• He quit his job to take a new position — but the job offer was a scam
    Business
    CBC

    He quit his job to take a new position — but the job offer was a scam

    Tony Monize was tired of waiting to be called back to work.The Toronto man had been temporarily laid off from his job in the telecom industry when the COVID-19 crisis hit, so when he saw a job posting on LinkedIn?on June 20 for a key account coordinator at Sobeys, he decided to apply."I want to work," said?Monize, 54. "Sitting at home and doing little projects, it doesn't doesn't do well for me. I wasn't brought up that way."Monize completed an application on the LinkedIn site, and two hours later was on the phone with a man who identified himself as a human resources manager at Sobeys' head office."He had a few more questions, like, if I was employed, my history on my resumé," Monize said. "He said, 'We're still talking to a few more applicants, we'll get back to you.'"After another conversation with a different interviewer later that day, Monize was offered the position. First thing Monday morning, he resigned from the telecom job he'd held for three years.But within 24 hours, he discovered the new job offer was part of a scam.On Tuesday, Monize was asked to send almost $4,000 to another company to pay for home office equipment. He agreed to e-transfer the funds, because he'd received a cheque with the Sobeys logo to cover the cost.WATCH |?Tony Monize explains how he ended up applying for and getting a job that didn't exist:Then his bank called."They said, just so you know, we looked at those email addresses where you're sending money. They're on the blacklist. It's fraud.'"And the cheque he'd received? It was counterfeit.COVID an opportunity for scammersEmployment scams are on the rise in Canada. As of May 31, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre had received close to 2,000 reports about job scams. That's more than in all of 2019, when there were 1,757 reports.The centre says the 2019 cases represented $3.2 million in reported losses. There's been no tally yet of the losses in 2020."It's definitely something we've been tracking since the COVID-19 pandemic has happened," said Jeff Thomson, a senior RCMP intelligence officer with the Anti-Fraud Centre. "A lot of people are out of work, they will be looking for work and it's ripe for fraud right now."More than three million Canadians lost their jobs in March and April of?this year, as businesses closed or suspended operations due to the pandemic. Statistics Canada has described it as the fastest decline in employment in the country's history.Thomson said fraudsters see this?as an opportunity to switch?tactics and dupe those eager for work. They use sophisticated techniques in order to create fake websites and use counterfeit financial instruments, such as bogus cheques.He said another tactic is "caller ID spoofing," in which the caller will "use an area code that's in the same jurisdiction as the victim, because people are more likely to answer the phone if a call comes from their own jurisdiction."Scammers in CanadaMonize said the calls he got?from the people posing as Sobeys managers came from the 902 area code,?which is the same code as the company's?head office?in Stellarton, N.S.Monize also noted that "the man I spoke to had a South African accent."Insp. Peter Callaghan, commander of the financial crimes unit of the Toronto Police, said not all fraudsters are offshore."I'd like to reassure people and tell them scammers are in some faraway place," said Callaghan, "But the reality is they're here as well. They're all across Canada."The financial crimes unit works with other agencies here and in the U.S. to shut down teams of operators, but Callaghan said they typically "pop up" again with a new scheme in another location.Sobeys is hardly the only company to be used as bait. "I would say that if you can think of a major corporation, their name has been used at one time or another," said Callaghan.In an emailed statement to CBC News, Sobeys acknowledged it is aware of "fake Sobeys career websites.""We are working hard to stop this fraudulent online activity," the statement reads, emphasizing, "All of our current career opportunities can be found at?https://jobs.sobeyscareers.com/."Monize believes the company should be making more of an effort to let Canadians know about the scam. He also blames LinkedIn."LinkedIn didn't do a background check on the company that I submitted the application to," he said.The online network says it has monitoring tools to help prevent fraudulent job postings, and is "constantly evaluating" its policies."When this job posting was brought to our attention, we immediately removed it from LinkedIn, as it violates our Terms of Service," says a LinkedIn statement sent to CBC News.'Recognize, reject, report'Thomson at?the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said it's important to try and authenticate job offers. "You might want to reach out to the companies directly, to research the employer that you're looking to get hired by and do your diligence to make sure everything's OK."He also encourages Canadians to notify the centre of any cases of fraud. "We always say, 'Recognize, reject, report.'"Tony Monize has reported his case, saying it was yet another challenge in a hard year for him. He lost his wife to cancer in January."This latest situation touches me a little bit more because of what I've been through," he said.He's thankful he didn't lose any money to the scam, but he has had to change his bank account and driver's licence after sending that information to the fraudsters."I didn't send my social insurance number," Monize said. "I'm smarter than that."In the meantime, he's been in touch with his former employer about getting his old job back. Most staff at the firm are still laid off, but Monize is eager to return to work as soon as possible."I talked to HR to say I wanted to recant my resignation," he said. "And they said, 'Just hang in there, we'll work something out.' So that was positive. It just goes to show: Don't burn your bridges."

  • City bans popular northeast food trucks after sudden spike in complaints
    News
    CBC

    City bans popular northeast food trucks after sudden spike in complaints

    Two food trucks selling Indian and Pakistani food by a popular northeast park?for the last three years have suddenly been told by the City of Calgary that their trucks are now banned from the area.The city says the?truck owners didn't break any bylaws or?rules, but that officials?had to act over a recent spike in?complaints related to traffic, parking, noise and litter in the area?around?80th Avenue?N.E. and Taradale Drive?N.E.But the truck owners say the complaints to the city only surfaced?in recent weeks after UCP MLA Devinder Toor got involved in pushing a petition to have them?moved, which they say was driven by?a small number of residents?who live near the park in the community of Taralake?that didn't like them being there.The Lahori BBQ Hut and Indian Bistro trucks parked up?most nights until 11 p.m.?without incident,?serving?Pakistani and Indian meals?to people using the busy green space and lake, which are?surrounded by apartments and family homes backing onto the park.But some residents say?the trucks were responsible for?attracting?gangs of rowdy youths in loud cars who stay late into the night, increasing?traffic volume in the area and bringing other?problems like jaywalking?and?noise pollution from the trucks themselves.The truck owners allege that?on?May 30?they were visited by?Calgary-Falconridge?MLA Devinder Toor along with a group of men, whom they describe as a mob.They?said the group threatened them with closure,?spoke to them aggressively and demanded they?move away from the area for good. The owners both?say it was a?confrontation that?felt more like a threat than a conversation.?"Devinder?Toor?showed up with a group, about 15 of them, and demanded?my wife move the truck. I told them I have a right to be here, but?Toor?told us?he?is an MLA and he can?make new rules so we can't park here anymore," said?Telat?Ejaz, owner of the?Lahori?BBQ?Hut truck,?speaking to?CBC?earlier this month.In an interview at the time, Toor?gave?a different account?of approaching?the truck owners and denied threatening to have them removed or using his position to change?parking regulations.A few weeks later,?the truck owners say Toor and local residents got exactly what they had promised?with the city declaring the area a prohibited zone for food trucks.There is?no option for the trucks to appeal the decision."It's heartbreaking news," said Ejaz, shortly after receiving a letter from the city.He said it couldn't have come at a worse time as small businesses like his struggle to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic."We were operating according to the law," he said. "Bylaw officers measured the noise and told us we are good to go. We?were happy we were doing everything according to the law."I requested they give us two more weeks so?we can find?another spot and educate our customers where to find us, but they refused."Ejaz?said the trucks?are victims of what he calls "northeast politics.""We left back home where there was no law, no justice and coming here, this is very sad news," Ejaz said."There was not a single complaint and now suddenly?there are 50 complaints? The city checked everything, we have not broken any promise or any law."Ejaz?said Toor was "a powerful politician. And politics talk.""They went door-to-door to get signatures for this?petition,"?Ejaz said.He said?calls to 311 came out of nowhere after years of the trucks operating with no complaints.?"It's a surprise for me," said Daniel Punni, owner of the Indian Bistro truck."It's final, that's it, what can we do? It's going to be difficult for me.?This is our summer season."The City of Calgary said the trucks were creating problems, bringing too much traffic and noise to the area, impacting?"safety" and "quality of life" for local residents.The city received 43 complaints to 311 between?June 9 to?23 about?the trucks,?in addition to some letters and the petition."There has been increased tension between the business owners and the residents," said?Abdul Rafih, the city's acting manager of compliance services.Rafih said the city had to declare that the area would no longer be available for food truck operations, calling it a "data-based decision.""Concerns were raised to a number?of political leaders at the municipal and provincial level," said?Rafih, who added?the food truck operators were?cooperative in meeting all of the standards laid out?in the city's business standards bylaw.There are 18 locations in Calgary where trucks are prohibited from operating, with 80th Avenue now added to that list."It's a very tough decision," said Ward 5 councillor George Chahal. "The trucks offer really good food and that's why they are popular and I'd encourage people to visit them as they move around because we need to support small local businesses."But business licensing and bylaw decided in the best interests of the community that they didn't want to allow this to continue to occur there."Chahal said there are other places the trucks can go in the area and around the city.He said?the city needed to take everything into consideration to keep local residents?happy.The truck owners said they need to get back out and operating again?as soon as possible as they try to keep their businesses?afloat.

  • The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada
    News
    The Canadian Press

    The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

    The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 6:13 p.m. on June 28, 2020:There are 103,250 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 55,079 confirmed (including 5,448 deaths, 23,786 resolved)_ Ontario: 34,654 confirmed (including 2,658 deaths, 30,107 resolved)_ Alberta: 7,996 confirmed (including 154 deaths, 7,322 resolved)_ British Columbia: 2,878 confirmed (including 174 deaths, 2,545 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 778 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 661 resolved)_ Manitoba: 311 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 300 resolved), 11 presumptive_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 158 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases_ Total: 103,250 (11 presumptive, 103,239 confirmed including 8,522 deaths, 66,191 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Why millions in undeclared cash flows across the Canadian border each year
    News
    CBC

    Why millions in undeclared cash flows across the Canadian border each year

    Every year, millions of dollars in cash enters and exits Canada stuffed inside envelopes, shirt pockets and bags.But only a tiny fraction?is moved by criminals. The rest is transported by average Canadians and visitors who are taking $10,000 or more into or out of the country.Since 2017, $91,673,189 in currency has been seized by the Canada Border Services Agency, while only $9,168,022 confiscated during that time is suspected to be the proceeds of crime. ?Many people are moving the money to support their family members who have just immigrated to Canada. The cash is often destined to be used for a down payment on a house or car.Sometimes the money is being transported out of the country to assist family members in other parts of the world.?"Individuals are taking currency to family members overseas, often in a Middle Eastern country?where there is less comfort with banks," said Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, a lawyer who founded?LexSage, which deals with international trade and tax law."So,?they don't want to wire transfer the money overseas.?They bring the currency with them."She said Canadians need to understand that carrying large amounts of cash doesn't mean someone is up to anything illegal. Cash can be viewed as the safest way to move money in some parts of the world.Every year,?Todgham Cherniak gets up to 40 calls from people who have had their money seized by CBSA and are trying to get it back.It's not illegal to move $10,000 or more across the border, however, people have to declare that money before they cross. If they don't, it can be taken."The most common scenario is someone has not converted US dollars into Canadian dollars properly, said Todgham Cherniak.?"So a person may have less than $10,000 US, but when converted into Canadian dollars it is more than $10,000 Canadian."We've had clients where they are off by $9.32 and the currency gets seized."Most of the time, after a fine ranging from $250 to $5,000 is paid, the money is promptly returned,?according to the CBSA.?But in some cases it can take months,?even years, for people to get their money back, said Todgham Cherniak.?If the CBSA suspects the money could be used to fund terrorism or is the proceeds of crime,?it may never be returned. ?"In some cases it is the individual's life savings that they're bringing into the country or they're taking to their family," said Todgham?Cherniak. "And sometimes they're left with not even enough money to pay for a taxi cab home."Bashir Zummeit, Todgham Cherniak's client, is facing that hardship now.?Two years ago, the Toronto barbershop owner and father of six planned to travel to his homeland of Libya to visit his mother. He saved $5,000 over a period of years to take to his?extended family.?Friends asked him to deliver?money to their families as well. In the end,?Zummeit had $19,000 US in cash to transport.Zummeit said he didn't think he could safely transfer the money electronically because Libya's banking system has been in crisis for several years."There's no business, no money, and people fighting," he said. "And those families, they're lucky to have someone working outside who will send money to them?so they can eat."They are suffering, they are desperate for money."On March 31, 2018, he packed the money into envelopes, stuffed them into his jacket pocket and his bag, and went to board a plane to Libya. He didn't declare the money.Todgham Cherniak said the process for reporting cash exports isn't easy.People have to go to a CBSA office and fill out a form stating that they're going to be transporting more than $10,000. She said some of her clients haven't even been able to locate the CBSA office to do that.?"The process is really obscure and a lot of people don't understand that they have to report exports of currency, but they also don't know where to look for the CBSA office," she said.?Zummeit spotted a CBSA officer just before he got on the plane and told her he was carrying more than $10,000 US. The CBSA officer seized the cash.The officer said the money wouldn't be returned until it was determined the cash wasn't going to be used for anything illegal.?Zummeit said he felt shame and embarrassment that he had let his family and friends down. ?He hired Todgham Cherniak. They?collected paperwork from Zummeit's friends to prove that the money came from?legitimate sources.?They appealed the seizure, but the money?still hasn't been returned. ??Zummeit could use the funds. His barbershop has been closed for months because of COVID-19."Please have a heart especially after this circumstance, give me my money back," said Zummeit, "That I can use it for my family when I have six kids and I haven't been working."The delays in getting the money back don't surprise criminology professor Stephen Schneider.?He's been studying money laundering since the 1980s.?The Saint Mary's University professor said it can be difficult to separate money earned legitimately from money made from illegal activity.?"It takes a long time to conduct the kind of investigative background checks on individuals to determine if … the funds are linked to illegal activity," said Schneider."There's certainly not enough resources within the [CBSA] or the RCMP to do that kind of background check."Schneider said most money travelling across the border is for legitimate?reasons and he believes the majority of money the CBSA seizes comes from China.?The Chinese government has a $50,000 limit on the amount of money it lets its people remove from the country, said Schneider. But people sometimes take more than that.Schneider said that is not a criminal offence in Canada, so it's not considered the proceeds of crime or money laundering. ?"In my opinion, without a doubt, the largest source of cash that comes across the Canadian border, undocumented cash, unreported cash, would be capital flight from China," said Schneider.?Capital flight refers to the?rapid movement of large sums of money or assets out of a country.Schneider said the majority of that money goes to help Chinese immigrants, usually in B.C.The CBSA would only say there are many reasons why a traveller would bring large sums of currency into the country, agreeing that most of the time it's for legitimate purposes. ? ? Todgham Cherniak said the CBSA needs to change its ways.She said it should give officers greater latitude to levy fines as opposed to seizing money. It should also speed up the appeals process, she said.The?CBSA said its officers are trained to detect deceit and other signs of criminality, and there are no plans to amend the current appeals process.?The agency has also started a new Trade Fraud and Trade Based Money Laundering Centre of Expertise. The centre will "identify, interdict, investigate and prosecute trade fraud," said a CBSA spokesperson in an email.Zummeit only wants one change with the CBSA.?He said it should make an exception for people trying to transport cash to help their families overseas.?"Our circumstances [are] completely different from anybody else," he said.?"We took that money for our family.?Nobody else. We have hearts and we have to help."MORE TOP STORIES

  • P.E.I. sees rise in anti-outsider sentiment as COVID-19 travel restrictions ease
    News
    The Canadian Press

    P.E.I. sees rise in anti-outsider sentiment as COVID-19 travel restrictions ease

    CHARLOTTETOWN — Canada's smallest province, which once branded itself the "gentle island," is seeing some not-so-gentle attitudes emerging toward people perceived to be from other provinces — a phenomenon Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says is likely driven by COVID-19 fears.The province has been closed to all non-essential travellers since April 17 and only began allowing seasonal residents from within Canada to submit applications to travel there on June 1.These travel restrictions have been lauded as being key to keeping the virus contained to only 27 cases in total since the pandemic began — now all recovered — with no hospitalizations, no deaths and no community spread of the disease.But with cottage owners now arriving on the Island, several people with out-of-province licence plates have had their cars vandalized, have been confronted or have had nasty notes left for them in incidents known locally as "plate shaming."Miriam Leslie, a local pastor, is leasing a car with Nova Scotia licence plates and discovered a note left on her windshield earlier this month that said, "Go the (expletive) back to the mainland."In place of a signature, the author signed it from "all of P.E.I." "When we found the note after a visit to a beautiful park, it definitely was disappointing," Leslie said Saturday.Leslie has now placed a sign in her front and back windows indicating she is an Island resident, which she believes has helped avoid further conflicts.Other similar incidents have been reported on social media in recent weeks. Jordan Bujold, a student at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, published a photo of her car on Facebook last week showing a large note in the window saying, "AVC student. Been here since January. Please don't damage my car again!"In an accompanying note, she says her car with New Brunswick licence plates had been keyed and that the same thing had happened to a woman she'd been speaking with who has Ontario plates.Others with out-of-town licence plates have reported being challenged in parking lots of grocery and retail stores by residents who quiz them on their travel history.These incidents come on the heels of weeks of heated debate among locals about the province's decision to allow seasonal residents to come to their cottages from provinces with active cases of the novel coronavirus.This debate has even spilled into the provincial legislature, with the Opposition and Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker blaming Islanders' uncharacteristic hostility toward outsiders on the King government for what he believes has been inconsistent messaging.King acknowledges the province's initial four-phase plan to gradually lift restrictions has been more accelerated, but he maintains all decisions to ease restrictions have been made in consultation with the province's chief public health office."From the beginning of this, we realized that we had to evolve and adapt every day on a lot of the decisions that we've been making," he said in an interview Saturday."I certainly feel confident in the process that we put together from the position that everything has been based on the best data and science and the best public health information."He characterized the anti-outsider sentiment as "isolated incidents" and believes they were sparked by fear of the unknown triggered by a concerning resurgence of COVID-19 cases in some American states."My own belief is that many people in our province and beyond have been watching events as they transpire around the world and maybe transporting that back here," he said."For example if you see what's taking place in Florida, it's vastly different than what takes place here, so I think that's a big part of it."Next week, starting July 3, travel and self-isolation restrictions for people within the four Atlantic provinces will be lifted, thanks to an "Atlantic bubble" announced by the four Atlantic premiers this week.King says he hopes Atlantic tourists will remember how hospitable P.E.I. has always been in the past and not see these recent negative incidents as a disincentive to come to the Island."Certainly it is my great hope that we will roll out the welcome mat for those who are visiting P.E.I.," King said. "The experience, if it is a little bit different because of COVID, I certainly hope it won't be any different from a hospitality situation."Leslie echoed this, noting that P.E.I.'s economy relies heavily on the tourism industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic's travel restrictions to date."These are anxious times for everyone. My hope is people will feel welcomed as visitors from off- Island," she said."If only we had not become afraid of each other during these months, perhaps people could feel more at ease."This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2020.Teresa Wright, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version mistakenly said seasonal residents were allowed to arrive starting June 1.

  • Lifestyle
    CBC

    Biological mother and her surrogate give birth to twins with a twist

    Roughly a week-old Sophia Grace and Austin Sheldon are considered twins by their parents with a little twist,?the two were born four days apart.Jasper resident Margo Sheldon had tried to have kids with her husband Ian Sheldon since 2014. The birth of their children was a result of Sheldon's sister offering to be a surrogate for their child. And later around the same time Sheldon finding?out that she was pregnant too.?"I was just beside myself, I was shaking and kind of in denial about it," she recalls.?The road to having the babies was not an easy one. The couple?had decided to start having children in 2014. But there were several miscarriages.?In 2017, they believed they had beaten the odds but their son, whom they had named Olivier, was stillborn.?After that Sheldon got?pregnant one more time, but during?her seven-week ultrasound, she found out that the baby had no heartbeat.?"I was completely devastated with that news," Sheldon said. "It really took me down a really dark place...It just felt totally unfair and brutal."Sheldon said at that point they had given up on trying to have kids.?But then during a family gathering in 2018 her sister Meena Buckham offered to be a surrogate for their child."When she offered that, it was a sense of relief and my answer was yes," she said.?After a?year of in vitro fertilization treatments and emotional ups and downs, they were able to get one embryo that was considered viable by doctors.?To celebrate, as well as take a break from everything, the couple decided to take a vacation to Mexico in October 2019.?Sheldon remembers being "laid back and drinking tequila with no fertility drugs, no supplements" and having no expectations of ever being pregnant again. However, she noticed her period was late and because they were on a remote island they had no access to a pregnancy test.?It wasn't until she got back to the mainland that she decided to buy one.?"I said well I'm going to go take the pregnancy test, you know, not thinking that it would light up like it did. Like a light bulb," she said.The result shocked her but Sheldon said she was also forced to take a step back into uncertainty.?"Sure enough the first couple of ultrasounds were very stressful," she said. "There were a lot of tears and a lot of emotion and a lot of the whole nine months were kind of a feat on its own."Buckham gave birth first on June 16 to Sophia Grace followed by Sheldon who gave birth to Austin on June 20 in Victoria, B.C., where Buckham lives.?With "two full hands and full hearts" Sheldon said she and her husbands couldn't be happier.?"At one point I prayed for sleepless nights, and so I try to be gracious when they come," she said.?She said the whole experience has also changed her for the better.?When she was pregnant with Olivier, the couple lived in Edmonton and had decided to move to Jasper once the baby was born. "Because it's a beautiful place to raise a family and that's where we grew up," she said.?The couple had a brand new house where they had set everything up. But after the stillbirth, the?move felt like?a shattered version of the home they had envisioned.She recalled going downtown to buy something as simple as bananas and ending up in tears.?"Because everybody knows you and they cry when they see you," she said.?Sheldon considers herself a positive person but said this experience has taught her to be more vulnerable "and letting things hurt and not trying to be brave and stick it out."??"It was a big teacher of this is awful and allowing it to be that way and I cried and cried and cried."Now Sheldon said she is at peace with her babies.The couple hopes to head home to Jasper next week to start the life they had dreamed of living.

  • Repatriate Canadian former ISIS fighters and family members, Human Rights Watch urges
    News
    CBC

    Repatriate Canadian former ISIS fighters and family members, Human Rights Watch urges

    The Canadian government is flouting its international human rights obligations by failing to repatriate and provide adequate consular assistance to 47 citizens who are currently detained in northeast Syria because of alleged ties to the Islamic State, a new report from U.S.-based Human Rights Watch alleges.Twenty-six of the Canadians being held in camps and prisons?controlled by Kurdish forces are children, and many are under the age of six, according to the advocacy group. The report says they are living in deplorable conditions at overcrowded camps with a lack of sanitation,?contaminated drinking water and poor access to health care."Abandoning citizens to indefinite, unlawful detention in filthy, overcrowded?and dangerous camps and prisons does not make Canada safer," said?Letta Tayler, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.?"The lives of Canadians are on the line, and the time to bring them home is now."An unknown number of Canadians travelled abroad to fight for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, as the militant group?took over territory in Iraq and Syria and implemented a harsh form of Islamic law.ISIS fighters are known for graphic videos documenting the beheading of journalists and aid workers and are accused by the United Nations of crimes against humanity for carrying out mass executions, abducting?women and girls as sex slaves?and using?child soldiers.Human Rights Watch says the government should immediately bring home all its detained citizens to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into Canadian society and, where appropriate, prosecute anyone accused of a crime.The Liberal government has insisted it won't put Canadian officials at risk to gather evidence and bring former ISIS fighters home to be prosecuted.?The 92-page report, titled Bring Me Back to Canada, is based on interviews with Canadian detainees, family members of detainees, and?other women and children?who have been held at al-Hol and Ain Issa, two of the camps in northeast Syria.Canadians detained while living under ISIS ruleThe Canadian detainees are among thousands of non-Iraqi men, women and children who were living under the rule of the Islamic State and were taken prisoner in the leadup to?ISIS's defeat at the hands of?U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in early 2019.Human Rights Watch says none of the Canadians have been charged with crimes in Canada, nor have Syrian authorities brought them before a court."No one is saying just set these adults free," said Tayler, acknowledging that some of them may have committed crimes by joining ISIS. "[But] holding people without charge,?without bringing them before a judge, simply because they're family members of ISIS suspects,?is absolutely forbidden under international law and it is particularly egregious to hold children in this fashion."Some family members of the detainees told Human Rights Watch that Canadian authorities have not contacted their relatives to provide assistance since they've been imprisoned. Family members also said they have received mixed messages from the government about whether they can provide money to their detained family members for food or medicine without being accused of supporting terrorism.On top of that, Human Rights Watch alleges that Canada has not facilitated citizenship verification for the 20 or so children who were born in Syria to Canadian parents and are therefore entitled to Canadian citizenship —?a situation that renders the children?virtually stateless."The innocent, such as the children who never chose to be born or live under ISIS, have no hope of leaving," the report says. "Meanwhile, any detainees potentially implicated in ISIS crimes may never face justice."??Government providing?assistance 'to the extent possible'?In a letter to Human Right Watch described in the report, Foreign Affairs Minister Fran?ois-Philippe Champagne said the Canadian government is hamstrung in its ability to help Canadians detained in Syria by the lack of consular resources in the area and the security situation. Canada does not have a functioning embassy or consulate in Syria at the moment.Champagne added that Canadian officials are in contact with counterparts at the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration for North and East Syria, the?local authority in the area, and are advocating for the detainees' well-being "to the extent possible."Canada has said that it will provide assistance to anyone who can make it to a Canadian consulate in a neighbouring country such as Turkey?or Lebanon.The fate of former Canadian ISIS militants and their families has been the subject of heated debate on the floor of the House of Commons in the past, with the Conservatives accusing the Liberals of welcoming home jihadist fighters.Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus, the party's public safety critic, said in a statement on Sunday that the party wants to see any Canadian who joined ISIS be prosecuted."The Conservatives have given the Liberals all the tools they need to hold ISIS terrorists accountable and to protect Canadians," said Paul-Hus. "We will continue to hold Justin Trudeau accountable and insist that he come up with a real plan to bring the ISIS terrorists to justice."Christian Leuprecht, an international security expert who teaches at Queen's University, said the government's reluctance to act on these detainees shows a refusal?to choose between an approach to foreign fighters that emphasizes prosecution, rehabilitation?or a hybrid of the two.?"Countries such as France have taken a prosecution approach. Countries such as Denmark have taken a reintegration approach. The Dutch have taken both a prosecution and reintegration approach," said Leuprecht, who also teaches at the Royal Military College of Canada. "Canada has no strategy and no approach at all."Leuprecht said domestic political considerations are also a factor, which make bringing the detainees home seem like?a "no-win situation" for any government.?"If you bring them home, there will be a public perception that the government is supporting people who … have possibly been engaged in very serious criminal offences," said Leuprecht. "It's politically easier and more expedient for the previous government and for this government not to do much about it."

  • 'I have the most beautiful room in the world': A look inside Yellowknife's COVID-19 isolation centre
    Health
    CBC

    'I have the most beautiful room in the world': A look inside Yellowknife's COVID-19 isolation centre

    Ricky Thatcher is adamant he wouldn't survive if he contracted COVID-19.The 65-year-old is recovering from pneumonia, an infection that penetrated deep into both his lungs. He worried it was COVID-19."I hope we never get it [again] in Yellowknife. If we do it will kill me," said Thatcher, his voice raspy.?Up until a few weeks ago he spent his nights sleeping on a mattress on the floor of Yellowknife's Salvation Army shelter. He also struggles with addictions.Now, he's living at the COVID-19 isolation shelter, located at the old Arnica Inn, in Yellowknife."It's been the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me … I have the most beautiful room in the world. I have a fireplace!" he said.Thatcher and 26 others who have experienced some form of homelessness are temporarily calling the shelter home.?Each has their own private room and supports to help them self-isolate during the pandemic.The shelter opened on May 4, 2020, with funding from the territory's Department of Health and Social Services and contributions from Rio Tinto.At the time there were five recovered cases of the virus in the N.W.T. — all travel related.?Fear of second waveBut there's still fear of a second wave and what could happen if the virus makes its way into one of the city's shelters.?"We were very much building the plane in the air in terms of getting it together," said Bree Denning, Yellowknife Women's Society executive director.?The shelter staff provide meals, rides to appointments, laundry service, and help getting groceries.Staff distribute managed doses of alcohol and cannabis to clients to help prevent them from going into withdrawal while self-isolating or leaving to get the substances.?"Our focus at first was to keep people in place as much as possible," said Denning.? "With Phase 2, COVID[-19] isn't the biggest concern. We also want to help people address their substance use, help them receive health care, help them find recreational activities," she said.There are still no guests allowed in rooms, except for elders who need help from family. The shelter is starting to offer activities like fishing outings, walks, crafts and board games.Pat Ryan, 73, didn't think much about the pandemic when it started. He says he feels supported by shelter staff."You ask somebody a question and they just don't walk away like in the big city ... I would like to thank everybody for helping me," he said.Andrew Sewi also lives at the shelter."This place means a lot," he said while getting some fresh air."There's programs and you got friends you can talk with and share things that are personal. People don't judge you. The workers are really good," he said.For some, like Clayton, isolation means increased loneliness.He asked CBC not to use his last name because he doesn't want unwanted visitors. He's nervous about COVID-19."It's been lonely and depressing. But it feels safe...I think all us are at risk for getting corona if it wasn't for this place."Medical wingIn one wing of the COVID-19 isolation shelter Dr. Jennifer Harris is getting ready to see clients.She's a family doctor offering primary care and support to help people manage their substance use, if they choose.The room has been converted into an outreach space with medical equipment and a privacy curtain."People being able to have the ability to have their primary care needs met, have you know the wherewithal to kind of consider where they want to be in terms of their substance use. I think you have to provide these basic necessities to allow people to be able to move forward along their own path."Bree Denning says it's too soon to say what kind of impact the COVID-19 isolation shelter is having on clients.?There have been challenges such as violence and a break-in from someone who wasn't staying there."Some of the most difficult to support individuals that we've experienced who you know have issues with keeping an apartment or not staying in shelters and things like that have been doing fairly well," said Denning."I think you know it's still early days," she said.

  • 1 person charged in connection with racist slurs, anti-Black graffiti reported in Toronto subway train
    News
    CBC

    1 person charged in connection with racist slurs, anti-Black graffiti reported in Toronto subway train

    Toronto police say one person was arrested and charged on Sunday afternoon in connection with?graffiti and racist slurs reported last week on a Toronto Transit Commission?subway train.??The incident?was first reported inside a Line 2 train at Broadview Station late Friday afternoon, said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green.Toronto woman Dionne Samantha Callaghan described the incident to CBC Toronto Saturday, saying?she sat down on the?subway on her way home from working at a hospital, when?a woman with a child started pointing at her and ranting, saying the N-word.Callaghan said she chose to ignore the woman, keeping her headphones in?and looking?down. While she couldn't hear the woman,?Callaghan?says, "I could see the?N-word being thrown at my face."At one point, Callaghan said the woman took the child's marker and wrote a phrase, which includes a misspelled version of the N-word, on the train's wall, while pointing at her.She described being?shaken and in tears following the incident.?The?train was immediately taken out of service after it was tracked down?at Kipling Station about an hour later.?Toronto Police said they received two witness calls about the incident on Friday?evening.?Accused not charged with a hate crime?Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson told CBC Toronto Sunday that the accused was arrested at 11 a.m. ET and?charged with?mischief to property under $5,000 and harassment.?Hopkinson said police have not charged the accused with a hate crime.?At this point, police are not releasing the name of the accused for their safety, Hopkinson added.?They have been released from custody and are expected to appear in court at a later date.?Green told CBC Toronto Sunday that the TTC is pleased that police, based on evidence and at least two complaints they received, were able to arrest and charge someone "very quickly."?"It was an act that was rooted in hatred," Green said.

  • B.C. principal's apology for blackface yearbook photo criticized by students
    News
    CBC

    B.C. principal's apology for blackface yearbook photo criticized by students

    Current and former students of the Langley Fine Arts School in Metro Vancouver say they're disappointed by the principal's apology for appearing in blackface in a yearbook?photo more than a decade ago.?In his apology letter, principal Jon Bonnar says the photo was taken for?Halloween in 2007. Bonnar, who was then vice-principal,?says he and the principal at the time, a person of colour,?dressed up as each other that year.?"This happened and it never should have. It was wrong," Bonnar wrote. "I understand how offensive it is to appear in blackface, and how it diminishes and demeans members of our Black community."Soleil?Mousseau, a Grade 10 student at the school, says she's glad Bonnar has apologized but she would prefer to see him and the school district vow to take specific actions to learn about racism.?Mousseau, who identifies as Afro-Brazilian,?just finished her first year at the school. She says while her overall experience there has been positive,?she has experienced subtle but powerful discriminatory comments sometimes referred to as micro-aggressions.Her first encounter with Bonnar, Mousseau says,?was him greeting her with, "That's quite the head of hair you have there." She says it's one of many comments she's heard?about her hair throughout her life that have reminded her that she's different."The first thing that went through my mind was, 'Wow, I don't even think he realizes what he's saying and how that can come across negatively,'" Mousseau said.Photo circulating for a long timeThe photo of Bonnar in blackface had been making the rounds among students and on public social media groups for months, Mousseau said. She thinks Bonnar must have known?it had been circulating.?She wonders why the apology didn't come sooner.?Izzy Cenedese, a former student who graduated last year and uses the pronouns they/them, says they first came across the photo about two years ago.Cenedese is one of several students who say they began recirculating the image of Bonnar in light of recent protests in support of Black Lives Matter.?They said?discussion among friends on the topic of blackface reminded them?of the photo."I think it's sad that it's taken this and all of us being upset and talking about it and being public about it for it to be properly addressed," they?said. "I hope that real change does come and real growth does come from this."'Deafening silence' from teachersJon Brin?graduated from Langley Fine Arts School in 2009 and was a student there when the blackface incident happened."What?I noticed immediately was an electricity in the air.?I looked to faculty members at the school to gauge their response," he said.?"I didn't hear anyone talk about it. I heard silence?—?deafening silence?— from some faculty. And I thought that was strange."?Brin says he has mixed feelings thinking back to the incident. On the one hand he says his experience at the school was positive, but he remembers several incidents?of racial insensitivity under the guise of creative licence.?"There were things that happened at the school that always pushed the envelope or raised an eyebrow," he said.?The school district issued an apology Saturday from the superintendent."I unreservedly apologize to our entire school community," said Langley Schools Superintendent Gord Stewart. "Particularly those that are marginalized and face challenges?that those raised in privileged environments do not."The district says it formed a committee two weeks ago that will work on "developing plans with specific actions to address racism in our schools and community."

  • City in talks to move homeless people out of tents in 2 parks as nearby residents say they feel unsafe
    News
    CBC

    City in talks to move homeless people out of tents in 2 parks as nearby residents say they feel unsafe

    City officials are in talks to move homeless people out of tents in two downtown parks and into hotel rooms as nearby residents say the encampment is encroaching on their green space and has made them feel unsafe.Toronto Mayor John Tory says senior officials have?been making "concerted efforts" for some time to rehouse people living in tents east of Yonge Street, in George Hislop Park, between Isabella Street and Charles Street East, and nearby Norman Jewison Park, between Isabella Street and Gloucester Street.Roughly 40 tents have been set up in the two parks and they are seen as one encampment. The tents are near Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto, a Christian charity that seeks to provide community for?marginalized people."I don't find the current situation to be satisfactory," Tory said in a telephone interview with CBC Toronto on Saturday. "I have met with representatives of the residents and some of the businesses in the area. The fact is, we are talking about a public park."Tory said the talks include representatives from Sanctuary but the city will only try to reach an agreement for so long before it will have?to take action.?"Our policy says, we give notice, we make those efforts, but those encampments can't continue to be in public parks indefinitely."Residents say situation 'truly overwhelming'Residents in nearby apartment buildings say they are concerned about the encampment and have circulated a petition in the neighbourhood addressed to the mayor, premier, local MPP, councillor, and prime minister. They say residents are afraid to walk in the area and have been subjected to insults and threats, have witnessed drug use, seen needles scattered around?and there has been vandalism.?They say the encampment has generated much garbage and people have been urinating in public places. Also, they say the lack of green space means children have no place in which to play.Tory said some businesses that?could have reopened?have remained closed?because of the encampment.The residents also say the city has not been listening to them. Emails and calls have been made to the councillor and mayor?and they say there has been little acknowledgement."We have tried everything, emailing, phone calls. We've been taking turns," Margarita Villarroel, a resident who lives in a building on Isabella Street, said on Saturday.Villarroel said the first tents appeared about 10 weeks ago. The residents have been meeting weekly since June?to discuss the encampment. The drug use is particularly disturbing, she said."It's truly overwhelming," she said. "The situation even too is worse at night. The screaming and yelling and chasing is really, really bad."She said many seniors are afraid to use bank machines. Some residents have reported being chased. Not all the buildings in the area have their own security, she added.Villarroel said she believes everyone in the tents should be moved all at once into housing where there are harm reduction services.?"The amount of garbage is so unhealthy for anybody," Villarroel added.On Friday, June 19, Toronto police raided a tent in George Hislop Park and seized 76 grams of crystal meth, 16 grams of fentanyl and more than $950 in cash. Officers charged three people in the park with drug trafficking. Police allege that drugs were being sold from a tent.'A tent is better than no tent'Greg Cook, an outreach worker at Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto, said offers from the city to rehouse people now living in the park are welcome. He noted that Toronto's Streets to Homes program workers moved 36 people from George Hislop Park to temporary apartments in early May."Our position is always we want the best for people who don't have housing," Cook said. "We want people to be safe and to have access to basic necessities, such as food and bathrooms. Our position is that we need to support people so that they can stay alive."About 1,000 to 2,000 people sleeping outdoors in TorontoEncampments have appeared in nearly 10 downtown parks?because people have no other options, he said.?Moss Park has about 50 tents. An estimated 1,000 to 2,000 people are sleeping outdoors in Toronto because there is no shelter space for them. There?are?700 to 1,000 fewer shelter beds because of physical distancing requirements due to COVID-19.Sanctuary has handed out more 400 tents since November 2019 because Cook said people need places to live.?"A tent is better than no tent," he said.?Cook said George Hislop Park is not Sanctuary's property and the charity?is not in a position to guarantee that tents will not reappear there."I don't understand even the framing that it's somehow our responsibility or our say around the park. We want people to be safe obviously and a park is better than an isolated spot where people are more likely to be harmed and where they are more likely not to get support," he said."We are basically using every tool we can to make?sure we are able to support people who don't have housing and who are poor and who need support," he said. "Often we get framed as the problem when we're just trying to support people who don't have the income to live in Toronto."Governments are not?building enough?rent-geared-to-income housing, he added.?As for the residents, he said it's important for them to realize some of the people in the tents are in their early 20s and are trying to figure how to survive in the city. Homelessness results when rents skyrocket, wealthy people are not taxed heavily, governments pass austerity budgets and developers take over governments, he said."I encourage the residents to think about why this is happening," he said.Councillor admits there is no instant solutionAccording to Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, the city wants a guarantee from Sanctuary that tents will not reappear in the parks and the charity will not encourage new people to move in, but she acknowledged that there is no instant solution.There are anywhere from more than a dozen to as many as 60 encampments in Toronto, she said.Wong-Tam said rapidly rehousing people from the?two parks is a priority. City staff have done?site visits?and Deputy City Manager Tracey Cook has indicated that?the Sanctuary encampment should be one of the next ones rapidly housed. Wong-Tam estimates?up to 70 people need housing.She said the city could house the people in a former hotel, but there would have to be shelter support staff, case workers, maintenance and catering?contracts. She said city staff are still working with Sanctuary leadership to ensure another encampment doesn't appear."Some of the residents?want an instant solution from the city. I think it's important for us to recognize that homelessness is a crisis and not something that is going to be solved entirely by the city of Toronto on its own, especially not in the light of a global pandemic," Wong-Tam said in an interview with CBC Toronto on Saturday."As the local councillor, I am very worried about the public safety of those who are actually living in the encampment as well as those who are in the neighbourhood surrounding the encampment because of the violence that people have been subjected to," she said. ?"It's been extremely stressful for everyone in the neighbourhood. The social conditions and difficulties are out in plain sight," Wong-Tam said.?She said the people in the park need to be indoors with access to regular meals, bathrooms and?medical attention. Some require mental health treatment, while others require addiction recovery programs. "As long as they are out on the street, they are going to be suffering," she?said.?Tory agreed that there's no point in rehousing people if tents are going to reappear.Sanctuary, for its part, said it is not responsible for poverty in the city and it believes the city is blaming the charity for homelessness.As for the mayor, Tory said he knows the residents are upset.?"We are making an effort to do it as quickly as possible," Tory said.?"I would say we're working very hard on it. We've been trying very hard to talk to the residents. We've been talking to Sanctuary. The progress has been slower than I think anyone would like, in terms of making sure that we can have reasonable, acceptable options for housing put in front of people and to get the full co-operation of everyone involved," he added.The mayor says he has a message for residents: "I understand their frustration.?I have heard their message.?I have heard their anxieties and their fears. We are going to work hard to try and resolve it in the normal way if we can."

  • Leamington, Ont., rallies behind migrant workers as 96 farm workers test positive for COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    Leamington, Ont., rallies behind migrant workers as 96 farm workers test positive for COVID-19

    Demonstrators took to the streets of Leamington, Ont., Sunday to draw?attention to migrant workers' conditions?in the area as large numbers of them test positive for COVID-19.The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 98 new cases of novel coronavirus in the area Sunday with 96 of them?among farm workers.?Three migrant workers have died in Ontario due to the virus and two of them were working in the Windsor-Essex County region.?In the morning, a caravan of vehicles drove past different farming facilities in the region, honking to show support to the workers and bring attention to the issues they are facing. The drive-by rally?was organized by Justice for Migrant Workers."We want them to know we recognize them as essential workers and they're important to us and our community," said organizer Elizabeth Ha."We see their working conditions [and] how they're living and we hope that with the number of people that came out that the government will do something to protect the workers instead of having them shipped back in body bags."?March for Migrant Workers' RightsA second march that?began in downtown Leamington?made its?way to the front of the Lakeside Produce facility where it was met by security.The group was asking for mandatory testing."They're saying no [to testing] because they know that if they test positive, they're going to be sent back to Mexico," organizer Mary-Catherine Croshaw?said."They need to have job security and they need to have CERB, that you and me are entitled to."?The group also called for better living conditions for workers."There's multiple, like 10 to 12 people, living in one house and, like, six men living in one room and they're all?sharing a washroom," Vanessa Gaspar said. "How are we supposed to stop the spread of that if they can't have proper housing?"The crowd also?chanted "Status now,"?a demand that the federal government give workers a path to permanent residency. They also want?better wages and benefits for the workers."What started off as being about COVID and the mistreatment of the migrant workers pertaining to that,?it bubbled into the whole situation of their rights," Crowshaw said. "It's a human rights violation, really.""We need the government to raise the standards and to enforce better regulations and furthermore we also need the government to make them guarantee overtime pay [and]?sick pay," she added.WATCH | Calls grow to improve conditions for migrant farm workers:?Nadeen Al-Taher took part in the march and said?migrant workers in Ontario and around the world are often oppressed and taken advantage of.?"Capitalist structures and racist structures are always interdependent with one another," Al-Taher said."This is why people of colour, Black and brown,?Indigenous people, are often subjected to such exploitation —?racism, threats, deportation — to keep them docile.?The Canadian government is very aware that without giving them permanent resident status, they are able to completely be exploited."?On-farm testing ramping upIn a Facebook post, Leamington Mayor?Hilda MacDonald said that large numbers of positive test results are to be expected in the coming days as on-farm testing has ramped up quickly in the region.She also said that an "isolation?housing plan" is being made for workers and groups of workers who test positive.

  • Cyclist saves puppy in distress off hot desert road In Arizona
    News
    Rumble

    Cyclist saves puppy in distress off hot desert road In Arizona

    Diane Lea spotted a puppy in distress off a roadway near Chapman, Arizona. The heroic cyclist saved the little pup! Amazing job!

  • Sports
    The Canadian Press

    Blue Jays name 58 players to club player pool for 2020 season

    The Toronto Blue Jays have named 58 players to their club player pool for the 2020 season. Toronto made the announcement on Sunday, three days before training camp is expected to begin. Sunday was the deadline for teams to submit player pools, although additions can be made later.

  • Regent Park community speaks out against racism after noose found at 3rd Toronto construction site
    News
    CBC

    Regent Park community speaks out against racism after noose found at 3rd Toronto construction site

    Community members gathered in Regent Park on Sunday evening to protest against anti-Black racism after a noose was discovered at a construction site in the area last?week.?The noose, found near Dundas and Sumach?streets on Friday, marks the third incident of its kind this month.?Organizers of the event —?which include the Regent Park Mothers of Peace, the Regent Park Neighbourhood Association and members of the community —?are pledging to "not be silent in the face of racist violence."?"It's in our backyards," organizer?Sureya?Ibrahim?told the crowd. "Very intimidating and very sad [that] it's happening here.""I'm not surprised, but at the same time I think the silence that's happening in this community makes me sick and we have, all of us, a privilege to do something about it."?Supt. Peter Moreira?spoke at the rally, saying police are taking the incident "very seriously."?"There is no place at all in this society, in our community ... for acts of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism," he said."We look forward to a time when we don't have to respond to calls like this."?Moreira?said an investigator has been assigned to the case, and they will be in contact with investigators looking into similar acts across the city.?"We don't know if there is a connection, but we are going to find out if there is," he said.?In a Tweet on Sunday, Toronto police's 51 Division said they will work with the company in charge of the construction site, The Daniels Corporation, to "find out who committed this heinous act."?Protesters also added signs in front of the construction site in support of Black Lives Matter, reading "United Against Racism" and "Stand Together."?Toronto Coun.?Kristyn Wong-Tam, who condemned the act over?Twitter on Saturday, spoke at the rally, calling it "unfortunate" and "heartbreaking" that protesters had to gather "under these conditions."??"This is a very difficult moment in time," she said.?"This is a hate crime and it needs to be treated as a hate crime."Wong-Tam said the noose sends?a "very clear and horrifying message to our members in the Black community.""I cannot imagine that this is random," she added. "It's just too difficult to scale a building of this magnitude and hang a noose."??Physical distancing and masks were required for those who attended the event.?'Shut down hate'?Regent Park isn't the only neighbourhood showing support for the city's Black community.?Posters and artwork, with?phrases such as "Shut down hate" and "Call out racism every time," can be seen outside Michael Garron Hospital in East York, where two nooses were found by Black construction workers on June 10.??The incident repeated itself on Thursday, just two weeks later, when?another noose was found at a downtown site, across from Scotiabank Arena, and owned by the same company, EllisDon.?Police said they were trying to figure out whether or not the two incidents at EllisDon are connected. Both are being investigated as hate crimes, police told CBC Toronto on Friday.?EllisDon and The Daniels Corporation say they have?launched their own internal investigations.?The CEOs of both companies have publicly denounced the incidents, calling them hateful and intolerable.?"This is a disgraceful act by someone weak and cowardly," Geoff Smith, of EllisDon, said in a news?release this week."We will do everything possible to identify, prosecute and evict anyone involved from our industry," Smith said.The Daniels Corporation's Mitchell Cohen agrees.?"We are disgusted and horrified at this heinous act, which we are treating as a hate crime," he said.?"This deplorable act against the Black community is unacceptable and we reaffirm that there is zero tolerance for racism, prejudice and hate on our construction sites and within our organization."Meanwhile, more than 1,000 protesters rallied in Nathan Phillips Square on Sunday afternoon to call for the defunding and abolition of all police forces in Canada as well as?Ontario's Special Investigations Unit.The event comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in?Minneapolis while in police custody, as well as?Toronto woman Regis Korchinski-Paquet, 29, who fell from her balcony after Toronto police responded to a call at her home on May 27, and Mississauga man Ejaz Choudry, 62, who was fatally shot by Peel police?while he was experiencing a mental health crisis on June 20.?'Racism is the real virus'Suze Morrison, the NDP's member of provincial parliament in Toronto-Centre, made a commitment on Sunday that she will?not stand behind any policies that are not looked at in anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism lenses.?"If my policy is not good or needs to be tweaked, I need to hear that from you," she said.?"The act that we are here today to condemn was vile, was racist, and no young Black child in this community should have to walk these streets, knowing that someone was willing to hang a symbol of their death and their oppression from the tallest towers in our neighbourhood."?Morrison also acknowledged signs that read "racism is the real virus," saying that people should be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, but are instead forced to confront acts of racism."We have to do better."

  • Retired educator worries teachers aren't being consulted about back to school guidelines
    News
    CBC

    Retired educator worries teachers aren't being consulted about back to school guidelines

    As a retired teacher, Joyce Nicholson has been following the developments about the back to school COVID-19 guidelines with interest — and concern."The decisions are being made from the top down," she said. "I don't see a lot of input coming from the people that are actually involved."Nicholson started teaching in 1975 and worked in the field both in Canada and internationally, including a five year stint as a high school guidance counselor in Calgary.She has seen many conversations about how parents feel about the guidelines, but worries teachers aren't being heard.In particular, Nicholson said she's thinking of teachers who have a newborn at home or a spouse who is immunocompromised.?"Parents are given a choice to do what they feel is right for their children concerning returning to school," she said. "Teachers do not have that same opportunity to decide what they feel is right for themselves as individuals."She's also concerned that once teachers do go back to school, they'll struggle to implement the guidelines."The kinds of things that teachers are going to need to do to ensure a classroom is safe is on top of that content that they need to?teach," she said. "It's a huge responsibility and I think there are a lot of assumptions and expectations on individual teachers."?Nicholson suggested bringing in retired teachers like herself or parent volunteers to help.But Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, doesn't think bringing back retired teachers is the answer."If it's retired teachers who we are depending on, well, often they're up in that age bracket that ... we're most concerned about with the virus," he said.Maze said individual teachers should talk to their employers about concerns they might have and he expects schools will need to hire extra cleaning staff.Recommendations can't be enforced, says STF presidentSchools have until June 30 to submit their back to school plans to the Ministry of Education and Maze said he's looking forward to seeing the specific actions that are included in those plans."We know that social distancing in schools is going to be very difficult," Maze said. "We have buildings that are at or over capacity. And so the recommendations from the chief medical health officer can't be enforced in those situations."He said many schools have portables added on to manage increased enrolment, but that solution doesn't address the increased need for bathroom space, which could be an issue if more hand washing is enforced."There's lots of parents and lots of staff members?and, of course, lots and lots of teachers who have lots of concerns for what's going to happen in September," Maze said."We want to make sure that student and staff safety is the No. 1?priority and that we're not cutting corners just in order to save a few dollars or because our budgets don't permit us to spend on safety of our staff and students."

  • Health
    The Canadian Press

    Caught in U.S. COVID-19 surge, Canadian ex-pats hunker down, spare a thought for home

    With COVID-19 cases surging in the United States, Canadians living in the country are hunkering down and find themselves thinking a bit more about home these days.Some expats who spoke with The Canadian Press from the hardest-hit areas said they were surprised by the speed at which their respective states reopened, while others said the situation was overblown.All are trying to maintain physical distancing and wear masks when they do go out."All we can do is the best we can to stay as safe as possible, but it's definitely nerve-wracking," said Houston resident and Toronto native Grace Gonzalez.Texas surpassed 5,000 hospitalizations last week as the second-biggest state scaled back its aggressive opening strategy, ordering bars closed indefinitely and restaurants to reduce capacity.In Houston, where Gonzalez has lived for eight years, the public threat level was raised to its highest level on Friday."I was in shock when they decided to open up Texas, I felt it was way too early," Gonzalez said. "We never saw a dip at all ... there wasn't any of that flattening of the curve before they decided to reopen."Gonzalez said masks weren't prevalent in recent weeks and many went about their lives as if everything was back to normal. But she stayed at home most of the time, while making limited trips to stores."I feel like a lot of mentality (here) is if you feel sick or if you're in one of those groups that are immunocompromised, you should stay home, but if I'm healthy, why should I have to stay home?" Gonzalez said.That question of individual-versus-collective good is something Ontario-born Cheryl Applebaum noted in Florida, where more and more younger people have been infected. The state set a record Saturday with more than 9,500 cases.Officials moved to shutter beaches and discouraged bar gatherings in a state that has more than 3,300 registered COVID-19 deaths. "It really just increased our anxiety level," said Applebaum, who lives in the Tampa area.Applebaum was born in Windsor, Ont., raised in Toronto and his lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years with her Canadian husband."Both my husband and myself are in the more vulnerable age group, we're both seniors and we have been very conscientious about social distancing, wearing face coverings, proper hygiene when we go out and come in," said Applebaum. "And to see some of the people in the grocery stores relax those things has been very disconcerting."Applebaum acknowledges the situation has her thinking about Canada a lot these days."To be honest, this (COVID-19) in conjunction with the political climate down here has made us seriously think about moving back," Applebaum said.However, not all Canadians living in the U.S. are overly worried.Ken Moon, who lives in a town just north of Dallas, feels the situation is overblown on both sides of the border."Others may chose to say you must hide away forever and never do anything again, but that's not how we live our lives," said Moon, a southeastern Ontario native who found out through serological testing that he'd had COVID-19 in February, with milder symptoms, despite having other health issues.Moon said he believes the bigger numbers in recent days are more a result of increased testing. He says the only real change in his day-to-day life is wearing a mask."It is what it is, the biggest thing is keeping those that are infected away from the seniors' care facilities," Moon said.Moon said he wasn't opposed to the Texas reopening plan, noting some acquaintances in Canada haven't left home in months."I have no idea where this idea of complete quarantine came from but that's what they're doing, and it's kind of like 'Why are you doing that?'" Moon said.Like in Canada, the COVID-19 circumstances vary across the country.The situation in Florida was worrisome enough for Ontario-born Laurie Turley-Michel that she headed back to her summer residence in Ohio early, with the impression that people in the Sunshine State were in denial about COVID-19."I was personally afraid to go out at all," said Turley-Michel, who has been in the U.S. for 15 years. "It wasn't until right before we decided to come back to Ohio that they implemented a stay-at-home order, but it didn't last long. Florida was one of the first to start reopening."She works at a law firm where employees are mostly working remotely and clients are obliged to wear a mask for meetings. Turley-Michel has largely stayed home. other than going for groceries or essential purchases. She always wears a mask in public."We haven't had family over here, we live in a rural area so it's easier to stay social distanced," Turley-Michel said.Amy Williams, who lives in a small town near the Arizona-Mexico border where cases have been low, said she was optimistic when the lockdowns in March in her home state and her home province of Ontario happened almost in lockstep."Ontario and Arizona issued lockdown orders within two or three days of each other and then I felt in terms of cases, we were on the same trajectory as Ontario and then our governor decided to open things up," said Williams, a native of Mississauga who will have to put off an annual summer trip home due to obligatory quarantine measures.On Sunday, Arziona had 3,858 new cases of COVID-19. Ontario, with almost double the population, had 178.Williams, a mother of two who works as a psychologist in the local school system, said her primary concern is how schools will reopen during the earlier August return in that state amid the spike."I just don't see how we're going to be able to not only physically prepare for the reopening, but mentally," Williams said."I don't know what that's going to look like."This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2020.— with files from Associated Press.Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    OUTSaskatoon to meet with Chief Cooper after officer threatens to out man to family

    Officials from OUTSaskatoon will be meeting with Saskatoon police chief Troy Cooper after a member of the Saskatoon Police Service was recorded?threatening?to out a member of the LGBTQ community to his family.In a statement on its Facebook page, the organization called the behaviour abusive and malicious, and said it "impacts the way that members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community experience the police as those who inflict harm as opposed to help."Chief Cooper said in a statement sent to CBC on Sunday?that a meeting between the two organization is set for this week to discuss the service's policies and to discuss the allegations outlined at a sentencing hearing on June 17 in Saskatoon Provincial Court."This is an important relationship for us, so when something happens that suggests there is a problem we need to stop and fix it," said Cooper.Cooper said he's now asked for the incident to be investigated and said he hopes to discuss its preliminary findings at the meeting next week, saying the police service regularly meets with members of OUTSaskatoon.The incident began at the Ramada Hotel in Saskatoon on Oct.27 when police were called by a woman who said there was an unknown, intoxicated man in her room who was fighting with people.However, it was later learned the woman who called police had walked in on her friend having sex with the man, "and she freaked out," said Crown Prosecutor Ainsley Furlonger, who called the behaviour homophobic.Man was scared parents would find outPolice arrived and said the man was initially co-operative and officers were set to drive the man home. However, that changed when the man revealed he was having oral sex with the woman's friend, and he was frightened this information would be revealed to his parents. Police officers said they were concerned about the man getting home safely, so they arrested him for public intoxication.That is when he became belligerent, combative and verbally abusive, police said. This continued to escalate to the point that he headbutted an officer and spit in another officer's eye.As officers were trying to subdue the man while in detention, an officer taunted him by threatening to reveal to his family he is gay. The man pleaded guilty to charges of assault and was given a six-month conditional discharge after?Judge Doug Agnew accepted a joint sentencing submission."The comment was something like, 'OK, fine, let's call your Mom,' said Furlonger. "I think that probably came more out of exasperation, but it doesn't really matter."In the post online, OUTSaskatoon pointed to the incident as one of the reasons it feels funding for the police needs to be reallocated."It is clear from the release of this article, that our attempts to provide education about how to respectfully interact with 2SLGBTQ+ community members has not translated into supportive and educated action on the part of the Saskatoon Police Service," OUTSaskatoon said in the post. "The behaviour of this officer is unacceptable."In the statement sent to CBC, Cooper said he'll also be using this week's meeting as an opportunity to hear from the organization more broadly on what the service needs to do to build a stronger relationship."Policy and training are important, but we need to make sure they are actually resulting in a safe interaction between officers and the gender and sexually diverse community," said Cooper in the statement.OUTSaskatoon said in the?Facebook post it will be publishing the results of its meeting with the Saskatoon Police Service to ensure it's being fully transparent.

  • News
    CBC

    BC Ferries vessels diverted for rescue of 3 boaters in Strait of Georgia

    Three people were rescued from the Strait of Georgia on Sunday afternoon following a?search-and-rescue?effort that called in?two BC Ferries ships.The trio was?boating in a 6.5-metre vessel?in the Strait of Georgia, between Sechelt and Nanaimo, when the craft started taking in water just after 4 p.m, said Lt. Chelsea Dubeau, a spokesperson for the?Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria.A rescue call came in, and two BC Ferries ships — the Queen of Oak Bay and the Queen of Cowichan — were dispatched to help with the search and rescue, alongside vessels from the Coast Guard, Dubeau said.Hamid Tarighatbin?was on one of the ferries that were dispatched. He says the vessel,?headed to Horseshoe Bay from Nanaimo, was delayed earlier in the day due to a mechanical issue.Were it not for that delay, the ship wouldn't have been in the vicinity when the rescue was called, he said."These guys in the water ... they were very lucky that we basically have a delay, otherwise they might not have found them," he said.Dubeau says all three people on board are safe. Rescue officials aren't clear what caused the boat to take on water.

  • Rights group blasts Ottawa for not helping detained ISIL members, families
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Rights group blasts Ottawa for not helping detained ISIL members, families

    OTTAWA — The federal government has been accused of violating its international human rights obligations by refusing to help dozens of Canadian men, women and children detained in squalid camps in Syria because of their suspected links to the Islamic State.The accusation by New York-based Human Rights Watch is contained in a scathing report released Monday that calls on Ottawa to immediately begin bringing the detainees home — starting with the 26 Canadian children known to be in the camps.One of those children is a five-year-old orphan known as Amira who was found on the side of a road last year after her parents and siblings were killed in an airstrike and whose case has been raised with the federal Liberal government in the past."The government of Canada is flouting its international human rights obligations toward Canadians who are arbitrarily detained in northeast Syria," reads the 92-page report, which included interviews with detainees, families and Canadian and foreign officials."The obligations that Canada has breached include taking necessary and reasonable steps to assist nationals abroad facing serious abuses including risks to life, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment."It went on to paint a disturbing picture of conditions in the camps, with food and clean water in short supply while disease and violence are rife. Children were seen drinking worm-infested water while "morality police" hunted women who criticized ISIL.The Human Rights Watch report is the latest to take aim at the federal government when it comes to Canadians detained in northeastern Syria following the collapse of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.Ottawa has previously cited the lack of Canadian diplomats in Syria and safety concerns around sending officials into the camps where around 100,000 suspected ISIL members and their families are being held as reasons for not doing more.Yet Human Rights Watch noted Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway and the United States had all repatriated children, and in some cases their mothers, since October. That included 10 French orphans and children in June.The federal government also recently helped 40,000 Canadians return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization said, including 29 from Syria. The 47 known Canadians in the Syrian detainee camps include eight men, 13 women and 26 children."Although Canadian authorities do not cite potential political fallout as a reason, in 2017 (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau faced a backlash simply for supporting rehabilitation programs for Canadian (ISIL) suspects who return home," the rights group wrote."To be sure, the repatriations are not always popular," it added, noting an attempt to repatriate a Norwegian mother and child led to the collapse of that country's government. "But the vast majority of repatriations have taken place with little or no controversy."The Canadian detainees in the camps administered by Kurdish-led organization include Mohammed Khalifa, who has been described as an ISIL propagandist, and Jack Letts, a dual British-Canadian national dubbed "Jihadi Jack" by British media.The British government revoked Letts's citizenship last year. Neither the Liberal government nor the official Opposition Conservatives have expressed enthusiasm for returning him to Canada despite repeated pleas from his family.Yet Human Rights Watch argued for repatriation as the best — and potentially only — way to hold Canadian ISIL members to account as there is no process in Syria to investigate and prosecute those suspected of crimes."None of the Canadians has been charged with any crime," it added. "Nor have the Canadians been brought before a judge to review the legality and necessity of their detention, making their continuing captivity arbitrary and unlawful."At the same time, the group raised the question of whether Canadian authorities are withholding or limiting consular assistance from those in the camps because of their suspected links to ISIL, which it says would also violate international law.While Trudeau expressed confidence last year in the RCMP to investigate Canadians who travelled to fight alongside extremists in Iraq and Syria, he said it is difficult to present the information gathered abroad in court as evidence of crimes.The government is ensuring Canadian agencies have the necessary resources and opportunities to collaborate with foreign allies on such cases, he added.An annual federal report on extremism last year said some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad and, in addition, approximately 60 had returned.A small number of the 60 returnees had come back from Turkey, Iraq or Syria but many who remain abroad were said to lack valid travel documents, find themselves on a no-fly list or fear being arrested on Canadian soil.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 29, 2020.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

  • As Toronto's new COVID-19 cases keep dropping, the death toll from opioid overdoses keeps growing
    News
    CBC

    As Toronto's new COVID-19 cases keep dropping, the death toll from opioid overdoses keeps growing

    As the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Toronto keeps dropping, the death toll from another ongoing public health crisis — opioid overdoses — continues to rise.In April, 25 fatal suspected opioid overdose calls were reported by Toronto paramedics, marking the highest suspected number of dead?since September 2017. In May, another 25 suspected deaths were reported.Advocates warn the likely total?for June, which won't be released by the city until next month, could be similarly high."The last few months have marked the worst period of the current overdose crisis," said Jason Altenberg, CEO of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, which provides harm reduction services in Toronto's east end.And, he added,?there's a clear connection between the pandemic and this spike in overdose deaths.?Public health messaging to battle COVID-19 has called on residents to stay apart, likely causing more people to use drugs alone — without any support nearby in case of an overdose — as local harm reduction services shuttered or reduced capacity, Altenberg said.He added?the drug supply itself grew "more potent, more toxic, more unpredictable" as global supply chains broke down, leading to?potentially-deadly combinations of drugs circulating in the community."The street drug supply remains not only extremely toxic, but more toxic than before the pandemic," Altenberg stressed.Drug users 'extremely scared'Akia Munga, a harm reduction worker based in Toronto who uses they/them pronouns, said people are "extremely scared" since the combination of a tainted supply and increased solo drug use is proving so deadly."Folks use off site.?Folks use in alleys. Folks use in the park," they said. "Folks use in places that are accessible and comfortable at the time —?but we're not there."One woman Munga knew personally, who typically used an east-end safe consumption site where staff would monitor her drug use to prevent an overdose, died within the last couple of months. Every time it happens, they added, it's "tragic."Ontario's cap on overdose prevention sites and a lack of movement on providing safe, government-supplied drugs are also?challenges when it comes to keeping people alive, said Munga, who is also a drug user.WATCH: Deaths from opioids spike during the pandemicIt's an issue beyond Toronto as well.According to the Ontario coroner's office, there was roughly a 25 per cent increase in?overdose deaths?from March to May 2020 compared with the same three-month period last year.??In British Columbia, 170 people died of overdoses in May, marking a grim new record for the province.With no end in sight to either health crisis —?the COVID-19 pandemic and?opioid overdoses —?city officials say more action is needed before the death toll climbs even higher in the months ahead.A recent report from Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, later approved by the city's board of health, calls on the provincial government to help boost harm reduction programs, including implementing safe supply sites that would provide drugs directly.De Villa is also asking the federal government to increase funding for a "spectrum of safer supply initiatives."Province not considering safe supply sitesA spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Health told CBC Toronto the province is not "currently considering" opening safe supply sites, but will continue funding the 16 consumption sites that already exist.Coun. Joe Cressy, Toronto's board of health chair, said conversations are now quite "advanced" between local organizations and the federal government regarding opening sites for safe supply, though no official funding announcement has been released.?Federal health officials also did not provide comment in response to CBC Toronto's inquiries by publishing time."It is a serious public health emergency taking place right now, and our decision-makers seem to be ignoring it," Cressy said."Frankly, other levels of government are focused completely on COVID?— at the expense of the opioid crisis."

  • Black Lives Matter mural in Gatineau was vandalized, artist says
    News
    CBC

    Black Lives Matter mural in Gatineau was vandalized, artist says

    An?artist says her Black Lives Matter mural in Gatineau, Que., was defaced?and she was threatened by the alleged vandal as she tried to repaint it.Meredith Jay designed the mural on a designated graffiti wall?in Parc?Belmont?in the city's?Aylmer sector three weeks ago.She told Radio-Canada that on June 24, she noticed someone had painted the slogan "All Lives Matter" — a phrase often used to criticized the Black Lives Matter movement — over her work.Jay said as she was repainting the mural late that night, she was approached?by a man claiming to be the vandal.She said the man had a baseball bat and a dog on a leash. She said he threatened to let his dog attack her and her friends."He used his baseball bat on my paintings," said Jay.?"I was fearing for my safety. I was fearing for the safety of the Black community in Gatineau, for the people of colour?who live here."Jay contacted Gatineau police after the incident. She returned to the park the next?day to continue repainting the mural.Gatineau police could not confirm on the weekend if they had investigated or had made any arrests.Racism 'not being addressed'Jay believes it was important to repaint her message and that the vandalism shows racism is still prevalent in the community."It's been plaguing this country. It's been plaguing this province particularly, and it's not being addressed properly," she said."We have a lot of Haitians, a lot of Africans, Blacks from the Caribbean. They?deserve respect and a Black Lives Matter mural that says, 'We stand with you, you are not alone against the systemic racism."

  • What's Good: John Krasinski has nothing on 'Good News, Métis Style'
    News
    Yahoo Canada Original Videos

    What's Good: John Krasinski has nothing on 'Good News, Métis Style'

    The teachers at St. Michael Community School in Saskatoon take pride in building relationships with their predominantly Métis students. So when the pandemic hit, a video series became their way of connecting with kids.

  • Police arrest woman in connection with racist graffiti on TTC
    News
    Global News

    Police arrest woman in connection with racist graffiti on TTC

    The Toronto Police Service has arrested a woman following a racist incident on a subway car Friday afternoon. The ordeal has pushed the victim to go public with her story in an effort to inspire others dealing with racially-motivated attacks. Morganne Campbell has more in this report.