New music is in the works, kids are heading back to school, and Manitobans could be seeing fewer restrictions coming their way as early as this Friday thanks to falling COVID numbers.

Lighten your heart with some good news reads from the past week.

Joyful noise: Lauren Daigle debuts new song

Lauren Daigle has released a new song to start the new year with a joyful noise.

"I have not been on IG in months, but I couldn’t contain myself and had to post my excitement in the midnight hour!" Daigle says in a post announcing the song, "Come Back Home," Friday.

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Willy Dogs persevering through pandemic with community by its side

One Winnipeg small business is not just surviving but thriving in the pandemic, all thanks to an outpouring of support from its community, and is now giving back to others in need.

Will Gault has gone from being a homeless addict to owning his own business, Willy Dogs. Over the past several years, he has married his wife Courtney with the pair later giving birth to two daughters, Ireland and Taylor.

While the past several years have brought Will great joy, 2020 put his resilience to the test.

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Winnipeg woman first to receive COVID-19 vaccine in care home campaign

Margaret Watson was all smiles Monday as she received the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine.

Monday morning brought a ray of hope to Oakview Place in Winnipeg. The 94-year-old resident is the first personal care home resident to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Watson is excited to see her family, particularly her daughter and granddaughter, again.

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Frontline caregivers to receive wage support

Eligible workers will be able to receive a $5 per hour wage top-up from the province during a popular program's second wave of applications.

Until January 18, caregivers making $25 per hour or less could be getting a temporary wage boost with the Caregiver Wage Support Program.

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Winnipeg businesses feeding others with leftovers

Landfills are emptier and stomaches are fuller as Leftover Foundation Rescue Food matches food services with people in need.

The organization takes food that would potentially expire soon and upcycles it with an agency that helps feed people in the city. 

"I basically match up donors with service agencies and build the relationships that we need to fill the service agencies that are feeding people full of food. We are on a mission to keep food that is edible out of the landfill," says Brandy Bobier, the City Lead Coordinator for Leftovers Foundation Rescue Food in Manitoba. 

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Roussin optimistic about COVID-19 numbers, hoping to loosen restrictions

Manitoba's top doctor is pleased to see the hard work of Manitobans paying off in daily COVID-19 case numbers.

While the province is not out of the woods yet, Dr. Brent Roussin is glad to see the situation in Manitoba improving.

"Today's numbers are encouraging," he says. "A testament to the hard work of Manitobans."

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Spirit of Christmas continuing with packing, prayer, and partnership

A retired Winnipeg nurse is celebrating an answer to prayer as she moves in supplies to a donated storage unit for her future OCC shoeboxes.

Packing shoeboxes for children around the world has become a huge passion for Barbara Shumeley. She initially started packing Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoeboxes roughly 15 years ago, starting with a few each year. 

Then when Shumeley retired, she ramped up the packing to hundreds of boxes a year.

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Winnipeg Foundation celebrating 100th year with River Trail opening

In a much smaller than usual ceremony, a popular attraction at The Forks is open for visitors.

Winnipeg Foundation's CEO Rick Frost was a guest Tuesday morning on an unusual vehicle while opening the Centennial River Trail. The Forks says Frost was both the speaker and guest Zamboni driver for the occasion. 

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Casting Crowns song hits gold certification

The song 'Nobody', written by Mark Hall, featuring Matthew West, is now gold certified. 

"Thanks to my bud Mark Hall and Casting Crowns for letting me be a small part of your ministry to the world. Hope this song reminds you that God can do great things through you," West posted on Facebook earlier today with a picture of him holding the framed Gold album.

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Winnipeg MP back in cabinet after cancer treatments

Winnipeg MP Jim Carr is returning as a full cabinet member after stepping aside last year to battle cancer.

Carr, who represents the riding of Winnipeg South Centre, was one of four MPs involved in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's shuffle on Tuesday morning.

Carr stepped down as the minister of international trade diversification following a cancer diagnosis during the 2019 federal election campaign. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in October 2019.

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The benefits of playing as an adult

A mental health expert is encouraging adults to play more, sharing that it never stops being important.

"Science now backs up how critical play is for our mental health. The links between play and emotional and physical wellness are huge," says Terry Warburton, Clinical Director at Recovery of Hope in Winnipeg. 

She says that play can help people become more resilient, adaptive, mature, and creative. By taking time to play, it can help people feel more connected to others, improving emotional and physical health.

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For King & Country’s Luke Smallbone welcomes 'rainbow baby' after previous loss

One half of the for KING & COUNTRY duo is filled with joy, celebrating the birth of his first daughter, after losing a baby a few years ago.

Luke and Courtney Smallbone welcomed their daughter, Evie Joy, on January 8.

"Today is a very special day in our household.... as we just welcomed our first little girl into our family!!" Luke writes on the band's Instagram page.

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Update: Infant in need of prayers makes quick turnaround in 1 day

A mother is praising God after her baby went from needing intensive care to preparing to come home following a flood of prayers.

Gina Owens says the scariest day of her life was watching her daughter be airlifted out of their community.

She says her daughter, Sierra was born prematurely after a health scare. While Gina was getting an ultrasound, doctors discovered both mother and baby were facing severe complications, requiring an emergency c-section.

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Mysterious bag hunt sends family on Canada-wide search

A Carman family says they went on the hunt after finding a suitcase abandoned in a ditch containing decades-old letters and a passport from across the ocean.

Carin Beukema was driving her sons to school two days ago near Carman when they found a suitcase in the ditch.

"On Monday I was driving to school and I see some garbage in the ditch. Something about it caught my eye so I turned around and went back. Lo and behold I found an old suitcase," says Beukema.

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Police launching fundraiser to build Canine Memorial

The Winnipeg Police Service is honouring the legacy of their police dogs by creating a permanent display.

Constable Dani McKinnon, a Public Information Officer with the Winnipeg Police Service, says that they will be breaking ground on a new addition to the Winnipeg Police Canine Unit Building, the Canine Memorial.

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Dominican Republic bans child marriage

International Justice Mission (IJM) is celebrating the victory of the bill that is banning child marriage in the Dominican Republic. 

Previously, parents could legally marry off their children under the age of 18 with permission from a judge, which caused multiple issues for the country as a whole. Now no one under the age of 18 can marry for any reason. 

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Mountie saves man during dangerous ice rescue

RCMP Manitoba says one of their officers pulled a man struggling to stay conscious out of icy waters.

On Wednesday morning, a man in Grand Rapids required rescuing from a strong current. Being carried downstream along with a strong Saskatchewan River current, the man was in need of immediate help.

An officer who was trained as an Ice Rescue Technician sprung into action. The officer tied the rope from the throw bag around his waist. He then got the other responding officers and emergency services staff to anchor him and the rope.

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Laine pots OT winner in Jets season opener

atrik Laine scored his second goal of the game 1:18 into overtime to lift the Winnipeg Jets past the Calgary Flames 4-3 Thursday night at Bell MTS Place.

Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists for the Jets who rallied from a 3-1 first period deficit.

Mark Scheifele started the comeback as he beat Calgary netminder Jacob Markstrom just 34 seconds into the second period.

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TobyMac releasing EP with lost songs written over the years

TobyMac's new single, 'On Your Own,' features a YouTube video with each band member in their homes. 

The single is on a newly released EP called The Lost Demos that is available as of January 15, 2021.

The album has seven songs on it, all written over the past seven years, with the oldest written in 2014 called 'Love of My Life'.

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New Music from Terrian with EP on the way

A backup singer for TobyMac, Terrian is busy singing her heart out with him as well as on her own.

Three of the six songs on her brand new EP, Genesis of Terrian, are available to listen to. This includes her newest song released January 15, 2021, 'Love Your Children.'

The single comes with a YouTube video she released at midnight, of her singing in an abandoned playground and on the street in the rain. 

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Update: province looking to loosen COVID-19 restrictions

Public Health officials are considering ways to reopen the province and are reaching out to residents for their feedback.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer, says the current Level Red restrictions may have saved 1,700 lives. Now, the province is looking at slowly reopening the province following the success.

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Crowder releasing toe-tapping new song on goodness of God

Working on new music, Christian artist Crowder is releasing his first single of 2021 called 'Good God Almighty.'

"I’ve been working hard on some new music for the New Year and couldn’t be more wound up about this song being the first one we get to roll out the door," the artist posted to social media. 

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Library book destroyer in the doghouse

A puppy is eating her words after discovering books are not chew toys.

The Winnipeg Public Library shared a letter to Twitter earlier this week from a dog who regrets destructing library property.

"My mommy wanted me to write you to say that I am sorry for ruining your book," the letter posted to Twitter reads.

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Samaritan's Purse stepping in to help US COVID patients

Christian humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse has set up two emergency field hospitals in an effort to help combat the rise of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

The field hospitals are located in Southern California and North Carolina and hope to help alleviate pressure on area hospitals caring for patients with COVID-19, CBN News reports.

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Two unknown guardian angels rescue grandmother from fire

The Griffiths family is counting their blessings after losing everything but the clothes off of their backs in a devastating fire.

Zabrina Griffiths and her father Randall are trying to process losing the family and community gathering spot. The devastating fire started overnight Sunday inside the mobile home on the 2600 block of Main Street after Randall left his mother asleep at home so he could run errands.

"When I came back, as I was pulling up, there were a lot of firetrucks out front. I could see the trailer was smouldering pretty good. When I pulled in, I was in such shock," Randall says.

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