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October 15, 2020
September 25, 2020
September 25, 2020
October 15, 2020
By Linda Berry, Grade 12
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.”
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.
The Mary’s Meals team at a gathering at Patterson Creek in Ottawa, on Sunday, September 6th, 2020
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.”
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.