Canadians prepare for arrival of thousands of Syrian refugees in coming weeks

By Paola Loriggio


TORONTO _ Canadians are preparing to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees set to arrive in the coming weeks even as the exact dates of the government-arranged flights remain a mystery.

Temporary processing centres have been set up to handle the waves of newcomers at Toronto’s Pearson airport and Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport and officials say both facilities will be ready in time for the first arrivals, some of whom could come within days.

By the time the refugees leave the airports, they’ll have received permanent residency, a social insurance number and information on working in Canada, as well as a boxed meal and translators on hand to help as needed, federal officials say.

Weary parents and restless children will be able to recover from their travels parents in in rows of seating, kids in a play area equipped with stuffed animals and other toys.

The goal is to make refugees’ first experiences in their new country warm and welcoming, said Heidi Jurisic, the Greater Toronto Area director for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The whole process should take about three hours for those arriving on a small flight, Jurisic said.

Privately sponsored refugees will then be taken to the families awaiting them, while those sponsored by the government will be brought to temporary accommodations.

“We will ensure that after their first arrival that we have transportation available and that we assist them to where they are going to be going next in their journey in Canada, but we want to make sure that their first arrival in Canada is one where they feel very welcome,” she said.

Many Canadians have rallied to help the incoming refugees, but those eager to greet them on arrival would do better to channel their energy into other efforts, she said.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and generosity of Canadians that want to do everything they can to be welcoming but … we aren’t going to be having external organizations and others coming into the terminal in order to provide services,” she said.

Provincial officials also said Tuesday they’re getting ready to roll out the welcome mat.

Ontario Immigration Minister Michael Chan and Health Minister Eric Hoskins were to hold a special advisory meeting on refugees Tuesday afternoon with various government and community organizations to discuss housing, education and health-care planning for the refugees.

Hoskins said Ontario has a well-established network of settlement agencies, so the province is ready to receive them.

“I have confidence because we do this each year with the help of our community organizations for 12,000 refugees year after year,” Hoskins said.

“This is roughly the same number, obviously over a shorter period of time, but that’s why we’ve been doing the hard work that we’ve been doing over these past weeks.”

In Montreal, two Quebec cabinet ministers urged employers in the province to do what they can to hire some of the refugees.

Labour Minister Sam Hamad and Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil held a news conference alongside representatives of business groups.

Martine Hebert, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said about 66,000 jobs currently need to be filled in Quebec.

At a separate news conference, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced a hotline for citizens wanting to help the refugees and said he expects housing to be a major issue as the refugees begin arriving.

Coderre also defended the hiring of a former deputy federal immigration minister to head the city’s integration effort.

Michel Dorais will make $1,800 a day on a short-term contract to manage the influx, with the city taking in about 85 per cent of the Quebec-bound refugees.

City unions have complained they could have done the job, but Coderre says Dorais is uniquely qualified to handle the task.

Dorais said his job will try to put together a mechanism the mayors can use.

“It’s always unprecedented,” he said about the task. “What we need to understand is this has an international, national, provincial, municipal and very local dynamic that is developing.”



The Government’s Plan to Bring 25,000 Syrian Refugees to Canada: By the Numbers

syrian-refugeesThe Liberal government has unveiled how it aims to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada. Here is a by-the-numbers look at the plan:

5 – The number of phases for Canada’s Syrian refugee plan which includes identification, processing, transportation, arrivals and integration.

6 – The number of years in the government’s financial plan.

678 million – The estimated federal cost of the refugee program, not including help for provinces.

500 – The number of staff from all departments working on the Syrian refugee file overseas.

10,000 – The number of refugees expected to come to Canada by Dec. 31, 2015.

15,000 – The remaining refugees expected to come to Canada by February 2016.

10,000 – The number of privately-sponsored refugees.

15,000 – The number of government-sponsored refugees.



On November 11, we remember those who fought in the past two world wars

On November 11, we remember those who fought in the past two world wars

Their courage, service and sacrifice will not be forgotten

Source: Veterans Affairs Canada

On November 11, especially, but also throughout the year, we have the opportunity to remember the efforts of these special Canadians. In remembering, we pay homage to those who respond to their country’s needs. On November 11, we pause for two minutes of silent tribute, and we attend commemorative ceremonies in memory of our war dead.

Following the First World War a French woman, Madame E. Guérin, suggested to British Field-Marshall Earl Haig that women and children in devastated areas of France could produce poppies for sale to support wounded Veterans. The first of these poppies were distributed in Canada in November of 1921, and the tradition has continued ever since, both here and in many parts of the world.

Poppies are worn as the symbol of remembrance, a reminder of the blood-red flower that still grows on the former battlefields of France and Belgium. During the terrible bloodshed of the second Battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, wrote of these flowers which lived on among the graves of dead soldiers:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
John McCrae 11

The flowers and the larks serve as reminders of nature’s ability to withstand the destructive elements of war by men, a symbol of hope in a period of human despair. In Canada, traditionally the poppies which we wear were made by disabled Veterans. They are reminders of those who died while fighting for peace: we wear them as reminders of the horrors of conflict and the preciousness of the peace they fought hard to achieve.

The National War Memorial, Ottawa.

The two minutes of silence provide another significant way of remembering wartime while thinking of peace. Two minutes are scarcely enough time for thought and reflection. As we pause and bow our heads, we remember those brave men and women who courageously volunteered for the cause of freedom and peace.

For those who lived through these wars, remembering means thinking of comrades. It evokes memories of men and women who never returned home. Those born after the wars might picture the youthful soldiers who eagerly joined up from high schools, businesses and farms across the country, only to meet death while fighting against the enemy. They may imagine the anguish of a man leaving a new wife, a young family, an elderly mother. The important thing for all of us to remember is that they fought to preserve a way of life, Canadian values, and the freedom we enjoy today and often take for granted. Remember that the silence is to honour their sacrifice and memory.

There are memorials to commemorate the service of Canadian troops in Canada and overseas. The National War Memorial in Ottawa was originally designed to recognize those who served in the First World War. It has been rededicated to symbolize the sacrifice made by Canadians in the Second World War, in Korea, and in subsequent peacekeeping missions. The National War Memorial symbolizes the unstinting and courageous way Canadians give their service when values they believe in are threatened. Advancing together through a large archway are figures representing the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have answered the call to serve; at the top of the arch are two figures, emblems of peace and freedom.

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located next to the National War Memorial and contains the remains of an unknown Canadian First World War soldier who was exhumed from a cemetery near Vimy Ridge. The Tomb and its Unknown Soldier represents all Canadians, whether they be navy, army, air force or merchant marine, who died or may die for their country in all conflicts—past, present, and future.

The Books of Remembrance which lie in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower are another record of the wars. In addition, most cities and towns across the country have dedicated a monument, a building, or a room to their native sons and daughters who gave their lives. These commemorative locations are an enduring record of the losses suffered by communities as Canadians went forward to fight for what they believed was right.

One day every year, we pay special homage to those who died in service to their country. We remember these brave men and women for their courage and their devotion to ideals. We wear poppies, attend ceremonies, and visit memorials. For one brief moment of our life, we remember why we must work for peace every day of the year.

Five British nationals die when whale watching boat sinks off B.C. coast

By Dirk Meissner


TOFINO, B.C. All five people who died after a whale-watching ship sank off the west coast of Vancouver Island were British nationals, Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed Monday.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those affected by this terrible accident,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement, adding consular staff in B.C. are supporting grieving family members.

The B.C. Coroners Service said Monday those who died ranged in age from 18 to 76, and that four of them were men.

Three of the dead where from Britain, while two of the British Nationals were living in Canada. The woman was from B.C., and a man lived in Ontario, the service said.

A tour boat with 24 passengers and three crew members on board sank Sunday afternoon about 15 kilometres northwest of Tofino, B.C.

First responders managed to rescue 21 passengers, some of them injured. The search for one person still missing was called off Sunday night.

Boats from the nearby Ahousaht First Nation that answered the ship’s mayday call on Sunday around 4 p.m. found it partially submerged.

Authorities have not said what might have caused the boat to sink.

Kelsey Rix and two other health-care workers were on a Tofino dock Monday preparing to leave for the village of Ahousaht.

The community health nurse said they’ll be checking on the well-being of those who tried to help people thrown into the water.

“The local First Nations were the first in the water and the first to pull out the victims,” she said.

Valerie Wilson, with the Island Health authority, said four people remain in different hospitals around the province. All of them are listed in stable condition, she said.

Wilson said 18 other people aboard the vessel have been assessed, treated and released from hospital in Tofino.

Robert Burridge of Nanaimo, B.C., was in Ahousaht on Sunday afternoon and estimates that every available vessel in the village was in the water searching for missing people.

“The Ahousahts were the first on the scene,” he said. “They know these waters. They have a custom not to leave a body out at sea.”

Ahousaht First Nation Coun. Tom Campbell was on the Tofino waterfront and watched as rescue personnel brought several of the survivors ashore.

“Their looks tell the whole story,” he said by phone from Tofino. “You can’t describe looks on people that are lost. They look totally lost  shocked and lost.”

The 20-metre boat the Leviathan II belonged to a local whale-watching company called Jamie’s Whaling Station.

It issued a statement saying its entire team was heartbroken by the tragic day.

“We are doing everything we can to assist our passengers and staff through this difficult time,” owner Jamie Bray said. “We are co-operating with investigators to determine exactly what happened.”

Bray also offered his thanks to first responders, Tofino residents and local First Nations communities that helped with the rescue.

The mayor of Tofino also commended locals for their contributions.

“Everybody’s heart is just breaking for what’s going on here and wanting to be as helpful as possible,” Josie Osborne said by phone late Sunday.

Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watching Association, said the whale-watching community is in shock over the incident.

He said tour operaters go above and beyond to make sure their passengers are safe.

Harris said the first thing operators do when passengers get on board is explain safety, including where the life jackets are kept. It’s unclear if the passengers on the Leviathan were wearing life-jackets.

Both Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier Christy Clark issued statements about the tragedy.

“I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sinking of a whale-watching boat near the B.C. coast and the passengers aboard who have lost their lives in the incident,” Trudeau said.

Both Trudeau and the premier thanked people who helped in the rescue effort.

Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board were expected to be in Tofino by Monday afternoon.

Tofino residents Sean and Deddeda White arrived with flowers at the dock on Monday as an RCMP dive team prepared to leave for the accident scene.

Deddeda White said she gathered cedar bows, salal and flowers from her garden to make the bouquet she left at the dock.

“This affects the whole town,” she said.


Upset man dumps container of raw sewage inside a Newfoundland town office

RCMP in Placentia, N.L., are investigating a bizarre incident in which raw sewage was dumped on the front counter inside the town office.

Mayor Wayne Power says a resident walked into the office around noon on October 13, 2015 to complain about a sewage problem on his property.

Power says the upset man emptied a small container of sewage on the counter after telling officials it was their responsibility to clean up his property.

He says no one was hurt in the incident, although the lobby of the building had to be cleared to be cleaned up and disinfected.

Power says regardless of his problem, the man’s actions were unacceptable, so town officials called police.

RCMP Cpl. Trevor Baldwin says police talked to the man and are now considering whether charges are warranted.


13 places from across the country selected as finalists for Great Places in Canada 2015

Source: CPI Press Release

The jury is in from its first round of deliberation, and thirteen nominations have been selected as finalists in the Great Places in Canada contest from an initial slate of twenty-nine.

The jury is now delving deeper into each finalist’s nomination.  The Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), host of the annual contest, will announce the winners in each category on November 4, 2015, in conjunction with World Town Planning Day.


In the category of Great Street, the finalists are:

· Broadway                     

Orangeville, ON

· Lower Johnson Street – LoJo    

Victoria, BC

· Wolfville’s Main Street                    

Wolfville, Nova Scotia

In the category of Great Neighbourhood, the three finalists are:

· Quartier Petit Champlain                   

Quebec, QC

· Schmidtville                                       

Halifax, NS

· West End                                       

Vancouver, BC

And finally, in the Great Public Space category, which received the most nominations, the seven finalists are:

· Blockhouse Island                       

Brockville, ON

· Grizzly Plaza                              

Revelstoke, BC

· Lethbridge River Valley                      

Lethbridge, AB

· Mississauga Celebration Square           

Mississauga, ON

· Pemberton Downtown Community Barn   

Pemberton, BC

· Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park     

Thunder Bay, ON

· Stuart Park                                              

Kelowna, BC


“The nominations were stronger than ever this year,” says Hazel Christy, President of CIP, “and the support the nominees received from their respective communities was tremendous.  This program really showcases the amazing work done by professional planners and how that work can transform.”

The prize of People’s Choice, awarded to the nominee in each category that received the most online votes, will be announced on November 4th along with the Grand Prize winners determined by the Great Places in Canada jury.

“The nominations were stronger than ever this year,” says Hazel Christy, President of CIP, “and the support the nominees received from their respective communities was tremendous.  This program really showcases the amazing work done by professional planners and how that work can transform.”

The prize of People’s Choice, awarded to the nominee in each category that received the most online votes, will be announced on November 4th along with the Grand Prize winners determined by the Great Places in Canada jury.

The nominator of a Grand Prize winner in each category will receive a $500 travel voucher, a MEC Station shoulder bag, a one-year subscription to Plan Canada, the official magazine of the Canadian Institute of Planners, and a certificate for nominating a winning place.  A stainless steel plaque will be delivered, engraved with the winner’s new designation, which can be mounted at the site.

The nominator of a People’s Choice winner will receive a leather travel case from Roots Canada, a 25% off voucher from any purchase at Roots, and a one-year subscription to Plan Canada.  A certificate will also be presented to the nominator for putting forward a winning place.

A big thank you also goes out to Communities in Bloom and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for their support in this contest.

Visit to vote!

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