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Family, friends and colleagues mourn loss of Windsor firefighter

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Family, friends and colleagues are reeling from the loss of off-duty Windsor firefighter Wesley Orr.

Orr died Friday morning, just shy of his 26th birthday, in an accident at Blue Mountain Resort, his family said. 

According to a news release from provincial police, officers called to the popular tourist spot near Collingwood, Ont., found that a man had tried to climb the outside wall of a building on the resort’s property. He lost his footing and fell to the ground, police said. 

He was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

“It’s honestly still pretty surreal,” said Dillon Orr, Wesley’s brother. 

He said relatives have gathered at the family’s farm in Tecumseh to be together during this “tough time.”

Left to right, Orr’s sister Erin, brother Dillon, sister Melanie, mother Louise, father Terry, and Wesley. (Submitted by Dillon Orr)

“When we were kids, I had a younger brother that was better than me at everything,” he remembered. 

“Any kind of sport, he was amazing in school, and anything he wanted he did right away, he was very adventurous.”

He explained that his brother had a habit of scaling buildings ever since they were teenagers, and that it was his “favourite thing to do.”

Dillon added that Wesley had been on his way to taking over the family’s trucking business while juggling his job as a firefighter. 

Fire services feeling the loss

Wesley joined Windsor Fire and Rescue Services in 2016. This year, he would have become a first-class firefighter. 

Fire Chief Steve Laforet says he was shocked to hear the news of Orr’s death.

“Any time you hear about the passing of a co-worker, of someone so young — just absolutely shocked and devastated.”

Fire Chief Steve Laforet says the service is reeling from the loss of Wesley Orr. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

He said the loss has impacted every person in the department. They have been expressing a tremendous amount of care and support toward Orr’s family and friends, he added. 

“He was well respected by his peers, by his officers. He had a passion for the job and he had a certain knack for customer service,” Laforet said. 

“He truly cared about people, and that came through on every call that he went on.”

‘Leaning on each other’

Keith Traquair, president of the Windsor Professional Firefighters Association, echoed those words about Orr. 

“Good person, works hard, takes care of people,” he said. 

“All the basic attributes that we see in a firefighter or would like in a firefighter, he had them all.”

He said that local firefighters are all stunned by the news. 

Wesley Orr is remembered as a good person who was dedicated to his job. (Submitted by Dillon Orr)

“What we will do is we will sit around the table, some people might cry, some people will laugh,” he said.

“We’re going to lean on each other, and with that, by leaning on each other, we’ll be able to move forward.”

Condolences pouring in

Online condolences have been pouring in from the community, including from nearby fire stations.

Dillon Orr said the family deeply appreciates the words of support. 

“But because it’s been so soon,” he said, “and because it’s so much so quickly, it’s hard to process.”

Wesley Orr’s brother Dillon says he always succeeded at everything he tried to do, whether it be a sport or academics. (Submitted by Dillon Orr)

He said right now, the family is just taking time to be together and make funeral arrangements. 

Laforet said there is a funeral protocol that the service follows in these situations, and that the service’s involvement is up to Orr’s family. 

On Saturday, the flag outside of Windsor Fire & Rescue Services headquarters was at half mast in his honour. 

According to the OPP, an investigation into the death is ongoing and an autopsy will be scheduled in the coming days. 

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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