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Jury finds 2 men guilty of manslaughter in Jeanenne Fontaine’s death





A jury has found two men guilty of manslaughter in the death of Jeanenne Fontaine.

The jury in the trial for Christopher Brass and Jason Meilleur delivered their verdict Saturday morning in a Winnipeg courtroom.

Brass and Meilleur had both pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge.

Fontaine, a cousin of Tina Fontaine — whose 2014 killing sparked calls for a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women — was killed in 2017.

Jeanenne, 29, was shot in the back of the head inside her home on Winnipeg’s Aberdeen Avenue, near Salter Street, on March 14, 2017. The house was then set on fire.

Brass is already serving a life sentence in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the 2017 death of Regina man, Daniel Richard Dipaolo. He was also found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bryer Prysiazniuk-Settee, who was shot twice in the chest at a North End home and turned up dead in the snow blocks away in February 2017. 

Friend describes victim ‘like a butterfly’ 

An audible “yes” could be heard from Jeanenne Fontaine’s friends and family as the verdict was read out. Lining the back row of the courtroom, they held each other and cried. 

Outside the courthouse, her friend Melissa Stevenson, who read a statement on behalf of the family, described Jeanenne as a beautiful, loving person who was taken too soon. 

Jeanenne Fontaine’s friend, Melissa Stevenson, says Jeanenne was a beautiful, loving person. (Travis Golby/CBC)

“I always describe her as a butterfly that just floated from person to person, making their life beautiful,” she said as Fontaine’s family stood behind her. 

“But like a butterfly, she was very frail. She was delicate and she was beautiful. And she touched all of our lives.”

Though a guilty verdict doesn’t bring Fontaine back, her loved ones are happy that “no other women will be hurt by the actions of these two,” Stevenson said. 

Robbery over drug debt 

Over the course of the week-and-a-half-long Court of Queen’s Bench trial, a jury was told that Brass and Meilleur went to Fontaine’s home with a third man, Malcolm Miles Mitchell, to collect a drug debt from the victim’s boyfriend.

But when they found the boyfriend, Monte Bull, wasn’t there, the men decided to rob Fontaine instead, Crown prosecutors alleged.

The jury was told during the course of the trial that Mitchell was the shooter.

The key issue during Brass and Meilleur’s trial was whether they went to the home with Mitchell to commit a robbery, and whether they knew — or ought to have known — that could lead to serious harm for the victim, the jury was told during closing arguments Wednesday.

Crown prosecutors argued that testimony from the victim’s brother, Vincent “Chuck” Fontaine, proved Brass and Meilleur had the intent to commit robbery.

This photo, shown on Jan. 7, 2019, at the trial for two men accused of manslaughter in connection with the death of Jeanenne Fontaine, shows the aftermath of an Aberdeen Avenue house fire. Fontaine was shot in the house, which was then set on fire on March 14, 2017. (Court exhibit)

Vincent told the jury that he was inside the home where he lived with Jeanenne and saw the men come in armed with a gun and a knife, and that Brass was standing watch by the door.

Bull, who also testified at the trial, said that he owed Meilleur’s girlfriend money.

Defence lawyers argued that the Crown’s evidence was circumstantial, and that they had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Brass and Meilleur went to the house with Mitchell with intent to commit robbery.

Meilleur’s lawyer, Theodore Mariash, pointed out that Vincent Fontaine testified that one of the men took his phone, and then gave it back to him, arguing that suggested there was no intent to commit robbery.

He also said that Vincent’s testimony suggested he did not behave like a person who was being robbed.

Vincent Fontaine also testified that he didn’t hear the three men demand property or money, Brass’s lawyer, Tara Walker, noted.

The trial, before Justice Gerald Chartier, began on Jan. 7.

Brass is set to be sentenced next week, while Meilleur’s sentencing date has not yet been determined. 

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa





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





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





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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