Winnipeg: $18M centre for the growing African community

African community plans $18M downtown complex
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | 4:29 PM CST
CBC News

A sign announces the future location, in 2013, for a community centre and housing to serve Winnipeg’s growing African population. (CBC)

Winnipeg’s 20,000-member African community is looking to make its mark on the downtown.

The African Canadian Foundation (ACF) is buying a vacant lot on Hargrave Street, between Ellice Avenue and Qu’Appelle Avenue, to build an $18 million complex that will include a community centre and housing.

Caption source here

Foundation head Akim Kambamba said the project will continue on the revitalization work recently done in the Central Park area of the neighbourhood.

“It will make the issues of crime be reduced because the youth who are hanging around in the area and have nowhere to go can now be able to come there,” he said, noting donations are starting to come in and the Winnipeg Foundation has pledged financial support.

The group is well trying to raise $7 million to start the first phase of the project, which is on track to begin next year.

Central Park reopened in August 2010 after a $5.6 million revitalization that changed it from a dingy area once known for violence, drugs and gangs, into a family-friendly gathering place with a playground, water park and soccer pitch.

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“African youth having difficulties in adapting to this new country that we are in. And our goals as mentors of these young people is to ensure that we take care of them,” he said.

Coptic Christians fleeing Islamist militants meet them in the West

Montreal Coptic Christians cancel some eventsOrthodox community on high-alert after bombing in Egypt
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | 8:58 PM ET
CBC News

Founded in 1967, St. Mark’s in the Villeray district is the oldest Coptic Orthodox church in Montreal, and the second oldest in Canada. (CBC)

Montreal’s Coptic Orthodox churches have cancelled some Christmas celebrations planned for this weekend after the New Year’s Day suicide bombing in Egypt.

All five Coptic Orthodox Christian churches in Montreal have decided not to hold certain events that were planned for Friday, Christmas Day in the Coptic Orthodox calendar.
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Rev. Tadros El-Masry of Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church said Christmas services will go ahead as planned, but other events have been cancelled, including a traditional communal feast after midnight mass and a family carnival planned for Saturday.

“We find ourselves compelled to cancel these fun events, for the sake of paying tribute to our suffering brethren in Egypt,” said El-Masry.

He said people are upset about the tragedy, and parishioners are planning to send money that was to be spent on celebrations to the families of the 21 people killed Saturday outside a Coptic church in Egypt.

A threatened community

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Officials said Saturday’s incident was the work of a suicide bomber who attacked as worshippers were emerging from midnight mass at Coptic Christian Saints Church in Alexandria.

Afterward, Christians clashed with police in Alexandria and stormed a nearby mosque.

The attack is the latest on a Christian minority in Egypt that has faced growing persecution by Islamist militants in the last few years.

Some Coptic Christians in Canada believe those tensions back home are now threatening their community here.

In August, Montrealer Samuel Tawadrous was named on an ominous list of 100 Canadian Copts posted online by a group linked to al-Qaeda. Tawadrous worries for the safety of his community.

“We have to protect these minorities because if we keep silence now, these attacks will happen here in Canada,” he said.

El-Masry says he is concerned the attacks are becoming more common, noting that six Coptic Christians were also killed in Upper Egypt a year earlier on Christmas Eve.

“It is becoming the fashion. And what makes it more frustrating is that Egyptian authorities don’t do nothing about it,” said El-Masry.

Fleeing persecution

El Masry says Coptic Christians are welcoming two newly ordained priests to Montreal this week — priests needed to serve a growing community as more and more Christians flee persecution in Egypt.

There will be a memorial service in Ottawa for the 21 Coptic-Christian victims Wednesday evening, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is expected to attend.

There are about 50,000 self-identified ethnic Egyptians across Canada, according to the 2006 census, but the Canadian Coptic Association estimates that there are roughly 350,000 ethnic Egyptian Copts living across Canada.
With files from Loreen Pindera and Dan Halton

Less glamourous Michelle Marie Gopaul delusional about being pregnant

Michelle Marie Gopaul is seen in this undated YouTube image

Woman accused of abducting baby kept in custody
ctvtoronto.ca

Date: Sat. Jan. 1 2011 10:43 PM ET

A 24-year-old New York City woman who is accused of abducting a one-month-old girl will remain in custody after making a brief court appearance on Saturday. She is expected to return to court later this week.
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Police said that while the girl’s mother was filling out paperwork, a woman who said she worked for the production company took the baby into the next room. The woman then allegedly left with the child.

A Brampton couple told CTV Toronto that a Craigslist ad offered $15,000 for a newborn baby to star in a Hindi film.

Police were about to issue an Amber Alert when a member of the public returned the child to authorities about two hours later. The accused was arrested in Scarborough a short time later.

Michelle Marie Gopaul, 24, has been charged with abduction of a person under the age of 14. She appeared at Old City Hall today disheveled and in a shapeless grey sweater.

Gopaul, a model and aspiring musician, had been telling friends she was pregnant, according to reports.

She is expected to return to court on Tuesday.

Calgary: Chinese want free Saturday parking in dying Chinatowns

Chinatown merchants press for return to free Saturday parking
Calgary Herald – Sun
, 2 Jan 7:00 PM EST

CALGARY – It’s time to go back to free parking on weekends in Chinatown, according a community group and some business owners.

A petition has been started by the Alberta Chinese Community Congress to eliminate city parking fees on Saturdays.

They’d also like some relief on weekday rates and more parking stalls added.

“Parking has killed our business on Saturdays,” said Pak Tsang, owner of Sky Collection, a retail clothing store in Dragon City Mall, and a past president of the Chinese Community Congress. Continue reading

Coptic Christians in Canada are imploring police to step up security at churches

Canada’s Coptic Christians ask for protection in wake of Egypt bombing
COLIN FREEZE
From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jan. 03, 2011 11:48PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 04, 2011 12:08AM EST

Coptic Christians in Canada are imploring police to step up security at churches during this week’s orthodox Christmas celebrations, as they brace for any copycat violence after last weekend’s suicide bombing in Egypt.

Fallout from the slaying of 21 people at an Alexandria church is causing political turmoil in Egypt and ripples of fear to spread in diaspora communities through the West. Yet Copts in Canada say they will still turn out in droves this week to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Al-Qaeda-inspired local group the focus of Egypt church bomb probe, officials say
21 dead after blast outside Christian church in Egypt

Video
Riots in Cairo after church attack

“We have strong faith that God is protecting us as his people. But, on the other hand, we are expecting that authorities do their part,” said Rev. Angelos Saad.

He and his officials are to meet local police Tuesday to discuss security measures. The fear is that terrorists could target his 2,000 congregants during the midnight mass on Jan. 7.


Canadian authorities are insisting there are no known credible threats. Yet in Europe, authorities are stepping up security at some churches in France and Austria.

Al-Qaeda-inspired groups have essentially declared war on Copts in recent months. The ancient Christian sect, which adheres to the Julian calendar, predates Islam and still accounts for 10 per cent of the Egyptian population.

The New Year’s Eve bombing at a church in Alexandria killed 21 people and wounded nearly 100. The attack has turned global attention to the Copts’ complaints that they face discrimination and persecution in the Muslim-majority nation. Christian rioters in Cairo are burning tires and throwing stones at police, as they accuse President Hosni Mubarak of failing to protect them.

“That’s pretty unprecedented. You’ve never had thousands of young Christians in the streets,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail from Cairo, she said the terrorist attack has caused latent tensions to boil over. “There is embedded discrimination. And failure to recognize the problem, and failure to rectify the growing inter-communal violence.”

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Tens of thousands of Copts have come to Canada, many after first arriving as refugees. Anonymous threats made on the Internet last year named prominent Canadian Copts as suitable targets – claiming that “dogs in the diaspora” were intent on defaming Islam.

The RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have been conducting interviews to better ground themselves on the possibility of attacks on Copts, but have not circulated generalized warnings.

Canada’s top national-security police officer said only that “vigilance is key” for communities who fear terrorism, as he urged concerned Canadians with information to call the RCMP’s terrorism-tip line.

“If the RCMP becomes aware that individuals are subject to a specific threat, we will advise them accordingly,” Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud told The Globe in an e-mail. Specific security measures, he added, are “the responsibility of police of jurisdiction and would be based on specific threat-related information.”

Source: the Canadian Coptic Church

This state of affairs has left some priests frustrated. Father Saad, of the Canadian Coptic Centre in Mississauga, Ont., said police are telling him that “according to the intelligence of Canada, they are not expecting real threats.” So he’s also raising security issues with federal MPs and even Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who was in Toronto last weekend.

Police have not committed to showing up at the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius in Mississauga for midnight mass. Father Saad said he’s mulling private security as a “last resort,” though he’s uncomfortable with hiring guards. “This is not my job.”

Across Canada, Coptic Christians will be on the lookout for anything amiss. “We’re taking precautions. Better safe than sorry,” said Sherif Mansour, an Ottawa-based spokesman for the Canadian Coptic Association. At churches, he said “the parking lots will be patrolled.”

Some congregations are contacting private security for advice, Mr. Mansour said, but he added he could not speak to the security plans of specific churches.

Michelle Marie Gopaul charged with abduction of Indian baby girl for so-called Bollywood movie

Source here 

How parents of abducted girl were tricked by ‘opportunity’
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY
From Monday’s Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Jan. 02, 2011 10:44PM EST
Last updated Monday, Jan. 03, 2011 12:51AM EST

Bhupendra Mane thought he was doing his friends a favour and setting up new parents for a cash windfall. But what looked like a lucrative casting call for a would-be Bollywood baby turned into a frantic search for a one-month-old infant and a “nightmare” the baby’s father wouldn’t wish on anybody.

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Viral Patel, who works as a Web designer in Etobicoke, never intended to make his baby daughter a child star. “A one month baby? No, I didn’t. It’s not possible, it’s not practical.”

But when his wife Sejal got a call from a friend passing on a job offer that sounded too good to be true, he figured it was worth looking up. “This was just an opportunity: Somebody wants to shoot a movie, and they want to shoot a one-month-old baby girl.”

Mr. Mane, who has done other modelling and acting work in the Toronto area, is used to checking the online wanted lists for gigs. A listing promising $15,000 for an Indian baby girl needed for a local Bollywood movie shoot seemed like any others.

“I always check Craigslist and all this stuff. … It’s always been real,” he said. “I sent the information on to some friends. I figure if they’re getting $15,000 for a one-day shoot … somebody would get big money that day.”

Mr. Mane got in touch with the woman who posted the ads on Craigslist – the display name from the e-mail responses came up as “Diane Miller.” In e-mails Mr. Mane forwarded to The Globe, the woman asked for photos of the prospective infants. The baby in question had to be female, she wrote.

“For a boy he’s the cutest thing,” reads a Dec. 27 e-mail in response to a photo Mr. Mane had forwarded from a friend and parent of a two-week-old baby boy. “But we need a very, very cute little girl.”

In response to another photo of a prospective baby sent Dec. 29, the woman identified as Diane Miller wrote, “she’s cute, what’s her background, she looks kind of like a boy?”

Mr. Mane, who had been working as middleman for the woman and prospective parents, got another e-mail Dec. 30:

“… bring the little girl in asap to Etobicoke,” it read. “tell the parents only one person and bring her, we are not dealing with the drama. We just spent five hrs trying to screen this girl and the mother would not let us just take one picture.”

Mr. Mane told The Globe he didn’t know the woman and never met her.

The Patels didn’t know that.
(…)

Almost as soon as Mr. Patel walked into the building, Ms. Patel waiting in the car, the woman who called herself Diane “looked at my baby and said, ‘She’s perfect,’ ” he said.

(…)

“There was a door, like, three feet away from where I was sitting. She said, ‘I am just taking the baby outside for an audition,’ ” Mr. Patel said.

When she didn’t come back, Mr. Patel said, he went out the door to find that what he thought was just another room actually led to a front entrance he didn’t know about. The woman, he said, was gone.

(…)

“I was so scared I was crying. I was praying to god … to bring that baby back.”

A call to police and three agonizing hours later, Roma was back in her parents’ arms. It was like getting his child back from the dead, Mr. Patel said.

“It was like Dec. 31 was her real birthday. … What can I say? For us, the big news is we got our baby back.”

Michelle Marie Gopaul, 24, has been charged with abduction of a person under 14 years of age. She appeared in court at Toronto’s Old City Hall Saturday, and was denied bail. Her next court appearance is Tuesday.

The RCMP wanted to stay involved with the Islamic World Peace Forum

RCMP plan to defy minister with regards to extremist events
By BRIAN LILLEY, Parliamentary Bureau

Last Updated: January 2, 2011 4:49pm

OTTAWA – The RCMP wanted to stay involved with a controversial peace conference even as the minister in charge of the national police force ordered them out.

Newly released documents also show that next time, the Mounties plan to stand their ground.

A briefing note prepared for deputy commissioner Bob Paulson, the man in charge of federal and international policing, recommends that the Mounties not back out of future events deemed too hot to handle by the government.

“It is recommended that in the future, the Minister of Public Safety supports the RCMP’s position with respect to National Security Community Outreach,” reads the memo.

The conference in question was slated for the end of October at the Government Conference Centre, a federal building across the street from Parliament Hill. Among the participants were several Iranian academics tied to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad and Dr. Davood Ameri of the Islamic World Peace Forum.

At the time, the website of the Islamic World Peace Forum featured graphic anti-Semitic cartoons, including one showing an Israeli soldier shooting a baby next to a sign that read Gaza.

The original talking points prepared by the RCMP to help officers answer questions from the media included a defence of the conference.

“There will be a number of voices at this conference, not just Iranian, terrorist apologists and conspiracy theorists,” said a memo prepared by RCMP communications. The memo also stated that the Mounties would arrest and charge anyone that engaged in hate speech.

While the conference was not an RCMP event it had been promoted to members through their community outreach office. Mounties were ordered not to attend after Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told the Commons, “Canada’s national police force must have no involvement in any event organized by those who promote extremism and hatred.”

Toronto: Illegal Gao Zhi Xiang faces deportation

Orphaned Chinese brothers face separation
Published On Sun, 02 Jan 2011

Gao Zhi Xiang, left, and 8-year-old brother, Zhi Xin, with mother.
Nicholas Keung
Immigration Reporter

Gao Zhi Xiang doesn’t know how to break the news to his 8-year-old brother, Zhi Xin, when the day comes for his deportation.

The 19-year-old, who arrived in Toronto last year on a visitor’s visa from China to see their dying mother, is faced with the difficult decision of leaving his orphaned brother, a permanent resident in Canada, to the care of Children’s Aid.

Their deceased mother, Lin Mei Zhang, had been granted asylum in Canada from religious persecution but died of colon cancer while her application for permanent residence was still in process.

“We only have an uncle in Toronto, but he is illegal here and is facing deportation as well,” said an anxious Gao, speaking in Mandarin. (…)
In fact, Gao and his mother would have obtained permanent resident status back in March 2009, if an immigration officer had not put their application on hold because the gaunt, dying woman who appeared for an in-person interview did not look like her photo in the application, taken when she was healthier.

Zhang, a native of China’s Fujian province, died at age 41 on Oct. 4, 2009, a day after Gao arrived on a one-month visitor’s visa to see her on her deathbed. She was already too sick to pursue her appeal with immigration.

Gao and his soon-to-be-deported uncle have since become the sole caregivers of Zhi Xin, a Grade 3 student at Toronto’s Charles G. Fraser Public School.

Gao’s visa expired at the end of 2009 and he has stayed in Canada illegally since then. Although he has had an application in process since May to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, Gao was notified in December that he would be removed from the country.

Christian functional church in China/ Photograph by Barret

Avvy Go, Gao’s lawyer, said the mother and younger son came to Canada in early 2007 and had their separate asylum claims accepted the following year. Zhi Xin got his permanent resident status in August.

“As a protected refugee, Zhi Xin cannot return to China with his elder brother,” said Go. “Given he is only 8 years old and has no other family here, his only choice is to become a Crown ward.”

Gao, who dropped out of school and worked in retail in China, said his mother was a member of an underground church.

“I know Mom would have liked to see all of us start a free life in Canada. It’s just too bad that she never got to see that,” said Gao, who complains that Zhi Xin doesn’t like his cooking because it’s nothing like their mother’s.

“We just hope that immigration officials will open their hearts and not separate me and my brother. We were abandoned by our father. We have lost our mother. It is just he and I now.”

Toronto: Officials confirmed deportation of Daniel Garcia to Mexico

Toronto student, 18, deported to Mexico
Daniel Garcia cited homophobia in asylum bid
Postmedia News January 2, 2011

An 18-year-old refugee claimant who said his life could be at risk if he were sent back to Mexico has been deported, officials confirmed Sunday.
Photograph by: File, Postmedia News

TORONTO – An 18-year-old refugee claimant who said his life could be at risk if he were sent back to Mexico has been deported, officials confirmed Sunday. Continue reading

Comox: Three whites found guilty of racially charged attack on Jason "Jay" Phillips

Three get conditional sentences for racist YouTube assault
By Spencer Anderson, Comox Valley Echo December 22, 2010

A B.C. judge ruled last July that Jason “Jay” Phillips (pictured) was a victim of assault by three white men in Courtenay in July of 2009. Phillips was knocked to the ground and punched and kicked by the three men in an apartment building parking lot. The entire incident was caught on a video and posted to YouTube where it sparked national outrage.
Photograph by: Comox Valley Echo, Photo Handout

COMOX, B.C. — Three men convicted in a racially-charged assault in Courtenay that went viral on YouTube were described as “barbarous louts” by a provincial court judge Tuesday as he sentenced them to conditional time and probation.

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He added that “no matter what path they follow in life,” Adam David Huber, Robert William Roy Rodgers and David Samuel White will forever be measured by the images captured in the video.

The three men, who are white, were found guilty of one count of assault in July stemming from the July 2009 attack on Jay Phillips, who is black. Part of the incident was caught on camera and posted online to YouTube, where hundreds of thousands of people watched it.

Initially, the fight was consensual — Phillips invited the trio to fight after they drove by him in a truck and shouted racial slurs. But when Phillips was knocked to the ground near the end of the video, he was pummelled with punches and kicked in the ribs.

It was the kicks to Phillips’ torso, delivered by Rodgers, that convicted the three men.

On Tuesday, Doherty sentenced Rodgers to eight months’ probation and ordered him to pay a $500 fine and a victim impact surcharge. Huber, who has spent 45 days in jail in the lead-up to sentencing, was given a time-served sentence plus one day and a 12-month probation order. He also was ordered to attend substance abuse counselling.

White, whose initial racial comment “there’s a nigger” provided the fuel for the conflict, was handed a 30-day conditional sentence to be served in the community, plus a 12-month probation order to follow.

Phillips was not present in the courtroom for sentencing, but his mother was. Kirsten Phillips said the episode has been “hard” for her family and expressed regret none of the men got “hard time” for their offences.
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