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Ukrainian refugees embrace peace and quiet in Canada as war rages on



OTTAWA — Inna Fomina is keeping a watchful eye on her one-year-old son Adrian as he plays in peaceful contentment on a carpet at an improvised space in western Ottawa.

Less than two months after mother and son arrived in Canada after the war in Ukraine forced them to flee, she’s been savouring the peace and quiet of her new home.

Fomina is visiting the café and drop-in centre, which was opened by the local Canadian Ukrainian community to help refugees like her.

“It’s another planet here,” she said with a smile.

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“Everything is so big: houses, cars.”

Her story is one of horror and displacement, but also one of hope and resilience.

The young mother has moved around frequently in recent months.

She’s originally from Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, on the banks of the Dnipro River. The city suffered heavy bombardment from Russian forces.

While she fled the bombs with her son, her husband remained behind and continues to work in the IT field. As a fighting-age man, he can’t leave.

Fomina never believed war was truly possible until the moment it began in  February, she told The Canadian Press.

“My father joked about it,” she said.

But one morning, at 6 a.m., she got the call from her mother-in-law: Kharkiv was under attack.

“I thought it would only last a few days,” she said. She was wrong.

Her parents’ village was partially destroyed. They fled. Fomina and her family briefly lived in an apartment with then two-month-old Adrian, but she ultimately decided to flee her bombed city and seek refuge in Canada.

“We were going to have to start from zero one day,” she said.

Her journey began with a trip to western Ukraine, then a 32-hour bus ride from Lviv to Lyon, in France.

The reason for that trip, she said, was to fulfill the complex criteria needed for admittance to Canada. That included submitting biometric data, which she said could not be accomplished from Ukraine or Poland.

It took her six months to get the proper paperwork before she was able to make the move to Canada at the beginning of October.

Fomina and her son are living in a small apartment and receiving help from the network of Ukrainian Canadians who opened the café. She’s hoping for a job in the computer science field.

One recent day, the café was presenting a documentary on the Ukrainian resistance, in association with the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa.

Sitting at the bar was Borys Syrskyj, a 69-year-old retired soldier. He wanted to enlist in Ukraine, but was refused because of his age. Now, he volunteers at the café.

Some six million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring Poland, according to Anton Struwe, another volunteer. Some chose to stay there, while many others have left, or planned to.

The groups helping the refugees in Canada have their hands full: the newcomers need food, housing, furniture, jobs, schools and more.

At the café, a doctor who went to Ukraine in the spring to help the wounded stops by to offer his services to the newcomers who need a consultation. A worker takes down his name for future reference.

“Every pair of hands can help,” Syrskyj says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2022.


Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press



Harjit Sajjan tweets about raising Qatar human rights at World Cup after criticism



OTTAWA — International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan has tweeted about raising human rights concerns during his visit to Qatar for the World Cup after opposition criticism.

The NDP and the Bloc took Sajjan to task on Thursday because he had not made any public statement about Qatar’s documented mistreatment of migrant workers and the emirate’s anti-LGBTQ policies.

Both parties had called on the Liberals to diplomatically boycott the games instead of sending Sajjan.

When asked Thursday whether he raised these issues during the trip, Sajjan’s office responded that he was flying home and could not comment.

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Hours after The Canadian Press reported on the criticism of Sajjan’s visit, he tweeted that he met with local labour organizations and that he had “constructive dialogue” with Qatari officials on migrant and LGBTQ rights.

The tweets did not directly criticize the emirate’s policies.

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


Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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Centre A Brings Back the Holiday Art Market and Will Transform Gallery Space Into a Tropical Cafe for the Second Iteration of the Silent Auction



Vancouver, B.C., Canada (November 23, 2022) – Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is proud to announce Tropical Cafe: 2022 Centre A Holiday Art Market, the second iteration of Centre A’s annual end-of-year event.


With the participation of over 30 local artists, we will be transforming the gallery into a cafe-like space that will be furnished with artworks submitted to us by local and regional artists. The Tropical Cafe is not only a gathering place, but also a site for exchange, ignition, and clashes of ideas and ideals.


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Opening Reception:


Friday, November 26, 6 PM – 9 PM


Join us for this celebration! Many of the participating artists will be in attendance.




Unit 205, 268 Keefer Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6A 1X5


Gallery Hours:


Wednesday to Saturday, 12 PM – 6 PM


About the Event:


Tropical Cafe: 2022 Centre A Holiday Art Market: It’s that time of the year again! Centre A is bringing back its thematic Holiday Art Market after last year’s inaugural edition.


With a cold winter approaching after a warm fall, you won’t have to get on a plane to change your scenery! Come enjoy the sun and tropical vibes at Centre A and shop art for the holiday season!


This year’s theme is Tropical Cafe, and we will be transforming the gallery into a cafe-like space that will be furnished with over fifty artworks submitted to us by more than thirty talented local and regional artists. The Tropical Cafe is not only a gathering place, but also a site for exchange, ignition, and clashes of ideas and ideals.

About Centre A

Centre A is situated in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. We honour, respect, and give thanks to our hosts. Centre A gratefully acknowledges the support of all of our funders, donors, programming partners, and Centre A members.

Centre A is the only public art gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Asian and Asian-diasporic perspectives since 1999. Centre A is committed to providing a platform for engaging diverse communities through public access to the arts, creating mentorship opportunities for emerging artists/arts professionals, and stimulating critical dialogue through provocative exhibitions and innovative public programs that complicate understandings of migrant experiences and diasporic communities. In addition to our exhibition space, we house a reading room with one of the best collections of Asian art books in the country, including the Finlayson Collection of Rare Asian Art Books.

The gallery is wheelchair and walker accessible. If you have specific accessibility needs, please contact us at +1 (604) 683-8326 or

Subscribe to Centre A’s newsletter here.

– 30 –

Media Contact

Dyana Kim


Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art205-268 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X5centrea.orgTel: +1 604-683-8326Fax: +1 604-683-8632Email:
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Latest job numbers, Lich back at Emergencies Act inquiry : In The News for Nov. 4



In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 4 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Statistics Canada is expected to release its latest reading on how the job market is doing today.

The agency is scheduled to publish its labour force survey for October this morning.

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The report comes as economists worry about a possible recession.

The Bank of Canada has predicted the economy will stall in the coming months with growth close to zero.

The central bank raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point last month to 3.75 per cent in an effort to bring down stubbornly hot inflation.

The Canadian economy added 21,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 per cent compared with 5.4 per cent in August as fewer people searched for work.

Also this …

Prominent “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich is expected to continue her testimony today at the public inquiry into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act.

She is to face cross-examination at the Public Order Emergency Commission, which is evaluating the government’s use of emergency powers amid the weeks-long protest in downtown Ottawa.

Lich told the inquiry Thursday that she joined the convoy after failing to get a response from members of Parliament she contacted about ending COVID-19 restrictions.

Jeremy MacKenzie, the founder of the online group “Diagolon,” is also expected to testify by video conference from a Saskatchewan prison.

The commission confirmed Thursday that MacKenzie, who is facing charges unrelated to the convoy, will testify publicly despite his bid to speak before the inquiry under a publication ban.

Other protesters on the witness list today are Chris Deering, Maggie Hope Braun and Daniel Bulford, a former RCMP officer who was on the prime minister’s security detail and quit after refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

And this too …

An independent official appointed to help Indigenous communities investigate unmarked graves at former residential school sites says she is exploring options to probe possible crimes.

Kimberly Murray says questions of justice are arising when she speaks to survivors and community leaders.

Murray is a former executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which spent seven years investigating the residential schools system.

She was appointed to her new role to help Indigenous communities access records related to residential schools and search for unmarked graves.

Murray says it’s clear people don’t have faith in the justice system to investigate and respond to these deaths, so she plans to seek outside advice on options that could include a special tribunal.

Ottawa has already said it doesn’t have jurisdiction appoint a special prosecutor, but has left the door open to hearing from Murray on what she recommends.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

HARTFORD, Conn. _ Infowars host Alex Jones is facing the possibility of having more penalties heaped onto the amount he already owes for spreading conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, as the punitive damages phase of his Connecticut trial is set to begin Friday in a lawsuit filed by the victims’ families.

A jury last month ordered Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, to pay nearly $1 billion in compensation to the Sandy Hook families for the harm they suffered when he persuaded his audience that the 2012 shooting that killed 26 people was a hoax perpetrated by “crisis actors.”

The jury also said punitive damages should be awarded. That amount will be determined by Judge Barbara Bellis following evidentiary hearings set for Friday and Monday.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, in court filings, suggested punitive damages could total $2.75 trillion based on one hypothetical calculation, but have not asked for a specific amount.

“Justice requires that the Court’s punitive damages award, punish and deter this evil conduct,” attorneys Alinor Sterling, Christopher Mattei and Joshua Koskoff wrote in a motion. “Only a punitive damages assessment of historic size will serve those purposes.”

Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, is arguing that any punitive damages should be minimal, in part because the $1 billion compensatory damages award is the functional equivalent of punitive damages due to its extremely large amount.

“Few defendants alive could pay damages of this sum,” Pattis wrote. “Indeed, most defendants would be driven into bankruptcy, their livelihood destroyed, and their future transformed into the bleak prospect of a judgment debtor saddled for decades with a debt that cannot be satisfied. To regard this as anything other than punishment would be unjust.”

Jones was found liable last year for damages to the families for defamation, infliction of emotional distress and violating Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. Although punitive damages are generally limited to attorneys’ fees for defamation and infliction of emotional distress, there are no such limits for punitive damages under the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

In a calculation in a plaintiffs’ court filing, they said Jones’ comments about Sandy Hook were viewed an estimated 550 million times on his and Infowars’ social media accounts from 2012 to 2018. They said that translated into 550 million violations of the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates _ Iran on Friday marked the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran as its theocracy faces countrywide protests after the death of a 22-year-old woman earlier arrested by the country’s morality police.

Iranian state-run television aired live feeds of various counterprotests around the country, with some in Tehran waving placards of the triangle-shaped Iranian drones Russia now uses to strike targets in its war on Ukraine. But while crowds in Tehran looked large with chador-wearing women waving the Islamic Republic’s flag, other protests in the country appeared smaller, with only a few dozen people taking part.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also was expected to speak in front of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran to mark the commemoration. Demonstrators also waved effigies of French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Signs and chants from the crowd called out: “Death to America! Death to Israel!”

The demonstrations that have convulsed Iran for more than six weeks after the death of Mahsa Amini mark one of the biggest challenges to the country’s clerical rulers since they seized power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. At least 300 protesters have been killed and 14,000 arrested since the unrest began, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI), a group that’s been monitoring the crackdown on demonstrators.

Hardliners within Iran long have bused government workers and others into such Nov. 4 demonstrations, which have a carnival-like feel for the students and others taking part on Taleqani Street in downtown Tehran.

This year, however, it remained clear Iran’s theocracy hopes to energize its hard line base. Some signs read “We Are Obedient To The Leader,” referring to 83-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say over all matters of state in the country. The weekslong demonstrations have included cries calling for Khamenei’s death and the overthrow of the government.

The annual commemoration marks when student demonstrators climbed over the fence at the embassy on Nov. 4, 1979, angered by then-President Jimmy Carter allowing the fatally ill Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to receive cancer treatment in the United States.

The students soon took over the entire, leafy compound. A few staffers fled and hid in the home of the Canadian ambassador to Iran before escaping the country with the help of the CIA, a story dramatized in the 2012 film “Argo.”

The 444-day crisis transfixed America, as nightly images of blindfolded hostages played on television sets across the nation. Iran finally let all the captives go the day Carter left office on Ronald Reagan’s inauguration day in 1981.

That enmity between Iran and the U.S. has ebbed and surged over the decades since. The U.S. and world powers reached a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 that drastically curtailed its program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. However, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, sparking years of tensions since.

On this day in 1956 …

Lester Pearson, then external affairs minister, proposed a special UN peacekeeping force to ease the British and French out of Egypt. The plan was approved by the UN General Assembly and Pearson was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957. He served as prime minister from 1963-68.

In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES _ An attorney for Harvey Weinstein suggested Thursday that the shifts in a massage therapist’s account of a 2010 sexual assault by the former movie mogul meant she had fabricated details, while she insisted that working through the trauma had drawn out more accurate memories.

Weinstein attorney Mark Werksman pointed out differences over time in stories she told to police and prosecutors in 2019 and 2020, in her testimony to a grand jury last year, and in her words on the witness stand Wednesday, when she said Weinstein had trapped her in a bathroom, masturbated in front of her and groped her breasts after hiring her for a massage in his Beverly Hills hotel room.

“Do you think your memory is better now than it was three years ago?” Werksman asked.

“Yes,” she answered. At another point she said, “My memory was foggy then, but I remember everything now.”

The woman said discussions about the assault with friends, authorities, a therapist and others had brought clarity and made her face difficult details that she had buried in her memory.

Werksman asked if the conversations represented an effort “to build consensus.”

The woman insisted it wasn’t.

“The more I spoke about it, the more I recalled the trauma that happened to me,” she said. “I was blocking it out for so long.”

Weinstein is charged with sexual battery by restraint for the incident, one of 11 sexual assault counts involving five women he’s charged with at his Los Angeles trial. He has pleaded not guilty and denied engaging in any non-consensual sex. He is already serving a 23-year sentence for a conviction in New York.

Werksman especially dwelt on whether Weinstein touched her over or under her clothes, suggesting her story suspiciously shifted over time to include the skin-on-skin contact required by California law for sexual battery.

The woman, who is going by Jane Doe in court, testified Wednesday that she had been embarrassed and humiliated that she had allowed herself to be alone with Weinstein several times more, including two more massages where she said he engaged in similar unwanted sexual behaviour.

Did you see this?

An archeologist working at a shopping mall renovation in Williams Lake, B.C., says the current project is in stark contrast to the mall’s construction half a century ago when 13 human skeletons were tossed away.

Whitney Spearing, with Sugar Cane Archaeology, says they approached the owners of Boitanio Mall four years ago for their involvement this time around.

The city of Williams Lake is built on top of a First Nations village that had been there for centuries.

Spearing, who is also the rights and title manager with the Williams Lake First Nation, says there wasn’t a lot of respect for Indigenous remains during the original construction in the 1970s.

The skeletons found then were taken away in a truck and dumped over an embankment.

In the current dig, Spearing says they’ve uncovered a roasting pit, some projectile points made of volcanic rocks and several other artifacts.

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


The Canadian Press

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