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In The News for Jan. 16 : New mental health support for Canadian veterans

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 Jan. 16 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
A Canadian major salutes during the repatriation ceremony for the six Canadian Armed Forces members killed in a helicopter crash off of Greece during Operation Reassurance, at CFB Trenton, Ont. on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. A new program aims to better train and prepare mental-health professionals on the unique challenges and needs of Canadian veterans, first responders and their families. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

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 Jan. 16 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A new program aims to better train and prepare mental-health professionals on the unique challenges and needs of Canadian veterans, first responders and their families.

The program is being offered by Wounded Warriors Canada, in conjunction with the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families, and was developed by one of the country’s leading experts on veterans’ mental health.

Wounded Warriors executive director Scott Maxwell says the program is the result of complaints and concerns from veterans and first responders.

Many felt their mental-health professionals didn’t understand what they needed, or even how to talk to them.

Maxwell says he has seen firsthand how that can negatively affect the treatment veterans and first responders get, with some opting to walk away and not try to find help again.

So far about 800 health-care professionals have participated in the online training course, with the Atlas Institute looking to provide funding for more spots.


Also this ...

Federal public servants are beginning their transition back to the office today.

But some say they are still waiting for direction on when they are expected to return. 

YuTaek Hwang is a public servant in Ottawa who has been working remotely for nearly three years. 

He says that since the announcement, his department has given him no new information about when he's supposed to head back. 

He says it's reasonable to go in two or three times a week, but for him, a two-hour commute on public transit every day is not worth it because his job doesn't have any in-person elements. 

Public transit has been at the top of the agenda in Ottawa after the L-R-T system recently saw a partial shutdown for six days due to weather.

But the city says it is prepared to handle an influx of passengers.


And this too ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Saskatoon today to visit a rare earths element processing plant.

Lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and the group of 17 metals and minerals known as rare earth elements are being prioritized for investments in exploration, production and processing as part of Canada's critical minerals strategy, announced by Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson last month.

Critical minerals were also among the issues Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador discussed during their summit last week in Mexico.

In 2020 the World Bank predicted that demand for critical minerals — dozens of metals and minerals like lithium and copper that are used in batteries and clean energy generation — will soar 500 per cent by 2050.

Canada is not a commercial producer of rare earth elements, though it does have some of the largest-known deposits.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark will be present for Trudeau's tour of the processing plant, and the prime minister is scheduled to speak to media afterward.


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

SELMA, Ala. _ Leading Sunday services on the lawn outside his tornado-damaged Crosspoint Christian Church, the Rev. David Nichols told his congregation there was much for which to be grateful despite the destruction around them.

The tornado that ravaged Selma hit the church's daycare. It destroyed much of the building, collapsing walls and leaving piles of rubble in some of the classrooms, but the 70 children and teachers who huddled inside bathrooms were unharmed.

"Nothing but by the grace of God that they walked out of there,'' Nichols said as he looked at the building.

The Sunday after a tornado devastated much of the historic city of Selma, church congregations raised up prayers of gratitude for lives spared and gave prayers of comfort for lives lost elsewhere to the storm.

Churches anchor the community for many in this historic city. Black congregations also played an integral role in the civil rights movement. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is celebrated Monday, led the 1965 voting rights march from Brown Chapel AME Church.

The storm system was blamed with killing nine people _ two in Georgia and seven in rural Autauga County, Alabama where an estimated EF3 tornado, which is just two steps below the most powerful category of twister, tossed mobile homes into the air and ripped way roofs. The Selma twister, an estimated high-end EF2 with winds of 130 mph, cut a wide swath through the city, collapsing buildings and snapping trees in half. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Sunday that President Joe Biden had approved a major disaster declaration for the two hard-hit Alabama counties.


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

POKHARA, Nepal _ A spokesman for Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority says a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder have been retrieved from the site of the crash of a passenger plane that went down on approach to a newly opened airport in the tourist town of Pokhara.

Jagannath Niraula said the boxes were found on Monday, a day after the ATR-72 aircraft crashed, killing 68 of the 72 people aboard. He said they will be handed over to investigators.

Pemba Sherpa, spokesperson for Yeti Airlines, also confirmed that both the flight data and the cockpit voice recorders have been found.

Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday, as rescue workers rappelled down a 300-metre gorge to continue the search. Two more bodies were found Monday morning.

It remains unclear what caused the crash, the Himalayan country's deadliest airplane accident in three decades. The weather was mild and not windy on the day of the crash.

A witness who recorded footage of the plane's descent from his balcony said he saw the plane flying low before it suddenly veered to its left. "I saw that and I was shocked. I thought that today everything will be finished here after it crashes, I will also be dead,'' said Diwas Bohora. After it crashed, red flames erupted and the ground shook violently, like an earthquake, Bohora said. "I was scared. Seeing that scene, I was scared.''

Another witness said he saw the aircraft twist violently in the air after it began descending to land, watching from the terrace of his house. Finally, Gaurav Gurung said, the plane fell nose-first towards its left and crashed into the gorge.

Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority said the aircraft last made contact with the airport from near Seti Gorge at 10:50 a.m. before crashing.

The twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft, operated by Nepal's Yeti Airlines, was competing the 27-minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu, to Pokhara, 200 kilometres west. It was carrying 68 passengers, including 15 foreign nationals, as well as four crew members, Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. The foreigners included five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France.


On this day in 1970 ...

Ottawa announced plans to convert the country from the Imperial to the Metric system of measurement. A special commission was appointed to oversee the introduction of metric, or the International System of Units.


In entertainment ...

New movies like "Plane'' and "House Party'' were no match for "Avatar: The Way of Water'' and the killer doll horror "M3GAN'' at the box office this weekend. The two holdovers topped the charts again according to studio estimates Sunday.

In first place for the fifth weekend in a row was James Cameron's "Avatar'' sequel, which added an estimated $31.1 million through Sunday. That total will likely balloon to $38.5 million by the end of Monday's Martin Luther King holiday. As of Sunday, the film's domestic total now rests at $562.9 million (the 13th biggest of all time) and its global total is $1.89 billion. "Avatar 2'' needs to pass $1.92 billion to trump "Spider-Man: No Way Home,'' which is currently the sixth highest grossing film of all time globally.

"There were such huge expectations and a lot of naysayers that opening weekend,'' said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. "But `Avatar,' for a James Cameron movie, is moving at lightning speed up the domestic and global box office chart. I think he always knew this would be a $2 billion movie.''

Second place went to Universal and Blumhouse's "M3GAN'' which in its second weekend in theatres added $17.9 million through Sunday and an estimated $21.2 million including Monday. The modestly budgeted thriller that cost a reported $12 million to produce has made $59.8 million in North America.

Horror movies typically have very steep second weekend drop offs in ticket sales, but "M3GAN'' only fell 41 per cent. Dergarabedian said that's almost unheard of for a horror picture and shows "world class staying power.''

Universal also claimed the third place spot, with "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,'' which audiences continued to seek out in theatres even though it's currently available to rent at home. The family-friendly animated film added $13.4 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $110.3 million.

"A Man Called Otto,'' from Columbia Pictures, expanded to 3,802 theatres this weekend, adding $12.7 million through Sunday, and $15 million including Monday, to take fourth place. Directed by Marc Forster, the adaptation of "A Man Called Ove'' starring Tom Hanks is proving to be something of a rarity in the theatrical marketplace as an adult-targeted drama that is doing well.

The Gerard Butler action pic "Plane,'' a Lionsgate acquisition for release in North America, rounded out the top five with a better-than-expected $10 million in its first three days. In the film, Butler plays a pilot whose crash landing on an island is only the first of his troubles. On the island, most of the passengers are taken hostage. "Plane'' got better-than-average reviews with 75 per cent positive from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.


Did you see this?

MONTREAL _ Members of a grieving community north of Montreal gathered Sunday for a mass in solidarity with the families of three people who remained missing following a fire and explosion at a propane distribution company last week.

Several hundred people were in the pews of the local church as the ceremony began just after 10:30 in St-Roch-de-l'Achigan, Que., about 50 kilometres north of Montreal.

Two employees and a subcontractor are still missing as provincial police continue to comb through the site of Thursday's blast with the help of police arson technicians and forensics specialists.

As of Sunday, police had still not confirmed any deaths or released the names of the victims.

Mayor Sebastien Marcil, who spoke at the service, said the small town is like a family that since Thursday has been "missing some of its members.''

He described the wait for answers as "unbearable'' for the loved ones of the missing people.

"You can't imagine how hard it is to not have news about people you love for three days, knowing there's an explosion and the people you know are there,'' said Marcil.

The local fire department received calls Thursday morning about an explosion and fire at Propane Lafortune, but the risk of further explosions forced firefighters to retreat and they were only able to bring the blaze under control in the evening.

Police have said winter weather and the state of the site, including the presence of various chemicals, has complicated the search for victims.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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