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Canadian court clears four Sri Lankans of human smuggling

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that people providing humanitarian aid, including family members, were exempt from smuggling laws.But the Crown told the trial that the top court’s exemptions didn’t apply because the accused had a role in organizing and executing the voyage, which it said was a money-making scheme costing migrants thousands of dollars. Defence lawyers told the trial their clients were trying to escape poor living conditions and seeking a better life. A Canadian court has found four Sri Lankan men not guilty of human smuggling, The Star reported.Justice Arne Silverman of the British Columbia Supreme Court said Thursday that while there was evidence of organized crime in the smuggling operation, he wasn’t satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the men were connected to any crime. He also said the men were asylum seekers aboard the MV Ocean Lady get to asylum on the B.C. coast in October 2009. “I am also not satisfied that their actions were to obtain either directly or indirectly a financial or material benefit, or that any of the them obtained one.”The men were part of a group of 76 young men from Sri Lanka who arrived on B.C.’s coast in October 2009.They travelled about 45 days across the Pacific Ocean seeking refuge in Canada from a civil war that ravaged their homeland, Silverman said in his decision. But Silverman said the Crown didn’t prove its case. The accused — Francis Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, Hamalraj Handasamy, Jeyachandran Kanagarajah and Vignarajah Thevarajah — smiled, laughed and shook hands with their lawyers after the judge released his ruling. “I have determined that these four accused were asylum seekers and that there is an air of reality to the defence of mutual aid.” The Crown had argued the four accused were in charge of the smuggling operation and out to make a profit on people seeking asylum in Canada. read more

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NSERC scholarship winner researching mild traumatic brain injuries

A $50,000 per year NSERC scholarship will allow a Brock graduate student to continue her important research on people with mild traumatic brain injuries.When Caitlyn Gallant learned she had been selected to receive one of the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), she was elated.“I feel honoured to be recognized as a Vanier scholar,” says Gallant. “It is a wonderful recognition of the work I have put into academics, research and community service and inspires me to invest greater effort in my research and my community.”The scholarship will allow her to expand on the research she began as a master’s student in Brock’s Neuropsychology Cognitive Research Lab studying affective Theory of Mind in people with mild traumatic brain injuries.“My research aims to understand the neural mechanisms that underlie Theory of Mind, defined as the ability to understand others’ thoughts and emotions,” says Gallant. “Distinct brain regions have been implicated in understanding others’ thoughts versus others’ emotions; yet, the question of how these regions allow for the distinct ToM components remains unanswered.”Gallant’s PhD research will also include individuals on the Autism spectrum.“Research has demonstrated that these populations both show particular deficits in their ability to relate to others emotionally,” she says. “Both groups also present with abnormal levels of baseline physiological arousal. I wondered if this could be the mechanism of impairment in these populations and if abnormal arousal levels underlie their deficits, then this would shed light on the mechanism of affective Theory of Mind in general.”She hopes her research will help improve the understanding of this social cognitive process and help identify treatment strategies to remove barriers to social reintegration.“The inability to understand when your actions or words are upsetting or offensive to others can have huge social implications,” Gallant says. “If my research supports the mechanism that I propose, then future research could explore methods of boosting physiological arousal to potentially influence social skills.”Gallant’s supervisor says she is well deserving of the scholarship and recognition being an ambassador for academic research and its application, as well as being involved in many on and off-campus initiatives.“Caitlyn continues to be a positive influence on those around her — students, friends and friends-to-be,” said Dawn Good, Psychology Associate Professor.2017/2018 NSERC Canada Graduate ScholarshipNSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s   Nico Bonanno, Chemistry, “Design, synthesis and coordination chemistry of new redox­active ligands in molecule­based magnetism”Andrew Kenig, Mathematics and Statistics, “New Methods for Quantile Regression”Brent Pitchford, Psychology, “Exercising Self­Control and its Effect on Global/Local Attentional Processing”Jenny Tieu, Mathematics & Statistics, “On Quantile Regression and Extreme Value Distributions”NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate ScholarshipCaitlyn Gallant, Psychology, “Investigating physiological arousal as a mechanism for affective theory of mind”NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship – DoctoralMatthew Mallette, Applied Health Sciences, “Integrating mechanisms of central fatigue on neuromuscular function”Lyndon Duff, Biological Sciences, “Foraging patterns of subordinate females in the eastern carpenter bees, Xylocopa virginica and the influence of nestmate chemical cues on foraging”Nigel Kurgan, Applied Health Sciences, “The effect of exercise training on Wnt/B-catenin signaling”Phillip Wallace, Applied Health Sciences, “The Neurophysiological Responses Using Electroencephalography (EEG) During Self-Paced Exercise Performance in the Heat”Holly Lockhart, Psychology, “Connecting visual working memory of complex and simple objects” read more

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