Honouring the dead Indigenous children and NHL showdown: In The News for May 31

·8 min read

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 31 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — Flags on federal buildings should be flown at half-mast in honour of the 215 children whose remains were found at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.

Trudeau said on social media that his request includes the Peace Tower flag, and comes as communities across the country dedicate tributes to the children. Some called for a national day of mourning.

"To honour the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families, I have asked that the Peace Tower flag and flags on all federal buildings be flown at half-mast," Trudeau said in a statement.

The children's remains were located using ground-penetrating radar last weekend at the site in British Columbia's Interior.

Trudeau's flag call came as plans were being made to identify and return home the remains.

Last week, Chief Rosanne Casimir, of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia, said the discovery of the children, some as young as three years old, is an "unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented" at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

She said more bodies might be found because there were more areas to search on the grounds.

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Also this ...

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A First Nations teacher says the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried at the site of a former residential school in B.C. is a triggering event for students who regularly learn about the history of wrongs against Indigenous people.

Rick Joe said a provincewide kindergarten-to-Grade 12 curriculum includes lessons on everything from respect for First Nations culture to the legacy of residential schools and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, so students hearing about the remains found in Kamloops will need support.

"This is very triggering. I have been asking for our school counsellors, for administrators and for youth care workers to take that extra time to check in on the Indigenous members," he said Sunday.

Joe is particularly concerned about First Nations foster children who are overrepresented in the child welfare system and include those whose families were forcibly taken to residential schools like the one in Kamloops, the largest such facility in Canada until 1969, when its operations were transferred from the Catholic Church to the federal government. The facility was then run as a day school until it was closed in 1978.

Joe, who is a high school teacher in Chilliwack and works with First Nations students, said he has seen the sadness of generations of racism turned into anger among those he mentors.

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And this ...

OTTAWA — Canada is set to receive 2.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this week thanks in large part to an increase in planned deliveries from pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and BioNTech.

The two companies had been delivering about two million shots per week through the month of May, but will increase that to 2.4 million doses per week starting today.

The federal government says the remaining 500-thousand shots due to arrive this week are from Moderna, which will deliver the jabs in two separate shipments.

The first will arrive in the middle of the week while the second is due for delivery on the weekend.

The doses are then set for distribution to provinces and territories next week.

The government is also expecting another million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of June, though a detailed delivery schedule has not been confirmed.

On Saturday, Health Canada extended the expiry date for some 49-thousand doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Any shots that were originally supposed to expire today can now be used until July 1.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

AUSTIN, Texas — Democrats pulled off a dramatic, last-ditch walkout in the Texas House of Representatives on Sunday night to block one of the most restrictive voting laws in the U.S. from passing before a midnight deadline.

The sudden revolt torpedoed the sweeping measure known as Senate Bill 7, which would have reduced polling hours, empowered poll watchers and scaled back ways to vote in Texas, which is already has some of the nation's strictest voting laws.

For Democrats, the victory may be fleeting: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who had declared new voting laws in Texas a priority, quickly announced that he would order lawmakers back to the state Capitol for a special session. He did not, however, say when that would happen.

“We’ve said for so many years that we want more people to participate in our democracy. And it just seems that’s not the case,” Democratic state Rep. Carl Sherman said.

Less than 24 hours earlier, the bill seemed all but guaranteed to reach Abbott's desk. The Texas Senate had approved the measure in a vote before sunrise, after Republicans used a bare-knuckle procedural move to suspend the rules and take up the measure in the middle of the night during the Memorial Holiday weekend.

Under revisions during closed-door negotiations, Republicans added language that could make it easier for a judge to overturn an election and pushed back the start of Sunday voting, when many Black churchgoers head to the polls.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

JERUSALEM — A former ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will seek to form a coalition government with the Israeli leader's opponents, taking a major step toward ending the rule of the longtime premier.

The dramatic announcement Sunday by Naftali Bennett, leader of the small hardline Yamina party, set the stage for a series of steps that could push Netanyahu and his dominant Likud party into the opposition in the coming week.

While Bennett and his new partners, headed by opposition leader Yair Lapid, still face some obstacles, the sides appeared to be serious about reaching a deal and ending the deadlock that has plunged the country into four elections in the past two years.

The pair have until Wednesday to complete a deal in which each is expected to serve two years as prime minister in a rotation deal, with Bennett holding the job first. Lapid's Yesh Atid party said negotiating teams were to meet later Sunday.

Bennett, a former top aide to Netanyahu who has held senior Cabinet posts, shares the prime minister's hard-line ideology. He is a former leader of the West Bank settlement movement and heads a small party whose base includes religious and nationalist Jews. Yet he has had a strained and complicated relationship with his one-time mentor due to personal differences.

In his own televised statement, Netanyahu accused Bennett of betraying the Israeli right wing and urged nationalist politicians not to join what he called a “leftist government.”

Netanyahu is desperate to stay in power while he is on trial for corruption. He has used his office as a stage to rally his base and lash out against police, prosecutors and the media.

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In Sports ...

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to exorcise some post-season demons tonight when they host the Montreal Canadiens in a winner-take-all Game 7 of their North Division playoff series.

Toronto has lost six post-season series in a row since beating the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the NHL playoffs in 2004.

The underdog Habs have won two consecutive overtime games to set the stage for Game 7.

The lone previous Game 7 between the Original Six rivals came in 1964 when Dave Keon had a hat trick to lead Toronto to a 3-1 win at the Montreal Forum.

Toronto has lost seven straight contests where it could have eliminated an opponent. That includes six since 2018 with the core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

The Canadiens finished 18 points behind the first-place Leafs in this year's 56-game campaign. The winner of the series faces the Winnipeg Jets in the North Division final, which will start Wednesday.

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ICYMI ...

Canadians are in no rush to head back to the office even as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline across the country, a new survey suggests.

A recent poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies has found that 82 per cent of Canadian respondents who have worked from home during the pandemic have found the experience to be very or somewhat positive, while just 20 per cent want to return to the office every day.

Only 17 per cent described working from home as somewhat or very negative.

Almost 60 per cent of those surveyed said they would prefer to return to the office part-time or occasionally, while 19 per cent said they never want to go back.

The top three reasons for preferring to continue to work from home were convenience, saving money and increased productivity.

Some 35 per cent of those surveyed in Canada agreed with the statement "If my superiors ordered me to go back to the office, I would start to look for another job where I can work from home."

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2021

The Canadian Press

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