Morning Coffee – By Aaron Hall

Weather forecast for Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Today – Periods of rain ending this morning then mainly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Fog patches dissipating this morning. Wind becoming north 20 km/h gusting to 40 this morning. High 12. UV index 5 or moderate.

Tonight – Clearing this evening. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low plus 2

Totem pole to be removed from Tecumseh Public School

(Change.org)

Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) Senior Administration has decided to remove the totem pole from the front entry to Tecumseh Public School.

The totem pole will be removed during the summer renovations in preparation for the consolidation of students from the John N. Given Public School English Language Program at Tecumseh Public School.

As part of its belief statements, the LKDSB commits to supporting a safe, caring and inclusive learning environment for all, as well its shared responsibility with Indigenous partners to support student success.

The LKDSB is committed to increasing students’ understanding of Indigenous histories and perspectives, particularly through the expansion of the NBE (English: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices) course and professional development for staff.

In support of these beliefs and to further its understanding, LKDSB contacted Dr. Robin Gray, a Ts’msyen from Lax Kw’alaams, B.C., along with the Council of the Haida Nation, representatives from the local indigenous community and the LKDSB’s Indigenous Lead. Gray and representatives from West Coast Indigenous communities believe the totem pole is a symbol of cultural appropriation and as such, should be removed.

Additionally, totem poles do not represent Tecumseh, a Shawnee from what is now known as Ohio, as noted by local Indigenous community members.

Totem poles are of cultural significance to Indigenous communities on Canada’s West Coast.

They are traditionally used to tell the stories of Indigenous families and important historical events.

The totem pole was created by four Tecumseh Secondary School students as an extra-curricular activity and has been located in the school for approximately 45 years.

Based on LKDSB records and reports by the students who created it, this was not commissioned by the school, nor the former Kent County Board of Education.

“We have displayed a piece of student work that does not reflect our commitment to creating a safe, caring and inclusive learning environment for all. We now have greater understanding that it is culturally inappropriate to keep the totem pole in the school. Instead, Senior Administration looks to have more culturally respectful symbols in the school to honour Tecumseh,” said Director Jim Costello.

“In our role as educators, we see this as an opportunity for education and understanding of Indigenous histories and traditions and to further the educational goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. We all play a role in supporting our Indigenous community partners and continuing the ongoing work towards reconciliation.”

Costello added: “We feel it is important to engage in ongoing, critical conversations about the symbols and artifacts that decorate our schools. As educators, we need to be leaders for our students so that our learning environments reflect our mission, vision and belief statements.”

The LKDSB appreciates and understands the sacred tradition within which these monuments are created.

Moving forward, the LKDSB will continue to work with its Indigenous partners to ensure the

Tecumseh Public School renovations incorporate an appropriate and accurate celebration of Tecumseh’s legacy and the ‘Timberwolves’ mascot.

Petition launched to keep totem at Tecumseh

A petition has been launched to keep the totem right where it is.

Here is what the organizers of the petition said on change.org:

“The Tecumseh Secondary School Alumni Reunion Committee was dismayed to learn that the Lambton-Kent District School Board is planning a renovation which could possibly see our iconic Totem Pole permanently removed from the Tecumseh Public School on McNaughton Avenue in Chatham.

The Totem was designed and crafted in house by 4 of our students and dedicated in 1972 when Tecumseh was a high school, where it has remained a fixture for over 45 years. The wood from which this Totem was crafted was sourced from a local tree that the artists estimate dates back to late 19th Century!

Also, as part of our Tecumseh Seventies Reunion in 2011, the Organizing Committee raised significant funds to place a bronze commemorative plaque at the front entrance. You should also know that 2017 was the 60th anniversary of the opening of our Alma Mater.

We consider both of these items to be of historical significance.

By signing this petition, you will help us advocate on behalf of the Tecumseh SS Alumni to ensure that the LKDSB makes the decision to keep our Totem Pole at the school.

This will also ensure these historical icons receive the care and respect that they deserve in the planned renovations for the purposes of conservation and display for the benefit of all the citizens of Chatham-Kent.”

Murder charges in van attack

Constable Marc Madramootoo was one of many officers holding the perimeter around the two-kilometre scene of the crime. Yonge St. is expected to reopen the evening hours of Tuesday, April 24 (Toronto Police)

From the Toronto Police: A 25-year-old man has been charged with 10 counts of First-Degree Murder and 13 counts of Attempted Murder after it’s alleged he used a truck to target pedestrians on a busy city street on April 23.

Alek Minassian, of Richmond Hill, appeared at the 1000 Finch Ave. W. courthouse on April 24 and was remanded in custody.

At a news conference at police headquarters, Detective Sergeant Graham Gibson said it’s anticipated that a 14th count of Attempted Murder will be laid shortly, following further investigation.

Gibson said it’s alleged the accused rented the panel-style white cargo van, earlier that day, from a north Toronto facility, then made his way to the area ofFinch Ave. and Yonge St. around 1.30 p.m.

“As has been reported in the media, the accused is believed to have posted a cryptic public message on Facebook minutes before he began driving the rented van southbound on Yonge St. and onto the crowded sidewalks,” Gibson said. “He drove, deliberately striking pedestrians on the sidewalk and roadway with his vehicle.”

The accused was arrested by a Toronto Police constable in the area of Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave.

Gibson said the very detailed investigation is ongoing.

“Because the accused has been charged, I am restricted from discussing any evidence involved in the investigation, including any questions pertaining to motive,” he said. “I want to thank the witnesses and members of the public who were in the area of the offence and who immediately rendered assistance to those who were injured.”

Chief Mark Saunders said the accused was arrested seven minutes after Toronto Police Service Communications the initial 9-1-1 call.

A 32 Division officer made the arrest without incident.

Saunders attributed the peaceful resolution to the enhanced de-escalation training officers receive at the Toronto Police College.

“It’s a focal point of our training piece,” the Chief said. “The way in which that arrest went down is nothing short of remarkable.”

He also encouraged people who were traumatized by witnessing the event to seek help, noting Victim Services Toronto, a non-profit organization, is free to anyone. They can be reached at 416-808-7066.

Dr. Dirk Huyer, the province’s Chief Coroner, said his office has not confirmed any of the identifications of the deceased.

“We are working to do that work carefully,” he said. “We sympathize with the families and clearly recognize the significance of those and their friends who are desperate to understand and to know the true identities of those who have died. I will tell you that identifying the victims is our number-one priority… We also have to ensure that we are completely accurate when we do this. So we are balancing the need to know with the desire to know quickly to ensure that we have 100 per cent accuracy. That takes time and that time can be very frustrating. When we have tragedies of such multiple numbers and complexity, it is very challenging.”

Huyer said there is a team comprising forensic pathologists, forensic anthropologists, coroners, dentists and scientists working together to devise a plan.

“Having said that, I don’t believe that we will be confirming names for certainly a number of days,” he said. “When we do, we will release those in a respectful way after the families are notified.”

Mayor John Tory, a member of the Toronto Police Services Board, attended the news conference and expressed his sympathy to those who lost loved ones in the mass tragedy.

He said he’s entirely satisfied that every resource is being used during the investigation and that everything is being done as quickly as possible.

Tory also said the tragedy has brought out the best in people, with many seeking ways in which they can make contributions.

“We are seeing a great deal of generosity of spirit and we are also seeing generosity that people want to express in other ways in terms of providing some degree of support for the families that have been affected,” he added. “People want to help, they want to do something.”

Gibson thanked the business community, EMS, Fire Services and the hospitals that treated the injured, Victim Services and the Office of the Coroner, for their assistance. He also acknowledged policing partners in York Region, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for their assistance with the investigation.

He assured the families of the deceased and injured that Toronto Police is working hard to ensure a thorough investigation is completed.

Gibson also made an appeal to members of the public and the business community in the affected areas.

“If you have video of the incident, or witnessed the event and have not spoken to investigators, I ask you to reach out as soon as possible to the Homicide Squad or 32 Division,” he said.

The Toronto Police has a portal on their home page for members of the community to upload any video evidence they may have obtained, along with their contact information.

“Investigators will be reaching out to witnesses and surviving victims in the near future to follow up with the investigation,” Gibson said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the investigative hotline at 416-808-8750. For anyone who suspects a family or friend may have been a victim, please contact the Missing Family/Friends Hotline at 416-808-8085. Anyone with video or photos immediately before, during or after the homicides, can upload them at torontopolice.on.ca/yongefinch.

Full Toronto Police Service press conference

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World news

If you have a suggestion, story idea, column idea, or if you want to say hello… drop me an e-mail at aaron@sydenhamcurrent.ca.