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'Canada is not immune,' leading Black voices say in response to Buffalo mass shooting –



Members of the Black community in Canada on Monday are warning this country is also vulnerable to hate crime as they react with shock and horror to Saturday’s bloodshed in Buffalo that left 10 Black people dead.

“Canada is not immune to it,” Velma Morgan, the chair of Operation Black Vote Canada, told CBC News Monday. 

“We’ve seen what happened at different places of worship, we see what happens in London, Ont., we’re definitely not immune to it at all.”

Payton Gendron, 18, is accused of a racist rampage after he crossed the state to target people at the Tops Friendly Market in one of Buffalo’s predominantly Black neighbourhoods. He had talked about shooting up another store as well, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN.

Authorities in Buffalo are working to confirm the authenticity of a 180-page manifesto posted online, which identifies the accused by name as the gunman. It cites the “great replacement theory,”‘ a racist ideology that has been linked to other mass shootings in the United States and around the world.

Velma Morgan, chair of Operation Black Vote Canada, says she was horrified when she heard and saw the news of the Buffalo shooting. (David Chang Photography)

Referring to a Statistics Canada report, which says hate crimes against Black Canadians increased by 96 per cent over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Morgan says Canadians should “absolutely” be concerned when it comes to tolerance and diversity.

“We definitely have to be very conscious of [hate crimes against Black people] and we have to, I think, pre-empt it,” Morgan said. 

“We need to start doing things to prevent that kind of behaviour here.” 

‘It’s just horrifying’

Morgan says she was horrified when she heard of, and saw, the news of the Buffalo shooting. 

“Just to think that on Saturday, people are doing their shopping, as we all do on a Saturday morning … And to think they were shot, killed simply because they were Black. It’s just horrifying,” she said.

“He didn’t just turn up at a store. He planned it. He planned to go to this place because he knew and probably had been there before. He knew that the majority of people there were Black. It was a Black community,” Morgan added.

“His alleged manifesto talks about Black people and our inferiority and all the things that he thinks are wrong with us. So, you know, it’s systemic racism, it’s a lack of education within the school system, educating people on people’s rights and people’s worth.”

Amanda Bartley, a human behaviour researcher and a board member with Family Service Toronto, says Black people experience fresh trauma whenever there’s an attack like the one in Buffalo.

“It’s super traumatizing to see your people gunned down and murdered, whether it’s at the hands of a civilian or even the police,” she said.

Amanda Bartley, a human behaviour researcher in Toronto, says Black people experience fresh trauma whenever there’s an attack like the one in Buffalo. (Submitted by Amanda Bartley)

Bartley says Canadian leaders need to “call out white supremacy … and be much more proactive in addressing hate crimes and far right violence before it even occurs.” 

“It feels like we’re constantly tiptoeing and we’re stopping short of saying that we have a white supremacist problem,” she said.

Birgit Umaigba, an ICU nurse in Toronto, took issue with a tweet by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former minister of the environment and climate change, who said she was “feeling very fortunate to live in Canada — a diverse and tolerant country that values freedom while respecting human rights.”

“First of all, that was very distressing to read because it was so void of any empathy for the people that had just lost their lives,” Umaigba said.

“I’m not sure which Canada they are talking about, because for me and people who look like me, it is daily racism. Canada has this notion of always so tolerant and welcoming. We are diverse but it is so not true. It’s daily racism here, the institutions are steeped in so much racism.”

She too says Canadians “should be worried.”

“There’s so many examples: the London truck attack … A white supremacist ran into an entire Muslim family and killed them,” Umaigba said.

“The Quebec mosque shooting happened five years ago, so what are we talking about?” she said, referring to a shooting that claimed the lives of six people during prayers at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017.

“People are flying Confederate flags in their houses as we speak right now.”

Birgit Umaigba, a registered nurse who specializes in critical care and emergency medicine, says: ‘We carry this burden right now of the Buffalo shooting.’ (Submitted by Birgit Umaigba)

Umaigba says the burden should not be on Black people alone to both suffer and combat racism.

“We need white people to step up. We are suffering because of that. Yes, there are good ones. I’m not saying that all white people are racist but we need the good ones, the allies, the co-conspirators, to step up and do the work,” she said. 

“A lot of us are not OK. We carry this burden right now of the Buffalo shooting,” Umaigba added.

‘White folks have work to do too’

Amie Archibald-Varley lives in Binbrook, a community in southeastern Hamilton about 90 kilometres from Buffalo. 

Like Umaigba, Archibald-Varley says “white folks have work to do too” and is encouraging white people to talk about the shooting with their colleagues, spouses and children. 

“Hate is not something that is innate, it is learned, it is taught,” she said.

“We also need to talk about how we can educate about racism within our school systems. I think that’s hugely important,” she said.

Amie Archibald-Varley says ‘white folks have work to do too’ to combat racism. (Submitted by Amie Archibald-Varley)

Meanwhile, Archibald-Varley says incidents like the Buffalo shooting leave Black communities hurt and traumatized.

“I just want to go get groceries and not have to deal with this sh*t. This is crazy,” she said.

“This is not just a U.S. problem. This is a problem here in Canada as well … That could have been any one of us Black individuals.” 

She says the entire community needs to band together against racism.

“We can’t keep having these same things happening without stronger laws, stronger policies, without having solidarity from other community members,” Archibald-Varley said.

‘We’re hurt, we’re broken’

Archibald-Varley, who is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, says while she was raised to be a strong individual, the killings take a toll on members of the Black community.

“As a community we’re hurt, we’re broken, we’re scared, but we’re strong,” she said.

“We’ve seen the damage and the harm perpetuated to us through systemic racism for years, but we are still here and we’re still going to continue to fight for changes that call for accountability, to see better things, better health outcomes, better resources, better representation for Black folks and other racialized folks,” she added.

“We’re grieving together, but we’re strong together as well.”

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.


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Air Canada to make 'meaningful reductions' to summer flight schedule – CBC News



Air Canada will cut dozens of daily flights this summer as the airline grapples with a series of challenges amid soaring demand for travel.

“Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care,” Michael Rousseau, the airline’s president and CEO, said in a statement released Wednesday.

“The COVID‑19 pandemic brought the world air transport system to a halt in early 2020. Now, after more than two years, global travel is resurgent, and people are returning to flying at a rate never seen in our industry.”

Rousseau said those factors are causing “unprecedented and unforeseen strains on all aspects of the global aviation system,” leading to flight delays and crowded airport spaces.

And it’s also spurring the airline to make “meaningful reductions” to its summer schedule “in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate,” he said.

Dozens of fewer round trips each day

Peter Fitzpatrick, an airline spokesperson, told CBC News that the changes would see Air Canada reduce its schedule by 77 round trips — or 154 flights — on average, each day during the months of July and August.

A lineup at the Pearson airport customer service desk after many cancellations.
A photo taken Sunday at the customer service desk at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport gives a glimpse of some of the long lineups air travellers have been facing lately. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Prior to these reductions, the airline was operating about 1,000 flights per day.

“Three routes will be temporarily suspended between Montreal and Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kelowna and one from Toronto to Fort McMurray,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said “most” flights affected by the changes are out of its Toronto and Montreal hubs.

“These will be mostly frequency reductions, affecting primarily evening and late-night flights by smaller aircraft, on transborder and domestic routes,” he said.

But he said “international flights are unaffected, with a few timing changes to reduce flying at peak times and even out the customer flow.”

‘Not an easy decision’

Rousseau, the airline president, said Air Canada did what it could to prepare for these challenges, but it has to adjust its operations to the current circumstances.

“This was not an easy decision, as it will result in additional flight cancellations that will have a negative impact on some customers,” Rousseau said.

“But doing this in advance allows affected customers to take time to make other arrangements in an orderly manner, rather than have their travel disrupted shortly before or during their journey, with few alternatives available.”

Rousseau offered his “sincere apologies” to customers for any delays they have faced or will face.

“I also assure you that we very clearly see the challenges at hand, that we are taking action, and that we are confident we have the strategy to address them,” he said. “This is our company’s chief focus at every level.” 

A majority of domestic flights have been delayed at some of the country’s busiest airports in recent days, according to the analytics firm Data Wazo.

Data Wazo says 54 per cent of flights to six large airports — Montreal, Calgary, Toronto’s Pearson and Billy Bishop airports, Ottawa and Halifax — were bumped off schedule in the seven days between June 22 and 28.

Some 38 per cent of the flights were delayed while 16 per cent were scrapped altogether.

Airlines and the federal government have been scrambling to respond to scenes of endless lines, flight disruptions and daily turmoil at airports — particularly at Pearson — a problem the aviation industry has blamed on a shortage of federal security and customs officers.

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Memorial service held for RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, killed in N.S. mass shooting



HALIFAX — An RCMP officer who was among 22 people killed in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting was remembered Wednesday during a regimental service in Halifax for her “fierce” character and brave actions.

People lined a street leading to the service for Const. Heidi Stevenson, watching as Mounties and municipal police marched, bagpipers and drummers played, and a hearse brought the officer’s urn to the ceremony at the Cole Harbour hockey arena.

COVID-19 restrictions had delayed the official ceremony, though a family funeral took place five days after Stevenson was killed.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said during the service that Stevenson would be remembered for “her courage and strength of character.”

She said the force will remember Stevenson’s “heroism that day and the bravery she demonstrated and the actions she took to protect the community she cared so deeply about.”

A public inquiry into the mass shooting has indicated that the veteran officer was racing to support an injured colleague on April 19, 2020, when the fatal encounter occurred on a highway interchange about 60 kilometres north of Halifax.

The 48-year-old officer died in a gunfight with the killer, who had jumped a lane of traffic in his replica police vehicle in order to drive the wrong way down a ramp and slam into Stevenson’s cruiser.

Public inquiry documents say bullet fragments from Stevenson’s pistol “likely” struck the killer’s head, and — about 35 minutes later — blood on his forehead tipped off an officer who shot and killed the gunman at a gas station.

The inquiry has also noted that Stevenson had at 8:44 a.m. that morning called for the public to be notified about the killer driving a replica RCMP vehicle. Her request never received a response.

During the service, four friends noted her strong personality and sense of justice.

Her longtime friend Angela McKnight described Stevenson as a “fierce woman” who chose the RCMP over kinesiology and developed physical strength through playing rugby at university.

She said Stevenson had to undergo laser eye surgery and overcome a torn knee ligament in order to make it into the RCMP following her graduation.

“Heidi surrounded herself with strong women focused on supporting each other,” she said. “I know no better … no tougher, more determined woman than her.”

Childhood friend Nona Heinbecker recalled Stevenson’s sense of loyalty to her female friends, telling those gathered how the officer had happily found a spot to sleep on a hospital floor when Heinbecker was in labour.

People watching the procession to the service also described their admiration for Stevenson, who is survived by her husband and two children.

Randy Stevenson, a military veteran, and Jan Hill, whose husband had worked with the constable, were among those waiting on the sidewalk for the procession.

The veteran, who is not related to the fallen Mountie, described her as exemplifying “what the police and the military are about,” while Hill praised the officer’s deep involvement in her community of Dartmouth, N.S.

Heidi Stevenson grew up in Antigonish, N.S., and attended university in Nova Scotia. She was with the Mounties for 23 years, developing expertise in drug recognition, general duty policing and communications. She also spent time in Ottawa as part of the RCMP musical ride, even though she had no previous experience with horses.

In a statement provided to the inquiry, the Stevenson family said community support was helpful following her killing. “There were months of meals provided and seeing the Nova Scotia Strong stickers on everyone’s car meant so much. The phone call from the Prime Minister was very personal,” the family said in their statement.

Police estimated about 1,300 people attended the ceremony, which was broadcast live.

The Anglican minister presiding at the service noted Stevenson’s Christian faith, and quoted from a New Testament text emphasizing that hope, faith and love “abide,” and that love is the greatest of the three due to its eternal nature.

Rev. Katherine Bourbonniere said during her homily that even in death, “she (Stevenson) will constantly be trying to touch you in different ways.”

She recalled accompanying Stevenson when she drove to homes to notify next of kin of a death. “I saw her love in her job and in her position many a time. She would show compassion for every person she met, and it was … beautiful,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.


Lyndsay Armstrong and Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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Explosive devices found in a vehicle connected to B.C. bank robbers killed



SAANICH, B.C. — Multiple explosive devices were found in a vehicle related to the two suspects who were gunned down outside a bank in Saanich, B.C.

Saanich Chief Const. Dean Duthie said Wednesday an RCMP explosive disposal unit was able to transfer the devices from the vehicle to a local landfill and destroy them.

Police had evacuated the area shortly after the shooting on Tuesday as the RCMP’s explosives disposal unit was called in.

Six officers were shot and two suspects were killed in the shootout with police on Tuesday.

Duthie said three of the officers remain in hospital, including one who is in intensive care, while another officer will require more surgeries.

He said he spoke with one of the officers in hospital and said the police department will be there to support him.

“We’re here for his family … to let him know that the policing community is behind him 100 per cent.”

The chief said police are still investigating the possibility of a third suspect, although they don’t believe there’s a risk to the public.

He said police were acting on vague information.

“Our goal was to keep the public safe,” he said of police ordering residents near the bank to stay inside on Tuesday.

Police said in a statement that they aren’t able to confirm identities, background or motive of the suspects.

Duthie said work is underway to try to confirm the suspects’ names.

Duthie has looked at much of the video footage of the incident and said it’s a miracle that no one else died.

“It’s astonishing that there was no other citizen or member of the public injured,” he said, crediting the quick actions of officers who responded.

“Both patrol officers and Greater Victoria emergency response officers (put) themselves in harm’s way to bring it to a successful and safe conclusion as quickly as possible.”

A woman trapped inside the bank during the robbery told CFAX radio she was in a meeting with the manager when she heard a loud explosion and then silence.

Shelli Fryer, 59, of Langford said she looked from the doorway and a few feet from her was “a man in full assault gear, holding an assault rifle.”

Fryer said the masked man was wearing all black, had an armoured vest over his jacket and was holding a black rifle that was shorter and stockier than what she was used to seeing in the media.

“The energy from them was completely calm,” she said.

She heard one gunman quietly say to the manager, “vault,” and the manager handed him the keys and they both walked out of the office, she said.

Fryer said the other suspect was pacing the floor, just walking back and forth past the office, “like he was going for a walk in the park, just pacing as if he was waiting for something.”

The robbers put all 22 people who were in the bank against a wall in a back hallway and they waited for what felt like an eternity, she said. “We heard nothing at all of what was transpiring outside, we couldn’t hear sirens.”

She heard in a loud voice, “Police!” and then a hail of gunfire, and everybody ran to hide.

Fryer said every one of the police officers involved in the “absolutely insane incident” handled themselves professionally, and then later treated those who were in the bank with kindness and concern.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.


Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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