Akwesasne: Bodies of two more migrants found, bring total dead to eight
Police say the bodies of eight migrants have been retrieved from the waters off the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, straddling the Canada - U.S. border.
The bodies, recovered Thursday and Friday, consisted of two families of Romanian and Indian origins who were likely trying to enter the U.S. illegally, police said Friday. Two children are among the dead.
On Friday morning, Akwesasne Mohawk Police said six bodies were found in a marsh area during an aerial search with the Canadian Coast Guard. One of them was a young child, who was found with a Canadian passport, police told CTV News Thursday. The child was a member of the Romanian family.
Officials provided a second update to the media Friday afternoon, saying the two additional bodies have been recovered. One is an infant, who was a Canadian citizen of Romanian descent. The second was a woman who was an Indian national.
The bodies, which haven't been officially identified, were found in Tsi Snaihne (Snye) in Akwesasne, a Mohawk territory that straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state.
"All are believed to have been attempting illegal entry into the U.S. from Canada," said Akwesasne deputy police chief Lee-Ann O'Brien.
They were discovered as the result of a search for another missing person that also started Thursday.
Casey Oakes, 30, was last seen Wednesday boarding a small, light blue vessel departing from the east end of Cornwall Island, in the St. Lawrence. Oakes remains missing and police say they are continuing to search the waterways for him.
The vessel Oakes was using was later found near the bodies of the six deceased. Akwesasne police could not confirm whether Oakes has any connection to the victims.
Shawn Dulude, chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service would not speculate on what caused the deaths, and said a coroner will determine the cause of death.
"It could be anything that could have caused this tragedy. It could be a faulty boat, it could be human error, and the investigation will determine that," he said.
NO CONNECTION TO ROXHAM ROAD CLOSURE, POLICE SAY
According to O'Brien, investigators do not believe the tragedy is connected to the closure of Roxham Road last week.
Roxham Road, an unofficial point of entry between New York and Quebec, was closed Saturday morning following an agreement between U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"This has nothing to do with that closure. That closure was people [...] leaving the U.S. to Canada, these people were believed to be gaining entry into the U.S," O'Brien said.
While it's true that Roxham was mainly used by those seeking passage to Canada, some used it to enter the U.S. as well. One example is Fritznel Richard from Montreal, who died near the border in December while attempting to reach his family in New York.
RISK OF HUMAN SMUGGLING ON TERRITORY
But illegal border crossings through Akwesasne were an issue before Roxham closed; in January, for example, Akwesasne police say they detained four "foreign nationals" attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.
"We have seen an increase of people passing through Akwesasne gaining entry into the U.S.," O'Brien said.
Before that, in April 2022, six Indian nationals were rescued from a sinking boat in the St. Regis River, which runs through Akwesasne Mohawk Territory.
A seventh person, spotted leaving the vessel and wading ashore, was later identified as a U.S. citizen. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials described what happened as a human smuggling incident.
Dulude said his team has patrolled the water on the territory for many years, and received additional funding in the last year with a goal of surveilling the area 24 / 7.
"Since January, we have had 80 interceptions of people that were trying to gain access to the United States coming through our territory," Dulude said. "There's always been people coming through here. Obviously now lately, there's been more attention brought to it because of other situations across the province and across the country with illegal migrants trying to gain access to the United States."
Akwesasne can be a target for human traffickers because of its location, said Dulude.
"It's money, quick money, but there is a risk that comes with it. And this unfortunately shows at a larger scale, the risk that is involved with it," he said. "Because of where we're located, they can facilitate and go find people within our community that are, to a certain extent, exploited because of their knowledge of the waters and the lay of the land, that they will get these people into United States."
Speaking to reporters in Moncton, N.B. Friday, Trudeau said he doesn't want to speculate on whether the deaths were related to Roxham's closure.
"We have to understand properly what happened and do whatever we can to minimize the chances of it happening again," he said.
With files from CTV News Montreal's Joe Lofaro and The Canadian Press.
Montreal Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Hundreds of American firefighters arrive in Canada to help battle wildfires
Hundreds of American firefighters have recently arrived in Canada to help battle wildfires and more are on the way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
Can face masks help protect you from wildfire smoke? Health expert explains
An official recommendation to wear a mask to protect yourself from wildfire smoke is being echoed by health experts as plumes of smoke make their way across parts of Canada, causing poor air quality.
Here's how major cities in Canada and the U.S. look blanketed by wildfire smoke
Photos show smoke-filled skies in cities across Canada and the U.S. as air quality warnings were issued in wake of the hundreds of wildfires from Quebec and Ontario.
'Very, very hard to breathe': Experts call wildfires a 'major public health concern' for Canada
As forest fires rage across the country, experts are sounding the alarm over the physical and psychological impacts of the wildfires and saying that they pose a serious public health issue, which individuals and governments need to acknowledge and act upon.
WATCH | Rate hike 'may be the last straw' for some homeowners: mortgage broker
With the latest hike bringing Canada's key interest rates to levels not seen since 2001, one mortgage broker is warning that it may be 'the last straw' for some homeowners with variable mortgages.
Canadians more likely to support foreign interference inquiry than hearings: Nanos
Canadians are twice as likely to support a formal inquiry into foreign interference, as opposed to public hearings, according to new polling from Nanos Research for CTV News.
opinion | Eight takeaways from Prince Harry's seven hours on the witness stand
It's been a busy, tumultuous few days for Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex as he took his place on the witness stand in his trial against the Mirror Group Newspapers. Here are royal commentator Afua Hagan's top takeaways from his two-day grilling.
Calgary mass killer Matthew de Grood seeks 'absolute discharge'
The man who was found not criminally responsible in the stabbing deaths of five people at a house party in Brentwood more than nine years ago is seeking more freedoms.
Trudeau shows no interest in compromising with Meta, Google over online news bill
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing no interest in compromising with Meta and Google over a Liberal bill that would make them pay for Canadian journalism that helps the companies generate revenue.
consumer, | Toronto woman 'horrified' after losing $95,000 to romance scam
Romance scams have always been around, but they got worse during the pandemic, and fraudsters continue to use social media and dating sites to find victims.
Number of Ontario forest fires doubled compared to same time last year
Ontario has already experienced double the number of forest fires this year compared to the same six months in 2022.
Alleged Toronto anti-cyclist road rage incident caught on camera
Toronto police are investigating an incident of alleged road rage against a cyclist that was caught on camera.
'This is not helping': Frustrated evacuees say official communication lacking in wildfire recovery
Frustration is building among some people from neighbourhoods hardest-hit by the fires near Halifax. CTV's Heidi Petracek reports.
A 'whole list of hazards' are keeping residents near N.S. fire zones under evacuation: officials
It is still not safe for some evacuated residents whose houses were spared from wildfire damage to return home, officials from Halifax Regional Municipality and the District of Shelburne said.
Halifax support workers strike impacting students and families
The father of disabled teen from Fall River, N.S. is calling on all sides to get back to the bargaining table and put an end to the Halifax area CUPE educational support worker strike.
VIDEO | 'Hate and discrimination have no place in any TVDSB schools': Investigation underway after pride flag torn down
Students at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School in London, Ont. are being investigated after a video was posted online showing students tearing down a LGBTQ2S+ pride flag.
Special air quality statement remains in effect, rain possible over the weekend
As wildfire smoke blankets Ontario and eastern U.S., causing hazardous air quality and hazy skies, smoke in the Forest City is expected to remain until at least Thursday night.
City pitches new parking garage and extended free parking to aid downtown London, Ont.’s recovery
Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Honk Mobile Parking App has offered two hours of free municipal parking in London’s core area business districts.
Wildfire west of Sudbury prompts evacuation order, total active fires in northern Ont. grows to 54
A northern Ontario forest fire that started west of Sudbury on Sunday morning has grown to more than 1,000 hectares and has prompted officials to issue an evacuation order for the immediate area as the number of active fires in the region grows.
Spreading wildfires prompt northeastern communities to evacuate
Communities affected by wildfires in the region are evacuating for safety reasons. The province says there is significant danger as several out-of-control wildfires affect air quality and physical safety.
‘Incompetent’ northern Ont. doctor loses his license to practise medicine
A northern Ontario doctor has been stripped of his medical licence for conduct described as “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.”
Council reconsiders decision to reject recommendations on affordability crisis
Calgary city council has reconsidered its decision to vote against recommendations made by an expert panel to address the city’s housing affordability crisis.
Hot, dry weather comes with cautions and a few benefits
Calgary was under a heat warning Wednesday with forecast high of 29C.
Documentary series examines story of missing Marshal Iwaasa
Marshal Iwaasa disappeared three and a half years ago and the mystery of what happened to him is now part of a streaming documentary series.
Poor air quality in Waterloo region and Guelph will continue into the weekend: Environment Canada
There's high levels of air pollution in Waterloo region and Wellington County as smoke plumes from wildfires burning in Quebec and northeastern Ontario continue to blow into the region, Environment Canada says.
Six Region of Waterloo councillors announce support for amalgamation
One unified city – that’s what six Region of Waterloo councillors say they want when it comes to the future of the region’s municipal governance.
Habitat for Humanity nears completion of new affordable housing units
The work never stops at Habitat for Humanity when it comes to building affordable homes for families in Waterloo region.
Out-of-control wildfire on Lower Mainland sees massive growth
A human-caused wildfire on the Lower Mainland has grown to an estimated 800 hectares and continues to burn out of control Wednesday, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
'You don't listen to renters': Vancouver Tenants Union disrupts housing announcement
Rental housing advocates interrupted an announcement by B.C.'s housing minister in Vancouver Wednesday morning to object to the provincial government's response to the affordability crisis.
Vancouver voice actors concerned about AI cloning voices without consent
Advances in artificial intelligence means software can generate accurate voice clones that sound just like the real thing, but that's putting some actors in a precarious position, including Vancouver's Bill Newton.
Albertans asked to conserve electricity Wednesday evening due to hot temperatures
Hot temperatures across Alberta prompted a grid alert Wednesday afternoon.
'A long time coming': Edmonton Catholics commit $3.2M to Indigenous reconciliation fund
The Archdiocese of Edmonton will spend $3.2 million on reconciliation initiatives with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the Alberta capital region.
'Major travel delays': Anthony Henday Drive bridge will be closed this weekend
Drivers are being asked to find another way or prepare for delays on the Henday this weekend, because crews need to close a bridge over the North Saskatchewan River.
Weapon and drug charges laid after Lakeshore ‘road rage’ incident
A “road rage” incident has led to multiple charges for two Windsor residents after allegedly wielding a replica firearm at another driver.
'I just feel so empty': Mother opens up after teenaged daughter’s body recovered by police
The body of a woman reported missing in January has been found by Windsor police and her mother is struggling with the confirmation that her daughter is gone.
Alleged murder of Windsor woman marks region's 4th case of femicide in last two years, says advocacy group
In the wake of a first-degree murder charge being filed against a Michigan man for killing his estranged wife, a 36-year-old Windsor woman, the head of an emergency shelter for women and children says femicide is a growing problem in Windsor-Essex.
Future uncertain for residents of bulldozed Regina homeless camp
The dwellings of around a dozen Regina residents experiencing homelessness were bulldozed after calls from the property owner.
Less than 50% of Indigenous students graduate from provincial schools, report says
Indigenous graduation rates are sliding in the province, according to Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor.
Regina city council asks for debt limit increase
Regina city council has asked its administration to pursue permission from the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB) to increase its debt limit to $780 million.
Special Air Quality Statement
Special Air Quality Statement | Wildfire smoke blankets Ottawa for a third day
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for Ottawa, with the air quality at 10+ "very high risk" Wednesday morning. Conditions improved in the afternoon.
Plug-in air purifier blamed for row house fire in Craig Henry area
The Ottawa Fire Service says a plug-in air purifier is to blame for a fire on Craig Henry Drive Tuesday.
Centennial Lake fire being held; evacuation order in place until Friday
The wildfire at Centennial Lake, 150 km west of Ottawa, is being held by firefighters, but an evacuation order remains in effect until Friday.
Saskatoon property taxes could see 13 per cent hike as city confronts $75M revenue gap
Significant property tax hikes may be needed to cover a funding shortfall, according to City of Saskatoon administration.
Saskatoon builder looking to flip abandoned homes to first time buyers
A Saskatoon man wants to play matchmaker for the unloved homes in the city.
Latest season of survivalist series 'Alone' filmed in Sask., set to premiere June 8
The rugged wilderness of northern Saskatchewan was host to survivalists from all walks of life, vying to win the top prize of the popular series 'Alone.'