Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was “too dangerous” to send in Canadian diplomats to remove four-year-old Canadian orphan Amira from the al-Hol detention camp — after Kurdish authorities confirmed they found the child over the weekend.
In a one-on-one interview with CTV News’ Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, Trudeau said that he was aware of the little girl’s story, but that the safety of Canadians who work in the Middle East needs to be considered.
“Right now we’ve qualified it as too dangerous for Canadian officials to go into Syria and into those refugee camps,” he said.
It has been almost a year since Amira was discovered wandering alone in the Syrian town of Baghouz after her family — Canadians who had left the country in 2014 to fight for ISIS — were killed in an airstrike.
Amira was taken to the detention camp in northeastern Syria where she was living with a surrogate family, in a situation that Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale has previously called “horrendous.”
Life inside the camp is often described as desperate, with lack of water and access to medical care major concerns for the more than 11,000 foreign women and children of ISIS fighters are detained.
It is estimated that at least 33 Canadians women and children are detained in al-Hol and a second nearby camp.
Amira’s uncle and grandparents in Canada have been calling on the Canadian government to rescue the child for months — using other countries like Sweden, Australia and France as examples of governments who have sent in personnel to extract women and children left behind after the years of war with the caliphate.
The government has previously told Amira’s family that she must undergo a DNA test to prove that she is a Canadian citizen before she can be issued travel papers — which would take months.
This past summer Amira’s uncle, who wishes to remain anonymous, was determined to go to Syria himself to try to locate her and bring her home, but Kurdish Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Abdulkarim Omar advised him not to travel until her location was confirmed.
This weekend, Kurdish authorities sent a message saying that Amira had finally been located.
“We informed the Canadian authorities about her whereabouts,” Omar said. “The Canadian government is aware of Amira’s situation right now.”
Canada has yet to formally request the child’s release, something her uncle is hopeful will change now that she has finally been located.
“Now that she’s found, we’d hoped immediate action would take place and that she could be home as soon as possible,” Amira’s uncle said.
Ontario sees 990 new COVID-19 cases and 6 deaths – CBC.ca
Ontario is reporting 990 new cases of COVID-19 and six new deaths, according to the latest provincial figures.
The new daily case count brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began in Ontario to 306,997.
Toronto saw 284 new cases while Peel Region saw 173. Both regions are under stay-at-home orders that are scheduled to lift on Monday. York Region reported 82 new cases.
WATCH | Hillier talks about vaccine rollout:
The update follows the release of Ontario’s accelerated vaccine rollout plan, which should see all adults 60 and older given a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by early June — a month sooner than initially planned.
“That was very optimistic,” Dr. Peter Lin told CBC News on Saturday.
Lin applauded the province’s rollout strategy for including an option to space out shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by up to four months.
“[That] means more people can get vaccinated and the whole idea is to burn the virus out,” he said. “If you have lots of people vaccinated, the virus can’t find a new host and we could say goodbye to the virus quicker and get back to normal life faster.”
To date, Ontario has administered more than 860,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines with more than 270,600 people fully vaccinated. Toronto, the province’s largest city, is responsible for the administration of nearly 200,000 of those doses — a figure that amounts to more than 124,686 people being vaccinated.
In a Saturday news release, the city said 197,155 doses have been administered, and that several clinics are underway on Saturday to vaccinate hospital and community-based healthcare workers who are in Phase 1 priority groups.
Vaccine availability continues to be a stumbling block for cities, including Toronto, which has a population of more than 2.9 million.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in cases were:
- Ottawa: 60
- Thunder Bay: 54
- Halton Region: 34
- Waterloo Region: 33
- Durham Region: 32
- Lambton: 27
- Simcoe Muskoka: 27
- Windsor-Essex: 27
- Hamilton: 24
- Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District: 19
- Sudbury: 17
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 17
- Eastern Ontario: 12
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)
2 regions to see restrictions eased Monday
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Zain Chagla told CBC News on Saturday that Canada’s approval of the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine — news that came after Ontario released its vaccine plan — should definitely help speed up the timeline.
“We’ll get to the point where vaccines are scaling up and up and up,” he said.
But he cautioned: “There may be turbulence for the next month or so.”
On Monday, stay-at-home orders in Toronto and Peel Region will be lifted, although both regions will stay in lockdown. Medical officers of health for both regions had urged caution ahead of the shift.
“Vaccines do us no good if they’re not in arms yet,” Dr. Lawrence Loh said at a Wednesday news conference. “We must stay the course.”
Last month, the province made a few changes to what people are allowed to do in a grey lockdown.
As of Monday, residents in Toronto and Peel Regions will be able to shop in person at reduced capacity: 50 per cent for grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies and 25 per cent for other retailers. Loitering in shopping malls or other stories will not be permitted. Individuals will still need to wear a mask and practice physical distancing.
WATCH | Toronto and Peel Region to move into grey zone as stay-at-home order lifts on Monday
Canada vowed to protect its Indigenous women. But they are still being blamed for their own deaths – CTV News
February marked the culmination of a nearly decade-long legal saga that raised national questions about how Canada treats Indigenous women. Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Canadian Cree-Métis mother of three, bled to death in a hotel bathtub almost a decade ago.
Bradley Barton, a former long-distance truck driver from Ontario, was on Feb. 19 convicted for manslaughter — six years after he was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges at his original trial.
The jury in the six-week re-trial in Edmonton, Alberta, had heard witness testimony that Gladue suffered an 11-centimeter wound to her vaginal wall while engaging in sexual acts with Barton in a hotel in the city in June 2011, according to CBC reports.
At trial, Barton testified he agreed to pay Gladue for sex and met her over two nights, and insisted it was consensual, according to the CBC. He said he did not realize she was injured, and was shocked when he found her dead the following morning.
But prosecutors argued that Gladue may have been too drunk to provide consent, and drew attention to inconsistencies in Barton’s testimony.
Barton’s lawyer Dino Bottos declined to comment on the verdict, but told CNN he is recommending an appeal for his client.
Though the agonizing way in which Gladue died is a source of much grief for her friends, family and community, the case has become a rallying cry for activists, raising questions about race and discrimination in Canada.
A questionable trial
In 2015, a jury — described as “visibly White” in CBC news reports — acquitted Barton of first-degree murder and manslaughter charges, a verdict which triggered protests across the country and sparked a debate about how Canada’s justice system treats Indigenous women.
In 2017, prosecutors filed an appeal, arguing the trial judge had erred in some of his rulings and instructions to the jury. Canada’s Supreme Court agreed and ordered Barton be retried for manslaughter, noting that the country’s trial rules for dealing with sexual history weren’t followed.
Many saw the first trial as disrespectful to Gladue, says Julie Kaye, a national campaign specialist for Indigenous justice group Pima’tisowin e’ mimtotaman told CNN.
Kaye said Gladue “wasn’t portrayed with human dignity, as a human being,” during the 2015 legal proceedings, which she said saw prosecutors bring a specimen of her preserved pelvic tissue into the courtroom as evidence of the fatal wound she suffered.
“They brought a portion of her body in as evidence and referred to a part of her body as a specimen — it violates rights in terms of how we treat people’s bodies after they’re deceased, and it certainly violates Indigenous protocols around caring for loved ones after they have passed,” Kaye said.
According to the Globe and Mail, images of Gladue’s vaginal tissue — which was brought into courtroom but hidden behind a screen — were projected on a screen for jurors to view. Presenting part of Gladue’s body at trial, Kaye said, ” was considered a very violent act.”
Gladue was also referred to as a “Native” or “prostitute” throughout the trial, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case.
“She wasn’t all these labels, all these words that they said: She was a momma. People should have honored and respected her because she was a woman and she really loved her family,” Gladue’s cousin, Prairie Adaoui told CNN.
In 2019, Canada’s Supreme Court concluded that such language and “unrestricted reference to the victim’s sexual history” had “devastatingly prejudicial effects” on the outcome of the case, and did not dissuade “prejudicial and stereotypical assumptions about Indigenous women working in the sex trade.”
“All the stereotypes and stigma associated with how she was called and the names used for her, that really allowed racism and sexism to enter into the proceedings,” Kaye said.
For years, activists and Indigenous people in Canada have warned of a disproportionately high number of Indigenous women who have either gone missing or been killed across the country.
“The severe violence that Cindy Gladue suffered needs to be situated within a context [of] ongoing settler-colonial relations marked by gendered violence,” said Lise Gotell, professor of womens and gender studies at the University of Alberta.
“As an outcome of colonization, cultural dislocation, and poverty, Indigenous women and girls continue to face extreme forms of marginalization, including rates of violence that are many times those of other women,” Gotell said.
Though they represent about 4 per cent of all women in Canada, Indigenous women made up nearly 28 per cent of homicides perpetrated against women in 2019, while police estimated in 2015 that some 10 per cent of the country’s missing women were Indigenous.
A 2014 report from Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police identified 1,181 Indigenous women that had been killed or gone missing between 1980 and 2012.
Patty Hajdu, Canada’s then-minister of the status of women, said that the number could be as high as 4,000, according to the CBC.
Two years ago, a national enquiry described the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who have been killed or have vanished in Canada in the past decades as victims of a “Canadian genocide.” The report included testimonies from more than 1,400 family members and survivors, and 84 knowledge-keepers, experts and officials.
A national action plan was supposed to follow the report, but progress has been slow. Communities are still waiting for the plan, which was due in June last year.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett told CBC News that further work and consultation should take place before a formal response to the report’s recommendations can be completed, and said the pandemic had affected the government’s timeline.
“How are you going to make all of these wrongs right? You need to be able to assist the women in whatever way they need help,” Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada told CNN.
Some activists point to other high-profile incidents involving Indigenous women that raised controversy over their treatment in Canada’s legal, healthcare and prison systems.
Kaye told CNN “there’s been a number of different cases where somebody coming into contact with the system as a victim is treated as though they are at fault,” she said.
In October, Canadian authorities said a public coroner’s inquest would be launched into the death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old mother of seven who died in a Quebec hospital. The CBC reported footage that Echaquan filmed before her death — appearing to allegedly show medical staff calling her “stupid” and “only good for sex” — triggered protests in Quebec City and Montreal. The inquiry is scheduled to begin in May 2021.
The province’s nursing body L’Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec in a statement denounced the “racism suffered” by Echaquan. In an October video statement, Luc Mathieu, President of the OIIQ said he had asked for a meeting with authorities in Manawan — the Indigenous community Echaquan was from — and is working out a set of disciplinary measures.
Lathieu said the nursing body would be reviewing training programs to establish if they are sufficiently preparing future nurses to deal with First Nations communities.
According to CBC News reports, a nurse and a patient attendant at the Joliette hospital were fired, and investigations by the local health authority have started.
CNN has contacted the region’s Integrated Center for Health and Social Services for comment.
And in 2015, a sex assault victim known by the pseudonym Angela Cardinal was taken into custody for five nights, transported to the courthouse in the same prisoner van as her attacker, and testified — while shackled — against the man who was ultimately convicted of assaulting her, according to CBC reports.
An independent investigator reviewing the case on behalf of Alberta’s Justice Minister later called the events “a complete breakdown of legal protections.”
The provincial court judge who agreed with federal prosecutors to have Cardinal remanded into custody was cleared of any judicial misconduct, according to CBC. The CBC also reported that the Alberta Judicial Council determined that the judge did not did not order that Cardinal be treated in such a way, and that there was no evidence that the complainant’s gender or aboriginal status affected his decisions.
“It is a form of racism that when we look at people, to say they are at fault for their situation when any other person, if a violent act occurred, they would expect to be treated with dignity and respect,” Kaye told CNN. “And yet we don’t see that occurring for Indigenous women.”
“We have to very actively address [it] to ensure that in our trials, we are not allowing prejudice against indigenous people enter into those spaces,” she added.
Institutional racism still pervades in the country’s legal systems and healthcare systems, Whitman said. In 2020, Indigenous women accounted for some 42 per cent of Canada’s female prison population. “We need the government to listen and acknowledge there is systemic racism in these institutions,” she said.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year admitted that systemic racism, was an issue across the country “in all our institutions, including in all our police forces, including in the RCMP.”
“In many cases it’s not deliberate, it’s not intentional, it’s not aggressive, individual acts of racism, although those obviously exist. It is recognizing that the systems we have built over the past generations have not always treated people of racialized backgrounds, of Indigenous backgrounds, fairly through the very construction of the systems that exist,” he said.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said that racism was present in the force, adding in a statement: “As many have said, I do know that systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included. Throughout our history and today, we have not always treated racialized and Indigenous people fairly.” Lucki promised “thoughtful action” and consultation with Indigenous leaders and members of the RCMP in response.
‘She never had a voice’
Members of Gladue’s family say that although the verdict will allow them to start healing, 10 years after her violent death, the media coverage and legal treatment of Gladue’s case has failed to present her as a human being.
“We haven’t been able to heal as victims, because the trauma sits there,” Adaoui told CNN. “Cindy hasn’t been laid to rest yet, and I think that this is just the start to the healing journey.”
“She died a violent death and it took a decade for us to have some form of justice for her. She never had a voice, and we kept revisiting these two nights. But not only that, they didn’t look at her as a human. She was a human being and that’s the most important,” she added.
“She was a human, she was a mother, she was a daughter, she’s now a grandmother; she was a life giver,” Adaoui said. “She was just a beautiful person, and I think that part was not shown.”
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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada on Friday, March 5, 2021 – Squamish Chief
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):
B.C. is reporting 634 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 83,107 cases since the pandemic began in the province.
There have also been four new deaths, pushing the death toll from the virus to 1,380 in B.C.
Four new cases have been confirmed to be variants of concern, bringing the total to 250, of which 222 are the strain first found in the U.K. and 28 are the variant first detected in South Africa.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say this has been a week of progress, as the province gets ready to begin age-based immunizations and integrate the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine into its program.
Henry and Dix say the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be another tool in its program that will help accelerate protection of people in B.C.
Alberta is reporting 411 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths due to the virus.
The province says 22 cases are of the more contagious variants.
There are currently 243 people are in hospital with COVID-19, and 44 of them are in intensive care.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says word of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being approved is just more good news.
Shandro’s response came on the one-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 being identified in his province.
He announced this week that all Albertans who want a vaccination will be able to do so by the end of June.
Shandro said there is still no schedule or any word on how many more doses will be available from J&J but assumes it could accelerate the vaccination process.
Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.
Health officials say the case involves a man in his 50s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection.
P.E.I. has 24 active reported cases of COVID-19.
Indigenous Services Canada says there were 1,300 active COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities as of Thursday and 21,836 cases since the pandemic began.
There have been 245 deaths in First Nations communities.
The department says more than 127,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in over 480 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities as of Thursday.
It says about 40 per cent of people in those communities have received at least one dose.
Saskatchewan is reporting 207 new cases of COVID-19.
The province also says two more people have died from the illness.
There are 138 people in hospital with the virus, and 22 of them are in intensive care.
Ontario’s updated vaccination plan will see shots administered based on factors including age, neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home.
The province notes, however, that the plan doesn’t factor in the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot and additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Shots will go to seniors 75 and older starting in April with a goal of offering first shots to everyone 60 and older by the end of May.
Doses will also be offered starting in April to people with specific health conditions and some caregivers, including those in congregate settings.
Thirteen public health units, including Toronto, Windsor, York and Peel, will receive additional doses for hot-spot neighbourhoods between April and June.
Essential workers who can’t work from home will be offered doses at the end of Phase 2, while adults 59 and younger are expected to receive the shot in July, though the timeline is subject to change.
Manitoba is reporting 53 additional COVID-19 cases and one death.
The province is also reporting one new confirmed case involving the variant first seen in South Africa.
The percentage of people testing positive continues to drop, with the five-day average at three per cent.
New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19, three of which are in the Miramichi region.
Health officials say the province has 33 active reported cases and three people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care.
New Brunswick is announcing it will ease public health restrictions across the province as of this Sunday because COVID-19 infections are on a steady trend downward.
The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says the decision to shift to the lower, yellow pandemic-alert level will be revisited if there is a spike in cases over the weekend.
As well, Russell is confirming that with the expected arrival of the first shipment of the two-dose Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine later this month, the province is pledging to provide one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every New Brunswicker before the end of June.
A stay-at-home order will lift next week in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay Parry Sound.
The three Ontario regions were the last ones still under the order, while most of the province transitioned back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework last month.
Toronto and Peel will go into the strictest “grey lockdown” category of the framework, as recommended by public health officials in those regions.
The province says North Bay will be placed in the red zone, the second most restrictive level of pandemic measures.
There is one new case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The figures released today bring the total number of active cases in the province to 113.
Health Minister John Haggie said he was feeling optimistic and said the province is on track for a “new summer” where residents can travel around the island.
The province is inviting people who are asymptomatic to seek testing to see if there are any pockets of COVID-19 still undetected in the province.
Pfizer has told Canada it will speed up delivery of the shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 1.5 million additional doses are coming in March.
He says another one million doses will come ahead of schedule in both April and May.
Trudeau says that means there will be eight million doses of the Pfzier-BioNTech vaccine in Canada by the end of this month.
Nunavut is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today for a total of 17.
All the new cases are in Arviat, the only community in Nunavut with active cases of COVID-19.
Despite the rise in cases, chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says the outbreak in Arviat is contained.
Arviat has been under a strict lock down for 112 days, with all school and non-essential businesses closed and travel restricted.
Nunavut’s health minister says the territory is on track to receive 38,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by mid-March, enough to vaccinate 75 per cent of the eligible population.
Lorne Kusugak says there will be at least one vaccination clinic in all of Nunavut’s 25 communities by the end of March.
Kusugak also announced a mass vaccination clinic will launch in Iqaluit on March 15.
Starting March 10, residents ages 18 years and up can call Iqaluit Public health to book an appointment.
Quebec is reporting 798 new cases of COVID-19 today and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by nine, to 617, and that 111 people were in intensive care, a drop of four.
The province says it administered more than 18,000 doses of vaccine, for at total of 510,479.
Ontario is reporting 1,250 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 337 of those new cases are in Toronto, 167 are in Peel Region, and 129 are in York Region.
The province also reports a single-day high of 35,886 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered since Thursday’s update.
Ontario also reports 22 more deaths linked to the virus.
Nova Scotia is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today.
Health officials say the new cases are in the health region that includes Halifax.
They say one case involves a close contact of a previously reported infection and the other is under investigation.
The province has 31 active reported cases of the disease.
The Manitoba government is now predicting it will be able to provide all eligible adults with a first dose of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of June.
Officials say it might even be as early as mid-May, depending on the flow of supplies.
The timeline has been moved up by months as more vaccines have been approved by the federal government.
Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson, saying it has the evidence showing the vaccine is both safe and effective against the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.
It is the fourth vaccine to be approved in Canada and the first and only one Canada has purchased that requires just a single dose.
Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses, with options to buy another 28 million.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.
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