Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/12/2020 (301 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
From learning to live with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the sale of the Brandon Wheat Kings, record flooding and tornadoes, it was a busy year for news in Westman.
The Brandon Sun has put together the following list of the 25 stories most popular with our readers online over the past year.
Jan. 9 — BU nursing students punished after exam ‘compromised’
By: Colin Slark
An entire class of second-year nursing students at Brandon University is facing disciplinary action over a final exam the school has deemed "compromised."
"There is strong evidence to corroborate the fact that the 71:250 Nursing Foundations II course (Fall term, test II, Final Exam) was compromised by a large number of students," reads a letter from the dean of the faculty of health studies at BU to the class.
The letter was given to the Sun by a source who wished to remain anonymous.
"Please be aware that any further acts of academic dishonesty and/or misconduct will result in more severe penalties being imposed," the letter continued.
According to the university, there were between 46 and 48 students enrolled in the course in question, taught by Dr. Ali Salman.
Jan. 11 — Sources weigh in on ‘compromised’ exam
By: Colin Slark
After a Brandon University nursing class’s final exam was deemed "compromised," several sources have come forward to claim the university is misrepresenting what took place.
Earlier this week, Faculty of Health Sciences dean John Moraros wrote a letter to students saying there is "strong evidence to corroborate the fact that the 71:250 Nursing Foundations II course (Fall term, test II, Final Exam) was compromised by a large number of students."
The exam took place at the end of November, but Moraros met with students on Monday to announce their punishment.
As per Moraros’s letter, all students in the class are being punished for academic dishonesty by being made to rewrite the exam, with a penalty lowering the maximum attainable mark to 70 per cent. Students were scheduled to retake the exam today.
Since The Brandon Sun first reported on this story in Thursday’s newspaper, 14 sources have approached the Sun independently to describe what happened from the students’ point of view.
Jan. 21 — Massage therapist faces more charges
By: Erin DeBooy
A Brandon massage therapist charged with sexual assault is facing additional charges after five more women came forward reporting similar incidents.
Brandon police first reported the man’s arrest on Nov. 29, after two women told police that while receiving a massage, the man had made inappropriate sexual comments while touching them in a sexual manner.
The assaults occurred in the fall of 2018 and Oct. 30, 2019.
Following that report, six additional women came forward reporting similar occurrences between February and August 2019.
The victims came forward with their reports independently from one another.
Jan. 22 — Manitoba on alert for dangerous coronavirus
By: Bud Robertson
Manitoba is keeping a close eye on a new virus that has already killed six people in China and infected nearly 300 others, Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday in Brandon.
Friesen, who attended Manitoba Ag Days, said he has been in touch with public health officials, including the chief provincial public health officer, regarding the coronavirus outbreak that has so far not reached Canada.
"We all know the seriousness, going back a few years to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in Canada," he said.
Feb. 4 — Jail attack earns life sentence
By: Erin DeBooy
A man who tried to kill a fellow inmate in jail only a week after receiving an 18-year sentence for shooting an RCMP officer has been sentenced to life in prison.
"I can come to no conclusion but that Mr. Racette-Beaulieu is a troubled and dangerous individual. He has shown himself repeatedly to be capable of serious violence and homicidal intent," Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta said in her decision on Monday.
"When someone like Mr. Racette-Beaulieu shows us he is dangerous and tells us in his own words he is dangerous, we should believe him."
Therae Racette-Beaulieu, 21, pleaded guilty in Brandon provincial court last year to attempted murder.
Police were called to Brandon Correctional Centre on April 29, the court heard in December, after an inmate had been stabbed with a homemade shank numerous times by his cellmate, Racette-Beaulieu.
The two had recently become cellmates and had been getting along fine until another inmate with gang affiliations told Racette-Beaulieu the victim was "a rat."
Feb. 4 — ACC launching new tuition-free welding program
By: Colin Slark
Starting in August, several students at Assiniboine Community College will have their tuition and expenses covered for a new trades program.
In partnership with Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., Assiniboine will be launching a new eight-month welding course in which 15 students will have their tuition and expenses fully covered.
The program is aimed at giving people in underrepresented groups like unemployed people, newcomers to Canada, people with disabilities, unemployed people and Indigenous people to get their start toward their Red Seal certification in welding.
Conestoga College started its own program last year and is the main funding recipient through the Government of Canada’s Skilled Trades Awareness Readiness Program. Conestoga is administering the learning outcomes and academic requirements for the program and passing along funding to Assiniboine for the program.
March 3 — New school contractor bankrupt
By: Colin Slark
Work on the new Maryland Park School was halted Monday after the contractor in charge of the build filed for bankruptcy.
Fresh Projects based out of Winnipeg won the tender for the $22.7-million project in February 2019. On Monday, the company’s website, Twitter and Instagram accounts had all been taken down.
The provincial government’s Companies Office lists Fresh Projects’ current status as inactive and phone calls to the company’s office were not answered. Bankruptcy Canada did not have a record of the bankruptcy filing on Monday, but its database was last updated on Feb. 27.
After Monday’s public budget consultations, Brandon School Division board chair Linda Ross confirmed the company’s bankruptcy but said she did not have any additional information.
Ross was asked if she knew how this would affect construction, to which she said: "Not in a good way." She added that she imagines that this will mean a delay in construction.
March 14 — Kindly Hitchhiker always had time for others
By: Tim Smith
Clare Haralson of Erickson died this week.
If you don’t know his name, you quite likely know his face. He was a staple in Brandon, Erickson and all along Highway 10, hitchhiking from his home just outside Erickson to Brandon most days in recent years to collect food and visit with strangers and friends he met along the way.
Many people knew him, and many more knew of him as he was a common sight in downtown Brandon or hitchhiking at the 18th Street bridge or along Highway 10. This is why I wanted to let people know he has passed away. Because a lot of people showed him kindness and he showed them the same in return.
As a photographer for The Brandon Sun, I first met Clare in 2012 and began documenting his daily life throughout the year for a feature we ran that December. We stayed in touch after that as I would see him around town or at his home.
Haralson was born in Sherridon on Jan. 15, 1944, and spent his entire life in western Manitoba, mostly in the Erickson area, with a short stint in Melita as a high school teacher after graduating from Brandon University with a bachelor of science and bachelor of education degrees. From Melita he moved back home to the family farm just south of Erickson and farmed alongside his father for years. In 1971, Clare married Paulette Haralson (Kotyk), who had grown up just down the road from the Haralson farm. They farmed together and had three children, Susan, Wendy and Kenny.
March 19 — Heed the warnings
By: Matt Goerzen
A pair of conversations I had over the phone yesterday have me wondering just how effective government messaging and media news reports have been in conveying the seriousness of the situation faced by our society regarding the spread of COVID-19.
After having arrived at the office in the morning, I took a call to our news desk from a woman who said she was a doctor in town. She was calling because she was concerned about the behaviour of "snowbirds" who were coming back from other parts of the world and not quarantining themselves for the recommended 14 days called for by the provincial and federal governments.
She was aware of several instances, she said, in which otherwise well-meaning and kind-hearted people were putting others in danger by showing up at the hospital or a care home after having just returned from their journey.
Though she did not want to go on record with her name unless other local physicians did the same, she felt compelled to call the paper and ask if there was any way to remind people that they may be unknowingly infecting people, including those with suppressed immune systems, or perhaps just not taking the danger seriously and disregarding the directives issued by the health community and government officials.
March 23 — Walmart reduces hours, dedicates time for seniors
By: The Brandon Sun
Starting today, Walmart Canada is scaling back its regular hours of operation to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the opening hour of each day being reserved for letting seniors (people over 65), the disabled and those with vulnerable health conditions shop.
In Brandon, the local Walmart Supercentre normally operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
In a Saturday morning email to customers, a company representative wrote that these changes were made due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, since reduced hours allows its staff more time to sanitize and stock each store.
This announcement follows similar new policies from rival retailers like Heritage Co-op, which instituted its own dedicated shopping hours for seniors last Tuesday.
March 28 — Calgary to Brandon flight had passengers with COVID-19
By: The Brandon Sun
At least one, possibly two passengers who flew the WestJet flight from Calgary International Airport to the Brandon Municipal Airport earlier this month have since tested positive for COVID-19 according to the provincial government.
It appears that two infected passengers were aboard WestJet flight 3256 from Calgary to Brandon on March 15, according to the Manitoba government’s COVID-19 information website where flights with confirmed cases are listed. The page was last updated on March 28, and two separate sets of affected rows are listed on the flight.
April 9 — Brandon business closed by health order
By: Drew May
A Brandon business is the first in the province to have an emergency health hazard order issued against it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Manitoba Health’s list of establishment closures, the unnamed body art business on 12th Street was closed on Wednesday for contravening the March 31 public health order that shut down all non-essential businesses.
The closures report says the business also did not get public health approval to operate in the first place, as required under City of Brandon bylaw.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, described the business as a tattoo parlour and said no fine was issued against the business. If the business violates the health hazard order it will face more severe penalties.
"Violation of that order has very stringent penalties under the Public Health Act should it be violated," he said.
April 27 — CP letter on rail crossings angers farmers
By: Bud Robertson and Terrie Welwood
CP Rail has found itself at the centre of a firestorm after angry farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan received letters telling them they would have to pay to upgrade private rail crossings or face having them shut down.
The crossings are often a farmer’s only way to get from one field to another.
Keystone Agricultural Producers has been working to resolve the issue for the past 10 days, KAP president Bill Campbell said Saturday.
KAP’s transportation committee held a virtual ZOOM meeting with CP Rail on Friday to discuss its plans.
Farmers and other landowners who have private crossings along the Bredenbury Subdivision rail line, which runs from Minnedosa to Bredenbury, Sask., received letters from CP that were sent out March 26.
May 1 — Condolences, Mr. Pallister
By: Matt Goerzen
For a moment, I will put aside the politics of COVID-19, the government cuts and layoffs that will be forthcoming, and the thinking that went into the government’s decision to reopen Manitoba’s economy, in order to offer some condolences to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, whose sister passed away on Wednesday.
Peggy Margaret Anne Tidsbury, Mr. Pallister’s younger sister, died on April 29 at the Portage District General Hospital at the age of 60, according to the McKenzies Portage Funeral Chapel. She died "with her partner Ron, and daughters Mallory and Morgan at her side."
As the CBC noted on its website on Wednesday afternoon, a cause of death was not disclosed.
In fact, it was a CBC reporter, Riley Laychuk, who asked the premier directly about his sister’s passing during a stop in Brandon on Thursday during the noon hour. There was a concerted pause before Mr. Pallister spoke in return, as if he was looking for the right words. His face seemed stricken by the question.
"In the last few days of her life, it was supposed to be about her, but it was always about COVID, and that’s too bad," he said. "Lots of families have to go through these things. I’m with them, I think of them."
May 6 — Trucking firm source of COVID-19 cluster
By: Bud Robertson
An internal email to employees has identified a trucking company with a terminal in Brandon as the source of a cluster of COVID-19 cases, which has now grown to seven.
While Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, continued Wednesday to refuse to name the workplace involved, The Brandon Sun has obtained a company email sent to employees of Paul’s Hauling Ltd. and Oak Point Service from Rod Corbett, vice-president of Paul’s Hauling, based in Winnipeg.
Oak Point Service is the maintenance arm of the business.
After outlining the company’s efforts to follow public health guidelines to protect staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, Corbett wrote in an email dated May 1:
"In an effort to be transparent while respecting the privacy of individuals, I want to provide you with the facts around our current situation in the Brandon shop.
"... We now have three confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 within our OPS Brandon staff. A weekend shift employee finished his shift on Monday, April 20 then on Wednesday, April 22 he started feeling ill.
May 7 — Brandon gas bar worker tests positive for COVID-19
By: The Brandon Sun
An employee at the Safeway Gas Bar in Brandon tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesperson for parent company Sobeys told the Sun via email Thursday afternoon.
According to the email sent by Sobeys’ lead of communications and public affairs Violet MacLeod, the employee last worked at the gas bar on April 30.
"All measures recommended by Public Health have been implemented fully and are complete," MacLeod wrote. "We have been in touch with our teammate to ensure they are well cared for and supported throughout their recovery."
May 16 — Health worker in PMH positive for COVID-19
By: Bud Robertson
A health-care worker in Prairie Mountain Health has tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said Friday.
Shared Health’s chief nursing officer, Lanette Siragusa, did not provide further information on what kind of health facility the worker is employed in, except to say the case is not related to the cluster identified in a Brandon truck maintenance shop.
The worker is one of 452 health-care providers and first responders tested for COVID-19 in the last seven days, bringing the total number of workers who have tested positive so far to 26, Siragusa said during Friday’s health briefing. All but one have since recovered.
Since April 10, 3,584 health-care workers and first responders have been tested.
May 23 — Daughter on Call incurs health order fines
By: Drew May
Daughter on Call has been fined more than $5,000 for failing to comply with a public emergency health order.
According to a list of Manitoba Health protection reports, the Brandon-based home-care organization received two separate fines, both for $2,542.
The first fine was issued on May 15 against one of the organization’s residential care homes in Brandon. The fine is for failing to comply with the public emergency health order, "namely direction given to take immediate and adequate precautions to control or minimize the risk of transmission of a communicable disease."
The second fine was issued on May 21 against a Daughter on Call residential care home in Carberry. According to the provincial list, which is published online, the fine was issued for failing to comply with a May 14 Medical Officer of Health’s health hazard order.
July 22 — Mom sent outside to breastfeed
By: Michele LeTourneau
A mother is angry and confused after Tri-Lake Health Centre staff in Killarney refused to allow her four-day-old newborn inside with her, then sent her outdoors to breastfeed.
Staff also denied Liza-Jane Porter’s husband entry.
Meanwhile, other area hospitals — in Brandon and in Boissevain — offered a more agreeable policy, and told her they would not separate a breastfeeding newborn from their mother and her husband could attend with her as a support person.
Prairie Mountain Health declined to comment on this case, with chief executive officer Penny Gilson noting by email that they do "not comment on individual client circumstances in the media."
Liza-Jane gave birth to Ivy-Lea by C-section on July 13. A few days later, on July 16, she experienced problems, called Health Links and was told she needed to be seen.
July 23 — Hyrdo forces families’ eviction
By: Bud Robertson
Twenty-three families in Glendale Mobile Homes Park in Brandon have been told they have to move their homes before the end of October 2021, when a 10-year licence with Manitoba Hydro allowing access to the properties expires.
"This isn’t morally right," Bill Fraser said as he stood near his wife Stephanie on Wednesday, a day after they and the others received a letter from the owner of the park, Kenny Choy, informing them of the situation.
"It’s just unnecessary hardship," said Bill, who stays at home to care for their six children, ages 15 to 4. Stephanie is a nurse in a Brandon care home.
The mobile home was purchased in 2010. They have been trying since last year to sell it and move into something larger.
Stephanie said she was aware of access issues before the letter came out, but didn’t know they would have to take their trailer and move before the end of next year.
Aug. 8 — Tornado claims lives of two teens
By: Colin Slark
Two Melita teens have died after a tornado touched down in southwestern Manitoba Friday night.
RCMP confirmed an 18-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman were in a vehicle that was swept up in the tornado and thrown into a field. Emergency responders found the teens dead. They are believed to have been ejected from the vehicle when the tornado touched down near 83 and Road 50N in the RM of Pipestone after 8:10 p.m. Friday.
Another man, a 54-year-old from Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation, suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries when his vehicle was also picked up by the tornado. He was taken to hospital after his vehicle was found about a kilometre away from where the man and woman were pronounced dead.
Virden RCMP is still investigating.
The tornado carved a path of destruction, according to those who witnessed it.
Aug. 12 — Attorney banned from messaging female lawyer
By: Drew May
A local lawyer has been banned from electronically communicating with female lawyers in the province except for work-related reasons.
The Law Society of Manitoba issued a notice of undertaking for Ryan William Fawcett, where he agrees not to contact other female lawyers by FaceTime, text message, email or other direct messaging or video apps, according to a post on the society’s website.
"If he intends on communicating with a female lawyer of the Society for a non-work-related reason, in the manners described, he must first obtain the written authorization of the Society," the notice reads.
The notice was issued on Aug. 6.
Aug. 25 — Man tears apart store in mark protest
By: Tyler Clarke
A man’s refusal to wear a mask turned violent at a Brandon restaurant Monday as he pulled displays from the wall and yelled profanities at staff.
"It was nasty," said Rayanne Henry, who manages the Freshii restaurant at 930 18th St.
His excuse for not wearing a mask was that he had a respiratory disease, she said, adding, "He could yell pretty good."
Henry posted surveillance footage of the man’s outburst onto social media, and while it appears without sound Henry was able to relay what was said in a conversation with the Sun.
She said the man walked into the store, passed a display of free masks available for people to wear and approached the till, where an employee asked him to put on a mask.
Henry was initially in the back of the store, but came out front when she heard a commotion.
Sept. 7 — Wheat Kings sale finalized, approved by WHL governors
By: Perry Bergson
The Brandon Wheat Kings have been sold, a deal that could be announced today.
A Western Hockey League source told The Brandon Sun over the weekend that a Brandon buyer has purchased the club from its longtime owner, Kelly McCrimmon. The deal has been officially approved by the league’s board of governors.
McCrimmon, 59, purchased one-third of the Wheat Kings franchise in June 1993 from Bob Cornell, and the other two-thirds in June 2001, and is the longest-serving owner since the club joined the league in the 1967-68 season.
The club’s roots go back to the 1930s. It joined the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League, which later became the WHL, for the 1967-68 season.
McCrimmon played with the club for two seasons from 1978 to 1980, winning a WHL title during the 1978-79 season on one of the greatest teams in league history. He completed a rare trifecta when he also earned WHL titles in 1996 as a general manager and 2016 as a head coach and general manager.
Nov. 19 — Strongest restrictions yet come to Manitoba
By: Colin Slark
With high numbers of daily COVID-19 cases, the province of Manitoba unveiled its strictest set of health orders to date on Thursday.
As of 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 20, people living in a residence can no longer admit others who do not live with them into their home.
Retailers will not be allowed to sell items deemed non-essential as of 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 21.
"The public health orders introduced when Manitoba moved to Critical (red) on the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System were the most restrictive we had introduced since the beginning of this pandemic," Premier Brian Pallister said in a release.
"However, despite those orders and strong recommendation from Dr. Roussin to ‘stay home’ at this critical point in our fight against COVID-19, too many Manitobans are gathering or shopping for non-essential purposes and creating a greater risk to public health. We are now at a point where even tighter restrictions are needed to significantly limit social contact in order to protect one another."