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Parks Canada to offer Mandarin programs at birthplace of Communist icon Bethune

Bethune, a Communist Party member, volunteered with the People’s Liberation Army and died in China in 1939 at the age of 49.




Parks Canada wants to start a Mandarin-language program in celebration of Communist China hero Dr. Norman Bethune, says Blacklock’s Reporter, adding said Bethune’s Ontario birthplace will become a more of a shrine to the surgeon.

It is currently Canada’s least-visited national park.

“We have not seen that Parks Canada plan but from a tourism perspective it has huge potential,” said Mayor Paul Kelly of Gravenhurst, Ont.

“Nobody is saying we don’t want people to come to Gravenhurst. Of course, everybody is concerned about what is going on with China, but if they are uncomfortable with the Bethune Memorial I haven’t heard them express it.

“I have not heard anyone disparaging the Bethune Memorial. They see it as an opportunity to increase tourism.”

Bethune’s Gravenhurst birthplace in 1976 was designated a national historic site as a diplomatic gesture by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Bethune lived his first two years at the home before his family moved to Collingwood, Ont.

Bethune, a Communist Party member, volunteered with the People’s Liberation Army and died in China in 1939 at the age of 49.

He was adopted as a national hero by the People’s Republic in 1964 with the introduction of his story as mandatory reading in public schools.

In 1975, a A state-approved Chinese biography praised Bethune as a glorious comrade.

Bethune’s Ontario birthplace. Courtesy Wikipedia

“During his work with the Chinese people’s revolutionary forces he was greatly impressed by the correct revolutionary line and policies of the China Communist Party and comrade Mao Zedong,” said the official biography.

“I now know why Mao Zedong impresses everyone who meets him the way he does,” Chinese propagandists quoted Bethune.

“The man is a giant!”

Prior to the pandemic, visitors numbered 17,895 annually, half of them in October “when the Muskoka fall colours draw an influx of urban and new Canadians to the region,” said Parks Canada’s Bethune Memorial House Management Plan.

Statue of Bethune at Wanping Fortress, Beijing Courtesy Wikipedia

Managers proposed by 2027 to have “service to the public in Mandarin” to “meet the needs of the high percentage of visitors for whom this is their first language.”

Parks Canada said the site “holds immense spiritual and personal meaning to visitors of Chinese descent from Canada and abroad.

“Dr. Norman Bethune, a great Canadian hero, is celebrated as the man who planted the seeds of a public health care system, created Canada’s global reputation as a nation with a social conscience, and invited generations around the world to think of the needs of others before their own,” wrote staff.

The Management Plan said the site will be transformed into “a different kind of gathering place” to “move visitors, volunteers and partners to act as proud ambassadors of Bethune’s values, achievements and humanitarian ideals.”

Managers should “capitalize on the credibility accrued by the Bethune legacy to introduce Parks Canada to a broader audience, in particular of Chinese descent,” it said.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com


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Vaccine passports now mandatory in Alberta

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.




The Alberta government’s new vaccine mandates for businesses, entities and events are in effect.

Each organization must follow one of two options: implement the Restriction Exemption Program (REP) requiring proof of vaccination or negative test result, plus mandatory masking, to continue operating as usual, or comply with all public health restrictions as outlined in Order 42-2021.

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

The REP allows operators to avoid the majority of public health restrictions with the implementation of a proof of vaccination program, although vaccine requirements for staff are at the employer’s discretion. Face mask mandates are still required in all indoor spaces.

The program doesn’t apply to those under 12 years of age and businesses that need to be accessed by the public for daily living purposes, including all retail locations. As well, employees, contractors, repair or delivery workers, volunteers or inspectors will be permitted access to spaces without requiring a vaccine passport.

To enter spaces participating in the REP, adults need to provide valid photo identification that matches their paper or digital vaccine record showing name, vaccine type and date of administration. From now until October 25, proof of partial vaccination (one dose) will suffice, however after that date, proof of full vaccination (two doses) will be required. Those under 12 will only need to show vaccination paperwork.

Indoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities that don’t implement the REP will be limited to one-third capacity of their fire code occupancy and attendees must be in household cohorts or with up to two close contacts if they live alone.

Outdoor events and facilities have no capacity restrictions, but attendees must maintain a two-metre distancing between households.  

Restaurants that don’t follow the REP cannot offer indoor dining, and outdoor dining will be limited to six people per table from one household, and liquor sales will have to end by 10 p.m. with consumption cut off by 11 p.m.

Retail, shopping malls and food courts aren’t eligible for the REP, therefore will be reduced to one-third capacity of fire code occupancy and are required to stop all in-person dining, switching to take out only.

Indoor private social gatherings will be permitted for those that are vaccinated to a maximum of two households up to 10 (vaccine eligible) vaccinated people. There are no restrictions for children under 12. For those who are unvaccinated, indoor social gatherings are not permitted.

Private outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 200 people who are socially distanced.  

Churches will be limited to one-third of fire code capacity and masks and social distancing are still mandatory in places of worship.

Employees are mandated to work from home unless their physical presence is required for their duties.

Proof of vaccination will not be required to enter a polling place for Monday’s federal election although physical distancing, masking and other transmission reducing measures will be in place.

For more information on the Restriction Exemption Program, click here.   

Risdon is a reporter at the Western Standard

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Hockey arena backs down on banning unvaccinated kids

Within hours of the Western Standard posting the exclusive story, Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy.




Public pressure has brought minor hockey out of the penalty box in Cochrane.

Following an exclusive story by the Western Standard on Saturday, along with mounting pressure from the community, a Cochrane sports facility has revamped its vaccine passport policy.  

The Cochrane Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) and Hockey Alberta were not mandating a vaccine passport system, but Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) announced it would be requiring proof of vaccine status for anyone 12 and up.

Within hours of the story being posted, CMHS President Cory Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy with this statement: “Youth between the ages of 12 (vaccine eligible) to 18 years of age are exempt from the REP vaccination requirement to enter the facility for the purpose of participating in a youth organized sport organization. Examples include (but not limited to) Cochrane Minor Hockey, Ringette, Cochrane Minor Soccer, Lacrosse, Cochrane Figure Skating Club, Comets, Junior Lifeguard Club, etc.”

Although youth may access the facility without being vaccinated, all adult spectators, coaches, volunteers and organizers of any youth activity “must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises.”

“Although this helps our kids get on the ice in Cochrane, it’s still an issue at lots of other facilities, especially in larger facilities in Calgary and Airdrie,” Oaten said.

Oaten, who works in the insurance industry, points out the “huge liability issue” this poses to his and other sports organizations.

“Originally, Spray Lakes pushed us to collect this medical documentation from our members,” he said.

The CMHA board consists of 18 volunteer members.

“They can’t put those expectations on a board of volunteers. It’s a big legal issue for us,” Oaten said, adding he and his board refuse to take responsibility for requiring proof of vaccine or the collection of their members’ private medical information.

Oaten was informed the SLSFSC will now have its own security checkpoints set up in the facility and will take responsibility for checking the vaccine status of anyone 18-plus entering the building.

Oaten anticipates families will still pull their kids from hockey and other sports programs as those who remain unvaccinated will not be permitted in the facility to accompany their child.

Hockey Alberta stated on their Facebook page they are working with the Alberta government on how last Wednesday’s announcement will affect hockey for Alberta players. Oaten has asked his members to hold off on making a decision to pull their child from the program until Hockey Alberta comes forward with their updated season plan.

The Western Standard reached out to the SLSFSC for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard

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