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‘We shouldn’t have to push people’: Most provinces have not made Sept. 30 a stat



While Canada prepares to honour the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, the majority of provinces have not followed the federal government’s move to make it a statutory holiday for its workers.

New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have declared Sept. 30 a statutory holiday.

The other provinces and territories are choosing to observe the day in various ways, while some continue consultations with Indigenous groups and businesses about whether to make it a stat.

Some cities, schools and businesses are also choosing different ways to recognize the day.

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New Brunswick was the latest to declare Sept. 30 a provincial holiday.

“While this is a day to commemorate the tragic history of residential schools and honour those who did not make it home, as well as their survivors and families, I would encourage all to reflect and be reminded that reconciliation is not just one day of the year,” New Brunswick Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn said in a statement last week.

The day is set to be treated as any other provincial holiday. All essential services, including health care, will continue to be delivered. The holiday will be optional for private sector businesses, the province said.

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn, a group representingMi’kmaq communities in New Brunswick, said the day is set aside for people to remember and honour victims and survivors of residential schools, including children from First Nations who attended day schools.

“It’s no secret our relationship with the (Blaine) Higgs government has been strained. Recognizing this holiday does not reconcile issues or differences with the Higgs government, but it is a step in the right direction,” the organization said in a statement.

“By granting this holiday, the Government of New Brunswick is giving New Brunswickers an opportunity to reflect on how we can learn from each other and work together as treaty partners.”

The day, originally known as Orange Shirt Day, was established in honour of the experience of Phyllis Webstad, whose gift of clothing from her grandmother was taken away on Webstad’s first day at a residential school.

The federal government made the day a statutory holiday for its workers and federally regulated workplaces last year.

For many residential school survivors, including Eugene Arcand, the day will always be known as Orange Shirt Day and efforts at the grassroots level to acknowledge the pain and trauma Indigenous children were subjected to at residential schools should continue to be recognized.

Arcand, who is from Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, said he never thought he’d see a day dedicated to honouring survivors.

The discovery last year of what are believed to be 215 unmarked graves at a former school site in Kamloops, B.C., forced the country to listen to what survivors had been saying for years.

Since the discovery, numerous First Nations across Canada have begun their own ground-penetrating searches of school sites, Pope Francis delivered a historic and long-awaited apology on Canadian soil for the role the Roman Catholic Church played in running many of the residential schools, and a flag honouring those impacted by the schools was raised on Parliament Hill.

Arcand said these events will provide a better quality of life for future generations of children.

But, he added, it’s up to non-Indigenous peoples to educate themselves.

“We shouldn’t have to push people. It’s important for people to determine for themselves how they want to get engaged,” he said in a recent interview in Winnipeg.

“I’m not going to bang my head against the wall for the rest of my life trying to encourage people to engage.”

The Saskatchewan government said it has no plans to make the day a statutory holiday for the province.

Matthew Glover, director of media relations, said the government is encouraging residents to take a moment to reflect and discuss the importance of meaningful reconciliation.

Flags are to be lowered to half-mast at all Saskatchewan government buildings.

The Manitoba government recently announced it would observe the day for a second year, while discussions continue about making it an official statutory holiday. Schools and non-essential government services and offices will be closed.

The province said it is continuing consultations with Indigenous and labour groups.

Jennifer Wood hopes that Manitoba will soon enact legislation making the day a statutory holiday.

Wood, who lives in Winnipeg, is a survivor from Neyaashiinigmiing Ojibwe Territory in Ontario.

“It will really show that the sincerity of everything that’s happened is taken seriously. It’s 2022. We cannot continue to sweep anything under the rug. We have to recognize what’s happening in Canada, and look at ways on how we can coexist,” she said.

The day should be about educating the broader public about the legacy of residential schools, she added.

“It’s our time to tell our narrative of the truth of the residential school system.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2022.


Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press


Afghan refugees: Government delays increasing financial pressure – CTV News



Refugee advocates are raising concerns that Afghan refugees granted asylum in Canada are being burdened by escalating costs stemming from the government’s delay in processing their claims.

Before they board their flight to Canada, all refugees are required to sign a loan agreement to pay back the cost of their transportation and pre-arrival expenses which can include hotel stays.

Some Afghans identified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as eligible for resettlement have been waiting months for exit permits while living in hotels arranged by the government. The hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their debt.

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The Canadian Council for Refugees says Afghans are being forced to pay for an inefficient bureaucracy.

“It seems like the Canadian government is taking advantage of the vulnerability of people,” says Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council of Refugees. Hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their government debt.

Dench says refugees have no choice but to accept a “legally dubious” contract that doesn’t stipulate a precise loan amount.

“If they want a permanent home they have to sign on to whatever the terms of the agreement are. There’s no negotiation room, so people are forced into this situation.”


Because Canada doesn’t recognize the Taliban government Afghans must get to a third country with consular support to complete their refugee applications. Many flee to neighboring Pakistan where Canada has a High Commission in the capital of Islamabad.

Nearly all Afghan refugees deemed eligible for resettlement are placed in the care of the International Organization for Migration while they are overseas.

The IOM organizes both charter and commercial flights to Canada and coordinates hotel stays for refugees as they wait for their exit permits. IOM doesn’t book flights until after IRCC has completed security and medical checks of its applicants. The organization bills the Canadian government approximately $150 per day to house and provide three meals a day for one family.

Of the 25,400 Afghans who have arrived in Canada since August 2021, IOM spokesperson Paul Dillon told CTV News in an emailed statement Friday the organizations has arranged travel for more than 22,000 of those refugees.

The claims of another 15,000 Afghans Canada committed to accepting after the Taliban took over the country have been delayed.

Irfanullah Noori, 28 and his family of five stepped off a plane at Pearson International Airport less than two months ago at the end of October. Before the Taliban took over his homeland in Noori worked as a logistics coordinator at the Kabul International Airport. He qualified for asylum because his brother served as an interpreter for Canadian soldiers.

Before being issued travel documents to Canada, Nouri, his wife and their three children, all under the age of five – stayed in an Islamabad hotel arranged by IOM for three months.

Irfanullah Noori poses with his youngest daughter on October 25, 2022 at the Pakistan International Airport before he boarded plane bound for Canada.

Before boarding his flight he signed a loan agreement. Nouri says IOM staff told him he would need to repay hotel expenses that added up to more than $13,000. That amount does not factor in the cost of flights for his family that he will also have to repay.


IRCC says 96 per cent of refugees are able to pay back the loans. Monthly payments on the interest free loans are scheduled to begin one year after refugees arrive in Canada and costs can be spread out over nine years.

The federal government puts a cap of $15,000 on each loan per family, but the Canadian Council for Refugees says this is a misleading number.

Refugee families who have older dependents may have to pay back more than the cap. That’s because dependents over the age of 22 years old, can be considered a separate family unit and required to take on a new loan. Dench says this policy puts refugees in a precarious economic position. She’s seen families fight over finances and hopes and dreams put on hold.

“You have young people who should normally be going to university and pursuing their education but they feel that they’re morally obliged to get down to work, even at a minimum wage job in order to pay off the family debt,” said Dench. She argues the Canadian government should stop requiring refugees to repay the costs of getting them to safety, no matter where they come from.


Since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the Veterans Transition Network has helped raise funds to get interpreters and others out of Afghanistan. Oliver Thorne, VTN’s executive director says he’s frustrated that there are huge variations how long it takes for claims to be approved between applicants with similar profiles

“Some migrants are left in the dark. They don’t know why it’s taking them an additional two, four or six months compared to another interpreter who worked with the Canadian armed forces.” Thorne says IRCC needs to hire and train more staff to speed up the processing of claims.

He’s also calling for the removal of loan requirements, especially for Afghans who assisted the Canadian armed forces.

“They protected our men and women in uniform at great risk to themselves and their families. And secondly, these are going to be Canadians. They’re going to live here in our society down the street from us, and we have nothing to gain by making their transition more difficult,” Thorne said in an interview from Vancouver.


CTV News asked the Immigration Minister if it was fair that the Canadian government was burdening Afghans with additional costs due to the government backlog.

On Friday, Sean Fraser blamed a complicated process, but acknowledged that some refugees had been stuck “for a significant period of time.’ But the minister offered few solutions other than a vague reassurance that his department was “working with Pakistani officials to make sure we’re facilitating the smooth transportation of people to Canada.”

Meanwhile Noori is struggling to make ends meet in his new Ontario home, despite finding a job a few weeks ago at the General Motors plant in Oshawa.

Hired as a data-entry clerk, Noori earns $19/hour and is trying to pick up extra shifts on the weekend so he can make his $2,000 monthly rent on a one bedroom apartment.

Even though he won’t have to start paying back his refugee loan until next year, he’s daunted by the impending bill.

“It’s expensive (here.) I work 8 hours a day and six days a week. It will be very hard for me to pay back.”

After surviving the Taliban, Noori now faces subsistence in Canada.

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Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries



A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.

Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.

It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.

Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.

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Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog



Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog

British Columbia‘s police watchdog has cleared a slain Burnaby RCMP constable of wrongdoing after she shot a man in the altercation that led to her death.

The Independent Investigations Office says after a review of all available evidence its chief civilian director determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe Const. Shaelyn Yang committed an offence.

It says the matter will not be referred to the Crown for consideration of charges.

Yang, a 31-year-old mental health and homeless outreach officer, was stabbed to death on Oct. 18 while she and a City of Burnaby employee attempted to issue an eviction notice to a man who had been living in a tent at a local park.

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Yang shot the suspect before she died, and the IIO later said Jongwon Ham underwent surgery for his injuries.

Ham has since been charged with first-degree murder in Yang’s death.

“Due to concurrent court proceedings related to the incident, the IIO’s public report will not be released on the IIO website until that process has concluded,” the IIO said in a news release.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2022.

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