THE BEAUTY OF AFRICA - BY THE NEPEAN DSU

THE CREATION OF RACISM

February 26, 2021

By Anonymous grade 12 student

Many people have no idea where the concept of race actually came from. It’s simply the colour of one’s skin, and yet it holds so much importance in social hierarchies in many societies. Oftentimes, I tend to think of how ridiculous this is; I imagine what it would be like to have hierarchies in our society based on shoe size, or eye colour. But with the stereotypes that are implanted so deeply in our mindsets and systems, I think that it’s important for us to remember that race is just that- a social construct, with absolutely no real biological differences between human beings. If we can wrap our heads around this, then maybe we can begin to dismantle the biases of race in ourselves, and in our societies.

Race began with the first European colonists in the late 16th century. At that time, there were different hierarchies in race, and colonization had begun, which was rooted in racism. However, the idea of rankings in race for all of humanity based on “science”, was created in the first half of the 19th century. A white American doctor, by the name of Samuel Morton, started doing research on skulls. He accepted all skulls that were given to him, and he was given skulls of all different ethnicities for his research. What he did with the skulls, was he would stuff them with pepper seeds- later on he used led shot- then he would pour liquid in the skull to determine the volume of the braincase. Unfortunately, this rather ridiculous experiment that he did led to generations of genocide and opression. Through the results of his experiment, Morton found that people could be divided into five races, and that each race was a seperate species of human. Each race had distinct characteristics, which determined their place in the hierarchy of races. The “results'' of his experiments, he decided, showed that the white race, or “caucasians'' were the most intelligent and superior to all other races. Second in line were East asians, who Morton viewed as ingenious, but vulnerable to cultivation, then third in line were southeast asians, who were viewed as satisfactory, then Native Americans who were viewed as barbaric, and lastly Blacks or as Morton described, “Ethiopians'' who were at the very bottom. Something else that many people are unaware of, was the underlying motivation for Morton’s “discovery”. At the time, Morton’s research was used simply to maintain the status quo for the United States, since they needed classes, hierarchies, and slavery to benifit the colonizers, which came through racism. 

So there you have it. Racism was created as a scame, just as it has always been used. Biologically, the difference in race runs no deeper than skin tone. Now we can acknowledge that racism was created to justify slavery the hierachy of races for white bennificiary, and eventually, dismantle the racist ideals that have been implanted deep into our society. Furthermore, we now know that reverse racism (meaning racism against white people) doesn’t exist; there’s no way it could exist, since from the moment when the global hierarchy of race was invented, white people have been at the top of the hierarchy. With all this being said, we must continue to explore the origins of racism in our society; for example, in our criminal justice system, in our educational system, in our foster care system, and so on. Because without reaching the roots of it, there is no way we can dismantle it.

References:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/race-genetics-science-africa/ 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181004143943.htm 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/race-human/The-history-of-the-idea-of-race

 

INCOME INEQUALITY IN CANADA- AND PARTICULARLY AMONG RACIALIZED CANADIANS

 

February 26, 2021

By Anonymous grade 12 student

Globally, we are all aware of the tremendous wealth gap. However, wealth inequality in Canada has grown into a tremendous issue over time. Due to the power of capitalism in our country that has increased the wealth for the middle and upper class, and left the working class and the poor struggling, it has grown to an extent that many are unaware of. 

To begin, a survey was done with 3,000 Canadians in 2014 to collect research on Canadiens’ perception of the wealth gap in Canada. It was found that Canadiens believed the wealthiest 20% of Canadians have 55.5% of the wealth in our country, and that the poorest 20% have less than 6%. In reality, the wealthiest 20% have 67.4% of all wealth, and the poorest 20% of Canadians have no share at all. Furthermore, research between 1999 and 2012 shows that the average wealth increase by the top 20% of Canadians was 80% in comparison to only 38% among the poorest fifth of Canadians.

These statistics are quite shocking- mainly because this problem has become worse than many people can believe. There are, however, many factors that contribute to it. Wealth accumulation depends on factors such as homeownership and age, as well as other factors such as capacity to generate income. In Canada, a cause of income inequality is unequal access to credit. Without access to credit, Canadians can’t take out a mortgage, get a student loan, and so on. Credit is a privilege granted by banks, so unfortunately, any concerns or biases that banks have impact access to credit (which is why many marginalized can’t gain wealth since banks don’t trust them). Higher income Canadians have a greater capacity to generate income, because they are able to save, borrow and invest in financial and non-financial assets, to generate more income. 

Furthermore, income inequality is so great in Canada due to the fact that the super rich are in control of most of the wealth. A study found that the top 1 percent of the richest Canadians took home almost one third of all growth in incomes from 1998 to 2007, an incredibly fast economic growth period in Canadian history. The last time the economy had grown that fast was in the 1950s and 60s when the richest 1% of Canadians had taken only 8% of the wealth gain. This is mainly due to the lavish sums that the super rich are paid for the work they do, which are increasing, whereas middle class and working class salaries are not increasing nearly as much.

To continue, racialized income inequality in Canada is a tremendous problem- and one that many are unaware of. In the 2016 Canadian census, it was found that in 2015, racialized Canadians earned 29% less in capital gain than white Canadians. It was also found that 8% of racialized Canadiens over the age of 15 reported some Capital gain in 2015, compared to the 12% of white Canadians that reported Capital gain. Furthermore, it was found that only 25% of racialized Canadiens earned income from investments in 2015, while almost 31% of white Canadians earned income through investments. The amount earned was around $7,774 for racialized Canadians, compared to the increase of $11,428 for white Canadians.

There are many causes for the racial wealth gap in Canada. From the 2016 census, it was found that racialized women earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by non-racialized men, and racialized men earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by non-racialized men. Within this gap, it’s important to note that certain races are wealthier than others. For example, a black Canadian man makes on average 66 cents for every dollar his white counterpart makes, whereas a Japanese Canadian man makes 105 cents for every dollar a white Canadian man earns. Unfortunately, there is actually very little information collected on factors contributing to the racial wealth gap in Canada. This is a tremendous problem, since there is no solution without first identifying the causes of this problem.

References:

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/broadbent/pages/7727/attachments/original/1592499514/The_Wealth_Gap.pdf?1592499514 

https://financialpost.com/news/economy/wealth-of-canadians-divided-along-racial-lines-says-report-on-income-inequality 

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2015001/article/14194-eng.htm#n3 

https://www.mycnote.com/blog/the-secret-cost-of-unequal-access-to-credit/ 

https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/wealth-of-canadians-divided-along-racial-lines-says-report-on-income-inequality-1.4721183 

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/canada-income-wealth-racial-gap_ca_5defbaa4e4b00563b85854a9 

https://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/hot-topics/canInequality.aspx

RECOGNIZING BLACK LIVES IN OTTAWA

February 26, 2021

By Angus McBride, Grade 12

In honour of Black History Month (BHM) we look back on the history of Black culture and Black empowerment, and also on the tragedies of slavery, racism, and societal division based on the colour of ones skin. We learn about the emancipation proclamation, the civil war in the USA, and the underground railroad. In February children of all ages enrolled in schools across the country learn the stories of Viola Desmond, MLK, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. True narratives spawning from the days where segregation was still commonplace, detailing the struggle of Black people to have their voices heard, to gain equal rights and liberty. Detailing the success that did come from the Civil Rights movement, and the empowerment and respect that BIPOC deserve. 

These chronicles of segregation, struggle, empowerment, accomplishment and liberty are very important avenues to the history of Black people in North America. This history is paramount for understanding and learning how to go about things in the present and future.

Speaking of present and future, I believe that BHM puts almost too much emphasis on history, not enough on the current and coming times and where Black lives fit in. Don’t get me wrong, history is important to learn about and learn from, but it’s not the only thing we should focus on. Often we look back on the Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s and think that everything is all so much better today, that MLK’s dreams have all been fulfilled. 

Although the Civil Rights movement did accomplish a lot (eliminating Jim Crow segregation, passing federal legislation protecting the rights of all people no matter their race, desegregating public spaces, etc.) there are still many issues that must be addressed. This has been unveiled through the past year’s protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of brutal and unnecessary police violence in Minneapolis. 

In the world of 2021 Black minority groups (and other ethnic/racial minorities) are still segregated, it’s just not as outright, instead hidden and integrated. Due to the vast number of systems built on white superiority; such as healthcare, education, justice, voting, and many more, Black folk do not have the same privilege and opportunity, or social equality as their white counterparts. Furthermore, microaggressions have taken the place of outright racism in society, causing unseen hostility towards Black members of the community.  

This does not always have to be the case though, with continued pressure on governments, through petitions, peaceful protests, and a variety of other means, a brighter future does exist for the situation of racial equality. Yet, this bright future is not possible without focusing on the present, and doing the best we can to fix the problem now, and not leave it all to following generations. Now this does sound complicated, and as a whole it is, but on an individual standpoint there are many simple things we can do to contribute. 

Contributions come in many ways shapes and forms. Posting online is one way to do so although you must be careful not to come off as a performative activist, don’t just be posting to show off. As is challenging acts of racism and microaggressions when you see them in everyday situations, and supporting Black led initiatives as a white ally* (such as DSU here at Nepean, that has a google classroom and meets every week, available to any student who wishes to join). 

The first step of contributing to the ongoing fight for racial justice is learning and researching about Black people, initiatives, struggles and achievements. Researching these subjects leads to a  familiarization with the current situation, and the relative comfort (although it is important and necessary to step out of the comfort zone when addressing this situation) to do more in support of racial equality. 

Research and gaining information can be done on many levels; within NHS, in the community, municipally, provincially, nationally and internationally. No form or level of research is better than any other, it is all equally important. 

 

The three following pieces of this article are based on local research about Ottawa’s Black community.

 

View the full article at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KXVtmJDvjGEkRsNtrS6307pgHKR5l1CvRiuZNhCpHyk/edit?usp=sharing  

 

HOW IS CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTING THE GLOBAL SOUTH? 

January 15, 2021

By Anonymous, Grade 12

*Below is the first page of the article, click link to read all*

https://docs.google.com/document/d/18QASijtoHM01SI3qIzt_Hwx_OmAusxCEruFQmLNZWBU/edit?usp=sharing

 

The climate crisis is unlike any crisis that we’ve faced in the past; and unfortunately, it affects us all to different measures. The countries that have had the strongest impact on the climate- China, the US, Canada, and more- are many of the countries who are the least affected by the crisis. The countries that will be impacted the most, are ones that lie in the Global South. According to the World Health Organization, as of the year 2030, climate change is expected to contribute to causing around 250, 000 deaths per year, from causes such as malaria, malnutrition, diarrhea, and heat distress in the Global South. With that being said, here are some of the major impacts of climate change in the Global South. 

 

  1. Gender inequality:

it’s important to note that there is serious gender inequality in the midst of climate change, specifically in the Global South. Women and girls are significantly more impacted by climate change than men- this is due to the fact that they have lower income than men, they aren't as mobile as men, they have fewer opportunities than men, and so on. This deepens gender inequality in these countries, further threatening the safety, health and economic-wellbeing of women and girls.

 

   2. Malnutrition:

In the Global South, agriculture continues to be one of the main sources of employment, income and livelihood for between 50%-90% of the population. On top of that, it is found that small farmers make up the majority of this percentage, being 70%-90% of this population. Unfortunately, malnutrition is one of the greatest impacts of climate change, caused by droughts, flooding, storms and extreme weather conditions, desertification and degradation, water scarcity and rising sea levels that impact farmers. This has resulted in shifts in agriculture, such as shorter growing seasons, poor crop yields, and the inability to grow crops. Furthermore, in places where they even may have food, natural disasters, flooding and droughts are still increasing, which drives up the prices of food in these communities. 

 

   3. Conflict and national security:

The devastating impacts of climate change have led to conflict in certain countries in the Global South, and as impacts increase, it will likely lead to more. Climate change impacts the economy, livelihood of communities, and much more in such damaging ways. In 2012 in Mali, climate change caused conflict when a region-wide drought killed livestock and devastated the livelihoods of many pastoralists, which led to an increase in rebel groups plus looting and stealing.  

 

 

HOMELESSNESS IN OTTAWA

January 15, 2021

By Nina Beck, Grade 10

Ottawa has a problem. All of Canada has a problem actually. That problem is homelessness. You might not see it all the time and you might not view it as a large issue but it really is. And it's being ignored. A 2016 report said there are an estimated 235,000 Canadians who experience homelessness per year. In Ottawa there are an estimated 7,530 families and individuals who experience homelessness and 55,000 living on low income. That may not seem like a lot compared to the total populations of Canada(37.59 million) and Ottawa(1 million) but homelessness statistics are always too high.

A major component of homelessness is marginalization. Large portions of the homeless population have faced discrimination for some part of their identity. One tell all statistic is that Indigenous peoples make up merely 2.5% of ottawa's total population but 24% of ottawa's homeless population. This is because of Canada's systemic racism and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and the generational trauma that was caused by canadian government, residential schools, and the rcmp. It's crucial that marginalized people are supported when they are facing homelessness because they could be treated with increasing disrespect as a homeless marginalized person.

Young people have also faced a lot of difficulties that have both led to and been caused by homelessness. In Canada, homeless youth, who are people ages 13 to 24 make up 20% of the homeless population. Furthermore, 60% of these youth were forced to leave their homes due to violence, 40% were involved in various child welfare programs to no prevail, and 30% identified as lgbtqia+. These young people have faced unimaginable difficulties and because of that likely struggle to attend school. They will probably end up as homeless adults because they have fewer means of getting work or an education and thus more financial insecurity and little ability to find a permanent home.

There are always ways to work towards improving things for homeless folks in Canada, it just takes a lot of serious change. In Ottawa there are 11 shelters that have a total of 1,154 beds. This isn’t nearly enough to cover all their needs. Each individual can help with this. Whether it be donating food, money, or your time it's always great to lend a hand however possible. It's particularly important to remember you don’t have to donate only during “the giving season” of December Holidays. Because of things such as giving Tuesday and the sentiments of giving back, the winter months tend to be times when people feel most charitable and will tend to donate more to various causes. This means a surge in charitable donations then and maybe more of a dry spell for some charities in the months furthest from winter. So perhaps consider making a donation in months away from the winter holidays rather than at the times when many people are. Then donations could be more impactful and be even more welcome because it's less common to receive donations then. And always remember to check in with wherever you’re donating to and see if they are in need of anything in particular. Some of the Ottawa shelters and community outreach programs you could support are: YWCA/YMCA, The Ottawa Mission, The Salvation Army, Parkdale Food Centre, or The Ottawa Food Bank.

I urge you to research and learn more about affordable housing, volunteering at shelters, the local homeless populations, and homelessness in our country. Even if you aren’t among the 36% of Canadians who have been homeless or know someone who has been, it's important to learn more about these issues.

 

 

EMOTIONAL ABUSE
 

January 15, 2021

 

By Anonymous, Grade 12

Trigger warning: mentions of abuse, mental health issues, and suicide. 

 

In our society, we generally only learn about forms of abuse that are quite extreme, such as physical, sexual and financial abuse, or more extreme forms of emotional abuse. Unfortunately, this leaves minor forms of abuse hidden. Especially in High School, I’ve witnessed many emotionally abusive behaviors, such as name calling, put downs, ect., most likely going unnoticed since they are normalized and not recognized as abusive behaviors. Here are some examples of frequent behaviors of emotional abuse.

 

Rejection: This is when someone downplays your thoughts, feelings, or opinions. It can come out as them downplaying your feelings by saying they are unimportant/not that bad, or them ignoring or disregarding you whenever you have something to say that they are opposed to.

 

Gaslighting: Gaslighting is when someone makes you doubt your thoughts, feelings, or even sanity by manipulating the truth of what happened. A common example of gaslighting is when someone says something hurtful to you, and when you speak up about it, they respond with, “it was just a joke, don’t be so sensitive”, making you doubt that what they said was even harmful.

 

Put-downs: Put downs include calling you offensive names, insulting you, or even quietly downplaying parts of you (perhaps downplaying your accomplishments, interests, personality, ect). Public embarrassment is another form of putting someone down, where they humiliate you in front of others (perhaps they expose your shortcomings or secrets in public). 

 

Isolation: Limiting your freedom and stopping you from contacting others. Some examples of this include stopping you from going to social events, or only allowing you to go if your abuser is attending as well. Isolation often spurs from jealousy, and is downplayed as just that; however, it is abusive, and your freedom is something you are allowed.

 

Pushing your buttons: If your abuser knows something that bothers you, for example one of your insecurities, they may continue to bring it up in order to belittle you.

 

Using guilt: Your abuser may use guilt to force you to spend time with them, or stay in a relationship with them. They may say that they need you, or that you owe them one. They may also use guilt of one time when you were disrespectful to them for their benefit. They may even blame you for their problems that are outside the relationship.

 

Turning others against you: Your abuser won’t want others to open your eyes to the abuse, or perhaps they want to make others belittle you as well, so they may try to turn you friends/family members against you. This is common in social groups in order for your abuser to remain in power. 

 

Blaming you for the abuse: Your abuser blames you for the abuse, or makes the abuse seem like it’s your fault. They call you “needy” or say that you're the one who is unstable, abusive, etc. 

 

Being indifferent to your suffering: If your abuser sees that you are visibly upset, or you tell them that you're upset that they’re indifferent, then this is also an abusive behavior.  

 

Codependency: This is when everything you do is in reaction to your abuser’s behavior, and your abuser relies on you to boost their self-esteem. Some signs of codependency include you being unhappy in the relationship while being afraid of the alternative, neglecting your needs for your abuser’s sake, seeking out your abusers approval/caring if they approve, making sacrifices to please your abuser although it’s not reciprocated, repressing your feelings to keep peace, “rescuing” your abuser from themselves, and much more. 

 

What to do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship:

First of all, don’t feel bad. A study done by the Government of Canada found that  emotional abuse is experienced at 2.5 times the rate of physical abuse, and 18% of women and 17% of men reported experiencing emotional abuse during this time. However, there are many methods to help those experiencing emotional abuse. Here are some ways:

  1. Acknowledge the abuse. Others may disagree, but if your abuser makes you feel badly on purpose, they are being abusive. 

  2. Disengage and set personal boundaries. Although it may be difficult to just leave the relationship, especially if your abuser is a family member or long time partner/friend, you can simply talk to them less, spend less time with them, etc.

  3. Reach out to someone. Talk to someone you trust to gain support.

  4. Cut all ties. If you can, end the relationship completely. Emotional abuse is extremely unhealthy, and can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. 

 

What’s especially important to remember, is that an abuser doesn’t usually meet the stereotype of someone who is always aggressive, mean, and angry; anyone can display abusive behaviors, whether it be sometimes, or all the time. Your relationships should be a tool to support and uplift you- so if you feel that someone is treating you poorly, even if it’s only done occasionally, you should leave. 

 

References: 

https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-emotional-abuse 

https://www.healthline.com/health/signs-of-mental-abuse#codependence 

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/prevention-resource-centre/family-violence/psychological-abuse-discussion-paper.html 

 

 

Why Farmers are Protesting India’s Farm-Reform Bills

 

December 12, 2020

By Anonymous, Grade 12

 

Trigger warning- mentions of suicide 

On September 27th, the Indian Government introduced three farm-reform bills that severely impacted the country’s agricultural industry. Over 58% of India’s population depends on agriculture for their source of income, and the reform bills could potentially endanger millions of people’s livelihoods. 

The first bill allows farmers to sell directly to traders and companies without being taxed, rather than state government-controlled markets. The second bill allows farmers to form contracts with buyers at predetermined prices. The last bill removes government involvement in farmers’ supply, except in extreme cases such as famine or war. Essentially, these bills will privatize the produce market. 

The Indian government claims that these bills will benefit the agriculture sector by allowing farmers to sell their produce to anyone. However, farmers in India fear hat these bills will remove government protections and support that have upheld the industry for decades, which will leave minority farmers vulnerable to being exploited for cheap labour by private corporations.

One of the main concerns is that the government will remove minimum support prices (MSP’s). MSP’s guarantee a certain minimum price to farmers, regardless of market conditions. This support has kept farmers afloat in an industry that has been struggling for decades, mainly due to rising transportation and storage costs, falling prices of produce, and climate change. Climate change brings droughts that cause crop failure, meaning less produce to sell. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many end up falling into debt. According to a 2016 survey, the average farmer earns 9,000 rupees (about $155) a month. More than half of the farmer population is in debt, and the emotional strain of it leads over 10,000 people to commit suicide each year.

 

The Problem with Homelessness- And how you can help. 

 

December 16, 2020

By Linda Berry, Grade 12

*Below is the first page of the article, click link to read all*

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lhYR9e2jreidqW3Q51VTu3CxuAT_v_kcgi0CY46VhC4/edit

In my experience coming for a well off white family, homelessness has always been a term swarming with stereotypes. For example, the stereotype that homeless people are dangerous, lazy, or crazy drug addicts.These stereotypes are harsh, and I admit that very few people would outwardly say them, but there are definitely many people that believe them. However, studies show that more than 53% of Canadians live paycheck to paycheck, meaning only a slight change of circumstances could knock over half the population off their feet and into the streets. Lots of factors lead to homelessness; mental illness, lack of affordable housing, violence and abuse. Certain groups are much more vulnerable to these problems, forcing them into higher rates of homelessness. 

 

  1. Women.

The rate of Canadian women experiencing homelessness is on the rise. Now, 20% of Canadian shelter users are women, and 16% of elderly women live in poverty. Furthermore, over 1.9 million women across Canada are dangerously close to facing homelessness, since they are low income. Low income wages among Canadian women are caused by factors such as women doing much more household and caretaking work than men so there time to earn a living is limited, there is a lack of affordable childcare in Canada, and there is the gender wage gap. Furthermore, women are far more likely to face intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and violence at home than men. For example, they are 10 times more likely than men to be victims of police-report sexual assault, and 7 out of 10 Canadians who experience family violence are women and girls. These circumstances of earning a low income and experiencing violence at home are the leading factors forcing women into homelessness.

 

    2. Indigenous people.

1 in 4 homeless Canadians are Indigenous, and Indigenous peoples are 8 times more likely to experience homelessness than the rest of us. These staggering numbers are caused by discrimination against Indigenous peoples in Canada, which has led to many contributing factors of their high rates of homelessness. For example, factors such as current racism in many institutions, inadequate access to education, inadequate access to safe and affordable housing, food insecurity, and much more have led to Indigenous peoples facing homelessness. 

 

7 Ways to Help Others This Holiday Season

 

December 16, 2020

By Noureen Moghadam

 

If there’s one thing we’ve heard a lot of this year, it’s the phrase “we’re all in this together”. For many, the holidays are a time of togetherness, traditions, and joy. While many can still enjoy the holidays in their household, others have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people have lost their jobs, homes, and loved ones. Especially this year, it’s important to know how to give back to communities and groups who need extra love, support, and care. Whether it’s checking up on an elderly neighbor and offering to help with their groceries (wearing a mask, of course), or calling friends and family who have children to offer to help with a virtual activity for the day, remember: we’re all in this together. Here are 7 great ways to give back to others this holiday season.

 

  1. Thank emergency and essential workers. We owe the most gratitude to these incredible people, who’ve been on the frontlines since day one, working to protect us selflessly throughout this pandemic. Showing our appreciation for their courage, hard work, and amazing service with cards and treats will bring cheer to our local firefighters, health care workers, police officers, paramedics, and service members. 

  2. Donate blood. The Red Cross is encouraging people to make and keep appointments to give blood and platelets. When you donate blood, you're providing a lifesaving service. To make an appointment, you can visit redcrossblod.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find a local donation site.

  3. Make deliveries to seniors and others in need. You can help more vulnerable people, like seniors or people with disabilities, stay safe by volunteering to deliver meals or other necessary items, such as prescription medications. Check with local service groups to find out what they need and what you can do to help out. If organizations in your community aren’t looking for volunteers due to pandemic precautions, consider donating non-perishable items or money.

  4. Help animals. Let’s not forget about our furry friends, by donating to local animal shelters some cat/dog food, bird seeds, used blankets, or supplies such as cat litter, treats, and leashes. Also, you could adopt an animal or foster one, which can help minimize overcrowding in shelters, open up space for other animals, and give them a loving, warm home.

  5. Help the homeless. While you may be enjoying warmth and cheer this holiday season, there are people in your community who have no loved ones, no food and no shelter. Give them stockings of personal hygiene products, socks, hats, gloves, snacks and more to a homeless shelter such as Carling Family Shelter, The Ottawa Mission, or Cornerstone Housing for Women. This could be a wonderful project for your entire family that will make an immediate difference to someone’s life.

  6. Organize a food drive. Money can be especially tight during the holidays, especially due to the coronavirus pandemic causing this year’s economic downturn. Collect non-perishable foods - canned vegetables, cereal, dried beans, rice, pasta, peanut butter - from friends and family and deliver them to a food bank. Check with local charities to see if they need other items such as toiletries, blankets, or other household items. You can also volunteer to sort food and pack it into boxes, even if you’re doing it all alone. Anything you’ve done matters if you can keep one person fed this holiday.

  7. Help children. Like seniors, there are many children who are going without essential items or services during the pandemic, and the holidays can make the situation worse. Some ways you can help include: 

  • Donating new, unwrapped gifts of clothing or toys to local charities and children’s hospitals.

  • Providing virtual tutoring for students or donating money, equipment or time to close the gap between technology and students who need it for virtual or in-person schooling. 

  • Write letters. Go try to find pen-pal programs offered from children’s hospitals, charities, or organizations so that every child can get a holiday letter or hope and love this season.

 

Tis’ the season of giving, Nepean, so make sure to care for yourself and others. Happy holidays!

 

Tips and Tricks for continuing holiday tradition through the Pandemic

December 16, 2020

By AM, Grade 12

It’s that time of the year again, snow (and/or cold dreary rain) is falling, temperatures have started dropping below zero, and our ears are once again surrounded by the reverberation of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. Love it or hate it, the holiday season is upon us. 

Usually the holidays are a time of celebration and spirit for us at NHS, we get time off school, get to travel, visit relatives, and savour the offerings of winter. Unfortunately this year may be a little different, due to the current global pandemic our usual traditions may need to be postponed. Taking measures that are not favourable to fostering the sense of holiday and togetherness. This means big family functions and getting together with friends will be greatly affected, as outlined by Dr. Vera Etches and Ottawa Public Health https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/hosting-postponing-or-cancelling-mass-gatherings.aspx. Respecting guidelines is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to those who are more vulnerable (such as our own grandparents).  

Henceforth begging the question, how can we celebrate with family and friends but still assure proper safety? 

There are in fact many ways for us to do this, including outdoor gatherings, virtual meetings, and partaking in covid friendly activities. 

The function of  outdoor gatherings and virtual meetings are similar, to safely interact and “visit” with those who we usually see over the holidays. For example, my family and I usually spend christmas eve with another family, spending much of the time indoors close together. This year (since the usual festivities can’t happen) we have decided to meet up outside, and follow distancing regulations, but still continuing the annual tradition. 

The outdoor visiting is great for true face to face interaction, get to have fun joking around with friends in real time. For me and many others I’m sure, seeing people in real life (even distanced and with masks) is much more refreshing and congenial than interacting through a screen. Although, there are a couple problems with this format. For one the outdoors are weather dependent, it’s not exhilarating to be outside in freezing rain or  -20℃ weather for hours on end. Second, many holiday traditions involve people living outside of Ottawa, meaning it’s a real hassle to travel just to hang outside for brief periods of time.  

For those who feel the outdoor option is not for you, try going virtual! Sites like zoom and google meets are perfect for organizing large (or small) family get-togethers. To set one up, simply create a meeting, then send out virtual invites. The invites should include the date of the meeting, the link, and any additional information that participants ought to be aware of. Then everyone can simply join the online party by clicking on the attached link, and enjoy chattering! If you’re more proficient with technology you can even have fun messing around with festive backgrounds. Skype, FaceTime and the classic phone call are other great ways to connect individually without interacting face to face. 

Not only are there ways to safely meet with each other, but we can also continue taking part in a multitude of holiday activities. Many of our favourite festivities have not been affected by covid that much at all. You can still get christmas trees, and presents without hassle, just have to wear a mask (we should be comfortable with this by now). When shopping, do your best to support local businesses, as they have been harder hit by covid than international corporations, and buying local is much better for the environment. 

Furthermore, with the new quadmester format we have more time at home, so no reason not to decorate! Queue up your favourite holiday music and transform your living space into a winter wonderland. Likewise, who could forget spreading holiday spirit. Participate in gift exchanges with friends, and send seasonal greetings to all those who are in your heart and mind. Keeping connected is essential to promoting a sense of togetherness and staying positive over this unusual holiday season. 

This year has been difficult for everyone, over the holiday break use these tips to safely check in with friends and family, to have a happy holiday and celebrate the long awaited new year.   

 

The COVID-19 Vaccine: What obligation do people have to each other?

December 16, 2020

By Madeleine Bhamjee

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/canadians-divided-over-mandatory-covid-19-vaccines-priority-inoculations-1.5144486


Throughout the course of the COVID-19 I’ve been keeping tabs on the progression towards an accessible, safe vaccine. However, as we grow closer to obtaining one, I can’t help but wonder what sort of ethical dilemmas we will face when it comes to people’s decision on whether or not to take the vaccine. You may wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to take a lifesaving vaccine that could eventually bring an end to this horrific pandemic but a recent poll I read suggests otherwise. A poll was conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies regarding whether ot not a COVID-19 vaccine  should be mandatorily administered and the results were very surprising to me, apparently, “Only 39 percent of respondents said getting a vaccine should be mandatory, a decline of 18 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in July and more than 20 points lower than in May.” (CTV NEWS, 2020). This begs the question on how morally right is it to allow people to have the choice to not get vaccinated and risk endangering others, particularly those in high-risk groups like the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. While it may seem ethical and morally just to allow people to have control over their medical decisions must it come at the expense of other more vulnerable people? As humans do we have the obligation to look out for each other and ensure our collective safety or must we instead focus solely on ourselves? What do we owe to others? In my opinion, I don’t believe we “owe” each other, it’s not as if there’s a debt we must repay. That being said, I strongly believe that as humans we should always look out for each other, an obligation and necessity. We are obligated to care for each other and do not just what benefits us but the community. Jean Paul Sartre, a French philosopher once stated that we are, “morally obliged to recognise the value of both one’s freedom and the freedom of others.”, meaning that we are not just ethically responsible for ourselves and our own lives but the ones of society and the world. In my opinion this is how we should view the vaccine, not as a choice but as a responsibility to uptake for our own well-being and that of others. Only then may we be rid of this pandemic.

 

READING THE HANDMAID'S TALE AND BRAVE NEW WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHANGING WORLD

November 18, 2020

By Sophia Crysler, Grade 12

*Below is the first page of the article, click link to read all*

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1H-lPiwcUQv9I6BdQKdNeD_yQVPwqffNHNT_VnXZrwyU/edit?usp=sharing

I started this project by picking two novels: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, novels that many people know and have read for assignments similar to mine for many years. On my bookshelf, I had my reward for finishing them - They said this would be fun by Eternity Martis. I kept it there as a reminder that once I finished my two novel study books I could start to read for pleasure again. Little did I know, once I finished them and made my way through Eternity Martis’s memoir style novel - eyes devouring words, pages, chapters so quickly I could barely remember to get up and eat real meals - my understanding of the previous two books would change so significantly that I would be able to see a whole new layer of dimension that previous readers had not. Because of recent racial movements sparked by Black Lives Matter, police violence, and the exposure of systemic racism, I have a new lens to read these novels through that authors and readers in the past did not. I discovered different meanings behind the oppression of people through their relationships, identity, and knowledge. I connected events in the book to events in history and saw that our society has been in a vicious cycle of oppression and erasure. The oppressor benefitting from the oppressed, and the citizens in a society that are unaffected by oppression ignoring the injustice others are forced to deal with because they reap the benefits of their suffering. The overall message of the books changed from a warning against letting others control you and morphed into a call to action for those standing aside while entire groups of people anguish, screaming at them to use their power and privilege to make a positive change. 

 

 

DEFUND THE TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE LETTER

November 18, 2020

By Linda Berry, Grade 12

The pandemic has revealed the dire state of long-term care in Canada. The vast majority of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada are connected to private long-term care facilities that treat elder care as a form of profit, not a public good. As we enter the second wave of COVID-19, it’s clear that our priority should be to bring long-term care under the Canada Health Act, and bring all for-profit long-term care homes under public control. None of that can be done without the help of the federal government.

 

Instead of spending tens of billions of dollars on an oil pipeline, that is on Indigenous territory without consent and devastating to our environment, Justin Trudeau should be increasing funding to the provinces and putting an end to for-profit long-term care facilities. While the Trans Mountain pipeline will only create a few hundred long-term jobs, investing in a public long-term care system could create thousands of well-paid care jobs across the country. 

 

It’s time for Justin Trudeau to re-evaluate his priorities. It’s time to defund the Trans Mountain pipeline, respect the rights of Indigenous peoples, and invest in protecting our world once and for all.

 

As a teenager, I am deeply concerned about the environmental consequences that the pipeline will have- our planet is at huge risk, and we have little time to save it, before the predicted global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius and above.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and please consider it.

 

Sincerely,

Linda Berry

WHY AREN'T YOU A FEMINIST AGAIN?

November 18, 2020

By Anneke Goodwin

Feminism. A word many people -particularly younger generations- refuse to associate with due to ignorance or simply out of fear of being judged or embarrassed. Many, many people believe in gender equality and the equal rights of women and men, however very, very few people consider themselves feminists. As a loud and proud feminist myself, and a busy writer, I could litteraly go one for hours about all of the reasons why people don’t consider themselves feminists, the sociology behind it, and why they absolutely need to change that mindset. However, I don’t wish to overwhelm you! Consider this a beginner’s article on the subject, and let me dive right into it, starting off with why people don't consider themselves feminists.

 

Many people (women particularly) refuse to call themselves a feminist because it often has conotaitions of angry women with “radical” views and opinions. (I put the word radical in quotations because I think there is nothing wrong with radical opinions, but that is a subject for another day.)  Most women of course believe that we deserve equal pay to men, however they just don’t want to be thought of as hairy, angry people who hate the male sex. Feminism has revolting stereotypes that are well known to all, and plenty of anti-feminists love to use these stereotypes as a means of scaring people off, and boy does it ever work. My personal favorite example of this is a quote from Pat Robertson, former minister, member of the Republican party, and televangelist, not Robert Pattinson, the popular and talented actor! The following is a citation of words that came from a real person's mouth, let me remind you of that. “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” I’ll give you just a moment to absorb that. 

 

Through all of recent history, people have been told that is what a feminist is, so it is no surprise people don’t want to associate with that. However you need to realize that is not what a feminist is. A feminist is solely a person who belives in the equal rights of the sexes. I’m a feminist and I don’t hate men, I love the colour pink, and I shave my legs. However, I also love wearing jeans and baggy clothes, and my current ambitions don’t include being a stay at home mom. It doesn't matter what your preferences are in life. If you believe that women and men should have equal rights, you are a feminist. 

 

Another one of the many reasons women don’t consider themselves feminists is because people think feminism only supports independent women who refuse to conform to society. People think feminism means “women don’t belong in the kitchen”. However, what feminism really means is “women have the right to their own choice”. As many naive feminists as there are out there ruining it for everyone by creating these notions towards the subject, it doesn’t matter. It doesn't matter if 10, 20, 30 or even a thousand feminists believe that. Because at the end of the day, feminism is about giving women a choice. A hundred years ago, very few women had the opportunity to do anything other than stay at home and raise kids. Heck, 103 years ago women didn't even have the right to vote in Canada! Nowadays, feminism supports women who want to go and have a job, and just as equally supports women who chose to stay home and raise kids. Some women want to have the traditional life where they cook and clean for their partner, and that is totally awesome and just as respectable as women who choose to have their husbands cook and clean for them. 

 

Moving on from some reasons why women often abstain from feminism, the very main reason why men tend to not consider themselves feminists is because they feel it is not their place. When men hear the word feminism, they automatically think it is a women's thing, but it's not. Also, teenage boys specifically tend to be more embarrassed of announcing to the world that they are a feminist. In my opinion, the true testiment of of a man’s strength is if he is able to call himself a feminist with confidence, and pride in his demeanor. Feminism needs men. Feminism is about men. Feminism represents men. If you don’t believe me then you are offly mistaken, because gender equality is not something that men have either, believe it or not. In the words of Emma Watson, my fashion and most importantly feminist idol, “Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.” Society does not allow men to feel okay with their emotions. Men are ashamed or embarrassed for crying or showing pain, they are told to hide these emotions, and it’s often linked to the unbearably high suicide rates for men. Men feel pressure to be the breadwinner, to be able to provide, and they feel the need to hide their love for feminine things. These are all impacts of inequality. Men are not free from society's grip either. 

 

Feminism is about the equality of the sexes. Nothing more, nothing less. It is about giving every person on this earth the choice to be whoever they want to be. No one should be hindered from any opportunity in life based off of their sex. It does not matter if some feminists think all women don’t belong in the kitchen, it doesn't matter if some feminists hate men. We can’t change those people, and they have the right to their own opinion, as uncalled for as they may be. It also doesn't matter how many people believe in equality if they’re not doing anything about it. The point of the story is that if we want change, we need to be a community. We need a global anthem per se to unite us all. I hope that this has made you reconsider your choice to not be a feminist, and that you will make the right decision for the future of our world. In the words of Emma Watson once again, “And if you still hate the word (feminism)—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it.” 

MARY'S MEALS

 

October 15, 2020

 

By Linda Berry, Grade12

 

During this time of COVID-19, so many have been wondering what they can do to support those less fortunate, who are struggling in our communities, across Canada, and around the world. As a teenager, I have struggled myself to find ways to make a difference and help others. Being forced to stay at home to limit the spread of the virus made it difficult, but I then found a volunteer group in our community for an organization I had never even heard of, called Mary’s Meals. This soon became one of the most inspiring organizations I know. 

 

Mary’s Meals was founded by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow in 1992. Magnus was at his local pub in Argyll Scotland, with his brother Fergus, when suddenly they saw TV news reports of the horrendous Bosnian war. They both felt compelled to help, so they organised a local appeal gathering donations of food, clothing, medicine, and money at their home, and began delivering the donations to those suffering in Bosnia. The public did not stop donating, so Magnus registered a new charity, Scottish International Relief (SIR), which grew and expanded outside of Europe. When the SIR went to Malawi to provide famine relief, Magnus met a young boy and he asked this boy what he hoped for in life. The boy replied, “I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.” This response was so simple, and yet so profound that it inspired the founding of Mary’s Meals, which provides chronically hungry children with one meal at school everyday. Mary’s Meals now feeds 1,504,471 children in 19 different countries, and provides emergency relief outside of their school feeding programs. 

 

The goal for our team here in Ottawa is to raise awareness of this organization, as well as funds. We’re a diverse group of people from different backgrounds who all have the common goal of helping these children, and we’re working on different events and fundraisers to further reach our goals. Our local volunteers in Ottawa have joined in supporting Mary’s Meals for several reasons. One volunteer said, “I like how the community is given the tools to thrive on their own instead of depending on charity acts. My parents are first generation immigrants and they've always stressed the importance of education and the opportunities they provide; it pains me to know that so many kids can't be successful because of birth circumstances.” Another volunteer shared, “I believe that providing children in need with a meal at school is a great way to combat hunger, while helping children develop the skills needed to think of long-term solutions to the daily issues they face.”

The Mary’s Meals team at a gathering at Patterson

Creek in Ottawa, on Sunday, September 6th, 2020

Now is such a crucial time for people to get involved in helping one another with the tragic effects that COVID-19 has had on so many. The United Nations reports that the pandemic is causing 10,000 more children to die of hunger per month globally, and data from the Center of Global Development indicates that hundreds of millions of children are not receiving vital school meals due to school closures. With Mary’s Meals, It costs only $26.40 to feed a child for an entire school year. That’s what it costs to go out to lunch, buy a T-shirt, or do so many of the other little things we enjoy day to day. 

 

Sometimes, I feel that myself and many others are so far removed from the suffering that occurs in other parts of the world, that we don’t feel that there is any way in which we can make a difference. Mary’s Meals’ offers a way- one that shows us that there can be a better world, a brighter future, and one that we can all contribute towards in our own little ways. As Mary's Meals’ founder Magnus put it, “Mary’s Meals is a series of lots of little acts of love. If you put all those acts of sacrifice together, it creates a beautiful thing.”

 

Sources: 

https://globalnews.ca/news/7223940/coronavirus-world-hunger-rising/ 

https://www.cgdev.org/blog/schools-closed-hundreds-millions-children-are-not-receiving-school-meals

MI'KMAQ FISHERMEN IN NOVA SCOTIA

September 25, 2020

By a Grade 12 Student

Over the course of the last week, Mi'kmaq fishermen in Nova Scotia have been facing backlash, harassment, and violence over treaty rights. Non-indigenous fishermen are falsely claiming that the fishing and lobster harvesting practices of the Mi’kmaq fishermen negatively affects the commercial fisheries industry. 

 

Mi’kmaq fishermen are protected under the Treaty of 1752, the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1760-61, and section 35 of the constitution. These treaty rights depict how much fish and lobster they can catch, and that they can sell their catch. The treaty rights suggest that the Mi’kmaq fisherman can catch enough fish for a moderate livelihood, which amounts to a higher monetary value than that of non-indigneous fisherman. However, the Mi’kmaq fishermen have not been appointed more than 5 licenses, with 50 traps per license, which prevents them from making anywhere near what the non-indigenous commercial fisheries can. Despite this, these non-indigenous fishermen are committing acts of violence against the Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia. They believe they are losing money, while what Indigenous fishermen catch and make from their catch does not interfere in non-indigenous businesses in any way due to the limited things Mi’kmaq fishermen can do. In light of these misconceptions, non-indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia have taken to extreme violence, harassment, and tampering the equipment of Indigenous fishermen. This is not an economic dispute; this is settler colonialism under the guise of economics. They are cutting off Indigenous communities’ sources of income, as well as denying their inherent Indigenous autonomy to land guardianship and their rights to engage in their social and cultural practices. 

 

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs have declared a state of emergency due to the violence being faced, and the Assembly of First Nations has called on the Prime Minister to intervene. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has expressed their want for an open dialogue and to define what a moderate livelihood means. They have yet to take any concrete actions or address how these non-indigenous fishermen’s misguided economic interests serve as a ploy for their acts of racism and white supremacy. 

 

Although we as students may feel far away or as though our engagements in these efforts can not make a large enough difference, there are numerous ways to help. Beginning with our own individual efforts to look inwards and actively be anti-racist. With racism so embedded into our lives as Canadians, too often do we forget about our privilege and realize our individual biases. As teenagers in a digital age, there is so much knowledge we can see and absorb in a mere minute online. Being active on social media and spreading awareness to this issue is an easy way to learn and pass on information, especially from Indigenous voices. It is most important to listen to and amplify Indigenous voices without speaking over them. Social media is making this information more and more accessible every day, and can be an incredible tool when used correctly. Staying informed and sharing the correct resources can be incredibly effective. 

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN CHINA? GENOCIDE.

September 25, 2020

By Zeynab Ahmed, Grade 12

Trigger Warning: Mention of abuse and rape

Xinjiang, located in northwest China is a mountainous region where the ancient Silk Road trade route is located. Xinjiang is the region that links China and the Middle East and is very rich in energy resources. It is also home to many ethnic minorities, including the Turkic Uighur people. The Turkic Uighur people are culturally very different from China’s ethnic majority, the Han Chinese. Previously, Uighurs had their own independent nation, but they were never successful due to the Chinese government. 

 

Xinjiang is a very important area for China, it is very crucial for China to make sure they have 100% control to grow their economy. Uighurs had endured discrimination within their own province and decided to take action. The Chinese government was not happy and considered them to be a threat. In 2016, China announced a new policy for “de-extremification”. This policy encompassed regulations that were targeted at Muslims. Long beards and burqas were not allowed and if you did not obey these rules, you would be imprisoned. Eventually Xinjiang turned into a police state, Uighurs were highly policed and frequently had to go through police checkpoints, and have QR codes installed in front of their own homes. In 2017, China started building camps made for detaining Uighurs “extremists” that were a possible terrorist threat. The world did not know much about these camps until former detainees of the camp came out and told their stories of the horrendous things they endured inside the camps. Some few things Uighurs were forced to do inside these camps were, having to memorize and recite communist party propaganda, forced to criticize their own Islamic beliefs, and the beliefs of the other detainees. 


Things started to get really dark once more and more victims of these camps came out and told the stories of physical and sexual abuse they faced in these camps. Uighurs are beaten, electrocuted and chained in those camps. Inside these concentration camps, Uighurs Muslims are also forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, forced to marry Han Chinese. They are being sterilized and their organs are being harvested, they are being skinned alive and forced to have abortions. The extent of abuse that Uighurs are facing in these camps are immense and many around the world are recognizing that this is in fact a genocide and that these are in fact concentration camps. The unfortunate reality is that we don't have much control over this situation but there is still so much we can do especially with the help of foreign attention and intervention. The main thing we can do now is spread awareness, we have to let as many people as possible know what is happening to Uighur Muslims in China. The powers of the world are turning a blind eye to this issue but decades from now are we going to learn about it in our textbooks like we did about Nazi Germany? Are we going to question why nobody spoke up? Ways you help are by using any social media platform you may have to post informative posts about these concentration camps, share any articles that explain this issue, or even bring up what is happening in conversations you have with family and friends. You can call or write Senators, Foreign Representatives and government officials to push for a UN investigation and lastly you can donate to Uighur human rights foundations. We need to educate ourselves and spread awareness, to get closer to seeing change happen and closer to bringing justice to Uighur Muslims. History is repeating itself right in front of our eyes, and the world is silent.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

KNIGHTWATCH 2020/2021