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National

Dozens injured aboard Air Canada flight after plane hits turbulence

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MONTREAL — Thirty people were sent to hospital with injuries after an Air Canada flight travelling from Toronto to Sydney, Australia, hit severe turbulence and was forced to divert to Honolulu.

Nine of those people were in serious condition, some suffering lacerations and injuries to their head, back and neck, emergency first responders in Hawaii said.

“Any time we get a call for an airline bringing in multiple injuries it makes our hearts beat a little faster, but we train for this kind of stuff and we were ready to respond,” Honolulu EMS Chief Dean Nakano said Thursday.

“There were 37 injuries. Thirty were transported. Twenty-one were deemed to be minor. Nine were serious. Seven of the passengers refused to be transported.”

Officials said the injured ranged from children to seniors and included some flight crew members.

Flight AC33 was about two hours past Hawaii over the Pacific Ocean early Thursday morning when “unforecasted and sudden turbulence” caused “minor injuries” for travellers and crew that triggered a turnaround, Air Canada said in an email.

Eyewitnesses described a gut-churning drop in altitude that slammed passengers and flight attendants into the ceiling.

Linda Woodhouse, an Albertan who is moving to Australia, said people had just begun to wake up and move around when the airplane experienced several seconds of minor turbulence. A few moments later, “the plane just dropped,” she said.

“The lady in front of me flew up to the ceiling, so I was trying to grab her and make sure she wasn’t injured,” she said in a phone interview from Honolulu airport.

Passengers getting up for the washroom and flight attendants starting to serve refreshments were violently knocked about, she said.

“Those individuals unfortunately flew up and hit the ceiling of the plane and dropped back down again.”

Woodhouse credits the crew and passengers with springing into action in the wake of the drop. Four passengers with medical training walked up and down the aisles, helping the injured and reporting their issues to the pilots and crew, who eventually decided to turn the plane back to Hawaii.

“There were some facial lacerations, so they put sterile strips on them,” she said. “There were a couple of people with head and neck injuries from flying up and hitting the ceiling.”

Woodhouse said Air Canada has told passengers they will spend the night in a hotel and will likely continue their journeys tomorrow. Despite the shock, she said she has no qualms about getting on the plane.

“It could have been a lot worse,” she said.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200 jetliner, had 269 passengers and 15 crew members on board who were greeted by medical personnel on arrival at Honolulu airport at 6:45 a.m. local time.

Jim Howe, director of Honolulu’s emergency services department, praised first responders and the plane’s crew for how they handled the emergency.

“I want to say to everyone involved, including the pilots and staff on the plane, congratulations on a job well done,” Howe said. 

“No lives lost. We are very pleased with the outcome.”

The airline said it is arranging hotel accommodations and meals for passengers in Honolulu as well as options for resumption of the flight.

“Our first priority is always the safety of our flights, passengers and crew,” Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said, noting the airline requested first responders before touchdown.

The turbulence happened at about 10,970 metres 966 kilometres southwest of Honolulu, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a tweet.

— with files from Morgan Lowrie

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly credited passenger comments to CBC.



Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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