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‘If it is not my daughter, it will be somebody else’s’: Family of Crystal Papineau calls for changes after woman’s death

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“If I have anything to say about it, there won’t be any more of those bins,” said Kuno. “It is not the Canadian Mint. It is clothes. If it is not my daughter, it will be somebody else’s. These containers, from the sounds of it, would never be safe.”

Kuno spoke to the Star on Saturday from the bungalow where his daughter grew up, about 40 kilometres south of Ottawa.

“She left a mark and I guarantee she won’t be forgotten,” he said.

Papineau was a regular guest at drop-ins and respite sites, places that provide shelter and community for people who don’t have housing, are living in poverty, or are dealing with mental health and addiction issues.

While she spent almost two decades in Toronto, that bungalow near Ottawa was where she grew up. The little girl with blond hair and a stubborn streak came to them at age 5, said stepmother Evelyn Simser, who said they loved each other as mother and daughter.

“Crystal had whatever she wanted here. We weren’t rich but she got everything that I could possibly give her,” she said. That meant a bedroom decorated with new white wallpaper, with yellows stripes and roses, and a yellow shag rug in a house on an acre of property where the sometimes wild little girl could run free.

During those years she took her father’s last name. Papineau was her family name on her mother’s side.

Papineau loved unicorns and butterflies and was obsessed with Kraft Dinner. At age 8 she would climb up an antenna on the side of house so she could dance on the roof with a neighbourhood friend, said Simser, clearly not amused by that activity.

She developed an early and distinct sense of style, Simser said. “The worse she could put on, the better. We had dresses for her here and she would put on a pair of jogging pants or an old T-shirt. She didn’t want to be pretty.”

Simser said Papineau was beautiful and bright but despite years spent trying to make her feel loved and secure, she never seemed able to overcome challenges with her mental health. She could lash out and acted out more as she grew older, they said.

“You could get close to her, but only close enough. Because she didn’t want to lose you,” said Simser. Papineau was with them until age 15 and soon after was in Toronto. She could always come home but was devoted to her chosen family in the city, said Simser.

She takes some comfort knowing the young woman is at peace now. “I can almost guarantee she is telling me not to cry and worry. She is always going to be here. She is always going to be with me.”

But Simser shares her husband’s anger over how Papineau was found, and like him believes there is a need for better services.

“They have no right putting those so close to women’s shelters knowing those people are freezing and need what is in those boxes,” said Simser. “Maybe they shouldn’t be in them, but they are starving and freezing … I just wish I could get to Toronto. There wouldn’t be a box there. I’d smash every one of them. They need to be off the street.”

While the drop-ins and sites Papineau visited provided a temporary safe haven, advocates and people close to those lost to poverty and homelessness say they shouldn’t exist — that people need more mental health supports and places to live.

“We have all been so angry for so long … you hope to God that something breaks, that people are in the right mood to pay attention to what you have been saying for years and are saying again,” said Meg Inwood, 34, a close friend of Papineau. “There were no beds for her that night. There was nothing in the f—ing city.”

Inwood met Papineau when they were teenagers in Toronto. When Inwood left her home, Papineau took her under her wing.

“She helped show me the ropes. She helped show me how to survive on the street,” Inwood said, adding that they bonded over a deep love for the printed word.

“She, like me, just ate novels for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Inwood said her friend struggled with addiction and mental health problems, and experienced homelessness for periods of her life, although the last year was particularly rough. But no matter what shape she was in, she said, she still always gravitated to others in need or in pain.

“When you were upset, she would not let you push her away and instead of getting mad she would make you feel better,” Inwood said. “She was laughing, you know, but knew how much you were hurting because she had hurt that much, too.” She also kept private the details of her past hardships.

“The fact that the world just kept hammering and hammering her and she never lost that generosity of spirit … it was beautiful.”

Mayor John Tory has called for an expedited review of how donation boxes are licensed and has asked the committee charged with that work to immediately instruct staff to remedy any safety issues identified throughout the process. The city has also pledged to create 1,000 new emergency shelter beds by 2020 and has created a new planning and housing committee.

On Thursday, as Toronto shivered through its first cold weather alert of 2019, the city’s 4,430 emergency beds for women, men and youth were nearly full, according to city data. A block of about 2,850 motel and hotel beds — added to reduce the strain on the system — were 85 per cent full.

An additional 1,034 people took shelter inside drop-ins, the warming centre at Metro Hall, three locations of the Out of the Cold program and the first of the city’s new winter respite sites — domed structures with space for 100 cots.

Despite the persistent winter cold, makeshift encampments remain the living choice of some, often alongside major roads or beneath the Gardiner Expressway. Last week people at some of those sites were told they would face eviction in 14 days, as first reported by the Toronto Sun.

Brad Ross, head of communications for the city, said that members of Toronto’s Streets to Homes Program are working to provide them with access to shelter and housing, or any additional services they need. A key concern, he said, was the risk of fire as people try to stay warm inside tents and makeshift structures. Some sites are also dangerously close to traffic, he said.

“At some point we need to say you can’t camp on the street. We need to remove the structure,” said Ross, speaking with the Star on Saturday. “It becomes a public safety issue, whether for the individual themselves or for the public.”

Several hundred people gathered in the freezing cold to honour Papineau’s memory on Thursday, at a makeshift memorial set up near where she died, and to call on all levels of government to provide more support for people in need.

“This is not a death by misadventure,” said Lesley Wood, with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. “This is death by neglect. Neglect of housing. Neglect of shelters. Neglect of services.”

One place where Papineau was well known was Sistering on Bloor St. W., where women can find safety and support all hours of the day and night.

“Crystal left us a gift. And the gift was the beginning of this gathering,” executive director Patricia O’Connell told mourners at the Thursday night vigil.

“She has given us this opportunity, sadly, to say homelessness in this city, in this province, in this country, is an epidemic,” she said. “Crystal’s death was the result of extreme poverty … we cannot let her death be in vain.”

Emily Mathieu is a Toronto-based reporter covering affordable and precarious housing. Follow her on Twitter: @emathieustar

Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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