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Brampton council to hold candlelight vigil to remember Riya Rajkumar, 11

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City council in Brampton, Ont., will hold a vigil on Tuesday night for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, whose body was found at a home last Thursday following an Amber Alert. Her father has been charged with first-degree murder.

The girl’s father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, faces a first-degree murder charge.

“Our community is grieving the tragic death of Riya Rajkumar, and this is a time to come together in solidarity, and remember and honour a young life,” a statement from the council reads.

The vigil will be held at Garden Square in downtown Brampton from 5:45 to 7 p.m. ET, and all members of the public are welcome, the statement says.

The girl’s father was arrested at about midnight on Thursday, around the same time officers discovered her body in a basement apartment, one hour after she became the subject of an Amber Alert.  

Provincial police found him driving north on Highway 11 near Orillia, about 130 kilometres north of Brampton, in a silver Honda Civic.

Police were initially called by the girl’s mother after her father failed to return her home from her birthday celebrations on Thursday evening.

Coun. Rowena Santos, who represents Wards 1 and 5, says Riya’s death has had a huge impact.

“It’s been incredibly heartbreaking as a mom myself and for many of the parents and families here in the city,” Santos told CBC Toronto.

“It’s been incredibly tragic to hear the news of Riya being murdered in Brampton on her birthday. I can’t imagine what it must be like for her mom, her family and her friends who knew her so well.”

‘It’s been incredibly heartbreaking as a mom myself and for many of the parents and families here in the city,” Brampton Coun. Rowena Santos of Wards 1 and 5 says of Riya’s death. (CBC)

Santos said she broke down crying on the phone while speaking with the chief of police for Peel Region about Riya’s death.

Speaking with reporters at the launch of Winter Stations on Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the entire city of Toronto joins the family in grieving the loss and the unspeakable circumstances in which Riya died.

“I just hope that Family Day reminds us all that no matter how difficult things become in households, you have to keep working at trying to keep the family together; trying to make sure that people who seem to go over the edge in terms of their emotional state are given attention and given support,” Tory said.

“[I hope] that we make sure that this little girl’s life is not lost in vain in terms of us all redoubling our efforts to make sure justice is achieved in this case, but also to make sure we take these kinds of things seriously.”

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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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