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In today’s Morning Brief, we look at the federal government’s move today to designate two former residential schools as national historic sites. We also look at some of the challenges that teachers say they’re facing ahead of the resumption of classes in Ontario.

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Ottawa to name two former residential schools as national historic sites

The federal government is today formally recognizing one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history as an event of national significance and is designating two former residential schools as national historic sites.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, who is responsible for Parks Canada, will officially announce today the federal government is taking steps to mark the history of the residential school system. Wilkinson will designate Portage La Prairie Residential School in Manitoba and Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia as national historic sites.

Dorene Bernard, a Mi’kmaq from Sipekne’katik First Nation and a survivor of the residential school system, has waited a long time for this moment. Her grandmother, mother, father and siblings all went to the Shubenacadie Residential School. Bernard started attending in 1961 at the age of four.

Bernard said she saw her brother — with whom she wasn’t allowed to speak because girls and boys were separated — being beaten by a staff member. She jumped on the man to defend her brother and was slapped with a strap in return. 

Although these memories aren’t easy to talk about, Bernard said she wants to make sure that the ordeal experienced by Indigenous children at the schools is never forgotten. Designating her old school as a national historic site will help, she said.

Commemoration will also help remind Canadians that the residential schools existed, she said. Right now, there’s nothing at the site of the former Shubenacadie Residential School to indicate what it used to be. A plastics factory now stands in its place.

The building that housed the former Portage La Prairie Residential School in Manitoba is still standing. Long Plain First Nation acquired it in 1981. Once it’s declared a national historic site, the First Nation hopes to turn the building into a residential school museum, library and memorial garden, said Chief Dennis Meeches. “There will come a day when all of our survivors will have gone on. A national historic site — that designation is forever.” Read more on this story here.

Harley hearse

(Michael Probst/The Associated Press)

Joerg Grossmann drives his Harley-Davidson motorcycle fitted with a sidecar on a road near Anspach, Germany, on Monday. The 56-year-old Grossmann, who calls himself a chauffeur for the deceased, developed his motorbike hearse for diehard bikers who want a last ride to their final resting place.

In brief

Ontario students and parents aren’t the only ones with the jitters as classes are set to resume this month. Teachers say they’re facing a lot of unknowns as they head back to school due to the coronavirus pandemic. Doug Garlick, 61, has taught Grade 1 in the Durham District School Board. But this year, because of the danger the novel coronavirus poses to him due to his Crohn’s disease and diabetes, he’s teaching online. But like so many teachers in Ontario, he still doesn’t know what date classes will begin. He also doesn’t know what grade he’ll be teaching, or even how he’ll be teaching it. “We’re not sure what platform we’ll be using, what delivery method,” he told CBC News over the phone. “There are many of us that are pretty close to panic at this stage, just not knowing what’s going on.” Read more here on the resumption of school.

The speculation around Parliament Hill lately has been all about the possibility of a federal election, writes CBC parliamentary reporter Aaron Wherry. Such speculation is both a reflex and a popular pastime whenever a minority government is in power. But there’s an obvious alternative to running another election campaign just a year after the last one: the Liberals could work with one or more of the other parties not only to pass the throne speech but also the policies and programs it promises. With the Bloc Québécois threatening to move a motion of non-confidence against the government this fall unless Justin Trudeau resigns as prime minister, the Liberals seem to have one potential partner: the NDP. Read more analysis here.

U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday defended the gunman who opened fire during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis., last week, killing two people and wounding one, saying the shooter probably would have been killed himself. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, faces two charges of first degree homicide and one charge of attempted first degree homicide. Earlier Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Trump can’t condemn the violence because “for years he has fomented it.” Read more on this story here.

COVID-19 and the physical distancing that comes with it means that first aid training classes can no longer have students partner up to practise some of their skills on each other, so instructors are getting creative. St. John Ambulance, which is facing a financial crunch because of cancelled classes and events earlier in the pandemic, can’t afford to buy more expensive full-body mannequins as stand-ins. So they’re attaching pool noodles to torso-only mannequins, which are traditionally used to teach CPR, to serve as limbs. Each appendage was created out of two pieces of pool noodles, which were inserted into pantyhose to allow for bending at the “joints.” The instructors stuffed socks into gloves and taped them to the end of the noodles to serve as hands. “The students can still do the bandaging and everything else they need to do with arms and legs and so forth, or put the person into a three-quarter prone or recovery position,” said Christopher Chan, the learning and development officer for the B.C. branch of the organization. “[It’s] not going to look pretty or look super real life, but it’s going to get the job done.” Read more on how first aid classes are running during the pandemic here.

The National Museum of Denmark is stripping the word “Eskimo” — a term many people consider outdated, even derogatory — from its exhibits, website and social media posts over the coming months. The term is being replaced by “Inuit” and “Inuk” or more specific regional names, the museum announced in a Facebook post in July. It’s a “necessary change,” said Martin Appelt, a senior researcher and curator with the National Museum of Denmark, in Copenhagen. The old word, which dates back to 1605, had been collectively used to describe Inuit from Greenland, Canada, Siberia and Alaska, according to the museum’s Facebook post announcing the change. While it is still used by people in Alaska, in Greenland and most of the Eastern Arctic it’s not widely used today, he said. “There’s of course no consensus or one opinion about this across a whole nation,” he said. Read more on the change here.

Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: Technology developed with the help of a University of New Brunswick professor is already helping to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales in the shipping lanes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence this summer. Kim Davies helped develop an underwater acoustic glider that can monitor for the whales. “Within a few hours of the glider being deployed up in the Laurentian Channel, it detected right whales for the first time in the deployment, and it has since detected right whales on two additional days,” said Davies, an assistant professor in biological sciences. The unmanned gliders move back and forth through the water by changing buoyancy. The machine runs quietly and, with the little wings attached, it moves through the water in a saw-tooth pattern. “When a glider detects a North Atlantic right whale, I send that information to Transport Canada so that they can take action to reduce the speed of ships in that area,” she said. Read more about the glider here.

Front Burner: Donald Trump’s re-election strategy

“No one will be safe in Biden’s America.” Donald Trump painted a calamitous picture of a Democrat-led United States as he accepted the Republican nomination on Thursday. Speaking for more than an hour, Trump also misrepresented his COVID-19 response before a crowd of around 1,500 people — few wearing masks. 

As the 2020 election campaign begins in earnest this week, CBC Washington correspondent Paul Hunter and senior Washington editor Lyndsay Duncombe join us to explain what Trump’s framing of ongoing national crises means for his re-election strategy, and whether he can win a second term.

Today in history: September 1

1864: The wheels of Canadian Confederation are set in motion as the Charlottetown conference opens. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. planned the conference to discuss a maritime union. But representatives from the province of Canada, who had asked to attend, persuade the eastern colonies to work toward a general union of British North America. The meeting led to the Quebec Conference one month later.

1904: Montreal policeman Étienne Desmarteau becomes the first individual Olympic champion to represent Canada when he wins the 56-pound weight throw in St. Louis. Desmarteau was fired for going to the Games, but reinstated when he returned with the gold medal.  

1905: Alberta and Saskatchewan enter Confederation as Canada’s eighth and ninth provinces.

1980: Terry Fox is forced to quit his cross-Canada “Marathon of Hope” near Thunder Bay, Ont. Cancer had spread to his lungs. Fox lost his right leg to the disease several years earlier. He died in June 1981.

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