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'Kind of crazy': Community isolated by Canada-U.S. border closure builds its own road – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Separated from the rest of the United States by the closed Canadian border, one community in Minnesota put its northern ingenuity to work to restore its lifeline to the outside world.

The so-called Northwest Angle is a geographical oddity associated with the Canada-U.S. border. Officially known as Angle Township, it is separated from the rest of Minnesota by Lake of the Woods.

This unusual arrangement dates back to pre-Confederation treaties between the U.S. and Great Britain, which used an inaccurate map to determine where the Canada-U.S. border would run. Over the years, the Angle’s unique geography has led to at least one secession attempt, as well as an unsuccessful online petition in 2018 to have the U.S. “give Canada back” the land.

The only way residents of the Angle can drive to the U.S. is by heading west and then south through Manitoba, a one-way trip of approximately 100 kilometres.

That inconvenience became a much bigger problem last year, when Canada began to turn away non-essential travellers from the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

An exception was made for anyone using Canada to get from the contiguous U.S. to Alaska. That rule was later refined after it became clear some Americans were claiming they were en route to Alaska as they entered the country, then sightseeing in Canada instead.

The government’s published information about border restrictions does not mention any exceptions for the 100 or so residents of the Northwest Angle, who have thus spent the last 10 months relying on flights and boat trips as their only means of transportation to and from the rest of the U.S.

Many of those who live in the Angle earn their livelihoods by working at resorts within the 320-square-kilometre patch of isolated America. In normal years, they receive a steady stream of visitors interested in the fishing and other outdoor recreation the area has to offer.

Last year, though, with the Angle nearly inaccessible, business disappeared.

“We had zero people at our place,” resort owner Paul Colson told KARE-TV on Monday.

As winter approached, some of the Angle’s residents hatched a plan. Just like in northern parts of Canada unreached by the road network, they decided to wait until Lake of the Woods froze over in order to build an ice road on it.

Cale Alsleben told KARE-TV that he first thought the idea was “kind of crazy” – but sure enough, once the ice got stable enough, he and other plow drivers got to work carving out the road’s 35-kilometre path, bridges and all.

The road isn’t free to use; anyone wanting to cross between the Angle and the rest of Minnesota must pay either US$145 for a round-trip or US$500 for a season pass.

It is working, though. In the two weeks it’s been open, tourists and seasonal visitors have returned to the Angle – giving Colson and other resort operators a chance to earn a little bit of money before the weather warms up, the ice road melts, and non-essential vehicle travel is once again impossible.

The Northwest Angle isn’t the only part of Canada or the U.S. where residents feel they’ve been abandoned by their country due to the border closure.

Point Roberts, Wash. can only be reached by land via the border crossing in Delta, B.C. The community’s population is believed to have fallen by one-third since the pandemic began, and the president of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce told CTV News Vancouver last week that all of the businesses on the pene-exclave have either closed up shop or lost the vast majority of their revenue.

At the other end of the border, the government of New Brunswick has launched a temporary ferry service to maintain a connection to Campobello Island, which is only reachable over land through Maine. There were concerns about alleged American overreach around the island even before the pandemic, with some residents claiming in 2019 that the U.S. border patrol was opening their mail.

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China has lifted a 3-year ban on Canadian canola, Ottawa says – CBC News

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A three-year Chinese ban on Canadian canola has come to an end, according to the federal government.

In a joint statement released Wednesday afternoon, Trade Minister Mary Ng and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said China has reinstated market access for two Canadian grain trading companies that have been prevented from exporting canola seed to China since March 2019.

“We welcome this decision to remove the restrictions and immediately reinstate the two companies to allow them to export Canadian canola seeds,” the statement said.

“Canada will always firmly uphold the international rules-based trade system and related dispute settlement mechanisms, as well as a science-based approach to resolving such issues.”

In March 2019, the Chinese government blocked canola shipments from Canadian companies Richardson International Ltd. and Viterra Inc. by suspending their licences, alleging the detection of pests in canola shipments.

The move followed the arrest of Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver a few months earlier.

In September of 2019, Canada took the canola dispute to the World Trade Organization. A WTO dispute resolution panel was composed in November 2021.

Costly dispute

Before the trade tensions, the Chinese market made up 40 per cent of Canada’s canola exports.

According to the Canola Council of Canada, seed exports to China have fallen from $2.8 billion in 2018 before the restrictions, to $800 million in 2019, $1.4 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021.

The industry organization estimates the dispute cost the industry between $1.54 billion and $2.35 billion from lost sales and lower prices between March 2019 and August 2020 alone.

“This is a positive step forward, restoring full trade in canola with China and ensuring that all Canadian exporters are treated equally by the Chinese administration,” said Canola Council of Canada President Jim Everson in a news release.

“We will continue efforts to nurture and maintain a predictable, rules-based trade environment.”

Canada is the world’s largest producer of canola. It is one of the most widely grown crops in Canada, and is currently trading at all-time record highs as the war in Ukraine drives up prices for agricultural commodities.

Canola is primarily used to make cooking oil, but can also be used as livestock feed and to make biodiesel.

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Tangled in Canada's immigration backlog? What you can do about the delay – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Dixon D’mello hasn’t seen his wife since she left India and came to Canada for university 10 months ago.

D’mello, who lives in Mumbai working as a lawyer, says looking after two young kids – aged 1 and 3 years – without their mom around has been “very difficult.”

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“Especially the children are missing their mom,” the 39-year-old told Global News. “A young child without its mom, how can he survive?”

His wife is enrolled in a two-year program at the Red Deer Polytechnic in Alberta.

The family applied for a Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) for D’mello and a temporary resident visa for the children in July 2021 and since then, has received no updates to their applications from the Canadian immigration department.

“We have done our … medical and then our biometrics. We are just waiting,” says D’mello.

He is not alone.


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Displaced Ukrainians struggling to obtain Canadian visas


Displaced Ukrainians struggling to obtain Canadian visas

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, wait times for immigration applications to come to Canada continue to be a concern, with many people stuck in limbo and growing impatient.

There are currently more than two million immigration applications for citizenship, permanent residence and temporary residence in the inventory, according to the latest figures from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shared with Global News this month.

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While travel restrictions and other constraints brought on by the pandemic have caused long delays, the war in Ukraine this year has only added to the inventory backlog, IRCC says.

“Despite our considerable efforts, we know that some applicants have experienced considerable wait times with the processing of their applications, and we continue to work as hard as possible to reduce processing times,“ said Rémi Larivière, an IRCC spokesperson, in an email.

IRCC is trying to play catch up and reduce wait times with additional funding, hiring new processing staff, digitizing applications and reallocating work among offices around the world, Larivière said.


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Long lines reported at Service Canada offices as demand grows for passports


Long lines reported at Service Canada offices as demand grows for passports – Apr 28, 2022

But for those applicants tangled in the backlog, there is “a lot of frustration” as they wait to be reunited with family members or get work permits, immigration lawyers say.

“Many of them are waiting for months and months and months, and they don’t know what to do,” said Ravi Jain, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer and co-founder of the Canadian Immigration Law Association.

“Some of them are just distraught over how long it’s taking and they don’t have any answers as to how more long it could be,” he said, adding that customer service is at “an all-time low.”

What options do applicants have?

After submission, applicants can track the status of their applications online through the IRCC website or a secure IRCC account.

In March, the IRCC updated its processing times tool to “more accurately show” the expected wait times.

When D’mello filed his application last year the estimated wait time shown was 16 weeks. That has now gone up to 55 weeks.

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Lawyers say the new tool has helped reduce the number of inquiries to IRCC and alleviate the anxiety for many applicants — but it doesn’t solve their problems.

“I think it’s a good initiative for sure … but … what you really need is someone to process the file,” said Jain.

The main way to communicate with the IRCC is to submit a web form through their website to follow up on the progress of an application, said Sonia Matkowsky, a partner at an immigration law firm based in Toronto whose firm has been helping the D’mello family.

“The majority of the time we receive a generic or automated response, basically saying your application is processing and there are delays due to COVID,” she said. “So we don’t really get any substantive information when we follow up.”


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International students in limbo due to paperwork delays


International students in limbo due to paperwork delays – Feb 16, 2022

However, for clients whose applications have been pending for a very long time, a judicial review by the federal court can be requested that often speeds up the process, Matkowsky says.

The federal court is asked to issue a mandamus, which is a court order that requests the IRCC to make a decision within a certain time period.

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“If we can show that the processing times have been unreasonably delayed and it’s at no fault of the applicants, then the federal court is very cooperative and a lot of times we don’t even get to a hearing,” said Matkowsky.

Her firm has been able to settle cases with the Department of Justice lawyer and the counsel for the IRCC.


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Delays in processing permanent residence applications causing ‘uncertainty’


Delays in processing permanent residence applications causing ‘uncertainty’ – Feb 19, 2021

Many applicants also try to follow up with MPs, which D’mello has tried without much luck.

He got a response saying there is absolutely nothing they can do and IRCC would be processing applications on a first-come-first-serve basis, D’mello said.

Read more:

International students call for COVID-19 immigration changes in Toronto

For people who submitted a visitor visa application before Sept. 7, 2021, whose situation has changed since then, the recommendation is to start a new online application.

In January 2021, the IRCC also introduced a new program that allows international students whose post-graduation work permit is no longer valid or is expiring to be extended for another 18 months.

That extension will be offered again starting this summer, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced last month.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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A timeline of events since the finding of unmarked graves in Kamloops last May

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VANCOUVER — The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc announced in May last year that the remains of as many as 215 children were found using ground-penetrating radar around the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia’s Interior. Since then, many other First Nations have also searched school sites in their territories.

Here is a timeline surrounding the events:

2021

May 22-23: A specialist using ground-penetrating radar makes preliminary findings that the remains of 215 children were buried around the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

May 27: Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir issues a statement saying she has confirmed “an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

May 30: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces that all Canadian flags in federal buildings are to be lowered to half-mast to honour the 215 and all other Indigenous children who didn’t make it home from residential schools.

June 11: Victoria city councillors vote unanimously to cancel Canada Day celebrations to allow for “thoughtful reflections” about what it means to be Canadian after the discoveries in Kamloops.

June 23: The Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan says as many as 751 unmarked graves have been discovered near the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

June 30: The Lower Kootenay Band in B.C. says a search using ground-penetrating radar has found 182 sets of human remains in unmarked graves outside St. Eugene’s Mission School, a former residential school operated by the Catholic Church.

June 30: Survivors of a former residential school in the community of Lower Post in northern B.C. gather to mark the demolition of the facility.

July 13: The Penelakut Tribe announces in an online newsletter that more than 160 unmarked and undocumented graves have been found at the former Kuper Island Industrial School site near Chemainus, B.C.

July 15: Prof. Sarah Beaulieu of the University of the Fraser Valley says the discovery of a child’s rib bone and a tooth had triggered the use of ground-penetrating radar to search the apple orchard at the former Kamloops residential school site in May.

July 20: The B.C. government says it will provide immediate funding to 21 First Nation communities to help search for human remains at former residential schools or hospitals.

July 22: Vancouver police say there has been a “dramatic increase” in vandalism or mischief incidents against properties owned by churches, coinciding with reports of remains being found near Indigenous residential schools.

Sept. 30: Canada marks its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Trudeau spent part of the day flying to Tofino, B.C., to join his family.

Oct. 5: The Federal Court approves the settlement of a class-action lawsuit for those who attended residential schools.

Oct. 7: The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation says Trudeau “missed an opportunity” to show his commitment to the survivors of residential schools by not replying to its invitations to take part in an event marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Oct. 18: Trudeau is rebuked by Casimir during his visit to the nation. Trudeau apologizes to those gathered, saying he regrets his decision not to spend the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with them.

Nov. 7: The Canadian flag is returned to full mast ahead of Remembrance Day.

Nov. 9: Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario begins a search for unmarked grave sites on the grounds of the former Mohawk Institute.

Dec. 7: A trip to the Vatican by Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors to meet Pope Francis is cancelled because of a new wave of COVID-19.

2022

Jan. 20: Canada’s Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller announces an agreement with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to hand over more records on residential schools that Ottawa had been holding back.

March 23: Indigenous organizations in Manitoba, officials from the City of Winnipeg and the provincial and federal governments form a council to support searches for burial sites of children who attended residential schools.

March 30: Trudeau visits Williams Lake First Nation in B.C.’s Cariboo region, saying “all of Canada grieves” with the community after 93 “reflections” were found in January that could indicate the burial sites of children around the former St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School.

April 1: Pope Francis issues an apology for the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the harm caused to generations of Indigenous people by residential schools. “I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry,” he says.

May 16: Miller says the searches on the grounds of former residential schools to date are just the beginning, with 140 former residential school sites in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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