Alberta briefs – July 17

NDP Leader Brian Mason has written a letter to Alberta’s premier asking him to fire Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk.

NDP wants premier to fire minister of children, youth services

EDMONTON — NDP Leader Brian Mason has written a letter to Alberta’s premier asking him to fire Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk.

The letter came after it was revealed this week that yet another child who was a ward of the province is facing a murder charge.

Mason says children in government care have been charged in four homicides in four weeks.

He calls it “an incredible tragedy” and says he wonders if the deaths could have been prevented “if Tarchuk had any control over what was going on in her ministry.”

Mason says a youth in government care is facing a murder charge in the death of Keith Goddard, 23, of Edmonton, while another ward of the province has been charged with the killing of Curtis Osterlund, 39, at a junior high school parking lot.

Two 14-year-old boys who escaped from a group home are charged with murder and accessory to murder in the deaths of Barry Boenke, 68 and Susan Trudel, 50, of Strathcona County.

“Since Janis Tarchuk has been in charge of caring for Alberta’s vulnerable children, the bad news has just kept coming,” Mason said.


Weather has kept Prairie forest fires under control

EDMONTON — Below-normal temperatures and rainy weather in the Prairie provinces has given forest firefighters a break so far this summer.

But fire officials in Alberta are gearing up for wildfires to break out in high-risk areas due to a forecast of warm temperatures for the rest of July and August.

Officials warn peak fire season is not over.

Alberta has reported 1,146 wildfires this year, a slight increase over the last five years.

Currently, there are 14 active wildfires across the province, all of them under control and no evacuations are in effect.

Firefighters in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were busy in June, but haven’t seen much action in July.


Woman’s body goes unclaimed

CALGARY — Calgary’s assistant chief medical examiner is hoping to discover the identity of a woman whose body has gone unclaimed for more than two months.

The body was found face down in a shallow river bed in Fish Creek Park on May 13.

She had thick, shoulder-length black hair, and was about 33 to 45 years.

She had several tattoos, including a wreath circling her belly button, a rose with the word “Art” inscribed across its stem on her left ankle and a faded outline of a butterfly on her left forearm.

While there is no suggestion of foul play, Dr. Sam Andrews wants to find out who she is so her family can be notified of her death.

There are one or two cases a year in which a person dies and officials don’t know who they are.

“It’s sad but happens more commonly than you would think,” Andrews said.

“Surprisingly, we get a lot of people here who have no family or next of kin.”

In some cases, an individual may have been homeless, living a high-risk lifestyle or estranged from friends and family.

Andrews said they will exhaust all avenues, which could take a year or more, before the body is given to the public trustee which will give her a proper burial.


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