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Vancouver kids theatre cuts ties with artistic director after bullying, harassment allegations

Vancouver kids theatre cuts ties with artistic director after bullying, harassment allegationsA Vancouver theatre company specializing in productions for children has cut ties with its artistic director and is promising other changes following allegations of a toxic work environment by dozens of former staff and crew.More than sixty people wrote letters calling out the Carousel Theatre for Young People  — a popular theatre group known for its productions of Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh — for being an abusive place to work, characterized by a culture of bullying and harassment perpetuated by some of its leaders.Facing backlash on social media and an online petition calling for improved working conditions, the company says it "mutually agreed to part ways" with its artistic director Carole Higgins. It's also pledged to restructure its leadership team."We will be working to rebuild a theatre that is inclusive, creates opportunity, and provides a safe place for everyone," said the company in an official statement posted to its website.Carousel's productions are geared toward young children to help develop emotional literacy.Toxic work environmentWorkers began publicly voicing their experiences at the theatre company after Carousel issued a statement speaking out against racism and oppression amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.In a public Facebook post, BIPOC actor Kaitlyn Yott detailed her experience on a production of Peter Pan where she says she was pressured into performing stunts and ignored when she would voice concerns over her safety. She said her requests to bring in a stunt director were denied."...I ended up severely injured in both of my knees halfway through the run. I was barely able to walk and I was in excruciating amounts of pain," she wrote.Since then, a petition calling on the company to improve its working conditions and leadership has generated more than 400 signatures.Former Carousel contract workers Dani Fecko and Kayla Dunbar have been urging ex-staff and contractors who were bullied or harassed to speak out.More than 60 people have written letters to Carousel's board detailing negative experiences at the company, Fecko said."We would be used against each other," said Fecko. "Inevitably, in every production, there would be one staff member or one artist that was the scapegoat for everything, and would be pulled out and bullied. There was a lot of bad mouthing of each other to each other behind closed doors. There was a lot of manipulation."Fecko says many contract workers were afraid to voice their concerns to management out of fear of not being hired back."I always knew that was happening, I just never knew how bad it was," she added.Calling for changeDunbar and Fecko say they aren't satisfied with Carousel's statement, noting that there is no specific apology within it."There's still a lot of work to do and it is very frustrating that there hasn't been accountability taken by the board, or by Carole," said Dunbar. "The public hasn't been told how [Carousel] is moving forward."The pair are scheduled to meet with the Carousel board president on Wednesday to discuss how to create a more inclusive work environment. They're are calling for the theatre to provide a healing space for those who have endured bullying."That means bringing in facilitators and mental health support for people to come and heal and get used to being in that space again in a safe way," said Fecko.Fecko says the organization remains a cornerstone for Vancouver's artistic community, and plays a crucial role getting young children acquainted with theatre. The pair are also calling for a committee of artists and industry leaders to guide the theatre going forward."We want that work to keep going ... it's a vital piece of this community," she said.CBC News tried to contact artistic director Carole Higgins on Sunday, but has yet to hear back from her.


Saskatoon care home resident reflects on life in care during COVID-19

Saskatoon care home resident reflects on life in care during COVID-19The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life for everyone — from physical distancing to new rules and regulations in place to prevent the virus from spreading further. But for those in care homes, social options have been further reduced.Visits were outright prohibited for a period of time in some care homes in Saskatchewan, and residents' movements were severely limited in comparison to life before the pandemic. Fernande Levy lives in the Circle Drive Special Care Home in Saskatoon. At times, the 79-year-old said the pandemic left her feeling very depressed."We couldn't see our loved ones," Levy said. "Even from the window, they weren't allowed to come and it was devastating." She said residents of her care home weren't allowed out to shop, go on outings and their regular outdoors activities were cancelled. "We missed all that, but we missed more than anything in our lives were our children," Levy said.Many of her fellow residents, Levy included, weren't eating as much as they did before the pandemic, something she attributed to being upset about not seeing their families. Residents were eventually given an iPad or similar device to contact their families — something Levy said was better than using a telephone to stay in touch.Virtual visits aside, the only consolation she could find in through the pandemic besides talking to her family were the books on her shelves. The care home organized events like dance parties, crafting, bingo and carnival games to occupy residents while they were waiting out the pandemic.The guidelines, put in place by the Saskatchewan Health Authority early on in the pandemic, gradually changed through the Re-opening Saskatchewan plan. The most recent changes to visitation in hospitals and long-term care homes in the province came about earlier this month. Levy said the COVID-19 pandemic was like nothing she had experienced in her life. "I hope it never happens again," she said.


Cochran's Market holds firm on mask rule for customers

Cochran's Market holds firm on mask rule for customersA Rothesay grocer says his rule requiring customers to wear masks in his store will remain in place, possibly for a year or more.Tim Cochran runs Cochran's Country Market, which sells fruits, vegetables and prepared foods. It also has its own butcher shop and bakery."I think this is the course for the next year or so," said Cochran. "We've made up our minds this is the way our business has to be until a vaccine or something changes in the rest of the world. I think this is the new normal for a while."Cochran said business is down slightly but not enough to tempt him into relaxing restrictions. "Ninety-nine per cent of our customers, they say they love it, they appreciate it, they respect it, and they shop here because of that. Then we have a small percentage that are … that grumble. We've had a few people leave, turn around and say they weren't going to wear a mask. And that's OK." The retailer's vow to stay the course comes at a time when the province has seen few new confirmed cases of the virus. Even the provincial government's rules are less strict than Cochran's. The current version of the Emergency Order was renewed Friday. "Anyone who finds themselves in any location, other than their own home, in which social distancing as per this Order is not possible, must either remove themselves promptly from the location or must wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose." Those rules, allowing some customers without masks, will apply when Service New Brunswick offices reopen to unscheduled customers Monday. Members of the public are asked to bring their masks but will likely not be required to wear them. A news release says customers are reminded to keep two metres from others and have a mask with them in case physical distancing cannot be maintained. "The number of people allowed to wait inside air-conditioned waiting rooms will be limited in accordance with Public Health guidelines," says the release.


Monday 13th of July 2020 11:52:21

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