Power restored to most of the Acadian Peninsula

Thunderstorm

Power poles were knocked down during a huge thunderstorm in the Acadian Peninsula Thursday night. (Catherine Dumas/Radio-Canada)

Most customers on the Acadian Peninsula have had their power restored.

About 67 people in the area are still without power a day and a half after a violent thunderstorm. The majority of those residents are in the village of Pokeshaw.

NB Power expects the remaining customers affected by the outage to have their power restored between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

There are also 110 reported outages in the Smiths Creek area. NB Power is estimating an early Saturday evening restoration time for those customers as well.

Bridge reopened

“If everything goes well, we should have them restored this afternoon,” said New Brunswick Power spokeswoman Marie-Andrée Bolduc. “The work will keep going until they’re all done.”

‘They used lights as much as possible and they restored the transmission line.’ Marie-Andrée Bolduc

Meanwhile, the bridge connecting Shippagan and Lamèque Island has reopened to traffic. The bridge had been closed after several power poles were downed in the storm.

More than 4,000 people on the peninsula were still without electricity on Friday evening. Bolduc said crews were able to get a lot of work done late Friday and early Saturday.

“They used lights as much as possible and they restored the transmission line that was feeding into Lamèque Island,” she said. “We had a tremendous amount of progress throughout the night.”

More permanent solution

Bolduc said crews placed the power poles along the causeway to Lamèque Island closer to the road. They had previously been set in rock and cement closer to the water. The utility company is looking for a more permanent solution for the transmission line, Bolduc said.

Claude Côté, a meteorologist for Environment Canada, said winds could have reached about 200 kilometres an hour at the height of the storm.

He said the weather service was unable to scientifically conclude whether there were funnel clouds or tornadoes during the storm.

Court document reveals new details about school shooting in La Loche, Sask.

The night before a Saskatchewan teen killed four people and injured seven others in La Loche, he used his iPad to search “What does it feel like to kill someone.” 

Less than 24 hours later, he knew that feeling intimately. 

The teen who was 17 at the time of the shootings — and can’t be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty in October to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder. 

He has been in custody since his arrest— spending the majority of his time at Kilburn Hall in Saskatoon.

His sentencing hearing is now underway in Meadow Lake, Sask., to determine whether he should serve time as a youth or an adult. 

How events unfolded in the remote Dene village of about 3,000 people is contained in a joint statement of facts presented to the court this past week. 

Sask Shooting 20160125

Members of the RCMP stand outside the La Loche Community School on Jan. 25, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Regular school day 

The shooter woke up and went to school on Jan. 22, 2016. The quiet student attended classes at La Loche Community School that morning. During class, however, his mind was drifting to violence. 

He used his iPhone to search the names Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold — the two infamous shooters in the 1999 Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colo., that left 15 dead (including the shooters) and injured 24.

The teen also looked up two kinds of guns — Savage Arms and Tech 9. 

He had a meeting with a teacher about his poor grades, and they agreed to meet later that day. 

The teen never made that meeting. 

Killing spree begins 

He went home for lunch. Once inside his house, he went into his bedroom and grabbed some ammunition. 

He then went to the home of Drayden and Dayne Fontaine, where 17-year-old Dayne was eating lunch alone in the house. 

The shooter went into Dayne’s bedroom and took a .22-calibre rifle. 

A short while later, he called for Dayne to “come here.” 

Dayne came down the stairs and asked the teen, “What are you doing?” When the boy raised the rifle, Dayne said, “Don’t shoot me.”

Drayden and Dayne Fontaine

Brothers Dayne Fontaine, 17, left, and Drayden Fontaine, 13, were found shot to death inside a home in La Loche. (Facebook)

The teen fired one shot. Dayne screamed and ran upstairs with the teen following, shooting him multiple times in the back. 

Dayne was lying bleeding on the kitchen floor when he begged for his life one last time. The teen shot and killed him. 

The boy then went downstairs and found a shotgun, the gun he would later use to kill another three people and wound seven others. 

He also found the keys to a truck inside the house. When he went outside, he saw 13-year-old Drayden, Dayne’s younger brother, running toward the truck. 

La Loche house brothers killed

The scene outside the Fontaine home after the bodies of two brothers were found. (Matt Kruchak/CBC)

The teen told Drayden to follow him into the house. There he shot the boy twice, killing him. 

The shooter went back outside and got into the truck. At this point he took time to send some text messages. 

  • “im done with life.” 
  • “just killed 2 ppl”
  • “bout to shoot ip the school”

School rampage begins 

It was 1:02 p.m. CST when the armed teen drove into the school parking lot. He walked into the school, first without a gun, looked around the common area and then left. On his way he saw a group of his friends but he didn’t speak to them. 

He then grabbed the shotgun from the truck, stuffed ammunition in his pockets and re-entered the school where 150 students and teachers were going about their normal day. 

Seeing the gun, students started to run. The teen started firing. He fired at least three shots as he entered the main entrance. Some of the pellets hit a young football star in the chest.

He shot another student in the chest and right arm and a third in the stomach and left calf. 

RCMP officer in La Loche

An RCMP officer in the school in La Loche (Don Somers/CBC)

Teacher Adam Wood went to the school’s office and called 911.

The boy then took aim at Phyllis Longobardi, the school’s assistant principal. His first shot missed, but the second struck her in the right forearm and wrist. 

Longobardi ran into a nearby classroom and closed the door. She, too, called police. 

After turning away from Longobardi, the teen aimed and fired at another student through the main entrance doorway. She was hit by shattering glass and pellets on the left side of her body. 

The teen then went to the school’s main office, where he found Wood. He shot the teacher once in the stomach at close range. After Wood fell to the floor, the shooter took aim again. The second shot would prove to be fatal. 

After leaving Wood bleeding on the floor of the school office, the teen began stalking the hallways, checking doors and looking through windows. 

He fired into one classroom, hitting substitute teacher Charlene Klyne who was sitting at her desk. Teacher’s aide Marie Janvier rushed to help Klyne and was shot in the neck and chest. She died of her wounds. 

After shooting Janvier, the teen continued to walk the hallways, gun in hand. 

Marie Janvier, Adam Wood

Marie Janvier and Adam Wood were also victims of the teen shooter. (Facebook/Handout)

At one point he saw a student running and chased after him. The shooter ran after the student but wasn’t able to catch him.

The teen’s final victim would be teacher Christie Montgrand, who was shot in the back in her classroom. She survived. 

He then went back to the common area of the school where he fired one last shot into a display case, shattering the glass.

By this point, a lone RCMP officer had entered the school, gun drawn, searching for the shooter. For three minutes he searched the school.

Sask Shooting police investigate la loche

Police investigators gather evidence at the La Loche Community School on Jan. 23, 2016. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The shooter was actually alone in a school washroom. He had one shotgun shell left and would later admit to contemplating suicide. 

Instead, after a few moments, he set the gun down and left it leaning against a sink counter. He exited the washroom and found the police officer, telling him, “I’m the shooter.” 

He was arrested. 

While being escorted out of the school in handcuffs, he told police that they should check the home of Drayden and Dayne Fontaine.

Once non-verbal, this boy was picked to sing O Canada at Blue Nose run

If anyone could give inspiration to runners participating in this weekend’s Blue Nose 5K run in Halifax, Joshua Cochrane could.

The 11-year-old from Yarmouth, N.S. was selected to sing O Canada ahead of the Saturday afternoon race, the latest in a long list of his accomplishments.

Joshua’s mother, Ann Harrington, said her son has helped to raise over $300,000 by singing for various causes over the years, including for Halifax’s IWK Health Centre, veterans, fire departments and charities. 

It’s all the more amazing because when he was 18 months old, Joshua was non-verbal and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  

“We don’t push him; he wants to do it himself. In fact there’s days that I’m saying, ‘Can we just stay home?’ He’s like, ‘No, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to get out there,'” said Harrington. 

“I think making people happy and knowing he’s helping people is what keeps him going and encourages him to challenge himself and accomplish more.” 

Singing the national anthem, a favourite of Joshua’s, was a no-brainer.

“He loves everything about Canada, he loves veterans, he loves anything to do with Canada,” said Harrington. 

Getting Joshua to speak

As a non-verbal toddler, Joshua started intense speech therapy after his diagnosis, but that wasn’t working. Joshua was clearly unhappy, injuring himself out of frustration. Then, his therapist suggested giving him a day off and played music for him.

“It was like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or something, but as soon as she turned it on, he suddenly stopped self-abusing … he just loved it,” said Harrington.

Joshua Cochrane

Joshua has not let illness slow down his desire to help people. (Submitted)

The therapist suggested signing Joshua up for music and dance classes.

“I said, are you kidding? He can’t sit up. She said let’s put him in anyway and we’ll see what happens,” said Harrington. 

She noticed that despite being non-verbal, Joshua would sing along. That started the ball rolling to get Joshua talking. 

Harrington said her son lives to make others happy, despite his own health problems. 

“He’s been in the hospital for a long time himself because he’s not well and we’ve had him hitched to IV poles and feeding pumps. He’s dragged them to go into other kids’ rooms to sing for them because they’re upset. He’s a pretty soft-hearted child.” 

He’s missed at least half the current school year due to complex medical problems, but his mother says he still gets good grades.

‘Loves to serve people’

His mother said Joshua loves all music and quickly learns new instruments. He plays drums, guitar and most recently a ukulele. 

When he grows up he wants to be a flight attendant, specifically a flight attendant for the troops when they’re travelling to and from missions. He plans to join a cadets program in January.

“It all comes back to helping people. He loves to serve people. Sometimes at home he drives his sisters nuts because he pretends he’s a flight attendant,” said Harrington.  

“This is how he’s been all his life; he’s been a pleasant little boy. Yeah, he has his moments, he has autism, so he does have his meltdowns and we just get over it and move on … just keep going.” 

Joshua performed on the main stage of the Blue Nose Marathon Saturday afternoon before the five-kilometre race.

[embedded content]

Power expected to be restored on Acadian Peninsula by Saturday afternoon

Thunderstorm

Power poles were knocked down during a huge thunderstorm in the Acadian Peninsula Thursday night. (Catherine Dumas/Radio-Canada)

About 230 people in New Brunswick are still without power a day and a half after a violent thunderstorm.

The majority of those residents are in the Anse-Bleue area of the Acadian Peninsula in the northern part of the province.

New Brunswick Power expects about 145 customers in Anse-Bleue and six in Grande-Anse to have their power restored by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

There are also 66 customers in Pokeshaw and four in Sainte-Rose without electricity. Those residents can expect to get their power back by 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“If everything goes well, we should have them restored this afternoon,” said New Brunswick Power spokeswoman Marie-Andrée Bolduc. “The work will keep going until they’re all done.”

Meanwhile, the bridge connecting Shippagan and Lamèque Island has reopened to traffic. The bridge had been closed after several power poles were downed in the storm.

More than 4,000 people on the peninsula were still without electricity on Friday evening. Bolduc said crews were able to get a lot of work done late Friday and early Saturday.

“They used lights as much as possible and they restored the transmission line that was feeding into Lamèque Island,” she said. “We had a tremendous amount of progress throughout the night.”

Bolduc said crews placed the power poles along the causeway to Lamèque Island closer to the road. They had previously been set in rock and cement closer to the water. The utility company is looking for a more permanent solution for the transmission line, Bolduc said.

B.C. winery owners facing life in Chinese prison for alleged smuggling

A B.C. husband and wife are facing 10 years to life imprisonment in China for allegedly under-reporting the value of wine they export to that country. And the Canadian government is under fire for not doing more to help them.

Chinese customs officials in Shanghai have charged John Chang, 62, and his wife Allison Lu with smuggling. Their trial is scheduled to begin May 26.

Both have been under arrest since March 2016. Chang has been in jail since then. Lu was held until January, but was forced to surrender her passport and is barred from leaving China.

Push for PM intervention

Lawyers and politicians lining up behind the couple describe their detention as outrageous, excessive and a gross violation of personal liberty and security.

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang exports 80 percent of his product to China

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang is facing trial in China for allegedly under-representing the value of his wine. (Lulu Island Winery)

They’re pushing the federal Liberal government to intervene immediately, claiming Chang’s physical and mental health is deteriorating behind bars.

Chang and Lu operate Lulu Island Winery. According to the company web site, it is the largest winery in Richmond, B.C., producing “table wines, fruit wines and…ice wines.”

Before the couple’s arrest, the winery claimed its exports accounted “for almost 20 per cent of all Canadian wine exported to China.”

Last July, Chinese state-run media showed boxes of Lulu Island wine being examined by customs officials, and reported “a certain brand of ice wine in Canada” had been declared at around 10 Yuan a bottle (under $2 Cdn), when it was worth many times that amount.

On Friday, Gerry Ritz, Conservative international trade critic, raised the case during question period in the House of Commons. 

Assault on rights, says MP

“The arrest of Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu for a fabricated customs violation is an assault on their basic rights, a breach of China’s international trade obligations and China’s own customs laws,” Ritz told fellow MPs.

Ritz called on the prime minister to intervene, but Justin Trudeau was away on a tour of B.C.

In his absence, Omar Alghabra, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, responded.

“We are following this case very closely,” Alghabra said. “We are in constant contact with Chinese local authorities … we will not stop until we resolve this matter.”

Chinese customs officers inspect boxes labelled with Lulu Island Winery logo

Chinese customs officers inspect boxes and bottles labelled with the Lulu Island Winery logo in photo supplied by Chinese state-controlled media (Legaldaily.com.cn)

The couple’s daughter, Amy Chang, 23, has been running Lulu Winery since her parents were arrested.

“This has been a very difficult and emotional year for me,” Chang wrote in a May 19 press release. “As a Canadian company and as Canadian citizens, we have let the Canadian government take the lead on resolving this issue.” She added the allegations “are without merit.”

On Parliament Hill, Ritz claimed the Trudeau Liberals are mishandling the case by treating it as a consular issue, instead of a serious trade dispute.

“The family and the Changs deserve a lot better from the government,” he told MPs. “They constantly get this consular issue dribble that really gets no results. (Chang) has had three visits in the past 13 months from consular officials. That is just not good enough.”

A government briefing prepared by lawyers retained by the couple’s family is also critical of the Trudeau government.

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang with then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2014

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang was invited on a China trade trip in 2014 with then-prime minister, Stephen Harper. (Office of the Prime Minister)

“Lulu Island winery is not aware of any progress or activity to date by the Canadian government in holding China customs to account,” said the briefing, written by the Fasken Martineau law firm. It was delivered to Global Affairs ministry officials earlier this month.

The briefing describes the arrests of Chang and Lu as “outrageous and unconscionable … a gross violation of personal liberty and security.”

The briefing paper hints the couple became a target of Chinese wrath because they maintained their innocence.

“Many other foreign wineries…were similarly charged but released shortly after admitting to the under–reporting and paying…fines.” it says. “Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu denied violating Chinese rules and were subsequently denied bail.”

The briefing paper also warned that the conviction rate in China for criminal offences is nearly 100 per cent.

B.C. winery owners facing life in Chinese prison

A B.C. husband and wife are facing 10 years to life imprisonment in China for allegedly under-reporting the value of wine they export to that country. And the Canadian government is under fire for not doing more to help them.

Chinese customs officials in Shanghai have charged John Chang, 62, and his wife Allison Lu with smuggling. Their trial is scheduled to begin May 26.

Both have been under arrest since March 2016. Chang has been in jail since then. Lu was held until January, but was forced to surrender her passport and is barred from leaving China.

Push for PM intervention

Lawyers and politicians lining up behind the couple describe their detention as outrageous, excessive and a gross violation of personal liberty and security.

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang exports 80 percent of his product to China

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang is facing trial in China for allegedly under-representing the value of his wine. (Lulu Island Winery)

They’re pushing the federal Liberal government to intervene immediately, claiming Chang’s physical and mental health is deteriorating behind bars.

Chang and Lu operate Lulu Island Winery. According to the company web site, it is the largest winery in Richmond, B.C., producing “table wines, fruit wines and…ice wines.”

Before the couple’s arrest, the winery claimed its exports accounted “for almost 20 per cent of all Canadian wine exported to China.”

Last July, Chinese state-run media showed boxes of Lulu Island wine being examined by customs officials, and reported “a certain brand of ice wine in Canada” had been declared at around 10 Yuan a bottle (under $2 Cdn), when it was worth many times that amount.

On Friday, Gerry Ritz, Conservative international trade critic, raised the case during question period in the House of Commons. 

Assault on rights, says MP

“The arrest of Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu for a fabricated customs violation is an assault on their basic rights, a breach of China’s international trade obligations and China’s own customs laws,” Ritz told fellow MPs.

Ritz called on the prime minister to intervene, but Justin Trudeau was away on a tour of B.C.

In his absence, Omar Alghabra, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, responded.

“We are following this case very closely,” Alghabra said. “We are in constant contact with Chinese local authorities … we will not stop until we resolve this matter.”

Chinese customs officers inspect boxes labelled with Lulu Island Winery logo

Chinese customs officers inspect boxes and bottles labelled with the Lulu Island Winery logo in photo supplied by Chinese state-controlled media (Legaldaily.com.cn)

The couple’s daughter, Amy Chang, 23, has been running Lulu Winery since her parents were arrested.

“This has been a very difficult and emotional year for me,” Chang wrote in a May 19 press release. “As a Canadian company and as Canadian citizens, we have let the Canadian government take the lead on resolving this issue.” She added the allegations “are without merit.”

On Parliament Hill, Ritz claimed the Trudeau Liberals are mishandling the case by treating it as a consular issue, instead of a serious trade dispute.

“The family and the Changs deserve a lot better from the government,” he told MPs. “They constantly get this consular issue dribble that really gets no results. (Chang) has had three visits in the past 13 months from consular officials. That is just not good enough.”

A government briefing prepared by lawyers retained by the couple’s family is also critical of the Trudeau government.

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang with then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2014

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang was invited on a China trade trip in 2014 with then-prime minister, Stephen Harper. (Office of the Prime Minister)

“Lulu Island winery is not aware of any progress or activity to date by the Canadian government in holding China customs to account,” said the briefing, written by the Fasken Martineau law firm. It was delivered to Global Affairs ministry officials earlier this month.

The briefing describes the arrests of Chang and Lu as “outrageous and unconscionable … a gross violation of personal liberty and security.”

The briefing paper hints the couple became a target of Chinese wrath because they maintained their innocence.

“Many other foreign wineries…were similarly charged but released shortly after admitting to the under–reporting and paying…fines.” it says. “Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu denied violating Chinese rules and were subsequently denied bail.”

The briefing paper also warned that the conviction rate in China for criminal offences is nearly 100 per cent.

B.C. winery owners facing life in Chinese prison for smuggling

A B.C. husband and wife are facing 10 years to life imprisonment in China for allegedly under-reporting the value of wine they export to that country. And the Canadian government is under fire for not doing more to help them.

Chinese customs officials in Shanghai have charged John Chang, 62, and his wife Allison Lu with smuggling. Their trial is scheduled to begin May 26.

Both have been under arrest since March 2016. Chang has been in jail since then. Lu was held until January, but was forced to surrender her passport and is barred from leaving China.

Push for PM intervention

Lawyers and politicians lining up behind the couple describe their detention as outrageous, excessive and a gross violation of personal liberty and security.

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang exports 80 percent of his product to China

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang is facing trial in China for allegedly under-representing the value of his wine. (Lulu Island Winery)

They’re pushing the federal Liberal government to intervene immediately, claiming Chang’s physical and mental health is deteriorating behind bars.

Chang and Lu operate Lulu Island Winery. According to the company web site, it is the largest winery in Richmond, B.C., producing “table wines, fruit wines and…ice wines.”

Before the couple’s arrest, the winery claimed its exports accounted “for almost 20 per cent of all Canadian wine exported to China.”

Last July, Chinese state-run media showed boxes of Lulu Island wine being examined by customs officials, and reported “a certain brand of ice wine in Canada” had been declared at around 10 Yuan a bottle (under $2 Cdn), when it was worth many times that amount.

On Friday, Gerry Ritz, Conservative international trade critic, raised the case during question period in the House of Commons. 

Assault on rights, says MP

“The arrest of Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu for a fabricated customs violation is an assault on their basic rights, a breach of China’s international trade obligations and China’s own customs laws,” Ritz told fellow MPs.

Ritz called on the prime minister to intervene, but Justin Trudeau was away on a tour of B.C.

In his absence, Omar Alghabra, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, responded.

“We are following this case very closely,” Alghabra said. “We are in constant contact with Chinese local authorities … we will not stop until we resolve this matter.”

Chinese customs officers inspect boxes labelled with Lulu Island Winery logo

Chinese customs officers inspect boxes and bottles labelled with the Lulu Island Winery logo in photo supplied by Chinese state-controlled media (Legaldaily.com.cn)

The couple’s daughter, Amy Chang, 23, has been running Lulu Winery since her parents were arrested.

“This has been a very difficult and emotional year for me,” Chang wrote in a May 19 press release. “As a Canadian company and as Canadian citizens, we have let the Canadian government take the lead on resolving this issue.” She added the allegations “are without merit.”

On Parliament Hill, Ritz claimed the Trudeau Liberals are mishandling the case by treating it as a consular issue, instead of a serious trade dispute.

“The family and the Changs deserve a lot better from the government,” he told MPs. “They constantly get this consular issue dribble that really gets no results. (Chang) has had three visits in the past 13 months from consular officials. That is just not good enough.”

A government briefing prepared by lawyers retained by the couple’s family is also critical of the Trudeau government.

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang with then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2014

Lulu Island winery owner John Chang was invited on a China trade trip in 2014 with then-prime minister, Stephen Harper. (Office of the Prime Minister)

“Lulu Island winery is not aware of any progress or activity to date by the Canadian government in holding China customs to account,” said the briefing, written by the Fasken Martineau law firm. It was delivered to Global Affairs ministry officials earlier this month.

The briefing describes the arrests of Chang and Lu as “outrageous and unconscionable … a gross violation of personal liberty and security.”

The briefing paper hints the couple became a target of Chinese wrath because they maintained their innocence.

“Many other foreign wineries…were similarly charged but released shortly after admitting to the under–reporting and paying…fines.” it says. “Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu denied violating Chinese rules and were subsequently denied bail.”

The briefing paper also warned that the conviction rate in China for criminal offences is nearly 100 per cent.

Family of girl who died after hours in hot SUV ‘shocked’ at unlicensed daycare-owner’s sentence

The family of a little girl who died after some seven hours in a hot SUV say they are “shocked” at the 22-month sentence handed down to the owner of an unlicensed Vaughan daycare on Friday.

“It is difficult to understand the sentence,” the lawyer for the family of two-year-old Eva Ravikovich said in a statement. “No penalty will ever bring back their little girl nor will it erase the horror that Eva suffered and the pain and loss they feel each and every day.”

Olena Panfilova pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death at a trial in April.

At her sentencing hearing Friday, the child’s mother Ekaterina Evtropova delivered a victim impact statement, in which she described the devastation of the loss.

Just metres away from Panfilova, Evtropova told the court that she’s battled isolation, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since losing Eva.

“The moment it happened, my happy life stopped,” she said, adding that the loss “completely ruined her life.”

Evtropova said she was also racked with guilt in the nearly four years since the incident, after Panfilova claimed that Eva died of an undetermined medical problem in her crib during a nap.

“How could I have missed the symptoms?” she remembered asking herself.

At her trial in April, Panfilova admitted that she had in fact left Eva in the back of her SUV on a July morning, not returning for her until the afternoon, when temperatures inside the vehicle were determined to have eclipsed 50 C, causing deadly heat stroke.

“Not knowing what happened was torture,” Evtropova told the court.

The sentence

In his submission to the court, the Crown attorney argued that Panfilova’s decision to uphold that lie for years should factor into her sentencing, as should the irresponsibility of running a crowded, unlicensed operation.

Panfilova and her daughter were found to be caring for 35 children on the day of Eva’s death. In-home daycares are supposed to limited to five children. With the caretakers spread so thin, the Crown said Eva’s death was “inevitable.”

Olena Panfilova

Olena Panfilova apologized to Eva’s parents and said the death is a burden she will carry for the rest of her life. (CBC)

Panfilova’s lawyer disagreed, describing Eva’s death as a negligent accident, instead.

Before the judge left to make his decision, Panfilova herself briefly addressed the court. Through a Russian interpreter, she apologized to Eva’s parents and said she “will carry the burden until the end of her days.”

Fentanyl overdoses killed 113 people in Alberta during first 3 months of year

New statistics released by the province Friday show that 113 people died from fentanyl overdoses in the first three months of this year.

The numbers show that the crisis in Alberta continues to grow in both size and scope. By comparison, there were 70 fentanyl-related deaths in the first three months of 2016.

More than 90 per cent of the deaths in the first quarter of 2017 occurred in larger urban municipalities, Alberta Health said.

During that period, 51 overdose deaths were recorded in the Calgary health zone, and 36 in the Edmonton zone.

Alberta Health statistics show that fentanyl, a deadly opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine, has become the leading cause of overdose deaths in the province.

During a 15-month period, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, and end on Mar. 31, 2017, the province has averaged more than one overdose death every day.

In 2016, there were 443 overdose deaths in Alberta. Almost seven in ten, 68 per cent, were caused by fentanyl or another opioid.

The numbers further show that opioids and other drugs resulted in 9,037 emergency room visits in Alberta hospitals. That total represented 6,866 individuals.

fentanyl deaths

This graph breaks down the overdose deaths for 2016 by quarter. (Alberta Health)

Body of teen Josiah Begg found in Thunder Bay, Ont., river

The family of Josiah Begg, the 14-year-old boy who has been missing in Thunder Bay, Ont., for nearly two weeks, says he was the person discovered dead in the McIntyre River on Thursday evening.

Begg was last seen in the city on May 6. He had traveled 600 kilometres to Thunder Bay from the fly-in community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug with his father to access medical services not available in the First Nation.

“What we have been informed by the chief coroner is that while they have yet to do the post-mortem, everything points in the direction it is in fact him,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, after meeting with the family. “The height, the weight. His clothing, his watch, his wallet — everything matches.”

The chief coroner’s office did not confirm Begg’s identification on Friday, saying that arrangements are being made to transport the body pulled from the river to Toronto for autopsy.  A spokesperson said an examination should take place over the weekend but could not confirm when the coroner will officially identify the body.

Begg is the second Indigenous teen to be found dead in the McIntyre River system in less than two weeks — and the seventh Indigenous teen whose body turned up in a river in Thunder Bay since 2000.

On May 7, Tammy Keeash, 17, of North Caribou Lake First Nation was found dead in the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway.

That’s a fact that can’t be ignored, Fiddler said.

“Tammy and Josiah went missing the same evening and that should alarm all of us that there is something definitely wrong in this city and we have to do something about it,” he said.

First Nations leaders held a news conference on Wednesday to voice their concerns about the quick conclusion of the Thunder Bay police that Keeash had drowned.

Josiah Begg

First Nations people gathered on the banks of the McIntyre River on Thursday evening as news spread a body had been found during the search for 14-year-old Josiah Begg. (Martine Laberge/Radio-Canada)

At the same gathering, Begg’s mother, Sunshine Winter talked about her bright, outgoing son and pleaded for his safe return home.

Earlier in the week, Thunder Bay police had discouraged First Nations volunteers from searching the river for Begg, saying there was “no evidence” the boy was in the water.

Ontario Provincial Police dive teams and a helicopter arrived in Thunder Bay Wednesday to begin their search for the teen after being contacted by city police. A number of volunteers have also spent the past 13 days searching.

Those efforts were noted on Friday by Mike McKay, one of Josiah Begg’s grandfathers.

“We had hoped for a better outcome but it wasn’t meant to be,” he said. “I just want to thank everyone for helping us out.”