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Bored and abandoned: Canadians trapped in Wuhan say lockdown is a balance of tedium and anxiety –



Canadians trapped in Wuhan, China, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak say they’re safe but feeling abandoned by their consular officials.

Wayne Tremblay is one of 168 Canadians stuck in Wuhan.

He says the streets are quiet, but there are no barricades. Stores are open and nobody is in a panic, but they are anxious, bored and frustrated that American and British governments are working hard to get people out, while Canada is not offering much help.

There was nothing out of the ordinary when the Nanaimo, B.C., man headed to Wuhan Jan. 19, but that had all changed just two days later.

Cabin fever

By Jan. 21, he said, authorities began requiring masks and were reporting the virus was spreading human to human.

The streets of Wuhan are quiet but not abandoned. (Li Mei)

“It was pretty surprising — historically this has never really been done before,” said the 37-year-old branch manager of an insurance adjuster office on Vancouver Island.

Now Tremblay and his spouse are trapped in Wuhan. He said stores are well-stocked and he’s seen no panic.

“It’s fine other than cabin fever because you are stuck inside a house all day. Every day,” he said.

Tremblay said that he is disappointed with the response he got from Canada’s 24-hour consular line.

Tremblay said Canadian authorities made it clear that they are not trying to get citizens out on planes. He said that made him feel uneasy.

“Abandoned. Pretty bluntly, just abandoned,” said Tremblay.

His flight home Feb. 2 is now cancelled.

“Everyone is under the assumption that if other countries [are helping citizens get home] that Canada would be doing that — but they are not.”

Unverified videos circulating on social media show overcrowded hospitals and food shortages.

“That’s not something we are experiencing,” he said.

In China, he says, his wife and friends share inspiring social media videos showing neighbours sharing wine between buildings using their clothes lines — or singing songs to pass the time.

“Everyone is coping well,” he said.

Stricter than SARS controls

The lockdown is unprecedented —- and much more strict than ever experienced even by people from Wuhan who lived through the SARS outbreak years ago.

“My family survived SARS,” said Mei Jie Han, who moved from Wuhan to Vancouver. He was 15 when SARS hit in 2003.

He remembers hanging out with his friends because schools were shut.

“But it wasn’t like this. You could still travel. It wasn’t scary,” said Han, who is in B.C.

He said his parents, Li Mei and Jian Gang Han, feel trapped in their Wuhan home in the district of Jiang-An.

Li Mei, 57, of Delta, B.C., wears a mask in Wuhan. (Li Mei)

Han’s parents travelled from Delta to Wuhan on Jan. 10. They were expected to return by Feb. 8.

Han’s mother, 57, helps care for his four-year-old daughter, and he had been planning to travel to Florida for business.

Han says his parents are anxious.

“She can’t go out anywhere. She says now I know what it feels like to be a dog. To be locked at home for the whole day,” he said. Han says his parents are struggling to find fresh food — and face masks.

“You either stay home and starve or you risk it and go out to get food,” he said.

When trucks arrive at the stores, he says, people buy items before they are shelved. But he said the biggest issue is boredom — and the lack of direction from Canada.

The instructions are to stay home and stay safe and follow instructions from Chinese officials, he said.

“Physically they are OK. They don’t have any symptoms,” said Han, who is eager to get his family home and some normalcy back.

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Hundreds more unmarked graves found at erstwhile Saskatchewan residential school



An indigenous group in Saskatchewan on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of an estimated 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar, smaller discovery rocked the country.

The latest discovery, the biggest to date, is a grim reminder of the years of abuse and discrimination indigenous communities have suffered in Canada even as they continue to fight for justice and better living conditions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina. He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters, adding that oral stories mentioned adults being buried at the site.

Delorme later told Reuters some of the graves belong to non-indigenous people who may have belonged to the church. He said the First Nation hopes to find the gravestones that once marked these graves, after which they may involve police.

Delorme said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools, mostly Catholic, run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. “This is just the beginning.”


Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

The local Catholic archdiocese gave Cowessess First Nation C$70,000 ($56,813) in 2019 to help restore the site and identify unmarked graves, said spokesperson Eric Gurash. He said the archdiocese gave Cowessess all its death records for the period Catholic parties were running the school.

In a letter to Delorme on Thursday, Archbishop Don Bolen reiterated an earlier apology for the “failures and sins of Church leaders and staff” and pledged to help identify the remains.

Heather Bear, who went to Marieval as a day student in the 1970s and is also vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, recalled a small cemetery at the school but not of the size revealed on Thursday.

“You just didn’t want to be walking around alone in (the school),” she recalled. There was a “sadness that moves. And I think every residential school has that sadness looming.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country. Radar at Marieval found 751 “hits” as of Wednesday with a 10% margin of error, meaning at least 600 graves on the site.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

Thursday was a difficult day, Delorme told Reuters. But he wants his young children to know “we will get the reconciliation one day with action like today.”

($1 = 1.2321 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

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Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers



The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit



Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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