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First Nations groups determining next steps in landfill search, consulting experts

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Indigenous groups are considering their own study into a potential search of a landfill outside Winnipeg for the remains of two women believed to be the victims of an alleged serial killer after police declined to look there.

They are also calling on the federal government to help in their next steps.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Marc Miller, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous Services, and Marco Mendicino, minister of Public Safety, seven First Nations groups laid out their needs in the potential search of the Prairie Green landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran.

“In lieu of this inaction by the Winnipeg Police Service, we are forced to advocate for loved ones now that trust has been broken by this decision not to search,” the letter reads.

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The groups are requesting the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to oversee the search. They also want the federal government to provide immediate resources to conduct a feasibility study, fund resources for the families affected, cover costs associated with a search and agree to call in the RCMP if Winnipeg police refuse to search.

Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson said leaders are meeting this week to form a committee of experts to put together a search and budget plan. They are speaking with forensics and archeological experts, as well as landfill operators.

“I’m very positive that we will have the right people at the table to push forward these conversations,” Wilson said in an interview.

They are hoping to present a plan to provincial and federal governments, and request funding.

Police believe the remains of Harris and Myran, who are both from Long Plain but lived in Winnipeg, ended up in the Prairie Green landfill in the spring.

The chances of finding them are low due to time that has passed, as well as the heavy, compacted mud at the site, police have said.

The owner of the private landfill has stopped operations and continues to work with all authorities. Barry Blue, district manager with Waste Connections of Canada, did not say how long the company would pause work at the site.

Wilson, Harris’ family and First Nations leaders expressed outrage over what they called the police’s inaction in searching for the women and called for the chief of police to resign.

Police Chief Danny Smyth, as well as representatives from the city and the province, have offered to meet with Indigenous groups to determine next steps.

After a meeting Monday, the Winnipeg Police Board decided to leave decisions on next steps for a search up to Indigenous groups and federal and provincial governments.

“There has been an open offer for Indigenous leaders to meet with Chief Smyth and his executive to receive a briefing on the health and safety issues associated with conducting a humanitarian recovery search of the remains to the extent it is possible,” Coun. Markus Chambers, who is the board’s chairperson, said in a statement.

Chambers added the board has no further comments on next steps.

The office of Mayor Scott Gillingham said he has been speaking with Indigenous leaders and other levels of government to determine how the city can help, and is “encouraged” by the dialogue between different groups.

Public Safety Canada referred all questions to Winnipeg police.

Police did not respond to requests.

Jeremy Skibicki is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Harris, Myran, Rebecca Contois and a fourth unidentified woman that Indigenous leaders have called Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.

Police believe the women were killed over a two-month period in the spring, although only Contois’s body has been found.

Her partial remains were discovered in a garbage bin in the city and in another landfill in the spring.

Wilson could not provide a timeline for when a feasibility study could be completed, but said “time is of the essence.”

“It can’t be an extended period of time, just given the fact that we want this to continue to be a priority in terms of conversation and actions moving forward.”

Wilson plans to meet with Smyth on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2022.

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Health Canada reviewing safety of controversial breastfeeding drug – CBC.ca

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Health Canada has launched a safety review of the psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping or reducing use of a drug commonly prescribed to help women breastfeed.

The agency confirmed the review in an email to CBC News.

“A safety review is currently under way for domperidone and drug withdrawal symptoms after stopping or reducing the dose of domperidone used to stimulate lactation,” the statement said. 

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Domperidone is approved in Canada to treat gastrointestinal disorders. Health Canada has never authorized its use as a lactation aid, but it is widely prescribed off-label for this purpose. 

The Health Canada review follows a CBC News investigation into severe psychological effects that can occur when some women stop taking the drug. Women who spoke to CBC described anxiety, lack of sleep and thoughts of self-harm severe enough that in some cases they became incapable of caring for their children or returning to work. One woman described multiple attempts to take her own life. 

CBC’s investigation also found domperidone is prescribed by some doctors to stimulate lactation at doses three to five times higher than what is recommended by both Health Canada and the drug manufacturer. Because this is not an approved use or dosage anywhere in the world, there are no large-scale clinical trials that shed any light on how often these side effects occur. 

This makes it challenging for regulators like Health Canada to evaluate the safety of a drug for an off-label purpose, said Mina Tadrous, an assistant professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto who specializes in drug safety.

Toronto pharmacist Mina Tadrous says it is challenging for regulators to evaluate the safety of a drug used for off-label purpose. (CBC)

“The company may not have intended it for that, so the original clinical trials were not designed for that. And so it means that they have to look at different mechanisms to be able to evaluate the safety of these drugs,” he said.

That can include looking at data from other countries with larger populations, according to Tadrous.

Case studies document concerns

There are, however, case studies documenting the withdrawal effects, including three published in November 2022 in the peer-reviewed journal Breastfeeding Medicine. Domperidone blocks dopamine receptors in the brain, which stimulates the release of prolactin. This causes lactation, the authors note, but can also cause domperidone to act as an antipsychotic. The authors also noted withdrawal symptoms are typically less severe when women taper off the drug slowly.

The most recent case studies are from the United States, where domperidone is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for any purpose. CBC’s investigation found some American women get the drug from doctors in Canada.

Health Canada will review “all relevant domestic and foreign case reports,” the statement said.

Reviews can result in Health Canada requesting more information, studies or monitoring by the manufacturer. They can also result in warnings to patients and health care providers, changes to how a drug is labelled or, if necessary, the withdrawal of a drug from the market “if the benefits no longer outweigh the risks of the product,” according to the statement released by the department.

“The decision to take action, including issuing a warning, is not based solely on the number of case reports, but on a comprehensive assessment of the information contained in these case reports,” Health Canada’s statement said. 

“Should new safety risks be confirmed, Health Canada will take appropriate action and continue to keep Canadians informed.”

WATCH | Women report alarming withrawal effects after taking domperidone as a lactation aid:

Women report alarming withdrawal effects from drug prescribed for breastfeeding

2 months ago

Duration 7:08

WARNING: This story contains distressing details about suicidal thoughts and attempts. Correction: A previous version of this video included inaccurate Health Canada data about the number of domperidone prescriptions that were filled in 2020. That publicly available data has since been updated to show that 1.7 million prescriptions were filled that year.

The distinction between quantity and quality of reports is important, Tadrous said, because large numbers of reports, especially from non-clinicians, may only indicate people believe there’s a connection between a drug and a reaction. 

“That’s the lesson we’ve learned with vaccines, for example, where these adverse event systems are flooded,” he said.

“And so if you base something just on the number of reports without doing a thorough investigation and a different type of study design that reduces bias … you might reach a false conclusion.”

Health Canada has conducted multiple safety reviews of domperidone, most recently in 2021. Previous reviews confirmed the risk of serious abnormal heart rhythms and sudden cardiac death related to domperidone use. These reviews resulted in Health Canada introducing a maximum daily dose recommendation of 30 mg and restricting its use in patients with certain cardiac conditions or taking other drugs.

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The Holocaust strikes our very being

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Holocaust

To be a Jew is not something special,
being a human being is normal.
Dealing with prejudice, hatred, and oppressive action,
now that’s something special for the Jewish Nation.

Oppression, hatred, and genocide besides,
is not just a Jewish person’s situation.
Armenian, Cambodian and Jewish Peoples deal,
with a national eradication event.

People of the world unit,
genocide is an international delight.
Oppress your people, crush opposition too.
The elites of the world are making exceptions for you.

Don’t be weak, allowing excuses to be made,
but lift your hands in justice’s cruel wave.
Hatred knows no reasonability, it knows no mercy.
Hatred, oppression, and prejudice need no exception.

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Long ago Jews were murdered by the millions,
Cambodians died at the hands of their neighbors.
Palestine still walks within the borders of other nations,
and peace is nowhere to be found, my friend.

If your arms are in righteous ways demand justice for all,
for the people who hate will not see our peaceful ways.
A gun, a bayonet, and a saber be brought,
for the right to justice begins today,
and ends with blood if the opposition has any say.

Gandhi spoke of peaceful ways,
while Martin Luther Jr surrendered his life. to the cause.
Young blacks die each and every day,
while the power of prejudice wins the day.

My first lifts in anger that is for sure,
while the average person just shrugs this day.
But the goose-stepping troops may one day march on,
and the ignorance that prevails will let them carry on.

Open our eyes to the wrongs before us,
clear our minds and accept what bothers us.
Injustice is a prevailing horrid thing,
and ONLY YOU CAN BRING IT TO AN END.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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Parliamentarians kick off return to House of Commons with debate on child care

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Parliamentarians kick off return

The economy was top of mind for members of Parliament as they returned to the House of Commons Monday, with the Liberal government kicking off the new sitting with a debate on child care.

Families Minister Karina Gould tabled Bill C-35 last December, which seeks to enshrine the Liberals’ national daycare plan into law — and commit Ottawa to maintaining long-term funding.

The federal government has inked deals with provinces and territories in an effort to cut fees down to an average of $10 per day by 2026.

During a debate today, Gould said all parties should support the bill, and the national plan has begun saving families money.

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But Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri said the plan is “subsidizing the wealthy” while failing to reduce wait times for child-care spaces and address labour shortages in the sector.

Ferreri told MPs that the Conservatives would be presenting “strong amendments” to the legislation.

The debate comes amid concerns about a possible recession this year, with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre saying their focus will be on the cost of living.

But Poilievre’s Tories may have little room to manoeuvre in the legislature.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters upon his return to the House of Commons that he does not believe there is any room to work with the Conservatives during the upcoming sitting.

Instead, the NDP says it plans to push the Liberals to fulfil the terms of the parties’ confidence-and-supply agreement, such as the planned expansion of federal dental care.

Under the deal signed last March, the NDP agreed to support the minority government on key House of Commons votes in exchange for the Liberals moving ahead on New Democrat policy priorities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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