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Deceased millionaire’s family sues after DNA test reveals heir isn’t related

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Elis Gosta Hjukstrom was born out of wedlock in a tiny hamlet in northern Sweden. He died in Vancouver a self-made millionaire, bequeathing most of his fortune to the man he called his son.

But a paternity test conducted after Hjukstrom’s death revealed he wasn’t biologically related to his heir.

Now, Hjukstrom’s extended family in Sweden is suing the heir in B.C. Supreme Court, claiming he and his now-deceased mother deceived Hjukstrom for decades in order to benefit financially. 

Hjukstrom, a lifelong bachelor known to many as Gus, moved to Canada from Sweden in his 20s. He died of cancer in 2017 at age 87, leaving behind a Vancouver-based import and distribution business and a family estate in Sweden worth a combined total of about $14 million, of which he bequeathed most to Swedish resident Kenth Lundback. 

In a notice of civil claim filed last May, the family alleges that Lundback and his mother intentionally defrauded Hjukstrom for over 50 years in a « calculated, callous and selfish way » by leading him to believe Lundback was the man’s biological son.

In or around 1994, Hjukstrom, centre, treated some of his Swedish family to a month-long trip to Vancouver. The family says he was very generous during this trip, and rented an apartment for them and paid for all their expenses. « Gosta was very proud to show us around Vancouver and to introduce us to his close friends and staff, » the family said. (Onyx Law)

The family — Hjukstrom’s surviving siblings, nieces and nephews — wants Lundback to be removed from Hjukstrom’s will and the trust.

In his response to the family’s claim, filed in the B.C. court, Lundback denies the allegations and argues instead that Hjukstrom knew it was possible that he wasn’t his biological son. Lundback says he and Hjukstrom enjoyed a « warm, happy and encouraging » rapport in recent years that was « akin to a father/son relationship. »

The case reveals family secrets kept quiet for decades, now exposed as Hjukstrom’s relatives and his heir argue over who should rightfully benefit from the fortune he left behind. 

Impoverished background

According to court documents, Hjukstrom grew up in a small parish in northern Sweden, born to an unwed mother and the eldest of seven children.

Hjukstrom never knew his biological father, and two of his siblings were adopted out because his mother couldn’t afford to care for them. In 1957, he moved to Canada and began what is now a successful business in Vancouver currently worth about $7 million. 

While visiting Sweden in 1960, Hjukstrom had a brief romantic relationship with Ingrid Jonsson, a childhood friend. The family claims that, soon after, Jonsson began a relationship with Nils Joel — listed as Lundback’s father on his birth certificate, and to whom he « always bore a striking physical resemblance. »

The couple split up sometime after 1962. In 1964, Hjukstrom wrote to Jonsson and told her of his entrepreneurial success.

Hjukstrom, centre right, in the black vest, sometimes travelled with his family to northern Sweden, where he had a cabin. (Mikael Nordgren)

In her reply, Jonsson told him she had a young son born a few months after they had been together. 

‘I will of course take responsibility’

« If I am in fact Kenth’s father, I will of course take responsibility, » Hjukstrom wrote in a letter filed as part of an affidavit. 

« Yes, that is the case, » Jonsson later replied. « I don’t think you need to tell anyone about it. » 

Hjukstrom trusted Jonsson, the family says, because they were childhood friends. And he was a stubborn man who wouldn’t be told what to do, despite the family’s concerns that he was being taken advantage of. 

The family says Hjukstrom soon started sending Jonsson money, and he first included her and her son in his will in 1966. Jonsson died in 2008. By 2014, Hjukstrom left the bulk of his estate to Lundback. 

After Hjukstrom died in 2017, the family questioned Lundback’s relationship to him. The executor of Hjukstrom’s estate ordered a DNA test. The results showed there was no probability of paternity.

In his response filed with the court, Lundback says Hjukstrom always knew it was possible he wasn’t the father.

Established a special bond

Lundback says Hjukstrom wanted him to be his heir, regardless of whether he was his biological son, because the two had established a special bond over the years.

Lundback also claims that he didn’t know Hjukstrom was his father until 2002, when he got a letter from him stating as much. Soon after that, Hjukstrom visited Lundback in Sweden on a few occasions, and the pair exchanged phone calls and letters. 

Lundback also claims he asked Hjukstrom, twice, if they could do a DNA test, but he says Hjukstrom replied it was unnecessary. Lundback says he didn’t know how much Hjukstrom’s estate was worth.

A photo of Hjukstrom, his sister Asta, and his nephew Mikael Nordgren at their house in the 1980s. (Mikael Nordgren)

Hjukstrom’s family in Sweden are the ones trying to take advantage of the millionaire, Lundback says, claiming they only contacted him when they wanted money and gifts. Lundback says the entrepreneur never intended to leave them his fortune.

The family disputes Lundback’s assertions. As evidence, they have submitted photos of family visits over the years, many of which they say Hjukstrom paid for. 

They say Hjukstrom was mindful of family legacies and never would have left his estate to Lundback knowing that he wasn’t his biological son.

One thing both parties do agree on is that Hjukstrom was a generous man who gave freely to family and those he was close to. 

It will be up to a judge to decide whether Hjukstrom left his estate freely to Lundback because he was deceived or because he considered them to be close. 

The court recently ruled that it will hear the suits against both the trust and the estate at the same time. The case is expected to go to trial in 2020. 



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Anglais

Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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