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Remains of 2 Beothuk people to be transferred from Scotland to Canada

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The remains of two Beothuk people — Nonosabasut and Demasduit — will be sent from the National Museum of Scotland to Canada, ending a lengthy campaign to repatriate the bones of two of the last members of an extinct Indigenous people. 

In a statement Monday, the National Museum of Scotland said the remains will be sent to the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement and to be able to transfer the remains of these two Beothuk people to the country where they lived and were buried,” Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland, said in the release.

“The decision to transfer the remains … was made by the board of trustees of National Museums Scotland following a formal request from the Canadian government last year, and has been given legal endorsement by the Scottish government.”

Arrangements for the transfer are underway, the release said.

Remains found by Scottish explorer

Demasduit was kidnapped by a European fur trapper in March 1819, retaliation for an alleged theft by her tribe. Nonosabasut was killed that same year as he tried to rescue his wife, who was given the name Mary March by her English captors.

Demasduit died of tuberculosis in January 1820, and was returned to Beothuk land to be buried at Red Indian Lake.

A few years later, William Cormack, a Scottish-educated Newfoundland explorer, retrieved the two skulls and some grave goods, which eventually made their way to Edinburgh.

Demasduit and Nonosabasut were aunt and uncle to Shanawdithit, the last known Beothuk. Shanawdithit died in June 1829 in St. John’s, also of tuberculosis. 

Much of what scholars know about the Beothuk — who retreated from coastal settlements after sometimes violent contact with European settlers in Newfoundland — came from Shanawdithit. 

Move comes after years of requests

The push to have the remains returned was started in 2015 by Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River.

In February 2016, Premier Dwight Ball wrote the museum to request the return of the remains, but that request was denied. The museum said it didn’t meet criteria set out in Scottish legislation for the repatriation of remains.

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly notified the director of National Museums Scotland that Canada would make a formal demand for the remains in August 2016.

Leaders representing all Indigenous groups in Newfoundland and Labrador signed a letter requesting the return of the remains in May 2017.

“We can all learn lessons from this. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s a process I’m very proud to be a part of,” Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said Monday. 

“But certainly most of the credit here goes to [Miawpukek First Nation Chief] Mi’sel Joe, who brought this to our attention a few years ago.” William Cormack 

‘Everyone should be proud’

Joe told CBC News on Monday he felt pride  and relief upon hearing the news. 

“The word that came to mind was ‘yahoo,'” he said. “It’s finally happening.”

Joe hopes to accompany the remains as they’re transported from Scotland to Ottawa as part of an Indigenous honour guard. 

“When those remains leave Scotland, I want to leave with them.”

Eventually, the remains should find a final resting place in Newfoundland, he said. The gesture could ameliorate some of the island’s “dark history,” such as curricula that once blamed the extinction of the Beothuk on Mi’kmaq tribes. “We grew up reading about that in Grade 5 in our history books. This is, to me, a part of coming to grips with that.”

Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River made the first push, in 2015, to have the remains brought back to Canada. (Twitter/@owl_eastern)

Joe said the premier expressed similar sentiments in a phone call earlier Monday, but no timeline has been worked out. The premier confirmed to CBC News that Ottawa also wants the remains moved to Newfoundland “as quickly as possible,” citing provincial museum The Rooms in St. John’s as a possible resting place.

Scott Simms, MP for the central region of Newfoundland, says he doesn’t want to make assumptions about where the remains will end up. Simms said he plans to consult with Indigenous groups on how to repatriate them.

“How do we respect the remains that have been handed back to us?” he said. “How do we do this through a process of reconciliation, and how do we do this in a way that we can commemorate and respect the history of Newfoundland and Labrador — and, in particular, the respect of First Nations groups by way of the Beothuk?”

For now, Joe said he’s just relieved the remains will come back to Canadian soil.

“It’s been 200 years since they were taken from Newfoundland, stolen from the gravesite,” he said. “It’s incredibly important to have this part of our history in Newfoundland finally coming together. And it’s something that belongs to all of us, not just Aboriginal people … Every Newfoundlander should be extremely proud of this moment.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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