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911 call summoning Ottawa police to wrong address leaves mother, 4 kids shaken – CBC.ca

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An Ottawa family’s interaction with police after a 911 call that mistakenly brought officers to their home is once again raising questions about officers’ involvement in wellness checks and the way they enter private homes.

Around 5:45 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, city police responded to a call about a potentially suicidal man.

The call was about a man “threatening self-harm,” but the female caller gave the wrong address, say police. 

They narrowed down the call’s location to within 25 metres and entered a home on Montgomery Street in the city’s Vanier neighbourhood, but it was the wrong house. 

In their search for the distressed man, Nadia Ngoto said police walked into her home without permission.

“I didn’t hear them announce themselves,” said Ngoto, 38. “I have four children and one roommate, and not one person heard police announce themselves.”

Family ‘terrified’

She said police first walked to the back of the house, and knocked on her 11-year-old son Armaan’s bedroom window with their flashlights and startled him awake.

Armaan Ngoto, 11, says he didn’t really know what was going on when officers entered the family’s Ottawa home early Wednesday morning. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

“I was scared because I don’t have the best experience with officers and I didn’t really know what was going on and everybody in my house was asleep, so I was pretty terrified,” said Armaan, who said he saw three officers by his window.

He said he wanted to leave the room to get his older brother, but was told not to move. The officer asked about the address of the home and its layout, Armaan said, but he couldn’t remember the address because the family had just moved in two months earlier. 

CBC News asked Ottawa police if waking up the child was considered “announcing their presence.”

“Front-line officers attended this home and spoke to a young resident through a window,” the Ottawa Police Service said in an email. “Simultaneously, other frontline officers entered through the unlocked front door, announcing themselves before and during their entry.”

WATCH | Police under scrutiny for no-knock raids:

Police forces across Canada are conducting hundreds of no-knock raids each year to execute search warrants. 2:01

Around the same time Armaan was being questioned, Ngoto’s oldest son, Ozzy, was awakened by heavy footsteps walking across wooden floors. He could see the flashlights shining through the cracks of his bedroom door.  

“I proceeded with caution and opened my door,” said Ozzy. “I saw this tall figure … and he turns around, and he has this huge-ass gun in his hand and starts asking me all these types of questions about someone named Carlos who I didn’t know.”

He said a flashlight was shone in his face and he could see what looked like a long gun at the officer’s hip level. 

“You don’t expect to see armed men in your home. I assumed it was an accidental call [that] someone tipped them off about a drug charge and they got the wrong address.”

Ozzy Ngoto, another sibling in the home, encountered police responding to the mistaken 911 call. (Jean Delise/CBC)

Ozzy says he was even more disturbed when officers told him they were there for a suicide wellness check.

“That threw me off even more. That doesn’t seem to de-escalate things,” said Ozzy. He estimates there were at least 10 officers in his home. 

Ozzy says police said “sorry” as they exited after realizing they had the wrong house, but before they left officers did a “sweep” of the house and barged into the upstairs bedroom of a 70 year-old family friend. Ozzy estimates they were in the home for about 15 minutes.

Questioning police wellness checks

CBC analysis of deadly police encounters show that the majority of the victims suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. Black and Indigenous people are also disproportionately killed in police encounters.

They told my son “Don’t move” … Would he have gotten shot for not listening to instructions?– Nadia Ngoto, mother

Kevin Walby, a criminologist at the University of Winnipeg, said past fatalities show why police should not be engaged in mental health calls. He said resources should instead be put into solutions that turn health workers and community advocates into first responders to these types of calls.

“If we reimagine the way we respond to distress, re-imagine the way we respond to transgression so that so we’re not defaulting to policing all the time, but instead empower these community groups that have so much passion to keep people safe — then I think we would be in a situation where people don’t have to worry about getting killed by police,” he said.

Nadia Ngoto says her trust in police has been further damaged after officers entered her home without permission. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Walby finds it particularly galling that the incident at the Ngoto family home occurred just two days after Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly announced a temporary ban on “dynamic entries” involving searches for disposable evidence, such as drugs. The force has come under fire for several cases of misconduct related to no-knock raids revealed by the The Fifth Estate.

He wonders if there is a disconnect between the police executive and the rank and file.

Walby said judges have ruled that a police announcement of entry has to be “loud and clear … and have some duration. And it doesn’t seem like any of that was there [in this case].”

Despite Ozzy Ngoto’s account of seeing officers with long guns, Ottawa police say this was a wellness check and not a dynamic entry. The force says its tactical officers did not enter the home, although they were called in later to support the search for the potentially suicidal man.

Police didn’t find the distressed man that night, but Nadia Ngoto said her family has been retraumatized.

For several years, the Congolese-Canadian lived in shelters with her children after fleeing domestic violence. Ngoto and her four sons have had negative experiences with police involving racial profiling, she said.

“If any of us made the wrong move, we would have been the ones in trouble or dead.

“They told my 11-year-old son, ‘Don’t move, don’t move.’ So what if he turned his back and left his room? Would he have gotten shot for not listening to police instructions? Those are questions I don’t want to know. It’s a nightmare.”

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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Molson Coors’ JV Truss launches 6 pot-infused drinks in Canada

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(Reuters) – Miller Lite beer-maker Molson Coors Beverage Co’s cannabis joint venture Truss Beverage Co on Wednesday launched six pot-infused beverages in Canada, as it hopes that summer demand will offset recent sales hits from COVID-19 lockdowns.

Coronavirus restrictions in major provinces including Ontario have forced weed stores to shut for extended periods, and are expected to hit cannabis companies’ results for the March quarter.

The summer season, which tends to represent peak demand for beverages, will be crucial for companies to undo the damage.

Truss, jointly run by Canadian pot producer Hexo Corp, launched five CBD-infused beverage brands in August last year and claims to have already won a 43% market share in the category in Canada. (https://bit.ly/3wThh2D)

“Summer … is the biggest opportunity for the beverage category; it is the inflection point for consumers to try out our products,” Truss Beverage’s Chief Executive Scott Cooper told Reuters in an interview.

“Cannabis-infused beverages are still new and tend to be an impulsive purchase, so having the store open is important to the trial and awareness of the category,” he added.

Truss said its latest beverage line included watermelon, lemonade, sparkling tonic and honey green iced tea flavors, and are expected to be rolled out to retailers over the next few months.

 

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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Canadian retail titan W. Galen Weston dies at 80

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(Corrects April 13 story to remove references to Primark in paragraph 3 and what had been paragraph 6, to reflect that Primark is actually owned by a different Weston family)

By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) -W. Galen Weston, patriarch of one of Canada‘s wealthiest families and retail titan, has died at age 80, according to a statement by the family on Tuesday.

Weston was the third generation of his family to lead George Weston Limited, an already-prosperous retail empire founded by his grandfather, which he expanded significantly.

The family company, now run by his son, Galen Weston, owns Selfridges in the United Kingdom, as well as the Canadian grocery chain Loblaw Co Ltd, pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart, and real estate company Choice Properties.

Weston passed away peacefully at home after a long illness, the statement said.

He was born in Buckinghamshire, England, and moved to Dublin at 21 to escape a domineering father, the Irish Times reported in 2014, where he met his wife, Irish model Hilary Frayne. They married in 1966.

In the 1970s Weston returned to his family’s base of operations, Canada, to revive the family’s struggling Loblaws supermarket chain, and helped turn it into one of the largest food distributors in the country.

“In our business and in his life he built a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and joy,” Galen Weston, chairman and CEO of George Weston Ltd, said in a statement.

“The luxury retail industry has lost a great visionary,” Alannah Weston, Weston Sr.’s daughter and chairman of Selfridges Group, said.

The Weston family is among the wealthiest in Canada, with Forbes estimating their total wealth at $8.7 billion.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in VancouverEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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Canada’s migrant farmworkers remain at risk a year into pandemic

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By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Pedro, a Mexican migrant worker, knew he had to leave the Ontario cannabis operation where he worked when so many of his coworkers caught COVID-19 that his employer began to house them in a 16-person bunk house alongside the uninfected.

Pedro moved in with friends in the nearby farming town of Leamington, Ontario, at the end of October. He asked to be identified under a pseudonym because he fears that speaking out will affect his chances of employment.

“I didn’t know where to go, where to get help. So I was left behind, hopeless,” he said, speaking through a translator. About a week later, Pedro landed another job, working with peppers in a greenhouse. Conditions are better, he said.

But he added: “To be honest, I don’t think all employers are taking precautions.”

Pedro is one of about 60,000 migrant farmworkers – many from Central America and the Caribbean – who come to Canada as part of an annual migration of people that ramps up in spring. They grow and harvest the country’s food supply and have continued to work in the midst of a pandemic.

They feed the country and are a crucial part of a C$68.8 billion ($54.8 billion) sector, making up about one-fifth of the country’s agricultural workforce, according to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

As the pandemic crippled travel last year, agricultural employers were unable to fill one-fifth of the temporary foreign worker positions they needed, costing Canadian farmers C$2.9 billion due to labour shortages, according to research commissioned by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council.

These workers are also uniquely at risk. They live and work in crowded settings, and language barriers coupled with precarious immigration status tied to their employment prevent them from speaking out about unsafe conditions.

Last year they were hit hard by COVID-19, with 8.7% of migrants in Ontario testing positive. This year they are returning as Canada is in the grip of a third wave. While governments and employers say they are taking steps to keep these workers safe, advocates and workers contacted by Reuters say the dangers remain – except that now, those dangers are known.

Graphic on COVID-19 global tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/

SAME CRISIS

Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, argues the same factors that made workers more vulnerable to COVID-19 last year – crowded workplaces, congregate living, visas that tie them to an employer and make them fearful of speaking out – still exist.

“We are walking into the same crisis yet again, the only difference being that we already know how bad it is.”

Keith Currie, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said employers are doing their best, but some transmission of the virus will occur.

“Because they’re living on the farm, they’re in contact with each other when they’re working … despite all our efforts, it spreads. Just like it does elsewhere in society.”

Some 760 farmworkers have been infected so far this year in Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, according to provincial data. Ontario put agriculture workers in Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccinations, which begins this month, and has set up a clinic at Toronto’s airport offering vaccines to migrants on arrival.

But advocates worry migrant workers might lack requisite identification, especially if they are undocumented.

Advocates argue not enough is being done to keep these workers safe from the pandemic. They say rules such as the requirement to get – and pay for – a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of coming to Canada place an undue logistical and financial burden on migrants.

Last month the federal government announced new measures meant to protect migrant agricultural workers, including beefed-up inspections.

But the migrants interviewed by Reuters argued what will protect them is more stable status that does not tie them to an employer.

“Hopefully this year, the government of Canada gives us status,” said Teresa, a migrant worker from Baja California.

($1 = 1.2559 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Matthew Lewis)

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