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‘Senseless act’: 7 youths charged in death of teen stabbed near Edmonton high school

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EDMONTON — Police have charged seven youths with second-degree murder in the death of a 16-year-old boy who was assaulted outside an Edmonton high school earlier this month.

The teen was stabbed in the chest and died a week later in hospital.

The youths who have been charged, six boys and one girl, are between the ages of 14 and 17. The girl is also charged with obstruction.

“We believe there were two groups that kind of had an ongoing bit of a rivalry or a feud between each other … but it never escalated to violence in this fashion,” Edmonton police Supt. Shane Perka told a news conference Friday.

“These were just high school youths that had a bit of a history of disagreeing with each other, but nothing to indicate this was gang-motivated or gang-related.”

Perka wouldn’t say if the two groups attended different schools.

Six of the youths were initially charged with attempted murder following the stabbing April 8. A warrant on the same charge was issued for the seventh youth.

Their charges were all upgraded after the teen died on April 15 and an autopsy was completed Wednesday.

Perka said the case is sensitive and complex and has affected people in the community as well as investigators.

He said officers interviewed several witnesses and reviewed video footage. Five of the suspects were rearrested Thursday, a sixth on Friday morning and the final one turned himself into police an hour before the news conference.

They were all to remain in custody until their bail hearings.

Perka, calling it unimaginable and heartbreaking, said it’s difficult to understand how a rivalry between two groups could escalate to violence.

“It was a senseless act that a lot of us are still trying to process.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2022.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary

 

The Canadian Press

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Residential school survivors didn’t want to ‘wear’ decision to raise flag: documents

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OTTAWA — Documents show some residential school survivors told Ottawa they didn’t want to “wear” a decision to raise the Canadian flag, as the government spent months mulling how to lift the Maple Leaf from half-mast.

Hoisting the flag became a source of debate last year after it was lowered for months following the discovery of what were believed to be the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops residential school site in British Columbia last May.

Next weekmarks the one-year anniversary of that discovery using ground-penetrating radar by the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc First Nation.

It sent waves of grief, shock and anger through the country. As Indigenous communities reeled and more non-Indigenous Canadians joined them, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered the flags lowered at all federal buildings, including the one atop the Peace Tower.

By June, federal officials were trying to figure out the timing to raise the flag, reaching out to Indigenous leaders and drafting up options.

“This is the longest time in Canadian history that flags have been at half-mast,” Crown-Indigenous Relations officials wrote in a briefing note released to The Canadian Press under access-to-information legislation.

How long the flag remains lowered is typically dictated by a strict set of rules. But when the federal government lowered it to honour Indigenous children who died and disappeared from the 140-year-long residential school system, the timeline for lifting it was not clear.

Ottawa was working to return the flag to full-mast ahead of Remembrance Day, documents show, which is what ultimately happened. The documents say survivors and those in the country’s national Indigenous organizations saw the need to raise the flag in order for it to be lowered on Nov. 8, Indigenous Veteran’s Day, and Nov. 11.

Among those consulted was the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s survivors’ circle. The group met last fall with Carolyn Bennett, the former federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister before she was named to a new portfolio.

“Several participants mentioned that they did not want Canada to use this engagement to justify the raising of the flag to full-mast,” officials said in a summary of the meeting.

“They did not want to ‘wear’ that decision,” the summary said, adding Bennett signalled she understood and saw how not everyone agreed.

“Some said that they were not ready to see the flag go up to full-mast, others indicated that Canadians still needed to better understand why the flag was lowered.”

Officials recorded differing opinions on the national symbol and how the country planned to mark the finding of more unmarked graves.

“Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami officials reinforced the critical need to honour all the lost children (more than 6,000) and to sustain public awareness of the tragedy of residential schools,” the documents say.

“Officials from the Métis National Council also offered the suggestion that the flag be lowered to half-mast for a week each time a new residential school burial discovery is made.”

In addition, officials said the organizations felt even though raising the flag was complicated, the issue was one that “the Canadian government will need to resolve.” They also believed in the need for another “symbolic recognition at the national level” as a replacement if the flag were hoisted.

The office of the current Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister, Marc Miller, said in a statement it is working with the House of Commons, Senate Speakers’ Offices and other MPs to hoist the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s survivors flag on Parliament Hill in June, which is Indigenous history month.

It also plans to lower the Canadian flag every Sept. 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The Cowessess First Nation near Regina discovered 751 unmarked graves last year. Officials noted that Chief Cadmus Delorme “identified that this is a historic time for Canada” and “that with the number of residential schools, this issue will be present for years to come.”

Indigenous groups also urged governments to take meaningful action on reconciliation, and not leave it at symbolic gestures, the documents show.

Chief Harvey McLeod of the Upper Nicola Indian Band in Merritt, B.C., said recently that more debate is needed about what the flag represents to Indigenous people and Canadians, as opposed to talking how long it should stay lowered or raised.

“I see being more important is us continuing to have the dialogue to correct what was implemented in that plan that was the way to implement the vision of Confederation,” he said. “It was the vision of the salvation of us savages, us Indians, to incorporate us into general society.”

“We really have to roll up our sleeves and find a way of how we can be inclusive of people like myself.”

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin said he’s more concerned with justice for survivors than symbolic gestures from Ottawa.

“Quite honestly, we’re not really treated as Canadians either, right? Full-(fledged) Canadian citizens in our own country,” he said.

“A lot of times we’re treated like foreigners.”

One survivor of the Kamloops residential school said any gesture from the Canadian government on the flag is meaningful.

“Any recognition that Canada offers is good,” said Garry Gottfriedson, a 69-year-old poet who attended the institution from kindergarten to Grade 3.

“The smallest gestures are good. Any little gesture Canada can offer is a step towards healing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022.

— With files from Dirk Meissner in Kamloops, B.C.

 

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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Top court won’t hear ex-OPP deputy commissioner’s appeal over lawsuit against Ford

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OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear an appeal from a former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer over his bid to sue Premier Doug Ford for defamation.

Former OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair launched a $5-million suit in 2019, alleging the premier smeared his reputation for political gain by suggesting the officer had violated the Police Services Act.

Blair had asked the courts to force the provincial ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Ron Taverner, a longtime friend of the premier, as OPP commissioner, raising concerns about political interference.

At the time, Blair served as interim commissioner and had been in the running for the permanent position.

Ford’s lawyers argued the premier’s statements on the matter were fair comment, and an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed the claim — a decision upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Ultimately, Thomas Carrique, then the deputy chief for York Regional Police, was appointed OPP commissioner.

As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for declining to hear Blair’s appeal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Russia bans Canadian media, sends 34 French diplomats packing

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Moscow, Russia- The Russian government has banned the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) from operating in the country and declared 34 French diplomats persona non grata.

Both moves are a tit-for-tat following Canada’s decision to ban Russia Today in March and France expelling 41 people from Russian diplomatic institutions in April.

“With regret, we continue to notice open attacks on the Russian media from the countries of the so-called collective West who call themselves civilized. A decision has been taken to make retaliatory I emphasize, retaliatory measures in relation to the actions of Canada,” said Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

The government also revoked the visas and accreditations of CBC journalists and shut its offices in the capital.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it has designated 34 employees of French diplomatic institutions persona non grata, “They are ordered to leave the territory of Russia within two weeks from the date of delivery of the corresponding note to the Ambassador.”

The Ministry also declared dozens of Italian and Spanish diplomats persona non grata in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomatic staff from the countries.

However, France and Italy castigated the move with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi calling the expulsions a hostile act and emphasizing the importance of diplomatic channels.

On Tuesday, Pyotr Tolstoy, the Deputy-Speaker of Parliament said Russia’s Lower House of Parliament, the State Duma, is planning to discuss the potential withdrawal of the country from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a list of such agreements to the State Duma, and together with the Federation Council (Upper House of Parliament), we are planning to evaluate them and then propose to withdraw from them.

Russia withdrew from the Council of Europe, now the next step is to withdraw from the WTO and the WHO, which have neglected all obligations in relation to our country,” said Tolstoy.

 

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