Alberta man has brand new house demolished after court finds he built it without proper permits

A brand new house in the village of Carmangay, Alta. was torn down in just hours Thursday morning, after a court order was issued to demolish the home.

The village claims the Carmangay man who built the house did so without the correct permits.

READ MORE:聽Readers react with acceptance, vitriol after town tears down Alberta man鈥檚 house

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    Kym Nichols, the mayor of Carmangay, 聽said a development permit was taken out, as was a building permit, but the building permit was for a garage, not a house.

    鈥淗e just figured he could build however he wanted, to build wherever he wanted to build,鈥 Nichols said.

    The homeowner was then issued several stop work orders in addition to orders from bylaw officers and RCMP to cease construction.

    After the homeowner failed to comply, Nichols said she felt she was left with聽no other choice than to take the matter to court.

    鈥淲e went to court to get a court order to get him to stop building,鈥 she聽said.

    鈥淗e continued to build and continued to ignore the court order.鈥

    Members of the community told Global News the man built the house himself.

    A new house in Carmangay is reduced to rubble after the town issued a court order to demolish the home.

    Christina Succi / Global News

    鈥淗e was hand-digging the basement at first, then I seen him slowly put the concrete up, the walls up, the roof go on,鈥 village resident Jan Haake said.

    Neighbour Wyatt Dahl sympathizes with the property owner, but聽agrees with the town鈥檚 decision.

    鈥淚t鈥檚 a shame that his hard work and money went into this,鈥 Dahl said. 鈥淏ut the law is there for a reason.鈥

    Nichols said the homeowner was given ultimatums to move the structure or dismantle it. The court order stated three separate deadlines were set to comply, none of which were met.

    鈥淭his was absolutely the last resort,鈥 Nichols said. 鈥淣one of us wanted to see it come to this.

    鈥淲e were hoping he would comply at some point.鈥

    Global News was unable to speak to the homeowner and he was not on the premises when the demolition began.

    Carmangay is about a 45 minute drive northwest of Lethbridge and about an hour and 45 minutes southeast of Calgary.

Ziferblat鈥檚 鈥榗offee office鈥 model charges for time, not food

On a Monday afternoon, the narrow street outside the Ziferblat cafe is quiet; but inside, the 6,000-square-foot coffee shop is packed with dozens of customers.

The cafe first opened in Manchester, England in 2014, and now serves around 12,000 customers per month. Part of its recipe for success: all of the cafe鈥檚 food, drinks and 100 MB of wifi are free.

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鈥淲hen we first opened this, we were terrified,鈥 recalls Ben Davies, the cafe鈥檚 marketing manager. 鈥淏ut I think this is something that isn鈥檛 currently provided.鈥

Here鈥檚 the catch: The cafe鈥檚 name, Ziferblat, is Russian for 鈥渃lock face.鈥

Ziferblat鈥檚 customers only pay for the time they spend: six pence, or around 10 Canadian cents, per minute.

READ MORE:聽Addicted to coffee? Your DNA may be to blame, study suggests

They check-in and check-out, like a hotel. And during their stay, customers can eat and drink as much they like.

An array of fresh, locally-baked cakes, cookies and sandwiches are spread across a table buffet-style. There鈥檚 also tea, espresso and coffee machines, and customers are encouraged to help themselves.

鈥淲e have had some people who come in here with a spoon and eat two full chocolate fudge cakes. But generally they鈥檙e few and far between. And normally they don鈥檛 come back,鈥 Davies laughs.

He says their average customer spends 83 minutes here. And most consume far less than you might expect.

鈥淭he fact that you have the free choice makes you not want to 鈥榯ake the mick,鈥 or take the entire jar of biscuits,鈥 says customer Luke Halliwell, while sipping a latte and playing a board game with a friend.

鈥淚 just have a few (biscuits), because I鈥檓 here to relax and enjoy my time.鈥

Ziferblat鈥檚 real secret to success isn鈥檛 the customers who play cards or catch-up with friends; it鈥檚 the people who come here to work.

Web designer Mark Butler鈥檚 head is buried in his laptop. He comes here five days a week; He used to work from home, he says, but 鈥測ou get cabin fever and you miss human contact.鈥

So he tried working in traditional cafes; 鈥淚n a coffee shop you tend to get that vibe where the staff, after half an hour, are glaring at you, waiting for you to buy something else. Whereas it鈥檚 a lot more relaxed here. And the wifi is better.鈥

READ MORE: Caffeine doesn鈥檛 tamper with heartbeat, study suggests

Unlike some coffee shops, Ziferplat has no minimum spend. And once you鈥檝e paid for five hours, the rest of the day is free.

In the United Kingdom, around 16 per cent of workers are self-employed. In Canada, freelancers represent around 10 per cent of the workforce. And the number continues to rise.

鈥淵ou see a lot of people working freelance nowadays,鈥 says Davies, who estimates that half their business comes from customers who use it as an office.

鈥淲e鈥檙e trying to solve that coffee shop office problem. And people do treat us like a co-working space.鈥

And that 鈥渃offee office鈥 鈥 or 鈥渃office鈥 鈥 business is booming. The Ziferblat cafe is now opening branches throughout the U.K. And the business model is being adopted across Europe and North America, feeding the growing appetite from self-employed workers.

World AIDS Day: Saskatoon鈥檚 HIV rates more than twice the national average

In conjunction with World AIDS Day taking place on Dec. 1, the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) released a report that reveals the city鈥檚 HIV infection rates and what is being done to decrease the numbers.

The Saskatoon Health Region鈥檚 updated 鈥楤etter Health For All鈥 report shows the city鈥檚 2015 HIV infection rates were more than twice the national average, breaking a five-year downward trend:

Saskatoon: 14.6 in 100,000 in 2015Canada: 5.8 in 100,000 in 2014 (latest national data available)

READ MORE:聽World AIDS Day put spotlight on high Sask. HIV rates

Deputy health officer Dr. Johnmark Opondo said there was a 55 per cent increase in reported cases this year.

鈥淲e had come down to about 31 cases a year but last year, we went up to 51 cases,鈥 he said聽from the Saskatoon Health Region office.

The increase in reported cases is mainly due to people not using clean needles for injection drug use and unprotected sex:

Injection drug use (IDU) accounted for 65 per cent of transmission in 2015Heterosexual sex accounted for 16 per cent of HIV transmission in 2015Male sex with other males also accounted for 16 per cent of transmission in 2015

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    According to the SHR, the key to decreasing infection rates is to educate the public on the importance of regular testing and providing聽those in need with access to ongoing treatment.

    鈥淵ou can imagine if we鈥檙e able to do this across a large number of individuals who are HIV-infected, we鈥檙e reducing the amount of HIV that鈥檚 circulating in the community,鈥 Opondo said.

    鈥淭his combined effort in testing and treatment probably explains the downward trend in the Saskatoon Health Region.鈥

    Seven out of 10聽HIV-positive individuals identify as First Nation or M茅tis in Saskatoon, with contaminated injection drug use as the number one cause of infection.

    鈥淲e look at the mental health of the people and what is happening to them. Why are they self-medicating and using drugs?鈥澛燗ll Nations Hope Network CEO Margaret Poitras asked.

    鈥淚t鈥檚 all (part) of the trauma that鈥檚 come from the residential schools and from colonization.鈥

    READ MORE:聽South African HIV vaccine trial could be 鈥榝inal nail in the coffin鈥 for the disease

    She has been working to find the root causes for the high rates of HIV among indigenous people for 17 years.

    However, HIV rates are now decreasing. Only 35 cases of new infections have been reported in 2016 and the Saskatoon Health Region said it believes that is due to an increase in testing, education and long-term treatment.

Traffic troubles: Montrealers face major weekend closures on Turcot, Jacques-Cartier Bridge

There are some major road closures in Montreal this weekend and commuters are being encouraged by traffic officials to avoid the area or take public transport.

Turcot Interchange

Starting Friday, Dec. 2 at 11:30 p.m., there will be a complete closure of the eastbound R-136 (A-720), between the Turcot Interchange and the Ville-Marie tunnel.

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    The ramps from Highway 20 east and the A-15 east- and southbound to the Ville-Marie Expressway will be closed for roadwork.

    鈥淭here will be an impact on traffic,鈥 Sarah Bensadoun,聽Transports Quebec spokesperson told Global News.

    聽She explained three kilometers of the A-720 east will be torn down between now and next spring.

    She added that crews can鈥檛 do the work overnight because a lot of it is very noisy and would disrupt people who live in the area.

    Drivers are being asked to聽detour via A-15 south and the Bonaventure Expressway.

    READ MORE:聽Driving in Montreal 鈥 less than six clicks in 40 minutes

    Closures will be in effect聽until Monday, Dec. 5 at 5 a.m.

    There are major closures on the Turcot Interchange starting Friday, December 2, 2016.

    Turcot Interchange

    Jacques-Cartier Bridge

    The Jacques-Cartier Bridge will be closed overnight from Friday, Dec. 2 to Saturday, Dec. 3 and again from Sunday, Dec. 4 to Monday, Dec. 5.

    Lanes will start closing at 11:30 p.m. and the bridge will be completely closed in both directions between midnight and 4 a.m.

    READ MORE:聽Quebec transport ministry offers unusual solution to deal with noise complaints on Turcot Interchange

    Access will be maintained for emergency services.

    According to traffic officials, the goal of the closure is to ensure safety for users and workers during repairs.

    Other closures will be scheduled in December for additional construction work.

    READ MORE:聽Route 136 opens as the eastbound 720 closes for good

    A spokesperson for the Agence m茅tropolitaine de transport (AMT) told Global News there are no plans to increase train service to encourage people to leave their cars at home.

    This is the first of 12 to 15 closures of the Turcot Interchange between now and next spring.

Canadian rockers Rush donate $40K to Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research

Veteran Canadian rock trio Rush is making a generous gesture by making a whopping $40,000 donation聽to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research. The fund was set up to honour the Tragically Hip front man, who earlier this year revealed he鈥檚 been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and聽has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund brain cancer research at Toronto鈥檚 Sunnybrook Hospital.

During Canadian Music Week in April 2017, Rush will be honoured with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award, and have announced they鈥檒l be donating $40,000 of the proceeds聽to the fund.

WATCH BELOW:聽Gord Downie performs 鈥楽ecret Path鈥 in Ottawa

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The award, which recognizes Canadian music acts for their philanthropical efforts,聽is then聽donated to the recipient鈥檚 charity of choice, with Rush members Geddy Lee, Neil Peart聽and Alex Lifeson聽naming the Gord Downie Fund in an announcement on the band鈥檚 official website.

READ MORE:聽Facebook Busts Group Selling Bootleg Gord Downie T-Shirts, Claims Of Charity Donation Apparently Bogus

鈥淲e are pleased to direct this generous donation from the Allan Slaight Humanitarian award to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook,鈥 says聽the band in a joint statement

鈥淢any Canadian families have been affected either directly or indirectly by this terrible disease,鈥 adds Rush. 鈥淭hrough Gord鈥檚 courageous efforts this cause is now getting the attention it desperately deserves. As a fellow musician and friend it鈥檚 our turn to help support his efforts to fight Brain Cancer now.鈥澛

In an interview with CBC Music earlier this year, Rush front man Geddy Lee revealed he鈥檚 a longtime fan of The Tragically Hip, describing the Hip as聽鈥渃ertainly one of the greatest bands we鈥檝e ever produced in this country.鈥

He added:聽鈥淭he first time you listen to one of their records it kind of sneaks up on you. It sounds simpler than it is. There is a particular way the power of those guitars work together.鈥 [They] always sound sinewy and muscular. Then you put Gord鈥檚 voice and his lyrics on top of that, and after repeated listening, you really start to love it. It just gets inside you. I think that鈥檚 a trademark of the Hip.鈥

Ontario families file human rights complaints against York school board over allegations of racism

A community group representing seven Ontario families have filed a human rights complaint against the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) on Friday over its inability to properly address incidents of Islamophobia and systemic racism within the institution鈥檚 ranks.

WATCH: Islamic groups claim hate crimes against Canadian Muslims have doubled

鈥淭he culture that exists relies on the code of protecting their system even if that system is negatively affecting our children,鈥 Vaughan African Canadian Association (VACA) Executive Director Shernett Martin told reporters at a news conference Friday morning in Toronto.

鈥淪taff cover for each other, defend each other, ignore criticism and fail to follow up on community concerns in order to protect the reputation of the board.鈥

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The community group says the human rights complaint stems from the school board鈥檚 lack of conviction to manage and resolved incidents of racism.

A Markham elementary school principal is currently under investigation by board officials after she was caught posting anti-Muslim content on her Facebook page. She has since been placed on medical leave until the new year.

Meanwhile, the head of equity at the York Region board recently released a scathing letter to senior staff questioning how the investigation is being handled and culture of fear that exists within the board鈥檚 ranks.

Ontario Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter just last week requested the board to present an anti-racism action plan by January.

鈥淲e have to acknowledge that we have heard an increasing sense of fear among parents and their guardians if they speak up about human rights violations,鈥 National Council of Canadian Muslims board member Abbas Kassam told reporters on Friday.

鈥淭he level of fear we are hearing from families is crippling. There can be no trust in the presence of such fear. There鈥檚 no public confidence if there is no trust.鈥

Some of the recommendations included in the human rights complaint include mandatory equity and anti-racism training for senior staff and teachers, implementation of an equity audit, the appointment of an education ombudsman or commissioner and a public issuance of an apology by the board.

鈥淲e stand with parents who simply want their children to attend school in a safe and caring environment,鈥 Martin said.

鈥淥ur parents speak about their child having racial slurs hurled at them, feeling marginalized, accused of things they did not do simply because they fit a certain stereotype.鈥

Maryam Monsef apologizes multiple times for saying electoral reform committee didn鈥檛 do their job

OTTAWA 鈥 Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef has apologized to members of the electoral reform committee for comments she made Thursday in the House of Commons.

Monsef issued the apology during today鈥檚 daily question period, much of which she spent on her feet addressing the controversy from the day before.

She says she deeply regrets the words she used and never meant to imply they didn鈥檛 work hard, long hours and weren鈥檛 focused on their task.

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The minister flabbergasted opposition parties on Thursday with a dismissive, hostile response to the majority report of the opposition-dominated committee, which recommended a new proportional voting system and a national referendum to gauge public support for it.

READ MORE: Committee suggests penalizing political parties that don鈥檛 run enough women

Pressed by Conservatives and New Democrats in the House to accept the majority report, Monsef asserted that 鈥渢he only consensus that the committee found was that there is no consensus on electoral reform.鈥

She then expressed disappointment that the committee didn鈥檛 recommend a specific voting model.

鈥淥n the main question on the hard choices that we had asked the committee to make, the members of the committee took a pass,鈥 Monsef told the Commons.

鈥淲e asked the committee to help answer very difficult questions for us. It did not do that.鈥

On Friday, she said: 鈥淚鈥檇 like to sincerely apologize to the members of this House, to Canadians and to the members of the special all-party committee on electoral reform.鈥

鈥淚n no way did I intend to imply that they didn鈥檛 work hard, that they didn鈥檛 put in the long hours, that they didn鈥檛 focus on the task at hand; Mr. Speaker, I thank them for their work.鈥

Montreal artists鈥 wooden mural looks to promote local talent

With the holiday season on the way, two Montreal artists have used the festivities to inspire their most recent artwork.

READ MORE:聽Espace Verre offers opportunities to learn about glass arts in Quebec

Patrick Monast and Diane Tremblay used different types of wood and branches to depict a聽village, mountains, a river and the holiday season.

The aim is to promote local artists.

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    READ MORE:聽Scottish Diaspora Tapestry tells globe-trotting tale of Scots, on display at Atwater Library

    The mural, which was made in a workshop in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, is 8 feet high and 24 feet in length.

    From there, it was transported in five pieces to its location at 1176 Bishop St.

    鈥淲e unified the five sections to adjust the texture and surface,鈥 Monast told Global News.

    鈥淚t鈥檚 important to properly marry the sections together.鈥

    The artwork was made possible through 50 hours of work by 10 people.

    READ MORE:聽Montreal artist teams up with SPCA to counter anti-pit bull sentiment

    Since putting the piece up for display, Monast has visited the location to see how many people have stop to observed the work.

    鈥淔or artists, it is very important to see the traction that the artwork makes,鈥 Monast said.

    The mural will be in place until the beginning of January, but the length of its stay depends on the weather.

    READ MORE:聽Syrian refugee photo exhibit portrays 4 families鈥 new life in Montreal

    Since publishing the mural on Facebook, several businesses have聽shown interest in having it transferred to their offices once its time on Bishop Street is over.

    鈥淲e would be thrilled to see this art piece have a second life,鈥 Patrick Monast said.

    鈥淭here鈥檚 certainly a second life, but where? Not sure where it will end up.鈥

Tennessee wildfire: Gatlinburg man desperate to find his missing family

A Gatlinburg, Tenn., man says he hasn鈥檛 heard from his wife or daughters since Monday, when mandatory evacuations due to a wildfire separated him from his wife and daughter.

鈥淢y wife鈥檚 name is Constance Reed and my daughters鈥 names鈥 are Lily Reed and Chloe Reed,鈥 Michael Reed said in an emotional interview with CBS affiliate WATE in Tennessee.

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    Reed said he and his son were separated from his wife and daughters when the wildfire, one of the largest and most devastating in U.S. history, began to threaten Gatlinburg.

    The wildfire grew in size Monday night when high winds blew trees onto power lines, sparking new fires and spreading embers over long distances, officials said.

    Hundreds of homes and other buildings, including a 16-storey hotel, were damaged or destroyed.

    READ MORE:聽Dolly Parton donating $1,000/month to every Tennessee family devastated by fires

    鈥淲e had seen on the news that there were fires on the spur,鈥 Reed said. 鈥淪o my son and I jumped in our van and drove 鈥 down the mountain to the Welcome Center on to the spur to see if it was close to our house.鈥

    After getting caught in the traffic of the massive evacuation 鈥 more than 14,000 people were evacuated from Sevier County according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) 鈥 Reed had what would become his final contact with his family in several days.

    鈥淸My wife] called us about 8:15 and said that there were flames across the street from our house,鈥 Reed told a WATE reporter while fighting back tears. 鈥淪he didn鈥檛 know what to do. So I told her to call 911, and that was the last time that I talked to her.鈥

    WATCH:聽Tennessee firefighter captures dramatic video as he drives through Gatlinburg wildfire

    Reed says he鈥檚 been trying to learn more from emergency officials about his family鈥檚 fate, but no one has been able to give him any information.

    鈥淲e鈥檝e snuck back into Gatlinburg, and a friend of mine went to the other shelter in Gatlinburg and they said she wasn鈥檛 there,鈥 Reed said. 鈥淚鈥檝e called the other shelters here, they said she isn鈥檛 there.鈥

    鈥淸I鈥檓] just hoping for a miracle.鈥

    Meanwhile thousands of people in Gatlinburg are preparing to get their first look at what remains of their homes and businesses Friday morning.

    READ MORE:聽Cats survive months in the wild following Fort McMurray wildfire

    Local officials, bowing to pressure from frustrated property owners, began allowing people back into most parts of the city and affected parts of the county for the first time at 10 a.m.

    Gatlinburg city manager Cindy Cameron Ogle says residents have to pass through a checkpoint and must show some proof of ownership or residency. She says the city is not implying that private property is safe and that people may encounter downed power lines and other dangers.

    The wildfires killed 11 people and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.

    -With files from the Associated Press

Canada鈥檚 top political stories of 2016

It was another year of big headlines on Parliament Hill. The new Liberal government tried to find its feet, a bromance bloomed and 鈥 as usual 鈥 more than a few people found themselves in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Here, in no particular order, are the top political moments of 2015. Elbows up!

Bromance with Barack

Whether real or imagined, the friendship between incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing President Barack Obama was the subject of endless chatter in 2016.

A visit to Washington, D.C. in the spring featured the like-minded leaders cuddling babies and posing for photos, and culminated in a glittering state dinner.

The goodwill continued when Obama showed up over the summer to address Parliament, prompting (some said embarrassing) chants of 鈥渇our more years!鈥 in the House.

There were hugs. There were high-fives. The word 鈥渄ude-plomacy鈥 was uttered. It all ended too soon.

Mulcair gets rejected. Hard.

If Tom Mulcair thought he was going to get a pass from his party鈥檚 membership after a dismal showing in the 2015 federal election, he got a very rough dose of reality at the NDP convention in April.

Pundits speculated that Mulcair would need to clear 70 per cent support in order to stay on as leader. He didn鈥檛 even hit 50.

Then, because things just weren鈥檛 awkward enough, he confirmed he鈥檒l be staying on until a replacement is chosen sometime in 2017. So far, nobody has officially entered the race.

Elbowgate

By international standards, our House of Commons is downright serene, so a brief moment of contact between the prime minister鈥檚 elbow and a fellow MP鈥檚 upper body qualified as an all-out ruckus.

Trudeau apologized three times for the elbow-to-the-chest heard around the world. Politicians rose to express their shock and dismay, media went nuts (sorry), and average Canadians just wanted the whole thing to blow over. Eventually, it did.

Assisted death

Canada鈥檚 new assisted-dying law was arguably the
most contentious and sensitive piece of legislation handled by the House of Commons this year, but it was the Senate that really threw a wrench in the government鈥檚 plans to get the law in place before everyone went home for the summer.

Once the bill was in front of them, the Red Chamber tried passing an amendment to give Canadians who aren鈥檛 terminally ill聽access to doctor-assisted death (which is more in line with a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada), but the House of Commons rejected that amendment and sent the bill back again.

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Complicating matters was the growing聽crop of independent senators who were not compelled to vote along party lines. The legislation was widely seen as the first major test of how a truly independent Senate might work.

In the end, the Senate yielded. The more restrictive legislation became law in June, to the relief of some Canadians and the dismay of others.

Expenses

It cost taxpayers $200,000 to move two top Trudeau aides from Toronto to Ottawa, $3,700 to cover聽limo rides for the health minister, and $6,600 to pay聽a photographer to follow our environment minister minister around.

Scandals involving government expenses are nothing new in Canada ($16 orange juice, anyone?), but the Liberals set a new record for the sheer number of damaging headlines in August and September.

The prime minister promised, each time, that his government was reviewing how expenses are handled.

Values screening

Kellie Leitch was聽barely a blip on the political radar when she launched her campaign to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, but all that changed with an email sent to her supporters in the fall. Leitch wanted to know if they thought screening immigrants and refugees for 鈥渁nti-Canadian values鈥 was a good idea.

What followed was weeks of controversy, debate and speculation about what, exactly, an 鈥渁nti-Canadian value鈥 might be.

Leitch doubled (and tripled) down, in spite of opposition from within her own party, then added fuel to the fire with praise of president-elect Donald Trump.

Expect the controversies to continue. The Conservatives aren鈥檛 set to choose a new leader until next May.

Liz may resign

Elizabeth May has been the face of the federal Green Party and its sole MP for a decade, so when she began talking about stepping down, people took notice.

May found herself in direct conflict with her party鈥檚 membership in August when the Greens voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel during their convention.

After a week of soul-searching and a meeting with top party brass, she stayed. The party鈥檚 support for聽the BDS movement has since been retracted.

First Nations suicide crisis

The聽third-world conditions in many First Nations communities across Canada were once again laid bare in April when 11 people tried to take their own lives in a single聽night in the remote town聽of Attawapiskat.

Local chief Bruce聽Shisheesh pleaded for help from Ottawa, highlighting the overcrowded and substandard housing situation plaguing Attawapiskat and many other reserves across Canada.

Eight-year-old Shakira Koostachin plays on a swing in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

鈥淚鈥檓 homeless, leading my own community,鈥 Shisheesh told Global News.

鈥淚 sleep on a couch, how would you feel if you were leading Attawapiskat and you didn鈥檛 have a home or a place to sleep?鈥

The government responded with emergency aid and a visit from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. In June, Shisheesh and youth from the community met personally with the prime minister.

Phoenix payroll meltdown

The Liberals inherited a disaster-in-the-making with the roll-out of the Phoenix payroll system in February. The new program, which handles the paycheques of around 300,000 federal public servants, came with a steep learning curve and an already deep backlog of files waiting to be processed.

It promptly flamed out.

For some employees, the money simply dried up, while others failed to receive back-pay or overtime pay. As the crisis deepened and families struggled to pay their mortgages, the government opened new call centres to handle pay files and hired new staff to man the phones. As of December, the backlog still hasn鈥檛 been cleared.

Loss of Jim Prentice and Jean Lapierre

Canada鈥檚 Parliament lost two former cabinet ministers in 2016, and shockingly they both died in plane crashes. Jean Lapierre, who became a respected Quebec political analyst after leaving federal politics, was killed on March 29 while en route with his family to his father鈥檚 funeral in eastern Quebec.

Then, in October, former Alberta premier and federal minister Jim Prentice died in a similar crash at the opposite end of the country, in British Columbia. He had also been travelling with family.

Both deaths shook the federal political scene, with tributes to the two men pouring in from across the country.

5 Montreal stories you must read this week: December 2

From an ethics scandal at the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) to meeting a Great Montrealer whose mission is to give dogs a second chance at life, these are the top five stories Global News covered in Montreal this week:

Holiday heist

鈥淚 tell my kids we can鈥檛 buy another one. It鈥檚 like that. Someone stole it.鈥

It appears a Grinch-like character is striking the off-island town of Notre-Dame-de-L鈥櫭甽e-Perrot.

READ THE STORY: Holiday light heists hitting Montreal鈥檚 off-island town

Auditing Quebec鈥檚 English school boards

鈥淭hey have a code of ethics that they have to respect.鈥

Quebec education minister S茅bastien Proulx has appointed an auditor to look into breach of ethics allegations and growing tension between commissioners at both the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and the Lester B. Pearson School Board(LBPSB).

READ THE STORY: Quebec appoints auditor to look into English school board scandals

Riverside rezoning

鈥淯ltimately, my daughter will probably end up going to French school close to home.鈥

This year could be the last for some students at St. Lawrence Elementary in Candiac聽as the Riverside School Board聽looks at re-zoning.

READ THE STORY: Parents considering French schools if Riverside School Board re-zones

Giving dogs a second chance

鈥淸Anne Dub茅 is] the epicentre of this rescue, she鈥檚 the heart and soul of this rescue. She has the ability to inspire people.鈥

Anne Dub茅 found her true calling in life 15 years ago 鈥 simply because she has a love of dogs.

READ THE STORY: #GreatMTLer: Rosie Animal Adoption鈥檚 Anne Dub茅, saviour who gives dogs 2nd chance at life

ChangSha Night Net

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    LBPSB ethics scandal

    鈥淚 can assure you one thing positively, I have the utmost respect for all of our administrators, always have.鈥

    Since the beginning of the school year, the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) has been embroiled in an ethics scandal.

    READ THE STORY: Calls for resignation of LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day date back to at least December 2015

    [email protected]闀锋矙澶滅恫
    Follow @rachel_lau

Nova Scotia teachers work-to-rule: What does it mean for you?

As parents and guardians, teachers and administrators prepare for work-to-rule job action to begin Tuesday, questions are still swirling about what this will actually mean for students and for parents.

READ MORE:聽Nova Scotia schools to reopen Tuesday, work-to-rule still in place

ChangSha Night Net

Schools were closed Monday after the government said original work-to-rule directives from Nova Scotia Teachers Union compromised student safety. Monday afternoon, Education Minister Karen Casey announced the schools would reopen after learining the union had changed their directives regarding principals鈥 duties.

Here are answers to some of parents鈥 biggest questions heading into next week:

Will classes go ahead as usual?

Yes. Regular classroom instruction won鈥檛 be interrupted.

Will there be supervision for students before and after school?

Yes. Principals will be able to arrive on school property earlier than 20 minutes before class time starts, and stay longer than 20 minutes after the last bell rings.

They are also permitted to supervise during lunch and recess breaks.

Teachers, however, will are only required to show up at school 20 minutes before classes start, and to stay for 20 minutes after the school day ends.

How will breakfast programs be affected?

Breakfast and lunch program operation at schools across the province depend on each school, therefore there鈥檚 no definite yes or no.

READ MORE:聽With work-to-rule days away, NS students worried about breakfast program

With teachers and principals not arriving at schools until 20 minutes before the start of the school day, some breakfast and lunch programs may be affected. Any changes will be communicated to parents.

What about my child鈥檚 fundraiser?

Unless facilitated by a parent or volunteer, no fundraisers will be going ahead.

Here is a list of expectations for teachers during a work-to-rule campaign:

Teachers will arrive at school 20 minutes before start time and leave 20 minutes after the end of the school dayTeachers won鈥檛 communicate about聽school matters, including with parents, outside the teaching dayNo collection of money for, or organization of fundraisers with studentsInformation, including assessments and attendance, won鈥檛 be entered into PowerSchool or TIENTNo external assessments or diagnostic instruments will be completed by teachers, unless they鈥檙e required by lawNo department or board assessments will be administeredTeachers won鈥檛 participate or support extra-curricular activitiesTeachers won鈥檛 update websites or e-newslettersNo attendance of staff meetings, program planning or student success meetingsTeachers won鈥檛 take part in department or school board professional developmentTeachers won鈥檛 give extra help to students before or after lass or at lunch timeStudent teachers won鈥檛 be acceptedSchool administrators won鈥檛 participate in advisory council or parent group meetings, unless it鈥檚 due to an appeal of student disciplineSchool administrators won鈥檛 do classroom walk-throughs to supervise teachersTeachers and school administrators won鈥檛 attend board and department staff

Follow @heide_pearson

Cancer patient claims she was initially turned away by car rental service for not looking like her ID

A California woman who lost her hair as a result of聽radiation聽therapy聽says 聽she was humiliated by a staff member at a rental car service at the Sacramento airport when she was told she didn鈥檛 look like the photo on her driver鈥檚 licence.

Leah Cook said she was wearing a wig at the airport on Thursday when she presented her driver鈥檚 licence, a credit card and her Alamo rental car reservation at the counter.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: Police mistake breast cancer patient for woman wanted for killing her own baby

鈥淗e held up my ID and he said 鈥榃ho is this? Who is this?鈥 and I said, 鈥楾hat鈥檚 me,’鈥 Cook told NBC.

鈥淗e said, 鈥楴o, that鈥檚 not you鈥 and I was like, 鈥榊es it鈥檚 me, I have cancer鈥 and he was like, 鈥楴o that鈥檚 not you鈥. I took off my wig and said, 鈥楽ee, I have cancer.’鈥

She wrote about her experience on Facebook.

Alamo鈥檚 parent company, Enterprise, responded saying they are looking into the matter. Alamo told Global News they offered聽Cook a free upgrade at the airport and she eventually got her rental car. They later called Cook to apologize, making the rental free.

Alamo Rent a Car released聽this statement to Global 聽News:

鈥淲e have carefully and thoroughly looked into this, and express our sincere apologies.聽 Our employee at the counter was not sensitive to the customer and mishandled the situation entirely after checking her driver鈥檚 license.聽 However, the employee immediately asked for another Manager鈥檚 assistance 鈥 and once that Manager was able to resolve the issue, she authorized a free upgrade for the customer.聽 An Area Manager then personally called to follow up with the customer and apologized profusely again.聽 The Area Manager even talked to the customer鈥檚 daughter and offered to make the weekly rental free.聽 We understand that great sensitivity is required in situations like these, and we certainly appreciate that the customer was willing to share her story and teach all of us how to better handle such interactions.鈥

As for Cook, she said on Facebook the whole situation really made her feel minuscule.

鈥淚鈥檝e never been more humiliated in my life! In the moment, I felt like he stripped me of everything I鈥檝e gone thru to beat cancer and made me feel so small.鈥