While COVID-19 dominated the headlines in 2020, there were still many other stories that happened in Regina and Saskatchewan in 2020 to talk about. Here are our top 10 stories
10: CHALLENGING, BUT HISTORIC YEAR FOR FARMERS
Saskatchewan farmers need many variables to happen for a good crop. 2020 saw COVID-19 challenge them just like many others. A spring harvest and dry weather didn’t help things, but in the end, farmers harvested the second largest crop in history at 39 million metric tons. While July saw hail storms and August saw hot, dry weather, the ministry of agriculture said the quality of the crop was also favourable.
2021 could be promising as well thanks to snowfall received so far this winter which will provide additional moisture coverage for farmers when they hit the field in the spring.
9. NO ONE TO CHEER FOR
On March 11, the Winnipeg Ice defeated the Regina Pats 6-3 at the Brandt Centre. As people left the rink that night, there was a feeling that they may not be back and they were right. A game in Brandon two nights later was postponed and while the Pats would not make the playoffs, the rest of the regular season and playoffs were eventually cancelled as the pandemic was upon us. As Rider fans know, the CFL had no season in 2020 with the Regina Rams, Regina Thunder, Regina Red Sox and University of Regina Cougars. While the WHL had planned to start January 8, the season has been pushed back with some thinking it will be cancelled altogether. A CFL season is set to go at this time with the Riders scheduled to play at Mosaic Stadium in an exhibition game June 4 against Winnipeg.
8. TRISTAN DUROCHER SETS UP “WALKING WITH OUR ANGELS” CAMP
24 year old Tristen Durocher set up the “Walking with our Angels” camp in August. He planned on staying while staging a hunger strike for 44 days to highlight the 44 MLAs who defeated a suicide prevention bill introduced earlier in the year by the Saskatchewan NDP. The provincial government was not happy with the camp being across the street from the Legislature and sought an injunction to have the camp taken down and Durocher leave.
7. SHA APOLOGIZES TO FAMILY OF MAN WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE \
In May, the body of 21-year-old Samwel Uko was pulled from Wascana Lake. It was later found that Uko had committed suicide and on the day that he did so, he bad been to the Regina General Hospital twice seeking help for mental health issues. A video of Uko being escorted out of the hospital by security then surfaced a few days later. The Saskatchewan Health Authority acknowledged they failed Uko with CEO Scott Livingstone saying they recognize how deeply we failed him.
Two separate inquests were called. One of them was by the SHA with the second one being by the provincial government. The review by the SHA has been completed, but a date for the provincial inquest has not been set at this time.
6. REGINA LOSES MANY EVENTS DUE TO COVID-19
Sports weren’t the only thing missing from Regina in 2019. COVID-19 resulted in many events that are staples on Regina’s calendar to be called off. They included Agribition, the Queen City Exhibition, Country Thunder, the Grey Cup and the Festival surrounding it. That resulted in many dollars that would normally come Regina’s way not coming in. While the Grey Cup has been moved to 2022 by the CFL, the other events that are normally on the city’s calendar are anticipating a return at this time.
5. LOCKOUT AT CO-OP REFINERY ENDS AFTER ALMOST 200 DAYS
Arrests, rallies, attacks on the media and rampant rumours unfortunately took over a lockout between Unifor Local 594 members and Federated Co-op. The two sides argued for months over an alleged broken promise when it came to a pension agreement between union members employees at the refinery and the company that owned it. When the lockout finally ended after 197 days, a sour taste was left in the mouths of many on both sides. The new seven-year collective agreement included a choice of pension plans that employees must contribute to.
Regina reported over a thousand overdoses in 2020 with thousands more being reported in Saskatchewan over the 12 months. The Regina Police Service shined light on the issue back in March when they opened an investigation into a high number of drug overdoses that were happening in the city – 143 to be exact from January 1st to the end of March. Police Chief Evan Bray says it is a definite problem that needs to be addressed and that it isn’t enough to say a long-term strategy will be developed. Bray feels immediate harm-reduction work must be done to prevent the problem from becoming larger and that conversations are being had to try and limit what is happening.
3. REGINANS VOTE FOR CHANGE AND MAKE HISTORY IN DOING SO
Reginans went to the polls in a civic election in November that was one of two elections run during a pandemic. Michael Fougere was looking to become a three-term mayor and there were several hoping to unseat him. One of those was Sandra Masters. A newcomer to civic politics, Masters ran a campaign that resonated with voters as she took the mayor’s race winning 46 percent of the vote which saw an exceptionally low turnout.
Masters wasn’t the only new face on council. Cheryl Stadnichuk, Dan LeBlanc, Terina Shaw, Shanon Zachidniak and Landon Mohl all became first-time councillors on election night as winds of change blew through City Hall.
2. FOUR MOE YEARS. SASKATCHEWAN PARTY WINS PROVINCIAL ELECTION
Before the civic election, Saskatchewan had to vote in a provincial election. The Saskatchewan Party was favoured to capture another majority government, but it was thought the opposition NDP led by Ryan Meili would win a few more seats from the 13 they had when the election was called. That was not the case. When the votes had been counted, the Saskatchewan Party had earned its fourth straight majority government capturing 48 of the 61 eligible seats.
In his acceptance speech, the 47-year-old who won the right to continue as Premier in his first official campaign having taken over for Brad Wall in said this has been an election like no other in our lifetimes, because of the pandemic that resulted in a record amount of people deciding to cast their ballot by mail. He added his government eager to build a strong economy, strong communities, strong families, and a strong Saskatchewan for everyone.
1. SASKATCHEWAN IS PUT UNDER A STATE OF EMERGENCY DUE TO COVID-19
As we are all well aware of, life as we know it changed in 2020 because of COVID-19. That change started March 12 when the first presumptive case of the virus was announced in Saskatchewan. Less than a week later, the province announced a state of emergency with the first round of restrictions being announced shutting down a majority of the economy. Roads were quiet, many worked from home, schools were shut down and Saskatchewan had to adjust to a new world.
As of December 30, 154 people had died as a result of the virus with over 15,000 cases occurring. 36 of those who died came from the Parkside Extendicare long-term care home in Regina as a huge outbreak infected at its peak more than 200 residents and staff.