Category Archives: European community

Richmond’s Newcomers Guide now available in Russian as well

Alexandra Megynskaya and her daughter are having fun settling into life in Richmond

It’s perhaps a year too late for Alexandra Megynskaya, who moved her life to Richmond from Magadan in eastern Russia a little more than 12 months ago.

But finally getting her hands on the Russian version of Richmond’s Newcomers Guide will come in very useful nonetheless.

Now available along with its English, Chinese, Filipino and Punjabi counterparts, the Russian guide was officially launched at city hall last week.

Having browsed through the new Russian guide, Megynskaya said the content is exactly what all new immigrants  need to know when they arrive to start a new life in Canada. Continue reading

BROSSARD, QC.: Nikolas Stefanatos pleads guilty in acid attack case

Brossard man pleaded guilty in Longueuil court Thursday morning

CBC News Posted: Nov 13, 2014 12:19 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 13, 2014 7:49 PM ET

Nikolas Stefanatos, the Brossard man who sprayed acid on his ex-girlfriend, Tanya St-Arnauld, has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

The plea at the Longueuil courthouse came today — three weeks before Stefanatos’ trial was set to start.

The attack, which happened in August 2012, caused second and third degree burns to St-Arnauld’s face, back, neck and arms.

Stefanatos sprayed St-Arnauld with a household cleaning product containing acid, apparently in a bout of jealous anger.

Stefanatos addressed the court to say he was sorry for what he did.  He apologized to St-Arnauld in front of the judge, adding that he would hug her if he were allowed to.

St-Arnauld reminded the judge of the devastating effect her ex-boyfriend’s actions have had on her life, including suffering from second and third degree burns, being in a medically induced coma and undergoing skin grafts. She said that she now has the skin of a 70-year-old.

Stefanatos is due back in court on Dec. 3 for his sentencing hearing.

Crown prosecutor Erin Kavanagh told CBC that he has already reached an agreement with the defence on a suggested sentence, calling it “significant.”

Stefanatos has been held since the night of his arrest two and a half years ago, and that time served prior to his conviction will count as time-and-a-half once he’s sentenced.

TORONTO: Landlord Andriy Budnyy evicts tenants saying his mother will move in and apparently pay rent

REAL ESTATE

When the landlord asks for your apartment back

DENISE BALKISSOON

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published 

Last updated 

Ginette Lapalme had been living in her apartment at Dufferin and Dundas streets for almost five years when her landlord asked her to leave. He and his wife were expecting a baby, he said, and his mother-in-law would be moving into the space.

Lapalme and her boyfriend, Patrick Kyle, hadn’t done anything wrong, but the eviction was his right under the “landlord’s own use” provision of Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act.

“It seemed reasonable,” 27-year-old Lapalme says of the eviction, which happened last January. Still, Lapalme and Kyle, both artists, were a little suspicious. They were paying just $1,150 a month for a huge, five-room apartment with loads of sunlight in a neighbourhood that had gone from dreary to trendy in the time they had been there.

Their landlord, Andriy Budnyy, owned a set of units over adjacent storefronts, some of which were empty. He had just let them move back into the apartment after shuffling them into a smaller unit while he renovated, but had never mentioned his mother-in-law during the process.

“We wrote him a letter asking to stay, because we didn’t really understand,” says Kyle. “But there was no budging.” Instead, Budnyy offered the couple one month’s rent to cover their moving expenses. They reluctantly accepted and left on March 1, 2014. Other long-term tenants were also moving out that day, but neither Kyle nor Lapalme asked them why.

“We were trying not to be paranoid,” says Lapalme, but the two kept an eye on the rental listings. In May, two months after moving, they saw what they had been expecting: an ad for their old apartment on the classifieds site Kijiji. The rent was listed at $2,000, almost twice what they had been paying. “It was infuriating,” says Kyle, 26. They took screenshots of the ad and photos, including a shot of the kitchen with a keyholder nailed to the wall that they had forgotten.

Budnyy, whose first language is Ukrainian, says that it’s his mother, not his mother-in-law, who is planning to move into the unit. “My mother is coming soon. This is life. Everything is a little bit delayed,” he says. He also says that he needed to raise the rent after spending $10,000 on renovating the apartment, and that a lawyer told him he could only do that for a new tenant. “He said: ‘This is your choice, this is your property,’” Budnyy says. “I spent money, I have to return it.

In fact, landlords can apply to the province for permission for a rent increase after renovations; individual landlords may not be aware of this.

In Ontario, “landlord’s own use” is the only no-fault eviction method, the sole way to kick out a tenant without having to collect proof of late payments or excessive noise.

Karen Andrews, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, says that the provision wasn’t used very much in the past, but that a growing number of long-term tenants have recently been told that their landlord plans to move in a spouse, child or caregiver. “Certain neighbourhoods are plagued with this – Little Italy, the Beach, Trinity Bellwoods,” she says.

In many cases the requests are legitimate, and are a trickle-down effect of the runaway housing market. Many homeowners are choosing to maximize the space they already have rather than face bidding wars and the cost of moving. This can mean putting an office or playroom in a former basement apartment.

In other cases, landlords may use this manoeuvre to make false claims and induce tenants to leave.

(…)

Right now, the only way for landlords of older buildings to charge as much as they’d like is to get an entirely new tenant – a prospect that doesn’t seem daunting when rental vacancy in the city is 1.7 per cent.

Claiming the apartment is needed for their own use and issuing tenants the relevant form, number N12, allows them to do this. In 2013, tenants contested N12 forms to Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Board in 1,555 cases. “The statistics do not tell you about the N12s that are given to tenants who do not put up a fight,” Andrews points out.

Most of her clients who win such cases receive token monetary awards, she says. “Even if you win, you’ve lost housing forever.”

(…)

MONTREAL: Immigrants from France invading the city

Montreal’s French invasion: Why immigrants from France are moving in en masse

BENJAMIN SHINGLER

MONTREAL — The Canadian Press

Published 

Last updated 

When Christian Faure moved to Montreal last summer, the renowned chef saw a chance to start fresh in a new city, freed from the constraints of his native France.

Faure opened a pastry shop and cooking school in a renovated 300-year-old greystone on a busy street in Old Montreal.

“It would be totally impossible to open a similar patisserie in a historic quarter in Paris and Lyon,” said Faure, who had a stint as director of the Cordon Bleu chef school in Ottawa before moving to the city. “In Montreal, it’s still possible. It’s a city of arts and theatre, and it encourages young people.”

Faure isn’t alone. Faced with a slumping economy and high unemployment rate back home, the number of French citizens in Montreal has soared in recent years, particularly among the 25-40 age demographic.

These days, the unmistakable accent of the Old Country echoes through the bars and cafés of the city’s trendy Plateau district. Specialty stores offering made-in-France delicacies and pubs that televise French rugby and soccer matches have also recently popped up.

By 2013, nearly 55,000 French citizens were registered at the French consulate in Montreal, up by about 45 per cent from 2005, according to the consulate.

In reality, that number is likely much higher.

A consulate spokesman estimates only about half of the French in Canada register, putting the estimated number of French citizens in Montreal at about 110,000. Toronto and Quebec City are the next most popular destinations, each home to about 10,000 registered French citizens.

The growing French presence in Montreal has even stirred up hints of resentment.

A satirical song called Y’a trop de Français sur le Plateau, which takes jabs at the perceived snobbiness of the French and their love of cigarettes, has been viewed 143,000 times on YouTube. The tune was written by Fred Fresh, a musician who himself hails from France.

Still, many view Montreal as a place of opportunity.

Laure Juilliard moved from Paris seven years ago. Only 22 at the time, she completed a one-year technical program, found a job three weeks later and has lived here ever since.

“There was a sense of freedom – from family, and from France, which is much more traditional and hierarchical,” said Juilliard, now a freelance writer who runs the popular lifestyle blog Une Parisienne à Montréal.

“I felt you could be much more yourself here than in France, and not feel the judgment of others, and even if there is judgment, it’s not necessarily negative.”

It’s unclear how many of these new arrivals will stay for the long haul.

Over the past decade, 30,000 immigrants from France have gained permanent resident status in Quebec, according to the consulate, far below the total number here on temporary student and work-travel visas. But it’s still among the top immigrant countries of origin in Quebec, alongside Algeria, Morocco, China and Haiti.

(…)

WINDSOR, ON.: Kornelia Kurti allegedly used identity of deceased 4 year old girl, Rozalia Kovacs

October 6th, 2014

http://windsorite.ca/2014/10/woman-allegedly-used-identity-of-dead-4-year-old-girl/

Windsor Police have arrested a local woman who allegedly had two separate driver’s licences, one of which was allegedly in the name of a deceased girl 4-year-old.

Police say investigators, along with the Ministry of Transportation, looked into the history of the two names and learned that the woman had a licence in her own name as well as allegedly adopting the identity of a deceased 4 year old girl, Rozalia Kovacs.

The woman had allegedly been using the identity of the deceased girl since 1997.

Kornelia Kurti, 41, is facing numerous charges.

Dutch Jacobus Marinus van Nierop to be deported to face criminal charges in France

September 5, 2014 1:02 pm

Fugitive Dutch dentist, wanted for mutilating patients, ordered held

By Staff  The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – A Dutch dentist arrested this week in New Brunswick and wanted in France for allegedly mutilating patients through botched procedures will remain detained pending his removal from Canada.

Jacobus Marinus van Nierop had a detention review before the Immigration and Refugee Board Friday via teleconference.

(…)

The Canada Border Services Agency says it is making plans to return van Nierop to his native Holland, but that could change if French authorities demand he be returned to that country to face criminal charges.

(…)

In a strange twist, van Nierop told the hearing he thought he was being held in connection with the murder of his wife in the Netherlands in 2006.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

GTA: Project Yellowbird busts Slavic-immigrant run high-end goods crime ring

Busted crime ring stole $5 million worth of luxury cars and other valuables

CBC News Posted: Aug 29, 2014 6:18 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 29, 2014 7:00 PM ET

Toronto police showed off some of the millions of dollars worth of luxury goods on Friday that were recovered in Thursday’s raids in the GTA and Niagara region. The raids led to the arrests of eight people in an alleged high-end goods crime ring.

The investigation, dubbed Project Yellowbird after a Porsche Carrera stolen in December, resulted in the recovery of $5 million worth of stolen luxury cars and other valuables including jewelry, designer clothing and handbags, electronics, cigars and guns.  Continue reading

Ukrainian Milana Muzikante and Lilia Ratmanski charged with threatening Sunwing flight while drunk on the plane

Police identify two women charged with threatening Sunwing flight

The two women who caused a Sunwing flight headed to Cuba to turn back to Toronto Wednesday evening are facing numerous charges.

By:  Staff Reporter, Published on Thu Aug 28 2014

The two women who caused a Sunwing flight headed to Cuba to turn back to TorontoWednesday evening — escorted by two fighter jets — are facing numerous charges.

Milana Muzikante, 26, of Vaughan, and Lilia Ratmanski, 25, of Whitby, have been charged with smoking on an aircraft and endangering the safety of an aircraft. They were set to appear in court in Brampton for a bail hearing Thursday.

Peel Regional Police Const. Thomas Ruttan said the pair will face additional charges including mischief endangering life and uttering threats.

Outside the courtroom Thursday afternoon, Ratmanski’s mother said her daughter was an A student in nursing at York who “never smokes, never drinks.”

The mother, who identified herself as a Ukrainian native, was accompanied by a family friend. Neither gave their names.

“I’m so shocked,” the mother said. “I don’t understand what has happened.” Continue reading

Thomas Lukaszuk shares his story of immigrating to Canada

July 17, 2014 7:58 pm

Thomas Lukaszuk shares his story of immigrating to Canada

By Staff  Global News

EDMONTON – As the Alberta PC leadership race enters its final months, candidate Thomas Lukaszuk is opening up about his immigration to Canada from his home country of Poland.

He chronicles his experiences on the site New Canadian Media, which calls itself “the pulse of immigrant Canada.”

In his post, Lukaszuk writes about escaping from a communist Poland in the 1980s and moving to Edmonton, where his political aspirations began to grow.

  • Thomas Lukaszuk walks away after a press conference officially launching his campaign for the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership, in Edmonton, Alberta on Thursday May 22, 2014.

He hopes that his story can inspire other Canadian immigrants. You can read it in its entirety below.

READ MORE: Who is Thomas Lukaszuk?

They came and grabbed what they wanted. It broke my heart. I was 12 when I had to open up my apartment and give away all of my toys. They took what they wanted. It was hard to let all of it go, but there was a weight limit on what I could take to Canada. I ended up taking one toy tank, my beloved stamp collection and a Polish book given to me by my Grade 7 teacher. I still choke up remembering it: she told me to never forget my language. And I didn’t. That book still is one of the most precious things I own. Continue reading

HAMILTON: Janos Acs, victim of the Domotor-Kolompar human-trafficking ring, commits suicide

HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIM

HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIM

Cathie Coward,The Hamilton Spectator

Janos Acs was among more than 20 people rescued in 2009 by RCMP from the hands of human traffickers who lured them from their native Hungary on the false promise of work.

In the early evening hours of June 10, Janos Acs walked onto train tracks in central Hamilton and lay down to die.

The 60-year-old’s suicide, near Emerald Street North, ended a troubled life that authorities thought they had saved.

Acs was among more than 20 people rescued in 2009 by RCMP from the hands of human traffickers who lured them from their native Hungary on the false promise of work. Despite the successful prosecution of his abusers and that he and other victims were given safe haven in Canada, Acs lived out his free days moving in and out of shelters, struggling to find work and drinking heavily.

The now infamous Domotor-Kolompar criminal organization was dismantled in 2010 and stands as the largest human trafficking case in Canadian history. Twenty-three members of the extended family were convicted of various charges between 2012 and 2013.

“I feel very much betrayed and I’m pretty frustrated,” Janos Acs told the Spectator

Canada Border Services Agency regional director Goran Vragovic said he learned of Acs’ death on Tuesday morning, before a news conference announcing that 20 members of thecriminal organization had been deported.

“It’s a tragic conclusion to an already sad story,” he said.

MORE: “There is no room in Canada” for modern day slavery

Spectator readers first met Acs in a Hamilton shelter in December 2010. He was the first victim willing to speak publicly.

“I feel very much betrayed and I’m pretty frustrated. I’m kind of all alone and I have no friends to discuss the situation,” he said during an interview for a Spectator special investigation, The gypsy kings, that followed the human traffickers to Hungary.

Acs grew up in a small Hungarian village called Bakonybel and, despite being in his 50s, had never been outside Hungary. He was approached by a member of the organization and offered a construction job in Canada. Ignoring warnings from family, Acs said he agreed.

He immediately realized his mistake.

“When I came over here, the situation became a servant and master thing,” he said.

Acs spent seven months living in the basement of his captor’s Mohawk Road East home. Along with working without pay, he was coached to apply for social assistance and claim to be mentally handicapped.

On two occasions, he escaped from the home, once approaching a police officer on the street. The officers didn’t understand what he was saying, so he went back.

When RCMP showed up in late 2009 and offered him an escape, he agreed to leave. But life in a men’s shelter was not what he thought it was going to be. He had hoped to bring his then 30-year-old son to Canada, but that never happened.

“I appreciate that people are helping me here, but I just can’t get used to this. I don’t regret that I came to Canada, but I didn’t figure it was going to be like this.”

Hamilton police spokesperson Constable Debbie McGreal-Dinning confirmed police were called to the “sudden death” on June 10, in the area of Emerald Street North and Birge Street. The death was deemed non-criminal and McGreal-Dinning said she could not comment further.

Fellow victim Tamas Miko didn’t know Acs well — they were housed in different homes — but news of his death is shocking.

Miko’s family was rescued from Hungary after being threatened over his agreement to testify in court. They live every day in the shadow of the criminal organization.

“I can’t just move on,” he said, adding that there is “so much hatred inside of me.”

Miko has gone back to school to get his high school equivalency. For now, his family lives together, unable to find work, collecting Ontario Works. It’s not the life he imagined for himself when he chose to come to Canada.

Shelley Gilbert, co-ordinator of social work services at Legal Assistance of Windsor, works with Miko to sort through the “roller-coaster” of emotions caused by “living with the effects of human trafficking.”

She’s also invited him to share his story with social service and justice professionals.

Gilbert said there is “no five-minute solution” to the anxieties and other issues survivors are faced with. That’s why there is a need for long-term intensive case management.

Miko said he hopes to one day work to “save people” like Walk With Me founder Timea Nagy did.

Nagy met the human trafficking victims, including Acs, when they were first rescued and continued to support them throughout the court cases. At the time, the Hamilton-based human trafficking rescue organization was just getting started and Nagy largely worked out of her car and got calls on her cellphone at all hours.

Nagy, a native of Hungary and sex trafficking survivor, helped the victims find shelter and often acted as a translator.

Unlike most other victims who fled to different cities to avoid threats, Acs stayed in Hamilton.

“He was troubled,” Nagy said, adding that he was in and out of shelters.

In recent years, Walk With Me bought a safe house that can house up to five victims at once. However, as awareness about human trafficking grows so too has demand for the organization’s services.

Walk With Me gets about $200,000 in funding every year, but to keep up with demand, Nagy said they really need $400,000. They are currently not accepting new clients in the safe house. They are doing front line victim care, but no longer have the staff to respond at any hour.

There is no network of safe houses or rescue organizations across Canada. Many victims, like Acs, end up in shelters.

Burlington MP Mike Wallace, who chairs the federal government’s justice committee said the government is working to help human trafficking victims.

“Have we done enough? I would say most of us would say no, we could do more. But we are actually taking action to make that happen,” he said this week.

Wallace pointed to changes to Canada’s immigration law that allow human trafficking victims to be fast-tracked to permanent resident status.

This law change has allowed the Hungarian victims to stay in Canada.

Wallace also noted the victim bill of rights, which will be debated in the fall. He said this will make victims “part of judicial system to give them a voice.”

 

noreilly@thespec.com

905-526-3199 | @NicoleatTheSpec