Canada community hit by suicides crisis

A Canadian aboriginal community has declared a state of emergency following the suicide of three teenage girls.

Chief Brennan Sainnawap of the remote Wapekeka First Nation in northern Ontario made the declaration this week.

On 13 June, Jenera Roundsky, 12, became the latest child to die as part of a suicide pact.

In January, two other 12-year-old girls committed suicide. The community says almost 40 youths are considered to be at risk in a town of about 400 people.

It is the latest suicide crisis to hit a Canadian aboriginal community. Last year, Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario declared a state of emergency after 11 people attempted to take their own lives in a single day.

Over the summer, Wapekeka notified Health Canada that they had become aware some girls had entered into a suicide pact and asked for about C$380,000 (£225,000; $286,000) to create a youth suicide prevention programme.

Leaders of the village also met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about the community’s suicide crisis.

Health Canada said it would send the funds but Wakepeka says it has so far only received $95,000 – a quarter of what was promised.

  • Teen suicide on the rise among Canadian girls

In January, an anonymous donor pledged to send $380,000 to help prevent youth suicide in the community when the federal funds were slow in coming.

Wapekeka spokesman Joshua Frogg told the BBC on Friday that the donor only eventually sent $30,000, which went to hiring one mental health worker for a couple of months.

Mr Frogg’s niece, Chantell Fox, was one of the three girls who committed suicide. He spoke in January at a news conference in Ottawa, pleading for a national strategy on suicide.

The Toronto Star reported that Jenera Roundsky was found dead on 13 June at the local hockey rink. She had reportedly texted a friend to say goodbye.

Chantell and Jolynn Winter both died less than six months earlier.

On Friday, Health Canada said in a statement that it has been funding additional crisis supports since last winter. That includes four mental health counsellors whose positions are funded until March 2019.

The federal agency also says it has provided Wapekeka with close to $1m for the delivery of their community health programmes since last April.

Ontario Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer said in a statement on Friday that the province is working with regional and federal partners to help coordinate the response for additional support.

The province also committed $50,000 last week in response for sport and recreation activities for youth there.

“The conditions that lead to despair and hopelessness are complex and multi-layered. We all have a responsibility to address these conditions seriously,” Mr Zimmer said.

Last year, Ontario’s Attawapiskat community saw 28 suicide attempts in March and more than 100 since September 2015.

The regional Weeneebayko Health Authority flew in a crisis team, mental health nurses and social workers to help with the crisis.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nation communities within northern Ontario including Wapekeka and Attawapiskat, said earlier this year that 17 people died due to suicide across the region between January 2016 and January 2017.

It criticised the “current piecemeal approach to this perpetual crisis” by the federal government.

Where to get help

From Canada or US: If you’re in an emergency, please call 911. If you or someone you know is suffering with mental-health issues, call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. If you’re in the US, you can text HOME to 741741

For Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline, call 1-855-242-3310

From UK: Call Samaritans on 116123 or Childline on 0800 1111

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CANADA STOCKS-TSX buoyed as energy, miners shine but BlackBerry sinks on miss

* TSX up 99.66 points, or 0.65 percent, to 15,319.56

* Eight of the TSX’s 10 main groups rise

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TORONTO, June 23 Canada’s main stock index
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BlackBerry reported an unexpected 4.7 percent drop in
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Canadian sniper ‘kills IS militant two miles away’

A sniper in the Canadian special forces shot and killed an Islamic State (IS) fighter from a distance of 2.1 miles (3,540m) in Iraq last month.

Military sources told Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper that the gunman is a member of Joint Task Force 2, and made the shot from a high-rise building.

It took the bullet almost 10 seconds to hit its target, it reports.

The Canadian Special Operations Command confirmed to the BBC the sniper “hit a target” from that distance.

The shot, which sources tell the paper was filmed, is thought to be a record for the longest confirmed kill.

The sniper worked in tandem with an observer, who helps to spot targets, and used a standard Canadian military issued McMillan TAC-50 rifle.

“The shot in question actually disrupted a Daesh [so-called Islamic State] attack on Iraqi security forces,” a military source told the paper.

“Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far away, the bad guys didn’t have a clue what was happening.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

The source described the difficultly of the shot, which required the shooter to account for wind, ballistics, and even the Earth’s curvature.

Military experts believe the successful shot may have set a record.

The previous record was held by British sniper, Craig Harrison, who shot and killed a Taliban attacker from 2,475 metres in 2009 using an L115A3 long range rifle.

The government of Canada’s Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau halted air strikes against the so-called Islamic State in 2016.

But at the same time, Mr Trudeau announced plans to treble the number of special forces on the ground, as well as increase the number of Canadian Armed Forces members who are tasked with training and assisting local forces.

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Rise in Canadian retail sales bodes well for second quarter economic growth

By Leah Schnurr



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian retail sales rose in April on higher gasoline prices and increased demand for home appliances and garden supplies, Statistics Canada said on Thursday in a report that lent support to the Bank of Canada’s recent hawkish monetary policy stance.



The value of retail sales rose 0.8 percent, exceeding forecasts for a 0.2 percent gain and providing a firm start to the second quarter. Stripping out the effects of price changes, April’s sales volumes were less robust, rising just 0.3 percent.



Canada’s economy is on track to grow at an annual rate of near 3 percent in the second quarter, said Brittany Baumann, macro strategist at TD Securities. The economy expanded at a 3.7 percent pace in the first three months of the year.



The report increases the odds the Bank of Canada will raise interest rates at its next meeting in July, though Friday’s inflation report will be key, particularly in regards to the central bank’s measures of core inflation, Baumann said.



“Further deceleration in core inflation is more likely to stay the bank’s hand in July, while some stabilization or uptick, which cannot be excluded at this stage, will put further pressure on the Bank of Canada to act,” she said.



Bank of Canada policymakers took a more hawkish turn last week, setting the stage for rate hikes. The central bank has held its policy rate at 0.50 percent since 2015 when it cut rates twice to offset the impact of cheaper oil, one of Canada’s main exports.



The Canadian dollar gained against the greenback and was trading at C$1.3253 or 74.45 U.S. cents after Thursday’s report. [CAD/]



Sales in the building material, garden equipment and supplies sector rose 3.5 percent, the biggest increase in nearly two years. Increased sales of home appliances and hardware have helped the sector rise for eight months in a row.
  Continued…


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Canada April retail sales up 0.8 percent on general merchandise, gasoline

By Leah Schnurr



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian retail sales rose in April on higher gasoline prices and increased demand for home appliances and garden supplies, Statistics Canada said on Thursday in a report that lent support to the Bank of Canada’s recent hawkish monetary policy stance.



The value of retail sales rose 0.8 percent, exceeding forecasts for a 0.2 percent gain and providing a firm start to the second quarter. Stripping out the effects of price changes, April’s sales volumes were less robust, rising just 0.3 percent.



Canada’s economy is on track to grow at an annual rate of near 3 percent in the second quarter, said Brittany Baumann, macro strategist at TD Securities. The economy expanded at a 3.7 percent pace in the first three months of the year.



The report increases the odds the Bank of Canada will raise interest rates at its next meeting in July, though Friday’s inflation report will be key, particularly in regards to the central bank’s measures of core inflation, Baumann said.



“Further deceleration in core inflation is more likely to stay the bank’s hand in July, while some stabilization or uptick, which cannot be excluded at this stage, will put further pressure on the Bank of Canada to act,” she said.



Bank of Canada policymakers took a more hawkish turn last week, setting the stage for rate hikes. The central bank has held its policy rate at 0.50 percent since 2015 when it cut rates twice to offset the impact of cheaper oil, one of Canada’s main exports.



The Canadian dollar gained against the greenback and was trading at C$1.3253 or 74.45 U.S. cents after Thursday’s report. [CAD/]



Sales in the building material, garden equipment and supplies sector rose 3.5 percent, the biggest increase in nearly two years. Increased sales of home appliances and hardware have helped the sector rise for eight months in a row.
  Continued…


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Canadian sniper records longest kill shot, takes out ISIS terrorist from over 2 miles away

A kill shot against an ISIS terrorist in Iraq in May came from a Canadian sniper’s rifle over two miles away.

Canadian Armed Forces has confirmed an operation in Iraq that required one of its special operations forces to fire a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle from 3,540 meters away. The call was made to attempt a record-breaking shot as a means of avoiding civilian casualties.

“The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target at 3,540 meters,” officials told The Globe and Mail in a statement released Wednesday. “For operational security reasons and to preserve the safety of our personnel and our coalition partners we will not discuss precise details on when and how this incident took place.”

A military source told the website that the kill shot was independently verified by video and other equipment.

“The shot in question actually disrupted a Daesh [ISIS] attack on Iraqi security forces,” the source said. “Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far way, the bad guys didn’t have a clue what was happening.”

The source said that such a feat is astonishing because the sniper must factor in the ballistics of the round, wind, gravity and other factors.

“You have to adjust for him firing from a higher location downward and as the round drops you have to account for that,” the source said. “From that distance you actually have to account for the curvature of the Earth.”

The previous record came from British sniper Craig Harrison in 2009, the website reported. He shot a Taliban gunner from 2,475 meters away.

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Can cod comeback keep a Canadian fishery afloat?

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A generation after Canada declared a moratorium on northern cod fishing off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, the species is making a comeback. But can the province’s troubled fishery survive to take advantage of cod’s resurgence?

The wharf in Petty Harbour is quiet, and Todd Chafe, a 46-year-old fisherman, is slicing up cod for a nearby family restaurant in a shack near the water.

“Some fellas like to point fingers: ‘Ah, this done it, foreigners done it’,” he says.

Chafe is talking about the collapse of northern cod off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador 25 years ago.

“We all done it, every single person that went fishing done it. Everybody fished for it so everybody had a hand in destroying it.”

On 2 July 1992, after decades of bungled fisheries management, Canada put an end to a cod industry that had supported rural Newfoundlanders for 500 years.

Stocks of the once mighty northern cod had fallen to an estimated 1% of 1980s levels. The government had overestimated how many cod there were and didn’t act when it first became clear the fish were disappearing.

That day, in a St John’s ballroom, federal cabinet minister John Crosbie announced a moratorium on cod fishing. Angry fishermen pounded on the barred doors trying to get in.

Overnight, 38,000 people were put out of work in Newfoundland and Labrador – the single largest layoff in Canada’s history.

Crosbie promised the moratorium would only last about two years. It’s been more than 20.

Now there is a glimmer of hope. Northern cod stock has reached about 25% of the levels seen in the ’80s.

But there is a fierce debate over what the return of cod fishing should look like in Newfoundland.

Musician Arthur O’Brien entertains the lunchtime crowd at Chafe’s Landing, a popular Petty Harbour restaurant, with songs about Newfoundland and Labrador.

As a child, O’Brien used to be part of the fishing economy.

“Right here you’re sitting off what was once one of the best fisheries in the world,” he says after his set.

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O’Brien hails from Bay Bulls, a nearby coastal community. Like many children in fishing villages, O’Brien was a “wharf rat”, making pocket money cutting out and selling cod tongues by the dozen or the pound.

Bay Bulls – a fish processing hub – was one of the hundreds of rural towns whose economic backbone was the inshore fishery.

The inshore fishery is relegated to smaller boats that are essentially small independent businesses, unlike the industrial-sized trawlers that fish further out in the Atlantic.

A lot of things changed after the cod fishery was shut down, the 43-year-old recalls. People left the Atlantic province in droves, losing about 14% of its population.

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“Every Newfoundlander has someone gone away. Everybody,” says O’Brien, who gets a big reaction when he sings about locals leaving to work in the Fort McMurray oil fields in Alberta.

Some 18,800 people from the province went to work in the western province between 1996 and 2006 alone.

Until recently, the decade-long oil boom in both Alberta and in the waters off Newfoundland helped fill the gap left by cod.

But low oil prices have sent unemployment rates in the province ticking upwards and squeezed government revenues.

Crab and shellfish also gave fishermen a reprieve, but now those stocks are also showing signs of stress.

In April, angry fishermen forced their way into the headquarters of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), while others burnt their gear in front of a regional office over cuts to shrimp and crab quotas.

The same month, another fisherman, Richard Gillett, went on a hunger strike outside DFO offices in St John’s, demanding a meeting with the federal fisheries minister.

Then in June, search and rescue workers had to airlift the crew of a fishing vessel to safety after they were caught in thick sea ice. The ice has delayed the snow crab season, another source of income.

Neil Ward’s son was among the men rescued as the vessel sank below the ice.

“For them to be doing this, it shows how desperate people are,” Ward, a store owner in the coastal town of La Scie, Newfoundland, says. “They’re willing to take the risk.”

DFO has begun to loosen the moratorium, if only slightly. In 2017, the agency extended the length of the cod fishing season and doubled the weekly catch limits in most regions under a “stewardship fishery” programme.

Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) President Keith Sullivan calls the current levels set by DFO “really, really conservative”.

FFAW is asking DFO to further expand the cod fishery to make up for the squeeze fishermen are feeling over cuts to crab and shrimp quotas.

Sullivan sees an opportunity to create an international market for Canadian northern cod, and rebuild the fishery infrastructure.

“People understand it’s got to be done sustainably, but they can also see that this is something that’s going to bring value back to communities, hopefully for years to come,” he says.

But Tony Blanchard, the resource management director for DFO in the region, says “caution” is the current approach. The government will start making annual assessments of the stock in 2018.

Ryan Cleary, a former journalist and ex-federal politician, says fishermen are impatient and the industry, beyond cod, is in crisis.

“It’s going to continue to heat up until it boils over,” he says.

Cleary, along with Gillett, is trying to launch a splinter union – the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador – in a bid to take on the FFAW.

He says the independent, small boat operators need their own representation. FFAW says about 4,100 of the 15,000 workers they represent are inshore fishermen.

“The average Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters are dying out,” he says.

Many coastal fishermen are now in their 60s, with few young people willing to take a risk in an industry that’s been struggling for decades, or pay the upfront costs of training, licensing and buying a vessel.

Cleary and Gillett also believe the inshore fishery is facing an unprecedented crisis in many ways worse than the cod collapse, with stocks of most commercial species on the decline or delicate in terms of rebuilding.

“It hasn’t gotten better, it’s gotten worse.” says Cleary. “We didn’t learn anything from the moratorium.”

Some independent scientists have been raising alarm bells about any imminent ramp up in the cod fishery.

Memorial University’s Noel Cadigan says cod stocks are still too fragile to allow for more fishing and sees DFO’s decision to expand the season as a mistake.

He worries they are caving to pressure from fishermen who see crab and shrimp stocks failing.

“I don’t think we’re going to do irreparable harm but we certainly are delaying recovery of the stock,” he says.

Cadigan and his colleagues say a better management plan – one that includes a timeline for recovery and defined targets along the way – is necessary.

Back on the Petty Harbour wharf, Tom Best is frustrated and worried about what will happen if the moratorium is lifted.

He says politicians and agency staff, most of whom live thousands of kilometres away in Ottawa, were nowhere to be found in the last 25 years when it came to making tough decisions about the fishery’s future.

“You could have hundreds of communities in this province prospering from the cod fishery if people just used their brains and their heads,” the president of the Petty Harbour Fishermen’s Cooperative says.

“People are geared up to do things that were destructive before the moratorium, and they’re going to go right back to it again.”

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