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Canadians stranded in U.K. feel abandoned by federal government – CBC.ca

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Canadians stranded in the United Kingdom are facing uncertainty around how or when they will be able to get home and in some cases where they will stay while waiting out the travel ban.

Brooke Johnson, 42, is from Niagara Region, but had travelled to London for work. Her contract ended on Dec. 18, and she had been preparing to leave when Canada suspended all commercial and private passenger flights from the U.K. 

That initial 72-hour suspension on flights from the U.K. has now been extended for two weeks until Jan. 6, as Canada tries to prevent a new variant of the novel coronavirus detected there from spreading here.

There are concerns that the new variant is significantly more contagious than other strains, though it may not be any more deadly.

Johnson said she is stressed about “this open ended thing of not knowing when this is going to end or where I am going to stay.”

The problem, Johnson said, is that her accommodation runs out soon and parts of London and areas in the southeast of England are under stricter, “Tier 4” COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s a little scary because of course the hotels and Airbnb have been closed for bookings so I have somewhere to stay until December 28th, but after that it’s a big question mark,” she said.

Reports of thousands left stranded in the U.K.

There are reports of many people left stranded in the U.K. as dozens of countries around the world imposed travel restrictions on fights from the country.

Global Affairs Canada said there are currently 11,038 Canadians registered as being in the country, but this is a voluntary registration and not all may wish to leave.

Johnson said she has a few days to find a place to stay.

“In normal times, I would check into a hotel or stay with friends, but who’s gonna take me in now in the middle of the pandemic when things are raging in London? I’ll be putting myself and others at risk,” she said. 

“It is what it is right now, but it’s really hard and stressful.”

Saeed Durhan, had travelled to London to vacation and visit friends and family. Now he and his 15-year-old son are unable to book a flight home. (Submitted by Saeed Durhan)

Saeed Durhan, 51, was lucky enough to be able to extend his hotel stay, but it’s costly.

“We’ve been scrambling to find a flight home since Sunday,” he said. 

“We haven’t found anything.”

Durhan travelled from Mississauga for vacation and to visit family but now he can’t book a flight to get him and his 15-year-old son home.

He  has even tried to book a flight back to Canada through Washington D.C., but was told United Airlines will only take U.S. citizens.

Durhan said there has been no help, guidance or direction from the Canadian government or consulate office.

“I’m not looking for a free ride here. What I would like the Canadian government to do is  exactly what the US government did,” said Durhan.

“They have United Airlines taking only U.S. citizens. Why can’t Canada do the same thing with Air Canada? There are Air Canada planes sitting at Heathrow Airport. Why can’t they do the exact same thing and say only Canadian residents can board the plane and go back home?”

Global Affairs Canada says there are no plans to offer repatriation or assisted departure flights.

In a statement to CBC News, it said it is aware of Canadians abroad seeking to return to Canada.

The government of Canada has advised against non-essential travel outside of Canada since March 13, 2020. 

But Global Affairs Canada says it continues to monitor the situation closely.

“The Canadian consulate basically told me I’m on my own,” said Durhan. “The Canadian government is leaving its own citizens completely stranded.”

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Hundreds more unmarked graves found at erstwhile Saskatchewan residential school

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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.”

OLD WOUNDS

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

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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 Amazon.com 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

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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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