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Arresting officer in Toronto van attack doesn’t want to be called a hero

Dilshad Burman and Diana Pereira | posted Thursday, Apr 26th, 2018

“He wants the public not to call him a hero. He’s Officer Ken Lam. He’s real. He’s got a name, he’s got a badge. He’s not a hero.”

Toronto’s deputy police chief Peter Yuen spoke to media on behalf of and about Constable Ken Lam in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon after police was inundated by requests to speak to the “hero cop” — the police officer who apprehended and arrested the suspect in Monday’s deadly van attack in Toronto without firing a single shot.

Yuen said he shares a close relationship with Lam and shared some of the constable’s thoughts and what he wants the public and media to know — the salient point being that he does not consider himself a hero, nor does he want the public to see him that way. He was not assigned to the call that day but rather simply “bumped into the suspect.” He feels there were many first responders and other personnel on site who all deserve support and recognition.

Lam is unable to speak to media himself because he is a key witness in a multiple homicide case, Yuen said. He could be required to testify in court and anything he says could be used as evidence in open court.

Here are some snippets of what Yuen said:

Who is Const. Ken Lam?

  • Lam is 42 years old and married.
  • His parents immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong around 40 years ago to give their children a better life.
  • He had an interest in volunteering and helping people from a young age and wanted to work with seniors.
  • He joined Toronto police to give back to his community.
  • He began his police career in traffic services seven years ago, before which he was an engineer for 14 years. He moved to 32 division because he wanted a position where he could interact more with people.
  • Lam is a member of the TPS East Asian internal support network and is known as “the guy who sells stuff” because of his tireless work to raise money for various charities and causes.

How is he doing?

  • Lam is in an after-care program, a mandatory part of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) protocol for officers who endure traumatic experiences. Yuen said the TPS’ support program is one of the best in the country.
  • Lam was in good spirits on Wednesday morning when Yuen spoke to him, but the previous day was a difficult one. Yuen explained he had been through a similar traumatic experience 30 years ago, and knows that there are good days and bad days and it will take a while for Lam to recover.
  • Lam said he wasn’t able to sleep after the arrest. Yuen says that Lam expressed feeling anxiety, sleeplessness and sometimes woke up in cold sweats.
  • Among the things Const. Lam is currently grappling with is whether he made the right decision and what might have happened if he had opened fire.
  • Lam feels a sense of relief and is very appreciative for the public’s acknowledgement and support. He feels he made the right decision when he chose to give up his career as an engineer and join the force.

How did he handle the arrest?

  • Lam was not assigned to the call on Monday. He responded to it and “the incident found Ken Lam” said Yuen. He “bumped into the suspect” and made the arrest.
  • Yuen said Lam followed his training to the letter and he is an example of the TPS’ training translating into action.
  • Officers go through three days of rigorous front line training every year. Yuen said it is a continuous curriculum that is updated and reinforced on an ongoing basis. He added that Lam’s case could very well be used for training purposes next year.
  • Yuen said Lam’s calm and decisive behaviour was “remarkable” and he went “above and beyond.”

Boston Bruins eliminate Maple Leafs with 7-4 victory in Game 7

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 26th, 2018

The Toronto Maple Leafs had been here before — up a goal heading into the third period of a Game 7 at TD Garden.

Wednesday’s collapse won’t rewrite any record books, but it hurts just the same.

Jake DeBrusk scored his second of the night on a great individual effort to put Boston ahead for good as the Bruins stormed back over the final 20 minutes to stun the Leafs 7-4 and advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Toronto led 4-3 through two periods, having clawed its way back from a 3-2 deficit.

Then the wheels fell off.

“You’re all part of it when it goes good, you’re all part of it when it doesn’t,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. “We came into the third period in a great spot.

“For them, for us. It was all right there. There was one period to go.”

There was also one period to go five years ago in Boston when Toronto led 2-1 through 40 minutes of Game 7 and 4-1 midway through the third period only to make NHL history as the first team to blow a three-goal cushion in that situation before losing in overtime.

The cast of characters is largely different, and the Leafs didn’t give up a late three-goal lead on this night, but they did surrender advantages of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-3, refusing to punch back when the Bruins came hard in the third.

“Not the way we saw it going,” said teary-eyed Toronto defenceman Jake Gardiner, who was on the ice for five goals against. “Personally I’ve got to be better. A lot of this game is on me. And it’s just not good enough, especially in a game like this. It’s the most important game of the season, and I didn’t show up. There’s not much I can say, really.”

“It’s going to be a tough one to swallow,” Gardiner added later. “I let a lot of people down.”

Boston, which led the series 3-1 before Toronto mounted a comeback to push it to Game 7, will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Game 1 of that series goes Saturday in Tampa, Fla.

Patrice Bergeron, with a goal and two assists, David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen, Torey Krug and Brad Marchand, into an empty net, also scored for the Bruins. David Krejci had three assists, while Kevan Miller added two of his own.

“Didn’t matter how long it was going to take,” Krug said. “We were going to do the job.”

Tuukka Rask made 20 stops. Pastrnak and Marchand had an assist each for two-point nights.

Patrick Marleau, with two, Travis Dermott and Kasperi Kapanen replied for the Leafs, who got 29 saves from Frederik Andersen. William Nylander added two assists.

Toronto forced Game 7 with a 4-3 victory in Game 5 where Andersen stood on his head with a 42-save performance in Boston before picking up 3-1 win on home ice in Game 6.

The netminder was brilliant in those outings, but wasn’t at his best Wednesday.

“Being able to force Game 7 is great,” Andersen said. “Obviously a pretty empty feeling right now.”

Boston tied it 70 seconds into the third when Krug blasted a shot from the point through a screen with the teams playing 4 on 4.

The Bruins then pulled in front at 5:25 with both clubs again playing down a man when he cut around Gardiner off the rush and slipped a shot through Andersen’s five-hole at an electric TD Garden.

“He got it off quick, he made a good move,” Andersen said. “He surprised me a little bit.”

Pastrnak then put it away with 8:21 to play, and Marchand scored into an empty net in the final minute.

Down 3-2 following a wild first period where they led twice, the Leafs tied things at 2:07 of the second when Dermott ripped a shot past Rask for the rookie’s first playoff goal.

The Bruins then went on the power play, with Andersen robbing Krug on a spectacular save from the slot to set up Kapanen shorthanded. The rookie winger fought off Marchand before moving in alone on Rask and beating the Bruins netminder with a slick move at 6:05.

“Disappointed,” Babcock said. “We were set up perfect going into the third.

“We were fresh. I thought we were the fresher team, and we were in the driver’s seat.”

Toronto exits the first round for the second straight spring, but despite the spirited comeback, this stings after a season where the club set franchise records for points (105) and wins (49).

While last year’s Leafs were just happy to make the playoffs, the 2017-18 edition expected to make some noise.

But the loss of centre Nazem Kadri to a three-game suspension in the opener against Boston, Andersen’s suspect play for long stretches, and the inability of Nylander and Auston Matthews to ever really get going cost Toronto.

While Matthews garnered more attention from the Bruins than any other Leafs forward, the 20-year-old star didn’t leave a mark on the series.

A bright spot up front for the Leafs was the play of winger Mitch Marner, who led his team with two goals and seven assists.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Matthews, who could only muster a goal and an assist in seven games. “We wanted to keep it going. We had the opportunity tonight.

“We let it slip.”

Marleau opened the scoring on the power play at 2:05 of the first when he tipped Gardiner’s point shot, but DeBrusk tied it on a Boston man advantage just 2:42 later, moments after Andersen reached back to stop a puck dribbling towards to goal line with the help of teammate Tomas Plekanec.

Marleau restored Toronto’s lead at 6:12 off a great pass from Marner, but the Bruins came back once again when Heinen beat Andersen at 9:10 to cap stretch of four goals on 11 combined shots.

The Leafs lost Morgan Rielly later in the period after he took a Zdeno Chara shot from the point in the mouth while battling in front. The bleeding Toronto defenceman missed the rest of the period, but returned for the second.

Marner and Matthews had a couple of chances to restore the Leafs’ lead in that frenetic opening 20 minutes, but the Bruins went ahead with 36.4 seconds left when Miller shot intentionally wide right to Bergeron, who buried his first point since Game 2.

“We just could not hold the leads,” Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey said. “We had three of them and couldn’t hold the lead.”

York regional police say teen was clocked driving 87 km/h over speed limit

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Apr 26th, 2018

A 17-year-old boy with a G2 driver’s licence has been charged with speeding and stunt driving after he was allegedly clocked driving 127 km/h in a 40 km/h zone in Markham last Thursday.

An officer conducting an educational presentation on speed enforcement for a group of students first spotted the vehicle near Rodick and Calvert roads at around 10:30 a.m.

The officer used a Radar device he had on hand for the presentation, and allegedly clocked the vehicle travelling 87 km/h over the posted speed limit.

“The officer was unable to safely stop the vehicle, however another officer conducting patrol a short distance away observed the vehicle which was still driving at a high rate of speed,” police said in a release. “The vehicle was stopped and the driver was investigated.”

The teen’s vehicle was impounded for seven days and his licence was suspended.

How to talk to your children about traumatic events

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Apr 25th, 2018

Many parents are struggling with how to talk to their kids about events such as the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others.

CityNews reached out to Dr. Andrew Wong (www.awongpsychology.com), an Etobicoke-based psychologist.

Here are Dr. Wong’s top six tips for parents after a traumatic event:

  1. Limiting social media exposure to children regarding traumatic event – In my research with the traumatized population, children who have experienced horrific events have also benefited from adults who shielded them from images of violence and death. Children have vivid imaginations and seeing horrific events may only amplify those mental images. For young children, they should not be exposed to crime scene photos or images as this may increase a child’s worry and anxiety.
  2. Stay calm and follow your regular routine – Children are perceptive to adult behaviours and they know when parents are worried and upset. If we continuously watch the television or look at our phones to follow the events and express our concern and worry, children will internalize this worry. Therefore, it is important for adults to show children that we are calm.
  3. Provide reassurance – Let your children know that among all of the commotion, everything will be fine. Use your observations to explain how you know that you and the family are safe. For example, you can let your children know that the police are on the scene and an investigation is underway and the violent person has been caught. If your child becomes fearful of walking on the sidewalk to go to school, reassure him or her that they have walked this route on many occasions and nothing bad has ever occurred.
  4. Allow for communication – Listen to your children and what they have to say. This provides parents with insight into your child’s thought process. We may not always know how to respond with words but if children see that we are listening and allowing them to share their thoughts, they will likely feel the reassurance. If your child’s thoughts appear to be ‘fuzzy,’ prompt them by asking, “What do you mean by that?” Tell me more…” Also allow for children to express their feelings and mirror those feelings. For example, when a child tells you that they are sad about the situation, let them know that you are sad as well. This shows that it is safe to feel sadness.
  5. Discuss the positives after the event – As exemplified by many people in this city and around the world, a traumatic event has the ability to bring people together. Share thoughts and images of people displaying positive (or prosocial) behaviours such as delivering flowers and writing well-wishes.
  6. Seek assistance – Anxiety and worries, for the majority of children, will subside after a matter of days for such events. If your child, however, continues to show fear, anxiety, and worry after the course of a few weeks to a month, you may want to seek help through your family doctor, psychologist, or therapist.


Memorial grows outside scene of Toronto van attack

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Apr 25th, 2018

A memorial is growing outside the scene of the Toronto van attack that claimed the lives of 10 people and injured 14 others.

Alek Minassian, 25, is currently facing 10 charges of first-degree murder and 13 charges of attempted murder.

Toronto residents have flocked to Olive Square, near Yonge and Finch, to express their condolences, light candles, and leave flowers and messages for the victims of the tragic event.

Tributes began pouring in on social media shortly after the attack on Monday, with the hashtag #TorontoStrong.

First of 10 victims identified in Toronto van attack

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Apr 24th, 2018

The first of the 10 victims from yesterday’s van attack has been identified by family to CityNews as Anne Marie D’Amico.

D’Amico has worked with Tennis Canada and the Badmonton and Racquet Club of Toronto.

Does Canada’s healthcare system treat everyone equally?

Faiza Amin | posted Tuesday, Apr 24th, 2018

Canada’s universal healthcare is something that is often celebrated around the world, but some question if this is a system that treats everyone, particularly racialized communities, equally.

Serena Thompson was diagnosed with sickle cell disorder at birth. It’s a genetic condition that occurs in people of African, Arabic and Indian racial backgrounds. It’s common for those diagnosed to experience pain attacks without warning, described to be worse than childbirth.

For Thompson, who is 45-years-old, it means getting hospitalized and sometimes treated with powerful painkillers. During a crisis like this, her biggest worry isn’t how she’s feeling, but if she’s going to get treated.

“The first thing that comes to mind, is I’m looking a mess. Let me put myself together so at least I can look presentable, so I can look in a way that they would want to deal with me,” said the mother of one.

“If they’re not aware of the disease, the first thing they see is ‘oh it’s a black person, and oh they just want drugs.’ That’s the main thing that’s been going on for decades.”

Experts in Toronto say Thompson’s experiences aren’t rare, similar experiences have been reported in the U.S. and in Canada, including in a recent provincial publication. The Clinical Handbook for Sickle Cell Disease Vaso-occlusive Crisis was released by the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health, along with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care back in December. The report detailed the challenges faced by SCD patients when seeking medical treatment at hospitals.

“Clinicians and administrators recognize that racism towards patients with SCD does exist and must be addressed,” the report read.

The handbook also featured a series of comments from focus groups that detailed people’s experiences. They touched on everything from long-wait times to provider knowledge and attitudes, which was identified as one of the barriers to care.

“My brother was 33 years old when he went to the ER with a crisis, they saw a black male and told him he was looking for drugs not having a crisis. Despite the comment they gave him 40 dilaudid and sent him home,” one comment read.

“My aunt called in the morning and told me not to come. They found him dead.”

Public Health specialist Dr. Onye Nnorom said there’s a standard of care for sickle cell patients to be treated within 30 minutes of arriving to the emergency department, and delays in treatments can have severe consequences on health.

“It’s standard of care to provide narcotics in those situations, and so we do see this with black patients,” said Dr. Nnorom, who is also the Black Health Theme Lead at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine.

“I can say with my own research and own clinical practice, I don’t hear these types of repots with non-black patients, but in particular with the white Canadian population of having when you’re in excruciating pain dress a certain way to be treated equitably.”

The Ontario government says racial inequalities in the healthcare sector are most often indirect, subtle and systemic, but up-to-date data on discrimination in the sector isn’t readily available in Canada.

In addressing unconscious biases, Dr. Nnorom said we must understand that people aren’t doing it intentionally so it can sometimes be difficult to change.

“There are things hospitals can do with regards to policies and practices to start to undo these systemic issues that end up playing out as unconscious bias,” she said.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada

The College of Family Physicians of Canada created a social accountability working group to tackle unconscious biases — providing education and training to physicians and healthcare providers to shift the culture towards social accountability.

“There has been attention now to understand that the unconscious biases exist, they are real and there’s something we can do about it,” said Dr. Ritika Goel, chair of the Social Accountability Working Group.

The group is also focused on finding strategies in advocating for the equitable outcomes of “vulnerable groups.”

“From research that’s been done for example, we know women, people who are black or Latino that present to the emergency room are more likely not to have their pain addressed,” explained Dr. Goel.

“So for example the same amount of pain they present with, might get less pain medication or may not get addressed as quickly.”

Mount Sinai Hospital Leading the way

Just last year, Mount Sinai Hospital held a symposium and released the “Black Experiences in Healthcare“, which identified and raised awareness on health inequities faced by black Ontarians in Toronto. That includes lack of access to healthcare services, gaps in care and inequalities in health outcomes. The organizers said this was a tool to illicit greater accountability in the province.

The hospital is also leading the way in, what some describe to be, a ground-breaking project. In 2012, the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, also known as the Toronto Central LHIN, mandated health-care organizations to collect patient demographic data in an effort to tackle health equity across the system.

Since 2013, 16 hospitals and 16 community health centres were required to hand out voluntary questionnaires to clients. The surveys asked about their races, ethnicities, salary and sexual orientation, amongst other things.

“We are in a moment where everybody in the healthcare system is using the language of healthcare equity, and this initiative is saying if you’re going to use the language of health equity then we need to have evidence that speaks specifically to health disparities,” said Angela Robertson, executive director of Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre.

“Having this data really can enable us to produce evidence that says here are the sights of inequalities.”

As of 2017, over 435,000 clients have responded to the voluntary questionnaires and health facilities say they’re already benefiting from the data collected. Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, for instance, has learned more about cancer screenings at their clinic.

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre has also been collecting its own data in the 25 years it’s been serving racialized women in the GTA. The Centre’s executive director, Notisha Massaquoi, said their data shows, on average, black women go see a doctor when the effects of their chronic illnesses were in advanced stages. Illnesses such as HIV and diabetes, and mental health concerns were also expressed.

Robertson said it’s still too early to tell whether or not the data has identified racial biases in the healthcare system, but anecdotal stories like Serena Thompson’s are extremely telling.

“Canada’s history of multiculturalism has made it not as responsive to naming race and racism,” Robertson stated.

“As a result, Canada, I would say, lags behind even the U.S., around collecting raced based data and talking about the impact of racism In accessing health care, in health outcomes, in measuring quality of care receives, by racialized black and indigenous people.”

Calls on Canada and Ontario to Collect Race-Based Data

The collection of race-based data has long been a controversial practice in parts of Canada, because historically it’s been sometimes used against minorities.

However, medical experts say through their experiences, once patients and clients understand the need for data collection, they’re more willing to participate.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care said race-based data is not systematically collected across Ontario.

However, on Monday the province announced plans to start collecting race-based data in the child welfare, education and justice sectors over five years- it is not clear yet if that will also include the health sector.

American studies have long highlighted the healthcare inequities and social detriments in their healthcare system, identifying barriers through data collection. Experts here north of the border say Canada doesn’t do the same, and that’s a problem here.

“That is a racial bias,” said Massaquoi.

“You’re not concerned about the healthcare of every individual, you just want to make general statements.”

The Ministry said there is research on Indigenous and racialized communities that has been completed in the past.

The country’s Indigenous population is said to face some of the worst health prospects in the province, including prevalence of diabetes. While Black Canadians are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, mental health issues, heart disease, and strokes. That community, along with South Asian groups also have the highest rates of diabetes.

“Rolling all this data up to the policy level is what’s going to ensure resources flow to the appropriate place,” Massaquoi said, adding racial biases can be seen in the poor outcomes of particular groups.

Robertson also added that racialized groups are also under-represented in medical studies, and there is a real push for researchers to be more inclusive in their studies.

Tributes pour in following Toronto van attack

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Apr 24th, 2018

Tributes have begun to pour in on social media following the tragic events on Monday afternoon at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue.

Ten people were killed and 15 more were injured when a rental van plowed through a group of pedestrians.

The hashtags #TorontoStrong has emerged among many of the tributes as well.

The Maple Leafs held a moment of silence before Game 6 Monday night against the Boston Bruins.

Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer rose in the House of Commons to share his thoughts and prayers with the victims and asked for the Prime Minister to share any updates as they become available.

“I speak for all parliamentarians when I say that our thoughts and prayers of the victims of the recent tragic situation that’s unfolding in Toronto right now. I wonder if the prime minister will join me in sending our best wishes to the community impacted and update the house with any information that they might be able to share as this situation unfolds.

Trudeau responded to Scheer saying,”Our thoughts are obviously with those who affected by this incident. We are still gathering information and as soon as we can we will share more information with Canadians.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne has commented on the incident as well, saying they are following the situation closely.

Wynne spoke with the media outside her office at Queen’s Park and says she has been briefed by the provincial security adviser.

“This is a frightening and tragic situation.” Wynne says, “What I want people to know is all levels of government and police services are working together so the OPP and the RCMP and the Toronto Police Service, all levels are working together and the information is flowing among those organizations.”

Ontario PC Party leader Doug Ford and Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath have both tweeted out thoughts and prayers, thanking first-responders on the scene.

Mayor John Tory has also released a statement.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also tweeted out a statement, saying his thoughts are with all those affect by the horrific events unfolding at Yonge and Finch.

The city has announced the Toronto sign has been dimmed and all official flags will be flown at half-mast until further notice.

Tributes continue to pour in on Twitter as well.

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