The federal government and the governments of Ontario and Quebec are readying relief supplies, including baby formula and cribs, for victims of hurricane Harvey.Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the governments are working with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to co-ordinate the help.The storm left vast swaths of Texas and parts of Louisiana flooded and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.“We reached out to offer whatever support is needed, from airlift capacity to helicopters to whatever is necessary,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference Friday in Saskatoon.FEMA, he said, responded by providing Goodale a list of badly needed provisions, and Canada was more than happy to oblige.Goodale said the relief supplies include hygiene kits, bed pillows, bath towels, baby formula, baby disposable bottles, baby cribs and baby linens.The Royal Canadian Air Force is preparing a cargo plane to fly the goods to Texas and it is expected to leave soon.Trudeau and President Donald Trump spoke Thursday about the floods and relief efforts.“We are there for our friends suffering this terrible calamity of hurricane Harvey, and we will stand by them and offer them whatever support they need,” Trudeau said.“This is who Canadians are; we’re there for each other in times of difficulty.”The American embassy in Ottawa expressed gratitude for Canada’s offer of support.“The people of the United States and Canada have a long history of supporting each other in times of need,” Elizabeth Aubin, the charge d’affaires at the embassy, said in a statement.“We once again thank our Canadian friends and neighbours for their heartfelt offers of solidarity and assistance.”Goodale said Canada stands by the United States, saying the country’s thoughts and prayers are with those affected.“I want to commend local volunteers, first responders and residents who continue to work selflessly to keep their neighbours and communities safe,” he said in a statement.On Thursday, Trump’s homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said Canada’s “neighbourly gesture” of help was much appreciated, telling a White House briefing, “It’s an international expression of what we’re seeing here at a very local level.”Related:Trudeau offers Trump condolences, assistance in aftermath of hurricane Harvey
MONTREAL – A second project by famed Quebec director Robert Lepage has been cancelled following widespread criticism of content judged culturally insensitive.“Kanata,” a play about the relationship between whites and Aboriginal Peoples, will not be performed in Paris in December as planned after American co-producers withdrew their interest in the project, Lepage and his Ex Machina production company said in a statement Thursday.The announcement came one week after Lepage held a six-hour meeting with about 30 members of the Indigenous community who had signed an open letter in Le Devoir newspaper denouncing the production for being an example of cultural appropriation.They were upset the play contained no Indigenous actors and little input from their community.The cancellation also follows a decision by Montreal’s jazz festival earlier this month to drop Lepage’s “SLAV” show, which featured a predominantly white cast picking cotton and singing songs composed by black slaves.In his statement, Lepage noted the “complex and often aggressive controversy surrounding (Kanata).”“Sooner or later we will need to try to understand — calmly and together — what cultural appropriation and the right to free artistic expression fundamentally are,” he said.Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, attended last week’s marathon meeting with Lepage and said she was “so happy” about Thursday’s news.Lepage could have chosen to include more “authentic” Indigenous elements in the show, she said, such as an inviting an elder to do an opening performance.“He could have said: ‘We’re bringing in a fantastic seamstress who will redo the costumes — that’s a change,” Nakuset said in an interview. “He had a golden opportunity to make changes, instead he was like: ‘Nah, (it’s) my money.’”The controversy surrounding the two theatre performances sparked a debate in Quebec society over the rights of white people to tell stories about minority groups.Lepage and his entourage have said they are the victims of an attack on artistic freedom.Many Quebec pundits agreed, including politicians such as Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee, who tweeted Thursday, “this reversal of artistic freedom is intolerable.”He added that those who withdrew their support had “weak morals” and called on the Quebec premier to intervene.Activists protested outside the performance of SLAV in late June, accusing Lepage of making money off the pain and history of black people.Nakuset, who hasn’t seen Kanata, said she hadn’t thought about who was set to benefit financially from the project.“I hadn’t thought about the money,” she said. “I was thinking more about how this was going to reflect on Indigenous people and how this is going to shape their viewers watching it.”Nakuset says North American society has a tendency to use native imagery to portray commercial products such as buildings and sports teams as “strong and brave,” yet no one listens or wants to work with Indigenous Peoples or cares about them when they are homeless.Kanata claimed to explore Canada’s history “through the lens of the relationship between white and Aboriginal Peoples.”The co-producers’ interest in the project waned amid the controversy ahead of the planned debut in France in December by the Theatre du Soleil acting troupe.“Certain (co-producers) have now announced their withdrawal,” Lepage’s statement noted. “Considering what we recently went through, we certainly understand their concerns. But without their financial support, we are unable to finish creating Kanata with Theatre du Soleil.“Therefore, we are putting an end to the project.”“SLAV” is scheduled to be presented elsewhere in Quebec next year and Ex Machina says it will meet with those opposed to that show.Lepage and Ex Machina say they won’t comment further on Kanata’s cancellation.