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National

Police say manhunt suspects killed themselves, guns found near bodies in brush

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VANCOUVER — Two British Columbia men who were suspects in the deaths of three people and led police on a manhunt across Western Canada shot themselves, the RCMP said Monday.

Police said it appears Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod were dead for a number of days before their bodies were found in the northern Manitoba wilderness on Wednesday, but the exact time of their deaths isn’t known. Their autopsies were done by Manitoba’s medical examiner.

Police said in a statement Monday that there were strong indications the young men had been alive for a few days during the extensive search near the town of Gillam. Mounties said on July 25 that there had been confirmed sightings of the men in the area and they believed they were still in the region.

Two firearms were located with the dead men, police said, and a forensic analysis was being done to connect the weapons with the homicides in northern B.C.

McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, were charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia botany lecturer, and were also suspects in the deaths of American Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler. 

“Investigators are now assessing all items located in Manitoba, along with the previous findings related to the three northern B.C. homicide investigations, in order to gain more clarity into what happened to Leonard Dyck, Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese,” the police statement said.

Once its review is completed in the next few weeks, RCMP said they will provide the families with an update then release the information publicly.

The autopsy results put a cap on the manhunt, which began July 23 when police announced Schmegelsky and McLeod were suspects in the three killings. 

The fugitives, both from Port Alberni, had initially been considered missing persons when a truck and camper they were driving was found burned a few kilometres from where Dyck’s body was discovered at a highway pullout on July 15.

The bodies of Deese and Fowler were found on the Alaska Highway, 470 kilometres from where Dyck’s body was discovered, on July 19.

The manhunt for McLeod and Schmegelsky led to Gillam, where Dyck’s Toyota Rav 4 was found burned. Officers converged on the area to begin what would be a two-week search.

Police used drones, dogs and even had help from the Canadian Armed Forces to scour the remote area.

The search was scaled back July 31 and a few days later a damaged rowboat was found in the Nelson River. A search of the river turned up little of interest, police said.

On Aug. 6, police said some items linked to Schmegelsky and McLeod were found on the river’s shore. The bodies were discovered the next day, about a kilometre from where police said they found the items.

Police have said it may be difficult to determine a motive for the killings because the suspects are dead.

Bryer Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, said during the manhunt that his son had a troubled upbringing and that he expected the teen to go out in a “blaze of glory.”

A statement issued earlier by McLeod’s father, Keith McLeod, said his son was a “kind, considerate, caring young man.”

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the surname of Chynna Deese.



Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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