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In the news today: Wildfires rage in Western Canada, Manitoba murder trial continues

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew surveys wildfires burning in northern Manitoba from a helicopter on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Wildfires force thousands of Canadians to flee

Thousands of people in Western Canada remain displaced from their homes as wildfires threaten their communities, triggering evacuation orders and alerts.

In British Columbia, a widening area around the northeastern community of Fort Nelson is under evacuation, with the Parker Lake wildfire burning close by and the larger Patry Creek wildfire raging to the northwest.

Both blazes are listed with the B.C. Wildfire Service as "wildfires of note," with Parker Lake measured at 84 square kilometres in size and the Patry Creek blaze covering a whopping 464 square kilometres.

In Alberta, a 209 square kilometre blaze has chased more than 6,600 residents of southern Fort McMurray from their homes.

In 2016, a similar wildfire destroyed much of the oilsands community and its recovery took years.

And just north of Cranberry Portage, Manitoba, an out-of-control wildfire measuring 316 square kilometres has forced the area's roughly 500-plus locals to flee their homes.

Murder trial to hear from neighbours of killer

Three people who lived in the same apartment building where Jeremy Skibicki killed four women are expected to testify in a Winnipeg courtroom today.

Skibicki told police he strangled or drowned the women in his home and then disposed of their bodies in garbage bins.

He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder for the slayings of Rebecca Contois, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders have named Buffalo Woman.

His lawyers have said he killed the four Indigenous women but is not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Crown prosecutors say the killings were racially motivated and Skibicki preyed on the vulnerable women at homeless shelters.

A worker from one of the homeless shelters is also expected to speak later today during the trial.

B.C. bear attack 'defensive in nature'

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says a bear that attacked a woman on a trail in the community of Squamish will not be captured or put down.

Officials say an investigation has determined that Friday's attack was "defensive in nature."

They say the woman was walking her dog along a trail when it went into thick brush.

She then noticed two bear cubs and was charged and bitten by the sow, which ran off.

Conservation officers have remained in the area for several days during their investigation, which included an assessment of the attack site and interviews with the victim.

Munro's death 'bittersweet' at Munro's Books

Justina Elias says she didn't know about the connection legendary Canadian writer Alice Munro had to the Victoria, B.C., bookstore that bears her name, but she quickly found out.

Elias, who runs the fiction section at Munro's Books, said the "serendipity" of ending up working at a bookstore founded by the writer she idolized "never ceases to amaze me."

Munro, whose short stories about small-town Ontario earned her an international fan base and the Nobel Prize in literature, died Monday at the age of 92.

Her daughter Jenny Munro said the celebrated writer, who had dementia for many years, died at an Ontario care home where she had spent her last days surrounded by family and friends.

"It's so funny because when I moved out to Victoria, I didn't know anything about the lore of the store," Elias said in an interview at Munro's Books, while standing near a book of condolences for the writer.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, an avid reader whose spouse, Renee Saklikar, is a poet, said Munro is one of Canada's greatest writers whose stories "have been transformative for many people."

Rebecca Strong wins $1M on 'Canada's Got Talent'

Rebecca Strong is now $1 million richer after being crowned the winner of Citytv’s “Canada’s Got Talent” Season 3.

The Indigenous singer from Prince Albert, Sask., claimed the reality competition's first million-dollar prize in a two-hour finale featuring eight finalists.

Viewers across Canada voted to determine the winner of what Citytv’s parent company, Rogers, billed as the biggest cash prize in Canadian television history.

The finalists were whittled down from over 100 musical, dance, comedy and novelty acts.

Strong bested rivals including Funkanometry, a dance duo from Vancouver Island, and Travis Lindsay, a comedian from Halifax.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2024

The Canadian Press

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