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Indo-Canadian community mourns 5 students who died in Ontario highway crash – Global News

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Members of Canada’s Indian community were in mourning on Monday after five students died in a collision between a van and a tractor-trailer on Ontario’s Highway 401 on the weekend.

Harpreet Singh, Jaspinder Singh, Karanpal Singh, Mohit Chouhan and Pawan Kumar, all students from India between the ages of 21 and 24, were pronounced dead at the scene of Saturday’s crash. Police said they all studied in the Montreal or Greater Toronto areas.

A spokesman from Canada College, a Montreal school that caters to international students, said at least three of those who died and one of two injured survivors studied at the school.

Read more:

5 students from India killed in collision along Hwy. 401 near Trenton: OPP

John David Couturier said the school administration is devastated by the loss and is scrambling to support students and arrange to send the victims’ bodies back to India.

“We’re all a state of shock,” he said. “I can only imagine the families in India, they’re so far away, and now there’s two students in the hospital that don’t have their families here.”

Couturier said most of the victims associated with the school had been studying business administration. He did not name the students, saying the school would provide more information once it was sure families in India had been contacted. He said police were still working to confirm whether a fourth fatality had also been a student of Canada College.


Click to play video: 'Three students killed in Ontario crash attended school in Montreal'



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Three students killed in Ontario crash attended school in Montreal


Three students killed in Ontario crash attended school in Montreal

The passenger van with eight people aboard was travelling west on Highway 401 Saturday morning when there was a collision with a tractor-trailer at around 3:45 a.m. near Quinte West, Ont., Ontario Provincial Police said.

OPP spokeswoman Maggie Pickett said Monday that police believe the van was stopped by the side of the highway when the crash occurred. The investigation into the crash is continuing, and no charges have been laid.

Read more:

Victims identified in Saturday morning 401 collision in Quinte West

One passenger who had exited the van as well as the tractor-trailer driver were uninjured, Pickett said, while two of the van’s occupants were taken to hospital in serious condition.

It’s unclear where the students were heading, but Couturier said it’s common for Canada College students to travel frequently between Quebec and Ontario because the week’s classes are condensed over two or three days.

He said about 70 per cent of the school’s 2,500 students are from India, and they tend to form close bonds as they work their way toward graduating and obtaining permanent residence.

“Many of them are from Montreal, some of them are from Belleville, Brampton, Ontario,” he said. “And so they’ll come for the weekend classes and stay at a friend’s house or whatever. It’s really a community, you know?”

Dr. Shivendra Dwivedi, who heads an organization called Canada India Global Forum, said the community is shaken by the loss.

“We’re very sad with this tragedy, and we feel very, very bad for the families and the students that lost their lives,” he said. “It’s a horrible tragedy, and I think the community is grieving.”

Read more:

Quinte West collision leaves one dead, several others injured: OPP

Dwivedi said his group was mobilizing resources to provide grief counselling for the victims’ friends in Canada.

While he didn’t know the victims personally, he said many Indian students who come to Canada to attend private colleges in the hopes of gaining permanent residency are young and far from their support systems.

“They’re doing it because they want a chance to come to Canada _ really hard-working, very dedicated students trying to make a better life for themselves,” he said.

He said his group is also working with officials in Toronto and Ottawa to ensure the wishes of the families in India are carried out.

Couturier said Canada College has offered to repatriate the bodies to India and pay the cost of its students’ funerals.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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Monkeypox: Cases in Canada climb to 16, PHAC says – CTV News

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The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.

The latest update on the spread of the viral disease came in a statement issued Wednesday evening.

The statement says Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory continues to receive samples from multiple jurisdictions for confirmation testing.

“At this time, cases of monkeypox are being identified and treated by local health clinics,” the statement said.

“There is ongoing planning with provinces and territories to provide access to approved vaccines in Canada that, if required, can be used in managing monkeypox in their jurisdiction.”

The PHAC says it has given Quebec a small shipment of the smallpox vaccine Imvamune from Canada’s National Emergency Strategic Stockpile, with other jurisdictions able to receive some supply.

In April, Public Services and Procurement Canada submitted a tender to purchase 500,000 doses of the Imvamune vaccine between 2023 and 2028.

There is currently no need for mass immunizations, the PHAC says.

“I know Canadians are concerned,” Duclos said in a statement Tuesday. “The Government of Canada is prepared to respond to emerging public health events and takes precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.”

The national laboratory received its first samples during the week of May 16, before announcing the first two cases of monkeypox identified in Quebec on May 19. That number rose to five cases the following day.

Since then, other possible cases of monkeypox have emerged in Canada. On Wednesday, Toronto public health authorities said they identified two new suspected cases in the city, along with one probable case currently under investigation.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that was first discovered among colonies of monkeys used for research. Historically, it has also been transmitted from animals to humans, with the first human case recorded in 1970. The virus can spread through close contact with an infected animal, human, or contaminated material.

The federal government is prepared to help provinces and territories develop their own means of testing for the disease in order to monitor it more easily, Duclos said.

“Our surveillance system is working, as is our testing system, though we will continue to refine both, including supporting provinces and territories in building their own testing capacities so cases can be identified and traced even more efficiently,” Duclos’ statement read.

The government will also provide updated guidance on preventing infection, as well as procedures around isolation and case management. Canadians can expect the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to provide additional guidance in the coming weeks as well.

In his statement, Duclos emphasized that the emergence of monkeypox is not the same as COVID-19, which quickly spiralled into a worldwide pandemic.

“I want to re-iterate to Canadians that this is a different situation than we saw ourselves in with the emergence of COVID-19,” Duclos’ statement read. “While global understanding of the monkeypox virus is still evolving, we do have a supply of vaccines, which we will be sure to maintain, and we are working hand-in-hand with our provincial and territorial counterparts to roll out our response plan as quickly as possible.”

In an effort to avoid contracting the disease, Canadians are advised to physically distance from those around them, frequently wash their hands and wear masks in crowded environments.

With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press

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Peter Nygard sexual assault case to return to Montreal courtroom in July

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MONTREAL — Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s sexual assault and forcible confinement case in Quebec will return to a Montreal courtroom July 8.

Nygard remains detained in Toronto and did not appear during the brief hearing before a judge at the Montreal courthouse.

Laurence Juillet, a lawyer for Nygard, asked for the delay while her client’s other pending sex crime cases move through the courts.

Nygard faces one count of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement in Quebec. The crimes, which involve the same person, allegedly took place between Nov. 1, 1997, and Nov. 15, 1998.

He is also facing six counts of sexual assault and three counts of forcible confinement in Toronto in connection with alleged incidents dating back to the late 1980s and mid-2000s.

Authorities in the United States have asked for him to be extradited to face sex-related charges in that country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Victims’ families boycotting N.S. mass shooting inquiry over questioning of Mounties

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TRURO, N.S. — The relatives of victims of the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting have told their lawyers to boycott the public inquiry investigating the tragedy, after its commissioners decided to prevent cross-examination of key Mountie witnesses.

The law firm representing 14 of 22 families issued a statement saying it was instructed not to attend the hearings on Wednesday and the next three hearings on the schedule. Patterson Law said the families are “disheartened and further traumatized” by the commission’s decision Monday to prevent the law firm’s lawyers from directly questioning Staff Sgt. Brian Rehill and Sgt. Andy O’Brien.

Rehill was the RCMP’s risk manager at its Operational Communications Centre in Truro, N.S., when the rampage that claimed 22 lives over two days began in nearby in Portapique, N.S., on April 18, 2020. When the centre received reports of an active shooter, Rehill assumed command while O’Brien assisted in overseeing the early response.

The federal-provincial commission of inquiry agreed Monday to provide special accommodations for three senior Mounties when they testify about command decisions they made as the tragedy unfolded.

Rehill and O’Brien will face questions from commission lawyers via Zoom calls that will be recorded and broadcast at a later date. Participants and lawyers who wish to observe their testimony must remain off screen with their microphones muted while each Mountie is speaking.

No reasons were given for the special arrangements. The commission has said this information is considered private because it deals with physical or psychological health needs.

Participating lawyers were told to submit questions for Rehill and O’Brien to commission lawyers in advance of the officers’ testimony, which is expected to take place on Monday and Tuesday, beginning with Rehill.

Sandra McCulloch and Rob Pineo, the lawyers for the majority of the families, left their seats at the inquiry unoccupied on Wednesday and held a news conference outside the public library in Truro. Pineo said it’s now unclear whether the family’s representatives will return to the process, adding that he will keep consulting with them.

“This was supposed to be the process that would get the families information and get their questions answered and that is simply not happening,” he said, recalling that they had to hold a public march in Truro and Halifax to pressure the federal and provincial governments to launch a public inquiry instead of the limited review that was originally planned.

Nick Beaton, whose pregnant wife, Kristen Beaton, was killed, said he’s now referring to the mass casualty commission as “a review,” adding that he believes the public inquiry has evolved into a “love triangle” between the commission, the RCMP and the government.

Lawyer Tara Miller said her clients have given her instructions not to attend this week and next week.

“In addition to being fundamentally offside, what this decision does is further erode the confidence of family members who are the most affected,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

“These are individuals who put children to bed alone at night. These are the individuals who celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Days with memories.”

Miller said it has been her clients’ position all along that participating lawyers should be allowed to engage in unfettered but appropriate cross-examination of witnesses.

“That is a fundamental tenet of any kind of a litigation proceeding, and that includes public inquiries,” Miller said.

Miller also said cross-examination of Rehill will be central to the inquiry’s purpose.

“This was the individual who had command of the entire first response,” she said. “The decisions that he made and why he made them, those are all questions that are highly relevant.”

Lawyers for the families of victims Gina Goulet, Lillian Campbell, Aaron Tuck, Jolene Oliver and Emily Tuck said in interviews that they will continue to participate next week despite the restrictions on questioning.

Meanwhile, Staff Sgt. Al Carroll — former district commander for Colchester County — is expected to testify Thursday via a live Zoom call. He will be provided with breaks during his appearance, the commission said Tuesday. He could face direct cross-examination.

The National Police Federation and the federal Department of Justice had requested that O’Brien and Rehill be allowed to provide their information by sworn affidavit and that Carroll testify in person with questions asked only by commission counsel.

Commission chairman Michael MacDonald closed the hearing on Wednesday by describing the absence of the families’ lawyers as “unfortunate.” However, he said earlier in the day he didn’t expect that the accommodations would prevent the gathering of “necessary information” from the Mounties.

Staff Sgt. Bruce Briers took the witness stand Wednesday. He was the risk manager who oversaw the RCMP dispatch in Truro during the second day of the rampage on April 19, 2020. On cross-examination, Briers broke down in tears over not having heard, after he came on shift at 7 a.m., that the killer’s replica police car had a distinctive, black push bar on the front.

He said he now realizes that two officers had mentioned the bar at different points in the morning, adding “I didn’t hear either time. I wish I had; this is one of those regrets.” The bar was also visible in a photo of the replica vehicle that was distributed among some senior officers at about 7:27 a.m.

He said he could have issued a broadcast on police radio about the push bar and it might have “made a big difference.”

“I have to live with that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

— With files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax.

 

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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