What’s killing fish in Okanagan Lake? Province says viral outbreak, weather changes may be cause

Thermal shock or disease could be factors into a recent kokanee die-off in Okanagan lake that has some residents concerned.

“We headed out on the lake and noticed the kill off of these fish which [and] we were quite alarmed. It’s the first time we’ve seen in it in our 10 years of boating,” West Kelowna resident Scott Thresher said.

“There are about six-inch kokanee and they’re right across the lake, both sides and in masses and we’ve never seen it before.”

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    Thresher said he was boating on the lake near the West Kelowna Yacht Club when he saw hundreds of dead fish.

    “Of course you immediately think that the lake has been poisoned or something but then we realized that it was just this particular species of fish and nothing else was floating at the top,” Thresher said.

    The province said sudden changes in water temperature or a viral outbreak could be why more than 1,000 kokanee have washed up on the shores of the lake since Thursday.

    “While biologists have yet to pinpoint what is causing the kokanee deaths, previous die offs in Okanagan Lake and elsewhere have been associated with strong winds that can send warm surface water deeper into the lake,” public affairs officer for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Greig Bethel said in a news release.

    One of the dead fish that washed up on the shore of Okanagan Lake.

    Dan Couch/Global News

    Bethel said tissue samples are being analyzed by staff at a fish health lab in Duncan  to find out if disease was a factor in the recent kokanee deaths.

    “Die-offs in other lakes have been linked to the infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus – IHNV,” he said.

    While the numbers of dead fish that are washing up on valley shores is alarming to some, Bethel said the die-off won’t have a large impact on the lake’s overall kokanee population.

    “Last year, biologists counted more than 336,500 spawning kokanee on the lake, the most since annual counts began in 1992,” he said.

    ~ With files from Blaine Gaffney

Canadian arts and culture sites welcome Pokemon Go players

TORONTO – The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a place of reverence and inspiration, a sombre examination of past atrocities, and a touching tribute to humanity’s capacity to persevere.

It’s also a place to catch those cute, candy-coloured pocket monsters from Pokemon Go, boasts Maureen Fitzhenry, a spokeswoman for the Winnipeg museum that’s welcoming eager Pokemon hunters to visit and explore — as long as they remain respectful of sometimes sensitive surroundings.

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    The museum’s “Garden of Contemplation,” an interior space of basalt rock and pools located below a massive glass cloud, has been designated as a “gym” in the Pokemon Go universe, a place where players are encouraged to visit repeatedly to battle and earn in-game currency.

    Given that it’s located within a tickets-only section, Fitzhenry is happy to see gamers come by, even if they end up loitering in obvious disregard to the exhibits.

    “Maybe if people are coming in to play Pokemon they may also then be able to check out our own mobile app and maybe connect with some of our educational moments and inspiring moments as well,” says Fitzhenry.

    “But we really do hope and think that everyone will be respectful in the areas of the museum that house sensitive subject matter and where a respectful demeanour is appropriate.”

    READ MORE: Vancouver man’s anti-Pokemon Go rant goes viral

    It’s a similar story over at the Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, also known as the National Cemetery of Canada, where those laid to rest include former prime ministers, Canadian Forces members and everyday citizens.

    Cemetery president Roger Boult says players have been respectful so far, and as long as that continues he welcomes Pokemon fans to wander the park-like grounds.

    “We have a mausoleum, we have a chapel, but it’s open to the public,” Boult notes. “If there are Pokemon in there, that’s OK. Come in and have a look.”

    The augmented-reality mobile game is all about capturing cartoon monsters that seem to appear in the real world thanks to the game’s GPS and mapping capabilities. Players are encouraged to roam their city to visit so-called Pokestops to collect supplies and visit gyms to battle other players.

    READ MORE: How to play Pokemon Go

    Its popularity appears to be giving some arts and culture sites an added boost during the tourist season, and Boult hoped interest in his museum will extend beyond the summer months.

    “We don’t want to restrict people from coming in. We want people to come in and walk around and if they’re watching their screen more than they’re looking at the flowers and the trees and the birds and the wildlife, well, all right, that’s OK too.”

    Even the sacred BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, a Hindu temple that demands silence among visitors and bans sleeveless tops and shorts, wouldn’t stop players from hunting Pokemon in public areas, says a spokesman.

    But he also said staff haven’t noticed an influx of Pokemon players yet, and simply attributed any general uptick in visitors to the tourist season.

    One exception to the generally warm welcome for Pokemon fans has come from Corrections Canada, which tweeted a warning that players refrain from hunting at Stony Mountain Institution, a federal prison in Manitoba where players were apparently seen on the grounds.

    Pokemon characters have also been spotted in Canadian police stations and hospitals, prompting polite requests that players stay safe, alert and respectful of their surroundings.

    WATCH: Are you playing Pokemon GO? Everyone else is

    It’s been a different story elsewhere, with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia both explicitly asking visitors not to play the game there.

    Spokespeople at both locations said they were trying to have their sites removed from the game, deeming it “extremely inappropriate” for such hallowed grounds.

    There have also been concerns about Pokemon fans playing at the former German death camp Auschwitz and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

    But there’s undeniably shrewd marketing opportunities to be had for businesses looking to attract the smartphone-toting players.

    READ MORE: Pokemon Go players can now hire a chauffeur in Vancouver

    In the U.S., several small businesses have purchased in-app lures that effectively draw potential customers in search of Pokemon.

    Meanwhile, Toronto businesses are all over 桑拿会所 with posts about their Pokemon connections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Toronto Zoo, and countless stores and restaurants touting cute creatures waiting for capture.

    A Facebook group for Pokemon Go fans was advertising a “harbourfront lure party” where players can capture the pocket monsters en masse, while the CN Tower was promoting a Pokemon Go party on Monday night.

    WATCH: Pokemon frenzy hits Toronto as game officially launches in Canada

Owner fights to get horse back from Ontario sanctuary accused of neglect

Out of all the horses at an auction, a large Clydesdale caught Jess Fobert’s eye.

She was intent on rescuing a horse, and the seriously underweight but sweet-natured giant named Encore seemed perfect.

Fobert purchased Encore and gave the critically ill horse a second chance at life.

“I promised him I would look out for him for the rest of his days,” she told Global News.

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READ MORE: Ontario horse sanctuary accused of animal neglect

In the months that followed, Fobert even documented Encore’s journey back to health for a TV series called “Free Rein.”

Then, after sifting through dozens of adoption applications, she chose to adopt him out to Whisper Ridge Ranch, which was billed as a horse sanctuary near Peterborough.

In March 2015, she said she dropped the robust horse off —; but returned four months later to a horse that had changed completely.

“That’s when I first saw how terrible Encore looked,” said Fobert. “At that point he had lost a lot of weight.”

WATCH: Ontario horse sanctuary accused of neglect

Fobert said she tried to take him home but claimed the farm owner, Sandra Reed, repeatedly refused to let her and even padlocked Encore in.

In October, Fobert said she told the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that horses on the property were starving, adding she made another report in December.

She wasn’t the only one with concerns.

A woman who rented a room at the farm said she feared for all the horses, especially Encore.

“He pretty much looked like a skeleton with some skin and horse hair draped over him,” said Tori Black.

READ MORE: Dog may have been beaten to death in Toronto-area park: OSPCA

Black is one of two women who said they approached the OSPCA in March with pictures of emaciated horses and also provided a video of a horse thrashing about as it lay dying.

But she said she still received nothing from the OSPCA.

Meanwhile, Fobert had launched a legal battle to get Encore back, assisted by a paralegal who felt compelled to help after seeing photos of the horse.

“Ms. Reed should not have animals. There are serious, serious cases of abuse,” Mark Greco told Global News.

Finally, after her day in a Peterborough court, a judge declared Fobert is Encore’s rightful owner under the terms of the adoption agreement and provided a court order for immediate possession.

READ MORE: Bowmanville Zoo to close after former director charged with animal cruelty offences

“Tears of joy and relief absolutely, the horse has fought so hard to survive,” she said on her way out of the courthouse. “He’s been so patient waiting for us.”

Within hours, two OPP vehicles escorted Fobert onto the property.

“I’m terrified to know what he looks like,” said Fobert, who had not seen the horse firsthand since December.

But after several minutes they left, without Encore.

The horse had been moved to another property.

READ MORE: OSPCA investigation after discovery of animal remains is 2nd for same individuals

With the support of police, Fobert headed down the road to a nearby farm.

Then, from around the side of a large barn the horse emerged, with a whinny.

Emaciated, but alive, Encore was timid and moved slowly, then nibbled at treats used to lure him onto the trailer.

The woman whose farm he had been moved to thought she was rescuing the horse, unaware of his ownership.

“The allegations are false,” wrote Reed an in an emailed response to multiple interview requests.

READ MORE: Grisly discovery on Grey County farm prompts OSPCA investigation

She suggested any problems were the fault of a former employee.

“Our standard of care has since been inspected and approved by the OSPCA,” wrote Reed.

The OSPCA could not confirm those details and would only say that an investigation is underway.

Reed requested further inquiries be sent to her lawyer.

But Fobert has her horse back.

“I knew he was going to wait for me, its good,” she said, adding that although this battle was for Encore, now the fight is for the other horses left behind.

Pilot in Alberta airshow crash remembered as humble and happy

COLD LAKE, Alta. – A pilot killed during an airshow in Alberta on Sunday is being remembered as someone who had a passion for planes.

Pilot and geologist Bruce Evans died when his vintage Trojan T-28 aircraft crashed in front of thousands of spectators at the Cold Lake Airshow.

His friend Dave O’Malley says Evans was incredibly humble and loved to share his passion for aviation with young people.

O’Malley says he met Evans many years ago when they were flying with young cadets as part of a training program to teach youth about Canada’s aviation history.

Watch below: The Wetaskiwin Air Show was dedicated to Calgary pilot Bruce Evans on Wednesday. Evans died during a performance at the Cold Lake Air Show over the weekend. Nancy Carlson has more.

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    O’Malley says Evans was an experienced pilot with over 4,100 hours of flying time and the crash was a shock to many who knew him.

    The Transportation Safety Board says the cause of the crash is still unknown and an investigation at the Canadian Forces base is underway.

    READ MORE: ‘He just nosedived straight down’: witness to deadly plane crash at Alberta air show 

    According to the air show’s website, Evans, who is also known by the name “Frac,” was a geologist who works around the world in the field of resources exploration. His bio says he grew up in an Air Force family and his father spent time as an aircraft maintenance engineer as well as a radar specialist.

    WATCH: The Cold Lake Air Show was cancelled Sunday after a fatal plane crash during a pilot’s performance. Quinn Ohler has the details.

    Evans attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. and according to his bio, the family’s Cessna 172 – a small aircraft – was used to travel to and from university.

    The air show’s website says Evans bought a T-28B Trojan in 2007 and that the plane he bought was built in 1955.

    Pilot Bruce Evans is shown in the cockpit of his T-28 Trojan aircraft.

    CREDIT: Peter Handley/长沙夜生活vintagewings长沙夜网

    A photo of pilot Bruce Evans. CFB Cold Lake says he did not survive a plane crash at the Cold Lake Air Show on July 17, 2016.

    CREDIT: Peter Handley/长沙夜生活vintagewings长沙夜网

    CFB Cold Lake says pilot Bruce Evans, from Calgary, did not survive a crash at the Cold Lake Air Show on July 17, 2016.

    CREDIT: 长沙桑拿按摩论坛长沙夜生活coldlakeairshow长沙桑拿

    With files from Global News

Pokemon Go players find naked woman vandalising Connecticut church

Two young men playing Pokemon Go were led to the prayer garden of a Roman Catholic church last week in Westport, Conn., according to police. But instead of finding the mystical creatures, they came across a naked woman who was vandalizing the property.

READ MORE: Can’t stop playing Pokemon Go? How not to burn through your data plan

Westport Police told the Connecticut Post that the naked woman in the garden had pulled lights from the ground, overturned a statue and benches and was throwing garbage from her car into a baptismal pond.

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“She was a 40-something-year-old female, completely naked, going through a psychotic episode,” Lt. David Farrell told News 12.

The woman was not arrested but sent to a local hospital for evaluation instead.

The church’s pastor, Msgr. Andy Varga, said he felt “sadness” for the woman.

“Clearly, this is not a well individual,” he said. “We hope she gets well. Whatever it is that caused this in her, clearly it needs attention.”

Sister Maureen Fleming, the church’s outreach coordinator, told the Post that the damage done to the church is “all very fixable.”

READ MORE: ‘Gotta catch’em all’: Two Pokemon Go users arrested for breaking into Toledo Zoo

On Facebook, the church wrote: “This poor tormented woman came to church. How beautiful. All are welcome. Although the world will see destruction and sickness, we can see the Lord working to bring a soul home.”

On Sunday afternoon, the hugely popular mobile game was released in Canada. Excited players overloaded the servers in just an hour.

– With files from the Associated Press

Follow @jennynotjen

What are ‘sovereign citizens’? Baton Rouge shooter joined anti-government group, changed name

Gavin Long, the gunman who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge in an ambush-style attack, identified with an anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement who don’t believe they’re subject to federal and state laws, including paying taxes or getting a driver’s license.

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The 29-year-old resident of Kansas City, Missouri, filed documents in May 2015 declaring himself a member of the United Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah, a group that believes black people were the original inhabitants of the U.S. and changed his name to “Cosmo Setepenra,” according to court records obtained by the Kansas City Star.

READ MORE: Gunman ‘was seeking out’ police in ‘ambush’ on 6 officers

So-called sovereign citizens believe themselves to be above the laws of  the land say experts, and have a history of violent confrontations with police.

“[Sovereign citizens] is a social and political group or movement who believe in a variety of conspiracy theories and worldviews that the government is a hostile entity that is out to essentially take away the rights and privileges of law abiding citizens such as themselves,” David Hofmann, an assistant professor of Sociology at University of New Brunswick told Global News.

“A lot of [sovereign citizens] pick and choose what they want to believe, but the overarching theme is they want to disconnect themselves from what they see as a hostile federal or state government.”

WATCH: Baton Rouge shooter calls for ‘bloodshed’ in YouTube video made prior to his death

In various social media posts linked to accounts under the name “Cosmo Setepenra,” Long discussed his anger at the recent killing of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police and argued African-Americans should utilize force, not peaceful protests to fight “oppression.”

“100 percent of revolutions, of victims fighting their oppression, from victims fighting their bullies, 100 percent have been successful through fighting back, through bloodshed,” he said in a video

READ MORE: What we know about gunman Gavin Long who killed 3 police officers

Sovereign-citizens have been classified by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Southern Poverty Law Center as extremists, with the FBI labelling them as a “domestic terrorist movement.”

A 2013-2014 survey by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, found that law enforcement agencies perceived the sovereign-citizens movement as the top threat in the U.S., ahead of jihadists.

In recent years there have been several law enforcement officers killed during traffic stops with those identifying themselves as “sovereign citizens.”

In 2012, two deputies were killed and two more wounded in Louisiana after a shootout with several heavily armed suspects tied to the “sovereign citizens” ideology. And in 2010, sovereign citizen Jerry Kane, together with his son Joseph Kane, died in a shootout with police after killing two cops in Arkansas.

Sovereign citizens connected to Freeman-on-the-land?

WATCH ABOVE: Police dispatch calls reveal frantic moments following shooting in Baton Rouge

A similar ideology exists in Canada known as Freeman-on-the-land. It originated in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, and members of the movement believe they can declare themselves sovereign by cutting all ties with government.

“[Freemen] use pseudo legal documentation and ritualistic behaviour to ‘sever’ themselves from the government,” said Hofmann, who has studied the freeman movement in Canada. “They believe that one has to consent in order to be governed.”

Members of the Freemen movement argue that by opting out of things like health cards and social insurance numbers they are exempt from government laws.

READ MORE: Alberta justice minister says he has ‘had it’ with Freeman-on-the-Land movement

A declassified 2012 report from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), described freemen as extremists capable of serious domestic terrorism.

CSIS estimated there were 30,000 freemen in Canada, although Hofmann disputes that number saying it likely includes sympathizers and not just active members.

Hofmann says while the majority of Freeman don’t directly pose a threat to national security there are a few members of the “radical fringe who engage in violence.”

Last year, Norman Raddatz shot and killed Const. Daniel Woodall, and wounded Sgt. Jason Harley in Edmonton before setting fire to his home.

In 2012, two RCMP officers were shot in Killam, Alberta after two men, Bradford Clarke and his nephew Sawyer Robison, refused to allow the RCMP to execute a search warrant for a handgun and opened fire on the officers at the scene.

CAMH pleads guilty to workplace safety charge after beating of nurse, fined $80K

TORONTO – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health was fined $80,000 Monday after pleading guilty to failing to implement procedures to protect a nurse from workplace violence.

It was one of four workplace safety charges against CAMH related to an incident in January 2014 at a facility in Toronto, where a nurse was beaten by a patient. The three other charges were withdrawn by the Ministry of Labour.

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Line Forestier, the lawyer representing the ministry, said in an agreed statement of facts that the nurse was working the night shift when she was attacked.

READ MORE: CAMH faces 4 charges in nurse’s beating

She said the nurse was out patrolling the halls alone, when a patient grabbed her from behind, pushed her to the floor and beat her. As a result of the attack, the nurse suffered a fracture to her eye socket, impaired vision and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The nurse was wearing an alarm around her neck called a “screamer,” Forestier read from the statement. But those alarms work by emitting a loud noise – they aren’t hardwired into the building’s communications system – and don’t automatically trigger a building-wide alert.

Forestier said that a second nurse came to the first nurse’s aid, and she now also suffers from PTSD related to the incident.

Neither of the nurses have been able to return to work in the two-and-a-half years since the incident, court heard.

READ MORE: Union claims staff cuts partly to blame for patient beating of nurse

Rob Little, the attorney representing CAMH, noted that since the incident, the procedure surrounding night patrols has changed. Now nurses patrol the halls in pairs, rather than individually.

Ontario Court Judge Robert Bigelow ordered CAMH to pay a fine of $80,000.

The Ministry of Labour had asked for a fine of $100,000.

Representatives from the Ontario Nurses Association and Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the unions that represent nurses at CAMH, said they weren’t happy with the ruling.

They said that the hospital should have been fined the maximum allowed by the law – $500,000 per charge.

Dr. Rani Srivastava, chief of nursing at CAMH, said in a written statement that the incident had a “devastating impact” on “all of us at CAMH.”

“We deeply regret that we failed to meet our obligations for workplace safety, and that our valued staff members were injured.”

Gambling on U.S. election is most popular novelty betting in B.C.

With the Republican Party Convention kicking off today, American politics is one of the hottest conversation topics on social media, but it’s also becoming a popular gambling ground here in B.C.

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Americans don’t get to vote until November, but U.S. election bets are already the most popular novelty betting category on the BC Lottery Corporation’s website PlayNow长沙桑拿.

Doug Cheng with BCLC says only B.C. residents get to bet on anything from the gender of the next Royal baby to who is going to play the next James Bond on their website, which is the only legal gambling online portal in the province.

“With novelty betting, we try to tap into water cooler topics and current events that people either are talking about or we think they will talk about,” says Cheng. “So if we know people are talking about a certain topic, we want to give them an outlet to be proactive and have some fun with it as well, and these wagers are a way for us to do that.”

Cheng says BCLC was the first jurisdiction in Canada to offer novelty betting on the U.S. Election in 2014 through its website.

He says since then, the popularity of the bets has steadily increased, especially as Donald Trump gained momentum at the turn of the year when he started to solidify his status as the front-runner.

READ MORE: Donald Trump completes sweep; declares himself ‘presumptive nominee’

“The timing just worked out great for us with the convention coming up today and also the fact that Trump is such a contentious candidate that it’s an ongoing water cooler topic,” says Cheng.

PlayNow长沙桑拿 has a number of wagers on the U.S. elections, ranging from who will be the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate to whether an independent candidate will win the election.

Currently, Hillary Clinton has the edge over Donald Trump with 2 to 5 odds.

Trump’s odds of winning the presidency are currently slightly under 2 to 1. Cheng says Trump’s odds have vastly improved from his odds of 100 to 1 in January 2015.

The site also offered betting on Brexit vote results, but has not dabbled in Canadian politics yet.

“I think in general, Canadians pay a lot of attention to American politics, because obviously what happens there politically has an impact on us here,” says Cheng. “Someone would even argue that American politics is more interesting than Canadian politics anyway. We also have a candidate like Donald Trump, who dominates headlines with things he says and does. That definitely has been a big driver for us.”

Bail denied for controversial Edmonton landlord facing more charges

Abudullah Shah, also known as Carmen Pervez, was arrested Friday and charged with a slew of offences, including careless use of a firearm.

Edmonton police executed a search warrant on a property near 93 Street and 111 Avenue on Friday afternoon.

Ammunition, an edged weapon and stolen property were found and seized, EPS said.

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    Shah was arrested and charged with two counts of careless use of a firearm, possession of an offensive weapon dangerous to the public, two counts of possession of stolen property under $5,000 and three counts of breaching recognizance.

    READ MORE: Stop work order issued to Edmonton hookah bar, site of New Year’s shooting

    Tuesday morning, Shah was denied bail.

    Several community members attended the bail hearing.

    “Jail is where he belongs,” McCauley resident David Williamson said. “I don’t think he should be out on the street on bail.”

    Williamson lives a few doors down from one of Shah’s properties.

    “I’ve been threatened and intimidated by his associates,” Williamson added.

    READ MORE: Edmonton landlord, 2 others face charges after nearly 2 pounds of meth seized  

    Earlier this year, the landlord was charged with numerous drug offences.

    After a drug seizure in April at the same address, Shah was charged with five counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of stolen property over $5,000.

    At that time, police seized two pounds of meth, hundreds of pills, as well as roughly $8,600 in cash. The street value of the drugs was estimated to be over $96,000.

    “I’ve witnessed first hand the effects – the detrimental effects – on a community and his tenants,” Williamson said on Tuesday.

    “It’s a cancer within our community.”

    READ MORE: Edmonton landlord with criminal past facing list of drug charges 

    The EPS raided the same address in December 2015. Neighbours had been filing complaints about the property for months.

    Shah was previously convicted in a $30-million mortgage fraud.

    He is a landlord for dozens of properties in Edmonton’s inner city – some of which have been the source of public concern and complaints.

    A stop work order was issued for Eclipse Hookah Lounge on 93 Street and 111 Avenue after a 25-year-old was fatally shot there on Jan. 1, 2016.

Dozens of Lindsay inmates urge inquest into detainee’s mysterious death

Eighty-eight immigration detainees held as inmates at the maximum-security Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. have signed a petition urging a coroner’s inquest into the mysterious death of a prisoner in June.

Starting on June 21, detainees at the Lindsay jail started to circulate a petition to Ontario’s chief coroner calling for an inquest into the death of Abdurahman Hassan, a Somali-Canadian detainee, ten days before. It seemed like the only tool to shed light on what happened to him, activists who work with them explain.

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They were careful not to let the guards notice.

Activists who published the petition said that it was shared between four ranges that are “effectively cut off from each other” by inmates who do work in the jail, and was eventually smuggled out.

“The cleaners and the servers had a huge role to play in passing the petition around, because oftentimes, especially in the summer, all the detainees are on lockdown because a lot of the guards take time off,” explains immigration detention activist Mina Ramos.

“They pretended they were sending a legal document to a paralegal we have connections with, and very luckily it got through.”

Detainees’ names are censored in the public copy of the petition because they were uneasy about the reaction in countries they may be deported to, Ramos explains:

“Some of these individuals are coming from countries where they were already in danger. We have people who visit our Web site internationally. We don’t know who’s looking, and some of these individuals don’t want people back home, in case they get deported, knowing who they are and what they are doing.”

Immigration detention activist Tings Chak dropped the petition off at Ontario correctional minister Yasir Naqvi’s office in Toronto Monday.

“With the CBSA, an agency that has zero oversight, a coroner’s inquest is one of the only accountability measures that might be available,” she said.

“It’s clear that there are very few accountability mechanisms in place when we see deaths happen.”


 Abdurahman Hassan

Hassan had an overwhelming list of problems.

Almost nothing has been made public about the 39-year-old Somali-Canadian immigration detainee’s death in a Peterborough, Ont. hospital on June 11, but transcripts of Hassan’s detention hearings offer a glimpse into a life in shreds.

Hassan was bipolar, and several of his lawyers doubted whether he understood what they were trying to explain, or whether he was competent to make decisions. He had a history of suicide attempts, which at one point involved eating feces. He also had insulin-dependent diabetes and asthma.

He also had a long and serious criminal record.

His crimes, in due course, had led to a deportation order, and in the meantime meant that immigration detention hearings refused to release him. His mental illness, on the other hand, made him impossible to deport.

So he sat in the Lindsay jail for three years with no real way out, undeportable, unreleasable – and, lawyer Ben Liston told a detention hearing in May, getting steadily sicker.

“Mr. Hassan … only has sporadic access to psychiatric professionals, no access to therapy or programming or mental health services, and where his condition has noticeably deteriorated over the past years and months.”

Liston pressed unsuccessfully for Hassan to be sent to a jail in Brockville, Ont. that is also a psychiatric hospital. He would not comment for the record for this story.

Ontario’s correctional ministry wouldn’t say why Hassan wasn’t removed from the jail for mental health care.

“We cannot speak to the specifics of this or any case, and are not in a position to release personal information of this nature for any current or former inmate,” spokesperson Brent Ross said. “In general, the Ministry works very hard to ensure that inmates that require medical assistance receive the care and treatment that they need, as they would in the community.”

At a March immigration detention hearing that in theory offered him a chance at freedom, he ranted strangely about birds.

At the hearing, Hassan referred to himself as “a person with mental issues that is struggling.”

Immigration officials asked whether he understood basic facts about the hearing, and the answers were not reassuring.

Fellow inmates remember Hassan as someone who was profoundly unable to cope in jail. They describe a person who was not able to walk normally, bore facial scars from attacks from other inmates, was in and out of solitary confinement – which made his mental illness worse – and suffered from untreated sleep apnea which at one point forced a cellmate to wake him up to 20 times a night.

READ MORE: Detainee who died last week had diabetes, asthma, severe mental illness

Suddenly, on June 11 – the third anniversary of his detention – Hassan was dead. The little that is publicly known about his death is summarized in a terse press release from Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit – that an unnamed 39-year-old man had died in hospital in Peterborough after being restrained by OPP and Peterborough city police officers.

The SIU’s investigation is ongoing, spokesperson Monica Hudon said in an e-mail.

The CBSA’s own release about Hassasn’s death contained almost no information.

Little is known about deaths in immigration detention, compared, for example, to the federal prison system, which will release a name and a few details when an inmate dies.

The CBSA only recently started making any kind of public statement when a detainee died. Last fall, Global News reporter Leslie Young had to scour records and file a series of access-to-information requests to compile what is apparently a fairly complete list of detainees who have died in custody.

Young’s research shows a CBSA detainee death where nothing is publicly known other than that it happened at some point after December of 2003:

Basic facts about the death of Lucia Vega Jiménez, a detainee whose suicide led to a B.C. coroner’s inquest, started to leak out only about a month after she died.

Earlier this month, Ontario’s correctional ministry denied an access-to-information request filed by Global News asking for documents connected to Hassan’s death, citing 13 different statutory grounds. These included a clause barring records from release if they “relate to labour relations or the employment of a person by an institution.”

Hassan’s long stretches in solitary confinement were bad for his mental health, remembers Muhammad Aqeeq Ansari, a Pakistani immigration detainee in Lindsay.

“You could see cut marks on his cheeks – those are marks from when you get into fights in prison. People make shanks out of different things, lunch boxes, make them into knives and cut each other to leave a mark that ‘This is what I did to you.’”

“It seemed like he was somebody who couldn’t make sense of what was going on around him,” Ansari said.

“The last time I saw him, he was in the yard for a few minutes, and he just told me to pray for him. You could just see him raising his hands, and saying ‘Pray for me’ – that’s it. That was a couple of months ago.”