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Ottawa man makes first court appearance on terrorism charges

A 25-year-old Ottawa man appeared in court facing terrorism charges Feb. 4 after police put out arrest warrants for three local men accused of terrorism-related offences.

Awso Peshdary is charged with conspiracy to participate in the activities of a terrorist organization and facilitating the activities of a terrorist organization. They carry maximum sentences of 10 to 14 years.

Peshdary will plead not guilty. His lawyer said the prosecution has yet to disclose evidence that would allow his client to understand the charges against him. The RCMP alleges Peshdary was recruiting fighters to go abroad.

Peshdary, who was arrested the previous day, was ordered not to communicate with a list of people, including his two co-accused, Khadar Khalib, a former Algonquin College student, and John Maguire, a former University of Ottawa student.

Both men are currently believed to be in Syria. Maguire appeared in an ISIS video in December and was reportedly killed while in the Middle East, though the RCMP said it can’t yet confirm if that is true.

Lawyers for the prosecution say the non-communication order was requested due to fears of witness intimidation.

Peshdary was previously arrested in 2010 as part of an extensive anti-terrorism investigation, but was acquitted.

He worked at the Pinecrest Queensway Community Centre and was involved with the Algonquin College Muslim Students Association. Algonquin told CTV News it is not aware of any recruitment being done at the school.

The case returns to court Feb. 9.

—Eric Davidson

Ottawa clinches world snowman-building record

More than 500 participants rolled up their sleeves and boulders of snow to break the Guinness World Record for snowman-building in Ottawa.

Ottawa beat the previous record of 1,299 set by Salt Lake City, Utah, by only a 20-man margin.

The event took place Feb. 1 at TD place as part of Ottawa’s comedy festival, Cracking Up the Capital. Funds raised went to various associations including the local effort Do It for Daron, a charity that raises awareness about youth mental health issues, following the suicide of 14-year-old Daron Richardson in 2010.

Participants had one hour to build as many three-feet-tall snowmen as they could, and had to think creatively since the powdered snow that day was harder to pack down.

The competition was also taped for an upcoming segment of the CBC’s Rick Mercer Report.

—Jessica Eritou

Loss of funding forces closure of aboriginal homeless centre


The Shawenjeagamik Aboriginal Drop-In Centre, a facility that provides services to Ottawa’s homeless First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people, will close on March 31 after the city rejected its application for funding.

The 10-year-old centre at 510 Rideau St. is run by the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, and has depended on federal and municipal funding to operate.

The federal government changed the rule for funding breakdowns 18 months ago so that 65 per cent of the money is allocated toward housing, as opposed to shelters like the Shawenjeagamik Centre.

Carrie Diabo, the facility’s coordinator, told Ottawa Morning the centre helps aboriginal people with housing as well as those without. It serves as a place of companionship and aid for those who live by themselves or can’t afford food.

Aaron Burry, the city’s general manager of community and social services, told the CBC that overall funding has not been cut, but the centre wasn’t competitive enough against other shelters.

—Carolyn Mutis