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Friends, family say goodbye to 4-year-old girl found dead in conservation area

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TORONTO — A grieving mother read to her four-year-old daughter one final time on Thursday, as hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral of the girl whose body was found at the bottom of a cliff after a weekend hike.

Police found Keira Kagan and her father dead Sunday evening in Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton, Ont., under circumstances some of the girl’s family members describe as suspicious.

At the funeral, Jennifer Kagan read two of Keira’s favourite books: “No Matter What” and “The Runaway Bunny.”

“Keira, a part of me does not want to go on,” Kagan said through tears, standing near her daughter’s small, white casket. “I want to go to the edge of that cliff with you. I want to crawl into the coffin with you. I want to lie down with you the way we lie down each and every night.”

Kagan and her husband, Philip Viater, believe the deaths were a murder-suicide that took place amid a lengthy custody battle.

Police say the girl and her father, Robin Brown, went missing on Sunday afternoon after they went hiking. Police launched a massive search of the area during a severe winter storm.

Halton regional police have said they are not investigating the deaths as homicides “at this point.”

At the funeral, the family focused on Keira’s life.

She loved her eight-month-old brother, Joseph, and the two would play together in Keira’s bed on many mornings, Kagan said.

The girl loved poetry, rap and unicorns. She loved music — her favourite songs were “Be Prepared” by Scar from “The Lion King” and two songs from “Frozen 2.”

She also loved to dance.

“We would dance well past her bedtime many nights,” Viater said.

She loved to run and her favourite part of kindergarten was the “free play time.”

Keira also had a sharp wit, her stepfather said.

“I joked with her one time if she doesn’t listen, we’re going to return her to the baby store,” Viater said. “She immediately retorted she’d return me to the adult store!”

Kagan said everything reminds her of her daughter: her empty car seat, her pink coat in the closet and the cup of water by her bedside.

She now wears one half of a heart on her necklace. Keira is wearing the other half.

“Best friends forever,” she said, sobbing.  

“When Joseph touches my necklace it gives me comfort, for I imagine playing with you and pulling your hair and you kissing him on the mouth and laughing, two beautiful innocent children just being happy.”

She said Keira told her last November that she didn’t want to be forgotten.

“Keira, you and mama will be together and love each other forever,” Kagan said as she looked at the small casket, “no matter what.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2020.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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Woman returning from Iran is B.C.’s sixth case of new coronavirus

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VANCOUVER — A sixth case of the novel coronavirus has been diagnosed in British Columbia after a woman in her 30s returned to the province from Iran.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday the woman’s case is relatively mild and a number of her close contacts have already been put in isolation.

She said health officials are working on a detailed investigation of the woman’s travel and when her symptoms started to help determine if they need to notify those who travelled with her on the same aircraft.

Henry said the diagnosis shows B.C. has a robust system for identifying people who have the virus.

“This one, clearly, is a bit unusual in that the travel to Iran is something new,” she told a news conference.

“Iran has recently started reporting cases and we’ll be working with our national and international colleagues to better understand where she may have been exposed to this virus prior to her return to Canada.”

Henry said earlier this week that four of the five people already diagnosed with the virus were symptom free. The fifth person, a woman in her 30s who returned from Shanghai, China, is in isolation at her home in B.C.’s Interior.

Henry said over 500 people have been tested for the virus in B.C. and many of those tested positive for the flu.

Three cases of the virus have also been confirmed in Ontario.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Government needs to produce plan for dealing with veterans’ backlog: Ombudsman

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OTTAWA — Veterans ombudsman Craig Dalton says the federal government should clearly explain how it plans to eliminate a backlog that is keeping thousands of former service members waiting to find out if they qualify for benefits and aid.

The number of unaddressed applications for disability benefits and other assistance continues to grow despite repeated government promises to fix the problem.

Most recently, Veterans Affairs Canada revealed that there were 44,000 applications waiting to be processed at the end of September, which was a 10 per cent increase from six months earlier.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay says eliminating the backlog is his top priority and the department is trying to move files along faster.

Yet Dalton says the government has not laid out a clear plan that includes specific actions and targets.

Dalton also says the government needs to invest more money and resources into tackling the backlog, which he worries is leaving some veterans at greater risk of financial and health problems.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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february, 2020

sun12jan(jan 12)2:00 pmsun22mar(mar 22)5:00 pmAnne Frank: A History for Today opening at Red Deer MAG(january 12) 2:00 pm - (march 22) 5:00 pm mst Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery Address: 4525 - 47A Avenue, Red Deer

sun02feb(feb 2)7:00 pmsun15mar(mar 15)8:00 pm7:00 pm - (march 15) 8:00 pm Festival Hall, 4214 58 St, Red Deer, AB Event Organized By: Country Pride Dance Club

thu20feb(feb 20)10:00 amsun23(feb 23)4:00 pmRed Deer RV Show10:00 am - 4:00 pm (23)

tue25feb5:30 pm7:30 pmDiabetes Discussion Drop InLearn about Type 2 diabetes5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

wed26feb7:30 pm11:00 pmCeltic Illusiion7:30 pm - 11:00 pm

thu27feb5:30 pm7:00 pmMonthly Mindfulness Drop-In5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

fri28febsun01mar54th Annual Sport & Outdoor Show4:00 pm - (march 1) 9:00 pm

fri28feb6:00 pm11:00 pmFriday Family DanceFamily Dance6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

fri28feb7:00 pm11:00 pmBattle of the Bands for Crime Prevention7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Burgundy's Food & Stage, 5008 48 ST Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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