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Wild week for Rocky Mountain House RCMP on the Sunchild and O’Chiese First Nations


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From the Rocky Mountain House RCMP

Rocky Mountain House RCMP respond to incidents on Sunchild and O’Chiese First Nations

Over a period of three days, Rocky Mountain House RCMP responded to three different incidents involving guns, a pursuit and threats.  Two of the incidents have been cleared with charges and one remains under active investigation.

Dec. 17 at 12:30 p.m. the RCMP were dispatched to a disturbance in progress at the O’Chiese First Nation.  A male was alleged to be smashing up a residence and threatening to kill neighbours.

Responding members contained the residence and negotiated with the suspect male to exit.  The male came out armed with a knife and began walking towards and threatening the RCMP members.  He alternated between being outside and inside, and threatening to shoot the police.  At one point he exited the residence with an object wrapped in a blanket, which he pointed at police.  Eventually, he complied with directions, dropped the object, which turned out to be a cane, and after a brief struggle, was taken into custody.

Rodney Wayne Strawberry (31) is facing eight criminal charges as a result of this incident, including assault police officer with a weapon.


Dec. 18 at 7:00 p.m., the RCMP responded to a complaint of a shot fired outside a residence on the Sunchild First Nation. No one was injured, and the suspects fled in a vehicle which was known to the RCMP.

Several responding units contained the area and located the suspect vehicle.  A traffic stop was attempted but the vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit was initiated. Police Dog Services (PDS) and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) were both deployed. Drayton Valley RCMP provided resources to assist. During the pursuit, a firearm was discharged towards the police. A tire deflation device was successful in stopping the vehicle.  Multiple occupants of the vehicle fled on foot into the woods.  The area was contained for the arrival of PDS and ERT.  Three suspects surrendered to the RCMP prior to ERT arrival, and following a PDS/ERT track – two males were located and arrested.  Firearms were recovered and seized by the RCMP.

Elliott John Lagrelle (38), Evan Redcalf (26), Sonya Lynn Chipaway (20), Livia Eaglestar Goodrunning (26) and Seth Lagrelle (18) are jointly facing six criminal charges.   Elliott Lagrelle is facing a further seven charges including fail to comply with conditions of an undertaking and assault with a weapon against a police officer. Evan Redcalf is facing four further charges, and Sonya Chipaway charged with uttering death threats.

It is very fortunate that no one involved; neither the original complainant, the police nor the accused, was injured throughout these events.


Dec. 19 at 4:55 a.m., Rocky Mountain House responded to assist with a male at a residence on the Sunchild First Nation.  The male, who was outside of the residence and suffering from a gunshot wound was transported to the hospital.  An investigation was launched, with assistance from the General Investigation Section (GIS).

The male remains in hospital and the RCMP continue to investigate this occurrence.  Active soliciting of witness information is underway.

“The Rocky Mountain House RCMP is striving to work with O’Chiese and Sunchild First Nations in an effort to restore community safety” says Staff Sergeant Carl Dinsdale of Rocky Mountain House RCMP.  “I recognize that these incidents are wearing on the spirit of both the communities and our Members. The leaders and Elders from both Sunchild and O’Chiese First Nations, as well as the Rocky Mountain House RCMP, are extremely concerned about the rise in violent crime. We intend to remain diligent in our escalated efforts to suppress the crime that has been happening. It is vitally important that the communities support and assist the police with these investigations by coming forward with any information they might have.”

If you have information about the above investigations, or any other crimes or suspicious activities, please contact the Rocky Mountain RCMP at 403-845-2881.

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‘If there’d even been five minutes’ warning’: Woman questions storm alert system

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Bethany Armstrong watched as the sky turned a tint of green on Saturday afternoon.

The Peterborough, Ont., woman was out camping with friends in Lakehurst, Ont., at the time, so she checked a weather app on her phone and noticed a thunderstorm warning.

That was the only indication she said she had that a vicious storm was about to hit.

Armstrong said she never received the emergency alert that many Ontario residents got on their cellphones, warning them to seek shelter ahead of severe weather that ultimately killed 11 people.

One of those who died was a close friend of Armstrong’s family – Armstrong says that friend didn’t get the alert either.

“If there’d even been five minutes’ warning … she would have gotten inside,” Armstrong said of the woman she likened to her second mom.

Joanne Labelle, 64, of Cornwall, Ont., was among those killed as a result of the storm. She had been staying in a trailer on Armstrong’s parents’ property in the Peterborough area when the intense winds and rains hit.

Labelle’s husband and Armstrong’s father found Labelle struck by a tree – Armstrong said the family thinks Labelle had been trying to get from the trailer to a house on the property when she was hit.

Armstrong said her family and Labelle’s husband later checked Labelle’s cellphone, which was with her during the storm, but found no evidence of an alert.

“I just think like, ‘Wow, you know, if she had got the alert, we wouldn’t maybe be in this situation,'” Armstrong said, describing Labelle as a “smart” woman who loved the outdoors and would have taken a severe weather warning seriously.

Emergency alerts are issued in Canada through the Alert Ready system, which delivers critical alerts to Canadians through television, radio and LTE-connected and compatible wireless devices.

The system was developed with many partners, including federal, provincial and territorial emergency management officials, Environment and Climate Change Canada, weather information company Pelmorex Corp., the broadcasting industry and wireless service providers.

Cecelia Parsons, a spokesperson for Environment Canada, said “broadcast immediate” alerts are sent through the Alert Ready system for tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings involving wind gusts of 130 kilometres per hour or greater and hail that is at least seven centimetres in diameter. Saturday’s storm was the first time such an alert for a thunderstorm was sent through the system, she said.

However, some residents may not have received an emergency alert on their smartphones for a number of reasons, including their phones not being “compatible,” Parsons said.

“This may occur for a variety of reasons: the phone is turned off or in silent or airplane mode; the phone is not physically in the specific area targeted for the alert; device compatibility, connection to an LTE network, cell tower coverage and device software and settings,” she said.

Martin Belanger, director of public alerting for Pelmorex, said smartphones need to be in the area where an emergency alert has been issued in order to receive an alert and also need to be connected to an LTE or 5G network — a requirement established by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

As of April 2019, the CRTC requires that new phones sold by Canada’s wireless carriers be compatible with the emergency alerting system, Parsons added.

Belanger said Environment Canada was responsible for issuing the emergency alerts on Saturday and Pelmorex received those alerts and made them available to broadcasters and wireless service providers.

He added that Pelmorex received “some” reports from the public about not getting an emergency alert during Saturday’s storm. When the company receives such reports, it shares that information with its partners, he said.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said that with 11 people dead, the early warning system didn’t work as well as it could have to protect residents from last weekend’s storm.

“I think there needs to be improvement,” Blair said on Friday from Indonesia, where he was attending international meetings on disaster risk and mitigation.

“When (there’s) information that Canadians need to take the steps in order to be safe, we need to make sure that they get that information.”

Blair said public education is also needed so Canadians know what to do when they receive such an alert. He also said the country’s public alerting system, controlled by provinces and territories, is applied “inconsistently.”

“The tragic loss of life and the damage that occurred in Ontario and Quebec over the past several days demonstrate to us that there is still more work to do, and we’re committed to doing that,” he said.

Armstrong, who made it through the storm last weekend by taking shelter in a nearby home, said she would like to see the Alert Ready system improved.

“I just hope that things can improve for the future and that they can get either a better system in place or adjust the criteria that has to be met,” she said as she remembered Labelle as a beloved matriarch and a mainstay at the pharmacy where she worked. “So we can try and help save other people.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.

– with files from Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press

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Federal government posts $95.6 billion deficit for 2021-2022 fiscal year

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OTTAWA — The federal government posted a deficit of $95.6 billion for its 2021-22 fiscal year.

In its monthly fiscal monitor report, the Finance Department says the tally for the April 2021 to March 2022 period compared with a deficit of $314.0 billion a year earlier.

Program expenses, excluding net actuarial losses, totalled $457.3 billion, down from $577.6 billion a year earlier due in large part to lower transfers to businesses, individuals, and other levels of government.

Public debt charges rose to $24.8 billion compared with $20.5 billion a year earlier.

Revenue for the fiscal year totalled $396.8 billion, up from $299.5 billion, due to higher tax and other revenues.

Net actuarial losses were $10.3 billion, down from $15.4 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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