With the drawing to a close this past week of Indigenous History Month and the horrific revelation of more bodies discovered in unmarked graves at another residential school, our conversation with Ray John took on increased significance.
He is an impassioned Indigenous cultural teacher at the London District Catholic School Board and with boards elsewhere in the province.
He has worked in the education field for more than 15 years and he says the mixed emotions of the past month have had a unifying effect in his Oneida community and within Indigenous communities elsewhere in the country.
“You drive up and down in our community and you see so many orange shirts. You see toys out there dedicated to the young ones that are gone.
“But there’s a real sense of unity here. It’s not that it wasn’t here before. I think it is more that we are supporting each other.”
John has been awarded for working “tirelessly in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation” and he stresses only through engaging in tough conversations will Canadians be able to educate themselves on Indigenous culture and the tyranny of residential schools.
“I can guarantee there will be a hospice in Elgin county . . . during my term.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek issued that assurance last December and less than a year later, Deputy Premier Christine Elliott backed that guarantee with a $1.6 million pledge to open an eight-bed residential hospice to serve St. Thomas and Elgin.
Friday morning (Sept. 20) Elliott, who is also the province’s health minister, made the announcement at Memory Garden in Pinafore Park and added once the facility opens, the province will provide $840,000 annually toward the operating costs.
The annual funding is projected to cover approximately 50 per cent of the hospice operating costs.
In a ceremony held this morning at the main fire hall in St. Thomas, several dozen firefighters, members of the police service and EMS gathered for a 9-11 memorial service and to recognize the efforts of the people “willing to step up and answer the call to action when it is needed.”
Hosted by the St. Thomas Professional Firefighters’ Association, the ceremony honoured the more than 400 firefighters and law enforcement officers who died in the World Trade Center and on the ground in New York City.
It was also an opportunity for elected officials to pay tribute to the city’s first responders.
“Thank you so much for all of the work you do each and every day to keep us safe,” observed Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio.
The question was posed recently by Peter Ostojic of Walter Ostojic & Sons Ltd.
“Just do not understand why the city is involved in building affordable housing units themselves.”
The former mayor of St. Thomas was referencing the community and social services hub now under construction at 230 Talbot St.
The subject was broached again this past Tuesday (Sept. 3) at the reference committee meeting in which city manager Wendell Graves updated council on Phase 2 of the project, which will front onto Queen Street.
With Phase 1 nearing completion this fall – “something Graves described as a shiny, new nickel for us” – he presented a conceptual business case to council members.
The structure would contain a minimum of 48 housing units on two floors with the possibility of more units should the structure be expanded to a third or fourth floor.
The estimated cost of constructing each unit is $225,000 with 24 of them renting out at $500 or so per month and another 24 geared to income at approximately $300 per month.
Residents of St. Thomas and Elgin are being “shortchanged” on physiotherapy services, charges Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek.
He stood up in the Ontario Legislature this week to question the Kathleen Wynne government on the closing of MobilityFit Physiotherapy in St. Thomas, one of only two such services in the city funded through OHIP.
Yurek alleges both the Southwest Local Health Integration Network (SW LHIN) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care have “refused to act on the impending loss of service.”
Yurek added, “When contacted for a status update, both the SW LHIN and ministry responded with the same talking points. Neither would state whether or not the clinic is closing.” Continue reading
Time spent at a coroner’s inquest brings with it the emotion of family members and friends sitting through graphic testimony in the courtroom interspersed with details of protocol, procedures and guidelines that seem, at times, almost callous in nature.
Such was the case this past week with the four-day inquest into the death of St. Thomas construction worker Brian Daniel, killed on July 2,1014 when he was struck by a pick-up truck on the Highway 3 bypass at the Burwell Road bridge.
The recommendations – excellent in scope and most of them put forward by Daniel’s daughter Krista McColl – can be found here.
But to better understand the context of the back-and-forth testimony heard throughout the inquest, here are snippets of what was presented to the five-person jury. Continue reading
City manager Wendell Graves advises Schouten Excavating employees are expected on site at the Sutherland Press building the week of Oct. 16 to begin demolition work.
According to the city’s agreement, the contractor has 30 days to demolish the four-storey structure, although as chief building inspector Chris Peck indicated previously, the site itself may not be totally cleared of debris in that period of time.
Once demolition has reached a certain stage, re-opening of the adjacent transit centre will be possible.
At this point, Talbot Street will remain open during the demolition and Graves adds Moore Street may be opened to traffic sooner than expected if the demolition work can be contained on site. Continue reading
It was a sign of what lies ahead for city staff in St. Thomas. An overview of the proposed 2017 advertising sign bylaw ran into stiff opposition at this week’s reference committee meeting.
Amendments to the existing bylaw to deal with portable signs in the downtown core faced vocal opposition from more than two dozen small businesses and area sign companies.
The bylaw would prohibit portable advertising signs in the downtown business area and limit them to one per commercial lot outside the core and three per industrial lot.
A-board signs would still be permitted but would have to come in off the sidewalk at the end of the day.
It’s a restriction similar to what’s in place in London and Sarnia.
The St. Thomas Professional Firefighters Association and the St. Thomas Fire Muster Days committee have made “the very difficult decision” to cancel this year’s Fire Muster which was to run Sept. 2 and 3.
In a release issued Wednesday, the move to cancel was announced so that members of the association can pay their respects to Fire Chief Rob Broadbent, who died Monday of cancer.
In the release, Fire Muster chairman Daryl Smith noted, “We did not make this decision lightly as a lot of planning has been invested into this event. However we are confident our decision is appropriate in these circumstances.”
Smith added, “We appreciate the community’s understanding with regard to this difficult decision.
“I would also like to thank colleagues, friends and the entire community as we pay our respects to Chief Broadbent and support his family over the next few days.”
The muster, which has drawn close to 10,000 visitors in past years, is being cancelled for the first time in its 35-year history.
The service for Rob Broadbent will be held 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 at Central United Church, 135 Wellington St., St. Thomas.
Visitation is Thursday from 7-9 p.m. and again Friday from 1-3 and 7-9 p.m. at Shawn Jackson Funeral Home, 31 Elgin Street.