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Residential school survivor in Rome for summit on sex abuse plans to ask Pope for apology





A First Nation woman who attended one of Canada’s most notorious residential schools is in Rome this week in hopes of getting the chance to meet with Pope Francis and personally demand he apologize for the abuse suffered by Indigenous children in the church-run schools.

Pope Francis called for this week’s summit in Rome so the Catholic Church could grapple with the widespread sexual abuse in the priesthood that has been systemically covered up by church officials around the world.

Evelyn Korkmaz, 60, who attended St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, which was in Fort Albany, near Ontario’s James Bay Coast, will participate in the summit as a member of a global group called Ending Clergy Abuse.

She is one of eight members chosen to speak on behalf of the group during a planned news conference on Wednesday.

“I’m going to be representing the spirit of my ancestors that were abused,” said Korkmaz, who lives in Ottawa. “And all the Indigenous people of Canada that were done wrong. So, to me, it’s a big burden to carry this.”

Korkmaz, who left for Rome on Saturday, said she has been told that Pope Francis will meet with representatives from only two groups who have travelled for the summit, which runs from Thursday to Saturday.

If she is picked, Korkmaz said she knows exactly what she’ll say.

“I’m gonna say, ‘I want a few words with you. You’re not handling this epidemic of abuse properly. You need to take control. You need to take accountability.'”

Watch: Evelyn Korkmaz explains why she wants the Pope to apologize for abuse at residential schools in Canada.

A First Nation woman, who attended one of Canada’s most notorious residential schools, is heading to Rome this week in hopes of getting the chance to meet with Pope Francis and personally demand he apologize for the abuse suffered by Indigenous children in the Catholic Church-run institutions in Canada. 4:09

Korkmaz said she will also demand the Pope apologize for residential schools in Canada, as was called for by a motion passed in the House of Commons last spring.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which probed the dark, more than century-long history of the schools, also called for an apology.

“He needs to come to Canada and apologize to the Indigenous people of Canada,” Korkmaz said. 

But the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has said the Pope doesn’t have plans to apologize.

Korkmaz points out the Pope has already apologized to other countries, such as Ireland and Chile, for sex abuse inflicted by priests.

“So why not Canada?” she said. “These abuses have taken place as far back as the 1800s. We still feel the effects today.”

Pope Francis called for the summit to be held this week so the Catholic Church can grapple with the issue of sexual abuse. (Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press)

She attended St. Anne’s Indian Residential School from 1969 to 1972, which was run by the Oblates and Grey Nuns Catholic orders. The Ontario Provincial Police investigated hundreds of abuse allegations from survivors of St. Anne’s in the 1990s leading to five convictions, including against two nuns.

Korkmaz said she was gang-raped at age 10 by other students, who themselves were victims of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the priests, nuns and workers at the school.

She was treated for her injuries by the nuns, who also doubled as nurses, but nothing was done to deal with what happened and police were never called, she said.

Evelyn Korkmaz, when she was 11 years old and attending St. Anne’s Indian Residential School. (Evelyn Korkmaz)

Korkmaz was initially denied compensation for the abuse she suffered at St. Anne’s under the system created by the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, finalized in 2006, known as the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). She appealed the decision and was eventually granted compensation.

“There was a point when, before all this happened, that I used to dance, skip, play hopscotch, do all the things a child is supposed to do,” she said. “But they tore that away from me and I became an adult in less than 20 minutes.”

‘I will take it to my grave’

Korkmaz said even if she doesn’t personally meet with the Pope, the journey will have been worth it. She will get the chance in Rome to tell her truth on the international stage.

And it’s a truth she hopes will never repeat itself.

“We must stand up, and stand up for our children, for the future generations,” she said.

Because, as a survivor, Korkmaz knows the pain never goes away.

“I feel the effects on a daily basis,” she said. “You can’t bury it. I will take it to my grave.”


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Virtual farmer’s market comes to Ottawa





Ottawa first-ever virtual farmer’s market has begun delivering food from local farms straight to people’s homes.

Farm to Hand is making it easier for people who cannot access their local farmer’s markets to find local, fresh organic food by bringing ordered food right to their doors. 

“The difference between us and the farmers market is really just the convenience and the on-demandness,” Sean Mallia, the co-founder of the business, told CBC Radio’s In Town and Out.

“[Often times a] person wants to make the purchase but they don’t have the time on Saturdays to go to the farmers market. Everyone wants to eat local … so when it’s easy for them to do it, it just happens.” In Town and Out No time to drive to the farmer’s market but really want to eat local?

Connecting farmers with people 

The online platform allows farmers to list all their own products, and buyers can have the goods delivered. 

“What we really are trying to do is build that connection between farmer and consumer,” Mallia said. “When people fill up a cart … they’re not just filling a cart full of food, they’re filling a cart full of farmers and farms and their stories.”

Mallia said the aim is to connect people to the “vibrant food ecosystem” around them, and to local support farmers.

The virtual market is currently limited to the Ottawa area as a pilot project, but Mallia, 21, said the company is looking to expand.

“[We chose Ottawa because] Ottawa really cares. Ottawa really thinks about local [food] and thinks about sustainability,” he said. “It just made sense to come out of Ottawa.”

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Denley: Stonebridge and Mattamy show compromise is possible over development in Ottawa





In Ottawa, development proposals too often end up in acrimony and trips to the provincial planning tribunal. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Mattamy Homes and residents of the south Nepean suburb of Stonebridge work together to resolve a dispute in a way that’s likely to lead to a victory for both sides.

A little over a year ago, Mattamy created an uproar in the golf course community when it announced a plan to build 158 new homes on golf course lands and alter the Stonebridge course to make it shorter and less attractive to golfers. To residents, it looked like the first step in a plan to turn most, or all, of the course into housing.

It’s easy to see why residents were upset. When people pay a premium for a lot backing onto a golf course, there is certainly an implication that the lot will continue to back onto a golf course, but without a legally binding guarantee, it’s no sure thing.

Mattamy’s situation was understandable, too. This is a tough time to be in the golf course business in Ottawa. There are too many courses and not enough golfers so it’s no surprise that golf course owners would find the idea of turning a course into a housing development to be attractive, doubly so when the golf course is owned by a development company.

This is a tough time to be in the golf course business in Ottawa. There are too many courses and not enough golfers so it’s no surprise that golf course owners would find the idea of turning a course into a housing development to be attractive.

In the face of the local opposition, Mattamy withdrew its development application. When things cooled down, the company, the neighbours and the city started to work together on finding a solution that would satisfy everyone.

With the city-sponsored help of veteran planning consultant Jack Stirling, they came up with an unusual idea that will still let Mattamy develop its desired number of homes, in exchange for a promise to operate the course for at least 10 years and redesign it so that it remains attractive to golfers.

At the end of the 10 years, Mattamy can sell the course to the community for $6 million. To raise the money, the community working group is proposing a special levy to be paid by Stonebridge homeowners starting in 2021. The amount will range from $175 a year to $475 a year, depending on property values.

If the deal is approved by a majority of homeowners, Mattamy gets its development and a way out of the money-losing golf business. Homeowners get certainty about no future development. They can choose to keep the course going or retain the 198 acres as green space. It’s not a cheap solution, but it keeps their community as it is and preserves property values.

If a majority of homeowners backs the deal, both the levy and redevelopment will still need to be approved by the city, something scheduled for late this fall.

Stonebridge Community Association president Jay McLean was part of the working group that prepared the proposal and he’s pleased with the outcome. The community’s number one goal was preserving green space, and the deal will accomplish that, he says. Mattamy division president Kevin O’Shea says the deal “gives the community the certainty they are looking for.”

As useful as this deal could be for Stonebridge residents, it doesn’t provide a template to resolve a somewhat similar dispute in Kanata North, where the owner of the Kanata Lakes golf course wants to work with a group of local developers to replace the course with housing. In Kanata, a longstanding legal agreement saying the community has to have 40 per cent open space strengthens residents’ situation. In Stonebridge, there was no legal impediment to developing the whole course.

Golf course communities have become an anachronism in a city intent on intensifying within the urban boundary. Redeveloping those lands for housing is in sync with the city’s planning goals, but it’s not politically saleable to homeowners who thought they had a deal. If it goes ahead, the Stonebridge plan shows there is a reasonable middle ground.

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City eyes five big themes for Ottawa’s new official plan





As Ottawa maps out its future for the next 25-plus years, city staff propose focusing on five major areas, including the places we live and the ways we move around the capital.

A staff report to the city’s planning committee lays out five themes for future public consultations, before city council finalizes the plan.

1. Growth Management: City staff say Ottawa should focus on building up, rather than out. Staff also suggest the city provide direction on the type of new housing developments, rather than focusing on the number of units in a development, to encourage a wider variety of housing types.

2. Mobility: Staff say the city should encourage active transportation — like walking and cycling — and transit use by better co-ordinating land use and transportation planning. The report also encourages designing streets to better accomodate pedestrians and cyclists, as well as improving connections to the O-Train and Transitway.

3.  Urban and Community Design: Because Ottawa is a major city and the nation’s capital, staff say the design of our city’s buildings and skyline should be a higher calibre to reflect that status. Staff also suggest the city provide high-level direction for better designed parks and public spaces.

4. Climate, Energy and Public Health: Staff say residents’ health must be foundational to the city’s new official plan, with policies contributing to creating more inclusive, walkable, and sustainable communities.

5. Economic Development: Because much of Ottawa’s employment is knowledge-based, the city suggests those employment spaces could be better integrated into neighbourhoods and along main streets and transit nodes, instead of being isolated in business parks. City staff also suggest the city encourage more business incubation and identify opportunities to increase local food production.

The city’s new official plan will map out the city’s growth to 2046. The five themes and the plan’s high-level policy direction will go before the city’s planning committee, next week.

Public consultation and fine-tuning is expected to happen before city council approves the final version of the new official plan in 2021.

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