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Catholic Church and B.C. First Nation unveil covenant on residential schools

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KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The leader of Vancouver’s Roman Catholic archdiocese says the church was wrong to administer residential schools in British Columbia, and he hopes a newly released covenant with a First Nation can act as a road map for redress.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller said the covenant between the archdiocese, the diocese of Kamloops and the Tkemlups te Secwepemc First Nation, signed in March, can be “an instrument of further dialogue and accountability” in guiding reconciliation between Indigenous and Christian communities across Canada.

“In that sense, it’s not a finished document,” Miller said during an online news conference Wednesday alongside Tkemlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir.

“It’s a living, dynamic statement of moving to the future in hope. By embracing these commitments, and the shared truths outlined in the document, we have a solid foundation.

“We hope that other First Nations and Christian communities across Canada will begin similar journeys, their own journeys,” Miller said.

The covenant comes about three years after the Tkemlups te Secwepemc said about 200 possible unmarked burial sites had been found around the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

That announcement touched off similar searches in Indigenous communities across Canada at other residential school sites, which have resulted in similar discoveries.

Casimir said the covenant includes a number of “commitments to actions” that are central to the agreement, including the church’s provision of “technical and scientific expertise” to address questions about ground-penetrating radar surveys for potential unmarked graves at school sites.

The archdiocese has also committed to full transparency in providing records and making available historians and archivists to identify children missing from residential schools.

Casimir said just as important as the technical assistance will be the mental health and counselling support that the church has promised to families of the missing children.

“I believe that it sets a lot of precedents,” she said of the covenant in both finding justice and healing for community members.

“It takes everybody at every level to be walking that path and journeying together. So I would encourage others to also build and establish those relationships, to be able to take those meaningful steps.”

Outreach from the Catholic Church to Indigenous communities has also been made in the United States, where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in a document earlier this month that it “recognizes that it has played a part in traumas experienced by Native children.”

Bishop Chad Zielinski, chair of the conference’s subcommittee on Native American Affairs, said the document is meant to reinvigorate the ministry after the church’s involvement in boarding schools strained its relationship with Indigenous church members.

Other groups such as the Catholic League have expressed skepticism, referring to “mass grave hoaxes” in Canada.

Miller said such views were “just wrong” and “wouldn’t be shared by very many people here in British Columbia.”

“I haven’t even heard the notion of hoax being applied to the situation,” Miller said.

“There’s no doubt that there are some things that are still contested about the numbers and so on, but to deny that the residential school system had a negative effect — and that many students died while registered at the school … We know for sure that was the case.”

— By Chuck Chiang in Vancouver. With files from the Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Canadian killed near Gaza border after threatening forces with knife: Israeli police

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OTTAWA – Israeli police say a Canadian citizen was killed Monday after threatening local security officials with a knife near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military says the man drove to the entrance of the town of Netiv HaAsara, just 300 metres north of the Gaza border. The military says the man left his vehicle with a knife and approached the local security patrol, who opened fire and killed him.

There were no other injuries, the military said, providing a photo of a kitchen knife with a black handle. The rescue service Zaka also said nobody was injured.

A video with no sound shows security officials pointing guns at a vehicle, from which a man exits, runs briefly and falls to the ground.

Israeli police told The Associated Press the man was Canadian, though the Israeli military would not confirm the nationality, instead saying that “the suspect is a foreign national who arrived in the area from within Israeli territory, and not from the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s ambassador to Canada posted the military statement on X. Unconfirmed reports have named the man, while some claim he is an American citizen.

Canada’s consular officials in Israel are gathering information on the episode, a spokeswoman said.

“Global Affairs Canada is aware of an incident involving a Canadian citizen in Israel,” wrote Charlotte MacLeod. “Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed at this time.”

The development comes amid a wave of stabbings during the nine-month war in Gaza, which Israel launched after Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, including soldiers, in an attack last October.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military on Monday ordered the evacuation of part of an area in the Gaza Strip it has designated a humanitarian zone, saying it is planning to begin an operation against Hamas militants who have embedded themselves in the area and used it to launch rockets toward Israel.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip says nearly 39,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s war on the territory, including militants.

Canada for months has called for a ceasefire and more humanitarian aid to reach the territory, where most buildings have been damaged and where the United Nations says no place is safe for the 2.2 million Palestinians living there.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Wildfire evacuation order ends for 7,000 from Labrador City

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LABRADOR CITY, N.L. – Labrador City residents who were ordered to evacuate last week after the reignition of a once-smouldering fire near the town were allowed to return home Monday.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said the evacuation order officially lifted at noon, though essential workers and their families had returned over the weekend.

In a video livestreamed on Facebook, Labrador City Mayor Belinda Adams welcomed residents home Monday.

“It’s been a lot, but guess what? We’re on the other end of it. It’s a wonderful feeling,” Adams said. “We couldn’t go over it, we couldn’t go under it, we had to go through it. And we did go through it together.”

The mayor extended thanks to the many firefighters that tackled the blaze and members of the community who supported one another during the evacuation order that had lasted for more than one week.

More than 7,000 residents of Labrador City were ordered to leave the evening of July 12 after an abrupt change in weather conditions caused a previously smouldering blaze to grow from six to about 140 square kilometres. The fire advanced 21 km toward Labrador City in just four hours.

Municipal officials asked residents to head east to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., a six-hour drive along the remote, two-lane Trans-Labrador Highway. There were approximately 200 health-care workers displaced when the evacuation order in Labrador City was issued, Furey said.

Adams said the evacuation of Labrador City was the biggest in the province’s history, “and we didn’t have so much as a person hurt, we had no fatalities, we kept our infrastructure with the fire on the heels of the hospital with the sprinklers on it … we didn’t lose any homes.”

“These are all things that a lot of communities face when they go through a forest fire of the magnitude that we had, so we are very grateful and I know the community is very grateful,” she continued.

Adams said the fire that had threatened the city is now “very low risk,” adding that rain was helping crews douse hot spots. Furey said the fire is a Category 1 blaze — the lowest on a scale of six — with the fire smouldering near ground level.

Fire crews are focused on extinguishing the northern and eastern edges of the fire, Adams said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

— By Lyndsay Armstrong in Halifax.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Toronto Woman Charged with Voyeurism During Massage Appointment

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TORONTO — A Toronto woman has been charged with voyeurism after allegedly taking intimate photos of a client during a massage, police said.

In a news release issued Monday, Toronto police reported that the incident occurred on Sunday at approximately 4:30 p.m. The victim was receiving a massage in the vicinity of Bay Street and Gerrard Street West when she noticed that the masseuse was taking intimate photographs of her.

The suspect, identified as Xiuhua Lu, 52, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with voyeurism. Police have not disclosed the name of the business where the alleged incident took place.

Investigators believe there may be additional victims who have not yet come forward. They are urging anyone with information related to the incident or other potential victims to contact the police.

The Toronto Police Service is asking anyone with information to reach out to investigators at 416-808-5200. Tips can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

Xiuhua Lu is scheduled to appear in a Toronto courtroom on Monday to answer to the voyeurism charge.

This case follows several other recent incidents involving massage therapists in the Greater Toronto Area accused of misconduct. These include allegations of sexual assault and secret recordings, highlighting a concerning trend within the industry.

For further updates on this story and other related news, please stay tuned.

Contact Information:

  • Toronto Police Service: 416-808-5200
  • Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-8477

 

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