EDMONTON – Pope Francis has added his name to the list of people offering prayers for Canadians affected by the massive wildfires that have led to the evacuation of Fort McMurray.

Published in Canada

Although flames destroyed much of Fort McMurray, a resident found comfort in how the emergency united the community, even as fleeing people left everything behind but each other.

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As firefighters continue the fight to save Fort McMurray from a wildfire that is threatening to consume the entire northern Alberta city, it is feared that St. Paul Church is one of the city’s structures that has been lost to flames.

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MONTREAL - “Something died in all of us today,” said Montreal city councillor Mary Deros as she surveyed the burned-out shell of Koimisis Tis Theotokou Church.

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There are many more questions than answers.

That’s the way it is with most tragedies but this one seemed even more perplexing, even more heart-rending.

Published in Guest Columns

A long fought battle to save St. Mary’s Polish parish in Sydney, N.S., came to a fiery end on Nov. 29 as the church was reduced to ash, smouldering debris and charred remains.

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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - A Catholic samba group in Rio de Janeiro changed its parade plans after the nightclub fire that killed more than 230 people, most of them students from the local university in Santa Maria.

Published in International

OTTAWA - The Ottawa Catholic District School Board has been fined $275,000 for its role in a 2011 classroom explosion that killed student Eric Leighton.

“As a school board ultimately we’re responsible for what happens in the schools,” said Julian Hanlon, director of education. “We’ve accepted that responsibility all along and this process will hopefully help bring some closure to the case, in particular for the Leighton family themselves.”

When Leighton tried cutting a 55-gallon drum in half with an angle grinder during his morning shop-class on May 26, 2011, the steel barrel exploded. The blast sent five students and A teacher to hospital, all of whom left with minor injuries except for Leighton. The Grade 12 student later passed away. He was 18.  

Charged in January under the Occupational Health and Safety Act with failing to provide instruction or supervision, failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect the workplace and failing to properly acquaint a supervisor with the handling of equipment, the board faced up to $500,000 in fines.

A media release from the Ministry of Labour stated that “the barrel the student was using had been washed out with flammable cleaner ... the barrel had been stored with its caps closed prior to the class project, allowing flammable cleaning vapour to accumulate.”

The family has called for a coroner’s inquest which is still being considered according to Dr. Roger Skinner, regional supervising coroner for Ontario east.

Published in Canada
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