Olivia Johnson is shown in a family handout photo. RCMP are investigating the sudden deaths of two girls who were found in a hotel room in central Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Johnson Family
Two girls were celebrating a birthday before they were found dead in a hotel room in central Alberta on Easter Sunday, one of their families says.
RCMP have said the deaths at a Best Western hotel in Sylvan Lake, Alta., were those of a 12-year-old girl from that community and of a 13-year-old from Red Deer, about 25 kilometres east.
The family of Olivia Johnson, 13, said in an emailed statement that the girls had a room next door to a parent, who would check in periodically.
“The night Olivia passed she was with a friend, enjoying a birthday gathering in the way most young women like to do — celebrating with a dinner with parents, swimming and doing each other’s makeup,” her family said.
“The hole Olivia has left in our hearts and in our lives is enormous, and our family is still trying to come to terms with the reality of not having her bounce into the house, spunky and smiling.”
Olivia’s family remembered her as compassionate, generous and kind.
“She loved to laugh, and her sense of humour was contagious, often making others laugh right along with her.”
RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff said Wednesday there is no indication of potential homicide or suicide, but an overdose is a possibility that has not been confirmed.
He said the medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death, including the results of toxicology that can take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
“We know there are many unanswered questions, and some we may never have answers to,” the Johnson family said.
The family expressed confidence the RCMP investigation will shed more light on how the evening unfolded.
“Speculation about what happened will do nothing to further this work, and will only bring more hurt in an already incredibly difficult time,” the family said.
Olivia was part of the The Red Deer Indigenous Dance Troupe.
“What a gift she is to our community,” the group said of the girl in a post. “We will miss her Kokum energy and beautiful smile deeply.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2023.
— by Ritika Dubey in Edmonton.
Police arrest two more people following killing of eight-year-old girl in Alberta
An Edmonton Police Service logo is shown at a press conference in Edmonton, Oct. 2, 2017. Police in Edmonton have charged two more people following the killing of an eight-year-old girl whose remains were found on a First Nation south of the provincial capital in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Police in Edmonton have charged two more people following the killing of an eight-year-old girl whose remains were found on a First Nation south of the provincial capital.
Officers responded on April 24 to a welfare call about the girl at an Edmonton home but were unable to locate her.
Her remains were discovered five days later on the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis.
Shayden Lightning, who is 21, and Raighne Stoney, who is 36, have been charged with being an accessory to murder and causing an indignity to a body.
Three others were initially charged in the case.
Police are not releasing the names of two of the accused in order to protect the identities of other children related to the victim, whose identity is under a publication ban.
A 27-year-old woman faces a charge of first-degree murder and a 25-year-old man faces charges of being an accessory to murder and causing an indignity to a body.
Edward Nievera, 67, was charged with being an accessory to murder and causing an indignity to a body.
Edmonton police Staff Sgt. Colin Leathem said in a release Friday that the recent arrests will be the last in the case and that the investigation has concluded.
“We want to thank the RCMP in Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin for their assistance with this investigation,” he said. “Needless to say, this was an exceptionally distressing investigation to work on, and they went above and beyond in helping to facilitate these final arrests and bring this file to conclusion.
“While nothing can change the horror of what occurred, we hope (the arrests) can provide some measure of justice to those who knew and loved this little girl.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
United Way Central Alberta delivers over $1 million to 22 community service organizations through the government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund
News release from the United Way of Central Alberta
United Way Central Alberta (UWCA) is pleased to announce over $1 million in funding to support 22 projects in Central Alberta through the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund.
The Community Services Recovery Fund is a one-time investment of $400 million to help community service organizations (charities, non-profits, Indigenous governing bodies) adapt, modernize, and be better equipped to improve the efficacy, accessibility, and sustainability of the community services that they provide though the pandemic recovery and beyond.
The following projects are being supported within Central Alberta:
• $63,000 was invested to fund Bashaw and District Support Services Association towards a regional wellness initiative;
• $59,609 was invested to fund Boys and Girls Club of Olds and Area towards a Youth and Parental Supports Pilot Project;
• $75,704 was invested to fund Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer towards program service innovation;
• $52,000 was invested to fund Camrose Adult Learning Council towards Immersive Technologies;
• $62,552 was invested to fund Camrose Association for Community Living towards Next Level Wellness;
• $36,286 was invested to fund Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta East Central Region 2000 towards Recovery College technology;
• $9,621 was invested to fund Carstairs Public Library towards permanent adaptions;
• $89,638 was invested to fund Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association to transform program delivery;
• $41,320 was invested to fund Drumheller Community Learning Society towards Empowering Youth;
• $47,000 was invested to fund Family Violence Action Society: Camrose and District towards infrastructure design;
• $14,000 was invested to fund Friends to the Drayton Valley Library Society towards a children, family, and youth space;
• $9,036 was invested to fund Mary C Moore Public Library towards Kinsmen Program Room Makerspace;
• $76,230 was invested to fund Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter Association towards West Central Community Connections;
• $16,135 was invested to fund Ponoka Youth Centre towards mental health support;
• $9,714 was invested to fund Red Deer Public Library towards their Youth and Literacy Program;
• $98,112 was invested to fund Rocky Primary Counselling Centre of Alberta towards mental health;
• $98,083 was invested to fund Shalom Counselling Centre of Alberta towards healthy families;
• $21,296 was invested to fund Stettler Community Support Centre towards community outreach;
• $81,600 was invested to fund Stettler Information and Referral Centre towards Stettler Circle of Services innovation and expansion;
• $10,757 was invested to fund The Lord’s Food Bank towards hot meal program revitalization;
• $40,337 was invested to fund Ubuntu-Mobilizing Central Alberta towards Collective Alberta-Project; and
• $85,970 Was invested to fund Wetaskiwin & District Association for Community Services towards re-building community and personal engagement.
Community service organizations are at the forefront of addressing communities’ needs. Since the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have struggled with increased demand for their services, reduced revenues, declines in charitable giving due to the rising cost of living, and a greater need to make use of digital tools. Many organizations are struggling to recover and adapt their services to the changing needs of Central Alberta.
For more information, visit the Community Services Recovery Fund website. For more information on United Way Central Alberta, you can visit our website or contact us at [email protected] or 403.343.3900.
“The value United Way Central Alberta adds as a locally governed and operated funder is that we have the trusted systems in place to identify local needs and ensure dollars are invested where they are needed most”- United Way Central Alberta CEO, Chelsea O’Donoghue.
“United Way Central Alberta is proud to have worked with the Government of Canada and United Way Centraide Canada as part of the Community Services Recovery Fund” – United Way Central Alberta CEO, Chelsea O’Donoghue.
• The Community Services Recovery Fund is a $400 million investment from the Government of Canada to support community service organizations, including charities, non-profits and Indigenous governing bodies, as they adapt their organizations for pandemic recovery.
• Now more than ever, community service organizations play a key role in addressing complex social problems faced by many communities across Canada.
• From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, community service organizations across Canada have shown impressive stamina and creativity in their response to the diverse and increasingly challenging needs of their
• The Community Services Recovery Fund responds to what community service organizations need right now and supports them as they adapt to the long-term impacts of the pandemic.
• As community service organizations across Canada work to support recovery in their communities, the CSRF will help them adapt and modernize their operations to grow their impact.
• The Government of Canada is delivering the CSRF through three National Funders (Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada, United Way Centraide Canada). The National Funders are distributing funding to
eligible community service organizations, including charities, non-profits, and Indigenous governing bodies, providing services in communities across Canada.
• The Government of Canada supports a more inclusive model of economic growth, one that creates opportunities for everyone in Canada, as the long-term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continue.
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