Arizona Foundation for Women has selected two-time Golden Globe nominated actress, humanitarian and author Ashley Judd, as its 2018 Sandra Day O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree.Ms. Judd is known for her roles in highly successful movies such as Kiss the Girls, Eye of the Beholder, Someone Like You, and Double Jeopardy. And most notably, Arizona Foundation for Women is recognizing Ms. Judd for her philanthropic and activist work around women’s health, rights and equality, and helping those living with AIDS around the world.“Ms. Judd brings to light in her work around women’s issues a topic many prefer to keep in the dark, deny, block out, ignore or simply are not aware of,” says Arizona Foundation for Women CEO Mesha Davis. “It’s hard to hear of a child, woman, or anyone, being sexually exploited or abused, let alone talk about it openly. We need dedicated individuals like Ms. Judd to take a stand. We need to say, ’It ends here! It ends now! It ends today.”Ms. Judd will receive the Sandra Day O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday, March 26, 2018 at the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort during the Foundation’s annual Awards Luncheon. Early sponsors include Southwest Airlines and VIAD Corp.The Sandra Day O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to a woman who has distinguished herself through her leadership and contributions to society through her lifetime achievements, especially for work, which benefits women and families. Past honorees include Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Former First Lady Barbara Bush, Billie Jean King, Goldie Hawn, and Maria Shriver to name a few.“Receiving the Sandra Day O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award is an enormous honor,” Ms. Judd said. “Named for a historic pioneer and icon, I interpret the award as less a validation for what service God has used me to render thus far, than as a sacred encouragement to continue to strive for an equal, safe, and flourishing society in which everyone is valued and has the same opportunities. I am very thankful to the Arizona Foundation for Women for the opportunity to reflect on my journey thus far and the encouragement to keep striving.”Arizona Foundation for Women’s mission is to advance the status of Arizona’s women through research, advocacy and philanthropy to ensure their safety, health and economic independence. Domestic violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking are a few areas of focus for the foundation.Arizona Foundation for Women Board of Directors Chairperson Kim Hartmann said “Ashley Judd, like Arizona Foundation for Women, provides a voice for the voiceless and often most vulnerable. Ms. Judd provides a path and courage for survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking who are often fearful to identify their offender. She also fights for equality and accessible quality healthcare for all women. On behalf of the Arizona Foundation for Women Board, I am delighted to bestow this well-deserved honor to Ms. Ashley Judd.”Find out more about this event here.
In the third season, Johnny realizes that getting the motel on its feet could help make the town more attractive to buyers, while faded soap star/matriarch Moira, played by Catherine O’Hara, struggles to connect with average folks as she begins her tenure on town council. It would seem that the bonkers clan at the heart of “Schitt’s Creek” is inching towards accepting their riches-to-rags reality. Advertisement Login/Register With: “I firmly believe, and certainly personally in all the work that I’ve done, that you pour your comedy through the character,” says Levy, a film and TV veteran, who turned 70 in December. They’ve forged friendships, dabbled in community politics, applied their questionable skills to local businesses, and found a fair bit of romance. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Advertisement “They are never going to dress down, for instance. They definitely hang on to the life they had through what they’re wearing. They don’t want to change and yet they’re starting to heavily assimilate into the town.” The comedy veteran, who co-created the show with son Dan Levy, notes each character ended last season with deeper ties to the unfortunately named town they once treated as a joke. “This show, despite the fact that it’s on at 9 o’clock, was always kind of designed to be a cable-oriented show,” says Levy, steering clear of spoiling too much of the storyline. Levy notes the spoiled Rose children have their own challenges: daughter Alexis, played by Annie Murphy, decides it’s time to complete her high school education, while David embarks on another business venture after some success with the Blouse Barn. “If you have a very believable character that rides the line of comedy and drama then you give the audience something to hang on to. And if they can hang onto that and get emotionally involved in your show, in your story through the characters, then you really have an investment with your audience.”Cassandra Szklarski – The Canadian Press But these are slow learners, Levy reminds us. Meanwhile, a possible romance seems to be brewing between Dan Levy’s self-obsessed David and a hunky woodworker, who may or may not also have a thing for David’s flannel-loving gal pal, Stevie, played by Emily Hampshire. It’s yet another complication for the pansexual David, whose past sexual hookups with Stevie made things confusing enough. With a third person in the mix, things can only get weirder. “The funniest thing about the family is they are who they are. And we don’t want to lose that because it is funny,” he says of the once-wealthy Rose family, who are forced to live in a small town after suddenly losing their fortune. “And that’s certainly something that CBC was interested in when they picked us up, the idea that their direction in comedy was going more kind of cable-sensitive. So we are always trying to kind of push the envelope in certain directions without necessarily going over the line.” There’s also the consideration that “Schitt’s Creek” is thought of as more of a specialty series in other markets where it’s developing a global following: Vanity Fair recently featured the show’s return to the U.S. specialty channel Pop, and newspaper reviews in the U.K. and Australia have welcomed its addition to Netflix. The second season ended with Levy’s pragmatic patriarch Johnny finding more kinship with crude potbellied-mayor Roland Schitt, played by Chris Elliott, than a snooty couple he used to call his friends. Shenanigans abound, but it’s all rooted in heartfelt relationships. But rest assured, they will never fully shed their special brand of crazy, star Eugene Levy says as a third season of the hit CBC-TV series debuts Tuesday. Facebook Twitter
“How many of you attended any of these public hearings?” he asked, suggesting only criticism was levelled for some of his decisions and that he received little support for others. Blais called traditional thinking in government and the industry “flawed,” labelling archaic the system of quotas and tax credits in place to support Canadian producers and broadcasters. But this year’s event, which wrapped up earlier this week, didn’t quite reflect the surroundings amid talk of an “era of disruption” in a TV industry where the future is somewhat cloudy. Twitter The former NBC programming chief confirmed production on the second season of the story, based on Margaret Atwood’s famed book, will commence later this summer in Toronto, Hamilton and Cambridge, Ont. Advertisement He ripped into industry players in the room, accusing broadcasters of living within their own “echo chambers.” “Look, I would love to do more ‘Fargo,’” said Littlefield. “The hope is that one morning Noah is in his shower and has this dark little smile that comes across his face and says, ‘Yeah, I think I know where I want to go.’” Among other festival highlights, recent talks with Chinese government officials gave hope that one of the world’s largest markets will soon establish a stronger relationship for exports from the Canadian film and TV production industry. “It’s certainly nothing that’s guaranteed,” he said. “They’re as glaringly old-fashioned in today’s world as the steam engine or the horse-drawn carriage,” he said. BANFF, Alta. — The Banff World Media Festival is held in one of Canada’s most picturesque regions where the Rocky Mountain views are breathtaking and spectacular. There were also hints that some sort of Netflix “tax” — along the lines of what is gradually being introduced in Europe — may soon be announced, although how that might be imposed was not outlined. At the festival’s annual Rockie Awards, “The Handmaid’s Tale” was singled out as the TV program of the year. Executive producer Warren Littlefield saw the award as “a kiss from the international community.” Blais also reiterated that “CBC must be accountable to the public,” suggesting they derive profits by selling their stake in Sirius XM instead of turning to the government for additional funding. Joly told the same gathering a day earlier that her recommendations would come in September. She also announced the formation of an indigenous film office to be funded by all the major broadcast partners. At a packed breakfast session, Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission chair Jean-Pierre Blais scolded his audience in what amounted to a farewell address as his five-year term ended Friday. Advertisement Facebook He called for more independence and longer terms for future top leaders at the CRTC. He praised Atwood, describing her as “a very active consultant” on the project. The second season will take the story beyond Atwood’s bestselling novel. By Bill Brioux – a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont. Advertisement The sticking point is the availability of showrunner Noah Hawley, who is busy with the FX series “Legion” and several other projects. “Every engagement with Margaret, something wonderful comes out of it,” he said. Littlefield is also an executive producer of “Fargo.” The drama, based on the Coen brothers’ film, is shot in Calgary. With the Season 3 finale airing next week on FX Canada, Littlefield said he hopes there will be a fourth season. Jean-Pierre Blais LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Blais lashed out at what he saw as government interference, particularly during the debate a few years ago over a “Netflix tax.” Minister of Heritage Melanie Joly also came under fire as Blais urged her to issue her long-awaited report on the government’s role in supporting Canadian content creation.
Advertisement Advertisement The film’s producer J. Miles Dale reveals why Toronto has become the helmer’s home base and what del Toro might be working on next.The Baltimore of 1962 is meticulously re-created in Guillermo del Toro’s multi-Oscar-nominated sci-fi romance, The Shape of Water. From an iconic, neon-lit diner to an ornate movie theater, the film revels in Americana from another age, making the fact that it was shot in and around Toronto all the more impressive. The film marks del Toro’s third collaboration with producer — and Toronto native J. Miles Dale and is the director’s fourth consecutive feature to be shot in Canada. Dale talked to THR about why the Mexican auteur now calls Toronto home and the Oscar odds for Shape of Water.Toronto hosted shoots for earlier Oscar best picture winners like Chicago and Spotlight. What’s different with The Shape of Water? LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures Facebook Advertisement With Chicago, there were no Canadian designers on that. And even Spotlight, it wasn’t a heavy design movie. On The Shape of Water, other than the cinematographer and a couple of special effects and makeup artists, every single person from the production and costume designers, the sound team, the editor — they’re all Canadian. It tells the world: “We can play with anybody now. Our top people are right up there. You don’t have to go anywhere else.”Does that mean you and del Toro will make all your future movies in Toronto?The script will always tell you what it needs to be. If you need to do something on a mountain, you can’t do that here. If you’re stranded in the Pacific, you can’t do that here. Twitter
Twitter Facebook Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Veteran choreographer Christopher House mixes new work like Martingales with majorly reworked pieces from the past half-century. For many arts fans across this country, the name Christopher House is synonymous with Toronto Dance Theatre. And that’s as it should be. The national arts icon has spent most of his life, the past four decades, with the company—first as a performer, then as a choreographer in residence, and then as artistic director, a role he’s held since 1994.So House is well-positioned to help the company celebrate its 50th anniversary. But when it came time to mark the occasion, the dance innovator was not about to do a straight-up remounting of all his best pieces over the decades.“The founders of the company planted some very powerful seeds: they really engaged in collaboration, in creating new work, and in developing a strong group of dancers,” reflects the choreographer, who was recently named to the Order of Canada, speaking over the phone from his company’s historic Cabbagetown headquarters. “Then maybe in the second 25 years it was about me needing to be learning something new and really following my curiosity. At the same time, a more limited definition of contemporary dance has withered away; most people making dance think of themselves as broader artists now. So things have gotten way more stimulating. And that’s one thing this program reflects.” Advertisement Advertisement Login/Register With:
A 38-year-old Cirque du Soleil performer died after falling during a Saturday evening performance in Tampa, Fla., the Canadian entertainment company announced Sunday. In 2013, acrobat Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after falling more than 30 metres during a show in Las Vegas. Advertisement He was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries. Advertisement The company’s president described Arnaud as an experienced aerialist who was well-loved by his peers. The Montreal-based entertainment group said that French aerialist Yann Arnaud fell to the stage while performing an aerial straps number during a performance of the company’s VOLTA show. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment “Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him.” Advertisement While accidents are rare, it’s not the first time that a Cirque du Soleil artist has died during a show. “In a case like this, the human element trumps the financial aspect. We have to give priority to employees.” “I explained to them that the show wouldn’t restart until the whole team feels able to start back,” he said, adding that psychologists had been sent to the site. Reached by phone, Lamarre said the group was offering support to its employees, many of whom are devastated by Arnaud’s death. Cirque du Soleil cancelled its two Sunday performances and has said it is working with investigators. Login/Register With: “The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” Daniel Lamarre said in a statement. Facebook Twitter
Advertisement “The Showrunner has all the drama of All About Eve and the attention to detail of The Devil Wears Prada. Moritsugu nails the California sun-drenched anorexic ethos. She rivals Nathaniel West’s fabulous descriptions of Hollywood where the hopefuls become twisted by their own ambitions.”– Catherine Gildiner, bestselling author of Too Close to the Falls and Coming Ashore“I am addicted to Kim Moritsugu’s writing. I love her clever wit, her quick, light pacing, her chick lit that’s written with flawless literary skill. The Showrunner is my favourite of her books yet … the plot is so delicious.” – Robin Spano, author of the Clare Vengel Undercover novelsTORONTO – White Pine Pictures has secured the rights to the next novel by Toronto author Kim Moritsugu with assistance from the OMDC From Page to Screen Program. The darkly humorous novel was optioned from independent book publisher Dundurn Press and is a work of suspense fiction set in contemporary Los Angeles about three strong-willed women: two co-creators of a hit TV show locked in a battle to destroy each other, and the actress who comes between them. This is the first novel by Moritsugu to be optioned and the intent is to develop the property into a scripted television series. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement V.P. Scripted Development at White Pine Pictures, Karynn Austin was drawn to the novel’s spot-on portrayal of inside Hollywood and its quick writing: “I could instantly see this being adapted into a riveting dark TV drama that would take viewers behind the curtain of the industry, while also engaging them with relationship-based storylines of strong leading women; something we’re finally seeing come to the forefront of production.”Author Kim Moritsugu was born and raised in Toronto and holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Toronto. The Showrunner, set to be published in June 2018, is her seventh novel to-date. Previous works include the romantic comedy Looks Perfect (shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award), the domestic comedy Old Flames, the literary mystery The Glenwood Treasure (shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best Crime Novel Award), the domestic novel The Restoration of Emily (serialized on CBC Radio’s Between the Covers), the Rapid Reads short novel And Everything Nice, and The Oakdale Dinner Club.White Pine Pictures is the producer of the award-winning TV dramas The Border (38 x 1hr) and Cracked (21 x 1hr) and are in development with CBC on a dramatic series penned by Drew Hayden Taylor in addition to four new documentary projects slated to release in 2018, including a feature length film about rock ‘n roll legend Robbie Robertson..About White Pine PicturesWhite Pine Pictures is an independent Canadian film, television, and new media production company based in Toronto, Canada. Headed by award-winning filmmaker, Peter Raymont, the company has produced over 100 films, including the Emmy award-winning feature documentary Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, two Oscar-shortlisted features: A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman, and Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould. White Pine is also the producer of the award-winning TV drama series The Border (38 episodes), and Cracked (21 episodes) created for the CBC and sold worldwide including France, Germany, and the USA. www.whitepinepictures.comAbout Dundurn PressDundurn Press was founded in 1972 by Kirk Howard. At first a small publisher of Canadian non-fiction, Dundurn has, in its 45 years to date, grown and changed along with Canada. Over the years it acquired twelve other distinguished Canadian publishers, keeping hundreds of Canadian titles in print and expanding the company’s publishing program into new areas. In 2014, Dundurn formed new partnerships with the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History and the Commonwealth Foundation. Dundurn was a founding member, in 2015, of the Commonwealth Book Publishers Association, which provides a strong voice to authors and publishers in the 52 countries of the Commonwealth.About OMDC From Page to ScreenThe OMDC From Page to Screen event has been created to promote the adaptation of Canadian fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature published by Ontario publishers to the big and small screens. It provides a forum for Ontario film and television producers to meet with publishers in scheduled, one-on-one meetings. Advertisement Login/Register With: Facebook Twitter
Facebook Advertisement By Raju Mudhar Twitter His act often mixes live sampling and beatboxing, along with plenty of punchlines.He’s definitely a polymath, who is also an actor, and currently the bandleader on The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS. Reggie Watts performs at the Sony Centre on Sept. 29. (VIA JFL42.COM) “Maybe some people go, ‘He’s a comedian,’ but now that I do The Late Late Show, ‘He’s also a musician.’“Ultimately it just comes down to, ‘Oh this person is just a creative person,’ and could do comedy, could do music, could do theatre, could do videos, could do whatever,” he says.“But also, I just like it when people are confused and surprised. Look, it is continually a surprise to me: ‘Oh wow, this works.’ Like it gets you places.”One of the biggest changes for Watts in taking The Late Late Show gig has meant he has stopped constantly touring — resulting in a physical transformation. He has lost more than 60 pounds and packed on 20 pounds of muscle.“It’s a goal I had for a very long time and just because of touring, it was very difficult to achieve it on a willpower front. But I took the gig for The Late Late Show, and half the reason I took that gig was that I wouldn’t have an excuse to really not be in shape anymore,” he says.“It’s great to accomplish that goal, it was something I wanted to do for a very, very long time.”Watts says he’s currently shopping another comedy special. Asked about the state of the standup industry, he sees good and bad in the platforms that are focusing on it.“It’s interesting, because Netflix has triggered a response in a few other entities, as far as buying comedy specials, like in Amazon and Apple, and Hulu and a few others.“They continue to do what they do with their original programming, which is just put out as much as possible. Like, it’s great having a lot of standup specials, but when you have a glut, sometimes it can be confusing. At the same time, it’s nice to see a lot of voices getting out there. It’s a weird time.”He likes the fact that there is more diversity in comedians. One of his favourites: Baroness Von Sketch, the lauded all-female troupe on CBC.“I think they are great. The world that they see is through their lens, in a specific way that’s refreshing because no one else has that voice,” he says.You could say the exact same thing about him. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Login/Register With: There is a small club of people who get the chance to be a bandleader on a late-night talk show. But among them, Reggie Watts is probably the most unique.Watts, who comes to town as one of the headliners on Sept. 29 as part of the JFL42 comedy festival, is obviously very musical.But he has also been working as a comedian for years, mining what he variously describes as an “absurd,” “nerdy” and “silly” vein of comedy. He appeared for years on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast and TV show, and recently recorded and released an electronic music album in collaboration with John Tejada, under the band name Wajatta.It’s that project that has him excited to try out something cutting edge for what’s he doing next.“I am getting ready for a music video for my music project, which I did with John Tejada. We’re shooting it in Intel’s large-scale volumetric capture lab, which you can just go in and move around, and it’s all captured, and turned into whatever (augmented or virtual reality) you want it to. So we’re going to make the first music video using that technology.”Watts first hit some Toronto fans’ radar in 2010, when he opened at Massey Hall for Conan O’Brien, when the latter left NBC’s Tonight Show on bad terms and went on his Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.But the musical nature of much of what he does has meant you may have seen him here on a North by Northeast festival stage or as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival.Now he’s a JFL42 headliner performing on Saturday at the Sony Centre — and being interviewed about his distinctive sort of creativity earlier that day as part of the festival’s parallel ComedyCon lineup of chats and podcast tapings.Watts says he has got to the point where his mix of music and comedy doesn’t have to be explained to the audience as it once was, and his continued success shows that it is working. Advertisement
APTN National NewsSenator Dennis Patterson, Nunavut’s representative in the upper house of Parliament, is calling out non-profit groups operating in the North.In a statement on the Senate floor, the Conservative senator says that non-profits have too much influence on events in Nunavut, and questions their commitment to Canada when they may have numerous foreign backers.APTN National News reporter Kent Driscoll takes a close look at Patterson’s statement, and asks the question: if we’re going to talk about influence in the North, shouldn’t we be talking about energy companies as well?
APTN National NewsThe commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police has taken to YouTube to defend his department’s handling of the Idle No More movement in light of criticism thrown at it by the courts and media.Ontario’s top cop said it’s important to understand the overall strategy and that First Nations hold a lot of the power.“First Nations have the ability to paralyze this country by shutting down travel and trade routes,” said Chris Lewis in the video posted Tuesday morning. “It is a difficult situation no matter how we view or address it.”Lewis said there have been more than 60 demonstrations to date under the Idle No More banner and there hasn’t been a report of a single injury to a protestor, member of the public or officer.The OPP was criticized last week by Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown after failing to respond to a court injunction in Tyendinaga where a small group of Mohawks shutdown the Via Rail line for seven hours.Justice Brown also slammed police in Sarnia for not acting on two injunctions he issued to have a blockade removed there. In both cases, the protestors removed the blockade and police refused to move in on them.In Tyendinaga, the OPP said it was “too dangerous” to respond to the injunction. The protestors said they made the right choice because if they had they would have stayed longer and if they would have tried to make arrests there would have been a fight.Lewis said arrests will be made after the protests if warranted. Police told Tyendinaga protestors they were under investigation for mischief.“These concepts and strategies developed from experience, hard work and common sense are difficult and complex to explain to the general public,” said Lewis.
(Screen grab from Dominic Gagnon’s film, of the North)Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsAn experimental documentary made entirely of found online videos depicting northern Indigenous peoples produced by a Quebec filmmaker is triggering outrage from a top Inuit artist who says the work is a “racist” reinforcement of stereotypes.The 74-minute film, of the North, by Dominic Gagnon is a compilation of YouTube and porn videos depicting circumpolar peoples, including a large number of Inuit from Nunavut and Northern Quebec. The images are set against a wide-variety of music, including from internationally renowned artist Tanya Tagaq who has threatened legal action over the use of her work in the film.“This one-sided, racist slight propagating violence and actual violence…disgusts me. I am fully out for blood,” said Tagaq, in an interview Tuesday with APTN National News. “I am an artist and, I am sorry, his art sucks. I do more than disrespect him, I discredit him with everything I have in my body.”Tagaq is an internationally acclaimed artist whose last album, Animism, won the 2014 Polaris prize. Her throat-singing is also featured in the Matthew Barney art film, Drawing Restraint 9, which is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.Tagaq’s legal representative has issued a cease and desist order against Gagnon over the use of her music which is now being removed from the film.Tanya Tagaq during a New York performance in January 2015. Photo courtesy of SixShooter RecordsThe images of Gagnon’s film alternate between snapshots of Arctic landscape, industrial machinery, military exercises, inebriated Inuit men vomiting, children playing and pornographic scenes of women, including that of a vagina that cuts into a video of someone trimming the hairs off a dog’s tail.“I made this film with love,” said Gagnon, who used money from Quebec’s arts council to make the film. “Now I am being bashed because I am a man and I am white. I am only a young man who lives on his own, in his own studio and I don’t see where the privilege comes.”Gagnon, who has never been to an Inuit community, says the film is part of a longer project based on the four directions and continues an exploration of his previous work drawn from online videos people post of themselves. Gagnon has similar work using YouTube videos to create films about teenagers talking about the end of the world and “redneck” Americans discussing conspiracy theories.“I am making a film about people who film themselves, not the people,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be objective…but lets the viewer free, more like jazz, a free association of images. It is almost an unrealistic piece.”Tagaq said she couldn’t finish watching the film because it made her physically ill.“I couldn’t even watch it, I started weeping, it was triggering,” said Tagaq. “It is these kinds of situations that lead to direct violence when you emit a disparaging sentiment for an entire race of people…it is giving people permission to be racist and a whole bunch of losers are going to take up on that….It is dangerous for me, it is dangerous for my daughter. This is unacceptable.”Dominic GagnonStephen Puskas, an Inuk producer for Montreal radio show Nipivut, also said he was made ill by the film.“I couldn’t sit through the entire film. I felt physically ill….I felt that I was either going to cry or get sick. I only slept four hours last night and I have to force myself to eat because I lost my appetite,” said Puskas. “It just seemed to get worse and worse.”Puskas said the film is an aesthetic failure spawned by ignorance.“This film is ignorant about a race of people. I think it is the definition of racism and I don’t use that word lightly,” he said. “I think this is a racist film and I think it perpetrates negative stereotypes of Inuit, it perpetrates ignorance and miseducation about Inuit and it doesn’t provide any productive argument.”Puskas has been phoning film festivals that plan to show Gagnon’s film and urging them to pull the work. The Gatineau, Que., film festival Daimon told APTN Tuesday it was pulling the film over concerns it used Tagaq’s music without permission.Gagnon said he is not a racist and has Indigenous ancestry in his family tree.“I am calling for the right to make a specific film about specific issues. They would like to make a generalist film to show more positive things. This is not what I wanted, I wanted to make something extremely precise and I did it. I feel we have a right to be specific about a specific,” he said. “I make my film more like a sculpture, my piece of wood I wanted to carve from 500 hours of footage online that is publicly available for everyone to see.”Gagnon said he wept at one point making the film and is disappointed by Tagaq’s reaction to his work.“I was thinking she could understand and see some value in this project and again I am really sorry she is so offended, but I am an artist too and artists are not there to please. Maybe we are not on the same path,” said Gagnon.Tagaq said Gagnon is no artist, but a “hack” who has used “sensationalism” to draw notoriety where talent has failed.“Number one, he has never been up there and, number two, it is not his place to discredit an entire race,” said Tagaq. “It is sensationalism at its best.”firstname.lastname@example.org@JorgeBarrera
Nation to NationAn anticipated announcement from the federal Liberal government on a national inquiry into the disproportionately high number of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls is expected by July 6, Nation to Nation has learned.Much remains to be revealed about the inquiry including its start date, commissioners, mandate and length. Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett has said she expected to hold the inquiry’s announcement before the end of the spring House of Commons session which ended June 17.The announcement on the inquiry is now expected between June 30 and July 6, according to sources.U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to address MPs and Senators in the Chamber on June 29.The Justin Trudeau government released a report in late May on its 17 pre-inquiry consultation meetings with about 2,000 people including families of the murdered and the missing, survivors of violence, women’s organizations, provincial and territorial officials and academics.The report said the consultations resulted in a number of key points that are expected to influence the inquiry’s operation and mandate.There was a desire the inquiry’s leadership represent the diversity of Indigenous communities and regions and follow a timetable sensitive to the needs of survivors and their families, the report said.The consultations also heard a strong desire for the inquiry to embrace a broad scope that would include a wide array of individuals and organizations, including families, front-line workers and Indigenous leaders, according to the report. There were also voices calling for the inquiry to include violence against LGBT and two spirited people, the report said.There were also calls for the inquiry to blend the spiritual into its make up in a way proportional to the diversity of the voices who will ultimately determine its outcome, the report said.Nation2Nation@aptn.ca@Nation2Nation
Danielle Rochette APTN National NewsThey’re calling it leadership training.It’s about working, managing money and building self-esteem.A small group of Inuit women are taking part in the seminars in Montreal.
Kent Driscoll APTN National NewsA study recently confirmed what most living in the North already knew.Infants in Nunavut and Nunavik suffer from the worst rates of respiratory disease in the world.The reason? Well, the same information has been published for years.APTN went to ask Nunavut’s health department if they’ve known what the problem is for so long, why has so little changed.
Chris StewartAPTN National NewsMany lessons were learned from the Fort McMurray fire last year.It’s known as the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history and should it happen again, communities in the area now feel they’re better prepared.
Annette FrancisAPTN National NewsSylvia Maracle, Jordan Tootoo, Tom Jackson and Jacqueline Guest were just four of the big names who were at Rideau Hall receiving various honours on Monday.A total of 29 people were honoured in various ways for their efforts advancing Indigenous issues.ORDER OF CANADASylvia Maracle, O.C.Toronto, OntarioOfficer of the Order of CanadaSylvia Maracle has been a leader in shaping the urban Indigenous experience in Canada. As the executive director of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, she has transformed the organization from a handful of reception hubs for migrating Indigenous peoples into more than two dozen culturally grounded centres of community building. An in-demand consultant, speaker, social activist and cultural-based practitioner, she is actively involved in diverse initiatives supporting the well-being of Indigenous peoples across Canada.Gord Downie, C.M.Toronto, OntarioMember of the Order of CanadaFor over 30 years, Gord Downie has been the frontman for The Tragically Hip and is considered one of Canada’s most beloved artists. He is renowned for his memorable performances, his songwriting and his lyrical references that create a sense of what it is like to love, and live in, this country. His charitable contributions and social activism continue to have a significant impact. He is devoted to promoting dialogue, raising awareness of the history of residential schools and moving the country along the path to reconciliation.Jacqueline Guest, C.M.Bragg Creek, AlbertaMember of the Order of CanadaJacqueline Guest has been a staunch advocate of youth and adult literacy in Canada and abroad. An author with strong Métis roots, she has penned numerous novels that have inspired a love of reading among children and teenagers while showcasing Indigenous culture and teaching readers to overcome obstacles. Over the course of her career, she has also served as a guest speaker and educator in Canadian, American and Tanzanian schools and libraries, where she has promoted literacy and emphasized the importance of storytelling in Canadian history.MERITORIOUS SERVICE DECORATIONS (CIVIL DIVISION)Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, M.S.C.Iqaluit, NunavutMeritorious Service Cross (Civil Division)The founder of Unikkaat Studio Inc., Alethea Arnaquq-Baril inspires Inuit communities to reconnect with their ancestral values and lost traditions through her many films. Considered one of Canada’s top female directors, she uses her films to document the Inuit language and culture in communities throughout Nunavut.J. Wilton Littlechild, C.M., A.O.E., M.S.C, Q.C.Hobbema, AlbertaThe Honourable Murray Sinclair, M.S.C.Winnipeg, ManitobaMarie Wilson, C.M., M.S.C.Yellowknife, Northwest TerritoriesMeritorious Service Cross (Civil Division)Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson shouldered the responsibility for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada with fortitude, compassion and perseverance. Over six years, they led the examination of the Indian Residential School system, combing through myriad documents and witnessing the courage of survivors who shared their stories. Their final report invites all Canadians to confront the inequities of the past, and calls on governments and individuals alike to move forward, with greater understanding, towards reconciliation.The Meritorious Service Cross awarded to the Honourable Murray Sinclair will be presented to him at a later date.Stanley Vollant, C.Q., M.S.C.Pessamit, QuebecMeritorious Service Cross (Civil Division)To promote Indigenous cultural heritage, Dr. Stanley Vollant set out on the Innu Meshkenu(My Innu Path), a 6 000-km walk that passed through Indigenous communities across eastern Canada. This initiative inspired a multitude of Indigenous and non-Indigenous walkers to join him, but more than that, it encouraged an entire generation of young people to stay in school and pursue their dreams.Elder John Elliott, M.S.M.Victoria, British ColumbiaElder Elmer Seniemten George, M.S.M.Brantwood Bay, British ColumbiaMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)Elder John Elliott and Elder Elmer Seniemten George translated the Douglas Treaties of themid-1850s into the Lekwungen and SENĆOŦEN First Nation languages. Their translation sheds light on the lack of understanding that existed between Colonialists and First Nations when the treaties were first signed. It also provides a foundation for reconciliation and lasting relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians of today.Hovak Johnston, M.S.M.Yellowknife, Northwest TerritoriesMarjorie Tahbone, M.S.M.Nome, Alaska, United States of AmericaMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)Hovak Johnston and Marjorie Tahbone created the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project tore-establish an Inuit art form that was on the verge of being lost. Traditionally, tattoos were given to women by women as a rite of passage and to represent their family’s heritage. The project’s first six-day event in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, reconnected more than two dozen women with their culture and inspired a new generation to carry on this tradition.The Meritorious Service Medal awarded to Marjorie Tahbone will be presented to her at a later date.Tina Keeper, O.M., M.S.M.André Lewis, M.S.M.Mary Richard, O.M., M.S.M. (posthumous)Winnipeg, ManitobaMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)Fulfilling the vision of the late Mary Richard, Tina Keeper and André Lewis producedGoing Home Star–Truth and Reconciliation. Performed across the country by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, it tells the story of a young Aboriginal couple confronting a painful past. Harnessing a traditional European art form to connect with First Nations’ culture, this emotional production sheds light on the significant impact of residential schools on our history and helps to establish new relationships among Canadians.The Meritorious Service Medal awarded to the late Mary Richard will be presented to her granddaughter, Ms. Ashley Richard.William MacLeod, M.S.M.Mistissini, QuebecMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)William MacLeod is a leader in economic development for northern Quebec. In a single decade, he made the Cree Construction and Development Company one of the top construction companies in Quebec. His economic achievements have since inspired Cree youth, motivating them to take on leadership roles in their communities while remaining true to their roots.Meikaleigh McDonald, M.S.M.Fort Smith, Northwest TerritoriesMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)Meikaleigh McDonald competed in 10 Arctic Winter Games (AWG), where she won numerous medals and set records in the Alaskan high kick and the triple jump. Now a member of theAWG International Committee, she continues to promote traditional sports in northern Canada and abroad, inspiring a new generation of athletes and helping to reconnect northern youth to their culture, their elders and their community.Julie Pellissier-Lush, M.S.M.Summerside, Prince Edward IslandMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)Founding member of the Mi’kmaq Legends theatre troupe, Julie Pellissier-Lush preserves the legends of her ancestors through her work as a writer, actress and mentor to young performers. Dubbed the “Mama Bear” of the group by her fellow cast members, she is the glue that holds them together as they combine drama, storytelling, music and dance to share tales of the past with today’s youth.Percy Sacobie, M.S.M.Fredericton, New BrunswickMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)Percy Sacobie built the Take a Break Lodge, a sweat lodge on St. Mary’s First Nation, to help people on their journey to recovery from mental illness and addiction. Having experienced the benefits of the traditional sweat ceremony himself, he wanted to give the greater Fredericton community access to a safe and welcoming place to practice self-reflection, to reconnect spiritually and to recover from their ailments.Jordin Tootoo, M.S.M.Coquitlam, British ColumbiaMeritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)Jordin Tootoo uses his star power as an NHL hockey player to promote healthy lifestyles in Canada’s North. Through the Team Tootoo Fund, he encourages conversations about addiction and suicide, and inspires youth to stay in school and pursue their dreams.POLAR MEDALAnn Maje RaiderWatson Lake, YukonAnn Raider has demonstrated exemplary dedication to community healing and enhanced safety. As the executive director of the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society (LAWS), she was instrumental in the creation of the Together for Justice community safety protocol which, in collaboration with the RCMP, established a framework that profoundly strengthened community-police relations in Watson Lake, Yukon. This protocol has since been adopted by communities throughout northern Canada and has achieved similar successful outcomes.Darlene ScurveyWhitehorse, YukonAs an early childhood educator at the Duska’a Head Start Family Learning Centre,Darlene Scurvey actively promotes the preservation of traditional language and culture. With the assistance of elders, she provides preschool-age children with a range of culturally relevant learning experiences that incorporate social interaction and language instruction.SOVEREIGN’S MEDAL FOR VOLUNTEERSBarbara BernardScotchfort, Prince Edward IslandA community builder and organizer, Barbara Bernard has served nearly a decade with the Aboriginal Women’s Association of Prince Edward Island, and has generously shared her knowledge and teachings with young people from across the province.Pauline BuschFort Qu’Appelle, SaskatchewanPresident of the Aboriginal Women of Manitoba for 10 years, Pauline Busch championed several important initiatives to eliminate family violence and crimes against Indigenous women and girls. She has also demonstrated a passionate commitment to restorative justice through her involvement with Indian Residential Schools Resolutions Canada.Anita CampbellThompson, ManitobaA dedicated supporter of the Métis people, Anita Campbell has worked with the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Métis Women of Manitoba for several years. She has helped to deliver vital services and programs to members of her community and has inspired others to follow in her footsteps.William CranmerAlert Bay, British ColumbiaDedicated to the preservation of Indigenous culture, Chief Bill Cranmer was instrumental in repatriating potlatch artifacts that were confiscated by the Canadian government in the 1920s, and in founding two cultural centres in British Columbia to preserve and exhibit these sacred items.Pamela Glode-DesrochersHalifax, Nova ScotiaPamela Glode-Desrochers is the executive director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre. She has worked for 40 years to reduce poverty and crime, and to promote the personal and community well-being of Halifax’s urban Aboriginal population.Daryl Dancing Buffalo KootenayMorley, AlbertaDarryl Kootenay has rapidly become a leading force for change in the world through his work with such organizations as Canada World Youth and Canada Bridges. He is also committed to helping youth in his own community, and is noted for founding the first Stoney Nakoda Youth Council.Jarret LeamanToronto, OntarioA dynamic volunteer and community leader, Jarret Leaman has generously given of his time to numerous causes in support of Indigenous youth, entrepreneurs and LGBTQ issues.Opolahsomuwehs Imelda PerleyFredericton, New BrunswickTeacher and Maliseet speaker Imelda Perley has committed much of her time to teaching language, storytelling and other traditions in Indigenous communities. Her efforts have fostered greater understanding and tolerance among the citizens of St. Mary’s, Kingclear and Tobique.Odelle PikeStephenville, Newfoundland and LabradorA prominent advocate for Indigenous women and seniors, Odelle Pike has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of her people through her involvement with numerous provincial organizations, including the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network and the Newfoundland Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.Marilyn SarkLennox Island, Prince Edward IslandMarilyn Sark has dedicated her life to supporting Indigenous communities in Prince Edward Island by taking on several leadership positions, notably with the Aboriginal Nurses’ Association of Canada and the Aboriginal Women’s Association of PEI. She has also brought essential health servicList and description courtesy Rideau Hall
Ashley Brandson, Martha Troian APTN News When the RCMP announced in 2014 that they had compiled a list of 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, it marked the first time such a comprehensive police report dedicated to the tragedy had ever been completed.Almost 5 years later, the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls has only continued to climb but there are no plans for another study.“I think this country is not fully acknowledging what is going on to do with Indigenous women and girls,” said Sheila North, an advocate and a former grand chief of a Manitoba political organization.“There should be a way to keep track of what’s going on because the longer that we deny the truth, the longer it’s going to take to fix what’s going on.”Despite this, it’s unlikely that another major statistical report dealing with the tragedy will be conducted, let alone an active database to track every case.RCMP report a ‘special project’Initiated in 2013 by the RCMP, the national police service worked in conjunction with 300 policing agencies and Statistics Canada to create the report, ‘‘Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview.’The report revealed 1,017 homicide victims and 164 missing Indigenous women and girls spanning from 1980 to 2012.It also showed that Indigenous women and girls were more prone to violent deaths compared to non-Indigenous women, and similar to other female homicides, most victims knew their perpetrators and most homicides were committed by men.Read: 1,186 murdered and missing women over past 30 years: RCMP(Janice Armstrong, the RCMP’s deputy commissioner for contract and Aboriginal policing announcing the RCMP-led report in May 2014)It was seen as a ground breaking report and garnered national attention.However, in an email statement Cpl. Caroline Duval with the RCMP National Communications Services wrote, “The 2014 Overview was a special project” and that “The RCMP is not mandated nor funded to conduct statistical research of this kind” and stated further data on homicides of Indigenous women to consult Statistics Canada.(Lorilee Francis is just one case from the RCMP’s Canada’s Missing site. Francis was 23 years old when she went missing from Grand Prairie, Alta., in October 2007. Photo: Canadasmissing.ca)As for Statistics Canada there are no immediate plans to undertake another study with the RCMP or any other enforcement agency, according to communications officer Fabrice Mosseray.Definitive number difficult to determineBetty Rourke, a family member who lost both her daughter and sister to murder, thinks the RCMP and other policing agencies should invest in another major report.(Betty Rourke in her Selkirk, Manitoba home. Rourke said her daughter Jennifer McPherson was the sweetest thing and would never say anything bad about anybody. Photo: Martha Troian/APTN)“They’re the ones that get the case, they’re the ones that are called immediately. If they have funds for anything else, why can’t they have funds for this?” said Rourke.“We need to remember these women and girls, we can’t forget them.”Rourke also feels it’s important to know the precise number of cases.Francyn Joe, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada believes the number of cases was always higher than the RCMP count.In an email statement Joe wrote, “They say a lot of crime goes unreported, Indigenous identity may be unknown and historically cases weren’t always taken seriously by police.”Though the organization once researched and maintained a database of cases in its Sister in Spirit initiative, Joe confirmed that’s no longer the case.An inquiry, yet no one keeping trackThe national inquiry into missing and murdered women and girls cannot provide a clear number either.“It’s difficult to come to a definitive number of MMIWG in Canada, as police services across the country have different methods of identifying who’s Indigenous, or who is murdered and missing,” said communications lead Catherine Kloczkowski.(Commissioners at the institutional hearings on police policies and practices in June 2018 in Regina, Saskatchewan)After years of not being on former Conservative leader Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s radar, in December 2015 the Liberal government finally launched a national inquiry.Led by four commissioners, the inquiry has gathered more than 2,300 statements from family members and survivors of violence since March 2017.(The AFN asserts we need better data collection and analysis when it comes to violence against Indigenous women and girls)The Assembly of First Nations are also not maintaining a national database.In an email statement National Chief Perry Bellegarde with the Assembly of First Nations wrote, “Law enforcement agencies across the country must develop coordinated and reliable methods of data collection respectful of women, girls, LGBTQ2S and all First Nations.”Outside the RCMP numbers, many advocates have suggested the number can be as high as 3,000 to 4,000 cases.MMIWG Inquiry report due next monthIn April, the inquiry will be releasing its long-awaited final report.In November 2017, the inquiry released its interim report citing a national police task force to be able to reopen cases especially for family members who might feel dissatisfied with the level of investigation into their loved one’s case.Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba is just one community grappling not only from multiple cases, APTN confirmed 20 cases in total, but with many family members who have expressed police failure.Read: First Nation counts nearly two dozen missing and murdered women(Danielle Twoheart, 26, died after falling from a three-story balcony in the Caribbean in February 2019. Photo courtesy: Holly Twoheart)The latest case from Sagkeeng is that of Danielle Twoheart, a young Indigenous mother of two who died after falling from a balcony at an all-inclusive Dominican Republic resort.Based on a police report shared with the family, it was mentioned that Twoheart’s death was an accident, something the family disagrees with.Read: Grieving mother believes daughter’s death at Caribbean resort suspicious.“I hope that there is some glaring, obvious recommendations on how we can move forward,” said Sheila North about the inquiry’s upcoming final report.“What I would like to see come out of the report is that we, as a nation, find a way so that Indigenous women and girls are safe, and that they’re independent and self-sustaining.”email@example.com@aptnnews
MONTREAL – Jean Coutu fought back tears as he bid adieu to shareholders Wednesday after they approved the sale of the pharmacy chain he founded to Metro Inc. in a move that could pave the way for expansion beyond Quebec.“I gave my all, my best, in business and my profession,” the company founder said before choking up.Coutu, 90, said he will now devote his time and energy to helping the poor through a foundation established with his wife and family.The Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation, which has around $500 million in assets, has long helped projects to aid the poor, women, child abuse and fighting drug addiction.Coutu, who founded the pharmacy chain in 1969, said watching the network join another retailer was a bit like a mother watching her youngest child leave home.“You’re glad because you hope they’ll be a success but at the same time you feel a little sorrow,” he told reporters.A near-unanimous 99.9 per cent of votes cast sanctioned the $4.5-billion transaction, well above the two-thirds requirement.Shareholders of Jean Coutu (TSX:PJC.A) are being offered a combination of cash and stock worth about $24.50 per share. The Jean Coutu Group will appoint two members to Metro’s (TSX:MRU) board of directors.The deal announced nearly two months ago still requires Competition Bureau approval and is expected to close by March.Quebec’s second-largest pharmacy network, including Jean Coutu and Brunet, will operate as a separate division of the Metro, headed by Francois Coutu, son of the company founder.Francois Coutu expects the combination will open opportunities to expand in Ontario where Jean Coutu has just eight stores.“That is something we think we can exploit more than what we have done so far,” he said.But Coutu said the first step is to merge the pharmacy operations in Quebec and then see how the growth will extend to neighbouring provinces.Jean Coutu and Metro had casually discussed a deal for more than seven years, but only entered into detailed negotiations last spring.The vote Wednesday was all but a foregone conclusion since the Coutu family and affiliated entities which held 93 per cent of the voting rights, along with company directors and senior officers, agreed to vote in favour of the deal.The food and pharmacy industries have faced intensifying competition from other food retailers, Wal-Mart, Costco and Amazon’s entry in the grocery space with its purchase of Whole Foods.The proposed merger follows Loblaw Companies Ltd.’s (TSX:L) deal in 2014 to acquire Shoppers Drug Mart, which operates as Pharmaprix in Quebec.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia has kindled an explosion of spirit makers — there are now 16 in Canada’s second-smallest province — through attractive craft distillery policies and collaborations with local farmers.The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) said 12 of those distilleries have popped up in the last five years, producing rum, gin, vodka and other spirits in all corners of the province.Pierre Guevremont, co-owner of Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg, N.S., said Nova Scotia is a leader among provinces in terms of its policies for craft distilleries, along with B.C. and Saskatchewan.Guevremont said distilleries get favourable margins when selling through the NSLC, and an additional markup reduction when their tipples are made with entirely Nova Scotian agricultural products.“It encourages development in the local industry,” said Guevremont on Wednesday. “We most certainly are in the midst of a boom.”NSLC spokeswoman Beverley Ware said the annual craft distillery permit is only $500, on-site store permits are $100 and if the distillery has a tasting room, a hospitality permit costs $100.Ware said the province wanted to create policies that would encourage job creation in the sector, particularly in rural areas, and spur economic growth.“It’s certainly paying off,” said Ware. “They’re contributing to the local economies and they’re contributing to the economy overall of Nova Scotia. And they’re creating a wonderful reputation for Nova Scotia spirits.”She noted Glynnevan’s Double Barrelled Canadian Rye Whisky, made in Guysborough, N.S., is a two-time silver medallist at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.Guevremont’s boutique and micro distillery received a $159,748 repayable loan Wednesday from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to expand and modernize its production facility in the picturesque port town, home of the famed schooner Bluenose II.His range of products make use of the province’s agricultural bounty, buying 20,000 pounds of berries, 5,000 pounds of pears and 17,000 pounds of apples from local farmers each year for its liqueurs, brandy and vodka.Evan MacEachern, a partner at Nova Scotia Spirit Co., said the province’s distillery boom has allowed his two-year-old company to expand its operations in Trenton, N.S., to a larger facility in nearby Stellarton, with plans for a distillery, brewery, and restaurant.Nova Scotia Spirit Co. is one of a number of distilleries that have set up shop in the province’s rural areas, with aspirations for creating tourist destinations.“We want to create an experience. The craft breweries, wineries and distilleries — we’ve all helped create a culture where people want to come and tour our facilities and really experience the whole brand,” said MacEachern, whose company makes Blue Lobster Vodka, Fisherman’s Helper White Rum and Willing To Learn Gin.Guevremont said before the explosion of distilleries came the rise of craft breweries — of which there are now roughly 55 in the province — and before that a growth in wineries.“We’re really following along in the footsteps of those other two parts of the beverage alcohol business that have come before us,” said Guevremont, who said there were only roughly three distilleries in the province when he started Ironworks nine years ago.The Crown liquor corporation said Nova Scotians are enjoying craft spirits — sales were up 85.2 per cent during the second quarter of its fiscal year from July and October 2017, reeling in $1.6 million.Ware says local brands represent three per cent of overall spirit sales, “so there’s still plenty of room to accommodate growth and our policies are in place to support that.”
MENLO PARK, Calif. – Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently declared that artificial intelligence fueled by powerful computers was more important to humanity than fire or electricity. And yet the search giant increasingly faces a variety of messy people problems as well.The company has vowed to employ thousands of human checkers just to catch rogue YouTube posters, Russian bots and other purveyors of unsavoury content. It’s also on a buying spree to find office space for its burgeoning workforce in pricey Silicon Valley.For a company that built its success on using faceless algorithms to automate many human tasks, this focus on people presents something of a conundrum. Yet it’s also a necessary one as lawmakers ramp up the pressure on Google to deter foreign powers from abusing its platforms and its YouTube unit draws fire for offensive videos , particularly ones aimed at younger audiences.In the latest quarter alone, Google parent Alphabet Inc. added 2,009 workers, for a total of 80,110. Over the last three years, it hired a net 2,245 people per quarter on average. That’s nearly 173 per week, or 25 people per day.Some of the extra workers this year will be part of Google’s pledge to have 10,000 people across the company snooping out videos and other material that violate the company’s policies — but which computers can’t catch on their own. That program will lead to what Google calls “significant growth ” in personnel.Google will take on even more workers in the current quarter now that it has closed its $1.1 billion purchase of part of hardware maker HTC, bringing onboard the 2,000-plus engineers who worked on the Pixel smartphone line.On Thursday, Pichai spoke bullishly about content-checkers hiring, saying the investments now set the company up to capture growth in the future — in the same call with investors that he touted self-driving vehicles developed by Alphabet’s Waymo unit, which aim to do away with human drivers entirely.For instance, Pichai said he sees consumers increasingly watching YouTube videos on connected TVs in the living room, a lucrative segment of growth for the digital video advertising that helps power Google’s growth.After controversies over YouTube stars who made anti-Semitic comments or showed video of someone who had apparently died by suicide, Google has tightened its standards . It has limited which YouTube channels can serve up ads; vowed to manually review every video in its most popular channels for 18-to-34-year-olds; and will pay outside companies to ensure that brands don’t have their ads turn up next to unsuitable videos.“While there have been some concerns, we’re working really hard to address them and respond strongly,” Pichai said.Some analysts aren’t so sure. Collin Colburn, an analyst with market researcher Forrester, wonders how much of the recent changes are just window dressing at a company for whom hiring thousands of people amounts to little more than pocket change.“I wonder if it’s more of a move of optics rather than practicality,” Colburn said, noting Google’s “massive” double-digit revenue growth and cash hoard of $102 billion.Revenue at Google parent Alphabet rose 24 per cent from a year ago to $32.32 billion. After subtracting advertising commissions, revenue was $25.87 billion, exceeding Street forecasts of $25.65 billion. But the company swung to a $3 billion loss from a $5.33 billion profit a year earlier, reflecting the recent federal tax overhaul.Alphabet shares were down 2.3 per cent at $1,141.42 in after-hours trading.Google’s growing workforce has the company on a real-estate tear.It recently opened up offices in Austin, Texas; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Boulder, Colorado; and is planning to open offices in Detroit. It broke ground in November on a huge office building in the heart of London, home to its DeepMind artificial intelligence unit, that will come complete with a rooftop running track.Near its current headquarters, construction is underway on two futuristic dome-like structures infused with natural light, brimming with solar panels and set to open in late 2019. Google is negotiating with the city of Mountain View to add 10,000 housing units, many of which will likely be home to employees known as “Googlers.”Pichai said the company intends to hire “thousands of people across the U.S.” this year, build or open five new data centres, and make “significant investments” in nine states.