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In The News for June 14 : More help on the way for crews battling Canada's wildfires

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 14 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Firefighters' helmets and water bottles rest against the windshield of a truck at a command centre within the evacuated zone of the wildfire burning in Tantallon, N.S. outside of Halifax on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 14 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

More firefighters from abroad are expected to arrive today to help battle Canada’s worst wildfire season of the 21st century. 

Quebec’s public safety minister says more reinforcements are to come from Portugal and Spain.

François Bonnardel said Tuesday the fire effort has also been bolstered by the arrival this week of two contingents of firefighters from the United States. 

Storms across the country could bring much needed rain, but meteorologists say it's not enough to stop the wildfire threat. 

A rainy forecast in Quebec was bringing hope for progress in battling the blazes, as more than 7,200 people remained out of their homes due to fires. 

Rain is also in the forecast for a large portion of Western Canada, but thunderstorms and a risk of lightning come along with it. 

About 14,000 people remained out of their homes in Alberta.


Also this ...

As wildfires from coast to coast scorch large swaths of forest, sometimes changing it irreversibly, experts have zeroed in on an often overlooked casualty of the blazes: wildlife.

Spring fires, such as the ones now burning across the country, are unusual and will possibly affect several species, said Karen Hodges, a biology professor at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus.

"If the tree with a nest burns, those eggs or chicks obviously will not survive. The adults may be able to escape the fire, but the chances that they would reproduce again somewhere else is unlikely for this year. I think one immediate impact is that many individuals will fail to breed this year. Some will die," she said in a recent interview.

"Obviously, animals that can move away ahead of the fire will do so. But that depends how fast the fire is moving — whether the animals can outrun it. It's really difficult to gauge that one."

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said Monday that more than 47,000 square kilometres have burned so far this year, with more than 430 wildfires raging across the country. Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season of the 21st century, he said.

Hodges fears things will only get worse, with months of hotter temperatures ahead. "I do expect a lot of animals to be displaced or killed," she said. "I do expect some populations in some regions to be gone, or small, for decades to come as a result of this year's burns."

Matthew Mitchell, research associate at the University of British Columbia's land and food systems, said the carbon monoxide and particulate matter in wildfire smoke can have "acute" health effects on animals, some of which may not be seen for years.

"It can affect their lungs, it can change blood chemistry, lower oxygen levels, and so then you can also have effects on the immune system," he said in an interview. "Those sorts of things can lead to changes in the demography, or the survival, growth and reproduction of animals as well."

Wildfire smoke could also lead to changes in behaviour, including how active animals are, whether they look for mates and how much they sing, he said. Orangutans and gibbons affected by wildfire smoke in more tropical areas were found to make less noise than those that weren't exposed.

Scientists have observed fetuses of martens are negatively affected from wildfire smoke, Mitchell said. He added early spring fires could impact pregnant animals or their newborns, just like they affect humans.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

LAS VEGAS _ Golden Knights games have always been as flashy as any show on the Las Vegas Strip, the sword-fighting mascot taking the ice before what seems like a legion of players marching out through the mirrored entrance into the roar of the crowd.

If this team was ever going to win the Stanley Cup, it was going to do it with Vegas flash.

The Knights delivered just that from dazzling passes to Mark Stone's hat trick to all-out goal celebrations, capturing the young organization's first title with a 9-3 romp over the beaten up and exhausted Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Coach Bruce Cassidy, in a nod to the Knights' brief history, started five of the original Vegas players known as the Misfits and put the sixth on the second shift. Cassidy sounded confident the day before the game that his team would play well, and it certainly did, blowing open a one-goal game in the second period to lead 6-1. The nine goals tied the record for the most in a Cup Final.

"Vegas, you certainly know how to throw a party,'' NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the crowd. "What's going on inside this arena and outside is incredible and a testament to what a great hockey market this is.''

Vegas closed out the series in five games to win the cup before a delirious franchise-record crowd of 19,058 at T-Mobile Arena that drowned out the pre-game introductions of forward Jonathan Marchessault and goalie Adin Hill and cheered all the way through the final buzzer.

Marchessault, who ended the post-season with a 10-game points streak, received the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.

"I couldn't be more proud of our team, our organization,'' Marchessault said. "Everybody stepped up at different times and that's why we're winners.''


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KYIV, Ukraine _ Russian forces fired cruise missiles at the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa overnight, killing at least three people and injuring more than a dozen others in a strike that damaged homes, a warehouse, shops and cafes downtown, the regional state administration said Wednesday.

The attack launched from the Black Sea involved four Kalibr cruise missiles, three of which were intercepted by air defences, the regional administration said on Facebook.

Three employees of a food warehouse were killed and seven others injured, and searchers were looking for possible survivors under the rubble, it said. Another six people _ guards and residents of a neighbouring house _ were injured.

Andriy Kovalov, a spokesperson for Ukraine's General Staff, said Russian forces have increased missile and aerial strikes on Ukraine. It comes as Kyiv moves forward with the early stages of a counteroffensive against Russia's military invasion of Ukraine more than 15 months ago.

In a briefing, he said strikes on the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Kirovohrad regions, in addition to the Odesa region, involved Kh-22 cruise missiles, sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles, and Iranian-made Shahed drones. Nine were intercepted.

Kovalov said Ukrainian forces made advances on several fronts of the roughly 1,000-kilometre front line, and fighting was continuing in or near at least two settlements in the eastern Donetsk region. Russia has occupied and controls nearly one-fifth of Ukrainian territory.

Britain's Ministry of Defence, which has regularly issued updates on the conflict, wrote on Twitter that southern Ukraine "has often been more permissible for Russian air operations'' compared with other parts of the front.

Separately, the mayor of the central city of Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown, said the death toll from a Russian strike a day earlier that hit an apartment building had risen to 12.


On this day in 2019 ...

The Toronto Raptors won their first NBA title in franchise history -- bringing the Larry O'Brien Trophy to Canada. It was the culmination of a brilliant basketball story 24 years in the making. Kyle Lowry had 26 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to lift the Raptors to a thrilling 114-110 victory over the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Raptors star Kawhi Leonard was named Finals MVP for the second time in his career. He had been acquired in a blockbuster deal that sent former Raptors star DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs.


In entertainment ...

TSUUT'INA FIRST NATION _ Police in Alberta have issued warrants for Nathan Chasing Horse, a former actor in the movie "Dances With Wolves,'' for nine charges including sexual exploitation, sexual assault and removing a child from Canada under the age of 16.

Tsuut'ina Nation Police Service said in a news release that the investigation has spanned several years with one of the offences dating back to 2005.

The actor has been in jail in Las Vegas since his arrest in January in southern Nevada, where he is charged with 18 felonies, including sexual assault of a minor, child abuse and kidnapping.

Court documents say he was the leader of a cult-like group called "The Circle.'' Documents allege he used his position to gain the trust of Indigenous families and their children, and take underage wives.

The Nevada prosecution was put on pause as the actor, who played young Sioux character Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner's 1990 Oscar-winning film, appealed to the state's Supreme Court to dismiss the case.

His lawyers have argued that his accusers wanted to have sex with him.

Chasing Horse is also facing criminal charges in Montana and British Columbia.


Did you see this?

MONTREAL _ A tribunal has found that a Quebec man who became a father after he was sexually assaulted by his wife qualifies for payments from the provincial fund for victims of crime.

The province's administrative tribunal was asked to rule whether the man should receive the compensation given to someone who supports a child born of sexual assault.

The officials who oversee the fund had denied his request, noting among other things the father did not have custody of the child and that the amounts are meant for a parent who can't work.

However, the ruling notes the wording of the law can also include someone other than a mother if that person assumes financial care of the child. 

Calling the matter a "unique'' case, a panel of two administrative judges agreed with the father, noting that he alone provides financial support for the child as the mother is unemployed.

None of the parties are identified in the decision dated May 19 and released earlier this month.

The tribunal also found the father does try to play a part in the child's life but is forced to deal with his assailant. It concluded he would be more involved if he wasn't re-traumatized after visits to her home.

The couple came to Canada in 2008 and conflicts arose soon after as the man did not want children and was subjected to verbal, physical and sexual violence that got worse over the years.

The abuse spanned between 2010 and February 2013, when he said he was forced to have sex with his wife without a condom after a particularly tense argument with her and his mother-in-law over whether to have children.

The father learned a few weeks later she was pregnant and ultimately left the family, never to return.

Paternity was established in 2018 and the divorce was finalized in 2019.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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