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Five Nicola bands and BC Housing are working together on a new project to improve the quality of on-reserve housing in the Nicola Valley near Merritt.

The Indigenous Asset Management Memorandum of Understanding is a three-year agreement between BC Housing and the Lower Nicola Indian Band, Upper Nicola Indian Band, Coldwater Indian Band, Nooaitch Indian Band and Shackan Indian Band.

"I feel that this initiative is something that has been thought about for some time, but has never been executed," said Chief Jordan Joe of the Shackan Indian Band. "I'm happy to see now that we can assess all of our assets for the Nicola Valley bands and figure out the way forward and how we can achieve that by developing capacity, getting our housing in order and having a central entity that can take care of it. I am very happy and excited to be working with BC Housing on this initiative and looking forward to what we can do by working together."

BC Housing will provide training and education to strengthen expertise within the bands to manage their supply of housing over the long term.

The five Nicola bands will work to maintain housing that meets or exceeds industry standards for safety, durability, accessibility, healthy living and energy efficiency. The bands will also work together to secure third-party capital funding for on-reserve housing renewal and to support culturally appropriate economic, social and environmentally sustainable housing.

"The Nicola bands are excited about this new partnership with the Province of British Columbia and BC Housing,” Chief Aaron Sumexheltza of the Lower Nicola Indian Band added. “This new relationship will mean real training opportunities for community members and will help us move forward on the path of self-sufficiency relating to housing."

 In addition to working with First Nations to improve existing housing, the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund will provide $550 million over the next 10 years to build 1,750 units of social housing for Indigenous peoples, on- and off-reserve, in British Columbia. It was launched in Budget 2018 as part of the Province's 30-point housing plan. The plan outlines the largest investment in affordable housing in B.C.'s history - more than $7 billion over 10 years.

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Flu Shot


While the Nicola Valley has not totally escaped the wrath of this year’s H1N1 influenza virus that has hit several western provinces particularly hard; one health official said it could have been worse.

That’s according to Jonathan Spence, manager of the Communicable Disease Unit of the Interior Health Authority.

In an interview with Q101 News, Spence noted that this year’s flu vaccine has matched up well with the strain of the flu that has hit this year.

“There is actually a pretty good match between what we are seeing circulating (flu virus) in the community and what is in the flu shots this year,” said Spence. “It has very good effectiveness.”

After a disappointing performance of last year’s flu vaccine, the 2018-19 season vaccine was revised to better match viruses that have been circulating.

This year’s flu vaccine now contains two A strains of H1N1 and H3N2 viruses and two strains of B/Victoria and B/Yamagata.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control reports that more than 3,700 people tested positive for H3N2 and H1N1 strains of the flu in 2017-18.

Spence added that the age group most susceptible to the flu bug this year range more so than in past years.

“It (flu virus) can hit any age group this year,” he noted. “We are seeing it hit the middle adult groups under 65 this year.”

Spence said that it is not too late to receive the flu shot this year.

Other preventative measures you can take to stop the spread of the flu include regularly washing your hands, cough or sneeze into your shirt sleeve rather than your hands, dispose of all used tissues and if you are sick, stay home from work or school.

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MOnica Jack

A jury is expected to begin deliberations this morning to decide whether a man who confessed to killing a 12-year-old girl in 1978 is guilty of the crime.

B-C Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen completed his instructions to the jury last night in the trial of Garry Handlen, who confessed to the 1978 murder during a police undercover operation.

Cullen said a jury foreman would be selected this morning before deliberations begin.

During final arguments to a B.C. Supreme Court jury last week, defense lawyer Patrick Angly said Garry Handlen told multiple lies throughout the nearly nine-month undercover operation to police officers, not because he was boasting as the Crown suggested but because “he is a liar.”

Angly says Handlen’s lies stretched from saying he had been a member of the British Army’s Special Air Service, to saying he smuggled goods across international lines as a scuba diver and had studied for a pilot’s licence.

He added none what Handlen said was true, but it was in his client’s best interest to carry on with his deception and even confess to murder as he felt he could lose his dreams of being involved in a close-knit organized crime group.

Crown lawyer Gordon Matei said Handlen was not a "yes man" who would have admitted to a "horrible crime" that he didn't commit.

Matei also stated that the police officer posing as the crime boss during the videotaped confession did not coerce him to admit that he abducted, sexually abused and murdered Jack.

Monica Jack was last scene on May 6th, 1978 when she riding her bike along Hwy 5A. Her bike was found later by police however Jack's body was not discovered for another 17 years.

more to come

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Jody Wilson

(Vancouver's Jody Wilson-Raybould who has been moved from Justice Minister to Veterans Affairs in Monday's cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In an interview with Q101 News M.P. Dan Albas questions the rationale behind the move.)

Opposition party M.P.’s, and political pundits are weighing in on Monday’s cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with mixed reviews.

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola M.P. Dan Albas told Q101 News that a few of the moves were “head scratchers” as far as he was concerned.

“I was quite surprised there weren’t more substantial changes made today (Monday),” Albas said. “This Prime Minister (Trudeau) has a number of under performing ministers at the cabinet table right now and with a federal election just ten months away you would think he would have the best “hands on deck” so to speak.”

Among the ministers tasked with new assignments on Monday included Jane Philpott who moved from Indigenous Services to Treasury Board, which fills a void left by Scott Brison, who suddenly stepped down from cabinet on Thursday.

Montreal MP David Lametti was also promoted to become Canada’s new Justice Minister replacing Vancouver’s Jody Wilson-Raybould, who move to Veterans Affairs.

“Obviously within my own province having Jody (Wilson-Raybould) moved out of a high-profile position like justice to Veterans Affairs is concerning,” Albas added. “, That being said, while working on the Industry Committee, I have got to know David Lametti and he is very competent and a likeable guy who should do well in the Justice Department.”

Albas also questions the decision to leave Seamus O’Regan in cabinet as the Nova Scotia M.P. moves from Veterans Affairs to Indigenous Affairs.

“It’s gobsmacking to see Minister O’Regan still at the cabinet table after the terrible job he has done with the Veterans Affairs portfolio,” Albas noted. “Here is a minister who compared his own transition from civilian life as a reporter to federal politics as why he could relate to veterans as they transition from tough situations like Afghanistan and other areas where they have suffered PTSD.”

Monday’s other cabinet move was the creation of the Rural Economic Development which will be overseen by Bernadette Jordan of Nova Scotia which gives that province a voice at the table.

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Snowpack March

(Lower than normal snowpack has one local farmer concerned about problems this summer.)


Above normal temperatures in November and December have led to a much lower snowpack in the Thompson-Nicola region compared to this time last year.  However, the Vice-President of the B-C Cattlemen's Association and Nicola Valley Rancher John Anderson says it's still too early to sound any alarms.

“We will have to wait and see what happens,” said Anderson. “Sometimes Mother Nature compensates but right now I would say there is far less snow than normal and that could create problems in the summer.”

Anderson added that while no one is pushing any panic buttons at this time the clock is ticking for the area to receive precipitation.

“We have to wait and get through March and see where we are at,” he added. “Of course, you never know what kind of summer we could get in the region; it could be wetter and cooler than normal and that would be a relief to a lot of people worries about fires.”

The long-range forecast is not calling for any major snowfalls, but some flurries are a possibility within a few days.



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