Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Apr 7 2015, Page 12

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - April 7, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE B4 B 4 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2015 MANITOBA winnipegfreepress. com ALL of the approximately three dozen miners who sought safety in refuge areas after a fire broke out at the Thompson nickel mine returned to the surface Monday. Vale, which operates the mine, said the last eight miners who were waiting for rescue were let out of the mine Monday afternoon. The company said the fire broke out Sunday in a piece of remotely operated machinery about 850 metres underground. Thirty- nine workers in the mine moved to the refuge stations, and workers in another mine connected by a tunnel also took refuge as a precaution. “ We are able to report that all remaining employees who were in refuge stations have been released and have returned to surface,” Ryan Land, Vale’s manager of corporate affairs in Manitoba, said in a news release. “ We have confirmed that there were no injuries and we have accounted for all personnel.” The fire caused about $ 1 million in damage to equipment. Land said the fire started in a loader, called a load haul dump, which is used to clear areas before it’s safe for workers to enter. He said workers were alerted to the emergency by the release of “ stench gas,” which is purposely released into the mine’s air supply to notify everyone there’s trouble. The company said the workers in the adjoining mine were released Sunday night. But the ones in the mine where the fire occurred had to wait until Monday morning before the air quality was satisfactory and rescuers could release them. Land said the refuge areas have a sealed door, oxygen and supplies if the workers have to remain in them for an extended period. The company said the fire was contained to the machinery and a “ fire watch” was underway. Vale said the mine was expected to return to full production later Monday. “ We are reassured that our fire- and- rescue procedures worked and we achieved zero harm to our people, who will be returning safely to their homes and families today,” Land said. “ On average, a situation like this occurs once a year,” he said. “ Most people would have been involved in a situation like this before. We practise this,” he said, adding refuge stations are where staff go for lunch breaks. United Steelworkers Local 6166 did not respond to interview requests Monday. Land said the company and union will carry out a joint investigation of the fire. — The Canadian Press / staff M ISIPAWISTIK First Nation will turn parents, not their children, out of troubled homes under its new child- welfare policy. By making the change, the Cree community of about 1,100, located 430 kilometres north of Winnipeg, becomes the second First Nation in Manitoba to actively work to turn the tide on child apprehensions. Nisichawaysihk Cree Nation in Nelson House, a community of about 1,900, located 650 kilometres north of Winnipeg, rolled out a policy in 2002 of removing parents from homes, instead of kids, resulting in a 20 per cent drop in child apprehensions. In Misipawistik First Nation in Grand Rapids, the new policy took effect under a band council resolution March 17 and it applies only within reserve boundaries. It has yet to be acted on; procedures are still being developed to put it into practice. “ Each decision has to be decided on a case- bycase basis,” band councillor Heidi Cook said. “ But it is our intention that it will be all interventions. This is our preferred approach.” Workers with the local Child and Family Services agency have the authority to show parents the door and keep the kids in place under circumstances in which they would ordinarily apprehend the children and place them in foster homes, under the provincial law. “ Our next step is to work on the support systems,” Cook said. “ This is not to blame parents. We’re living with the intergenerational impacts of residential schools and Manitoba Hydro ( development).” The community believes it will work. “ This idea has been around for a long time, and it has worked in a couple of instances where we’ve tried it before on a voluntary basis,” Cook said. “ This ( concept) is coming from the people on the front lines, the people working with child and family.” Felix Walker, CEO of the Family Community Wellness Centre in Nelson House, said the key is to ensure services are available. “ We’re one of the few communities where our numbers are going down, while everybody else’s are going up. We provide services to keep children at home while working on services for parents outside the home,” Walker said. Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak welcomed the change. “ It will help break the intergenerational chain of trauma that most of our families are suffering from, and it will help empower extended families and their responsibilities to our young ones,” Nepinak wrote in an email Monday. “ Incidental to this is the renewal of community parenting and putting the rights of children and families first.” AMC announced after last week’s attack on a teenage girl, a ward of Child and Family Services, it would hire its own child advocate to work exclusively with First Nations, starting May 1. By the beginning of the year, there were nearly 11,000 kids in care in the province, most of them indigenous. In the latest case, a girl, 15, suffered head trauma during a beating in a downtown garage last Wednesday. A boy, 15, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated sexual assault. Both the victim and accused are in care, and were housed in the same downtown hotel at the time of the assault. Last August, Tina Fontaine, 15, was found dead after being slain. She, too, was a ward of CFS and was staying in a hotel. Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard called the Grand Rapids measure a “ positive first step,” and said while Manitobans may not know about Nelson House, their work is breaking important new ground. The numbers of children removed from family homes from 2013 to 2014 in Nelson House dropped by 20 per cent when off- reserve families were included, Gerrard said, citing provincial statistics. “ Imagine if the rest of the province had reduced the number of children in care by 20 per cent,” Gerrard said. “ Imagine what that would do to reduce pressure on foster homes and on kids in hotels.” alexandra. paul@ freepress. mb. ca Parents, not kids, to be removed ‘ Each decision has to be decided on a case- by- case basis. But it is our intention that it will be all interventions. This is our preferred approach’ — Misipawistik First Nation band councillor Heidi Cook First Nation changes child- welfare strategy By Alexandra Paul Underground fire probed at Vale’s Thompson mine A plan to test one of Manitoba’s smallest border crossings as a high- tech, remote- traveller centre has been delayed. The crossing at Piney in southeastern Manitoba is one of two ports involved in a Canada Border Services Agency pilot project that would see registered travellers talk to a screen instead of a border officer. The project was to begin this month, but has been delayed to the fall, CBSA spokeswoman Line Guibert- Wolff wrote in an email. Construction was delayed until this spring when the necessary groundwork may proceed, she said. Pre- registration has not started for travellers who wish to participate in the program, she added. Former public safety minister Vic Toews announced the pilot project two years ago. Toews said pre- screened travellers crossing into Manitoba after- hours — Piney is closed at night — would talk to a camera hooked up to the CBSA centre in Hamilton, Ont., through a two- way audio and one- way video kiosk, to get approval to continue. Toews said the goal of the program is to use technology to do the work more efficiently. Depending on its success, it could be expanded to as many as 19 other small border offices across Canada to make them 24- hour crossings. Piney was picked because it gets 24 vehicles on average during its regular 9 a. m. to 10 p. m. opening. Most often, these are people who live near the border and must cross it to work, shop, go to school or attend a community event. The other border crossing in the pilot project is the Morses Line border crossing in St- Armand, Que. Guibert- Wolff said the pilot projects at Piney and Morses Line are expected to cost $ 16 million. That includes costs associated with infrastructure and connectivity upgrades to the two sites and the Hamilton centre. It will be evaluated after one year to see if the program should be expanded. A CBSA report said the agency spent $ 48.8 million on capital improvements, maintenance and delivery of border services at Canada’s 60 small and remote border crossings, including the 12 in Manitoba, in 2012- 13. The border agency has doubled the number of officers who work at remote stations, increasing its operational costs. About 400 new permanent officers have been hired since 2006. “ Thus, the requirement to meet existing service levels and agency policies at small and remote ports of entry impedes the agency’s ability to achieve savings without the use of technology or closing ports of entry,” the September 2014 report said. Added to that is a CBSA plan to spend $ 99 million over the next five years to deal with infrastructure and officer health and safety issues at some remote crossings. The report said that according to a 2012 risk assessment, numerous health issues have been identified at small ports of entry, including high levels of radon gas, pests, inadequate electrical and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lack of potable water. Some locations don’t have adequate inspection areas that shelter officers from bad weather. “ The lack of infrastructure of some land ports ( e. g. camera systems and interview/ examination space) presents threats with respect to general safety and security of officers at these ports,” the report said. Seven small ports of entry are to be replaced this year. Manitoba’s 12 small and remote ports of entry have been rated fair to good. Some were recently upgraded. The Snowflake crossing on Highway 242 to North Dakota, just south of Pilot Mound, is the province’s oldest station. Built in 1952, its condition is considered good. bruce. owen@ freepress. mb. ca Automated border at Piney delayed Pilot program targets remote crossings By Bruce Owen JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Great Scot! A celebration of all things Scottish was held during Tartan Day at The Forks Monday. Ex- minister Vic Toews announced the Piney plan two years ago. MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES B_ 04_ Apr- 07- 15_ FP_ 01. indd B4 4/ 6/ 15 10: 22: 31 PM

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