KNIGHTWATCH 2019/2020 

Now that many young adults are moving out, getting jobs, and paying taxes, the government’s policies affect them more directly. That is why it is essential for young people to be informed about and engaged in politics. Although it most likely will not last a full term, Justin Trudeau’s reelection in October will have a direct impact on a very important time in our lives. Some of the issues that affect them the most are the environment and climate justice, post secondary, affordable housing, and entry level jobs.

 

The Liberals plan to have Canada reach net zero emissions by 2050. They will do this through tax breaks to environmentally friendly families and companies, provide loans to those who wish to retrofit their homes, and investing in green energy. They also want to declare more land as protected, ban single use plastics, and plant two billion trees by 2030. However, many scientists say 2050 will be too late. The UN General Assembly has declared there are eleven years until an inevitable climate disaster. This plan also serves to help the Liberals win future elections. To combat climate change and prevent a climate emergency, a singular plan must be created and diligently followed. Changes in parliament would disrupt this process, especially if it were to a Conservative government, which is likely. That begs the question, is this plan designed to take longer than it needs to for the benefit of the Liberals? Also, they have a bad track record with pipelines, pointing out hypocrisy in their narrative. They plan to continue the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, expanding the Trans Mountain Pipeline by almost a thousand kilometres.

 

Although every single one of the other major parties have promised policy that will make post secondary education less expensive, such as the Green Party’s bold promise to make tuition free, the Liberals have not. However, they plan to expand the Canada Student Loan Program due to education funding cuts by provincial conservative governments and make it more easily accessible. They will only allow for graduates making at least $35,000 per year to repay their loans and will out the repayments on hold for new parents. However, this does not help in the moment, as it will only begin to affect graduates once they are into their thirties and have already achieved some stability on their own. Instead, the Liberals should directly help those struggling in the process of going through a post secondary education.

 

Trudeau’s housing plan is centered around his First Time Home Buyer Incentive program, which he conveniently introduced just before the electing, it taking effect on September 2nd. Although the details under which the plan was introduced made it troublesome in how although it looked good, it would not apply to many young adults who need it, he campaigned on loosening the restrictions. For example, more houses will qualify for the program. The amount that first time homebuyers are able to take out of their RRSPs will also be increased. However, all of this is not immediately relevant to many young adults entering the housing market. In many major markets, housing prices are growing, and most young people will only be able to afford rented apartments, which these programs do not address.

 

The Liberal’s platform does not so much as even mention entry level jobs. Their proposed policies on employment mostly just helps people get the training they need for jobs, examples being the Canadian Apprenticeship Service and the Canada Training Benefit. The former gives grants to help apprentices finish their apprenticeships and the latter gives grants to help those who have to be retrained in the middle of their careers due to changing industry standards. These policies do not do much to help young adults, who are entering a particularly tumultuous job market.

 

As shown by the evidence presented in this article, the Liberals are all talk. They claim to stand up for the little guy, but most of their policies are targeted towards upper middle class families who are already stable. Resources should be going to young adults, who are forced to deal with a lack of well paying jobs in their fields, a dying planet, expensive housing, the burden of student loans, and the ever increasing cost of living, all caused by the government’s historical ignorance to the issues young people face. This is why it is essential for us to make sure we are seen. Get involved with your local member of parliament, use your voice to protest unfair policies, and most importantly, vote in future elections.

The Canadian federal government is not doing enough to help the Indigenous people with cleaning their water and providing water systems on and off reserves. I am not a Canadian citizen, but when I learned about the lack of drinkable water in First Nations reserves I thought that it was unfair.  I thought Canada was a first world country but in some points, it is not, as there is systematic inequality between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people.

 

Did you know that there are chemicals such as mercury in the water? For example, according to Dorothy First Rider of the Blood reserve the majority of their population, including infants were suffering from diverse illnesses, such as stomach ailments or infections of the skin due to chemicals found in water. This situation is shocking because there should be help provided by the government in order to assure every person’s well-being.  The Indigenous perspective that claims that amassing wealth should be used for the good of the community means that every citizen is equal and the money of the State should be used in an equal way to achieve and maintain the healthy conditions needed for the greater good of the whole Canadian community. Therefore, if the Canadian government were to apply this worldview, then Indigenous communities would be entitled to have clean water

Another astonishing fact that concerns directly the unalienable Human Rights happened in the Indian Act. This Act declared Indigenous Canadian People wards of the State and therefore their band council was isolated. I believe this is wrong because it demonstrates how compartmentalized society is by leaving Indigenous people at an inferior level to the rest of Canadian citizens. In contrast to this, the Indigenous worldview defends society is organized in a state of relatedness and belonging with each other. Eurocentric worldview is wrong because it leads to the marginalization of these people.

A First Nations reserve who is suffering from water advisory for an incredibly long time is the Kashechewan reserve. In 2005 this community had an outbreak of E. Coli because of water poisoning. This situation shows a lack of one of the Indigenous worldviews mentioned before, “Amassing wealth is important for the good of all the community” such an important worldview demands the government to use the money impartially. Money should not be given only to enterprises or sources of the State interest. If this disgraceful problem was happening in Ottawa there would be no doubt in depositing money for the cause, whereas Indigenous people have been waiting and will be waiting for decades until we decide to take action.

Moreover, the data provided by different sources confirmed how inadequate the water systems are funded. For example, there was a lawsuit that demanded the government to refund the funds because they failed in providing safe water systems. Indigenous people consider humans part of the world rather than the most important living organism. I reckon that if we saw human beings as a part of the world  and not as the most important individual in nature as above state, then we would distribute and treat water respectfully. However, we consider ourselves better than the rest of the species and we even feel superior to Indigenous people as if they were not any kind of humans.

Overall, even if I’m not a Canadian citizen,  I feel we are all united and should take part in solving this shameful problem. Well developed countries such as Canada should not face this type of inequality problems. We should just think if we would allow Ottawa to be under water boiling advisory for decades without adequate funding and then this issue would be taken more seriously.

On September 27, thousands of Ottawa activists joined together to march down the streets of downtown onto Parliament Hill. Their goal? Demanding action from the government concerning climate change. 

Among the young protesters were at least a hundred Nepean students. Teachers were asked to avoid assessments, but numerous teachers at Nepean took this sentiment even further by postponing important lessons  in order to allow students to attend the Climate Strike.

Nepean students going up the escalator towards Confederation Park. Photo taken by Anna Berglas.

Sarah Landry, a twelfth grade here at Nepean, played a large role in organising an interested group of students and planning bus routes to Confederation Park, as well as running the school’s account @nhs_studentssayno. 

 

“As someone who’s first real involvement in activism has been in the current environmental movement, this day really means a lot to me,” Sarah Landry states.  “This really is important to me because it has gotten so many young people to become politically aware and involved in activism. I know this will influence people’s involvement in other movements as well.”

 

“I brought up the strikes organized by Earth Strike, an international climate group, at my first time at an Environment Club meeting. Many members of the group later on attended a climate rally at City Hall, which led to me getting more involved.”

Protesters milling at Parliament hill. Photo taken by Sarah Landry.

As soon as I attended both City Hall rallies, I knew I was in it for good. It influenced me to start bringing attention to the issue in a place where I knew I could create some sort of ripple effect.”

 

“ I’m glad to see so many Nepean kids passionate and willing to miss school for this cause. Having made an influence on that by bringing awareness, I feel like I’ve made good use of my time as a student. Activism is really exciting, and I encourage kids to join local groups and get involved. You meet a lot of new people, and get opportunities to do some amazing things.”

Climate change is an especially relevant issue for Canadians. Over the past years, the Ottawa area has been subject to a series of freak storms. The recent variability in temperature has been unparalleled. According to Union of Concerned Scientists, Canada is the ninth highest emitter of carbon dioxide, with the oil and gas industry being the largest contributor.

 

Everyone has a role to play in terms of reducing our environmental impact. At a household level, this can mean choosing energy efficient light bulbs, or installing a smart home-thermostat. 

 Naomi Fewer and her sign. Photograph taken by Anna Berglas.

However, for those caught in climate change anxiety, there is hope to be had. Overall, total GHG emissions per person have declined since the 1990’s, despite the growing population in Canada. Awareness and diligence works. 

by Anna Berglas

October 1, 2019

By Patrick Pearson

December 1, 2019

By Blanca Royo Camacho

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