Afghan interpreters who helped Canadian troops on the front lines have yet to hear from the federal government on how they plan to extract them, as many desperately try to escape the resurging Taliban.
The Taliban claims it now controls about 80 per cent of Afghanistan after the U.S. began its exodus from the Middle Eastern country, with the full evacuation of its military set for Aug. 31 as per President Joe Biden’s announcement earlier this month.
While the U.S. has begun the process of evacuating some 2,500 interpreters and other support staff to a military base in Virginia pending approval of their visas, Afghans who helped Canada have heard no plan from Ottawa — and Taliban forces are closing in.
“They wanted to target the people who worked with the coalition forces – they called us “kafir” – which means infidels,” said Elyish, who says he worked for the Canadian forces in Afghanistan as an interpreter for a year.
“It’s very scary. We hear 24-hour fighting going on, and the gunshots…and air strikes inside the city.”
Elyish says he is in hiding and has been on the run for years, moving his family several times to keep out of the Taliban’s hands – who he says are hunting him down for being a “traitor.”
“I’m under threat in Afghanistan, they’re not going to let me and my family leave,” he said.
Elyish had a personal note for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “As soon as possible, please take us out of this country, it’s so very horrible and very dangerous for us right now. We cannot go anywhere.”
However, the recent rescue mission that spirited Elyish and his family away to a safe house in another part of Afghanistan did not come from federal government, but from Canadian veterans reaching into their own pockets.
Afghanistan veteran Corey Shelson, who is part of a group Canadian veterans trying to use their own resources to help interpreters get to safer parts of the country, told CTV News that his sources paint a bleak picture of what is happening on the ground.
“We’re hearing that the Taliban…have vehicle checkpoints all over the place, to the point now where they’re locking down villages and going house to house, hunting for anybody who served with the International Security Assistance Force,” Shelson said.
Shelson and his group say they are stepping into the void left by Ottawa’s slow response – criticizing the Canadian government for “words, not actions.”
“The group I’ve been working with are a collection of veterans and concerned citizens with a bias towards action…and the action we’ve been taking is trying to do whatever we can to help affected individuals get to a safe place where they can ride this thing out until the government catches up and creates an evacuation plan,” Shelson explained.
“Ten years have passed and this isn’t a new issue,” Shelson said of the interpreter’s plight. “These are people that Canadian veterans fought beside, slept beside, ate with, that we relied upon to come home alive – I’m only here today, able to raise my family because of their collective efforts.”
Trudeau was asked about Ottawa’s plan for Afghan interpreters while touring a factory in Brampton, Ont., Monday, telling reporters that “it is so important that we be there for people that have put their lives at risk to support Canadians.”
“That’s why we are working extremely hard and we’ll have more to say very soon,” he continued.
Trudeau’s refrain of “soon” was echoed by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland at a press conference Monday, who said that Canada had a “real moral obligation” to the interpreters and other support staff left behind.
“I am very confident that Canada will act appropriately here,” Freeland said.
When asked about a possible timeline for an evacuation plan, Freeland replied that she “was not going to pre-empt the announcement” of her colleagues Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, but that “we will act.”
In an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for Minister Mendicino’s office referred to comments made last week about the issue, and reiterated that the government “will do right by those who did so much for Canada.”
“We are aware that a number Afghan nationals who previously worked or currently work for Canada are in fear for their safety. These include interpreters and others who worked for the Canadian Forces during the combat mission, and Locally Engaged Staff currently employed by the Embassy of Canada in Kabul,” the statement reads.
The statement said the office is “seized with the urgency of the situation,” and the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office is working closely with the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada to “finalize a plan.”
“Operational teams are currently on the ground in Afghanistan to support these efforts,” the statement continues. “Given its complexity, this situation presents unique obstacles, in addition to the regular admissibility checks that are conducted on anyone immigrating to Canada.”
“We know that lives are hanging in the balance. There’s a need to take timely and decisive action to support the Afghans who supported our armed forces, and we will.”
But with the situation worsening in Afghanistan, Ottawa’s lack of timeline and lack of details has spurred veterans and members of the public to take action into their own hands.
Kate Rusk’s sister, Capt. Nichola Goddard, was the first Canadian Forces woman to die in battle in Afghanistan. That’s why she helped create the advocacy group “Not Left Behind,” encouraging Canadians to petition their MPs to bring the Afghan interpreters overseas.
“I’m involved because I have a number of friends and family and loved ones who are currently serving or who have served in the past,” Rusk told CTV News. “I realized that we’ve put our veterans in a position where they’re individually trying to save their friends and colleagues – they are sending their own money and trying to co-ordinate logistics, and…using their own resources to help fix a problem that frankly exists because of our actions and our inactions.”
“There is a really finite amount of time that we have,” Rusk said. “What we’re doing is just trying to get that message out because I really don’t believe Canadians would be okay with this if they knew it was happening.”
Shelson and his group believe there could be upwards of 600 to 700 interpreters, drivers, translators and their families who are at risk in Afghanistan for helping the Canadian Forces.
“This isn’t a surprise, it’s been months and we haven’t done anything,” Rusk said. “I think it’s a shame.”
What Canada did on Saturday at the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympic games – CTV News
Michael Woods came agonizingly close to opening Canada’s medal account on the first full day of competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Take a look at what Canada did on Saturday at the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympic games:
Men’s individual — Crispin Duenas, Toronto, finished 16th in the ranking round with a score of 665.
Mixed team — Canada (Stephanie Barrett, Mississauga, Ont., and Duenas) placed 17th overall in the ranking round with 1,295 points, just missing a berth in the main draw by two points.
Mixed doubles — Josephine Wu, Edmonton, and Joshua Hurlburt-Yu, Toronto, lost their group-stage match 2-0 to Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand.
Women’s doubles — Rachel Honderich, Toronto, and Kristen Tsai, Burnaby, B.C., were defeated by Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen of the Netherlands, 2-1.
Men’s doubles — Jason Ho-Shue, Markham, Ont., and Nyl Yakura, Pickering, Ont., lost 2-0 to Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.
Women — Melissa Humana-Paredes, Toronto, and Sarah Pavan, Kitchener, Ont., won their opening group-stage match 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) over Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands. Heather Bansley, Waterdown, Ont., and Brandie Wilkerson, Toronto, lost 2-1 (18-21, 21-15, 15-11) to the Chinese team of Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia.
Men’s welterweight (63-69 kg) — Wyatt Sanford of Kennetcook, N.S., lost 5-0 to Merven Clair, Mauritius, in the round of 32.
Men’s road race — Michael Woods, Ottawa, placed fifth overall in a time of 6:05:26, one minute, seven seconds behind the winner; Guillaume Boivin, Montreal, was 65th (6:21:46); while Hugo Houle of Ste-Perpetue, Que., 85th (6:25:16).
Individual — Chris von Martels, Ridgetown, Ont., and his horse, Eclips, were seventh in their qualifier group after the first day with a score of 68.059.
Team — Following the first day, Canada is ranked 11th with 2,191 points, with the other riders (Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu, Saint-Bruno, Que., and Lindsay Kellock, Toronto) to compete in the coming days.
Men’s individual sabre — Shaul Gordon of Richmond, B.C., lost 15-10 in the round-of-32 to Mojtaba Abedini of Iran.
Men — Keegan Pereira of Pickering, Ont., had the lone goal as Canada (0-1) lost 7-1 to Germany.
Men’s floor exercise — Rene Cournoyer, Repentigny, Que., placed 68th in qualifying with a score of 11.766, did not advance.
Men’s horizontal bar — Cournoyer, was 36th in qualifying (13.266), did not advance.
Men’s parallel bars — Cournoyer, 63rd (12.333), did not advance.
Men’s pommel horse — Cournoyer, 55th (12.800), did not advance.
Men’s rings — Cournoyer, 33rd (13.666), did not advance.
Men’s vault — Rene Cournoyer, 44th (13.866), did not advance,
Individual all-around — Cournoyer placed 55th overall (77.697), did not advance.
Women’s lightweight double sculls — Jennifer Casson, Kingston, Ont., and Jill Moffatt, Bethany, Ont., were second in their qualifying heat in seven minutes, 11.3 seconds to earn a berth in the semifinals.
Women’s pairs — Caileigh Filmer, Victoria, and Hillary Janssens, Cloverdale, B.C., won their heat (7:18.34) and advance to the semifinals.
Women’s fours — Canada (Stephanie Grauer, Vancouver; Nicole Hare, Calgary; Jennifer Martins, Toronto; Kristina Walker, Wolfe Island, Ont.) finished third in their race (6:40:07) and will need to advance through the repechage stage.
Women’s eights — Canada (Susanne Grainger, London, Ont.; Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Calgary; Kristen Kit, St. Catharines, Ont.; Madison Mailey, Lions Bay, B.C.; Sydney Payne, Toronto; Andrea Proske, Langley, B.C.; Lisa Roman, Langley, B.C.; Christine Roper, London, Ont.; Avalon Wasteneys, Campbell River, B.C.) placed second in their qualifier (6:07.97) and will race in the repechage.
Men’s lightweight double sculls — Patrick Keane, Victoria, and Maxwell Lattimer, Delta, B.C., were third in their heat (6:27:54) and will go to the repechage.
Men’s pairs — Kai Langerfeld, North Vancouver, B.C., and Conlin McCabe, Brockville, Ont., finished third (6:40.99) and qualified for the semifinals.
Men’s fours — Canada (Jakub Buczek, Kitchener, Ont.; Will Crothers, Kingston, Ont.; Luke Gadsdon, Hamilton; Gavin Stone, Brampton, Ont.) were fifth in their heat (6:05.47) and will be in a repechage.
Women — Janine Beckie, Highlands Ranch, Colo., scored both goals as Canada downed Chile 2-1, to improve to a win and a draw.
Canada beat Australia 7-1 to improve to 2-1 in the group stage.
Women’s 100 butterfly — Margaret MacNeil of London, Ont., posted the fifth-best time in qualifying (56.55) to advance to the semifinals.
Women’s 400 individual medley — Tessa Cieplucha, Georgetown, Ont., was 14th in qualifying (4:44.54), did not advance; Sydney Pickrem, Halifax, did not start.
Women’s 4×100 freestyle relay — Canada (Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez, Toronto; Taylor Ruck, Kelowna, B.C.; Rebecca Smith, Red Deer, Alta.) posted the third-best time in qualifying (3:33.72) to earn a berth in the final.
Men’s 100 breastroke — Gabe Mastromatteo, Kenora, Ont., was 38th in qualifying (1:01.56), did not advance.
Mixed doubles — Mo Zhang, Richmond, B.C., and Eugene Wang, Toronto, lost in the round-of-16 to Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen of China, 4-1.
Women’s flyweight (49 kg) — Yvette Yong, Toronto, lost her round-of-16 match to T.K. Truong of Vietnam, 19-5.
Women’s singles — Leylah Annie Fernandez, Laval, Que., def. Dayana Yastremska, Ukraine, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, in her opening match and will play Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic in the second round.
Women’s doubles — Gabriela Dabrowski, Ottawa, and Sharon Fichman, Toronto, were eliminated after losing their first-round match to Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani of Brazil, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
Men — Canada lost to Italy 3-2 (26-28, 18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-11) in its opening group stage match.
Monika Eggens of Pitt Meadows, B.C., scored three goals but Canada (0-1) lost to Australia, 6-5.
‘Shadow pandemic’ of femicide looms, experts warn as Canada prepares to reopen – Global News
After more than a year of quarantines, lockdowns and separations due to COVID-19, Canada is slowly reopening. But experts say another pandemic, of femicide and domestic violence, has been quietly raging across the country.
The proof is in the reports. Preliminary findings from the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability’s (CFOJA) mid-year report found 92 women and girls were killed, mostly by men, between January and June of this year.
Femicide is the killing of a girl or woman because of their gender. Men were identified as the accused in 79 out of 92 killings in the first half of 2021.
Indigenous women were over-represented in this year’s report, making up 12 per cent of femicide victims, despite comprising just 5 per cent of Canada’s overall population.
Experts say the data is unsurprising.
“We, as in violence against women organizations, advocates and survivors, have been naming that there is a shadow pandemic happening and that is gender based violence,” says Farrah Khan, a gender justice advocate and manager of Ryerson University’s Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education.
Numbers have been steadily rising since the COVID pandemic began. CFOJA, which tracks femicides across the country, said 160 women and girls were victims of femicide last year, an uptick from the 118 who were killed in 2019.
Khan said the health crisis that has led to repeated lockdowns across the country has “set women up” for unhealthy relationships that could result in their deaths. Women, who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, accounted for more than 35 per cent of job losses across the country and make up a majority of Canada’s minimum wage workers.
She says this could have prompted many women to move in with potentially abusive partners to save on costs that left them trapped and unable to leave when things began to escalate in an unsafe way. Things like child-care problems and food insecurity, also rampant during the pandemic, are also reasons women end up trapped with their abusers.
“The lockdown has increased the abusers’ access to them, has increased their ability to control their mobility, increased their ability to set strict rules about who they interact with,” she said of women during the pandemic, including those with abusive family members.
“I worry about the people also that are living through it right now that are not reaching out to services, are not feeling safe to do so because someone is monitoring their phone, somebody is monitoring their computer.”
Of the 160 women killed according to the report, researchers said 128 women and girls were killed by men. A majority of them were killed in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut accounting for 13.68 per cent and 5.21 per cent respectively.
Increase in domestic violence reported during lockdown
Victims of abuse could see more challenges in rural and remote areas, Khan says, because of isolation and the lack of mobility sometimes present in those communities.
“Already mobility is challenged. Already there’s no computer in the house that doesn’t have spyware on it,” Khan said, adding that “what’s needed in Toronto is different than what’s going to be needed in rural and remote areas.”
Numbers are also stacking up in more densely populated provinces.
In Ontario alone, femicide has increased by more than 84 per cent in the first half of 2021, according to the latest report from the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH).
“[When] we compare that to the prior year, there’s been an increase every single month,” Marlene Ham, executive director of OAITH, told Global News. “To have six months in a row show an increase in the number of femicides, that does surprise us, but it also really concerns us.”
From December 2019 through June 2020, the report found 19 confirmed femicides throughout the province. The next year, they reported 35.
Younger women between the ages of 18 and 35 accounted for a majority of this year’s femicides at 30 per cent, while younger men between 18 and 35 years accounted for 50 per cent of all perpetrators this year. Researchers found intimate partner cases made up 80 per cent of femicide cases in 2021.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ham said OAITH began noticing more femicides in Ontario when the province reopened, likely as a result of women trying to leave their abusers.
“When survivors leave or make a plan to leave, for some of them that can be the most dangerous time,” she said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate assistance. For a more comprehensive list of resources, click here.
Assaulted Women’s Helpline
Toll-free TTY: 1-866-863-7868
Shelter Safe: Network of women’s shelters across Canada
Canadian Family Law Lawyers Network
Legal Aid Domestic Abuse Hotline
Women’s Multicultural Resource and Counselling Centre of Durham
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Phone: 416-323-9149 ext. 234
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Fauci says prospect of open border for fully vaccinated Canadians part of active U.S. talks – CBC.ca
U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says the prospect of opening the U.S. border to fully vaccinated Canadians is part of an “active discussion” in the White House.
“I can tell you that the border situation and letting Canadians in who are fully vaccinated is an area of active discussion right now in the U.S. government,” he told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics in an exclusive Canadian interview.
“As a public health official, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out why policies haven’t changed.”
Earlier this week, the U.S. government issued a renewal order keeping the borders with Canada and Mexico closed until August 21.
According to U.S. Homeland Security officials, the move is part of the government’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the more contagious delta variant.
The delta variant has been wreaking havoc south of the border, where infections and hospitalizations are up in nearly all 50 states.
Fauci said the delta variant now accounts for 83 per cent of cases in the U.S. Those cases are concentrated in southern states, where vaccination rates are lower than the national average.
“In some of the southern states where the level of vaccination is very low and the level of the transmission of the virus is very high, we’re seeing a significant surge in cases,” Fauci said.
“This virus has an extraordinary capability of efficiently spreading from person to person.”
The White House has enlisted the help of celebrities and athletes to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, particularly in states led by Republican governors. In recent days, high-profile conservative figures such as Fox pundit Sean Hannity have encouraged Americans to get vaccinated.
Concerts, vaccines, bobbleheads, and even <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ManCrushMonday?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ManCrushMonday</a>: watch Olivia Rodrigo and Dr. Fauci read fan tweets. <a href=”https://t.co/NnwKwrkNWW”>pic.twitter.com/NnwKwrkNWW</a>
Fauci said the U.S. must increase its vaccination rate to end current outbreaks of COVID-19.
“We’re seeing some of them starting to come around, which is a really good thing, because we’ve got to realize and act on it, that the common enemy is the virus,” he told Power & Politics.
“The virus doesn’t have any idea who’s a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent.”
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