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

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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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Ottawa sets monthly record for total COVID-19 cases with 99 new cases on Friday

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Sixteen days into October, Ottawa has already set the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today, and three more deaths linked to novel coronavirus.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health had reported 108 new cases of COVID-19, but there is sometimes a lag in COVID-19 case reporting between Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 39 new cases in Ottawa, while Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases.

There have been 1,511 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa in October, surpassing the September record of 1,413 new cases.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 5,908 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 301 deaths.

Across Ontario, there are 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 213 new cases in Toronto, 135 in Peel Region and 62 in York Region.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

One more person was admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reports 47 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including eight in the intensive care unit.

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

The number of active cases of COVID-19 increased on Friday.

There are 792 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, up from 777 active cases on Thursday.

A total of 4,806 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

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Ottawa mayor rejects possible return of Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, ‘I really don’t think they work’

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Mayor Jim Watson does not want to see police checkpoints return to the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, saying “I really don’t think they work.”

Earlier this week, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin told the Ottawa Citizen that police checkpoints could return to the Ottawa-Gatineau border at “any time,” with the final decision in the hands of the Quebec Government. Earlier this month, Dr. Brigitte Pinard of the Centre Integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais said border checkpoints were “possible,” adding “right now, our message is to limit large gatherings.”

When asked by CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts about the possibility of police checkpoints returning to the Ontario-Quebec border, Watson said he did not think they worked back in the spring.

“There were so many gaps when the police were not there, and people just figured out I’ll go at an earlier time or a later time. We saw police officers sticking their heads in the car with no masks, so that was not healthy for those individuals,” said Watson Friday morning.

“It’s a costly expense when our police are stretched already to the limit trying to do the work, to have them set up at five different bridge points potentially 24 hours a day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and I think the money is better spent.”

On April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec set up checkpoints along the Ottawa-Gatineau border to limit non-essential trips into Gatineau. Gatineau Police estimated the random police checkpoints between April 1 and May 17 cost the service more than $400,000.

Mayor Watson tells CTV Morning Live that the Quebec Government’s decision to move Gatineau into the “red zone” two days after Ontario moved Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 should help.

“We are a close relationship and when things happen in Gatineau there’s often a trickle effect over here and I think the fact that we’re both in the red zone, and Quebec of course is the worst hit province, at least levels the playing field for our restaurants and bars,” said Watson.

“I think in the past what had happened was our restaurants and bars would close and then the ones in Gatineau would stay open, and then people from Ottawa would go over there irresponsibly, in my opinion, and then come back potentially with the virus and spread it here.”

While border checkpoints would limit the non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border, Watson says that’s not the way to beat COVID-19.

“The message is very clear, stick to your household. This is not the time to have an AirBNB party or a keg party in your backyard, or have 20 people or 30 people in for an engagement party. I know a lot of these get-togethers are important socially for people and emotionally, but we have to ask people to be reasonable and responsible, and this is not the year to do those kinds of things.”

Roberts asked the mayor if he would have a conversation about border checkpoints with Gatineau’s mayor.

“I had it the first go-around, but at the end of the day I also respect their jurisdiction and their autonomy. It is the province that would have to impose that, not the municipality,” said Watson.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s an effective use of resources. We want to continue to get the message across that we can win this battle against COVID-19 if we socially distance, we wear a mask, we actually follow the simple rules that are put forward.”

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Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police

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OTTAWA — A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Ottawa Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

“The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa,” police said in a news release. “When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject.”

Police say none of the residents of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the woman attending work.

Ottawa police say this is the first person they have charged under the Quarantine Act during the pandemic.

The woman is charged with failing to comply with entry condition under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm under section 67 of the Quarantine Act.

The maximum penalty for causing risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm is a $1 million fine and three years in prison. For failing to self-isolate for 14 days, she faces a $750,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Police did not release the name of the woman, nor where she worked. The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office issued a statement following the announcement of the charges.

“Mayor Watson was disturbed to learn about the alleged carelessness of the individual in question. This type of reckless behaviour could have harmed their colleagues, and more importantly, the residents of the long term care home. We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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