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In today's Morning Brief, Canada's ambassador to Ukraine says the country is facing a desperate fight to keep its power grid intact in the face of Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure.

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Much of Odesa in the dark as Russian attacks batter Ukraine's power grid

Canada's ambassador to Ukraine says that country needs help repairing its energy infrastructure after an intense campaign of air attacks from Russia that has left much of the major city of Odesa in the dark.

Russian drone attacks cut power to all non-critical infrastructure in the city of 1.5 million people on the Black Sea on Saturday. Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for Odesa's regional administration, said residents would start to get power back within a few days, but it would take several months to completely repair the grid.

It's the latest in a series of major attacks that have battered the electrical grid as winter sets in.

WATCH | Russian drone attack leaves 1.5 million in Odesa, Ukraine without power: 

Russian drone attack leaves 1.5 million in Odesa, Ukraine without power

4 months ago
Duration 1:55

"People are colder, people are darker and people can't live a normal life," Larisa Galadza said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday.

"That being said, they are as determined as ever," Canada's envoy to Ukraine told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton. "They know that part of this is a head game, a mind game, and mental resilience needs to be there."

One month after Ukraine claimed a major victory with the recapture of Kherson, fighting continues in the east, as Russia looks to advance in the Donbas area. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the military situation there is "very difficult." 

Elsewhere in the country, Ukrainian cities still face the threat of Russian air attacks and the prospect that key infrastructure will be knocked out in the winter months. Ukrainian officials warned last month that Kyiv faced the prospect of a total electricity shut-off and potential evacuation.

"They're desperate for the equipment, the materials that help them repair the electrical grid that has been so badly damaged," Galadza said. The federal government committed $10 million to help buy generators for Ukraine last month. Read more on this story here.

Orion returns

The Orion space capsule is pulled into a ship.

(Mario Tama/AFP/Getty Images)

NASA's Orion capsule is drawn into the USS Portland during recovery operations after it splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, on Sunday. Orion was launched on Nov. 16 on the Artemis rocket for a 25-day mission to the moon. The main goal of this mission was to test Orion's heat shield for the day when it is humans and not test mannequins riding inside. Read more on this story here.

In brief

Protesters blocked access to Winnipeg's Brady Road waste management facility on Sunday to call on all levels of government to search for the remains of missing people. Cambria Harris, the eldest daughter of Morgan Harris — one of four victims of alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki — wants the federal government to pick up the tab for any search. Her mother's remains are believed to be at the Prairie Green landfill north of Winnipeg, along with those of Marcedes Myran. Prairie Green paused operations on Dec. 8. Harris wants operations at Brady to be paused, too, and said it's not just about her mother's and Myran's remains being found. "How many other women are they not looking for?" Harris said. The partial remains of Rebecca Contois, 24, were recovered from the Brady facility in June. She is also believed to have been killed by Skibicki. Read more on this story here.

This week marks five years since Toronto billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman were killed in their home, and their son — Jonathon Sherman — has announced he's adding $25 million to the reward set up to help solve the case. The Shermans were found slain in their North York mansion on Dec. 15, 2017. Autopsy reports showed the couple died by strangulation, and police have said there were no signs of forced entry to their home. "Closure will not be possible until those responsible for this evil act are brought to justice," Jonathon Sherman said in a statement shared exclusively with CBC Toronto. To that end, Sherman said he's contributing an additional $25 million to the reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. This brings the total reward to $35 million. Read the full story here

Canada's immigration ministry has assigned tens of thousands of applicants to immigration officers or placeholder codes that are inactive and no longer working within their system — some who've last logged in and actively worked on files 16 years ago, CBC News has learned. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data on "inactive users" on its Global Case Management System — its worldwide internal system used to process citizenship and immigration applications — show 59,456 open, pending or reopened applications that were assigned to 779 former employees or dormant computer placeholder codes used to hold applicants in queue as of this February. CBC filed an access to information request to IRCC this January asking for all inactive employees and placeholder codes currently assigned to applicants. In October, the department finally sent the information sought. Read more on this story here.

WATCH | She applied for permanent residency, but her agent might not exist: 

She applied for permanent residency, but her agent might not exist

4 months ago
Duration 1:50

With their futuristic designs and new technology, electric vehicles are the seductive consumer-friendly face of the energy transition. As first incarnated by Tesla, the EV is increasingly seen as sleeker, slicker, faster and more stylish than traditional internal combustion engine cars and trucks that burn those dirty fossil fuels blamed for disrupting weather patterns and killing off species. For people with money and a conscience, EVs are doubly satisfying. They allow the affluent to indulge in the time-honoured pleasures of conspicuous consumption while at the same time saving the planet. But for those who have looked more deeply at how the world can escape its dependence on oil and gas, the rush to replace existing gas guzzlers with a new fleet of clean, silent, battery-powered personal transport leaves them uneasy. Read more here from CBC's Don Pittis.
WATCH | Canada's first full electric vehicle plant goes into production: 

Canada's first full electric vehicle plant goes into production

4 months ago
Duration 1:56

The nights are longer as the cold weather settles in, but that's a good thing if you love to stargaze. And this week is a perfect time to turn your eyes to the skies. On Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, the most active meteor shower of the year peaks. The Geminid meteor shower is an annual shower that the American Meteor Society has deemed to be the "most dependable" shower of the year. And that's with good reason: Every year, during the peak night, under ideal conditions, there are roughly 150 meteors an hour. Read more on the meteor shower.

Now for some good news to start your Monday: Red, white and green fabrics are strewn about a small room in Montreal's St. James United Church, where four Muslim women are seated behind whirring machines, nimbly sewing Christmas gifts and decorations for donation. "It's very nice because it's cheerful to give something to [other] people," said Dina Basiony, a volunteer instructor of the women who are known as the "sewing bees." They feel it's "made with love," Basiony said. The donations are just one of the ways this sewing circle at the Montreal City Mission is giving back to the community, all the while helping its members learn more about their new home city. Read more here.

The World This Weekend 

On this episode, we speak with Dr. Fatima Kakkar about the Strep A outbreak in the U.K. Deana Sumanac-Johnson shows us how tutoring is helping students catch up from pandemic disruptions — but low resources are keeping it out of reach for many families. Plus, we take you to Prince George, B.C., where volunteers are helping Ukrainians fleeing the war adjust to life in Canada.

Today in history: December 12

1899: George Grant, a dentist who was the first Black professor at Harvard University, is issued a patent for the wooden golf tee.

1949: Nancy Hodges is named Speaker of the British Columbia Legislature, becoming the first woman speaker in the Commonwealth. In November 1953, she became the first woman from B.C. to be appointed to the Senate.

1985: A U.S. DC-8 crashes and explodes shortly after taking off from Gander, N.L. The disaster claimed the lives of 248 U.S. military personnel and eight crew members, making it the worst air crash on Canadian soil.

2008: The federal and Ontario governments reach agreement on a $3.4-billion package for Canadian subsidiaries of the Detroit automakers, conditional upon a U.S. industry bailout.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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