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Niagara Falls
Sunday, September 24, 2023
RiverBrink aids asylum seeker who crossed Niagara River
A man who allegedly crossed the Niagara River to seek asylum in Canada was reported by staff at RiverBrink Art Museum in Queenston. (FILE/STEVE HARDAKER)

RiverBrink Art Museum’s art show on Saturday morning began with excitement over more than art.

The museum’s administrator Janet Zylstra told The Lake Report that volunteers were approached by an asylum seeker while setting up for the show.

“It was something that none of us had experienced ever before,” she said. 

“Luckily, we were there early.”

Zylstra said that the man had emerged from the Niagara River and staff at RiverBrink gave him a warm blanket and food before contacting the authorities. 

“I thought we’d leave it to the professionals,” she said. 

Niagara Regional Police Service officers arrived at the scene and spoke with the man, who they said is 50 years old and crossed the river from the United States.

In an email to The Lake Report, media relations officer Const. Barry Ravenek wrote the officers contacted the RCMP, “who attended and took custody” of the asylum seeker, “in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.”

Const. Christy Veenstra, a media relations officer with the RCMP, told The Lake Report via email one of its border integrity officers brought the man over to the Border Services Agency and that further information about his status would need to be accessed through them.

Veenstra clarified that someone being in custody could mean a number of situations, including either detainment or simply providing transportation.

Canada Border Services Agency did not respond to requests for comment and information in time for The Lake Report’s publication deadline.

Despite an unexpected start, RiverBrink’s first-ever juried show carried on without another hitch, featuring 18 vendors, food from Plant No.1 and music from Great Lakes Swimmers. 

“We’re really looking forward to having this event again next year,” Zylstra said. 

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