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Canada shooting: At least 18 dead, 16 crime scenes in Nova Scotia – Al Jazeera English

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Residents of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia were searching for answers on Monday, a day after a gunman dressed as a policeman went on a rampage, killing at least 18 people in the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.

The motives of suspected gunman 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, who was killed in an apparent confrontation with police on Sunday in Enfield, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast, remain unknown.

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Nova Scotia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said there is “in excess of 19 victims”. The RCMP commissioner later said there were at least 18 victims. It was unclear whether Leather’s figures included the gunman. 

The victims were all adults, both men and women. “It appears that some of the victims were known to the suspect,” Leather said during a news conference on Monday afternoon.

He said police were investigating at 16 separate crime scenes in Portapique, where the shooting began, and other communities.

Questions around how families, friends and communities will be able to mourn the dead during the COVID-19 pandemic – with social distancing rules in place – have also compounded many peoples’ grief.

“Nova Scotia is devastated,” Mike Savage, the mayor of the province’s largest city, Halifax, said on Twitter on Monday morning. “As we wait for more details of this horrific crime there is an ominous silence that is unprecedented in my lifetime.

“This will not define us as a Province, but it has shaken us to our core.”

The shooting began around 11:30pm on Saturday night in Portapique, Nova Scotia, a small, rural community about 130km (80 miles) north of Halifax, and it continued for several hours on Sunday in various locations.

Wortman was disguised as a police officer and was using a car that closely resembled those used by members of the federal police force, the RCMP, local media reported.

The victims

An RCMP officer, Heidi Stevenson, was killed in the shooting. Stevenson was a 23-year veteran of the force and a married mother of two children. 

“Two children have lost their mother and a husband his wife. Parents lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague,” Nova Scotia RCMP said in a statement on Sunday.

“I brought flowers to honour her memory and let the Stevensons know there’s people here standing with them, and we’re going to keep them in our thoughts,” Jesse Casavechia, who knew the family, told CBC News on Monday.

“We’re devastated by this loss and I can’t even imagine what they’re feeling.”

RCMP lights brighten a memorial placed earlier in the day by Dave Brown at Portapique, Nova Scotia, Canada, after a mass shooting [John Morris/Reuters] 

Lisa McCully, an elementary school teacher, was also among those killed.

McCully was known “not only as a passionate teacher, but as a shining love” in the lives of her friends, family members, colleagues and students, said the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, which confirmed her death.

“There are no words to capture the loss Nova Scotia has suffered today. This is a devastating time for all communities affected across our province,” NSTU President Paul Wozney said in a statement on Sunday.

McCully’s sister, Jenny Kierstead, said the family’s “hearts are broken” by their loss. “Our condolences go out to the other family members who are affected by this tragedy. Thank you for your support, it’s a hard day.”

Two healthcare workers – veteran nurse Heather O’Brien and continuing care assistant Kristen Beaton – were also killed in the shooting, the Victorian Order of Nurses Canada (VON Canada), a non-profit medical charity, confirmed on Monday.

O’Brien was a “wife, mother and grandmother” who “shared her deep caring of others as a VON nurse for nearly 17 years”, the group said in a statement, while Beaton, a wife and mother, was “caring and compassionate”.

“We mourn their loss, and we mourn for their families,” said VON Canada President and CEO Jo-Anne Poirier.

Deadliest in Canada’s history

The shooting is the deadliest in Canadian history, surpassing 1989’s Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, Quebec, which left 14 women dead.

Nova Scotia

RCMP officers stand on Portapique Beach Road after Gabriel Wortman, a suspected shooter, went on a rampage in Nova Scotia [John Morris/Reuters] 

In a news conference on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “such a tragedy should never have occurred”.

“Violence of any kind has no place in Canada. We stand with you and we grieve with you, and you can count on our government’s full support during this incredibly painful time,” he said.

Trudeau added that while the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent people from mourning together in-person, an online vigil for the victims will take place on Friday evening.

“As we learn more about what happened yesterday, it’s important that we come together to support communities.”

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Canada now has more than 95,000 coronavirus cases — more than 34K are active – Globalnews.ca

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More than 720 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Canada on Saturday — all but 41 of them from Ontario and Quebec.

As Canada surged past 95,000 cases of COVID-19, the two most populous provinces continued to account for the vast majority of new cases and deaths reported daily.

Nearly 53,000 people around the country are considered recovered.


READ MORE:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

Ontario saw 455 new cases — but only 387 of them were new since Friday — while Quebec reported 226 new infections. Quebec has more than 52,000 cases so far, while Ontario has seen more than 30,000.

Quebec has seen nearly 5,000 deaths so far, accounting for almost 64 per cent of the national death toll. Ontario has the second highest number of deaths, at just over 2,400.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Protestors want commitment on status for asylum seekers working Quebec COVID-19 frontlines


Coronavirus outbreak: Protestors want commitment on status for asylum seekers working Quebec COVID-19 frontlines

Out of 70 new deaths reported on Saturday, Ontario and Quebec both reported 35 fatalities each. Quebec saw hospitalizations go down, and only 22 of the 35 deaths were classified as new.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Alberta recorded 40 new cases and no new deaths, bringing its figures to more than 7,100 cases and 146 deaths. This was a sharp uptick from a day earlier, when the province reported just seven new cases. More than 6,600 people are deemed recovered.


READ MORE:
Pool testing for COVID-19 could help Canada reopen. Here’s what it is

Saskatchewan reported one new case, for a total of 650 cases. Eleven people have died so far, and more than 610 are considered recovered.

No new cases

For the second day in a row, all of the Atlantic provinces saw no new cases or deaths on Saturday. Nova Scotia has the most number of cases — 1,058, including 61 deaths. Most of New Brunswick’s 136 cases have recovered as it battles an outbreak in the Campbellton region — one person in the province has died.

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Coronavirus: Montreal borough announces cancellation of summer aquatic activities


Coronavirus: Montreal borough announces cancellation of summer aquatic activities

Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases, and is set to allow travel within the province starting June 8 (Monday). Prince Edward Island has seen no new infections since all 27 of its cases have recovered.

The Northwest Territories and the Yukon remain COVID-19 free, with all their cases having recovered weeks ago. Nunavut remains the only region in Canada that hasn’t seen a case yet.


READ MORE:
Coronavirus outbreak: Canada could see up to 9,400 total deaths by June 15, new modelling shows

Manitoba also reported no new cases on Saturday, leaving it with nine active cases and more than 280 recoveries. Seven people have died in the province so far.

British Columbia had no new figures to report on Saturday. The province has seen more than 2,600 cases so far and 167 deaths.

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The novel coronavirus has resulted in more than 6.8 million cases around the world and more than 398,000 deaths, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

— With files by The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Anti-black racism protests, vigils planned across Canada – CBC.ca

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Canadians continued to rally and demonstrate against anti-black racism and police brutality on Saturday, a day after thousands attended protests and vigils across the country.

The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, Minn. A police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Many are calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday urged demonstrators to “take care of themselves” and follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizers.

Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.

Toronto

Thousands demonstrated in two separate protests in Toronto against anti-black racism. The first protest began at Nathan Phillips Square, while the second began at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Twanna Lewis, a Toronto resident at Trinity Bellwoods Park, said she was protesting for the first time on Saturday because she felt the need to take a stand for people who are voiceless. She has an 18-year-old black son, cousins, uncles and a brother.

“It’s 2020 and we need to be doing better,” Lewis told CBC Toronto. “It’s a shame that we have to be having this conversation in this day and age, when we think that we have gone so far.”

WATCH | Hand sanitizer, masks handed out at Toronto protest:

CBC’s Lorenda Reddekopp reports from inside a peaceful protest march Saturday where hand sanitizer and masks were being handed out 3:09

At Nathan Phillips Square, demonstrators chanted, held placards and posters, and listened to speakers. Then the protesters marched to the U.S. consulate and onward to Yonge-Dundas Square.

“I can’t breathe,” the crowd chanted at one point at Nathan Phillips Square, in a reference to some of Floyd’s last words before his death on May 25.

People held up signs that read “No Justice No Peace” and “Yes it’s here too Ford.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford had said Canada doesn’t have the “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the U.S.

WATCH | Protesters, police speak at Toronto demonstration:

Action for injustice group behind march through downtown: CBC’s Natalie Nanowski reports from the scene at Nathan Phillips Square 4:01

St. John’s 

Thousands of people kneeled on the lawn of Confederation Building in St. John’s during a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter.

The rally, organized by newly established Black Lives Matter NL, featured speeches and performances from members of the area’s black community sharing their own stories of racism.

Crowds were able to physically distance during the rally, spreading themselves across the lawn of Confederation Building. There was a small police presence, but no incidents were reported.

A demonstrator holds up a sign during a Black Lives Matter rally at the Confederation Building in St. John’s on Saturday. (Marie Isabelle Rochon/Radio-Canada)

Zainab Jerrett, who came to Newfoundland in the 1990s and is a professor at Memorial University, was one of the speakers on stage and was overwhelmed by the public support.

“That shows that this problem is effecting everybody, and everyone wants to chip in to bring a solution,” Jerrett said. “I almost got emotional because there’s so many people … young people of all cultures in Newfoundland.”

“This is an awakening. The people are interested in listening to the black community” she added. “[But] we are all the same. The more we come together as a human race, the better.”

Calgary

A vigil is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT outside Calgary’s Olympic Plaza in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“We must all come together to speak against murders by police officers and the institutions defending them,” organizers said in a Facebook post.

They also encourage attendees to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines like wearing masks and physical distancing.

Thousands attended a similar demonstration in Calgary on Wednesday.

Fort McMurray, Alta.

Elsewhere in Alberta, a Black Lives Matter rally was held at Fort McMurray City Hall.

The rally comes as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam says Wood Buffalo RCMP officers beat and arrested him in a Fort McMurray parking lot earlier this year. 

People gather outside city hall for a Black Lives Matter Rally in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Saturday. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

London, Ont.

In London, Ont., hundreds gathered at Victoria Park for an anti-racism rally.

Mayor Ed Holder said he supports the purpose behind the rally but declined to attend in person to comply with physical distancing rules recommended by health authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Guelph, Ont.

Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph, Ont., as thousands of demonstrators descended upon city hall. Organizer took COVID-19 precautions after health officials urged protesters to adhere to public health protocols.

A similar demonstration in Kitchener on Wednesday saw thousands of people walk through the downtown core holding signs. 

Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

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‘They’re targeting us’: Why some advocates want to defund Canadian police – Global News

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In recent days, protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality have erupted across the U.S. and Canada in response to the deaths of Black Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Now, some advocates are calling for police forces to be defunded and taxpayer money to be redirected — a conversation that is also happening in Canada, stemming from the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black and Indigenous woman who fell from her Toronto apartment balcony after police entered the unit.

Police claim they were responding to a reported assault, but the family has questioned the role of the police in her death. The Special Investigations Unit, Ontario’s police watchdog, is currently investigating.

READ MORE: Advocates call plan to boost Black history B.C. school curriculum ‘long overdue’

Defunding the police means redirecting the budget for Canada’s police forces to other services that focus on social supports, mental health and even spaces like transit, said Sandy Hudson, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto and a law student at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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“There’s no reason why we can’t start a service that is another emergency response service where people can call a number and have someone who is trained in de-escalation,” Hudson said.

Now, with more incidents of police brutality in the news, calls for defunding the police both in the U.S. and Canada are louder than ever.

The history of police in Canada

This is hardly the first time defunding the police has been talked about in Canada, experts told Global News.

Examining the way police uphold and participate in anti-Black racism and violence towards Black and Indigenous communities in Canada has been a discussion for decades, said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

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“Part of it is discrimination within policing — both implicit and explicit — but then the other parts of it are how the police operate and what we’re asking police to do,” he said.






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Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence


Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence

The origins of policing in the southern United States were based on preserving the slavery system, as Time magazine reports, and police were primarily tasked with being “slave patrols” to prevent Black slaves from escaping. After the Civil War ended, these patrols still existed to uphold segregation and discrimination towards Black people.

Police in Canada were historically also tasked with “clearing the land” to steal the property of Indigenous Peoples, said Hudson.

“Those two focuses of the police, Indigenous and Black people, controlling us … there’s a through line to today and how the police interact with our communities,” she said.

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READ MORE: The RCMP was created to control Indigenous people. Can the relationship be reset?

Policing has been used to enforce the dominant narrative in Canada, which is colonization, said Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, a social work professor at McGill University whose research examines systemic oppression.

“These institutions are a product of (colonialism); they stem from that,” she said. “Right now we’re seeing what it looks like at this stage … and it gets manifested in the form of police brutality.”

Mental health, homelessness and other social issues

Experts are concerned that police in Canada are tasked with issues related to poverty, mental health and homelessness, and they are “ill-equipped and an inappropriate resource to be addressing those issues,” Owusu-Bempah said.

A 2018 report on racial profiling by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found that a Black person was 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fating shooting by Toronto police. The report was the result of an inquiry launched after Andrew Loku, a father of five who was experiencing mental health issues, died after being shot by police.

A coroner’s inquest ruled that Loku’s death was the result of a homicide and recommended that police are better trained if they are to deal with mental health calls.

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“The violence we see inflicted by the police are often happening with people who are having a mental health crisis,” said Hudson.

Shifting the money to fund organizations that understand the nuances of mental health issues and the challenges faced by racialized communities would be a better use of taxpayers’ money, she said.






4:29
How racism affects Black mental health


How racism affects Black mental health

Out of the nearly one million calls the force responds to, Toronto police respond to about 30,000 mental health calls every year, spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told the Canadian Press.

The force’s mobile crisis intervention teams ⁠— which include a trained officer and a mental health nurse ⁠— attend only 6,000 of those calls each year because they do not go to calls where a weapon may be involved.

Annual training for the force includes courses on communication and deescalation techniques, said Gray.

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“The Toronto Police Service believes that mental health is a complex issue that requires the involvement of multiple entities, including but not limited to community support, public health, and all levels of government, to render any meaningful change,” she said.

READ MORE: Marches in Toronto, Ottawa to honour Black lives lost at hands of police officers

It would be better if a mental health nurse or some other trained expert was always present, Boatswain-Kyte said.

“Are they (police) really the ones that are best suited?” she said.

“Social workers, for instance, go to school to understand how to form relationships, to understand how people are excluded and what factors contribute to their exclusion.”

READ MORE: George Floyd death draws scruitiny on police use of force. What’s Canada’s protocol?

By making police the body available to provide help in these situations, Boatswain-Kyte said, it sends a message that people with those health issues aren’t welcome in our society.

“Regardless of the amount of training … the implicit bias as a result of what (police) have been socialized to believe and understand about the ‘dangers’ of Black and brown bodies is going to influence them at the time when they have to make a decision.”

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Boatswain-Kyte points to a study published in May from Columbia University that found there is “no evidence that enhanced police training focused on mental health crises” can reduce fatal shootings towards those having a mental health crisis, or racialized people in general.

By the numbers

In Toronto, the largest portion of a resident’s property tax bill — around $700 out of an average bill of $3,020 — goes to the Toronto Police Service. The lowest portion of property taxes goes to children’s services, Toronto employment and social services and economic development and culture.

The situation is similar elsewhere in the country, as the Vancouver police budget has grown by more than $100 million in the last decade, representing about one-fifth of the city’s $1.6-billion 2020 operating budget.






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Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada


Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada

A 2014 report published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that policing budgets in Canada had doubled compared to the GDP since 2004, even though the public calls to police have “remained stable.”

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“Police associations have been happy to stoke public fears about safety, but the correlation between numbers of officers, crime rates and response times has long been shown to be spurious,” the report said, authored by Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at Queen’s University and Royal Military College.

Police work that is essentially unrelated to policing could be done by other groups, Leuprecht explains.

Moving forward

Owusu-Bempah is calling on city mayors like Toronto Mayor John Tory to review which roles and functions we want the police to provide and which should be provided by other agencies.

“Then we need a lot of (the) funding currently spent on police … given to other organizations” that are better equipped to help with issues like homelessness and mental illness, he said.

Given the recent incidents of anti-Black racism and brutality perpetuated by police, Hudson says defunding the police would also give agency and safety to Black communities.

READ MORE: George Floyd’s death still a homicide despite evidence of medical issues: experts

“How could the body that is ostensibly meant to provide safety for our communities … be one of the the the the reasons we keep getting hurt?” Hudson said.

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“Most people don’t have to interact with police at all … but for our communities, they’re targeting us.

“We just want to live like everybody else.”

— With files from the Canadian Press

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Meghan.Collie@globalnews.ca

Olivia.Bowden@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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