Small Alberta village honours founding families for Black History Month

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Long before the province officially recognized Black History Month, the tiny village of Breton in north-central Alberta had been commemorating and honouring the African American immigrants who helped settle the area.

“It started out as very low-key, very humble beginnings with the local tea here at the museum,” said Breton and District Historical Museum curator and manager, Allan Goddard. “At that time, we still had a number of the first generation family members that were still alive.”

Alberta officially recognized Black History Month for the first time in 2017 but the folks in Breton have been celebrating their founding families annually since the mid-90s — around the same time the federal government began recognizing it.


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Every February the museum holds a special event to commemorate those who helped settle the area which was originally known as Keystone.

At this year’s event, 89-year-old Vant Hayes, who was born in Keystone, shared stories of his and his family’s life in the area.

“My parents came at the turn of the century,” Hayes said. “We lived in a log house and I’m not kidding you, the weather we had a day or two here, we get up in the morning and the water in the pail would be frozen.”

Hayes’ family was one of 52 that immigrated to the area at around the same time. Many, like his parents, were fleeing areas in the southern United States where state and local racial segregation were being enforced and violence was escalating.

“The African American settlers who founded Keystone in 1910, 1911 — they were leaving some very harsh conditions in primarily Oklahoma but some other states too,” Goddard said.

“At that time period, the Jim Crow laws were in effect and [immigrants] looked northward to Canada,” Goddard said. “Supposedly all homestead land was available and conditions of more tolerance.”


READ MORE:
Edmonton man shines light on Alberta’s racist past with interactive archive

Hayes didn’t provide details but alluded to stories he was told of violence his parents experienced in both Mississippi and Oklahoma.

While the family wasn’t completely free from racism once they arrived in Alberta, Hayes beamed when he talked about how his family was one of the first to help settle the area.

“I’m the only one left,” he said.

His sentiment is echoed by others whose families also helped settle other parts of Alberta.

“Our people did come up in the early 1900s to help settle the Prairie provinces so we are a part of the development of Alberta and Saskatchewan, so it’s important that the roots are told,” said Deborah Dobbins, whose family settled in the Wildwoods area of Alberta.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Indigenous-led truck convoy rolls through northern Alberta to support pro-pipeline movement

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Indigenous truck drivers staged a pro-pipeline rally in the tiny community of Lac La Biche, Alta, Sunday as laid-off oil and gas workers struggle to make ends meet.

Sunday’s rally, about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, was billed as the first Indigenous rally in support of pipelines.    

Organized by the local Region One Aboriginal Business Association, more than 30 trucks made their way around Lac La Biche and through a couple of neighbouring communities, such as Plamondon, Alta.

Family and friends gathered in the Bold Center community hall, many holding signs reading: « I love Canada oil and gas. »

ROABA held the rally to highlight what it considers Alberta’s northern Indigenous communities’ support for pipelines and opposition to Bill C-69, federal legislation that aims to change the way energy projects are approved. 

Shawn McDonald, president of ROABA, believes the legislation will delay projects and add to the unemployment. 

He said the association is trying to « show support for Alberta families that are really hurting right now. »

« That’s our main objective, is just to show our support. »

Robert White, from the Kikino Metis Settlement south of Lac la Biche, was one of dozens participating in the convoy. He drives a truck for a company that supplies heavy equipment to the oil patch.

« At times, we can have up to 600 employees, » he said. « And right now, we probably got about 60, which is not fair. »

He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to go to work.

And he’s one of the lucky ones. As a supervisor, he’s had to lay off workers in recent weeks. 

Dozens of pipeline supporters joined a rally at the Lac La Biche community centre Sunday. (Hugo Levesque/CBC)

« It really affects our community as a whole, like our local businesses. »

White didn’t want to speculate as to why some First Nations communities, especially in B.C., tend to oppose pipelines.

« We have to get to work, that’s the bottom line. »

The federal government paid $4.5 billion dollars in taxpayer money to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline.

But the pipeline expansion project is stalled after a federal court order cancelled its approval, ruling that the government hadn’t consulted enough with Indigenous groups.

Another protest convoy is planned for this week, starting from Red Deer, Alt., and heading to Ottawa with a projected arrival date of Feb. 19.

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Illinois man arrested in bomb threats made to southern Alberta schools

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Police in a southern Alberta town say a man in the U.S. has been charged in connection with bomb threats made to schools and a business in the community last week.

Taber Police announced in a statement from Chief Graham Abela late Saturday that a man in Illinois faces 10 counts of felony bomb threats.

The Horizon School Division said last week in a letter sent home to parents that two schools were the focus of bomb threats in anonymous voicemail messages early Friday.

Police said they investigated and determined the threats to be hoaxes.

Abela thanked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Jackson County Sheriffs Department in Illinois, as well as the Medicine Hat Police Service.

He says the investigation is ongoing and police will be releasing more info on Tuesday.

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Franchise show highlights investment opportunities during Alberta downturn – Calgary

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The Canada Franchise Association (CFA) is arguing that Alberta’s economic downturn is the appropriate time for residents to look at becoming a franchisee as a way to make an income during tough times.

“Franchising is a great way for people to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves,” Sherry McNeil, the president and CEO of the CFA, said in an interview Saturday.


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“If they’re experiencing an economic downturn, or maybe they’re worried about the job market or their job has disappeared, or they’ve been downsized, franchising provides them a different option to earn a living.”

McNeil made the argument at the annual Franchise Canada Show in Calgary at Stampede Park. She said the field gives potential business owners a chance to become entrepreneurs, but with the support system that an established brand brings.


READ MORE:
Calgary businesses should expect lingering challenges in 2019: Calgary Chamber of Commerce

“There’s a franchise for almost everything out there,” McNeil said.

“The investment range can be anywhere from $50,000 all the way to over $1 million.”

The franchise industry generates $96 billion dollars annually in Canada and is made up of more than 75,000 units, according to the CFA.

The Franchise Canada Show will wrap up in Calgary on Sunday at Stampede Park.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Windchill values of -50 C expected as extreme cold continues in Alberta

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The extreme cold is continuing its icy grip on Alberta.

Windchill values are expected to reach between -40 C and -50 C in some parts of the province, prompting an extreme cold warning from Environment Canada.

« Some parts of Alberta should expect extreme cold conditions to occur in the overnight and morning hours through the weekend and even into Wednesday, » it reads.

« Extreme cold puts everyone at risk. »

Albertans are advised to keep an eye out for cold related symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes.

And the warning adds if it’s too cold for you to stay outside, it’s too cold for pets to stay outside.

Nearly all of Alberta remains under an extreme cold warning from Environment Canada. (Environment Canada)

In Calgary, the forecast is calling for a low of -29 C on Saturday, -24 C on Sunday, -25 C on Monday, -23 C on Tuesday, -19 C on Wednesday and -20 C on Thursday.

In Edmonton, the forecast is calling for lows of -29 C on Saturday, -23 C on Sunday, -25 C on Monday, -24 C on Tuesday, -23 C on Wednesday and -23 C on Thursday.

The lowest recorded temperature in Calgary on Feb. 9 was in 1939, when the mercury dipped to -41.1 C, and the record high on this date was in 1926 when it reached a balmy 14.4 C.

The record low for this day in Edmonton is -31.9 C set in 2008 and the record high is 10.1 C set in 2016.

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Viking exhibit will be first to raid Royal Alberta Museum’s new feature gallery – Edmonton

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Viking culture has been experiencing somewhat of a renaissance of late if you judge by TV shows, so it’s fitting that the Norse seafarers will be the focus of an exhibit at an Edmonton gallery experiencing somewhat of a renaissance of its own.

The Royal Alberta Museum announced this week that the inaugural exhibit at its new 3,660 square-metre feature gallery will be “Vikings: Beyond the Legend.”

READ MORE: 24,000+ visitors flock to newly opened Royal Alberta Museum

Watch below: In October 2018, Julia Wong filed this report about how many visitors the new Royal Alberta Museum received in the first few days after it opened to the public.







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“The largest international touring exhibition of Viking artifacts opens at the new Royal Alberta Museum this spring,” the museum said in a news release.

According to the museum, artifacts featured in the exhibit will include a reconstruction of the 37-metre Roskilde 6, the longest Viking warship ever found. It features 1,000-year-old wooden planks and metal supports “showing the ship’s original lines.”

READ MORE: World’s largest modern-day Viking ship arrives in Canada after 6-week transatlantic journey

The display of more than 650 artifacts will also feature jewelry, swords, coins and tools from the ninth to tenth centuries that can be viewed, and the exhibit will be rounded out with interactive experiences and augmented reality.

“We are excited to see the new Royal Alberta Museum host its first feature exhibition,” said Ricardo Miranda, Alberta’s minister of culture and tourism. “This is another example of opportunities the museum brings to Albertans, so I encourage everyone to go feed their curiosity this April.”

The Royal Alberta Museum’s executive director said “Viking history still resonates today” and the exhibit will help explain why to visitors.

“Beyond their legendary reputation as warriors, these skilled artisans, farmers, traders and explorers influenced much of our modern society,” Chris Robinson said. “We are honoured to host this world-class exhibition.”

READ MORE: Did the Vikings really teach ancient Inuit how to spin yarn? New research upends old assumptions

Watch below: Some Global News videos related to vikings.


The exhibit is a joint venture between the National Museum of Denmark and MuseumsPartner in Austria.

“Vikings: Beyond the Legend” runs from April 18 to Oct. 20. Tickets will be available on the museum’s website.

The Royal Alberta Museum’s new location in downtown Edmonton opened in October 2018.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Alberta Liberal party launches campaigns for Lethbridge East and West constituencies – Lethbridge

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Alberta Liberal Party leader David Khan made a stop in Lethbridge Saturday to launch the campaigns for Devon Hargreaves and Pat Chizek. Hargreaves is running for the Lethbridge-East constituency and Chizek is running for Lethbridge-West.


READ MORE:
Provincial Liberal leader makes pitch to southern Albertans ahead of spring election

“This is going to be a great opportunity for us to regain seats in the legislature. Lethbridge-East and Lethbridge-West are going to be a big part of that plan. We’ve elected Liberal MLAs here in the past and we’re going to do it in the future,” said Khan.

Hargreaves was born and raised in Alberta. He is married, works in the private sector and has lived in Lethbridge for several years. Speaking to the crowd of supporters, Hargreaves talked about his passion for inclusivity, diversity and his desire to take back the ridings that were once Liberal.


READ MORE:
How do Alberta’s political parties vet their candidates?

Challenging in Lethbridge-West is former teacher Pat Chizek, who discussed her passion for public health over private.

“I would like to make sure seniors have enough facilities to care for them so that they can live dignified in the last years of their life,” said Chizek.

The two new candidates along with the Alberta Liberal Party Leader spoke to a room of supporters, at a local Lethbridge restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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B.C. people smuggling investigation alleges Rwanda, Kentucky, Alberta connections

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Court documents obtained by CBC News provide an intriguing glimpse into an alleged people smuggling case that started in the African nation of Rwanda and ended in Aldergrove, B.C., with stops in Kentucky and Washington state.

On May 13, a Rwandan woman dragged a suitcase across a ditch separating the U.S. and Canada just east of the Aldergrove border crossing. She immediately applied for refugee status.

How the 38-year-old woman got to B.C. is at the heart of the mystery.

The Canada Border Services Agency alleges two men — a Kentucky pastor and an Alberta man — « organized, aided and abetted » the illegal entry.

Athanase Moucat, pastor of the Revival Pentecostal Church in Louisville, Ky., allegedly aided the entry of a Rwandan woman into Canada, according to a CBSA search warrant application. (Revival Pentecostal Church website)

Reached by CBC News, the U.S. pastor said he had no idea the woman would seek refugee status in Canada.

« It shocked me, and I’m surprised, » said Athanase Moucat, who is also originally from Rwanda.

« We paid (for the plane ticket) from here in Kentucky to Washington state. That’s it. »

But he wouldn’t say why his congregation would raise money to fly the refugee applicant to Spokane, Washington.

« I don’t have to explain (that) to you, » he told CBC News.

The second man — from Edmonton — allegedly drove the woman from Spokane to the illegal crossing point. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Charges have not been laid, and the allegations have not been tried or proven in court.

Border jumper ‘appeared to be in distress’: CBSA

The alleged people smuggling case is laid out in a search warrant application, filed by the CBSA in Surrey, B.C., provincial court.

Such applications seek to convince a judge that more information needs to be gathered.

The report said the Rwandan woman was spotted on the Canadian side of the border because she was zigzagging « back and forth across 0 Avenue » pulling a wheeled suitcase, and « she appeared to be in distress. »

Long stretches of the U.S-Canada border are open, marked by simple signposts. (CBC)

When approached by two border agents, the report states she presented a Rwandan passport and indicated she was applying for refugee protection.

‘She was tortured in Rwanda’: Kentucky pastor

It’s not clear why she was seeking asylum — but Rwanda remains affected by ethnic tension after a government-sponsored genocide in the 1990s, according to Human Rights Watch.

Moucat said the woman feared for her life back in Africa.

« She told me … she was tortured in Rwanda, » said the Kentucky pastor.

Staying in the U.S. doesn’t appear to have been an option.

President Donald Trump has slashed U.S. refugee admissions to historic lows, making it extremely difficult for asylum-seekers in the United States. Canada’s acceptance rate, by contrast, is the highest it’s been in almost 30 years.

Last year, 341 people from Rwanda appealed for refugee status in Canada, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board. Fifty were accepted — a 15 percent success rate.

The U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration has seen an increase of refugees heading to Canada. (CBC)

‘Hotspot for illegal activities’: search warrant application

CBSA investigators claim the woman’s long journey began with help from her church in her homeland.

« (Her) pastor in Rwanda arranged for her to meet with a pastor they knew in Kentucky, » states the application.

The documents identify the Kentucky pastor as Moucat, head « of the Revival Pentecostal Church For All Nations » in Louisville.

The CBSA doesn’t say how the woman got from Africa to the U.S. It states Moucat paid to fly the Rwandan from Louisville to Spokane, where she rendezvoused with the Albertan who had driven down to meet her — « a Canadian citizen … born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. »

The application alleges he drove her just south of Aldergrove, where she was dropped off and crossed the border on foot in an area where the U.S. and Canada « are separated only by a shallow ditch that one can easily walk across … a hotspot for illegal activities. »

The Rwandan woman walked across the Canada-U.S. border just east of the Aldergrove, B.C., port of entry. (CBC)

Alberta man detained then released

According to the CBSA, the Edmonton man was detained as he drove back into Canada through the Aldergrove port of entry, around the same time the woman was making her illegally crossing.

Border agents were suspicious of his claim he was coming back from an overnight trip to « attend a church event » in Spokane.

Upon learning the woman had been picked-up nearby, the CBSA seized the man’s two smartphones. The search warrant application seeks to unlock the devices and search for messages and GPS locations.

The application notes the man « denied he had driven anyone to the border » or had accepted payment from the woman, and he was eventually released.

Moucat said he doesn’t know the Edmonton man, and received no payment for flying the Rwandan national to Spokane.

According to Canadian immigration officials, individuals rarely face people smuggling charges if they haven’t been paid.

The status of the criminal investigation is unknown.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada refuses to comment on the woman’s asylum bid, citing privacy — but it says refugee applications are taking up to two years to process because of a backlog.

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Small businesses in Alberta haven’t been this pessimistic in years, lobby group says

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Small businesses in Alberta haven’t been this pessimistic in years, according to an industry lobby group who says the oil-price differential is largely to blame — even if prices for Canadian crude have recently recovered.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says confidence among its Alberta members plunged in December and January, according to a monthly survey it conducts.

Prices for Western Canadian Select also plunged in late 2018, reaching a low point in late November, and CFIB chief economist Ted Mallett believes that’s related to the sudden shift in business sentiment.

« Because it’s in such recent memory, I think that’s why you saw a decline in optimism happen so quickly this time, » he said.

The CFIB’s « business barometer index » for Alberta plunged more that 15 points over December and January, falling to a level of 37.5 on a scale of zero to 100.

The index measures how CFIB members feel about the future.

Mallett said a score of zero would represent « perfect pessimism » (meaning every member surveyed expects things will be worse for their business in one year’s time) while a score of 100 would represent « perfect optimism. »

A score of 60 or more is usually associated with a growing economy, Mallett said.

The plunge over the last two months marks the sharpest decline in Alberta since the oil crash of late 2014, when the price for crude on world markets was cut roughly in half in a span of six months.

The CFIB’s ‘business barometer’ results for Alberta (in blue) and Canada (in red) over the past decade. (Canadian Federation of Independent Business)

Mallett said the massive oil-price differential that developed in late 2018 had a similar impact.

« The price for Western Canadian Select vis-à-vis WTI caused some big problems and concerns with businesses in the province, » he said.

« A large shift in the economics of oil-and-gas pricing has a big effect on other businesses all the way down the line. »

In an effort to close the differential, the Alberta government took an extraordinary step in December, mandating temporary cuts in the province’s oil production.

On Wednesday, the province announced it was easing those production limits because prices for Canadian crude had recovered to a sufficient degree.

But it’s unlikely business confidence will recover as quickly, Mallett said.

« It takes a long time for optimism to come back, » he said.

And that sentiment can have a broader impact on the entire economy.

The impact of business confidence

The CFIB is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of small businesses across Canada.

It has roughly 10,000 members in Alberta, which represents about six per cent of the 175,000 total businesses in the province.

If its members’ sentiments are representative of the broader business community, it could present a problem for the economy as a whole, says Anupam Das, an economist with Mount Royal University.

Business confidence matters, he said, because it affects investment decisions.

If there’s an optimistic sentiment out there, he said, businesses are more likely to hire more workers or expand their capital spending. But if the mood is pessimistic, the fear of losing money can make those investments less likely.

« When that fear comes into people, they start making certain decisions, » Das said.

« So I think the perception — or the fear — is, actually, an important factor. »

Political opinions

Speaking to a gathering of mid-sized city mayors in Calgary on Thursday, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney described Alberta’s current business climate as particularly dire.

Kenney said he’s hearing negative things from people who are looking at investing in the province.

« I was, just last night, meeting with the CEO of a global company visiting Calgary with a market cap of $50 billion who told me people aren’t walking away from investing in Alberta — they are running away from investing in Alberta, » Kenney said.

He didn’t name the CEO or the company.

Premier Rachel Notley spoke during an NDP rally in Calgary on Thursday while UCP Leader Jason Kenney addressed a gathering of mid-sized city mayors. (James Young/CBC, Monty Kruger/CBC)

Premier Rachel Notley, also speaking in Calgary on Thursday, said there’s been billions of dollars of new private-sector investment announced in the past couple of months alone and there is « more investment on the way. »

During an NDP rally at the downtown legion, she highlighted Inter Pipeline’s recent decision to go ahead with a $3.5-billion petrochemical project and Value Creation Inc.’s plan to invest more than $2 billion in an upgrading facility aimed at turning bitumen into higher-grade crude that can flow more easily through pipelines.

Both projects came as the result of government incentives aimed at spurring investment and diversifying the economy, Notley said.

« And we’re already seeing results, » she said.

The CFIB surveyed 276 of its Alberta members in December and January.

A random sample of that size would yield a margin of error of about 5.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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‘I couldn’t believe it’: University of Alberta evicted student after attempt to kill himself

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Hallways at the University of Alberta are decorated with posters with reassuring slogans such as « Love yourself » and « Take a break and find balance. »

One U of A student in Edmonton says that when he walks by the slogans, he feels as if it’s all for show.

In the fall of 2016, the 18-year-old tried for the second time to take his own life. After his second discharge from hospital in less than a month, a university administrator came to meet him.

But instead of offering help, the staff member handed him a notice of eviction from his residence.

« I couldn’t believe it, » said the student, who told his story to Radio-Canada. CBC News is calling him Eric to protect his identity.

« I was being evicted for trying to attempt suicide. I hadn’t put anyone else in danger. »

Eric was told he had to move out of his campus residence because he had violated his residency agreement. The agreement states that « the resident will not endanger persons or damage property in the premises and residence. »

The student was told he had to move out of his campus residence because he had violated his residency agreement. (Supplied/Name withheld by request)

The administrator handed the student a trespass notice and an eviction letter that said: « You admitted to attempting to commit self-harm within your residence and this was the second attempt. »

The letter also said: « The type of example your actions support have no place in an academic learning environment. »

Eric said he had experienced symptoms of depression since his early teen years, but at university his symptoms worsened. « Things suddenly felt meaningless, » he said.

He first attempted suicide in his second year of university. Police intervened and took him to hospital. After he was discharged, the U of A gave him a list of phone numbers to call if he needed help.

« I never gave it [another] thought to contact those people, » he said. He said the help he was offered was based on an assumption that his actions were a cry for help, not a serious suicide attempt.

One week later, he still had constant thoughts of dying, he said. He tried again to take his own life.

Again, police took him to hospital. When he returned to his dorm, staff had booked him a hotel room for the night and told him they would meet with him the next morning, he said. That’s when the university took action.

Decision without explanation

Officials at the U of A haven’t explained how the decision could have been approved.

In an interview this month, André Costopoulos, dean of students, said there is no policy that includes « considering self-harm or actively self-harming » as a reason to ban a student from a campus residence.

Costopoulos wouldn’t comment on the specifics of Eric’s case, but said it’s possible the decision was based on erroneous information.

Two weeks after Eric’s eviction, the same administrator who gave him the letter emailed him about reconsidering the previous decision.

But Eric said the damage was done.

« I just felt like I needed a safe place to stay where I could try to work this out in my head, where I can feel comfortable, » he said. « They took that away from me. »

‘Never justifiable, never acceptable’

The University of Alberta Students’ Union said the eviction is unacceptable.

A letter like the one Eric received is « never justifiable, never acceptable, » Andre Bourgeois, vice-president of student life, said in an interview this month.

Bourgeois said the students’ union is aware of more than one case when a student was evicted under similar circumstances.

He said that he’s concerned that a recent directive from Alberta Advanced Education to have the province provide clinical care services for students will make it harder for school staff to make decisions in the best interests of students with mental health issues.

« I wouldn’t say that I’m confident that the university will never make another mistake when it comes to suicide or mental health, » Bourgeois said.

Students vulnerable

Mara Grunau, executive director of the Calgary-based Centre for Suicide Prevention, said suicidal thoughts are almost always the result of multiple factors, but students can be particularly vulnerable to certain stresses.

« What we typically see with students is the pressure they feel to achieve, » Grunau said.

« It can also be pressure from living away from home for the first time. »

Symptoms of mental illness also often reveal themselves in late adolescence, she said.

Since 2017, five University of Alberta students have died from suicide, according to Costopoulos.

Still a student, Eric has sought psychiatric help and continues to fight his depression.

If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide you can call the 24-hour Canada-wide crisis service hotline: 1-833-456-4566.

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