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Good morning. It’s James Keller in Calgary.

The Canada-U.S. border near Emerson, Man., has been the frequent site of illegal and irregular crossings, with people in some cases taking extreme risks to avoid official points of entry.

In recent years, the flow has been northward, as people from an array of countries travelled through the United States on their way to claiming refugee status in Canada. There was a wave of such crossings several years ago that was attributed in part to then-president Donald Trump’s moves to toughen immigration and refugee policies.

This week, police announced that four people – a man, woman, a teenager and an infant – had died on the Canadian side of the border after attempting the journey during a blizzard. Unlike previous crossings, law enforcement officials believe the group had been attempting to get into the United States.

Two others who had made it into the U.S. were seriously injured with frostbite, including a woman who had her hand partially amputated.

A man from Florida has been arrested and charged with immigrations offences. Police have alleged the man was driving a 15-person passenger van and have charged him in what they say is alleged to be an organized human smuggling operation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident “mind-boggling” and tragic, and said the government is doing what it can to discourage such crossings.

Indian High Commissioner to Canada Ajay Bisaria said on Twitter that an Indian consular team was travelling to Manitoba, and would work with Canadian authorities to investigate.

The bodies were found by RCMP about 10 kilometres east of Emerson, Man., on Wednesday afternoon. The search had been launched after border officials in the U.S. encountered a group of people who had walked over the border from Canada, and said that a family travelling with them had gotten separated during the passage.

It was extremely cold at the time, with blizzard conditions, no shelter, and temperatures reaching -40C with the wind chill.

Steve Shand, 47, is facing one charge in the United States for allegedly transporting undocumented people. A criminal complaint filed with the courts says American authorities suspect Mr. Shand of being part of a larger human smuggling operation. Mr. Shand, who in a 2019 bankruptcy filing listed his occupation as a taxi and Uber driver, is slated to appear in court in Minnesota on Monday.

According to the document filed in Mr. Shand’s case, one of the men told American border officials he paid a significant amount of money to enter Canada under a fraudulently obtained student visa, planning to then enter the United States illegally and travel to a relative’s home in Chicago. He said the group had walked for more than 11 hours.

The document says members of the group spoke Gujarati, a language of western India. Two were treated for frostbite and exposure, with one woman described as being in critical condition and requiring amputation to her hand.

The Emerson crossing has been an ongoing concern in recent years, and many people have been seriously injured trying to make the trek across the border in extreme winter temperatures.

In late 2016, two men from Ghana lost their fingers to frostbite while attempting to make the crossing, and in 2018 a man from Togo suffered severe frostbite making the same trek. In March 2019, a pregnant woman who had walked across the border called 911 and was rescued by local firefighters while trapped in deep snow and in apparent labour. That same year, a woman’s body was found on the U.S. side of the crossing. She is believed to have perished during the trip.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.