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‘Now the real work begins’

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Toronto police are investigating after a man made a vulgar comment on live TV against Ayesha Curry. Bernadette Smith Anita Ross knew the release of a report into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls would roil up difficult feelings about the untimely death of her teenage daughter, but […]


Toronto police are investigating after a man made a vulgar comment on live TV against Ayesha Curry.
Toronto police are investigating after a man made a vulgar comment on live TV against Ayesha Curry.
Bernadette Smith

Anita Ross knew the release of a report into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls would roil up difficult feelings about the untimely death of her teenage daughter, but she hopes opening those wounds will ensure that her other children and grandchildren will be safe.

"Every day, all I wish for is justice for my daughter," she said.

Delaine Copenace, 16, was found dead in Kenora, Ont., in 2016.

Indigenous women and families across the country watched as the national inquiry's final report was released during a ceremony and news conference in Gatineau, Que., on Monday. Many said there would only be justice if sharing their stories led to real change.

Ross said she felt a sense of relief reading through the 231 recommendations, which are framed as "calls for justice" in the report.

She wanted to go to the ceremony but was disappointed to learn there were no funds to help families travel there.

Ross was the first witness to testify when hearings were held in Thunder Bay, Ont. She described her daughter as loving, patient and artistic. Ross said she was devastated when Delaine's body was found in Lake of the Woods.

A coroner said there was no evidence of foul play. Ross doesn't believe her daughter's death was investigated properly.

She was disappointed Delaine's name and those of other Indigenous women and girls who have disappeared or lost their lives were not front and centre.

"Basically, they are missing from that report."

Bernadette Smith, an NDP member of the Manitoba legislature, said the real work begins now.

Smith's 21-year-old sister, Claudette Priscilla June Osborne-Tyo, vanished from Winnipeg in 2008. The family had received a voice message in which Osborne-Tyo explained she was with a man she didn't know at a motel and was afraid. Police were quickly called, but the case wasn't investigated for 10 days, Smith said.

Osborne-Tyo was never found.

Every government, community, organization and citizen has a role to play in ensuring Indigenous women and girls are safe, said Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, who works with families of missing or murdered relatives from northern Manitoba First Nations.

Indigenous people already knew much of the information in the report, she said. Her sister also died under questionable circumstances.

"We can no longer have inaction, because each day there's inaction, we are losing an Indigenous woman or girl across this country," Anderson-Pyrz said. "As a Canadian, everyone has a responsibility to be part of that solution."

Women and families in Vancouver shared stories of their loved ones during a gathering for the report's release. Lorelei Williams's aunt, Belinda Williams, has been missing for more than 40 years, and the DNA of her cousin, Tanya Holyk, was found on serial killer Robert Pickton's farm.

"Today is an emotional day for me," she said through tears. "So many of us family members fought for this national inquiry. Some of it was good; some of it was bad. Some families couldn't even testify. It was just too hard."

Melanie Mark, a First Nations woman elected to the British Columbia legislature, sat with her eight-year-old daughter during the report's release. Mark, feeling a sense of loss, couldn't sleep the night before because she knew the report would reopen wounds for families across the country.

"We have to acknowledge the trauma people are feeling in this community is really heavy," she said.

"But I have a sense of hope. I feel like I have no choice but to believe things are going to get better."

Photo: Twitter

The federal and Quebec governments have announced a $500-million reconstruction project for Canada's longest highway tunnel — the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine Tunnel linking Montreal to its southern suburbs.

"We're bringing Montreal infrastructure into the 21st century," said federal Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, referring also to the new Samuel-de-Champlain Bridge expected to open at the end of the month.

Champagne and Quebec's junior transport minister, Chantal Rouleau, announced the funding deal in Montreal on Monday. Work is expected to begin in 2020 and last until 2024.

The investment in the 52-year-old tunnel — one of five links between Montreal and the south shore — will extend its life span by 40 years.

No fewer than 47 million vehicles use the La Fontaine tunnel every year, Champagne said.

"It's the longest highway tunnel in Canada," he said.

Planned work includes pavement, lighting, vaults, walls, signage and a fire protection system, as well as repaving of the highway between Boucherville and Montreal and necessary infrastructure for public transportation on highways linking to the tunnel.

Champagne wouldn't say how the funding would be divided between the governments, so as not to compromise the tendering process set to open soon.

He said it was important to announce the project to allow for preparatory work.

Rouleau said about 13 per cent of the vehicles that use the tunnel daily are heavy trucks.

She said the massive re-construction will cause some obstacles, but the province is planning mitigation measures including parking spots to encourage public transit use and lanes for buses and car pooling.

There's also a consideration of a river shuttle between Montreal and its southern suburbs.

Photo: The Canadian Press

Numerous Ottawa residents say they didn't get emergency alerts before a tornado touched down in the east end of the city Sunday evening.

Others say they got official warnings on their cellphones for areas outside the city, after the tornado had already passed.

Canada has a relatively new emergency-alert system that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says should notify every one with a mobile device connected to an LTE network in the region with the alert.

The tornado, with winds up to 178 kilometres an hour, caught even climate scientists monitoring the weather by surprise.

Ottawa resident Marc Messier, a fire-prevention officer with Ottawa Fire Services, says he was driving when his kids called him separately to tell him about a tornado and didn't get an alert on his phone until after he had stopped and taken a video of the funnel cloud himself.

Messier says it would have been better to get the notice sooner but any warnings are better than the notification system we used to have.

Chief commissioner Marion Buller

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped short of calling the disappearances and deaths of Indigenous women and girls in Canada a genocide on Monday — despite being called upon to do so — when he spoke after accepting the report of the national public inquiry he called on the issue.

Instead, Trudeau said violence against Indigenous women and girls is "not a relic of Canada's past," but part of its present, and the justice system has failed them.

"To this day, the safety, security, and dignity of Indigenous mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends are routinely threatened," he said. "Time and again, we have heard of their disappearance, violence, or even death being labelled low priority or ignored."

The inquiry report uses the term genocide dozens of times, starting in the first paragraph of its preface: "This report is about deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide," chief commissioner Marion Buller writes.

Other commissioners pointedly use the word and the report devotes pages to developing the argument that the deaths of Indigenous women and the generations-long suppression of their rights and cultures is genocidal.

Trudeau said his government will thoroughly review of the report and will develop and implement a national plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.

The prime minister received the inquiry report containing more than 200 recommendations in Gatineau, Que. morning from the four commissioners after they performed a traditional ceremony, including coating its pages with medicine and wrapping it in a blanket.

After Monday's ceremony, Buller said the commission does not need to hear the word "genocide" out of Trudeau's mouth; it heard the truth from families and survivors.

That Indigenous women and girls have been victims of genocide was an "inescapable conclusion" for the commission, she said.

When asked if she agreed with the use of the term, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the Liberal government accepts the findings of the commissioners, adding it has heard for a long time that "racism and sexism kills."

Colonial practices have killed not only women and girls but boys and men, she said, and the government's job now is to develop a plan.

The federal government will leave the discussion of the use of the term "genocide" to academics and experts, said Justice Minister David Lametti, adding it has a responsibility to the families and survivors to fix the problem.

Earlier Monday, Buller told the crowd she and her three fellow commissioners are holding up a mirror to the country, reflecting what they heard from more than 2,300 people over two years of cross-country public hearings and work to gather evidence.

A complete change is required to dismantle colonialism in Canadian society, added Buller, who is Cree from the Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan.

"This paradigm-shift must come from all levels of government and public institutions," she said. "Ideologies and instruments of colonialism, racism and misogyny, both past and present, must be rejected."

Commissioner Qajaq Robinson said the inquiry tested her to her core as a non-Indigenous person, struggling to come to terms with her "role in Canada's genocide."

Robinson was born and raised in Nunavut, speaks Inuktitut and practises Aboriginal law, but her appointment as a member of a commission that had no Inuk member was controversial.

Addressing other non-Indigenous people, she said she has felt the same feeling "you non-Indigenous people in the room or watching may be feeling.

"Shame, guilt, denial, that urge to say, 'No, no, no, that's not what this is,' " she said. "But it's the truth. It's our truth. It's my truth, it's your truth. The families, survivors, and Indigenous peoples across this country have brought this truth to light."

Toronto police are investigating after a man made a vulgar comment on live TV against Ayesha Curry, wife of basketball star Stephen Curry.

They say they won't comment further until the investigation is over.

The incident occurred after Sunday's Raptors' loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

The man was being interviewed on CP24 outside the downtown arena when he referenced Ayesha Curry and shouted the vulgarity.

Curry, who grew up in Markham, Ont., is an actress, celebrity cook, cookbook author and television personality.

The incident is similar to one that occurred in Toronto in 2015 that led to a Hydro One employee's firing, although he was later rehired.

Photo: Alberta Wildfire

Some residents in northern Alberta have started to return home after being forced by wildfires to leave their communities two weeks ago.

An evacuation order was lifted this morning for residents of High Level, the surrounding areas of Mackenzie County and the Dene Tha' First Nation communities of Bushe River, Meander River and Chateh.

Officials say the 4,000 people who are allowed to return home remain on evacuation alert and should be prepared to leave on short notice if conditions change.

The last recorded size of the Chuckegg Creek fire near High Level was about 2,800 square kilometres.

Another fire still has the town of Slave Lake on evacuation alert as well.

A quickly moving wildfire in 2011 destroyed nearly one-third of the community.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement, some communities in the County of Northern Lights, Bigstone Cree Nation, parts of the municipal district of Opportunity, and several other hamlets and First Nations in northern Alberta.

Some facts and figures about the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944:

TARGET: Allies land on French channel coast along five Normandy beaches stretching about 80 kilometres west from River Orne.

BEACHES: From west to east, Utah (U.S.); Omaha (U.S.); Gold (Britain); Juno (Canada); Sword (Britain).

FEATURES OF JUNO: Eight-kilometre strip of summer resorts and villages scattered over flat land behind low beaches and a sea wall. Many Canadians in first wave race to cover of sea wall. D Company of Queen's Own Rifles loses half its strength in initial sprint from water to seawall about 180 metres away.

ENEMY AT JUNO: About 400 soldiers of 716th Infantry Division man concrete gun positions sited to fire along beach. Zones of fire calculated to interlock on coastal obstacles intended to rip bottoms out of invading boats. Gun positions protected by mines, trenches, barbed wire.

SHIPS: More than 7,000 vessels manned by 285,000 sailors. Royal Canadian Navy contributes 110 ships and 10,000 sailors.

SOLDIERS: 130,000 ashore by nightfall, including about 14,000 Canadians.

VEHICLES: 6,000 tracked and wheeled vehicles and 600 guns land.

PLANES: More than 7,000 bombers and fighters available. Allied planes fly about 14,000 sorties June 6, against about 250 by Luftwaffe.

D-DAY CASUALTIES (killed, wounded and missing): Canada: 1,074, including 359 killed; U.S. 6,000; Britain: 3,200. Germany figures unreliable because of confusion in retreat.

CAMPAIGN CASUALTIES (killed, wounded and missing): In 2-plus months of Normandy campaign (June 6-Aug. 21) Germans lose 450,000 soldiers, Allies 210,000. Canadian casualties total more than 18,000, including more than 5,000 dead.

ALLIED LEADERS: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (U.S.), Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force. Gen. Sir Bernard Law Montgomery (Britain), Field Commander, D-Day Forces.

CANADIAN LEADERS: Gen. Harry Crerar, Commander 1st Canadian Army. Maj.-Gen. Rod Keller, Commander 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

DIVISIONS INVOLVED: Canadian 3rd Infantry Division; British 3rd and 50th Infantry Divisions; U.S. 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions. (All had armoured units attached).

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE WAR TO JUNE 6: Allied fortunes had rebounded by 1944 after the massive German conquests of 1940-41. British and American armies had driven the Germans from North Africa and Sicily, forced Italy to surrender and were moving up the Italian boot while Allied bombers were pounding German cities and towns day and night. In the East, the Soviets were on the march to Berlin. And in the Pacific, the Americans were making headway against the Japanese.

WHY INVADE? Military planners recognized Germany could not be defeated by strategic bombing or naval blockade. Instead, they would have to invade to both free occupied Allies and ensure Europe didn't fall into the hands of the Soviet Union.

WHY NORMANDY? The decision was largely dictated by technology and supply problems. Beaches had to be within range of British-based fighter planes and easy striking distance of a port, which would be needed to unload supplies. The Nazis believed the Allies would attack at the Pas de Calais, which was the closest point to Great Britain. Knowing this, the Allies devised an elaborate deception to keep the Nazis focused on this area while actually preparing for Normandy, which had lighter defences, suitable beaches and the requisite proximity to ports.

WHO HAD THE ADVANTAGE? In many ways, the Allies and Germans were well-matched. The Allies had far superior air and sea power; the Germans had troops and tanks available for quick reinforcement. The Germans had better tanks and anti-tank guns while the Allies had more of both. German troops, in many cases, were better trained and superbly led by hardened veterans. The Germans, however, were hampered by shortages of supplies, especially fuel while the Allies had plenty of everything. German generals also faced ham-handed interference by Adolf Hitler; Allied generals were able to unfold their plans without harassment from above.

WHY D-DAY? A combination of factors including weather, the phases of the moon and the tides led to June 6 being the day of the invasion. As for the moniker, military planners habitually designated the day an operation was to begin as D-Day — the 'D' has no particular significance. However, because the Normandy invasion was largest of its kind ever attempted, D-Day became forever associated with the operation on June 6, 1944, the official name of which was Operation Overlord.

Photo: Explore Jasper

A 63-year-old Jasper Alberta man is dead following a climbing accident in Jasper National Park.

The victim has been identified as Steven Stanko.

CTV News is reporting police responded to a call around 4 p.m. last Thursday, when they arrived they found Stanko who appears to have fallen approximately 30 metres, he died on scene. Stanko was climbing with another man and a local couple when he fell.

Police say the incident is not considered suspicious, and no further information will be released.

-with files from CTV News

A small plane that crashed after taking off from Medicine Hat, Alta., was returning to Saskatchewan following a party to celebrate an upcoming wedding, says the mother of one of the three people who died.

Nancy Filteau confirms her son, Justin Filteau, 26, a Saskatchewan football player and judo competitor, died when the plane went down on its way to Moose Jaw late Saturday.

"The last picture I got of him was he was in the airplane -- the private plane -- and he had the headset and everything on, and he said, 'This is cool. Maybe I have to become a pilot, too, now!"'

"He had a zest for life and he filled every waking moment with everything and anything he could do."

The Transportation Safety Board said it was deploying a team of investigators to the crash site to determine what happened to the plane, which the board said was an American Aviation AA-5B.

RCMP spokesman Curtis Peters said the plane took off around 10:15 p.m. from Medicine Hat Regional Airport en route to Moose Jaw, Sask.

Peters said the flight was scheduled to be about 90 minutes long, but when it did not arrive, a search for the aircraft began. He said the plane was found Sunday morning in Irvine, Alta., about 30 kilometres east of Medicine Hat.

All three people aboard were pronounced dead.

Filteau said the other two crash victims were friends of her family's.

Justin Filteau played football for his high school, and later for the Saskatoon Hilltops and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, winning numerous championships.

A machinist by trade who lived in Saskatoon, his mother said Filteau believed in giving back to the sport, and coached the Valkyries, a women's football team in the Western Women's Canadian Football League.

He also competed in judo like his mother, a former member of Canada's Olympic judo team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Seal pups are released back into the ocean from Iona Beach in Richmond, B.C.,

An environmental group says Canada needs to up its game on protecting its oceans.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says in a report that while there has been progress in recent years, recommendations from international scientific bodies suggest there's more work to do.

"At least 30 per cent should be protected if we want to ensure all the habitats are protected and that we're securing the future of healthy oceans," Sabine Jessen, director of the group's ocean program, said Monday.

The report says protecting ocean areas includes banning oil, gas or mineral projects, not dumping waste and ruling out bottom-trawling fisheries.

Jessen credits the federal Liberal government for improvements in recent years.

Two years ago, less than one per cent of Canada's seas were under some form of conservation agreement. That figure has since risen to more than eight per cent.

Jessen suggested Canada is likely to exceed its protection target of 10 per cent by next year, more than meeting its international commitments.

But that goal, part of a multilateral treaty signed by 168 countries, had more to do with politics than science, she said.

"It was based on the fact there was so little protected, but people knew something had to be done," Jessen said.

"It's been a good spur to action, but we know that we're changing the ocean and we really need to protect the places that still have some healthy ecosystems in them."

She points out groups such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature — one of the largest associations of governments and scientists in the world — suggest greater efforts are needed.

"They had looked at the evidence of what would be needed and they passed a resolution that at least 30 per cent of the ocean should be protected."

The report says Canada is falling behind many of its international peers. Among the 10 countries with the largest marine economic zones, Canada ranks seventh. The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom all rank higher.

Jessen acknowledges some of those countries have large protected areas off overseas territories. As well, degrees of protection vary.

But the rankings do show what is possible, she said.

The report says Canada could get more than halfway toward the 30 per cent goal simply by completing projects already in the works to protect marine areas.

The report notes that saving Canada's seas is also good business. It quotes Statistics Canada figures that indicate more than 100,000 Canadian jobs are directly tied to fisheries and nearly 60,000 to ocean ecotourism.

Climate change makes the job even more urgent, Jessen said.

"We're changing the Earth. We need to protect the Earth."

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeals trial in Calgary, Alta.

A new trial is to begin for an Alberta couple who used homemade remedies instead of seeking medical help for their toddler who died of bacterial meningitis.

A jury in 2016 found David and Collet Stephan guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-month-old Ezekiel.

The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, but the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the convictions and ordered a second trial.

Court heard the parents treated their son with a tincture of garlic, onion and horseradish added to a smoothie. They believed he had croup, an upper airway infection, and that he seemed to improve at times.

Witnesses testified that the toddler's body was so stiff he couldn't sit in a car seat and had to lie down while his mother drove him to a naturopathic clinic in Lethbridge, where she bought him an echinacea mixture.

The parents eventually called 911 but the boy died after he was transported to a hospital in Calgary.

David Stephan has been representing himself and his wife during court matters in the case over the past year. He has said they can't afford to hire lawyers.

In January, a Calgary judge refused a request from the couple for $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills and to delay their retrial.

One expert worries that the continuing court case gives David Stephan a platform to debate natural and alternative medicine.

"I think it's become even more important since 2016, because the problem of misinformation has intensified," said Tim Caulfield, research director of the University of Alberta’s Health Law and Science Policy Group.

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