Emily Knope never once questioned if it was worth it.
Despite being more than 11,000 kilometres away from the love of her life, having to communicate over a crackly phone connection and repeated failed attempts to bring him to Canada, she knew almost from the start that they had to be together.
Ben Tuyisenge never doubted it either. Within three dates, he says he knew the two had something special.
“We didn’t know at the time that we were going to get married and end up together. But we had to try,” Knope said.
The question was: How?
Knope, 25, is from Toronto; Tuyisenge, 31, is from Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. The pair met in 2015 while Knope was travelling in East Africa during a semester off from university. And within the span of just a few weeks they knew they were falling in love.
“It seemed crazy because we were from two different countries and what felt like two different worlds,” Knope said. But as she prepared to head back home, she and Tuyisenge decided they were going to try to make it work long distance, across oceans.
‘We knew there was something serious there’
Over the next several months, the couple kept in touch by phone, email, text and Facetime — anything to make the distance feel shorter.
“It was hard, but because we knew there was something serious there, we kept trying,” Tuyisenge said. “We were prepared mentally for that. We always knew that anything that comes and challenges our relationship builds it and gives us more reasons to be together.”
Knope was in university at the time and each time she’d get a break, she would fly to Rwanda — sometimes for months at a time. The flight alone averages $1,300.
It’s a horrible feeling when you’ve been through something as traumatic as the genocide.– Emily Knope
But when it came to Tuyisenge coming to Canada, that wasn’t an option, the couple learned. The first time they tried to apply for a visitor’s visa around Christmas 2016, they were denied.
Among the reasons: Tuyisenge’s lack of family ties in his home country.
There’s a reason for that, Tuyisenge says. He lost his mother and much of his family during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. His father survived but died soon after. In the months afterward, Tuyinsenge, still a child, made it to a refugee camp near Congo, where he became separated from his younger brother. His older brother, the eldest of the three, eventually settled in the United States.
But for Tuyisenge, the people he called family in Rwanda were mostly his closest friends — something the Canadian government considered a red flag.
“It’s a horrible feeling when you’ve been through something as traumatic as the genocide … losing your parents, losing connection with your brothers, losing aunts and uncles and then almost having to defend it, saying, ‘No, but I am a good person and you should accept me,'” said Knope.
“It made me feel like I was worthless,” Tusiyenge recalled.
Married but denied again
The next Christmas, the pair tried for a visitor’s visa again. By then they were engaged to be married.
But once again Tuyisenge was denied.
The following spring, Knope returned to Rwanda — this time with her family in tow. She and Tuyisenge were married there on May 18, 2018. Surely now he could move to Canada so that they could build a life together.
At least that’s what they thought.
Then came the crushing news: Tusiyenge was denied a third time.
“That was really heartbreaking,” he said, recalling the experience. “I’m not allowed to travel because I don’t have my family members…. It was like being an orphan became another problem.”
Each rejection became a reminder of his childhood trauma, feeding a fear that his future would forever be dictated by it.
“You blame yourself,” Tuyisenge said. “When you go through that, there’s always those moments where you think: ‘Maybe I’m not worth living. Why am I still around? Maybe I should have gone with my family.’ Because everyone is treating you differently.”
In January 2019, the pair decided to try again, this time applying for Tuyisenge to become a permanent resident.
It took weeks to get their documentation ready, collecting personal emails and taking screenshots of their Facetime conversations, all to make the case to the Canadian government to allow Tuyisenge to join his wife Knope.
A cruel twist
Then, in a cruel twist, their paperwork was lost.
That meant restarting the process — and months more apart as they waited.
Finally, on a September morning, an email that would change their lives.
Tusiyenge was at work at a non-profit organization in Kigali when an email came from the Canadian government saying he would have to undergo a medical check.
In November, the news they had been waiting for: Tuyisenge had finally been accepted to come to Canada.
On Dec. 21, just days before Christmas, Tuyisenge arrived at Toronto’s Pearson airport after a 21-hour trip, exhausted and nervous — but more than anything, elated.
Knope and her entire family were there waiting, cheering as he walked through the arrivals gate and into her arms.
Overcome with emotion, Tuyisenge says one thought occurred to him in that moment:
“This looks like family, this is what family does… Seeing how happy everyone was, welcoming me, it made me feel like even though my family passed away, I still have another family,” he said.
‘I felt like I was coming home’
“Some of them you’ve never met but when you see their faces, how happy they are, hugging you, it’s another level of humanity.
“I felt like I was coming home … even though it was my first time being there.”
Through it all, Knope says, the pair have learned about patience, love and what matters most.
“To me, he has always been worth it.… We got through it together and it really did make us stronger.”
For Christmas, the pair say they haven’t planned much. On the agenda: taking it slow, spending as much time as possible with family.
Tuyisenge is also slowly adjusting to the cold and getting acquainted with life in a brand new city.
“Putting on all those layers, I feel like I’m heavy, almost like I’m congested?” he says with a laugh.
“I’m like a kid, looking around…. Everything is different.”
Canada ‘on the brink’ of coronavirus surge, second wave underway in some regions: Trudeau – Global News
Canada is “on the brink” of a coronavirus surge as many parts of the country enter a second wave.
And it’s likely Thanksgiving gatherings will be out of the question as cases spike across the country following the recent lifting of many social restrictions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stick to their social bubbles, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from other people as the country faces down a looming second wave of the virus that has already claimed 9,238 lives.
In a speech to the nation on all major broadcasters Wednesday evening, Trudeau warned the daily case counts are already much higher than they were when the country first locked down in March.
In Canada’s four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway.
“The numbers are clear — back on March 13th when we went into lockdown there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over 1,000,” Trudeau said.
“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”
Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces
“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s — those were already decided by what we did, or didn’t do, two weeks ago,” he continued.
“But what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter. It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.
“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control.”
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again
The televised address pre-empted regularly scheduled programming on all major networks in a rare move that was billed by the Prime Minister’s Office as an opportunity to “address Canadians directly on the urgency of fighting COVID-19 as we face down the prospect of a second wave of the virus.”
But the address — both from Trudeau and from the opposition leaders who also spoke — took on an openly political tone and touting political agenda items in the government’s throne speech.
Trudeau doubled down on a pledge to keep spending even as more than half of Canadians report concern about the size of the federal deficit, currently at $343 billion from emergency spending.
He also pointed to government commitments to build towards a national pharmacare program and highlighting the government’s pledge to go further with climate change action.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also took a highly partisan approach in his speech, which was recorded from the driveway of his home where O’Toole and his wife are in isolation after contracting the virus.
“The situation facing my family shows that we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. Please be mindful of that in the weeks ahead,” O’Toole said before criticizing the government.
“We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country. After four years of Mr. Trudeau, our country is more divided, less prosperous and less respected on the world stage,” he continued.
“Across this country, millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. Many fear losing their homes, and too many have lost hope. Mr. Trudeau says we’re all in this together but Canada has never been more divided.”
Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who has also tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation, also recorded an address.
Blanchet spoke in French and stressed his party will not support the government’s throne speech because it does not do enough to support Quebec.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also spoke and said he understands that many Canadians are feeling worried about the impact the pandemic is having on their lives and their futures.
“I know that you’re worried,” he said. “And, I know you’re seeing the numbers rising and you’re worried about a second wave. I want you to know, like we’ve done throughout this pandemic, we see you, we hear you and we’re going to keep fighting for you.”
Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed
He said the party plans to push the government to make concrete policy changes including creating a national sick leave and making sure those transitioning off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to a new model of Employment Insurance can maintain the same level of benefit payment.
Singh has not yet said whether he will support the throne speech.
The Trudeau Liberals need the support of at least one other party to remain in power when they put the throne speech to a vote and both the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have ruled out voting in favour.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was “disappointed” by the speech.
“Alberta is disappointed that instead of listening to Canada’s provinces, the federal government doubled down on policies that will kill jobs, make Canada poorer and weaken national unity,” he said in a statement Wednesday evening.
-With a file from Global News’ Hannah Jackson
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada adds 1,085 new coronavirus cases as Trudeau warns of second wave – Global News
Canada added 1,085 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, marking the fifth day in a row the country has seen a daily increase of more than 1,000.
The new infections bring the country’s total case count to 147,612.
Health authorities also said 10 more people have died after contracting the virus.
Since the pandemic began, the virus has claimed 9,244 lives in Canada.
The new cases come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said some regions in Canada are already experiencing a second wave of the virus.
“In our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway,” he said.
Trudeau made the comments during a rare evening address.
He urged Canadians to continue abiding by the public health measures including sticking to social bubbles, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and continuing practicing social distancing.
“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control,” he said.
Woman waits for 7 hours to get coronavirus test at Toronto hospital
The prime minister said it is “likely” Canadians will not be able to gather for Thanksgiving, but said “we still have a shot at Christmas.”
Ontario reported 335 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, and health officials there said three more people had died.
The new infections bring the province’s total caseload to 48,087.
Since the pandemic began Ontario has tested 3,649,980 people for COVID-19, and 41,600 have recovered after falling ill.
In Quebec, 471 new infections were detected, and health officials said one more person had died.
Health authorities said three more deaths which occurred between Sept. 16 and Sept. 21, bring the provincial death toll to 5,809.
However, 59,686 people have recovered from the virus in Quebec, and health officials have conducted 2,136,088 tests to date.
New Brunswick added one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but officials said no one else had died.
The province has seen two deaths related to the virus so far.
A total of 191 people have recovered after contracting the respiratory illness, and 71,585 tests have been administered in New Brunswick.
Nova Scotia health officials said no new cases or deaths associated with COVID-19 had occurred.
So far 1,021 people have recovered after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, and 90,124 people have been tested.
Prince Edward Island saw one new case of COVID-19, marking the province’s first new infection since Sept. 16.
The new case brings Prince Edward Island’s total caseload to 58, however, 57 of those people have recovered.
Provincial health authorities have administered 33,196 tests for the virus.
Coronavirus: Researchers identify the origins of COVID-19 infections in Quebec
No new cases of COVID-19 were detected in Newfoundland on Wednesday, and provincial health authorities said the death toll remained at three.
Newfoundland has not recorded a new case of the virus since Sept. 18.
So far, 268 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 38,960 tests have been conducted.
Forty-two new infections were reported in Manitoba, and health authorities said one more person had died after testing positive for the virus.
To date, 1,238 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 170,045 people have been tested.
Saskatchewan reported six new cases, but health officials said the death toll in the province remained at 24.
Thus far, 176,912 people have been tested for COVID-19 and 1,673 have recovered after becoming ill.
Alberta recorded 143 new infections, bringing the province’s total case count to 17,032.
Health officials there said two more people had died, pushing Alberta’s death toll to 260.
However, since the pandemic began, 15,252 people have recovered from the virus.
A total of 1,242,263 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Alberta.
Further west in British Columbia, 86 new infections were reported, but no new deaths have occurred.
Health authorities also reported five epidemiologically-linked, meaning they have not been confirmed by a laboratory.
So far, 6,769 people who contracted COVID-19 have recovered in B.C., and 483,979 tests have been administered.
No new cases in the territories
None of Canada’s territories reported a new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and health officials confirmed no one else had died.
In the Northwest Territories, all five confirmed cases of the virus are considered resolved.
The territory has administered 1,673 tests for COVID-19.
Throne speech: Payette touts coronavirus job creation, wage subsidy extension
Meanwhile, Nunavut has seen three cases of the virus to date, however, each have been tied to workers from other parts of the country.
The territory says the infections will be counted in the totals for the workers’ home jurisdictions, meaning Nunavut still considers itself free of COVID-19 cases.
The territory has tested 2,812 for the virus to date.
All 15 confirmed cases of the virus in the Yukon are considered to be recovered.
Since the pandemic began, health officials have administered 59,686 tests.
Global cases approach 32 million
As of 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the virus had claimed 973,904 lives worldwide.
The United States remained the epicentre of the virus on Wednesday, with over 6.9 million confirmed cases.
So far 201,861 Americans have died after contracting COVID-19.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
As caseloads spike in four provinces, Trudeau warns that pandemic will be worse this fall – CBC.ca
In a rare televised national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to the airwaves tonight to warn that Canada is at a “crossroads” as COVID-19 cases spike in some provinces, and with pandemic conditions in the fall expected to be worse than what the country endured when the crisis was just beginning.
Canada entered an ordered shutdown of economic and social life in mid-March, when there were only a few dozen new cases being reported each day. Now, with 1,000 new cases reported nationwide yesterday, Trudeau said there can be no doubt that four of the country’s provinces — Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec — are in the second wave of COVID-19.
“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s … but what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter,” he said.
“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.”
Trudeau said that while the outlook is grim, Canada has the tools it needs to blunt the impact of a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 9,200 people in this country.
“We have the power to get this second wave under control. I know we can do it, because we’ve already done it once before. In the spring, we all did our part by staying home. And this fall, we have even more tools in the toolbox,” he said.
Trudeau said Canadians must continue to wear masks where possible, limit social interactions — “It’s no time for a party” — and download the COVID-19 alert app so that those who test positive can anonymously alert close contacts.
“It’s a powerful, free tool that’s easy to use and protects your privacy,” he said.
Trudeau also sought to reassure Canadians that the government is working to procure the goods needed to get the country past this health crisis.
He said the government has signed billions of dollars worth of agreements to buy vaccines, therapeutics and personal protective equipment (PPE). Canada faced critical shortages of gloves, masks and gowns in the early days of the pandemic, after government agents failed to adequately supply the national emergency stockpile.
Beyond warnings about a projected spike in cases in the coming months, Trudeau used the second half of his 15-minute address to assure Canadians that the government will be ready to help them navigate the economic fallout — pointing to some of the policy proposals that were outlined in the speech from the throne this afternoon.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who responded to Trudeau’s remarks from isolation after testing positive for the virus last Friday, said the Tories have lost faith in the government’s response to this pandemic.
“The situation facing my family shows we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country,” he said. His wife, Rebecca, has also tested positive.
He urged Trudeau to push Health Canada regulators to approve rapid testing devices to ease the pressure on hospital-run testing centres that have experienced hours-long lineups in some parts of the country.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two antigen testing devices months ago — tests that can deliver results in less than 15 minutes — Health Canada has said it is not ready to put its stamp of approval on such tests.
Antigen tests — which, depending on the device, use matter collected from a nasal or throat swab — don’t require the use of a lab to generate results. The FDA has said such tests are a safe and reliable way to determine a person’s COVID-19 status.
“It is unacceptable that we trust countries like Japan, Germany and the U.S. with our national security intelligence but we don’t trust their approval of a 15-minute saliva test,” O’Toole said.
Government promises 1 million new jobs
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivered the government’s nearly hour-long address in the Senate chamber earlier today.
In that speech, the government pledged to create one million new jobs, extend the wage subsidy program until next summer, launch the largest jobs training program in the country’s history and begin to build a national child-care program to support working women.
The Liberal government also promised to push ahead with plans to create a universal pharmacare program with any provinces willing to take part.
Watch: Throne speech outlines Trudeau government’s plans for pandemic recovery
The government promised to pursue an ambitious environmental agenda to fast-track Canada’s efforts to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through home retrofits and infrastructure spending, and through tax incentives for companies building zero-emissions products, like electric vehicles.
“The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived. This is not the time for austerity. Canada entered this crisis in the best fiscal position of its peers and the government is using that fiscal firepower,” the government said in the speech.
The Bloc Québécois and Conservative parties promised Wednesday to vote against the speech.
If NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his caucus also vote against the speech, Canadians will be headed to the polls for a fall federal election.
Singh told reporters that he had not yet decided how his caucus will vote when it’s given the chance in the Commons in the days ahead.
“We’re going to take a lot of time to consider the throne speech and make sure we evaluate it and make a decision around whether we’re supporting or not,” he said.
He said he’s troubled by the Liberals’ pitch to do away with the Canadian emergency relief benefit (CERB) in favour of a revamped Employment Insurance (EI) system, warning it could hurt workers who have been forced to stay home because of the pandemic.
Conservatives say no
Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said the Tories cannot support the speech because it doesn’t address a major issue: Western alienation and national unity.
The speech said little about the oil and gas sector — an industry that has been hit hard by sinking oil prices and dwindling demand, leaving thousands jobless.
“There were no words that said, ‘We value natural resources, we value our forestry workers, we value our agricultural sector.’ They should have said all that and they didn’t. We were hoping for something better,” she said. “Conservatives continue to be the only party standing up for the West.”
The speech included big-ticket spending promises with no plan to pay for them — which Bergen dismissed as irresponsible.
“They’re still talking about how budgets will balance themselves, so it’s very, very concerning,” Bergen said, citing Trudeau’s claim from years back that a growing economy would reduce federal deficits.
Bergen said the speech offered little new material — “just grand gestures and empty promises” — and the prorogation of Parliament to deliver the speech was a naked attempt to shield the Liberal government from further parliamentary inquiry into the WE Charity scandal.
Asked if it was responsible to push Canadians closer to an election during a pandemic, Bergen said Canada is a democracy and Tories have the right to vote against a speech that fails to address their priorities.
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