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Some Saskatchewan community members sleeping with guns after stabbing rampage: chief

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PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — The chief of a First Nation where there was a recent mass killing says some people are still sleeping with their guns.

James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns made the comment Friday, as Indigenous leaders in Saskatchewan gathered to call for immediate resources to address what they call a safety crisis in the north.

“Our community is still in shock and very uneasy about who walks through that door,” said Burns. The Sept. 4 stabbing rampage left 11 people dead and 18 injured on the First Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon.

Myles Sanderson, 32, the suspect in the attacks, later died in police custody.

Leaders from across the northern part of the province said violence had reached crisis levels in many of their communities and people are living in a constant state of fear. They called for all levels of government to come to the table to find Indigenous-led solutions for the short- and long-term.

Montreal Lake Tribal Council Vice Chief Richard Derocher said he spoke with elders who are sleeping with baseball bats in their beds. Nurses have called for 24-hour security, cameras and a fence to surround community health centres, he added.

“We are not here to lay blame,” he said during a news conference in Prince Albert. “We are here to raise awareness, to let the governments know we are not all right in our communities.”

In response to the stabbing rampage, federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino signed an agreement with the Prince Albert Grand Council, which includes James Smith Cree Nation, to explore new ways to improve safety on some First Nations in the province.

The agreement between the grand council, the Saskatchewan government and Ottawa creates a collaborative working relationship for community-oriented ways to deliver police services.

The move was described as an important step, but Derocher said communities throughout the north feel unsafe because of violence, addictions, and a lack of policing.

“We need the government to come to aid — to all the communities,” Derocher said.

“We are one event from having it happen in any of our communities.”

Montreal Lake Tribal Council leaders said they are frustrated that their ability to respond to crises has not improved since the community of La Loche was devastated by a 2016 shooting at a school and a home that left four people dead.

The violence is connected to colonialism and residential schools, the leaders said. It is also rooted in issues around a lack of support for mental health, housing, and education in the north.

Chief Karen Bird said Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, which is comprised of eight communities with about 12,000 people, has faced multiple emergencies due to violence and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are dealing with funeral after funeral,” she said. “Within this year, we are dealing with a $1-million bill at the funeral home for the many people we have lost.”

Some chiefs said they did not have enough information to know whether a new marshals service would help. The Saskatchewan government has said the Saskatchewan Marshals Service would see 70 officers in place by 2026 to respond to areas with high crime rates, to arrest people with outstanding warrants, and to investigate farm-related crimes.

Indigenous leadership has called for self-administered police programs on First Nations.

The federal government’s current First Nations and Inuit Policing Program, created in 1991, shares costs between provinces and the federal government. It has been criticized for underfunding those services and not being accessible to nearly one-third of First Nations and Inuit communities.

There are 35 First Nations police services across the country including one in Saskatchewan. The File Hills Police Service serves five First Nations communities in eastern Saskatchewan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2022.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon

 

The Canadian Press

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Unclaimed bodies are piling up in Newfoundland. A funeral director blames government.

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A funeral director in St. John’s says the bodies piling up in freezers at Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest hospital likely belong to people whose loved ones couldn’t get enough government help to pay for a funeral.

John Anderson, director and embalmer at Caul’s Funeral Home in St. John’s, N.L., says the province offers funeral homes too little money to provide services for people on income assistance and old age security programs.

He says people become frustrated with how little funeral homes can provide them, and some just walk away and leave their loved ones sitting in freezers.

Emails obtained by the provincial NDP through access to information legislation show health officials warning in November 2021 that morgues and freezer units brought in to handle overflow were at capacity.

Notes from a meeting of health officials on Jan. 9 this year say there were 27 unclaimed bodies in “temporary storage” at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, up from 12 in November 2021.

Paul Pike, minister of children, seniors and social development, says his department is aware of some of the issues Anderson has raised, and it is working with funeral homes to update its assistance programs.

He says the province has provided funeral benefits for almost 700 people in the last two years, and the average assistance amount was $3,000 per service.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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In the news today: Wildfire flames hit Jasper, cooler weather to help B.C. fire crews

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Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed…

Jasper wildfires burn buildings, chase out crews

A fast-moving wildfire has hit Jasper, Alberta, destroying buildings and chasing some wildland firefighters away with dangerously poor air quality.

The social media account for Jasper National Park says the fire has caused significant loss within the townsite, but the specific locations or neighbourhoods affected are not being reported.

On the social media platform X Wednesday night, the account for Fairmont’s Jasper Park Lodge says the flames have reached the hotel’s grounds, but the extent of damage, if any, is not yet known.

As the flames consumed more fuel, officials say the air quality dropped to dangerous levels, prompting fire crews without breathing apparatus to evacuate to the nearby community of Hinton.

Cool change brings respite hope in B.C. fire fight

Firefighters in British Columbia are expecting the warmer-than-usual weather to ease off today, fueling hope for more respite in their battle against more than 400 blazes.

The BC Wildfire Service says cooler temperatures and rain in the north slid into the central Interior on Wednesday, moving the mercury closer to seasonal norms for the first time in a month.

The wildfire service says the favourable forecast is giving crews a chance to make even more progress.

In the past week, at least 239 fires have been extinguished, and at least 124 fires have been brought under control.

However, about 260 fires continued to burn out of control as of late Wednesday.

Canada’s premiers consumed by natural disasters

As Canada’s premiers reckoned with housing, health care and their contentious relationship with Ottawa during meetings last week in Halifax, many of them remained consumed by climate change-related natural disasters that have only escalated since they returned home.

“It’s not lost on us that emergency preparedness for natural disasters is more important than ever,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said in his closing remarks on the final day of the Council of the Federation conference.

This summer has so far included multiple flash floods, including one this month in Nova Scotia that killed a 13-year-old boy, and wildfires across the country that have resulted in the destruction of property and the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Unclaimed bodies are piling up in Newfoundland

A funeral director in St. John’s says the bodies piling up in freezers at Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest hospital likely belong to people whose loved ones couldn’t get enough government help to pay for a funeral.

John Anderson, director and embalmer at Caul’s Funeral Home in St. John’s, N.L., says the province offers funeral homes too little money to provide services for people on income assistance and old age security programs.

He says people become frustrated with how little funeral homes can provide them, and some just walk away and leave their loved ones sitting in freezers.

Emails obtained by the provincial NDP through access to information legislation show health officials warning in November 2021 that morgues and freezer units brought in to handle overflow were at capacity.

Nygard sentencing hearing to continue today

The lawyer representing former fashion tycoon Peter Nygard is set to continue her submissions at his sentencing hearing in Toronto today.

Gerri Wiebe stressed the importance of factoring in her client’s age and health as she began her arguments Wednesday.

Nygard, 83, was found guilty last November of four counts of sexual assault, but he was found not guilty of a fifth count as well as one of forcible confinement.

The charges stem from allegations dating from the 1980s until the mid-2000s.

Prosecutors have said they are seeking a sentence of 15 years, minus credit for the time Nygard has already spent in custody.

Survival ‘down to the wire’ for endangered orcas

The southern resident killer whale known as Tahlequah captured global sympathy in 2018 when she pushed the body of her dead calf for more than two weeks in waters off British Columbia’s south coast.

Some scientists and advocates called the scene a display of public grief.

But the impact of the loss went beyond Tahlequah. It was a significant blow to the entire population that numbers just 74 individuals.

Recent research suggests a baseline rate of population loss of roughly one per cent per year — based on modelling and 40 years of observations — putting the whales on a path toward a “period of accelerating decline that presages extinction.” Even that rate of loss is “optimistic,” the research says.

The study lends urgency to calls by a coalition of environmental groups for the Canadian government to reverse its decision not to issue an emergency protection order for the whales, in the face of what may otherwise be inexorable decline.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25th, 2024



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Ugochukwu scores in 82nd, Chelsea salvages 2-2 tie with Wrexham in friendly at Levi’s Stadium.

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Lesley Ugochukwu scored in the 82nd minute to help Chelsea salvage a 2-2 tie with Wrexham in a friendly match Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Ugochukwu rolled a shot from the middle of the box through traffic into the right corner.

Wrexham took a 2-1 lead when Jack Marriot scored on a counterattack in the 72nd minute.

Luke Bolton also scored for Wrexham, the Welsh team co-owned by actor Ryan Reynolds that was promoted this year to the third tier of English soccer.

“It’s important that we show the Wrexham spirit we’ve been known for the last few years,” Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson said.

“We had to dig deep at times and tonight we did that again. Whether it’s preseason or not you want to see that kind of spirit we’ve kind of built a reputation. We’re representing a working-class town and a fantastic area and we’ve got to reflect that with our performances.”

Christopher Nkunku scored first for Chelsea in the perennial Premier League power’s first preseason match and its first under manager, Enzo Maresca, the former Leicester City manager.

“I’m very happy about the performance in general because in this moment, if we think that we started just two weeks ago, it’s important that as a staff and in general people can start to see the identity of the team and I think tonight it was quite good,” Maresca said.

Nkunku fired a shot from the middle of the box into the left corner of the net past goalie Arthur Okonkwo in the 35th minute off an assist from Marc Guiu after a corner kick.

Wrexham tied it in the 58th minute when Bolton scored from the right wing off an assist from Sebastian Revan, who connected with Bolton on a crossing pass.

Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez blocked a breakaway shot from James McLean in the 29th minute.

Chelsea beat Wrexham 5-0 in a friendly last season.

___ AP soccer:

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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