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Smoke from wildfires in the west causes air pollution across the country

July 20 (Reuters) – Raging wildfires across the western United States and Canada, including a two-week “monster” fire in Oregon, spewed smoke and soot on Tuesday which blew eastward and caused harmful air pollution to New York City.

In 13 western states, more than 80 large active wildfires have charred nearly 1.3 million acres (526,090 hectares) of vegetation desiccated by drought in recent weeks, an area larger than the Delaware, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho.

Several hundred more fires have burned in western and central Canada. They included 86 classified as uncontrollable on Tuesday in British Columbia alone, which led authorities to declare a state of emergency.

The jet stream and other transcontinental air currents carried smoke and ash thousands of kilometers. Residents of remote towns felt the contamination of the air in their eyes, noses and lungs.

In New York City, where a gray haze enveloped the Manhattan skyline, the Air Quality Index (AQI) for fine particles reached 170, a level considered harmful even to healthy people and nine times higher than World Health Organization exposure recommendations. Philadelphia reached 172.

Other northeastern cities, including Boston and Hartford, Connecticut, had readings in the unhealthy zone above 150. Residents were advised to wear face masks outdoors to limit exposure.

Smoke from Canadian wildfires in Manitoba and Ontario in the United States likely pushed the AQI in Detroit and Cleveland above 125, considered unhealthy for sensitive people, the NIFC meteorologist said, Nick Nauslar. Smoke from forest fires from the western provinces of Canada has reached east to Ontario, triggering broad government air quality warnings.

In the western United States, parts of Idaho and Montana suffered unhealthy levels of air pollution from 40 nearby large fires and smoke from the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon, currently the largest in the United States.

Heavy exposure to smoke from wildfires has been linked to long-term respiratory consequences for firefighters, including a significantly elevated risk of developing asthma, according to a University of Alberta study released this week. week.

The general population also faces serious health effects.

The Bootleg Fire burns through vegetation near Paisley, Oregon, USA, July 20, 2021. REUTERS / David Ryder

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“Exposure to smoke from wildfires (…) increases susceptibility to respiratory infections, including COVID, increases the severity of these infections and makes recovery more difficult,” the Federal Councilor said by email. Margaret Key Air Resources.

THE “MONSTER” FIRE ENTERING THE 3RD WEEK

The forest fires themselves posed a more direct risk to life and property.

The Bootleg Fire has blackened 388,600 acres (157,260 hectares) of dry brush and wood in and around the Fremont-Winema National Forest, about 250 miles south of Portland, since July 6. Only three other forest fires in Oregon in the past century have burned more territory.

As of Tuesday, an army of some 2,200 people had succeeded in digging containment lines around 30% of the outskirts of the blaze, as the blaze spread further east and north.

Incident commander Rob Allen said in his daily report that the dry fuels in the fire area “will continue to burn and smoke for weeks.”

“Fighting this fire is a marathon, not a sprint,” Allen wrote. “We’re in there for as long as it takes to contain this monster safely.”

At least 67 houses were destroyed and 3,400 others were listed as threatened, with around 2,100 people ordered to evacuate or to be ready to flee at any time.

Western conflagrations, marking a heavier-than-normal start to the wildfire season, coincided with record heat that has ravaged much of the region in recent weeks and left hundreds dead.

Scientists said the increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires is largely attributable to prolonged drought and increased episodes of excessive heat that are symptomatic of climate change.

The Bootleg fire is so large that it sometimes generated its own climate – towering clouds of pyrocumulus of condensed moisture sucked through the fire’s smoke column from the burnt vegetation and of the surrounding air. These clouds can create thunderstorms and strong winds capable of starting new fires and spreading flames.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; additional reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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Letters to the Editor: July 20: “How many people … would vote for a party that does not recognize climate change as real?” Verification of curators as well as other letters to the editor

Keep your opinions sharp and informed. Receive the Opinion newsletter. register today.

Legal process

Re This is a crime scene. When will Canada take responsibility for delivering justice? (July 16): How we deal with all of these crimes is far from clear.

It is true, as one letter writer tells us (Things To Come – July 15), that the federal Crown has constitutional responsibility and has fiduciary obligations to Indigenous peoples. It is also true that the Crown is also responsible for others in Canada and has duties to them. The need to balance different functions like these, when they come into conflict, is one of the reasons we have a justice system.

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I find that indigenous peoples have, on the whole, been well served by the judiciary, and the author of the letter is wrong to suggest that the government should stop using the courts to resolve these issues fairly.

Pierre Amour Toronto

You and what army?

Re Former High General Vance Charged with Obstructing Justice (July 16): There is an old adage that every country has a choice of two armies – their own or someone else’s. A strong army is vital, but it is quite obvious to me that the army in this country is broken.

Maybe someone else’s army is better.

Douglas Cornwall Ottawa

Conservative confusion

Re The conservative temperament is repulsive (July 14): It is especially politics that prevents me from voting conservative. It is a mystery to me why we do not have a socially liberal and fiscally conservative party in Canada.

Maybe the pollsters know this better, but I would like a party to be selective about what the government does, make sure it does these things well and make it clear why it does not go above and beyond. I have seen the Conservatives spend too much energy getting the government to interfere in the lives of citizens on social issues.

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When they were in government I think they spent way too much money on subsidy programs like home renovations in the name of job creation. What about infrastructure, the encouragement and regulation of competitive markets, effective and efficient plans to tackle climate change, a good balance between public and private health care options and public services? effective?

So maybe over 41 percent of the population would consider voting Conservative.

Gord flaten Regina


Given our recent historic heat wave, I wonder how many people in Lytton, or anywhere in British Columbia, would vote for a party that won’t recognize climate change as real?

Arlene Churchill Surrey, BC

Careful examination

Re Liberals Bank on Urban Votes with Affordable Child Care Plan (July 16): Child care is not just an urban issue. Evidence shows that quality child care is important to rural / remote / suburban families, but its delivery is hampered by the approach to the child care market in Canada.

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Is the Liberal child care program expensive? Not when compared to spending by peers at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or astronomical child care costs paid by Canadian parents.

Intrusive? Not with the evidence-based program elements of Ottawa and the provinces willingly collaborating in the development of their own programs.

Inflexible? A federal role should not mean a “one size fits all” outcome. Responsive public policy is the best way to meet a diversity of child care needs – shaped by diverse cultures, abilities, needs and schedules – using a pan-Canadian approach similar to Medicare. .

We now have a much better understanding of the importance of quality child care for children, families, women and the economy, and the best ways to ensure that this becomes a reality.

Martha Friendly Childcare Resource and Research Unit Toronto

Lack of food

Re Indoor Dining Is Back – But Restaurant Staff Are Not (July 15): Maybe if restaurants offered safer working environments, more staff would be willing to come back. I have been disappointed by the negative reactions of many restaurateurs to any pandemic restrictions.

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My advice: make vaccination compulsory for staff and customers, then workers would be more willing to come back and the still vulnerable elderly would feel at ease in catering establishments.

Glen morehouse Washago, Ont.


As sympathetic as I am to contributor Stephen Beckta’s cry for a feedback from his staff, I can’t help but think back to those first months, about 20 years ago, after quitting my job as a professional cook in some of the best restaurants in Toronto. .

Two weeks later, I noticed that the arch of my foot was returning to normal, I was well rested with no 12-hour workdays, and most notably, I had a social life again.

I can’t help but think of all the cooks who are suffering without work, but it seems the pandemic has given them a reason to reconsider their career choice. As long as bad hours and most importantly terrible money play out in the restaurant job in the back of the house, I think we can expect a talent shortage to continue for some time.

David Roy Toronto

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Medical memory

Re Remembering Our Front-line Heroes (Editorial, July 16): I can understand and sympathize with nurses in this country.

Imagine working long hours with all the stress of COVID-19 and having to deal with thousands of people who are hesitant to vaccinate or those who think it’s a hoax. They put their lives on the line for people who don’t care.

After 15 months they had had enough, especially when the provincial governments praised them but refused to raise wages. Indeed, praise is not enough and we now have a nursing shortage in Canada.

What a tragedy, and so easily resolved.

Robert Tremblay Gatineau, Que.


Alberta Health Services recently returned to the bargaining table with the United Nurses of Alberta and demanded much denigration and a 3 percent pay cut!

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All frontline healthcare workers should receive bonuses, not pay cuts. It is a shameful treatment.

Dorothy Watson Toronto

Re New Toronto Park Honors Frontline Heroes of the 1840s (July 16): Perhaps pandemic memorials should be as common as those of our politicians.

Over the past 400 years, dozens of pandemics have ravaged North America. Smallpox, measles and influenza ravaged the northern half of the continent in the early 1600s, and several times thereafter. Typhus, tuberculosis and polio followed.

Each of these pandemics had more serious consequences than COVID-19. Entire generations have been marked and orphaned, especially among indigenous communities. We forget this story because of our modern successes in public health, especially through vaccination and the provision of clean water.

Maybe now is a good time to remember a little more of our medical history, teach it and commemorate it.

John riley Mono, Ont.


Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Try to limit the letters to less than 150 words. Letters can be edited for length and clarity. To send a letter by e-mail, click here: [email protected]


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‘Unknown Blackfoot Warrior’ receives burial ceremony where River Old Man meets River Belly

CALGARY – A skull that has been determined to be a prehistoric native was buried on June 26, more than 40 years after it was found in the waters of the Old Man River west of the Monarch Bridge on Highway 3A in the southern Alberta.

This happened in 1979 when someone found a skull and turned it over to the Fort Macleod RCMP detachment.

In October 1979, with the help of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, it was determined that the skull was from a man over the age of 60 and of prehistoric – and therefore Aboriginal – origin.

Fort Macleod RCMP handed the skull over to the researcher for safekeeping, and that seemed like the end of the story until 2017, when someone handed it over to the local detachment.

In March 2021, members of the detachment consulted with the Blackfoot Elders Council to determine a way to re-bury the skull in an appropriate and respectful manner.

The ceremony consisted of wrapping the box containing the remains of the skull in a traditional blanket, followed by a ceremony of purification and internment.

Songs and prayers were sung for this Blackfoot ancestor as he was buried in a small tomb near the confluence of the Old Man and Belly rivers.

The grave is marked with a white bleached stone which reads “Unknown Blackfoot Warrior”.

Kainai Spiritual Elder Joe Eagle Tail Feathers was consulted with other Spiritual Elders and Sundancers, and a traditional burial ceremony was held on June 26, 2021 on the Blood Nation.

The funeral was presided over by Elder Martin Eagle Child and several other Elders and Blackfoot Sundancers.

A military style salute was delivered by ex-Sgt D. Vernon Houle (Canadian Armed Forces) and Mr. Alvin Many Chief, retired (Canadian Armed Forces / US Army Infantry).

Blood Tribe Police Chief Kyle Melting Tallow, Sgt. Bryan Mucha and Const. Benjamin Stubbe from the Fort Macleod RCMP Detachment was also present.


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Why Canada Matters to Texas

For over 150 years, Canada has been more than just a neighbor: we are your best customer, your closest security partner and your largest energy supplier. Texas is an important part of all of these mutual benefits.

Texans may think of other countries first when considering international trade and cooperation. We understand that, but we think we should go against the grain and brag a bit about Canada’s contribution to the Texas economy.

Canada is often seen as friendly, polite, and snowy. We own them all, but we also have a fascinating economic and business story to tell in Texas – we are Texas’ second largest export market after Mexico. Texas exported $ 27.8 billion in goods and services to Canada in 2020, and nearly 700 Canadian-owned companies operate right here in Texas. These companies represent nearly 57,000 jobs statewide.

Beyond our common North American geography, we share values ​​and interests, as well as economic ties on many levels. Here are the adjectives I would use to describe our bilateral relationship and the importance of Canada:

Prosperous. Canada and the United States share the world’s largest trading relationship. Our trade is balanced, fair and supports growth and innovation in our two countries. Every day, nearly US $ 2 billion in goods and services cross the Canada-US border. This thriving economic partnership supports well-paying jobs in both countries. More than 5,500 Canadian companies in the United States support nearly 900,000 jobs. We buy more goods from the United States than China, Japan and the United Kingdom combined.

Integrated. Canada and the United States don’t just sell each other, we make things together. Since the start of the pandemic, our countries have worked hard to maintain the two-way flow of goods, especially medical supplies and essential inputs across our borders, while protecting our communities from COVID-19. On average, over 25% of a finished product that we sell to you is US content. Just like most imports from Canada are used in production that puts Americans to work. These long-standing bi-national supply chains have not only kept us secure, they have also kept us competitive globally.

Reliable. Canada’s energy – more than any other country – contributes directly to the economic prosperity, security and environmental goals of the United States. We are your largest and most secure supplier of all forms of energy, transported by 71 oil and gas pipelines and 35 transmission lines across our shared border. We are also investing in new technologies and infrastructure to become a global leader in clean energy and innovation. Canada is developing its energy resources; in a way that creates prosperity and engages communities, while reducing emissions and preserving the environment.

Closed. Canada fought alongside the United States to defend our shared values ​​during World Wars I and II, the Cold War, Korea, the Balkans, the Middle East and Afghanistan. In fact, officers from the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force are integrated throughout the United States Army and within the Binational North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) at all levels – protecting and defending our common continent in search and rescue operations, banning illegal narcotics, intercepting unallied military aircraft, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.

Canadian tourists contribute millions to the Texas economy every year. Canadian snowbirds, who feel welcome when their neighbors in Texas call them “Winter Texans,” contribute significantly through real estate investments, business sales and tax revenues.

On July 1, as we mark the first anniversary of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Texas businesses continued to access Canada’s duty-free supply chains. Formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the updated agreement preserves key elements of NAFTA, modernizes arrangements to meet 21st century trade challenges, cuts red tape at the border and provides increased predictability and stability for workers and businesses in Texas. .

Being more than 1,000 miles from the tip of the Texas Panhandle may make America’s neighbor to the north forgetful, but our common values ​​and interests, and our deep ties, coupled with powerful economic ties on many levels are certainly reasons for which Canada should be kept in mind as we move forward together towards economic recovery.


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Taliban will ‘hang’ me: Afghan interpreters ask Canada for help

TORONTO – As Taliban insurgents have made rapid territorial gains across Afghanistan in recent weeks, a chilling new audio from a local performer who has worked with the Canadian Forces illustrates just how much he and others like him face in their own country.

In an audio file posted to YouTube, an interpreter in Helmund province recounts how he and others risked their lives alongside Canadian soldiers to support the mission against the Taliban from 2010 to 2011. He now asks why Ottawa and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are not moving. faster to get his family to safety.

“Mr. Trudeau, I am a father. My daughter is one and a half years old. From father to father, I beg you to please help me and my family out of Afghanistan before the Taliban don’t find us, ”he said.

“If Canada does not act immediately, my wife, daughter and brothers will be captured by the Taliban. They will hang me, shoot me and cut my head off. They will kill my wife and my daughter. They will kill my brothers … you promised me that my family would one day come to Canada [and] enjoy the peace your family enjoys every day.

Canadian veterans have expressed, with increasing urgency, the need for Canada to assist Afghan translators and interpreters who worked with Canadian soldiers during the war to come to Canada with their families.

Canadian Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino said the government was working on a plan to help families, but did not say when that plan could go into effect.

“We know the Afghans are putting their own lives at risk by helping the Canadian effort in the war there, and we want to do what is right for them,” he said on Friday. “And so we hope to have more to say about it as soon as possible. Near future.”

Sayed Shah is worried about his two brothers who face threats due to his work with the Canadian Forces more than a decade earlier. The Taliban know him well, Shah said, and it is certain that if they take control of Kandahar and Kabul, his brothers will die. He has already lost five family members in 2013 when they were killed by a roadside bomb set off by the Taliban.

“They are in danger because of me, because I worked with the Canadian military,” he said. “I put my family in danger. “

A former battlefield interpreter who worked with the Canadian military between November 2007 and March 2010, Shah was able to come to Canada under the original special immigration program. The soldiers who supported his visa application acknowledged that his bravery under intense Taliban fire had saved Canadian lives. Now that the Taliban is closing in on Kandahar, he is seeking similar protection for his brothers, who are now in hiding.

“If they are not evacuated from Afghanistan, they will be targeted and killed,” Shah said.

Ottawa previously announced the creation of a dedicated refugee stream for “human rights defenders,” including journalists and others who may seek asylum to escape persecution in their country.

As the September 11 departure deadline approaches, other NATO allies have already announced evacuation plans for thousands of Afghans. The United States said this week that flights for eligible Afghan citizens will begin by the end of July.

Interpreters have played a vital role in NATO operations in the Middle East, including the more than 40,000 Canadian troops who have served in Afghanistan. Many Afghans risked their lives helping on the front line.

A special immigration program put in place in 2009 and completed two years later brought some 800 former interpreters and their families to Canada, but thousands have been left behind. Many now face the possibility of being tortured or killed for their role in helping Canadian troops, advocates say.

The sudden withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in early July after nearly two decades of fighting accelerated the movement of the Taliban across the country, with Taliban officials claiming the group now controls more than 85% of the territory – a figure which is disputed by others.

With files from CTV National News Parliamentary Bureau reporter Annie Bergeron-Oliver, CTVNews.ca editor Christy Somos and The Canadian Press


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Discovery Canyon, CSU sprinter Lauren Gale, heads to Tokyo with Team Canada | Colorado Springs High School Sports

Lauren Gale, Canadian Olympic Track and Field Team.

“I’m going to put it on my Instagram bio, on my resume when I apply to dental hygiene school,” said Gale, 21, noting that these schools are difficult to access. “Maybe that will help, I don’t know.”

The former Discovery Canyon student, who just finished her junior year at Colorado State, is heading to the Tokyo Games as part of the 4×400-meter relay team.

Gale and his parents had coffee on his porch in Fort Collins in early July 3 as they waited for the life-changing email from Athletics Canada, but Gale’s former track club, the Lions d ‘Ottawa, beat him with a Tweet. Gale was the youngest member of Canada’s track and field team.

Gale’s time of 51.96 put her firmly in contention before Rio Olympian Alicia Brown tied her at the 2021 Olympic Trials. Brown handed in a 51.82 later in June, casting minor doubts on the inclusion of Gale.

She is due to leave for Japan on Saturday.

“To have to compete on the biggest stage of the biggest track event possible – that’s crazy,” said Gale. “I still can’t believe it.”

Gale was always the one chasing the ball down the field in youth football, giving her parents the idea to try athletics. Years later, at an indoor competition, they cheered on Lauren after what they thought was a good 400-yard run, but other spectators saw more.

“After all, everyone looked at us and said, ‘Wow, this is a really good time,’” her mother Lisa said. “We didn’t even know what a good time was, but apparently for that age it was super fast.

“We thought, ‘We need to look at this a bit further. “”

Lauren’s father’s work as a Canadian Army Engineer took him to Peterson Air Force Base and family in Colorado Springs for six years. Lauren arrived at Discovery Canyon in 2015. In 2016 and 2018, on both sides of hip surgery, she won the 100, 200 and 400-meter state races in 4A. She was named Gazette Preps Female Peak Performer of the Year in 2017-18.

Lauren tried out international competition at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, where she competed in the 200 meters and 400 meters for Team Canada. After graduating from high school, she competed in the 200 at the 2018 IAAF World Under-20 Championships.

“I love Canada and I love representing them. I still claim it as my home even though I’ve been here for a few years now, ”Lauren said.

“But it’s always good to be able to display a Ram sign in other places. It’s cool to be able to represent them both.

She set school records in the indoor and outdoor 400 this season. She finished 13th in the NCAA West prelims on May 29, with a place to qualify for the NCAA Championships. It was a good enough time for Team Canada.

She had hoped to attend the trials, but crossing the border in Montreal from June 24-27 required a two-week quarantine. A strange season, full of mask mandates and canceled meetups, had required a creative solution – times and world rankings were factored in, Lauren said.

Lauren’s own dental hygienist’s work will be on display when she visits the stage at Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

His parents, preparing for a move across the country, will try to install their TVs as soon as they arrive. If that doesn’t get sorted out quickly, they’ll be them at a Washington DC sports bar telling everyone who their daughter is.

“She can go against the best in the world,” Lisa said.

“We’re so proud it’s crazy.”

One day, the gloved hands in your mouth might belong to an Olympian.

“If I can help build people’s confidence, then my job is done,” Lauren said.

Colorado heptathlete Annie Kunz can celebrate with family as she secures trip to Tokyo

Olympic athletes to wear their own medals at Tokyo ceremonies

How Draymond Green helped reignite Team USA’s offense to rebound from two losses


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US soldiers at NT say close contacts

A plane loaded with U.S. military personnel in the Northern Territory was declared to be close contacts after another passenger tested positive for COVID-19.

The infected woman, who is an active member of the US military, arrived in Darwin on Thursday, July 8 before being diagnosed with the virus on Monday evening.

The 22-year-old is one of some 9,000 foreign service members in Australia for the 2021 Talisman Saber military war games, which began on Wednesday.

She was quarantined at the US Navy-leased Bladin Village worker camp 36 km south of Darwin along with around 1,000 other US servicemen when she tested positive.

The woman has since been moved to the red zone at the Center for National Resilience in Howard Springs, with her travel companions now considered close contacts, according to NT Health.

“All personnel who have traveled on the plane with the member of the United States military who tested positive are treated as close contact,” said a spokesperson.

“They are undertaking quarantine procedures at the village of Bladin, including daily checks.”

A defense spokesperson said the woman did not come into contact with the community despite being contagious.

More than 17,000 military personnel from Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea will participate in TS21.

The majority of war game simulations are expected to take place in Queensland and off the east coast of Australia.

British, Canadian, Japanese and Korean service personnel have been quarantined in Sydney. Other foreign troops have been stationed in hotels in Brisbane, a spokesperson said.

All foreign military personnel arriving in Australia for TS21 undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine.

NT Health and Defense declined to respond to the number of service personnel on the affected flight.


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He worked with Canadian soldiers. He helped try to save Captain Nichola Goddard. Now this Afghan interpreter is waiting for the Taliban and fears being sentenced

For over two years, Kohistany served as a combat interpreter for the Canadian Forces in the Kandahar and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan.

He would translate meetings, workshops, trainings and conferences with local elders, the Afghan National Army and the police. He also participated in interrogations and investigations of prisoners and translated documents and intelligence reports from sources on the ground.

When not in combat mode, Kohistany advised his Canadian commanders on Afghan cultural, religious and tribal customs or taught their soldiers the Pashto and Dari languages.

At least twice he and the troops he was with have been attacked by insurgents, most notably in the incident of May 17, 2006, when his convoy commander, Captain Nichola Goddard, was killed in an ambush. by the Taliban. He helped his crew get her out of the turret so the medic could perform first aid.

“I was in a light armored vehicle with about nine soldiers. We’ve all been hurt, some more seriously. I had little shrapnel on my neck and pulled them out right there, ”recalls Kohistany, who worked for the Canadian military in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2007.

Considered “the eyes, the tongue and the ears of the infidels and the occupiers”, Afghans who have worked for foreign governments – and their families – have already been targeted and have received constant death threats.

Now, as the United States and its NATO allies withdraw all ground troops in Afghanistan by August 31, and Taliban insurgents reclaim many territories, Kohistany fears he will be doomed.

“The threat has increased day by day. You can easily see the Taliban slogans on the walls. You can see Taliban flags on the houses, ”said Kohistany, who asked that his full name not be released for his safety. “Targeted assassinations are escalating.”

As he sees other foreign governments such as the US, UK and other European countries making plans to resettle their former Afghan aides, Kohistany said he felt abandoned by Canada.

“If I had known that one day we would be left behind by the Canadian government, I would never have joined the Canadian military to work and fight with them, shoulder to shoulder, against the Taliban and put my life in danger. , ” he sighed.

“I feel very disappointed. “

In a letter last week to Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, three retired Canadian Majors Generals called on the federal government to relaunch a resettlement program for Afghan civilians like Kohistany.

“There is an urgent need to ensure the safety and well-being of Afghan nationals who served alongside Canadian soldiers, development officers and diplomats during our intervention,” said the letter signed by the three. former task force commanders Denis Thompson, Dean Milner. and Dave Fraser.

“Many Canadian veterans come into contact with the Afghans who served alongside them, and their stories are poignant. These people are considered “comrades in arms” and their plight affects these veterans, like all Canadians. “

Specifically, veterans are calling on the federal government to immediately reintroduce a special immigration program that helped resettle 780 Afghans and their families to Canada between 2009 and 2011.

The Afghan-Canadian Interpreters – an advocacy group made up mostly of veterans, serving military personnel, and supporters – have identified at least 115 former interpreters, cultural advisers and local staff who they say are in need of the protection of the Canada.

Volunteers contacted them and compiled a list for Ottawa. Time, they say, is running out.

“The Western presence will no longer exist in the country. Therefore, there will be no protection for any of them, ”said group spokesman Dave Morrow, a retired lieutenant who served in Kandahar in 2010 and 2011.

“We don’t have a plan. We don’t have a list other than the one we created as an organization. This is where we fill the void, to hopefully provide some kind of visibility and awareness of this huge humanitarian issue that is unfolding very, very quickly.

Canada’s initial resettlement program was limited to Afghan civilians who provided 12 consecutive months of service to Canadians between October 2007 and July 2011. To be eligible, they also had to provide testimonials from their Canadian supervisors as well as proof that they were in danger in Afghanistan. .

Immigration Minister Mendicino’s office told reporters that Afghan civilians not eligible for the previous program may apply to immigrate to Canada through other immigration programs or on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Morrow says these options are not viable.

“If you were in a war-torn country with no internet access, no cell service, and maybe an iPhone 3 to fill out all your paperwork, no access to printers, paper, or whatever, this statement in itself was disturbing, ”he said. mentionned.

Kohistany went into hiding with his wife and children in Kabul, a relatively safer area where most of the foreign diplomats are located. They moved around several times to avoid detection and threats from insurgents, he said. Just two months ago, two bikers shot at his house with an AK-47.

“There is no option for us. Key roads and borders are all controlled by the Taliban. We are like prisoners. The only option or hope we have is to find or ask someone or a government to come and get us in a safe country, ”said the 36-year-old, a graduate in law and political science.

He was not eligible for the previous Ottawa relocation program because he left the force before October 2007.

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“We are between life and death. The insurgents occupied more territory and found more influence in the big cities and created more threats for everyone. Life has become more dangerous than ever.

Cpl.  Robin Rickards, who served in Afghanistan on three missions before retiring in 2010, says Canadian soldiers would not be able to do their jobs without the help of local interpreters, who saved soldiers' lives at many times.

Retired Corporal Robin Rickards first met Kohistany in 2006 on the first of his three missions in Afghanistan and the two became good friends because they spent a lot of time together on the front lines.

He said the armies would not have been able to do their job without the help of these interpreters.

“The most important thing they did, to save the lives of Canadians, was that they were essential to monitor ICOM radios. All communication between the Taliban elements in the field was by two-way radio, ”says Rickards, who retired in 2010 and now lives in Thunder Bay.

“The interpreters would bring the conversations to us in real time and also add their perspective on legitimacy. … The longer a person is employed by Canadians or Coalition Forces, the better they determine if it is legitimate, but it increases the risk they face in the long run.

Rickards asserts that these civilian employees of foreign governments are considered “apostates” by the Taliban and that Canada has more than a moral obligation to save them. And they should be on the front lines for resettlement in order to save the lives of Canadian soldiers, he added.

Wherever the Canadian military is deployed, they need local translators to serve as cultural and linguistic ambassadors, he said, whether in Ukraine, Latvia or Mali.

“The plight of our interpreters in Afghanistan will be seen by people in other countries,” Rickards warned. “People in these other places where we go in the future will be wary of helping us because they will be wary of the consequences when we go. And that will hamper our ability to be successful in these missions. “

Marcus Powlowski, Liberal MP for Thunder Bay — Rainy River, has been a strong advocate for Afghan civilians.

“They risked their lives for our country,” said Powlowski.

Ottawa has an ambitious goal of welcoming 401,000 permanent residents this year, and in the past the government has resettled tens of thousands of people vulnerable to wars and violence in Syria and Myanmar, he said. he adds. According to him, the Afghan civilians in question are only a drop in the ocean.

Powlowski said his government told him any resettlement plan in Afghanistan was a logistical challenge due to Canada’s limited presence in the country as well as security concerns.

“I don’t think it’s insurmountable at all that we’re doing this in Afghanistan. It could be as simple as sending a plane, letting (in) all the people because a lot of these people are in contact with our office, ”he said.

“Now, I’m not advocating that we do this. But potentially, it could be as easy as sending a plane. There is a source to verify who they are, to make sure they don’t have guns on them, to have them stolen, and to do all the bureaucratic tasks afterward.

Sayed Shah Sharifi, a former Afghan interpreter now in Toronto, says five of his family were killed by the Taliban because of their connection to him.  Threats against former employees to foreign governments are real, he says.

Sayed Shah Sharifi, a former Afghan interpreter resettled in Canada in 2012, knows firsthand how the Taliban treat “infidels” and their families. Five of his family members – his sister and his son; his brother’s wife and two children – were killed by insurgents because of their connection to him.

“These are not just threats. These are real risks, ”says Sharifi, who served alongside Canadian troops in Kandahar between 2007 and 2010 and now works as an electrician in Toronto.

With insurgents making significant gains in recent months, he said, there are growing concerns that they will steal internal Afghan government data to track down these former Western government employees with credentials. personal.

“The Taliban may not have found those in hiding yet, but if they are found, they are dead. “

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter who covers immigration for The Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung



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As the Taliban retake Afghanistan, a disastrous sense of déjà vu

Kabul by Christmas.

This is where we were, Kabul at Christmas 2001, when the Taliban had just been overthrown, driven out by an intense campaign of bombing by American and British forces, along with the brutal regime’s Al Qaeda “guests”. routed and on the run.

As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approached, the United States extricated itself from its longest foreign war – in an unseemly military race for exits – the British and NATO went offline, and Afghanistan is on the precipice of an already disastrous one. seen.

Leaving behind the vast Bagram airfield outside the capital, with thousands of civilian trucks and hundreds of armored vehicles right there. A ghost base, hastily evacuated and handed over to Afghan forces, awaiting search by the Taliban.

Also leaving behind a litany of broken promises – the West’s assurance that Afghanistan would never be abandoned again.

But, just like the Soviets in 1989, dragging their tails between their legs, militarily crippled by a grueling war against the Mujahedin that could not be – or would not be, in the long game tactically waged by the Taliban – won. With President Joe Biden claiming, in a surprising and deceptive way, that the United States has never been in the business of nation building. After some $ 133 billion (US) has been spent on exactly that, most of it on US cents. And more than 2,300 of its soldiers killed.

“I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan without expecting a different outcome,” Biden said on Independence Day.

In the wake of the departure of the United States, the dominoes are falling rapidly.

Hours after the evacuation of Bagram, the Taliban were on the march, increasing and widening their reach, with only the Afghan Air Force to control their advance. They captured hundreds of rural districts in the north and surrounded the capital of Badakhshan, with more than 1,000 Afghan soldiers – demoralized and ill-equipped – fleeing their posts, crossing a river bridge to border Tajikistan. Hundreds more – the Afghan army, police and intelligence services – laid down their arms and surrendered when their positions were overwhelmed.

Badakhshan was once the stronghold of anti-Taliban resistance, the last stronghold of Mujahedeen fighters under the revered Ahmad Shah Massoud, assassinated on September 9, 2001, a murder allegedly committed on Al-Qaeda’s orders, by two killers pretending to be journalists. Now trade routes and checkpoints to Tajikistan are controlled by Islamist insurgents, who already collect customs revenue.

On Friday, Taliban forces entered Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, the Pashtun heartland in the south and the birthplace of the Taliban, aided by Pakistani intelligence services. Kandahar Province, which was under the responsibility of the Canadian Forces during the NATO mission, where 158 of our soldiers sacrificed their lives.

The militants first invaded Panjwai – the lush region that Canadians had once cleared and made safe – using it as a springboard for the assault on Kandahar City, a military and metaphorical triumph.

In the western part of Afghanistan, the powerful warlord Ismail Khan, whose vast militia helped US forces topple the Taliban regime, is mobilizing loyalists to defend Herat. “We call on all remaining security forces to resist courageously,” he said over the weekend. “We hope that the men and women of Herat decide at this time to support the resistance front to defend their freedom and safeguard their honor.

Which sounds a lot like a call to arms for another civil war. The latter decimated Afghanistan and turned Kabul into rubble.

While many Western experts claim that it is highly unlikely that heavily fortified Kabul will be seized again by the Taliban by the end of the year, there is little reason to believe in such hissing assurances from the Empire cemetery. Kabul will fall, if not December 31, then quite early thereafter. And the never-ending cycle of conflict will continue in a country that has known nothing but war for the past four decades, from outside and inside.

The only silver lining for the Afghans is that the Taliban will turn out to have undergone some sort of internal reform, less determined to murder civilians and impose draconian interpretations of Islamic law. That there will always be music and schools for girls and civil rights for women and protected rights for ethnic minorities such as the eternally persecuted, predominantly Shia Hazaras bracing for a backlash.

“There are rumors circulating that the Taliban is imposing restrictions or even a total ban on the media, individuals and women in the newly liberated areas,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement released last week. “We reject such propaganda. All schools are fully open, the media are allowed to operate in a free and neutral manner within the framework of Islamic rules, clinics and health centers can work without any constraints. Civil servants, journalists can also live and perform their duties without fear. ”

Right. Pull the other.

It was the fundamentalist regime that banned music and television, forced men to grow beards, executed, threw suspected gays from rooftops, and carried out public executions for those caught breaking Taliban edicts.

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There are reports of schools already burned down and teachers in hiding. The Taliban have been blamed for a wave of killings targeting lawyers, journalists and working women. Dozens of people have been shot or killed in car bombings. The Taliban denies any responsibility.

Reports also indicate that ISIS, what remains of it, is recovering in Afghanistan.

Although the central government still owns most of the country’s major cities, urban areas will inevitably come under siege. The descent into widespread violence seems inevitable and without end in sight. The Soufan Center, which provides analysis of global security threats, revealed that recent US intelligence assessments concluded that the government of besieged President Ashraf Ghani could collapse within the next six months.

As expected when Biden announced earlier this year that the US withdrawal would be completed on September 11, a date chosen for symbolic reasons, although the US exodus was likely to be completed before then, leaving behind only a thousand troops to protect diplomats. missions, the American Embassy and the Kabul airport.

Unacceptable, retorts the Taliban. All foreign troops present on Afghan soil after September 11 will be considered “legitimate targets”.

The Taliban’s territorial gains have been swift and astounding this year. In the past two months alone, they have seized at least 150 districts – they claim many more – in 34 provinces, comprising half the country. In some areas, they have been greeted by war-weary citizens and a corrupt government.

“I don’t like leaving friends in need,” admitted General Austin Scott Miller, commander of US and NATO forces, in a recent interview with ABC, acknowledging that the situation he is leaving behind is disastrous. “War is physical, but it also has a psychological or moral component, and hope really matters. What you don’t want to happen is for people to lose hope. ”

Except that there is no hope for the Afghans. They are doomed to fail, even though the Taliban say they will present a written peace proposal to the government as early as next month during the stalled negotiations in Doha. The United States has repeatedly asked for help from neighboring Pakistan in convincing the insurgents to come up with a written plan. But Pakistan is a traitor. He incubated the Taliban and his regional aspirations have long been based on the Taliban. It is, after all, the country that housed Osama bin Laden, his denials are not worth a fig.

My fixer, driver and friend for nearly two decades, sends desperate texts. “I have to get my family out. They will come first for the interpreters. Please can you help? ”

He has been an interpreter for NATO for years.

Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan ended in 2011, transitioning to a training mission. Ottawa said it would welcome hundreds of vulnerable Afghans, interpreters, embassy staff and their families. The United States has promised to relocate thousands of interpreters by next month. Which could be too late.

I’m sorry Faramaz. I am really sorry.

Rosie DiManno is a Toronto-based columnist covering sports and news for The Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno



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A pine tree in London, Ontario. transmits healing lessons 30 years after the Oka crisis

Indigenous leaders invite the public to gather around a towering white pine in downtown London, Ontario. park on Sunday to reflect on why it was planted three decades ago.

The little-known tree, called the Tree of Peace, was planted in Ivey Park following the Oka crisis in Quebec which saw Mohawk protesters clash with police for more than two months.

Elders of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, and others who traveled to Quebec during the stalemate to act as negotiators in the summer and fall of 1990, want young people to understand the conflict.

“We planted it because it was a symbol of the great law of peace and how we are peaceful people still living by the precepts of peace, power and righteousness,” said Dan Smoke, who, along with his wife Mary Lou, will assist by leading a prayer circle and a sacred fire.

The colored bands on the tree represent the four Colors of Man (red, white, black and yellow), blue for Heavenly Father, green for Mother Earth and purple for the Creator. Some of the tapes were taken by vandals. (Angela McInnes)

The smoke was there, alongside hundreds of others in the London area, when the tree was planted on July 11, 1991. Although the conflict took place hundreds of miles away, it had an impact on the world. time and still today.

Also known as the Kanesatake Resistance, the armed standoff was sparked by the proposed golf course and townhouse expansion at a sacred Mohawk burial site known as the Pines. The land was not officially Kanesatake territory under the Indian Act, but it was considered sacred.

“The reason they stood up to protect the earth was because their ancestors were buried there,” Smoke said. “So there they were, protecting their ancestors.”

On July 11, the police and army were dispatched to dismantle the barricades with tear gas, resulting in gunfire from both sides and the death of an officer.

September 1, 1990: A Mohawk warrior sits in a golf cart and uses binoculars to view Canadian Army armored vehicles on Route 344 on the Kanesatake reserve in Oka, Quebec. (Tom Hanson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Smoke said that following the shooting, the Oneida Nation sent their own skilled negotiators to advise the Mohawk people to work towards a peaceful disengagement.

“In our belief system as an indigenous people, the evil of one is the evil of all of us,” he said. “So if one of us is hurt and hurt, then we are all hurt and we are all hurt. So we have to stand up to protect him. It is our responsibility.”

For 78 days, the Mohawk people resisted law enforcement with encampments and blockades under Canadian watch. Before social media, the Oka Crisis shed light on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

“It was at this point that we and all kinds of people in Canada became much more aware of Aboriginal issues,” said John Turner.

Turner and his wife, Anita, were present when the white pine was planted in Ivey Park. “I firmly believe that if different cultures understand each other, it’s just a positive thing.”

From left to right: Mary Lou Smoke, Anita Turner and John Turner. All three were there when the Tree of Peace was first planted in Ivey Park on July 11, 1991. (Angela McInnes)

On the day the crisis ended, a soldier stabbed Waneek Horn-Miller, 14, in the chest with a bayonet as she and other protesters left the barriers, nearly killing her.

Smoke said the Tree of Peace was planted as a healing gesture after the Oka Crisis. Some of those who were at the plantation 30 years ago will return on Sunday to speak and honor the tree. There will also be veterans who were present in Kanesatake.

But Smoke said he was also eager to see new generations come to discover its history and meaning.

“I think it is time for us to pass on this knowledge and this wisdom to our young people so that they can benefit from it in a good way, so that they do not have to go through what we have experienced and what my ancestors lived, “he said.

The Tree of Peace is located beside the Fork of the Thames, off York Street, to the west of the London Labor Council sculpture, “The Praying Hands”. The ceremony begins Sunday at 6 p.m.

Mohawk director Tracey Deer’s debut film, Beans (2020), highlights the strength and resilience of Mohawk women. It finally gets its theatrical release on Friday. 5:25


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