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Lauren Roulston – OTTAWA • ON | 25-03-2021
Police Chief Peter Sloly has announced the decision to pause the use of dynamic entries that are conducted by Ottawa Police Service (OPS) solely for the purpose of preserving evidence.
He made the announcement during the OPS board meeting on Monday afternoon, a decision that comes after public scrutiny and lengthy discussions on the safety of the practice, also known as a “no-knock raid.”
Dynamic entries see police suited in full combat gear, often equipped with battering rams, flashbangs or stun grenades. They are mainly used in situations where there is a risk of evidence being destroyed or when a person is subjecting themselves or others to harm.
The practice faced controversy following the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in Kentucky last March which resulted in several U.S. states banning the no-knock raids.
This tactic has gone wrong in Canada as well, as 23-year-old Anthony Aust died after falling from a 12th-storey bedroom window after a dynamic entry into his home in Ottawa in October 2020.
Many community activists have advocated against the use of dynamic raids in the city.
Sam Hersh, a public delegate of the board meeting and member of Horizon Ottawa, says the dynamic entry suspension is a result of community efforts rather than the OPS board.
“This is because the community came together to oppose dynamic entries,” he says.
Hersh also says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the announcement, but doesn’t have any faith in police discretion while carrying out the suspension.
“What we want to see is a complete end to dynamic entries. No case warrants a military-style assault on someone’s home, especially when in most cases it has been proven to be totally unnecessary,” he adds.
Acting Deputy Chief Mark Ford estimates 75 to 80 per cent of dynamic entries to be justified on the basis of preserving disposable evidence.
The OPS has conducted a year-long review of the tactic and is in the final stages of recommendations to be formalized and implemented.
“This pause will remain in effect while we go through implementing the overall review recommendations in our policies, procedures and practices,” said Sloly.
“That said, there will always be circumstances where there is a need for dynamic entries to prevent the harm to persons. That is why the Ottawa police service will continue to appropriately use dynamic entries in all other circumstances where the purpose is not solely for the purpose of preserving evidence.”
Sloly noted to the board that the number of dynamic entries used by the OPS over the last three years has decreased from 82 in 2018 to 59 in 2020.
“That trend will continue in 2021 and beyond as a result of the review recommendations being fully implemented,” he says.
Here is Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly announcing the dynamic entry suspension at Monday’s OPS board meeting:
Ottawa police chief temporarily halts controversial no-knock raids
Manal Abdurahman discusses her food blog Nala’s Big Bite. Photo courtesy of Manal Abdurahman.
SIERRA-ANNE CONVILLE – OTTAWA • ON | 25-03-2021
Manal Abdurahman runs a food blog on Instagram called Nala’s Big Bite where she captures photos of food from all different types of local restaurants.
Abdurahman said that she had often been posting food photos on her personal Instagram account before she even knew about food blogging.
She decided to make a dedicated account to post food photos and was able to find an entire community of people who post this same kind of content.
Before creating her platform, Abdurahman felt she was missing an outlet where she could express herself.
“I’m a nurse now, and I feel like there’s not a lot of room for creativity in my day to day in my job so my food blog or my Instagram page is the place where I can just totally be myself,” she said.
“It’s a safe space just for me,” she added.
Abdurahman said that as a food blogger, she rarely saw people that looked like her in the space, so she was able to become the representation that was lacking in the community and connect with other food bloggers worldwide that share her ethnicity.
To figure out what restaurant will make it on her blog next, Abdurahman looks to the Instagram pages of restaurants within the city.
“It doesn’t take a lot for me to checkout a restaurant, as long as it’s local in Ottawa and the food looks good, I’ll probably be there,” she said.
Abdurahman said her most recent good food find is a sushi spot in Centretown called J:Unique.
“I saw this picture on Instagram of a plate of food, of sushi on fire” Abdurahman said, adding that she was drawn to the restaurant from this photo and after trying it said that the food was amazing.
Since Abdurahman works as a nurse, she has a busy schedule, but she does find the time to post to her blog as much as she can.
“I try and visit new spots at least once a week on my days off,” she said.
When the lockdown started due to COVID-19 last March, Abdurahman faced difficulties posting to her blog.
“I kind of struggled a little bit at first,” she said.
Abdurahman turned to cooking her own meals to document her food adventures on her Instagram page.
“The thing about a food blog is you don’t always have to go to restaurants which is really cool, you can make your own or you can bake or you can use other people’s recipes and take pictures of that,” she said.
“I feel like it’s a space that will never kind of die especially with social media, I feel like it’s always evolving,” Abdurahman added.
Once patio season started Abdurahman was excited to get back out there and try new foods.
Abdurahman’s food blog can be found here.
Here is Manal Abdurahman speaking with CHUO:
Ottawa foodie talks life as a food blogger
Olivia Lam owns IO bakes which sells nut-free treat boxes each month. Photo courtesy of Olivia Lam.
SIERRA-ANNE CONVILLE – OTTAWA • ON | 24-03-2021
Inspiring Olivia (IO) Bakes is a new local business that sells treats and pastries made in a commercial kitchen.
The bakery launched in December and is committed to providing nut-free desserts.
“It started because I have an allergy to nuts and a lot of bakeries I find it’s may contain, and they can’t promise absolutely no nut contamination,” said owner Olivia Lam.
The business has begun to sell themed treat boxes. IO Bakes has sold four different boxes so far which include items like cupcakes and danishes.
“I started treat boxes for Lunar New Year in February this year, so that was the very first one,” Lam said.
Valentine’s day, International Women’s Day and now Easter are the other occasions Lam has curated treat boxes for.
“Valentine’s Day, our boxes sold out very quick, I’m gonna say within two hours,” Lam said.
Lam said that with Easter coming up she is just as busy. Lam’s Easter treat boxes, as well as mini-egg biscotti, have completely sold out as well.
“I guess people are looking for baked treats but like not commercial sized baked treats for their friends and family and loved ones,” she said.
Through her bakery, Lam said she has been able to connect with other small businesses in Ottawa.
“I try to include one item from a local business in each treat box each month, so that they can get that sort of exposure,” Lam said.
“Then it makes it a little bit more fun, you have something you can keep rather than just all the things that you can just consume and then they’re gone,” she added.
The Easter treat boxes included a fresh bouquet of tulips from a local florist to fit with the theme and coincide with springtime.
Following the interview, Lam explained that she does her best to use locally sourced ingredients for her baked goods and will often reach out to local farmers.
Lam hopes to eventually expand IO bakes into accommodating other dietary restrictions such as gluten, vegan, dairy free or egg free options.
Olivia Lam’s bakery Instagram can be found here.
Here is Olivia Lam speaking with CHUO:
New local bakery launches monthly themed treat boxes
The Ottawa Black Film Festival will showcase works by Black filmmakers and host panels for the Black community. Photo courtesy of the OBFF website.
GABBY CALUGAY-CASUGA – OTTAWA • ON | 24-03-2021
The first Ottawa Black Film Festival (OBFF) is set to start tomorrow night.
The organizers of the OBFF planned to have the inaugural Ottawa event in 2020 but the plans were interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After taking some time to regroup, the OBFF bringing its festival to Ottawa citizens via the virtual space this year.
Andrea Este, the OBFF head programming coordinator, explained how they were able to get the festival running.
“We had to produce the Montreal International Black Film Festival and the Toronto Black Film Festival virtually as well as Halifax,” Este said. “We just felt it was the perfect time to launch Ottawa at the same time.”
Este said that the OBFF is about more than just movies: it’s about empowering Black professionals in the film community.
“Black artists have very little opportunities so, for us, it is imperative to empower Black voices,” Este said. “We do show films by Black filmmakers. There is Black talent behind the camera and in front of the camera. We also host the Black Market where we feature panel discussions that are based around industry as well as socials and community.”
The opening film for the festival is Ignacio Márquez’s “The Special” and will become available on an online streaming service at 7 p.m. Thursday. Later that night, the rest of the festival’s films will become available at 10 p.m. Este said there are a lot of gems to look forward to in this year’s lineup.
“I invite people to come and register,” Este said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Este said she is excited for the OBFF to kick off because the community response so far has been wonderful. She said that there are some film festivals in Ottawa that amplify Black voices and she is excited to add the OBFF to this list.
“Having us come is just another platform to showcase Black talent. The reception has been really great,” Este said. “People are talking about us and are really anxious to be a part of this.”
To learn more about the festival, visit ottawablackfilm.com.
Inaugural Ottawa Black Film Festival will launch on Thursday