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‘Riya is an angel’ — Mississauga community gathers to mourn slain 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar

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In the flickering light of white candles, mourners cast long shadows Saturday on the snow-covered playground of Meadowvale Village Public School.

They had gathered on this cold evening to pay respects to Riya Rajkumar, the 11-year-old Mississauga girl who was found dead Thursday at her father’s residence in Brampton. Police had issued a late-night Amber Alert when he failed to return Riya to her mother after the two celebrated the girl’s birthday earlier in the day.

Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday evening at Meadowvale Village Public School, where Riya Rajkumar was a Grade 5 student.
Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday evening at Meadowvale Village Public School, where Riya Rajkumar was a Grade 5 student.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

“It’s so sad and tragic. She just turned 11. It was her birthday,” said Debra Oliver, who was among more than 300 people attending the candlelight vigil at Riya’s Mississauga school, where she was a Grade 5 student.

“She was so young. She had not even lived her life,” said Oliver, who, like many attendees on Saturday, had never met Riya.

The girl’s father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, has been charged with first-degree murder. Police said he was taken to hospital and later a trauma centre, suffering from an undisclosed medical issue. His case will be “looked at” by a judge on Tuesday, regardless of his condition.

Vigil organizer Amrita Naipaul said she was aware of a missing child from the Amber Alert Thursday evening, but didn’t realize until later that the victim was her former school friend’s daughter.

“I have my two nieces living with me and I can’t imagine having them taken away from my family,” said Naipaul, who went to cosmetology school with Riya’s mother and got her permission to organize the two-hour vigil that started at 6 p.m.

Read more:

Peel Police charge father of dead girl, 11, with first-degree murder

Late-night Amber Alert about missing girl, found dead, prompts complaints to 911: Peel police

“It is going to be a very long journey for Riya’s mother. We just want to give her all the support she needs so she knows she is not alone.”

Among the mourners who crowded the playground and laid flowers and candles were parents and children from Meadowvale Village P.S., near Mavis and Derry Rds., which has just over 500 pupils from kindergarten to Grade 5.

“We all got a newsletter from the school Friday morning about the incident. My daughter was shocked and didn’t want to eat,” said Angela Lee, a member of the school’s parents council. Like Riya, her daughter Kaitlyn is in Grade 5.

“There were police in the school. There were counsellors. The girls were crying. They all made cards and put them on a memorial table for her,” added Lee, waiting for her turn to lay a candle in front of a placard printed with the photo of a smiling Riya.

“The community is traumatized,” said parent Sushma Aradhya, who came to the vigil with husband Uday and their daughter Sanskriti, a classmate of Riya. “As parents, we don’t know how to explain it to our kids.”

Riya Rajkumar was found in her father's home in Brampton, hours after she vanished while in his care. Roopesh Rajkumar is charged with first-degree murder.
Riya Rajkumar was found in her father’s home in Brampton, hours after she vanished while in his care. Roopesh Rajkumar is charged with first-degree murder.  (Facebook)

Bianca Johnson, who teaches at a different school, said she was saddened by the little girl’s death and felt angry at those who complained to police about being disturbed by the Amber Alert notifications sent to mobile devices on Thursday night.

“That was driving me crazy,” she said. “I teach social justice and tell my students to care about other people, but some people are selfish and self-centred. It’s mind-boggling.”

Imam Ibrahim Hussain, who didn’t know Riya or her family, said the girl’s death had brought together a community from all faiths, ethnicities and cultures.

“Riya is an angel. She has brought out our humanity, love and compassion,” Hussain said.

Balloons and flowers sit outside the home in Mississauga where 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found on Thursday evening.
Balloons and flowers sit outside the home in Mississauga where 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found on Thursday evening.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

Another vigil, organized by Brampton Councillor Rowena Santos, will be held in Brampton’s Garden Square on Tuesday evening from 5:45 p.m until 7 p.m.

A community program called Neighbourhood Watch Brampton has also started an online fundraiser to go toward Riya’s funeral costs. The original goal was $2,500, but by Saturday evening it had raised nearly $25,000.

Brampton court records show that Roopesh Rajkumar entered into a peace bond on Nov. 30, 2015 — the same day an assault charge against him was withdrawn.

According to the Department of Justice website, people can obtain peace bonds from court against defendants when someone appears likely to commit an offence “but there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has actually been committed.”

A court may impose certain conditions designed to prevent the defendant from harming others, as part of a peace bond.

Another vigil for Riya is planned for Tuesday evening in Brampton's Garden Square from 5:45 p.m until 7 p.m.
Another vigil for Riya is planned for Tuesday evening in Brampton’s Garden Square from 5:45 p.m until 7 p.m.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

In 2009, a mischief charge and an assault charge against Rajkumar were also dismissed.

With files from Emerald Bensadoun, May Warren, Alexandra Jones and the Brampton Guardian

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

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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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