‘Make an Invictus goal for yourselves’: Prince Harry closes 2017 Games with call to action

The curtain is falling on the Invictus Games in Toronto.

The closing ceremony is underway at Air Canada Centre to cap the week-long Games, which are aimed at helping the war wounded with their recovery.

Prince Harry, the Games’ founder, took to the stage with a message of inspiration rounding out the one he delivered at the opening ceremony a week ago.

“Let me issue you a challenge,” he said. “Don’t just move on from these games with happy memories. Instead, make an Invictus goal for yourselves.”

‘It doesn’t matter how big or small your step is’

 “Let the examples of service and resilience that you have seen inspire you to take action to improve something big or small, in your life, for your family or in your community,” the prince said. “It doesn’t matter how big or small your step is — just take it.”

Invictus Games Closing Ceremony 20170930

Prince Harry speaks during the closing ceremonies of the Invictus Games in Toronto on Saturday, September 30, 2017. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Harry also recounted some of the Games’ most memorable moments, which included Team Georgia, who’d never played the game of sitting volleyball three years ago, battle their way to the gold medal. They also saw competitors from Ukraine, Denmark, Romania and the U.S. band together to form Team Unconquered to win a sitting volleyball game with teammates they’d just met.

Earlier in the evening, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, handed out participation medals to competitors on the arena stage before the start of the ceremony.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” she said, taking the stage. “As a mother, I can barely begin to understand how you managed to overcome what you have seen or experienced but when we come together as human beings, our resilience can make everything possible.”

“These are the first steps toward healing and recovery.”

BRITAIN-ROYALS/INVICTUSGAMES

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau speaks during the closing ceremony for the Invictus Games in Toronto on Saturday. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Several world dignitaries were in attendance, with rockers Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams among the highlights of the evening.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says the Invictus Games have been “magnificent” and the city was pleased to host the week-long event in which wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans competed in several sports.

“If you look at it any which way, the stories are so inspiring,” Tory told CBC News Network on Saturday.

Tory said the games benefited not only the city and its residents, but also the athletes who, coping with injury and disability, used the competition in their recovery from the scars of war.

‘This was a great investment in humanity and in supporting these people who served our countries and protected our way of life and suffered injuries and disabilities because of that’ – John Tory, Toronto mayor

More than 550 athletes from 17 countries took part in 12 sports.

“And you talk to the relatives, which I had a chance to do sitting in the stands, and they talk about how important this has been, both the act of participating in these games, but also the encouragement that they had from the people who came out to cheer them on, and how much of a difference it has made in their lives, where they were traumatized by what had happened to them. And this is making a difference to them coming back,” Tory said.

“What kind of a great news story is that?” 

Invictus Games Flag 20170922

Toronto Mayor John Tory says of the Invictus Games: ‘If you look at it any which way, the stories are so inspiring.’ (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Toronto residents embraced the games and supported the athletes, he said. The city donated use of its venues, including the Pan Am Sports Centre and Nathan Phillips Square, for the Games.

“The response has been magnificent,” he said.

Many seats were filled at venues after the games began, he said. “There has been great support for it.”

Asked if the city will lose money on the games, he said: “It doesn’t matter.”

Games drew people to Toronto

Tory said the games have helped to draw people to Toronto and enabled the city to give back.

“Whatever we invested was a good investment and it goes beyond dollars and cents. This was a great investment in humanity and in supporting these people who served our countries and protected our way of life and suffered injuries and disabilities because of that. It was a very, very good investment in people,” Tory said. 

“You don’t measure it in a loss. They’re not meant to be run at a profit.” 

Invictus Games 20170929

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Harry watch wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Chris Donovan/Canadian Press)

Tory praised Prince Harry for founding the games in 2014 and said his appearance at various sporting events has motivated a lot of people to attend the games. “He’s been right in there,” he said.

Games provide ‘transformative experience’

Dr. Celina Shirazipour, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University who has been studying the role of adaptive sport in the care and support of ill and injured military personnel and their families, said the event has given competitors some public recognition and the chance to represent their countries again.

She said she has been studying the healing power of the games.

After evaluating past and current Invictus competitors from different countries and backgrounds with various injuries, her early findings are that the games are a “transformative experience” for those involved and enable participants to rejoin what she called their “military family.”

Having new goals can help a soldier’s mental health and dealing with wounds, some of them unseen, is how recovery starts to happen, she said. 

“The games are a gift for competitors in their recovery,” she said in a news release. “The long-term benefits of Invictus allow competitors a return to self.”

The 2017 Invictus Games kicked off on Sept. 23, and the Canadian team was composed of 90 veterans.  The 2018 Games will be held in Sydney. 

The word Invictus means “unconquered” in Latin.

‘Our resilience can make everything possible’: Star-studded Invictus Games closing ceremony underway

The curtain is falling on the Invictus Games in Toronto.

The closing ceremony is underway at Air Canada Centre to cap the week-long Games, which are aimed at helping the war wounded with their recovery.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, handed out participation medals to competitors on the arena stage before the start of the ceremony.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” she said, taking the stage. “As a mother, I can barely begin to understand how you managed to overcome what you have seen or experienced but when we come together as human beings, our resilience can make everything possible.”

“These are the first steps toward healing and recovery.”

BRITAIN-ROYALS/INVICTUSGAMES

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau speaks during the closing ceremony for the Invictus Games in Toronto on Saturday. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Several world dignitaries are in attendance with rockers Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams slated to perform. Prince Harry is expected to address the crowd later in the evening.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says the Invictus Games have been “magnificent” and the city was pleased to host the week-long event in which wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans competed in several sports.

“If you look at it any which way, the stories are so inspiring,” Tory told CBC News Network on Saturday.

Tory said the games benefited not only the city and its residents, but also the athletes who, coping with injury and disability, used the competition in their recovery from the scars of war.

‘This was a great investment in humanity and in supporting these people who served our countries and protected our way of life and suffered injuries and disabilities because of that’ – John Tory, Toronto mayor

More than 550 athletes from 17 countries took part in 12 sports.

“And you talk to the relatives, which I had a chance to do sitting in the stands, and they talk about how important this has been, both the act of participating in these games, but also the encouragement that they had from the people who came out to cheer them on, and how much of a difference it has made in their lives, where they were traumatized by what had happened to them. And this is making a difference to them coming back,” Tory said.

“What kind of a great news story is that?” 

Invictus Games Flag 20170922

Toronto Mayor John Tory says of the Invictus Games: ‘If you look at it any which way, the stories are so inspiring.’ (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Toronto residents embraced the games and supported the athletes, he said. The city donated use of its venues, including the Pan Am Sports Centre and Nathan Phillips Square, for the Games.

“The response has been magnificent,” he said.

Many seats were filled at venues after the games began, he said. “There has been great support for it.”

Asked if the city will lose money on the games, he said: “It doesn’t matter.”

Games drew people to Toronto

Tory said the games have helped to draw people to Toronto and enabled the city to give back.

“Whatever we invested was a good investment and it goes beyond dollars and cents. This was a great investment in humanity and in supporting these people who served our countries and protected our way of life and suffered injuries and disabilities because of that. It was a very, very good investment in people,” Tory said. 

“You don’t measure it in a loss. They’re not meant to be run at a profit.” 

Invictus Games 20170929

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Harry watch wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Chris Donovan/Canadian Press)

Tory praised Prince Harry for founding the games in 2014 and said his appearance at various sporting events has motivated a lot of people to attend the games. “He’s been right in there,” he said.

Games provide ‘transformative experience’

Dr. Celina Shirazipour, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University who has been studying the role of adaptive sport in the care and support of ill and injured military personnel and their families, said the event has given competitors some public recognition and the chance to represent their countries again.

She said she has been studying the healing power of the games.

After evaluating past and current Invictus competitors from different countries and backgrounds with various injuries, her early findings are that the games are a “transformative experience” for those involved and enable participants to rejoin what she called their “military family.”

Having new goals can help a soldier’s mental health and dealing with wounds, some of them unseen, is how recovery starts to happen, she said. 

“The games are a gift for competitors in their recovery,” she said in a news release. “The long-term benefits of Invictus allow competitors a return to self.”

The 2017 Invictus Games kicked off on Sept. 23, and the Canadian team was composed of 90 veterans.  The 2018 Games will be held in Sydney. 

The word Invictus means “unconquered” in Latin.

Toronto pleased to host ‘magnificent’ Invictus Games, mayor says

Toronto Mayor John Tory says the Invictus Games have been “magnificent” and the city was pleased to host the week-long event in which wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans competed in several sports.

“If you look at it any which way, the stories are so inspiring,” Tory told CBC News Network on Saturday.

Tory said the games benefited not only the city and its residents, but also the athletes who, coping with injury and disability, used the competition in their recovery from the scars of war.

‘This was a great investment in humanity and in supporting these people who served our countries and protected our way of life and suffered injuries and disabilities because of that’ – John Tory, Toronto mayor

More than 550 athletes from 17 countries took part in 12 sports.

“And you talk to the relatives, which I had a chance to do sitting in the stands, and they talk about how important this has been, both the act of participating in these games, but also the encouragement that they had from the people who came out to cheer them on, and how much of a difference it has made in their lives, where they were traumatized by what had happened to them. And this is making a difference to them coming back,” Tory said.

“What kind of a great news story is that?” 

Invictus Games Flag 20170922

Toronto Mayor John Tory says of the Invictus Games: ‘If you look at it any which way, the stories are so inspiring.’ (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Toronto residents embraced the games and supported the athletes, he said. The city donated use of its venues, including the Pan Am Sports Centre and Nathan Phillips Square, for the Games.

“The response has been magnificent,” he said.

Many seats were filled at venues after the games began, he said. “There has been great support for it.”

Asked if the city will lose money on the games, he said: “It doesn’t matter.”

Games drew people to Toronto

Tory said the games have helped to draw people to Toronto and enabled the city to give back.

“Whatever we invested was a good investment and it goes beyond dollars and cents. This was a great investment in humanity and in supporting these people who served our countries and protected our way of life and suffered injuries and disabilities because of that. It was a very, very good investment in people,” Tory said. 

“You don’t measure it in a loss. They’re not meant to be run at a profit.” 

Invictus Games 20170929

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Harry watch wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Chris Donovan/Canadian Press)

Tory praised Prince Harry for founding the games in 2014 and said his appearance at various sporting events has motivated a lot of people to attend the games. “He’s been right in there,” he said.

Closing concert features Springsteen

The games are set to wrap up on Saturday night, when Bruce Springsteen is expected to perform at the two-hour closing ceremony, which is being held at Air Canada Centre downtown.

Springsteen will join Bryan Adams, Kelly Clarkson, Bachman & Turner and Coeur de Pirate in celebrating the success of the games. The closing ceremony has been dubbed a “celebration of spirit.”

Springsteen, aka the boss, has said it will be an “honour and a privilege” to perform.

The Invictus Games kicked off on Sept. 23. The Canadian team was composed of 90 veterans.

The word Invictus means “unconquered” in Latin.

Gutsy crowds line up for chance to feel inside hole-y cows at Saskatoon vet college event

Storm Bartsoff says most people are a little nervous about sticking their arm into a cow’s stomach, but it’s when the stomach compresses that they usually recoil.

“When the stomach contracts it’ll tighten down on your arm a little bit so it kind of scares you and makes people jumpy,” said Bartsoff, a third-year veterinary student at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, the veterinary school at the University of Saskatchewan.

Nevertheless, every two years, a long line of eager participants wait at the college’s Vetavision open house for a chance to feel inside a cow’s stomach.

The event gives the public a chance to see the types of veterinary research being done at the Saskatoon university.

“Fistulated” cows like Cinnamon are one of the main events, drawing a crowd that is usually bigger than the 75 guests she is allowed to accommodate in one demonstration.

Cinnamon is fitted with a fistula, a rubber tube that creates an opening in her stomach that can be plugged. It also allows Vetavision visitors to reach in and feel inside her stomach.

Bartsoff said the demonstration is not painful for the cow, adding that what she feels is probably akin to what we feel when we push our tongue to the inside of our cheek.

The 13-year-old cow is contributing to feed research by allowing students to test how the protozoa and other bugs inside her stomach are reacting to different feeds.

Researchers can also transfer the good bacteria inside the stomach of a healthy cow into the stomach of one that is unwell to help remedy the problem.

Bartsoff said he likes that the Vetavision event gives the public more insight into what veterinary science can do.

“It educates and gives people awareness that we can do these types of things and we’re doing everything we can to make animals healthy and give them the best welfare that we can,” he said.

All of the booths at Vetavision are student-run by future veterinarians who have created their own displays.

Sheep, goats, piglets and fluffy, two-day-old chicks are some of the other animals on display.

Students are available to answer questions about everything from how many stomachs a cow has to how a chick hatches from its egg. 

Alexina Labrecque

Vetavision co-president and fourth-year veterinary student Alexina Labrecque says the vet college open house gives the public a better understanding of how diverse vet science can be. (Alicia Bridges/CBC News)

Vetavision co-president Alexina Labrecque is a fourth-year student at the college.

She said the open-house event is an opportunity to showcase the diversity of veterinary science.

“Most people know that veterinarians are dog and cat doctors. They see them in their neighbourhood,” said Labrecque.

“But they are also involved with industry and a wide variety of animals such as bees, which is new at Vetavision this year.”

Two-day-old chick at Vetavision, Saskatoon

This two-day-old chick was one of the farm animals on display at Vetavision in Saskatoon. (Alicia Bridges/CBC News)

She said lesser-known veterinary jobs also include working with human doctors on diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans, or working in the pharmacological industry.

About 1,400 people toured the college on the first day of Vetavision Friday. Organizers were expecting more visitors on the second and final day of the event, which ends at 8 p.m. CST on Saturday.

‘Progress remains disappointing’: Cami union on talks with GM

The union representing striking workers at Cami Automotive in Ingersoll, Ont., says it’s disappointed after a high-level meeting in Detroit with General Motors failed to break the deadlock.

The 2,800 workers walked off the job almost two weeks ago in the town.

Already, businesses in Ingersoll and auto suppliers in southwestern Ontario are feeling the impact.

“Progress remains disappointing,” said Unifor 88 in a statement released Saturday.

The talks had moved Thursday to Detroit where General Motors is headquartered, after days of negotiations on this side of the border generated little movement.

The union said it met with the heads of GM’s North American Manufacturing and Finance.

“We expressed concerns around our outstanding issues, such as job security, economics and contract language,” the union’s statement reads.

It also said GM responded late Friday, but the company did not address its issues..

“The master bargaining committee, along with our Unifor national representatives, continue to meet with the company but there is little progress being made.” 

The union added that talks continue — though there is no detail on where those talks will happen.

CAMI Automotive

GM’s CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

The biggest issue for the bargaining unit is job security with workers demanding the company guarantee it won’t move production of the Chevy Equinox out of Ingersoll. 

GM relocated production of the GMC Terrain earlier this year to Mexico, resulting in the loss of about 400 jobs. 

A rally for auto workers is being planned for next Friday in Ingersoll.

Sears closing Polo Park location in Winnipeg, 9 others across Canada

Sears Canada is shutting the doors on another 10 locations across the country, including its store in Winnipeg’s Polo Park shopping centre.

The struggling retail chain made the announcement Friday night, barely three months after announcing plans to close 59 stores — including its outlet location at Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg.

In a release, the company said it had “entered into a number of lease-surrender agreements and a lease-amending agreement that will result in the exit” from the 10 locations.

Sears said about 1,200 employees will lose their jobs due to the latest impending closures across the country. No job loss numbers were given for the Polo Park store.

Another 2,900 workers were to lose their jobs stemming from the June announcement.

Sears’ locations at Kildonan Place and St. Vital Centre were not directly affected by the announcement.

Attack by ’emaciated’ grizzly injures man near B.C.-Yukon border

A hunter from B.C. is recovering from a bear mauling, near the Yukon – B.C. border earlier this week.

The man, who isn’t being named by conservation officers, was moose calling with a hunting partner along the Smart River in northern B.C. on Wednesday, when a female grizzly attacked him from behind.

Conservation officers say the attack was predatory, meaning the bear wanted to eat the man. 

“The sow knocked the victim down the riverbank and into the river,” said Cam Schley, inspector with the B.C. Conservation Officer Services in Smithers.

“The victim tried to fight the bear off and at one point was able to get the muzzle of his rifle into the bear’s eye, which caused the grizzly bear to jerk back a bit.”

Smart River

The men travelled into an area along the Smart River by boat. (Google)

It was at that point, Schley said, the man’s partner was able to shoot the bear twice, killing it. He said that action saved the man’s life. 

The two men travelled by boat back to the Alaska Highway and were able to get to the Teslin Health Centre.

Schley said the man had injuries to his head, face and shoulders. He was treated and released the same day and is expected to make a full recovery. 

“As injuries inflicted by a grizzly bear go, they weren’t as serious as they could have been,” Schley said. “It could have been much worse.”

Bear ‘extremely emaciated’

Although the grizzly had two cubs with it, Schley said the bear was not defending its young.

“The sow grizzly bear definitely was treating the hunter as prey.”

Conservation officers from B.C. and Yukon travelled to the site after the attack and removed the grizzly carcass. 

“The grizzly bear was extremely emaciated,” said Schley. “This time of year grizzly bears should have several inches of fat and this grizzly bear had nothing for fat at all.”   

Conservation officers also spotted the two cubs from the air. Schley said they are second-year cubs and old enough to survive on their own. 

Schley said the hunters didn’t do anything wrong. He said it was just a rare, unfortunate incident. 

The grizzly’s tooth will be sent for testing to determine the sow’s age. 

Far-right, anti-fascist protesters temporarily shut Quebec border crossing

A standoff between far-right groups and anti-fascist protesters along the Canadian side of the U.S. border forced police to temporarily shut down the crossing near St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., on Saturday.

A separate anti-illegal immigrant rally on Parliament Hill, held amid heightened concerns about the arrival of asylum seekers, also provoked a handful of skirmishes, as riot police stepped in to prevent physical violence.

Roughly 300 members of the Storm Alliance — a group that identifies as “ultranationalist,” and claims to eschew ties to far-right white nationalists — arrived at the border crossing near Lacolle, where thousands of migrants have crossed into the country on foot without proper documentation.

Lacolle

Members of the provincial police, Sûreté du Québec, dressed in anti-riot gear, formed a perimeter to keep the two forces roughly 40 metres apart. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC News)

La Meute, French for “The Wolf Pack,” another anti-immigrant, anti-Islam group, was also on hand at the border town Saturday.

Buses carrying roughly 100 anti-facist — or antifa — counter-protesters, from the group Solidarity Across Borders, left Montreal early Saturday to confront those associated with Storm Alliance and La Meute at the border. By midday, the far-right elements outnumbered those on the other side who said they stood in support of refugees.

Members of the provincial police, Sûreté du Québec, formed a perimeter to keep the two forces roughly 40 metres apart, while both sides taunted one another with chanting.

The police, decked out in tactical gear, with gas masks and heavy weaponry, blocked members of the Storm Alliance from marching closer to makeshift tents built by the federal government to temporarily house refugees, many of whom hail from Haiti.

Storm Alliance dispersed from the scene shortly before 3 p.m. ET after it became clear they would not make it to their intended destination.

Amid the tension, the Twitter account for the Quebec region of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said the Lacolle crossing would be temporarily closed to passenger traffic. Traffic was being rerouted to other nearby points of entry.

Shariah a concern for anti-immigration protesters

On Parliament Hill Saturday, protesters aligned with a group called the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCCC) assembled to stand against policies of the federal Liberal government they claim have allowed illegal immigration to flourish. Amid cries of “Fascist scum go away,” a lone member of the group was involved in a skirmish with members of the antifa movement, before being led away by parliamentary police.

RCMP officers dressed in riot gear streamed on to the Hill after another brief scuffle between the two groups broke out. Police formed a protective line down the middle to prevent further physical encounters amid a standoff.

Georges Hallak, the founder of the CCCC and himself an immigrant from Lebanon, was at the Ottawa protest. He told CBC News he is concerned Muslims will impose Shariah — the Islamic religious guidelines that govern everything from personal hygiene and charity to pilgrimages and burials — on Canada.  

Hallak, a self-described Christian patriot, said he is steadfastly opposed to M-103, a non-binding, Liberal-sponsored motion that passed the House of Commons in the spring, which condemned Islamophobia. Hallak fears its passage will limit free speech and criticism of Islam.

Police

RCMP officers dressed in riot gear stand between antifa protesters and members of the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

He also said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has failed to secure the Canada-U.S. border while allowing mayors to declare cities sanctuaries, which he said shield undocumented migrants from law enforcement.

“I respect immigration 100 per cent, as long as the people coming to this country do not have criminal records, do not pose a threat to normal Canadians, that they come here with the intent to follow the laws of Canada without trying to modify [it] for their needs — we’re talking about Shariah law, which goes against the Constitution of Canada,” he said.

The group was vastly outnumbered by a group of counter-protesters aligned with the antifa movement, people who claim to support migrants and oppose racism. Many of them held placards with slogans such as “No to hate speech,” and “Unite to fight right.”

An organizer with Ottawa Against Fascism, who would only identify himself as Robin for fear of online reprisal from the far-right, said these groups are “sugarcoating” the anti-immigrant movement by insisting their actions are not racially motivated.

“These groups are scary, they mask their anti-immigrant [sentiments] but underneath all of that they support genocide … These forms of scapegoating can escalate and become something that is genuinely dangerous.”

Far-right, antifa protesters expected to clash at border

According to federal officials, some 13,000 asylum seekers have entered Canada irregularly, with many of those people crossing over from New York State into Quebec at a single point of entry at the end of Roxham Rd. in Hemmingford, Que., not far from Lacolle.

Approximately 5,550 asylum seekers crossed through Quebec in August alone, but numbers dropped dramatically in September.

Storm Alliance was created by people formerly aligned with the Soldiers of Odin, a group founded in Finland by a known neo-Nazi, which is highly critical of Islam and the tenets of Shariah. Dave Tregget, the founder and leader of Storm Alliance, has said he left Soldiers of Odin because of its overt racism.

Unlike Storm Alliance, many members of La Meute are Quebec sovereigntists, but they too are fearful Muslims will demand the imposition of Shariah in Canada. Some of its supporters were seen flying the Patriotes flag, an ode to the Lower Canada rebellions of 1837-38 when French-speaking settlers from present-day Quebec fought against British colonial rule.

In August, a protest in Quebec City turned violent after antifa protesters attacked a man with alleged ties to La Meute. He was seen carrying the patriote flag, alongside the provincial fleurs-de-lys.

Far-right, anti-fascist groups clash in Ontario, Quebec over asylum seekers

Anti-immigrant groups rallied along the Canadian side of the U.S. border and in Ottawa on Saturday, with counter-protesters also making their presence known, as concerns heighten over the issue of irregular border crossings by asylum seekers.

Roughly 300 members of the Storm Alliance — a group that identifies as “ultranationalist,” and claims to eschew ties to far-right white nationalists — arrived at a border crossing near St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, where thousands of migrants have crossed into the country on foot without proper documentation.

Lacolle

Members of the provincial police, Sûreté du Québec, dressed in anti-riot gear, formed a perimeter to keep the two forces roughly 40 metres apart. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC News)

La Meute, French for “The Wolf Pack,” another anti-immigrant, anti-Islam group, was also on hand at the border town Saturday.

Bus loads of hundreds of anti-facist — or antifa — counterprotesters, from the group Solidarity Across Borders, left Montreal early Saturday to confront those associated with Storm Alliance and La Meute at the border. By midday, the far-right elements outnumbered those on the other side who said they stood in support of refugees.

Members of the provincial police, Sûreté du Québec, formed a perimeter to keep the two forces roughly 40 metres apart, while both sides taunted one another with chanting.

The police, decked out in tactical gear, with gas masks, and heavy weaponry, blocked members of the Storm Alliance from marching closer to makeshift tents built by the federal government to temporarily house refugees, many of who hail from Haiti.

Amid the mounting tension, the Twitter account for the Quebec region of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said the Lacolle crossing would be temporarily closed to passenger traffic. Traffic was being rerouted to other nearby points of entry.

Shariah a concern for anti-immigration protesters

On Parliament Hill Saturday, protesters aligned with a group called the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCCC) assembled to stand against policies of the federal Liberal government they claim have allowed illegal immigration to flourish. Amid cries of “Fascist scum go away,” a lone member of the group was involved in a skirmish with members antifa movement, before being led away by parliamentary police.

RCMP officers dressed in riot gear streamed on to the Hill after another brief scuffle between the two groups broke out. Police formed a protective line down the middle to prevent further physical encounters amid a standoff.

Georges Hallak, the founder of the CCCC and himself an immigrant from Lebanon, was at the Ottawa protest. He told CBC News he is concerned Muslims will impose Shariah — the Islamic religious guidelines that govern everything from personal hygiene and charity to pilgrimages and burials — on Canada.  

Hallak, a self-described Christian patriot, said he is steadfastly opposed to M-103, a non-binding, Liberal-sponsored motion that passed the House of Commons in the spring, which condemned Islamophobia. Hallak fears its passage will limit free speech and criticism of Islam.

Police

RCMP officers dressed in riot gear stand between antifa protesters and members of the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

He also said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has failed to secure the Canada-U.S. border while allowing mayors to declare cities sanctuaries, which he said shield undocumented migrants from law enforcement.

“I respect immigration 100 per cent, as long as the people coming to this country do not have criminal records, do not pose a threat to normal Canadians, that they come here with the intent to follow the laws of Canada without trying to modify [it] for their needs — we’re talking about Shariah law, which goes against the Constitution of Canada,” he said.

The group was vastly outnumbered by a group of counter-protesters aligned with the antifa movement, people who claim to support migrants and oppose racism. Many of them held placards with slogans such as “No to hate speech,” and “Unite to fight right.”

An organizer with Ottawa Against Fascism, who would only identify himself as Robin for fear of online reprisal from the far-right, said these groups are “sugarcoating” the anti-immigrant movement by insisting their actions are not racially motivated.

“These groups are scary, they mask their anti-immigrant [sentiments] but underneath all of that they support genocide … These forms of scapegoating can escalate and become something that is genuinely dangerous.”

Far-right, antifa protesters expected to clash at border

According to federal officials, some 13,000 asylum seekers have entered Canada irregularly, with many of those people crossing over from New York State into Quebec at a single point of entry at the end of Roxham Rd. in Hemmingford, Que., not far from Lacolle.

Approximately 5,550 asylum seekers crossed through Quebec in August alone, but numbers dropped dramatically in September.

Storm Alliance was created by people formerly aligned with the Soldiers of Odin, a group founded in Finland by a known neo-Nazi, which is highly critical of Islam and the tenets of Shariah. Dave Tregget, the founder and leader of Storm Alliance, has said he left Soldiers of Odin because of its overt racism.

Unlike Storm Alliance, many members of La Meute are Quebec sovereigntists, but they too are fearful Muslims will demand the imposition of Shariah in Canada. Some of its supporters were seen flying the Patriotes flag, an ode to the Lower Canada rebellions of 1837-38 when French-speaking settlers from present-day Quebec fought against British colonial rule.

In August, a protest in Quebec City turned violent after antifa protesters attacked a man with alleged ties to La Meute. He was seen carrying the patriote flag, alongside the provincial fleurs-de-lys.