 29. (Eraldo Peres/The Associated Press)

“ICUs are breaking, the system is collapsing,” Dr. Taschner said in a phone interview. “It has come to the point when doctors have to choose who to give the ventilators to.” 

In Manaus, a sweltering city of two million residents in the heart of the Amazon, ICUs have collapsed under the caseload, she said. Grave diggers are working double shifts to bury the bodies.

Some of Brazil’s struggles with the virus —  supply challenges for personal protective equipment, overwhelmed hospitals and a lack of testing capacity — aren’t unique for large, diverse developing nations, public health experts said. 

Health minister fired, justice minister resigns

But growing political paralysis on top of the health challenges is crippling Brazil’s response to COVID-19, analysts and doctors said. 

WATCH | Bolsonaro downplays COVID-19 threat as Brazil’s death toll rises:

An infectious disease specialist says Brazil is fighting two enemies during the COVID-19 pandemic: the virus and the president. 1:53

“It’s probably the only country in the world with a major political crisis in the midst of a pandemic,” said political scientist Oliver Stuenkel from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university in Sao Paulo. “It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario. The country is walking toward the abyss.”

Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, fired Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta on April 16. 

A doctor before entering politics, Mandetta had clashed with Bolsonaro over social distancing protocols and contradicted him on the effectiveness of anti-malarial drugs in treating COVID-19.  

A week later, Justice Minister Sérgio Moro resigned, accusing Bolsonaro of interfering in law enforcement after he fired the federal police chief.

Moro said Bolsonaro wanted a top cop who would pass him intelligence reports during a time when his sons— politicians in congress or local city council — are under investigation for spreading fake news and money laundering. The president and his sons deny any wrongdoing. 

Brazil’s Supreme Court has approved an investigation into Moro’s claims. Talk of impeachment is growing. 

Police investigation

Like his U.S. counterpart, who also downplayed the coronavirus threat and relies on family members as political confidants, Bolsonaro has faced threats of impeachment before.   

But this time is different, analysts said.  

“This is the most serious crisis the Bolsonaro government has faced,” Stuenkel said. 


Volunteers from a church serve food to homeless people during a quarantine imposed by the state government to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus in Sao Paulo on April 27. (Andre Penner/The Associated Press)

As the pandemic intensifies, observers warn that Bolsonaro and other lawmakers will be more concerned with partisan wrangling than with fighting COVID-19.  

In a bid to secure his political future, the 65-year-old president has been approaching smaller parties in Brazil’s fractious congress for support. 

These groups generally don’t hold a set ideology, Stuenkel said. They make deals in order to secure public sector jobs, juicy positions at government-backed development banks or other state largesse, he said.


“These are the shady underbelly of Brazilian politics,” he said. “They will vote for whoever offers the most perks.”

As someone who won office promising to battle nepotism and waste, this sort of backroom deal-making undermines Bolsonaro’s self-described status as a political outsider and corruption fighter, Stuenkel added. 

According to a public opinion poll conducted April 25 following the key cabinet departures, 46 per cent of Brazilians said Bolsonaro should resign, up from 37 per cent at the beginning of April. 

The poll from Datafolha of 1,503 people by telephone suggested Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic weighed heavily on voters’ minds. Nearly half of the respondents, 45 per cent, said he was doing a bad or terrible job of handling COVID-19 while 27 per cent said he has done a good or excellent job. 

The poll suggested about one-third of voters support the president.

“Irrespective of whether Bolsanaro falls or not, the country will be absorbed by a political crisis,” Stuenkel said. “This will drastically reduce its capacity to respond to the pandemic.”

Social inequality

While politicians jostle over impeachment, many Brazilians aren’t able to follow social distancing guidelines advised by health experts. 

“Social inequalities are a huge problem,” said Dr. Anya Vieira-Meyer, a public health researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a government-linked organization in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. “That also impacts the spread of the coronavirus.”

When the virus first arrived in Brazil, it was transported by middle- and upper-class Brazilians coming home from Europe, she said. 

Since then, it has spread quickly into densely packed working-class neighbourhoods, where access to infrastructure can be precarious.  

About 11 million Brazilians live in houses with more than three people per room and 16 per cent don’t have access to clean water at home, Vieira-Meyer said, making social distancing or regular hand-washing difficult. 


A friend pours beer on the coffin of a woman who died from the new coronavirus in Rio de Janeiro on April 28. (Leo Correa/The Associated Press)

For workers in the country’s vast informal sector, staying home can mean going hungry, she said, and having the president flouting social distancing advice doesn’t make the job of doctors any easier. 

In Sao Paulo, about half of the population has been following social distancing guidelines, Taschner said. Local officials are hoping to increase that to at least 70 per cent. 

Deaths doubling every 8 days

The federal government has failed in its responsibility to safeguard citizens, but some state and local officials have been trying, Taschner said. However, the growth in registered cases is still exponential, she said, and the country is nowhere near its peak. 

“We are doubling the number of cases every 10 days, and the number of deaths is doubling in eight days.” 

Unlike other developing nations, Brazil offers free universal public health care, Vieira-Meyer said, but the system is strongest in the big cities. For now, that’s where most of the cases have been concentrated. 


Bolsonaro, left, talks with Vice-President Hamilton Mourao during the swearing-in ceremony of new Justice Minister Andre Luiz de Almeida Mendonca, at the Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia on April 29. (Eraldo Peres/The Associated Press)

More than two-thirds of municipalities in the country of 210 million haven’t reported cases of the virus, Vieira-Meyer said, but that could simply be due to a lack of testing. 

When it spreads into those smaller towns, far from hospitals with ICUs or ventilators, health officials worry the situation will be disastrous. 

“The situation is going to get much worse,” said Dr. Taschner. “I expect chaos.”

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Having rejected Trump’s peace plan, Palestinians worry ‘what will happen next?’

Palestinian farmers who cultivate tomatoes and cucumbers in greenhouses in the Jordan Valley always keep one eye on their crops, which provide their livelihoods. But they also look toward the city they revere — and fear losing.

Massoud Abu Thabbet worries the peace plan put forward last week by U.S. President Donald Trump will mean he’ll lose the land his family has farmed for generations.

He rejects Trump’s promise that the deal would improve the Palestinian economy.

“Even if they paved these roads with gold, we will not accept. How can we have streets full of gold and then I cannot get to my Jerusalem to pray?” said Abu Thabbet.

Jerusalem is home to the third-holiest site in Islam, the Noble Sanctuary, where the al-Aqsa mosque sits. Known also as the Temple Mount, the site is considered the holiest place of worship for Jews.

For Palestinians, al-Aqsa is a national as well as a religious shrine. They insist that any future Palestinian state would have East Jerusalem as its capital and would include the mosque.

Palestinians say the status of Jerusalem is the main obstacle to their acceptance of Trump’s plan.


For Abu Thabbet and many other Palestinians, the status of the holy city of Jerusalem is the main obstacle to their acceptance of Trump’s proposed peace plan. (Irris Makler/CBC)

There are other elements that it would be difficult for them to sign onto, including the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and the decision not to allow the return of any Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homes inside Israel.

But they say the most painful proposal is the decision to designate Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

This part of Washington’s plan is not accepted internationally, as most countries, including Canada, consider that Jerusalem’s status should be settled by negotiations between the parties.

The plan, which Trump has long called the “deal of the century,” proposes granting the Palestinians limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank, while allowing Israel ultimately to retain the settlements it has built there and also to annex the Jordan Valley.

‘Declaration of war’

The Palestinians rejected the plan outright, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying “1,000 times no” and PLO official Elias Zananiri declaring it “nothing less than a declaration of war on the Palestinian people.”

Abbas had already broken off contact with this Washington administration when it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017.

After that, there was no Palestinian input into the negotiations for the Trump plan, and no Palestinian presence in the East Room in the White House when the plan was announced.


Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan at the White House last week, alongside a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu. It presented a vision that matched the Israeli leader’s hardline, nationalist views but fell short of Palestinian ambitions. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

Some Israeli analysts have suggested that Trump’s deal was in fact geared towards Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley and other areas of the West Bank.

Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Channel 13 news, argued this was the case because no Palestinian leader, no matter how moderate, could agree to Trump’s terms.

“It’s a non-starter. So you could infer that the aim of this plan is to enable Israel to annex the Jordan Valley and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, while everything else stays the same,” he said. “And that has been the response from many on the Israeli right.”

The Jordan Valley is an arid region covering almost one-quarter of the occupied West Bank, bordering the Kingdom of Jordan. It’s sparsely populated, with around 52,000 Palestinians and about 8,000 Jewish settlers, according to separate figures from Israeli and Palestinian official surveys from 2018 and 2017 respectively.


The Jordan Valley is a sparsely populated farming region that makes up about one-quarter of the West Bank. (Irris Makler/CBC)

Israel argues that, as the gateway to Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the region is of strategic importance.

Announcing his intention to annex it last month, Netanyahu said the Jordan Valley was vital to Israel’s security.

“This is our essential safety belt in the east. This is the eastern defensive wall.”

But Israel did not take this step at any time since it captured the West Bank in 1967 because of international opposition, including from Jordan across the border, one of only two Arab countries to sign a peace deal with Israel.

‘Best deal’

Amos Gilad, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, declared Trump’s plan to be the “best deal” any U.S. president has ever offered Israel.

“Israel should grab this deal with both hands,” said Gilad, director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

Both Israel’s largest political parties, the right-wing Likud party and the centrist Blue and White party, have said they favour annexing the Jordan Valley, even before upcoming elections in March 2020.

Washington has so far put a brake on unilateral Israeli actions. Trump’s senior adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, said they did not want to see any annexations before the Israeli elections.

Complex relations

The Jewish settlement of B’kaot is perched on the ridge above the mosque in the village of Frush Bet Dajan, where Massoud Abu Thabbet’s greenhouses are located.

Relations between Jewish settlers and Palestinian villagers, both mostly farmers, are complex.

Hazem Abu Muntaser sings the call to prayer at the mosque every Friday. He also runs a grocery store across the road. There’s a TV in the corner, but no cash register. He collects the money in a drawer.


Hazem Abu Muntaser runs a grocery store in the Jordan Valley and says he worries about a potential annexation. (Irris Makler/CBC)

“The ‘deal of the century’ annexing the Jordan Valley will make a siege around us. Tomorrow, if it happens, they’re going to say, ‘You have to be back at 7 p.m.,’ they’re going to interfere in our life,” said Abu Muntaser.

His son, Nur, agreed.

“Look what they do to us now. Imagine how it will be if we are part of them. There are Israeli soldiers patrolling here all the time and the settlers want our water and our land. They are already charging us for water now. What will happen next?”

Traditional diplomatic formula

Days after Trump unveiled his plan, the Palestinians called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League in order to respond to it.

Abbas spoke at length and said he knew he couldn’t agree to the plan when Washington announced East Jerusalem was part of Israel. “It will not be recorded in my history that I gave up on Jerusalem,” he said.

The Arab League fell in behind the Palestinians and unanimously condemned Washington’s deal, reverting to the traditional formula of a peace deal based on the two-state solution.

Two days later, the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) also rejected the Washington plan.


Local workers are shown in a greenhouse in Frush Bet Dajan, preparing tomatoes and cucumbers for sale. (Irris Makler/CBC)

Washington had been hoping that it had some Arab support, as ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates had attended Trump’s news conference in Washington.

In off-the-record briefings, Washington officials criticized this “old-fashioned” thinking.

In the Palestinian village of Frush Bet Dajan on the first Friday after Washington released its plan, the number of worshippers at their small mosque was swelled by visitors from other towns.


The local mosque in the village of Frush Bet Dajan, in the Jordan Valley, is shown. (Irris Makler/CBC)

Farrah Ghaleb made the 70-kilometre round trip from his home in Ramallah.

“This week I’m coming here, and many Palestinians are coming here, to let the world know that this is our Palestinian land and that Trump doesn’t have the right to give it to Israel or to Netanyahu,” Ghaleb said.

When he moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, Trump said he had taken the issue of Jerusalem “off the table.”

But the strength of Palestinian reaction to Trump’s new deal, and the breadth of Arab support for the Palestinians, show how much the issue of Jerusalem remains at the heart of the conflict.

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9 ‘what were you thinking’ penalties…in 90 seconds

Sports·Video

Kasperi Kapanen had a penalty that left fans scratching their heads, Rob Pizzo looks at 9 more.

Kasperi Kapanen had a penalty that left fans scratching their heads, Rob Pizzo looks at 9 more. 1:55

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‘Prepared no matter what’: St. Lucia, Barbados hunker down for Dorian

The government of Barbados urged residents of the eastern Caribbean island to remain vigilant Tuesday even as tropical storm Dorian appeared to have done little damage as it heads toward the northern Windward islands and Puerto Rico.

Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said the storm “is said to be weakening and that is great news, but we are not out of danger yet.”

The U.S. National Hurricane Center on Tuesday had tropical storm warnings in effect for Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Tropical storm watches were in force for Dominica, Grenada, Saba and St. Eustatius and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

The centre says the storm has maximum sustained winds near 85 km/h and is forecast to strengthen during the next 48 hours as it moves toward Puerto Rico.

“Dorian is forecast to be a hurricane when it moves near Puerto Rico and eastern Hispaniola,” the centre said.

The storm was expected to dump between 80 to 200 millimetres of rain in the Windward islands, with isolated amounts of 250 millimetres.


People were also stocking up on bottled water at this grocery store in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. (Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters)

Much of Barbados shut down Monday as Dorian approached and authorities urged residents to remain indoors amid reports of electrical outages and other minor incidents.

In St. Lucia, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced that everything on the island of nearly 179,000 people would shut down by 6 p.m. ET on Monday, with the hurricane expected to hit around 2 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

“We are expecting the worst,” he said.

Some were still boarding up windows and buying food and water, but not Joannes Lamontagne, who lives in the island’s southwest region. He said by phone that everything at his hotel, Serenity Escape, was already protected.

“I don’t wait until it’s announced,” he said of the storm. “We’re always prepared no matter what.”

In Puerto Rico, hundreds of people have been crowding into grocery stores and gas stations to prepare for Dorian, buying food, water and generators, among other things. Many are worried about power outages and heavy rains on an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that hit in September 2017. Some 30,000 homes still have blue tarps as roofs and the electrical grid remains fragile and prone to outages even during brief rain showers.

Forecasters said the storm could pass near or south of Puerto Rico on Wednesday and approach the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night.

On Monday, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and provided a list of all the new equipment that public agencies have bought since Hurricane Maria.

“I want everyone to feel calm,” she said. “Agency directors have prepared for the last two years. The experience of Maria has been a great lesson for everyone.”

She said public schools will close Tuesday afternoon and that at least one cruise ship cancelled its trip to Puerto Rico. She said those without a proper roof can stay in one of the 360 shelters around the island.

Also on Monday, a new tropical depression formed between the U.S. eastern coast and Bermuda. It was located about 515 kilometres southeast of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and was moving east at 6 km/h with maximum sustained winds of 55 km/h. It was expected to become a tropical storm by Tuesday night.

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‘What we used to learn’: Mental health treatment for Indigenous youth must draw on tradition, advocates say

Tina Fontaine’s tragic free fall has been painstakingly detailed so often that many now have the series of missed opportunities that preceded her death seared into memory.

The Indigenous teen’s short life was punctuated by trauma — trauma many people who work with at-risk youth say can only be avoided in other cases by bringing Indigenous tradition, teachings and culture into mental health and addictions treatment.

That was one of the recommendations in a recent report into the 2014 death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine — which helped spur calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women — by Manitoba advocate for children and youth Daphne Penrose.

In detailing the teen’s tragically short life — and the systems that failed her — Penrose noted how victim services didn’t deliver Tina bereavement counselling after her father was killed when she was 12; how the school and health-care systems did little to intervene when she stopped attending class, showed signs of substance use, self-harm and sexual exploitation; and how child and family services failed to keep her safe before she died. 

Penrose suggested the province needs to invest in creating safe, secure, home-like treatment facilities for at-risk youth.

She also recommended Manitoba Health implement recommendations from the Virgo report, released nearly 11 months ago. In its broad review of mental health care and addictions treatment in Manitoba, the report found a pressing need for more treatment for Indigenous youth that is trauma-informed and culturally relevant.

It noted a need to remove geographical and jurisdictional barriers to accessing treatment options in rural and northern First Nations.

A report into the 2014 death of Tina Fontaine found her short life was punctuated by trauma, and that many systems failed to protect her. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

The recommendations touch on the lingering effects of residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and the displacement of Indigenous people from their lands.

The legacy of those colonial institutions is at the root of mental health issues facing Indigenous youth, said elder Dave Courchene.

“The No. 1 issue is their identity,” said Courchene, director of Turtle Lodge, a centre for Indigenous education and wellness in Sagkeeng First Nation, at the southern end of Lake Winnipeg.

“There is a real crisis when it comes to a lot of the young people, totally disconnected from their culture, from their way of life,” he said.

“That’s a result of the experience that our people had to go through. A lot of that knowledge that our ancestors lived by suddenly was not there anymore.”

Lodge offers what institutions can’t: elder

In 2002, Courchene founded Turtle Lodge in Sagkeeng, Tina Fontaine’s home community. The goal was to offer youth and adults alike a chance to reconnect with that lost language and ancestral knowledge. 

“We meet a lot of young people and the request that they always make is for us to share as much knowledge as we can in terms of their own identity, their culture, a way of life that identifies the uniqueness of who Aboriginal people are,” said Courchene.

After years of frustration and disappointment with the lack of traditional ceremony in Sagkeeng, Courchene — encouraged by elders — went out on the land on a rite of passage, or vision quest, with local knowledge keepers. The resulting insights formed the basis of Turtle Lodge, where youth are taken on similar journeys.

It’s not that we don’t have the solutions for what we need to do. We know what we need to do.– Elder Dave  Courchene

Boys and young men fast over the course of the four-day experience, where they learn to reconnect with the land and all it can provide, said Courchene.

“You’re not going to find [that] in any institution,” he said. “They’re guided to seek a dream spiritually that will give them meaning and purpose to their life.”

The Sagkeeng-based Turtle Lodge centre has been offering cultural programming and supports for Indigenous youth and adults since 2002. (Submitted by Turtle Lodge)

Indigenous grandmothers are given positions of influence through the lodge to help girls learn about sacred teachings and water ceremonies that Courchene says help them grow into life-saving women.

“It does something to them. We see it first-hand.”

Turtle Lodge was also involved recently in bringing together four First Nation communities to create an Indigenous health and wellness component at Pine Falls Health Complex that provides culturally informed healing and medicine traditions.

‘The best chance for young people’

But Courchene says many youth from Sagkeeng and other First Nations still need access to these teachings — and aren’t getting it. Some end up in vulnerable positions and, like Tina, fall through the cracks due to gaps in the system, he said.

She went to Pine Falls Health Complex in 2014 with self-inflicted arm injuries, and medical staff failed to come up with a follow-up care plan for her.

Courchene said more needs to be done to restore what was taken away, and governments have a shared responsibility to provide culturally informed support for youth.

“It’s not that we don’t have the solutions for what we need to do. We know what we need to do,” he said.

“We have to again re-establish our right to be responsible for ourselves, and the duties and responsibilities that come with that,” said Courchene.

“Going to our way of life is, I feel — and many of the knowledge keepers feel — is the best chance for young people right now to come to terms with their own identity.”

Lack of identity for youth: chief

Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson said his community is incredibly fortunate to have one of the few centres in the province like Turtle Lodge.

“But for the other communities, it’s too bad because they definitely need to have that direction with respect to their identity as to who they are as Indigenous people,” he said.

Henderson believes youth in his community get pulled into substance abuse and mental health struggles because they don’t know who they are.

“What I’m finding is that they’re trying to fit into society and what society offers them today, right? It’s not good.”

Courchene says there’s only so much Turtle Lodge can do with the small grants it receives, and the centre needs more resources to have a greater impact. (Submitted by Turtle Lodge)

The web of bureaucracy of the provincial health-care system further exacerbates the challenges facing Indigenous youth, he said.

“They [the Manitoba government] want to do it their way and that’s the only way they can see it. If we have our own people helping our people, then the results would be different, and that’s one of the biggest barriers,” he said.

“I can address that issue myself in our community if we’re given the direct funding for these programs.”

‘Not being treated in the right way’

Métis and two-spirit family physician Dr. Melinda Fowler says there has been a failure to help rural and northern communities cope with historic trauma, substance use and mental health.

“[It] is not being treated in the right way,” said Fowler, who is director of education for Ongomiizwin, the Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing at the University of Manitoba.

Fowler said healing-centred Indigenous traditions — including smudging, sweat lodges, and access to traditional healers — need to be supported financially and given priority.

“And they have to be supported by the Western or mainstream society,” she said.

“We shouldn’t be providing health care any longer [where we’re] having culture, ceremony, knowledge keepers, elders and healers as a last resort — they should be the first suggestion.”

Dr. Melinda Fowler is the director of Ongomiizwin Education at the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing. (Submitted by Krista Anderson)

She said a common problem in northern and remote communities is ultimately an issue of unstable funds from federal and provincial governments. Some First Nations periodically get Indigenous-focused health programming for youth in crisis, only to see the funding and programming disappear in time, she said.

The health-care system has to focus on building on the strengths and teachings of Indigenous culture and think in a preventive way, beyond the conventional primary care and education models, said Fowler.

I have struggled like crazy to get people into programming that is culturally based.– Dr. Melinda Fowler

That should include more land-based programming that teaches Indigenous youth how to hunt, harvest berries and pick medicines, she said.

“We need to teach our people what we used to learn as Indigenous people and that should be the basis of educational programming,” she said. 

‘Step up and change’

That requires thinking beyond individuals when it comes to treatment, Fowler said.

“We need to treat the family as a unit and we need to involve youth with elders and elders with youth, and we need to treat communities,” she said. 

“This is a very Indigenous-focused world view, because we don’t think in silos — we think beyond ourselves.”

Fowler has helped patients access culturally based treatment in centres in Peguis First Nation and Norway House Cree Nation, but she says there are still few options.

The things that our province continues to try, it’s just not working, and why it’s not working is because it’s not being led by Indigenous people.– Jackie Anderson, Ma  Mawi  Wi Chi Itata Centre

“I have struggled like crazy to get people into programming that is culturally based and culturally safe and relevant. There’s not enough of these in existence, there’s not enough funding, there’s not enough beds, especially when it comes to female populations,” she said.

“I don’t know when the province is going to step up and change things.”

Letting Indigenous voices lead

Jackie Anderson said she knows that shortage all too well.

Anderson has spent the past 20 years at the Winnipeg family resource centre Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, working with children involved with Child and Family Services who have been exploited.

“It’s common knowledge that access to any kind of treatment for young people and for adults — there’s none,” she said.

“Those [options] that are out there, we’re looking at a 200-day wait list for anyone that’s an adult.”

She helped lead the development of two safe homes in Manitoba, including the six-bed facility Honouring the Spirits of our Little Sisters for sexually exploited girls and transgender youth, and a traditional healing lodge called Hands of Mother Nature.

Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata’s Jackie Anderson said traditional ceremonies offered at this centre, whose location outside of Winnipeg is confidential, help Indigenous youth heal from the trauma they’ve experienced. (Submitted by Jackie Anderson)

A spokesperson with Indigenous Services Canada said the federal government is working with First Nations to develop culturally minded solutions to addiction and mental health issues.

That work is building off Jordan’s Principle — which aims to ensure disputes between provincial and federal governments don’t delay care for Indigenous children — and a March 2018 memorandum of understanding between the federal government and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak committing to a “First Nation-led health care transformation” in remote northern communities.

The federal government currently funds a suicide and substance use prevention online chat and telephone help line, as well as community-based programming such as Building Healthy Communities, Brighter Futures and the National Native Alcohol and Drug Use Program.

At the provincial level, a spokesperson with Shared Health Manitoba said a number of Virgo report recommendations are underway that will remove barriers and make for more integrated, co-ordinated care options across the province.

The Strongest Families Initiative, a partnership between the Manitoba government and communications company Bell’s Let’s Talk program, launched in January based on Virgo recommendations. It aims to provide mental health services to children and youth in rural and remote settings. 

The province has also committed to opening rapid access addictions clinics provincewide and enhancing access to withdrawal and stabilization services, the spokesperson said.

‘It’s just not working’

But Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata’s Anderson said the reports from Virgo and the children’s advocate failed to adequately consult with Indigenous communities on how to accomplish the recommendations they make.

Virgo recommended the province actively engage with Indigenous communities, organizations and elders in the process of refining strategies during its health-care overhaul — something Anderson said it isn’t doing well.

There is an untapped strength and resilience in Indigenous tradition, said Anderson, and Indigenous people need to be involved from the ground level if changes to the health-care system are to make a difference.

“The things that our province continues to try, it’s just not working — and why it’s not working is because it’s not being led by Indigenous people,” Anderson said.

“They’re not clients — they’re children, they’re little brothers, our little sisters,” who need to be given the chance “to start healing and really know what their self-worth [is],” she said.

“They’re amazing young people if they’re given the opportunity to grow and make mistakes along the way, and not be given up on.”

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Drake Drops Star-Studded ‘Nice for What’ Video Featuring Tiffany Haddish, Issa Rae, Zoe Saldana and More!

Drake couldn’t pick which of his favorites A-list leading ladies to cast in his new video, so he got them all!

The 31-year-old rapper dropped a new single, “Nice for What” on Friday night, and the star-studded music video immediately got fans talking. 

The video features stars like Issa Rae, Olivia Wilde, Tiffany Haddish, Rashida Jones, and Zoe Saldana living life to the fullest. Black Panther breakout star Letitia Wright makes an epic cameo, as do Black-ish’s Tracee Ellis Ross and Yara Shahidi (in her Harvard gear, natch). Michelle Rodriguez, Bria Vinaite, Emma Roberts, Jourdan Dunn and Misty Copeland also appear in the fun vid.

The song, which samples Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor” (the same track Cardi B just sampled on “Be Careful”), is fittingly a testament to strong, independent women.

“That’s a real one, in your reflection / Without a follow, without a mention,” Drake rhymes. “You rarely piping up on these n****s / You gotta be nice for what to these n****s / I understand.”

Wilde shared the video shortly after its release, with the simple caption, “This was funnnnnnnn.”

Drake recently revealed that “Nice for What” will be part of his upcoming fifth studio album. 

“I’m back in the city finishing my album,” the rapper told the crowd during a surprise appearance at OVO rapper Majid Jordan’s Toronto show on Thursday. “I’ve got a new single dropping tomorrow night too, just in case you got some free time.”

This is Drake’s second epic video drop of the year, after the rapper’s “God’s Plan” vid showed him giving away the almost-$ 1 million budget to unsuspecting Miami citizens, including donating $ 25,000 to Miami Senior High School, and promising to buy students uniforms designed by his clothing label.

He also gifted University of Miami student Destiny James a $ 50,000 scholarship and gave homeless shelter Lotus Village in Overtown a $ 50,000 check. Drake also gave $ 150 Target gift cards to all 130 women at the shelter, and toys and games to all 140 kids.

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