Not this year

Today is June 29. On this date I usually change my profile picture on Facebook to a Canadian flag, or a photo of a maple leaf and leave it up until July 5 because that brackets both Canada Day, July 1 and Independence Day in the US, July 4. But not this year.

I’m still a proud Canadian, but this doesn’t seem like the year to celebrate this country. Here are three numbers to help explain why: 215 – 104 – 751. If you’re among my followers and readers from other countries you might not grasp the meaning of these numbers, but if you’re Canadian, I’m quite certain you understand at least the first and last of these.

For those who for various reasons – COVID 19 takes up much of most newscasts – aren’t aware, those three sets of numbers represent the numbers of unmarked graves recently located by various means, including ground penetrating radar, at the sites of now defunct residential schools.

215, Kamloops B C at a school run by the Roman Catholic Church.

104, southwestern Manitoba. None of the news articles I can locate mention which church ran this school. This didn’t seem to receive the same amount of national coverage as the other two.

751, southeastern Saskatchewan at a school run by the Roman Catholic Church.

Following is an abridged definition and history of the residential school system from The Canadian Encyclopaedia:

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools that were established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Although the first residential facilities were established in New France, the term usually refers to schools established after 1880. Residential schools were created by Christian churches and the Canadian government as an attempt to both educate and convert Indigenous youth and to assimilate them into Canadian society. However, the schools disrupted lives and communities, causing long-term problems among Indigenous peoples.

… residential schools became part of government and church policy from the 1830s on, with the creation of Anglican, Methodist, and Roman Catholic institutions in Upper Canada (Ontario). The oldest continually operating residential school in Canada was the Mohawk Institute in what is now Brantford, Ontario. This began as a day school for Six Nations boys, but in 1831 it started to accept boarding students.

Survivors of these schools speak of harsh conditions: forbidden to speak their native languages upon threat of punishment; the boys forcibly having their hair cut, and physical and sexual abuse. A survivor from the Kamloops school, in an interview, said that if a child suddenly vanished overnight, it was assumed they had simply run away, and the schools would encourage that assumption. The overall aim of these schools, in the words of one survivor interviewed, was “to take the Indian out of the child”.

The Roman Catholic order than ran the Kamloops school has announced they will provide whatever documentation they still have to aid in the identification of these 215 poor unfortunate children. I’ve not read or heard of any such offers regarding the Manitoba and Saskatchewan sites. Both the Ontario and federal government have announced they will make funds available to help in the search for unmarked graves and identification of the remains.

I realize that now, in 2021,society’s attitudes have changed greatly since these schools were introduced, but I can think of nothing at any time in history, not just the history of Canada but the history of the world, to justify such treatment of children.

I can’t say if the news of these discoveries in Canada had any bearing on it, but Deb Haaland, the American Secretary of the Interior this past week announced an investigation into the American version of residential schools. I’d like to be optimistic, but I fear that investigation will reveal similar events in the US.

As a result of these sad and tragic announcements, many cities and towns are cancelling their planned Canada Day celebrations. They too find it hard to celebrate this nation’s birthday.

We as a nation have failed these children and I personally don’t think we have anything to celebrate this year. Maybe next year.

Cat.

They are persistent

I checked an email account for the first time since late last week. In it I found the following two emails:

Geek-Squ Renewal (actual address: adammuche1959@)
May 29,2021

Dear Customer,
Thank you for subscribing Defender Firewall Protection From us .
Today the Service Will Renewed Automatically with $349.89 on the same account provided to us.
Order ID: DFP1476608 Date: 29-05-2021

Description Amount

Geek Protection $349.89

(Inclusive Tax)

Total $ 349.89

Note :- Charges will appear on your statement after 8 hours once debited.
If you want to cancel the charges for $349.89 Auto Renew This time.
Get in touch with us :- +1 (800) (674)

Thanks Regards,
Account Dept.
Defender Firewall Protection
+1 (800) (674) Geek Squad (actual address: felixdolphin060@)
May 31. 2021

We Are Renewing It For You

Dear Customer,
Thank you for choosing Geek Squad Pc Support with us.
Today Subscription Will Be Auto Renewed automatically
with $ 399.99 on the same account provided to us.

Customer Support- +1(800) 274
Order #16589GS-59856
Details are giving below –
Account Type:- Personal Home Subscription
Product :- Geek Squad PC Protection
Quantity :- 1
Tenure :- 3 Years
Payment Mode:- Auto Debit
Renewal Amount – $ 399.99

This Email Confirms That You’ve Renewed Your 1 Year Subscription To Geek Squad For $ 399.99 On May 31 2021

To Cancel The Subscription You Can reach Us at +1(800) 274
Regards
Geek Squad Team
Contact +1(800) 274

To keep myself out of trouble with WordPress (again) I’ve left off part of both the actual email addresses and the phone numbers.
I believe Geek Squad is the tech support team at Best Buy, which presents the scammers with their first problem. The last thing I bought from Best Buy was about 3 years ago, and that was a copy of TurboTax. I paid $20 cash for it, so there is no reason I’d have signed up for tech support. If I can’t put a disk in the drive and follow instructions, I shouldn’t be allowed near a computer. And since I paid cash, there is no record of either a debit or credit card number.

These emails came from different addresses, both gmail and both phone numbers are different. Note also the amounts differ. The first is for $349.89 tax included and the second for 399.99 with no mention of taxes. If the scammers are working together, and I find it hard to believe two separate people came up with the idea of a Geek Squad scam at the same time, you’d think they’d at least stick with the same price. Also notice the awkward sentence structure.

One other possibility just came to mind. Somewhere in western Canada is a woman who seems unable to remember her email address and frequently gives out mine in error. I say “in error” because I’ve received family newsletters and vacation plans from her friends. I’ve also received emails regarding orders from legitimate businesses in western Canada. I know because I’ve phoned a couple of these firms upon receipt of their messages.

If you have bought goods from Best Buy and signed up for support, if you get one of these emails, check with Best Buy then delete the message.

Summer is almost here. Stay safe, wear a mask when and where required and remember to give an artist a socially distant hug – we need love too.

Cat.

The return of Joseph

With the pandemic seeming to monopolize the news I haven’t written anything yet this year. The frequent reporting of case count and death totals, internationally, nationally and locally has me to the point where I now watch one newscast a day. I am aware of the American election and the circus and insurrection that followed (and still goes on) but as someone who isn’t American, I saw no reason to comment.

My regular followers and readers may recall “Joseph”, whom I took to task on several occasions over his comments on some of my “Bring him to justice” postings. Well, he’s back with more inane comments and ad hominem attacks. This time, on a posting, “Bring him to justice – where are the words?” from April 2019 lamenting the lack of news coverage over the George Flowers incident, his comment was “100%”. What the hell does that mean? Does he agree there should have been more coverage, or is he indicating his pleasure with the lack of coverage?

The other two comments were ad hominem attacks that don’t bear repeating here. I will say that they both refer to the fact I’m a transwoman. In one, he obviously didn’t read the post correctly where I said the Court ordered Flowers to serve two years less a day in a federal facility, because he states that length of term is served in a provincial jail. Joseph, read my words again “The Court imposed a sentence of time served plus two years less a day in a federal penitentiary.” (Bold face added. C) The other comment made some weird reference to my chin.

Joseph, three things: first, as I’m sure you know, the word “tranny” is very offensive unless you’re referring to an automotive transmission. Second, I didn’t you know had some strange chin fetish. And finally, my being transgender didn’t seem to bother you when you accused me of just being bitter because Flowers rejected me. What changed?
Cat.

Someone’s trying again

DATE: Nov 23

TITLE: Someone’s trying again

On December 6, 2019 I published blog called “Sorry Sarge, not happening” about an email I received purporting to be from New South Wales Australia. The sender claimed to be a Sgt Monica L Brown and she had a proposal for me. Oh, what the heck. Here’s the blog. It’s a short one.

DATE: Dec 6

TITLE: Sorry Sarge, not happening

I received the following email this morning. I’ve removed the email address to keep me in WordPress’s good graces.

Griffin, Christine Cgriffin

I am Sgt Monica L Brown I have a proposal for you! Please send me a reply on my personal Email:

slinbrown975

Rather cryptic and designed to instill curiosity in the reader isn’t it? Let’s look at it.

I am Sgt Monica L Brown Good for you. Are you in the army? Air Force, or the local police or some other paramilitary organisation that uses military ranking? Just telling me your rank doesn’t tell me anything useful.

I have a proposal for you! Really!! And what might that be? Do you have several millions in unclaimed funds you want me to help you smuggle out of the country for a cut of said money?

The extension on the sender’s email was “begavalley.nsw.gov.au”, which I translate to mean this was sent by, or on behalf, of the government of the shire of Bega Valley in New South Wales, Australia. A quick Google search shows this area is also known as “the Sapphire Coast” and it appears to be a tourist destination.

I have to ask myself why the government of a tourist area on the west coast of Australia would be contacting a 75 year-old woman in Canada with a proposal? The only thing that comes to mind is that the website has been hacked and this is in fact a scam. Having these suspicions, I have forwarded this to the Bega Valley Council for investigation.

As mysterious and inviting as this may sound, I strongly recommend you do NOT respond to Sargent Monica L Brown.

On the plus side, for a change it is well-written.

Cat.

So why am I talking about an eleven month old blog that had a total of six views over that period of time? (And yes, admitting that count hurts.) Because yesterday, November 22, the view count ballooned to 32. Readers were mainly from Mexico on down through South America. This sudden interest in the blog, plus the locations of the readers leads me to the conclusion that whoever sent that email using the name Sgt Monica L Brown is trying it again, targeting South America this time. As I wrote almost a year ago, if you get this do NOT respond to the Sarge.

In this time of pandemic I urge you all to stay safe and while you can’t hug an artist right now, think positive thoughts about us, we still need love.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – writer’s comments

I began writing the “Bring him to justice” series of blogs in 2012. Over the intervening years I have received many comments. Some have been encouragement to keep writing of that matter. Some have been thanks for bringing and keeping it before the public. Others have been questions regarding the state of the situation and still others provided me with links to Jamaican news coverage of his attempts to avoid extradition.

Then there are the others. I’ve read, and often approved, comments defending George Flowers or offering excuses for his actions. And in cases where the person offering the comment could neither defend nor excuse him, they chose instead to attack the writer.

On September 23, 2020 I published “Bring him to justice – justice served” outlining Flowers’s guilty plea and the resulting sentence. In that blog I said “And to supporters of him I’d like to point out that his guilty plea is an admission that he did in fact do what he was accused of doing. Spare me your bullshit excuses for his actions. You’ve wasted enough of my time already.” I guess those last two sentences worked for I’ve heard nothing from those who previously defended or excused him or launched personal attacks on me. And honestly I’m not surprised his so-called supporters were so quick to abandon him once he entered his plea. Something about rats and sinking ships comes to mind.

I can understand not hearing from those people who encouraged and supported me, for September 23, 2020 marked an end to one part of their ordeal. I sincerely hope the guilty plea and the imposed sentence gives you some relief.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – justice served

On September 9, 2020, George Flowers,aka Mr Flowas, entered a plea of guilty to three charges of aggravated sexual assault filed against him. The Court accepted that plea. This plea saves his victims the ordeal of having their carefully rebuilt lives torn apart again by his lawyers. Victim impact statements and sentencing followed on September 23, 2020. The Court imposed a sentence of time served plus two years less a day in a federal penitentiary. He also received three years probation and must register as a sex offender. There is to be no contact with any of his victims. Upon completion of his sentence ,a deportation hearing will be held. It is my fervent hope that upon completion of that hearing, representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Canada escort him to the nearest international airport and put him on the next plane to Jamaica.

In late June of 2020, the Toronto Police Service relayed a request from the Crown that I remove two postings that Flowers and his lawyer felt jeopardized their case. I followed that request. Now that this matter is settled, I can put those postings back up, so here they are along with comments that had been posted to those two blogs. Of everything I’ve written over the past eight years, these are the only two I’ve been asked to remove. I can understand the second one since it outlines, in less than five hundred words, everything that’s happened since the Toronto Police Service issued their Public Safety Alert in the summer of 2012, but the other one is a mystery.

DATE: May 8

TITLE: Bring him to justice – further update

I have been informed that George Flowers requested bail using the current coronavirus pandemic as his reason. His claim centred around the fact his current HIV status placed him at additional risk of contracting COVID 19 as long as he was in close contact with other prisoners.

Earlier in the social distancing/social isolation period we are currently enduring, the issue of community infection in jails and prisons was raised, so that he tried to use this isn’t too surprising.

The judge wasn’t sympathetic to his plea and denied his request. So Flowers will remain in custody pending the resumption of trials, currently estimated to be September 2020.

If you, or someone you know has been or is the victim of assault of any kind, please contact your local police. They can help you.

Cat.
Comment on Bring him to justice – further update
reggaeairways on May 9, 2020 at 2:31 am said:
Thanks for keeping us updated, Cat.
Poor lamb must be feeling all vulnerable and threatened by infection he knows he might be exposed to. Unlike his victims.
Not a jot of sympathy from me, I’m afraid…

jonnymacneal on May 11, 2020 at 5:50 am said:
Thank you for keeping us updated it is truly appreciated to people following the story in victims and their families and their friends stay safe and keep up the great work

And the second one:

DATE: June 8

TITLE: Why? Part of Bring him to justice

I have never responded well to demands, especially demands from strangers, and the older I get, the more obstinate in my refusal to act I become. Demands that come with no apparent reason attached really bring out my stubborn side.

Over the weekend I received such a demand referring to my April 18 post “Bring him to justice – on hold”. This post was simply to advise my followers and readers the Ontario court system wasn’t holding trials until the COVID 19 pandemic was over or at least better controlled. Nothing controversial, just updating the situation.

Here is the demand I received, from someone named Latoya: Leave him alone. No “please”, no “why don’t you just…”, just the three words. Why should I leave him alone? Maybe if you’d given me reasons I wouldn’t be writing this right now. And had you not been so terse in your message, I may have approved the comment.

“Him” is George Flowers, aka “Mister Flowas” and when he learned the Toronto Police Service wanted him for several counts of aggravated sexual assault, he fled the country for Jamaica. That was in 2012. Once apprehended at the request of Canadian officials, he spent five years, FIVE YEARS, fighting Canada’s extradition request through the Jamaican court system. Finally in June 2017, he was returned to Canadian custody.

Those charges stemmed from the fact that despite being HIV positive and knowing he was, he neglected to tell any of his partners he was positive. At the time of the offences failure to do so was illegal and the charges could have been attempted murder (and I still think that would have been the appropriate charge), but in the years between his actions and the charges, medical knowledge and the law both changed, so the best TPS could do was aggravated sexual assault.

I have been following and writing about this for all these years because I know several people he dated, some of whom have tested HIV positive themselves. Other than a brief flurry when Toronto Police Service first issued their Public Safety Alert, the media hasn’t covered this. There was some coverage in the Jamaican press during his fight to avoid being returned to Canada, but the main source for both his victims (and supporters) seems to be my postings.

“Leave him alone.” Had he followed the legal requirements to tell his partners of his status, they would have had the option to leave him alone or not. But he didn’t. The result of his inaction is that people had their lives destroyed and have had to carefully rebuild them, or start new lives. For some this has not been easy. Jobs have been lost; old friends have drifted away and all because he couldn’t say “I’m HIV positive”.

So no Latoya, I won’t leave him alone until he faces justice in a Canadian court.

Cat.

I have been writing this Bring him to justice series since 2012. I started for two main reasons – I know people he dated, some of whom have tested HIV positive, and the mainstream media wasn’t covering this. During my various writings, I broke down and cried several times while working on this series while trying to maintain a degree of detachment. That hasn’t always been easy as I know people he dated as I wrote above. When I have strayed from that detachment it has usually been in response to ad hominem attacks from his supporters.

To those who took the time to write thanking me for my efforts and encouraging me to continue, I appreciate your words. I may not have posted your comment, especially if I felt it may compromise you, but I did read it. To those who provided me with links to Jamaican news coverage of his attempts to fight extradition, and other information from Jamaica, thank you. You made my job easier.

And to supporters of him I’d like to point out that his guilty plea is an admission that he did in fact do what he was accused of doing. Spare me your bullshit excuses for his actions. You’ve wasted enough of my time already.

And lastly, I have spoken with one of his victims and her final message to him is:

FUCK YOU!

Cat.

 

I won again!

I received the following in my inbox a couple of hours ago:

CNN’s Good Stuff

14:05 (2 hours ago)

Congratulations, You Have Been Selected To Get A $360 Cvs Pharmacy GiftCard,
In Order To Take Your Gift Card All You Have To Do Is Just Answering A
Short Survey About Your Shopping Experiences At Cvs

I’ve removed the email address and links to keep me out of trouble with WordPress (it’s happened before).

The problem with this email is first, I doubt CNN operates that way and perhaps the biggest problem of all is we don’t have CVS in Canada. Also, and not to sound greedy, by $360 sounds like an odd amount.

If you receive this email, be aware the actual sender’s address is a gmail address, not from CNN.

My advice is that if you get this email, just delete it, or do what I did and send a copy to CNN.

Take care and stay healthy,

Cat.

They keep trying

A little while ago, I received a text message from “Management Team” at Toronto phone number 437-240-6722 telling me a restriction had been placed on my TD Visa card. The sender quoted a Visa card number that, while it had the correct prefix for TD cards, had no other relation to my actual card number. The message stated my card was “immediately blocked, because of “Security Limitation. Then followed some nonsensical, but intended to sound official, numbers. Finally, the text read “Please text ‘Y’ to initialize removal of holds.”

Right, sure, anything you say. First of all, this is not the first text I’ve received of this kind. Some of them come from banks I don’t even deal with, so I am aware these are just looking for information. I’ve never texted “Y” back, but I presume that if I did, I’d be asked all kinds of questions to “confirm my account” when really all they want is my information. So, what did I do? I did what any reasonable person would, or should, do – I called Visa and reported the attempted phishing to them. I know the state of my account, so wasn’t fooled by the message.

If you receive a text message like this, or anything similar, don’t just blindly answer “Y”, check it out. You could save yourself and your credit rating a whole lot of financial hurt. I also suggest you keep tabs on your Visa card (or any other credit card) balance. That way you won’t get fooled.

Cat.

Such a waste

Last week the Toronto trans community lost a shining light. Trans activist Julie Berman was murdered by a man who, according to news reports, was not known in the LGBTQ community. Toronto Police Service have changed him with second degree murder. His name is available in news reports, but I will not use it here, for I don’t think he deserves any notoriety. Autopsy results revealed the cause of death was blunt force trauma. Police have not so far suggested any motive, so unless it comes out at his trial, we may never know whether that Julie was trans had any bearing on her death.

It is only within the past year I’ve become involved with trans issues and did not know Julie, partly because I don’t live in Toronto. Interviews with people who knew her show that she was extremely active in the fight against transphobia and now that voice has been silenced. Even though I didn’t know her personally, I feel her loss. She was a sister in the broadest sense of the word and as with any extended family, the loss of one is a loss for all.

I noticed one encouraging sign in the media coverage of this terribly sad event. Whether it be radio, television, online or print, not once was Julie misgendered. While it is to be expected that those from the community who were interviewed would identify her correctly, the media also did so. From my readings I know this is not always done in American reports, so I wonder if this is one more example of the differences between Canadian and American reporting.

The trans community in Toronto and beyond has had a powerful voice taken from us and it is up to us to see that her work continues.

Cat.

From the bus

I had to go into Toronto yesterday. On the way home I was fortunate enough to get the first seat on the right side of the vehicle, which gave me a chance to observe things that looking out a side window might have been missed.

I’ve previously railed against people who will stand at a bus stop for ten minutes and wait until they are on the bus to fumble around to find their electronic pass. I discovered yesterday these are the same people who will wait until they are at the exit to fumble around to find that pass so they can “tap off”. The system in the Greater Toronto Area works on zones, so on the intercity coaches it is necessary to tap on when you board, and tap off when you leave, otherwise, you’ll pay to the end of the line. Why people, why do you do this? You know you need the pass to both get on and get off, so why can’t you have it handy?

In the far east of Toronto, I noticed a sign I’ve never seen before on a lamp post, so naturally I had to read it. Doing so didn’t clear things up one bit. The sign read “monolith sidewalk begins”. It didn’t look any different from 100 other sidewalks I’ve seen both in Toronto and the area I live, so what the hell is a “monolith sidewalk”? It can’t be referring to some archeologic site for it was next to an empty field at an interchange from Highway 401. And there was no huge black rectangular monolith anywhere is sight either as described by Arthur C Clarke.

Finally, when did chrome bumpers on vehicles become a thing of the past? My trip covered about 20 miles during the early part of rush hour so I got to see many vehicles of various makes, models and years. Of the fifty or so vehicles I noted, exactly two – both of them Ram pickups – had chrome bumpers. The rest all had the current molded, coloured body panels. Is it for safety reasons, or aesthetics?

Okay, now that I’ve given you some questions to ponder, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love (and answers) too.

Cat.