City Centre Mall lifts ban on Métis elder after security guards’ actions reviewed

Terry Lusty at the Truth and Reconciliation event held at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, March 27, 2014. Perry Mah/ Postmedia, file

A well-known and respected Métis elder says security guards banned him from City Centre Mall in downtown Edmonton for one month, all while he was trying to do a good deed.

Terry Lusty said he was catching a quick bite on the third-level food court Wednesday when he spotted a woman’s RBC credit card on the floor.

He picked it up and loudly called out the woman’s first name to see if she was still around so he could return the card.

Getting no response, he moved into the next section of the food court and called out the woman’s name again.

He said he was simply “trying to be an honest citizen and help somebody out.”

He checked the back of the card and began calling the 1-800 number on his way back to his burger and fries when he was approached by a plainclothes security guard wearing a white name badge.


“It didn’t look like anything official. It looked like something anybody could have made up,” Lusty said Friday.

The security guard asked Lusty to give the card to him, but he explained he was already on hold with the bank and that he would look after it.

Lusty told the man he was simply doing his “due diligence” in reporting the card lost. That didn’t wash with the security guard, who summoned two more security guards using his phone.

They asked him to leave, but Lusty refused.

“I told them that I had just bought a meal here and I am going to eat it in peace,” he said.

“They just stood over me while I ate. They were just power tripping. I even told them that they could sit down while I finished my meal.”

After reporting the card lost, the bank official said the card should be destroyed, Lusty said.

“That’s when I handed it over to (the security guard) and told him that he could now have it and he should cut it up,” he said.

The security guard didn’t hear Lusty so he repeated what the bank had told him, followed by “Are you deaf?”

That’s when he said he was told to immediately leave the premises and not to come back until the following day.

He refused and finished his meal. He then headed for the elevator, but not before he snapped a photo of two of the guards.


At that point, the security guards said he was banned from the mall for one month.

“I mean, this has happened before,” Lusty said, referring to an incident in 2014 when Indigenous outreach worker Gary Moostoos was banned from the food court for six months for no reason.

“This was just racist and discriminatory and it was sheer stupidity,” Lusty said.

“People from our communities need to know that if they assert themselves on matters that they feel are right about, that is their right to do so and they should do so, because otherwise our people will continue being walked all over.”

Mall general manager Olympia Trencevski viewed security footage of the incident and said she was “disappointed.”

The ban was lifted Friday, she said.

“This goes against all of our values and standards and everything we have been working so hard for,” Trencevski said. “What we saw was unacceptable.”

The plainclothes security guard has been removed from duties and will be required to redo all of his training, including diversity, sensitivity, Indigenous awareness and customer service training, Paladin Security executive vice-president Greg Swecera said Friday.

The other two guards will be required to review the footage and may undergo further training.

Lusty will receive a written apology from the group and a face-to-face apology from the plainclothes security guard, Swecera said.

“I’ve had very good, positive, conversation with Terry and we are working through it,” he said.


Anti-pipeline Activists Stage Protest on Edmonton’s High Level Bridge

Protesters opposed to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project hung a three-part banner from the High Level Bridge on Friday. (Sam Martin/CBC)

Not all Albertans support the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, activists say

Protesters hung a large banner from Edmonton’s High Level Bridge on Friday morning to “dispel the myth” that all Albertans support the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

“It’s reckless to expand major fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when we should be seeing all hands on deck for investing in a sustainable economic future,” Anna Gerrard, a spokesperson for the demonstrators, said in a news release. “Albertans are ready for an energy transition.”

The three-part banner, proclaiming No Kinder Morgan, is hung from the east side of the bridge where it can be seen from the Legislature building. It was hung by a team of “educators, workers, students and community organizers,” the news release said.

“Today’s event sends a clear message to Rachel Notley that Albertans are ready for a stable economic future, not another ill-fated pipe dream,” the protesters said.

The twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline would nearly triple the capacity of the 1,150-kilometre line running from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. to 890,000 barrels of oil per day.

The $7.4-billion construction project would add 980 km of new pipeline and reactivate 193 km of existing pipeline along the route.

First Nations, environmental groups and the NDP government in British Columbia are all fighting against Ottawa’s approval of the project.

The protest comes one day after TransCanada’s announcement that it will not proceed with its proposed Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects, prompting Indigenous groups and other opponents to claim victory.

The 4,500-km Energy East pipeline would have carried more than one million barrels of oil every day from Alberta and Saskatchewan across the country to be refined or exported from facilities in New Brunswick and Quebec. Recent projects had put the full price tag at almost $16 billion.

CBC News


Trudeau Calls Stabbing, Van Assault in Edmonton a ‘Terrorist Attack’

A U-Haul truck rests on its side after a high-speed chase with police in Edmonton. (CP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning violent events in Edmonton as a “terrorist attack” following a chaotic night that saw a police officer stabbed and several pedestrians run down with a cube van.

Edmonton police said they have a 30-year-old man in custody and they think he acted alone. But police chief Rod Knecht stressed Sunday morning that the investigation is in its early stages and authorities haven’t ruled out others might have been involved.

The police officer was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries. Four people were injured by the van, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Trudeau said Sunday that he was deeply concerned and outraged at what he called a “terrorist attack.”

“Our thoughts are with those injured, their family and friends, and all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” Trudeau said in a statement, in which he also thanked first responders and law enforcement.

“While the investigation continues, early reports indicate that this is another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against.

“We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear.”

It all began Saturday night outside the Edmonton Eskimos CFL football game at Commonwealth Stadium where it was military appreciation night.

Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, conducted the pregame coin flip and two CF-18 fighter jets did a fly-past before kickoff. More than 800 Boy Scouts were expected at the game and many were planning to camp out on the field afterward.

While the Eskimos were battling the Winnipeg Blue Bombers inside the stadium, outside a white Chevy Malibu approached a traffic control post at a high speed.

Edmonton police released grainy footage of a car ramming a crowd control barricade with a uniformed officer standing beside it. The footage shows the officer being tossed about five metres into the air as the car slams into the front of a parked police cruiser.

The video shows two people walking by with their dogs rushing towards the officer on the ground but they run off when the driver gets out of the car, runs over and appears to starts stabbing the officer.

The police officer appears to wrestle with the driver on the ground and, at one point, it appears the officer is on top of the driver. Footage shows them both getting to their feet and the driver runs across the street while the officer slowly follows behind him into traffic.

Police launched a manhunt for the suspect.

Knecht said an Islamic State flag was found in the front seat of the car and was seized as evidence.

A few hours later, while fans filed out of the game and were re-routed around the crime scene, a U-Haul cube van was stopped at a checkstop north of downtown.

When the driver was asked for his licence, Knecht said the name on the identification was close to that of the registered owner of white Malibu.

When confronted, Knecht said the U-Haul sped off toward downtown with police cars in pursuit.

The van intentionally swerved at pedestrians in crosswalks, Knecht said.

“It is believed at this time that these two incidents are related,” Knecht said. “These incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism.”

The name of the suspect was not released. Knecht said he was known to police, but there was no warning for the attack.

In a tweet Sunday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said “Canada will not be intimidated by terrorist violence.”

Goodale’s office issued a statement to say the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team was working closely with Edmonton police.

“At this time, the national terrorism threat level for Canada remains at ‘medium’ where it has stood since the fall of 2014,” his spokesman Scott Bardsley wrote, adding Canadians should report any suspicious activity.

Another police press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Edmonton time.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tweeted her well-wishes to the injured officer.

“Our thoughts are with @edmontonpolice member injured on duty tonight & hoping for a speedy recovery,” she wrote. “Grateful for our first responders.”

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also reacted on Twitter.

“Saddened and outraged by the terror attack in Edmonton. My first thoughts are with the injured, praying they all make full recoveries.”

Austin Elgie, manager of The Pint bar just west of the downtown core, saw the van zoom by with police giving chase.

The van “peeled” into an alley where people were smoking, he said.

“There were like 10 cop cars following him … It was crazy. It just came around the corner, ripping. I thought at first he was pulling over for the cops coming by, but he was clearly the one they were chasing.”

Elgie said the van hit a man who was a bar customer.

“I have a registered nurse on my bar team and I grabbed her and had her look after the guy until the ambulance came.

“He was breathing and we got him in the ambulance and he was still breathing.”

The chase came to an end outside the Matrix Hotel, only a few blocks from the bar, when the van rolled on its side.

Natalie Pon tweeted that she was at a wedding at the hotel when the crash happened.

“They’re keeping us away from windrows/the lobby,” she said.

Pon posted pictures of the U-Haul on its side with a large hole in the windshield.

Witnesses told local media they saw the suspect being pulled from the vehicle through the broken windshield and then placed in handcuffs.

— with files from Andy Blatchford in Ottawa

The Canadian Press


Trans Mountain Fight ‘Going to Be Ugly,’ Says Industry Veteran at Edmonton Oil, Gas Conference

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s Westeridge loading dock is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 201When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby6. Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS

When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby

  • by Jonny Wakefield | May 22, 2017

Expect an “uprising” in B.C.’s Lower Mainland over Trans Mountain to further complicate Justin Trudeau’s pipeline policy, an energy industry leader told an Edmonton oil-and-gas conference Friday.

“When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby, etcetera, and it’s going to be ugly,” said Bruce Robertson, an oil-and-gas industry veteran and chairman of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada. “And Trudeau et al. have got to make a decision (on) whether and how he flexes his muscle to get this thing approved.”

Pipeline politics, looming NAFTA renegotiations and Canada’s place in an increasingly uncertain energy world were among the topics discussed at Energy Visions, an annual conference organized by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) aimed at parsing trends in global energy markets.

Those markets are increasingly chaotic. After years of relatively stable energy geopolitics “now it feels hard to plan for the next two to three years with any certainty,” said PwC panel moderator Reynold Tetzlaff.

Pipeline politics

The fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would more than double capacity on an existing Edmonton to Burnaby route, is an open question after a B.C. election that has the pro-pipeline Liberals courting the upstart Greens in a bid to cling to power.

Robert Johnston, CEO of the Eurasia Group, said two of the proposed pipelines — including Trans Mountain, Energy East and Keystone XL — would satisfy demand for capacity.

He said that Trudeau jeopardized his party’s seats in B.C.’s Lower Mainland by approving TransMountain, making U.S. President Donald Trump’s Keystone approval an unlikely godsend for the Liberals.

“Trump moving forward with Keystone actually helps Trudeau avoid a very politically problematic move on Energy East in Quebec that could really split the Liberal party.”

If neither Keystone or TransMountain are built, Trudeau’s move to reform the National Energy Board is a “hedge” to shore up confidence in the regulatory process for Energy East.

“Trudeau feels like you’re going to need a very robust and transparent process, and probably a long one, if you ever want to get Energy East built,” he said.

If it ain’t broke…

The Trump administration’s move this week to trigger NAFTA negotiations could mean changes in how oil and gas flows across North America.

Or it could mean nothing.

Sarah Ladislaw, who specializes in energy and national security at the Center for Strategic & International Studies based in Washington, D.C., said the industry will be careful not to overplay its hand as negotiators open up the 1994 trade deal.

“I haven’t seen enough evidence that there’s going to be a lot of innovation on the energy portions of NAFTA,” she said. “I think that the strategy is not to do any harm.”

The industry might pursue an integrated model like the European Union, Johnston said, where “barrels and molecules can flow from Spain to Germany without too much restriction.”

“I think that could be an interesting discussion as we update NAFTA,” he said.

But Ladislaw said energy could be used as “trade bait” if negotiations start to go south in higher priority areas like agriculture.

“We want to leave (energy) out of other parts of the trade agreements that may be more problematic,” she said. “I think there’s still a reluctance to open up NAFTA too widely, because the question is can you put it back together again.”

Article written by Jonny Wakefield and originally posted in the Edmonton Sun on May 19, 2017


Mother Told Murdered Son’s Body Found in Hockey Bag

Police are trying to "trace Christian's steps in the days prior to his death.” (Facebook)

Police are trying to “trace Christian’s steps in the days prior to his death.” (Facebook)

An autopsy showed Christian Grayhorseman died as a result of foul play

CBC News Posted: Dec 31, 2016

The mother of a homicide victim known to have ties to organized crime wants to know how her son died.

Roberta Gray heard rumours that Christian Grayhorseman’s body was found in a hockey bag on Boxing Day on the Paul First Nation reserve, about 70 kilometres west of Edmonton.

She called the RCMP.

“I even got a hold of the detective and asked him, ‘Was my son found in a hockey bag’ and ‘I want to know the truth,’ and he said ‘yes, he was,'” she said.

An autopsy concluded that Grayhorseman died as “a result of foul play,” police said. No other details were released.

RCMP did not respond to messages on Friday, but in a press release said they are “trying to trace Christian’s steps in the days prior to his death” and are asking anyone who was with Grayhorseman to get in touch with them.

Gray said she’s finding out more about her son’s recent life on the streets from a friend’s daughter who lives in the area of 118th Avenue and 82nd Street in Edmonton.

“He was well-known,” she said. “I found out from his girlfriend he was actually living on the street out of a backpack.”

Gray suspected her son was becoming part of the gang known as Redd Alert.

“They were … giving him missions, putting him on drug deals — like he was a drug runner for them,” she said.

Christian Grayhorseman

Grayhorseman, 20, was also known as Sonny or SonShine. (Facebook)

Randi-Lynn Basaraba went to school with Grayhorseman in Peace River when they were kids.

She reconnected with the 20-year-old earlier this year in Edmonton and caught on that he was dealing drugs.

“I begged him to stop and told him it was dangerous and that I was scared something would happen,” she wrote in a Facebook message.

Basaraba noted that although he had many friends, his lifestyle choices hadn’t changed since she knew him in school.

“He was really troubled I think and it was hard on him, you know, his mom didn’t do too well money-wise,” she said. “I think part of him just wanted to try and help out a bit, even though he wasn’t going about it the right way.”

Gray has four other younger children and lives in Fairview. She’s making funeral arrangements to be held in Horse Lake First Nation, west of Grande Prairie.

Solidarity For Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women In Edmonton

‘Every Day Is A Gift,’ Rinelle Harper Says In Speech One Year After Brutal Attack

Rinelle Harper, centre, stands with the families of missing and murdered indigenous women during the Spirit of Our Sisters National Gathering 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. (Amber Bracken for The Globe and Mail)

Rinelle Harper, centre, stands with the families of missing and murdered indigenous women during the Spirit of Our Sisters National Gathering 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. (Amber Bracken for The Globe and Mail)

The Globe and Mail | Tues, Sep. 29, 2015

Nearly one year after the attack she so narrowly survived, Rinelle Harper addressed Alberta’s first national gathering on missing and murdered indigenous women, telling guests “every day is a gift.”

Speaking at the Spirit of Our Sisters gala in Edmonton on Tuesday evening, Rinelle explained that her family moved to Winnipeg from a remote Manitoba reserve in pursuit of better education opportunities.

“It was a big decision and a hard choice to uproot the entire family from the only home we’d ever known,” said 16-year-old Rinelle, who initially attended an aboriginal-run boarding school in Winnipeg but is now pursuing her studies elsewhere in the city. “The education system on the reservation is limited and my parents wanted more for my siblings and I.”

In the city, though, the Garden Hill First Nation teen found violence – and, almost, death.

Last November, a beaten Rinelle crawled out of the freezing Assiniboine River, only to be attacked again by the same two men. Ever since, she has been giving voice to the missing and murdered indigenous women who are not able to speak for themselves.

“Every day is a gift,” said Rinelle, who was thrust into the spotlight because police and her parents made the rare, calculated decision to release her name in the hopes it would spur investigative leads. “I’m lucky to be here. I’m lucky to be alive.”

Two men have been charged in connection with the attack on Rinelle, as well as a separate assault on another woman hours later.

The teen, who is still undergoing surgeries related to the attack, has publicly supported calls for a national inquiry into Canada’s more than 1,181 missing and murdered indigenous women. The Conservatives have dismissed a federal probe as unnecessary, while the NDP and the Liberals have committed to launching an inquiry if elected on Oct. 19.

The Spirit of Our Sisters gathering, which is sponsored in part by The Globe and Mail, comes just a few months after the RCMP said a serial killer may have been responsible for the deaths of several women in the Edmonton-area, and days after an aboriginal woman’s body was found on the shores of an Alberta waterway. The death of 43-year-old Victoria Crow Shoe is being investigated as a homicide.

Edmonton is home to the country’s second-largest urban indigenous population, behind Winnipeg. Nearly one-third of the 739 female homicides in Alberta between 1980 and 2012 involved indigenous women, according to an unprecedented 2014 RCMP report.

Gala master-of-ceremonies Wab Kinew challenged indigenous males to “redefine” manhood. “Our communities need us to be providers, to be protectors,” said Mr. Kinew, the associate vice-president for Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg. “We have to support our sisters and work with our young daughters so they know they’re valued and should be loved.”

Other gala speakers included actress Tantoo Cardinal, who appeared in Dances with Wolves and Legends of the Fall, and pageant winner Lisa Ground, a domestic-violence survivor and the mother of the first First Nations Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull. Ms. Callingbull was also present and is slated to address the conference Wednesday.

Dozens of people from across the country are participating in the conference at the Fantasyland Hotel, attached to the West Edmonton Mall – the very place from which one of the province’s high-profile indigenous murder victims was lured. Nina Courtepatte, a 13-year-old aspiring model and dancer, was coaxed from the mall before being raped and killed at a golf course in 2005.

Earlier Tuesday, attendees were confronted with the unsolved case of Amber Tuccaro, an Alberta woman who disappeared in 2010. The disturbing audio recording of her last telephone call, released in 2012 by the RCMP as part of its efforts to solve the case, was played on a loudspeaker in the otherwise quiet ballroom.

The 20-year-old mother was heard anxiously asking an unknown man where he was driving her. Two years later, her remains were discovered in the Edmonton area.

Police Street Checks: Valuable Investigative Tool Or Racial Profiling?


Edmonton Police defend the practice of random street checks.

By Andrea Huncar, CBC News Posted: Sep 14, 2015

While Edmonton police defend ‘carding,’ critics say random checks target aboriginal, other racialized groups

Robert L’Hirondelle speaks openly about his past problems: leukemia, alcohol, homelessness, an assault conviction.

But these days, he’s sober, stays out of trouble and can often be spotted performing in downtown Edmonton.

That’s where he recently bumped into a pair of patrol officers. He shared the story with them of how he turned his life around.

One officer praised L’Hirondelle. The other began questioning how he made his money.

“I was kind of put on the spot, so I kind of froze up. And I have an anxiety disorder and my anxiety started to kick in,” recalled L’Hirondelle, 22.

‘As a young aboriginal male who had problems with addiction and now is doing well for himself, police target me.’ – Robert L’Hirondelle

The officer asked for his identification to run his name through the police computer system for warrants.

Robert L'Hirondelle

Robert L’Hirondelle, 22, claims Edmonton police ‘target me.’ (Andrea Huncar/CBC)

“He told me: ‘Oh I just want to put a note in our system that we ran into you and that you’re doing good. Are you OK with that?'”

L’Hirondelle wasn’t OK with that. He exercised his legal rights and said no. By law, unless someone is under arrest, that person is not required to answer questions or provide identification.

The officer persisted but his partner pulled him away. The incident still haunts L’Hirondelle.

“As a young aboriginal male who had problems with addiction and now is doing well for himself, police target me,” claimed L’Hirondelle.

“I literally try to hide myself from police when I’m down here. I shouldn’t have a reason to be fearful of these officers, but I’m literally scared to come downtown.”

Tens of thousands stopped randomly

Each year, Edmonton police randomly stop, question and document tens of thousands of citizens who are not under arrest. It’s a practice police call street checks, but others know it as carding.

Figures provided by Edmonton police show between 2011 and 2014, officers carded an average 26,000-plus people per year, a total of 105,306 over four years.

Police insist street checks help solve and prevent crimes. Acting Staff Sgt. Brent Dahlseide, in charge of downtown foot patrols, said the stops aren’t motivated by race.

“It’s not who. It’s the behaviour,” or the location, said Dahlseide.

“I know we don’t racially profile. I would be very taken aback if somebody came up and told me that my members who I’m putting out on the street daily were conducting their business in a racial manner. It would really surprise and shock me.”

Dahlseide said street checks might be misperceived as racial profiling based on preconceived notions about police, or when more checks are conducted in an area heavily populated by one visible minority group.

Asked about L’Hirondelle’s case, he said the officer could have been checking for an outstanding warrant, so it wouldn’t come back to “bite him [L’Hirondelle] in the butt.”

If there was a warrant, the situation might simply have been cleared up with a promise to appear in court, and L’Hirondelle would have been allowed to carry on his way.

‘Moving towards a police state’

When he was younger, Lewis Cardinal said he remembers being stopped regularly by Edmonton police and being aggressively questioned walking to and from work.

Now, Cardinal, vice-chair of the Aboriginal Commission for Human Rights and Justice, said he thinks those kind of random checks are happening even more, as the urban aboriginal population explodes and many on low income live in high-crime areas.

Lewis cardinal

Lewis Cardinal, vice-chair of the Aboriginal Commission for Human Rights and Justice, believes random police checks are happening more: ‘We are being stopped, questioned.’ (Andrea Huncar/CBC)

“It seems to us we are moving more towards a police state,” Cardinal said.

“We are being stopped, questioned: ‘Where is your identification, who are you, what are you doing here.'”

Cardinal stressed he has overall respect for police who put their lives in harm’s way. But when human rights are overlooked, questions need to be raised, he added.

‘I know for a fact that information from street checks helped link an individual to either our victim or to a subject where we needed to help identify the persons involved.’ – Acting Staff Sgt. Brent Dahlseide

Cardinal said it’s not uncommon to hear someone say they were “stopped for being aboriginal” even though the person was just minding his or her own business. Outreach workers in some immigrant communities told CBC it is happening to them as well.

“They feel that they are being targeted because of who they are, because of the colour of their skin,” said Cardinal.

“There’s a lot more aboriginal people and people of color being stopped than anyone else. So that speaks a lot to profiling.”

Street checks ‘invaluable’ for probes: police

In fact, there are no hard police statistics to back that up.

Not every street check is documented. But those generating “notable information” are recorded, including information such as gang affiliations, a description of the individual and race, said Dahlseide.

Dahlseide said police don’t keep tallies broken down by ethnicity for people who are street checked. While it may be difficult to prove statistically, Dahlseide said he’s confident street checks are “invaluable” for solving crime.

“I know for a fact that information from street checks helped link an individual to either our victim or to a subject where we needed to help identify the persons involved,” said Dahlseide, who spent four years with the city homicide unit.

When a subject’s name is searched,  all files associated with that person come up, he noted.

“One street check may be something we have used for the furthering of five or six different types of investigations,” Dahlseide said.

Critics say there’s no proof that street checks help to reduce crime.

“There’s no evidence that really demonstrates that doing all this street checking is really preventing crime in any way,” said Cardinal.

Street checks under review in Ontario

In Ontario, street checks are under review after a firestorm set off by data confirming people of colour are carded disproportionately. The issue gained prominence by the personal account of black freelance journalist Desmond Cole, who revealed police had interrogated him in random checks more than 50 times.

“You know being a member of a minority is not a crime and it’s not a reason to be suspicious of anybody,” said D’Arcy DePoe, past president of the Alberta’s Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association.

“If you start with the assumption that a group of black kids is up to no good — well then you’re going to card that group of black kids. But would the same group of white kids in the same neighbourhood get carded? The statistics tell us that minorities get carded, let’s find out why. ”

Adrian LaChance is manager of the Running Thunder Dancers aboriginal group. He served time in prison for drug trafficking, and doesn’t mind being stopped for ID.

“I think, ‘Yeah, cool, right on.’ They’re looking out for the best interests of  the community and I’m OK with that,” he said.

“They have a job to do — they’re looking out for each and every one of us — and for people saying they’re just focusing only on aboriginal people, it’s nonsense. They have a job to do — they can feel that energy that people give off if they’re trying to hide stuff.”

But L’Hirondelle said random street checks on aboriginals remain a concern for him, which is why he’s speaking out.

“I just really want to let people know that if it’s happened to me, it [could] happen to you.”

Edmonton Remand Centre Bootcamp ‘Fill Time Not Kill Time’

Some of the 62 inmates living on the One Bravo Bootcamp unit at the Edmonton Remand Centre. Photo by Tony Blais/Edmonton Sun

Some of the 62 inmates living on the One Bravo Bootcamp unit at the Edmonton Remand Centre. Photo by Tony Blais/Edmonton Sun

By Tony Blais | Edmonton Sun

When you hear “boot camp,” you probably think of a military training facility where army recruits are put through rigorous drills at the hands of a screaming sergeant.

Or maybe a fitness program where personal trainers help clients sweat their way towards achieving their hopeful goals of becoming lean and mean fighting machines.

However, there is a different kind of boot camp that operates at an unusual Edmonton site and consists of participants that one wouldn’t expect to be doing such a thing.

It is at the Edmonton Remand Centre and the men who make up the One Bravo and One Alpha Bootcamp units are alleged crooks who are awaiting their day in court.

But, instead of sitting around, moping about their misfortune or planning any criminal enterprise, these inmates are working together to both improve their own personal circumstances and help others in society.

It is a voluntary program with a rigid regimen encompassing strict rules, unwavering expectations, a reward system and expulsion for those who do not comply and, while it does not guarantee a lower sentence or any other legal consideration, there is a waiting list to get in.

On the day I visit the program in a secure unit at the relatively new remand centre, 18415 127 St., I was greeted by 62 inmates standing at attention outside their cells and sounding off their count in precise military fashion.

The men — wearing white t-shirts, blue sweat pants and white runners instead of the standard ERC orange coveralls — then sang out the Marine corps-like Bootcamp motto with the chorus: “Respect each other all we can. Everybody gets a chance regardless of our circumstance.”

The majority of the men then mill about the ground-floor common area of the three-tiered unit as the elite drill team performs in the outer courtyard, doing an intricate military routine.

The correctional officer leading the marching — a former member of the British army who also worked in English prisons — notes that it takes a lot of practice to get to the drill team’s high level and said even regular soldiers find it hard, never mind “inmates with no experience.”

Some of the prisoners on the drill team then talk about what the Boot Camp program is and what it means to them, saying it is all about “structure” and “team work” and gaining insight on how to change their ways.

“It’s our chance to leave gang politics and other crap on the street and help each other to better ourselves and come together as brothers,” said Eric Williams.

“This unit is about change. We are treated like men and we act like men,” said Curtis Schaaf, adding he’s been in and out of jail and feels the structure of the program will help keep him on the straight and narrow in the future.

“It’s more about discipline and respect for others,” said Buddy Underwood, who explained that Boot Camp members try to “keep positive and get rid of the negative” and have an easier time getting into other self-help programs.

“It’s a lot more healthy lifestyle,” he said. “We fill time, not kill time.”

The Boot Camp program is the brainstorm of correctional officer Troy MacInnis, who spent 16 years in the Canadian military, and was the first of its kind in Canada when it was officially launched when the ERC opened up in 2013.

One of the correctional officers on duty has been part of the program since Day 1 said it is still too young to have statistics showing whether or not it is successful in keeping participants out of jail, but he noted that the number of incidents on the two spotless units is “way down” and self pride is quite evident.

He said the daily routine on the units begins with a 7 a.m. count and then the inmates clean up their cells and come out for breakfast, which is served by those who have been in the program longer and reside on the two top tiers.

One Bravo unit is in charge of the laundry for the entire facility and crews of 12 or 13 men head out to work each day at 8 a.m. The others get ready to take part in PT, which consists of circuit training involving jumping jacks, burpees and lunges.

Some inmates then go to school and those who do not have court participate in programs such as drug and alcohol abuse treatment, anger management and parenting.

From 6 p.m. until the 10:30 p.m. lockup, inmates can mingle in the common area and take part in various activities. It is also the time when the drill team typically practices.

“We are not a regular unit,” said the officer, adding new members must work their way up in order to earn privileges.

“At the end of the day, we just want them to walk out the door and lead a productive life,” he said.

It’s not just about exercise workouts and marching drills. Inmates at the two Edmonton Remand Centre Bootcamp units are also doing things to help the community.

In May, they initiated a Push-ups For Pennies fundraising event which resulted in almost half a million push-ups being done during the month and nearly $1,650 being raised for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

A similar push-up campaign was also done for Little Warriors, a charitable organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of child sex abuse.

The Bootcamp inmates have also been involved through the P.E.A.K. (Positive Energy Action & Knowledge) program in a local food drive and are planning a charity event in November for the military-oriented Valour Place Society that will see money raised by push-ups, art work, a minute of silence during the five daily inmate counts, and a special cadence and drill at the end of each day.

As well, some inmates are getting involved in a program that will see reformed criminals speaking to youth at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre in an effort to get them off drugs and out of street gangs and more pro-social.

Amber Tuccaro’s Unsolved Murder: Do You Recognize This Voice? (VIDEO)

Video: Do you recognize this voice?

CBC News, Posted: Jun 08, 2015

Man in recording may have answers to unsolved murder near Edmonton five years ago 

Unravelling the mysterious disappearance and unsolved murder of Amber Tuccaro could hinge on identifying a man whose voice was captured in a recording of her last phone conversation, new details of which her family has revealed to CBC News.

Police released 61 seconds of audio, but CBC News has learned that the full audio recording is 17 minutes in length, which corresponds almost directly to the amount of time it would take to drive from the motel where Tuccaro was staying to the site where her body was found two years later.

Amber Tuccaro, from the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Alberta vanished almost five years ago,

The 20-year-old mother from the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Alberta vanished almost five years ago, after getting into an unknown man’s vehicle in Nisku, near Edmonton. She was staying in the area for a few days after arriving from Fort McMurray with her infant son and a female friend.

Amber’s case is now in the hands of RCMP’s KARE, a unit based in Edmonton that is investigating unsolved homicides and cases of vulnerable missing persons. Her family has filed a complaint with RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission after the RCMP admitted mishandling the initial investigation into her disappearance.

In 2012, the RCMP released a disturbing audio recording in which Tuccaro is heard talking to the driver, saying, “You better not be taking me anywhere I don’t want to go.”

The man insists he’s driving north, to “50th St.,” and while Tuccaro repeats what he’s telling her to the person on the other end of the phone, the call ends abruptly.

RCMP investigators believe that rather than driving Tuccaro north into the city, the man actually drove southeast along the rural roads of Leduc County.

Tootsie Tuccaro, Amber's mother, says someone must recognize who this man is. (CBC)

Tootsie Tuccaro, Amber’s mother, says someone must recognize who this man is. (CBC)

“I have a hard time listening to the recording,” says Amber’s mother, Tootsie Tuccaro. “My baby sounded so scared.”

RCMP now says this was the only time in Canadian history it released an audio recording to the public in a homicide investigation.

On Sept. 1, 2012, just four days after its release, horseback riders found Tuccaro’s partial skeletal remains in a farmer’s field in Leduc.

According to RCMP spokesperson Mary Schlosser, the discovery of Tuccaro’s remains so soon after the audio was released “is entirely coincidental.”

“There’s somebody out there that recognizes the voice. Has to be. His mom, his sister, his wife. And they’re not coming forward? Do they not have a conscience?” asks Tuccaro’s mother.

Source of call revealed

RCMP have refused to disclose how they got the recording or who Tuccaro was speaking to on her cellphone. But CBC News has learned that the call to Amber came from her brother, who was being held in the Edmonton Remand Centre at the time.

The centre began recording all outgoing calls by inmates earlier in 2010.

It’s unclear why it took two years after Tuccaro’s disappearance for the recording to be released, but her family tells CBC that several months before they were made aware of its existence, and before her remains were found, RCMP told them they believed Amber had been murdered.

“There’s a lot of things we don’t know. We have a lot of questions that we’re not going to get answers to because it’s an ongoing case, and even if the killer is found we’ll probably never hear some of the whole story,” says Tootsie Tuccaro.

The complaint filed with the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission alleges that Leduc RCMP’s mishandling of Tuccaro’s disappearance hindered the subsequent homicide investigation.

“Even when I reported her missing they asked me if she ever went missing before. ‘Oh, she’s probably out partying and she’s gonna come home, she’ll call,'” Tuccaro says she was told by Leduc RCMP.

Amber Tuccaro

Members of the group, Stolen Sisters and Brothers Awareness movement, put up posters like this one near Leduc., hoping to get answers in the growing number of cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

On Sept. 4, 2010, less than three weeks after Tuccaro’s disappearance, a media relations officer with Leduc RCMP was quoted in a local newspaper saying, “We don’t have any reason to believe she is any danger. We know that she is in the Edmonton area.”

According to RCMP spokesperson Mary Schlosser, “the accuracy of this media comment is now under CRCC review.”

Police also removed Tuccaro’s name from its list of missing persons and, without informing her family, destroyed her belongings, which had been left at the motel in Nisku.

“Let’s just say that’s not best practice and something that shouldn’t have happened but did,” says Schlosser. The RCMP later apologized to Tuccaro’s family.

Many unsolved cases in area

KARE investigates unsolved homicides and cases of vulnerable missing persons. And while the RCMP won’t say how many cases KARE is investigating, CBC’s Aboriginal Unit has found at least 15 unsolved cases of indigenous women who vanished or were murdered in and around the Edmonton area.

The partial remains of four of those women, including Amber Tuccaro, were all found within a few kilometres of each other in Leduc County.

The most recent discovery came this spring when the remains of Delores Brower were found on a rural property, more than 11 years after she disappeared.

“Maybe it`s the same guy that’s killing these other women that are found in Leduc and Nisku area. And how many more women, girls are going to be killed before he`s caught?

“Because these people that know are not coming forward and identifying him,” says Amber Tuccaro’s mother.

Asked whether RCMP investigators believe one person could be responsible for multiple murders, Schlosser says: “That’s a possibility that they certainly would be considering.”

It’s also a possibility that has people who live in the area on edge.

One woman contacted CBC News to say she’s convinced she recognizes the man’s voice heard on the audio recording released in Amber Tuccaro’s case.

“I know that voice. I’ve ridden with that voice before on several occasions. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s his voice,” said the woman, whose identity CBC has agreed not to reveal.

She says she reported his name to the RCMP three years ago.

CBC News interviewed two other women who say they’ve reported the same man to police, suspecting it’s his voice on the recording.

One of the women says she called the RCMP about her suspicions as recently as three months ago.

An RCMP investigator reached out to CBC News to say the Mounties have looked into the man, but have ruled him out as a person of interest in the Tuccaro investigation.

“They didn’t look very hard I don’t think,” says one of the women, still convinced she knows the identity of the man on the recording.

“I knew the voice like I know the back of my own hand.”

Tuccaro gravesite

Tootsie Tuccaro visits her daughter’s grave. (CBC)

Tootsie Tuccaro says she welcomes all tips in her daughter’s case, and is convinced that as more people hear the recording, someone will come forward with information that will lead to an arrest.

Until that happens, Tuccaro is maintaining a ritual, posting the audio recording on social media every day, imploring the public to help catch her daughter’s killer.

“I think about the voice all the time,” she says.

“It’s kind of messed up because Amber’s case is about the voice, the man’s voice, and now I’m Amber’s voice.”