Pipelines! Pipelines! Pipelines! In the United States and Canada, climate change activists are fighting against pipeline projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Because the U.S. Senate had proposed a bill “that would expedite its approval and “short-circuit” the State Department’s pipeline environmental review,” the activists took part of a week- long protest movement. From March 16th to the 23rd, it was the “Week of Action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers” for Americans and Canadian activists. There had been over thirty protests over the past week in several different U.S. states, all of which had been coordinated by fifty different grassroots organizations.
However, some of the protesters saw the riskier side of voicing their opinion. Thirty-seven protesters have been arrested “for disrupting business as usual at TransCanada and their investors’ offices, with more actions planned in the coming days.” In the opinion of many environmental activists, TransCanada’s “business as usual” means death and destruction for our communities.” On the Tar Sands Blockade website, they have been trying to spread the word and convince other citizens that: “Together we can stop this multinational corporate bully and their toxic profiteers.” They have also listed several TransCanada offices so that others can hold our own solidarity action for the week.
As the Tar Sands Blockade stated on Wednesday, March 20th, : “Organizers seek to expose green-washed corporations like TD Bank, a top shareholder in TransCanada, and force them to divest from the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.” Some of the highlights included: Hundreds of people occupying the TransCanada office in Westborough, Mass, holding a “Funeral for Our Future”, protesting at TD Bank branches , twelve people arrested for blockading a pipeline in upstate New York, and a bike tour in Portland, Oregon, that held a bike tour of the city’s worst polluters.
The native leaders from both Canada and the United States on Wednesday, March 20th, turned to the Canadian parliament in order to fight against the Northern Gateway and the Keystone XL pipeline, -”telling lawmakers that an alliance of native groups on both sides of the border are preparing to fight the pipelines in the courts and through unspecified direct action in the coming months.”
By Annie Lai
Several weeks ago, multiple construction sites around British Columbia received a “special visit” from members of the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency). These construction sites in particular were believed to be hosting workers who were considered irregular migrants, which means that these workers did not actually have permission to be working in Canada. Upon arrival on site, the CBSA employees brutally interrogated each worker, and those who were found to be working illegally were then arrested on the spot. Many who were arrested have already been deported back to their home countries, and the rest will be deported soon. Upon arriving in their home countries, many will find themselves in less than ideal circumstances; some will be in danger, and most will be unable to find work.
The most outrageous part of this ordeal was that at one of the raid locations in Vancouver, camera crews were following the members of the CBSA, recording their every move. This was for the making of a reality television show that was to be aired on Canadian television. The show was intended to “highlight the life on the front lines of national security”. Had the camera crews not been present on scene, the raid may have been conducted in a more ‘peaceful’ manner, however instead it was intensified to add dramatic effects to show on television. Making an entertainment piece out of people’s lives being torn apart as they’re forced out of this country shows the sick state of the media and today’s society. These people had families they were trying to provide for, and many were currently in the process of going through immigration to become legal citizens. Without any warning, their chance of a better life in Canada was taken away from them. Many petitions have sprung up to rally for the cancellation of the program they were trying to film.
Though it is understandable why having no immigration laws in Canada would create a big mess for the country, it doesn’t make sense why it’s such a huge problem for these refugees to be working here now that they’ve already established themselves. They are contributing to society and doing everything they can to take care of themselves and their families. They are no different from the rest of us, they just happen to have found themselves in a very unfortunate situation. All of the men who were deported were going to be portrayed as national security threats on the show, which makes no sense, because they weren’t putting anyone here in danger. It’s true, they did not have legal permission to be working in Canada, but how is that a security threat to the rest of us? What difference would it make to the average person if they all did have the proper legal status? It wouldn’t make any difference, but the brutal way they were treated certainly did not reflect that.
One man by the name of Oscar Mata, who was deported early in the morning on March 20th, was originally here on a six-month student Visa in 2008. While he was here though, his child was born, and he decided to stay longer rather than returning to Mexico. He was working as a house painter.
As Canadians, we should be ashamed to know that our country thinks that it’s okay to treat people in this way. It is one thing to have immigration laws, but it is a completely different thing to exploit other human beings for our entertainment as they are being torn apart from their families and loved ones who are here in Canada. We should know better than this, and the truth is most of us do, which is why when things like this pop up, it is our job to make it known that we think it is a violation of human rights and it should not have happened.
By Sydney Emo
By Claire Fergusson, Grade 10
Agent Orange is a powerful poison used by the U.S. military in the Vietnam War. It was used as a chemical defoliant to shed tree leaves, so that Vietnamese guerrilla soldiers could not carry out any surprise attack on American soldiers, who gained a great advantage in the war as a result. Agent Orange has been proven lethal to not only plants but also ecosystems and the people who live within them. Until this day, Vietnam still suffers from water and soil contamination, and many generations still have to deal with the harmful effects of Agent Orange.
2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is one of the two major chemicals found in Agent Orange. It is used in lawn care products across Canada and the United States. However, it has been recognized as a cancerous toxin. (more…)
- The most common misconception: most homeless people are drunks, drug dealers, criminals, and/or failures in society
- Length of time: 47% of the 752 unsheltered homeless people interviewed last year had been living on the streets for 10 years of more
- Total homeless population: 2,650 homeless people were found in Metro Vancouver on March 15–16, 2011
- Number of homeless youth: 397 found in Metro Vancouver last year
- Number of homeless families: 56 families found in Metro Vancouver in 2011
March: Grad Student Checklist
- Most institutions will send you letters or e-mails advising you to self-report your marks. Self-report Term 2 marks to UBC (starting in March) to receive instant admission decision. If you have not received an admission offer from SFU, self-report your Term 2 marks to improve your chances of getting in.
- Ensure that you have submitted all the paperwork required by your institution of choice.
- Follow up with any institutions with uncertainties (residence, marks, admission requirements, deadlines, paperwork, fees, etc.).
- Beware of scholarships that are available in March, and read the student bulletin!
By Claire Fergusson, Grade 10
North Americans consume the most out of all other places in the world. You name it; we’ve bought it. Many of us live relatively comfortable lives, surrounding ourselves with stuff and constantly reinventing things to make our lives appear “happier.” Many of us succumb to the ideal that the more you buy, the more you have; only a few understand that the more you buy, the easier it is to neglect the values that make life worthy and meaningful. Cosmetics are a part of that ideal. Products that we use on our faces make us feel safer. Make-up has become a part of our daily routine, yet we fail to realize that it is eating us from the inside out—in more ways than one.
By Thea Sample, Grade 11
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is a proposal to construct a $5.5 billion pipeline that would run from Alberta to the B.C. coast. The pipeline would transport bitumen (extracted from oil sands) from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, British Columbia, where it would then be shipped to Asia.
Enbridge Inc. is the corporate backer of this project and has solicited support from several large oil companies as well as the Canadian federal government. (more…)
By Samantha Chow, Grade 8
Most people may know that global warming has a very big impact on Earth. Scientists say that global warming is due to humans-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse Gases are produced in part because we burn fossil fuels.
Baby harp seals are among the many species impacted by global warming. They need 30-70 centimetres thick of ice to keep them stable. As the ocean warms, the baby seals could be drowned or crushed by broken-up chunks of ice. If the climate gets even hotter, the survival rates of their pups will drop even more greatly. These cute little creatures need help to survive. Luckily, while people do hunt them to sell their fur, skin, and meat, these seals are not yet endangered.
By Sophia Yamauchi, Grade 10
In programs like Leadership, students get a chance to learn about the importance of fitness and put their learning into practice. Sadly, such programs only exist in small numbers, and many children and adolescents are not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity.
In 2009, one-quarter of Canadian children were considered either overweight or obese. That is not bad compared to American statistics. Children in Canada were healthier and had a lower average BMI. Does it mean everything is okay? Indeed, an average Canadian is “healthier” than an average American, but this is no excuse to say that we do not have a problem—we do.
By Andrea Novakovic, Grade 11
It is no secret that the corporate world has been receiving giant tax breaks from the government, even though they make billions of dollars in profits annually. Whether we know it or not, a global recession is taking place, yet Stephen Harper’s Conservative government remains committed to reducing the general corporate income tax rate. This has—of course—been strongly supported by corporations, and it is now being put into action by the federal government.
By Jacqueline Ding, Grade 10
John McNamer, a member of Lawyers Against the War (LAW) from Kamloops, wrote a strongly opinionated article criticizing the Canadian government for their lack of action against former U.S. president George W. Bush. Permitting Bush to cross the Canadian border to take part in a paid speaking event angered many human rights advocates. They called upon the fulfillment of international law, which obliges Canada to detain and investigate Bush for war crimes and torture, yet nothing was done to prevent him from setting foot on Canadian soil. (more…)
By: Valerie Wong, Grade 12
Macleans magazine published an article in November describing the enrolment controversy in Canada; an article better tag-lined as “too Asian”. It attempts to delve deep into the issue of universities and other post-secondary institutions in the U.S. limiting the enrolment of Asian students in order to maintain an artificially high record for Caucasian student enrolment. The article addresses the concerns that this phenomenon may be spreading to Canadian schools. First and foremost, I pose this question to the readers: what does it mean to be ASIAN?
The word “Asian” is used to describe many things. Firstly, it is a common term (used in Canada) to describe people whose ethnic backgrounds trace back to nations in Asia, mostly the Eastern parts. In the last couple of years, the usage of the word has shifted from describing one’s ethnic background to that of a description of someone who is also overtly studious, eats rice at every meal, is a strong advocate of chopsticks etc. Accompanying the humorous connotations that come with being “Asian” are elements of social stigma. As well, Asians are often included as the punch-lines for jokes. Your momma’s so fat – she’s got more chins than a Chinese phonebook!
Jibes like these reflect a poor image of Canada, where racism and prejudice still exists. Frankie Mao, a 22-year-old Arts student at UBC, recalls an encounter with a “Canadian” mother who told him that he was the reason her son wasn’t accepted to a university. He also states that the mother went on to comment that “all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots”. Robert Sweet, a retired Lakehead University professor, conducted a study to determine the pathways of high school students after graduating. The study reported that immigrant students from East Asia produced the highest percentage of students continuing on to university at 70 percent, while Europeans followed with 52 percent.
These statistics show us where some of the prejudice, as exampled above, comes from. Asians are more likely to enroll in university. It’s part of the Asian culture; Chinese parents, specifically, instil in their children at a young age the importance of a university education, as it opens up more economic opportunities in the future. The underlying vibe of Asian culture emphasizes studying and working hard – all to achieve economic stability as well as success. Going back to the previous example: how could a person blame an Asian person for working hard when that’s all they’ve been taught since they were young? Cultural differences like these have resulted in balkanization within universities. Students have split off into their own social and ethnic cliques. This only adds to the notion of a school being “too-Asian”. What better way is there to enforce the impact of a school’s Asian population than when they all congregate at once?
I ask this question: Why should students be judged and admitted based on their ethnicity instead of their high school transcripts? In this case, I believe that it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. If you get good grades and volunteer a lot, you should be admitted based on that.
Let’s face the facts. Schools being referred to as “too Asian” are just ridiculous. How many Asians students must be enrolled to qualify as “too Asian”? It’s true that some universities might have higher Asian student enrolment but there are also universities where the numbers are not as prevalent. In the Macleans article, Alexandra (name changed), a girl described as looking “like a girl from an Aritzia billboard”, chose to attend the University of Western Ontario instead of the University of Toronto. She explained her decision based on the fact that UT has a “reputation of being Asian”. In other words, the school’s academic reputation was a turnoff for both her and her brother. Her choice was a common one among her peers and upperclassmen.
Here’s what I propose: being “too-Asian”, although sometimes said in a joking manner, should be transitioned into its truly humorous roots. Schools in the U.S. are using reports of being “too-Asian” as a weapon toward justifying their limitations on Asian student enrolment, which might rub off on Canadian institutions. Let’s give being “too-Asian” a new definition. Instead of being used to characterize areas or institutions with high populations of Asians, here’s what it should only be used to describe a person who:
- Is a very studious person that is very serious about school OR
- Is excessively good at video-games OR
- Is exceedingly skilled at Math or Science OR
- Eats too much rice OR
- Knows about twenty different ways to incapacitate someone with nothing but a pair of chopsticks
By: Claire Fergusson, Grade 9
In war-ridden or unethical countries around the world, the people who can will usually immigrate to safer and more ethical countries. Some leave places like Mexico, China, and India to get away from sweatshops that believe in and support child labourers. But the question is; are we, as consumers, really doing any better by supporting sweatshops here in Canada and North America by buying their products?
In many countries around the world, there are horrific examples of sweatshops. Workers are in a position where they are subject to exploitation, with no living wage or benefits, terrible working conditions, and may face verbal or physical abuse. Many make less than needed in order to support themselves, let alone the ones around them, so there are very few options to enrich their lives with something better. They usually work between sixty and eighty hours a week, not including overtime, in gruelling conditions. Many are offered little or no way out, without much knowledge on how to get out of the business. They are under an umbrella of a few who make millions in the trade, while the labourers suffer to put food on the table. And yet here in the western world, we buy the goods they produce.
How does our dollar affect what we buy and sell?
If the American dollar is low compared to other currencies, they will not be able to import as many goods for the same amount of money. It will, ultimately, force companies to spend more money, while not making as much of a profit. And in turn, it will force the employment wages to stay low, and continue to deprive many of basic needs, in what the world considers a leading nation.
In Canada, our dollar has been as strong as it has ever been. The rising value of Canada’s currency means that more Canadians would make a profit on their sales if they continue to buy things for cheap from other countries. A strong Canadian dollar would also mean that we would be able to have more buying power in places like China and India, where a lot of the cheap goods are manufactured. It would make it easy for us to import, but have a harder time of exporting goods, such as lumber, to other countries. However, with a higher buying power, and a greater chance of higher profits, it would enable the resources for a higher minimum wage.
One of the places that people search for better opportunities if they can leave is in Canada and the United States. But still, many cannot get away from sweatshops.
For example, many dollar store managers put in long hours, but don’t get much out of it. Many have escaped poverty in places like China, India, South America and Mexico, but are then taken advantage of. How can they compete against the ones who have been in the trade for longer, and have grown up around ones who make their life this way? It is almost impossible.
In the United States, managers of dollar store chains work long hours, up to eighty hours a week, making just $550 per week, or just under $6.90 US per hour. On the other hand, the CEO of the same company raked in $5.38 million or roughly $103 460 a week in 2010. All the while, this CEO probably just sat in front of his computer and watched his stocks rise, while store managers scraped to pay their mortgages and support their families.
Sound familiar? It almost mirrors the reality of many in low-wage centres around the world. Is it not ironic that we are supposed to be a leader in the world’s pursuit of freedom and equality?
In a society so based on consumerism, we can choose to buy ethically. It is a difficult situation, because the ones that work so hard in dollar stores for so little have to be supported too, even if they are supporting sweatshops by selling their products.
All the exploited are trying to do is make a living. They’re just trying to make it by, and hopefully put food on the table. It is a recurring reality throughout our world, even in countries like our counterparts across the border, and our own. We walk a fine line between choosing to support them and deciding to buy ethically.
What do you prefer? Should we continue to buy more cheap products produced by sweatshops, or pay more for goods that are made by people whom are paid a living wage?
Although ethically made products might mean a less bang for your buck, it will help discourage sweatshops. It may help bridge the gap between rich and poor, and in time, find a solution for a line we have to decide to cross or not.
What happens when you shoplift? You get arrested. What happens if don’t wear your seat belt? You get fined. The common thing in both these scenarios is punishment, but it seems some of us don’t receive that if we commit a wrong.
On February 19th, 2010, Helena Guergis, Conservative Minister of State for the Status of Women, threw a tantrum when she arrived a few minutes prior to her flight to Montreal at the Charlottetown Airport in PEI. In the pre-boarding area, Guergis refused to remove her footwear even thought she was warned that her shoes would set off the alarm in the metal detector. When the alarm went off, she was asked to remove her shoes and supposedly slammed her boots in the bin that was given to her and remarked to an airport staff member, “Happy f—ing birthday to me. I guess I’m stuck on this hellhole” (she turned 41 that day). After her boots cleared the x-ray, the minister yelled to her aide, Emily Goucher, “Get those for me. I’m not walking around here in sock feet.” She then tried to force open the locked door that separated the pre-boarding screening room from the aircraft area and when she was told that all passengers are supposed to arrive 2 hours before boarding time, Guergis retaliated back, “I don’t need to be lectured about flight time by you. I’ve been down here working my a– off for you people.” Despite this fiasco, the Minister Guergis was still allowed to board her plane and apologized later in the House of Commons. She screamed, she swore and threw things. Most people would be tasered for this kind of behaviour.
By: Puneet Riar, Grade 12
What’s the difference between the Grinch and Stephen Harper? Not much, except for the fact that at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch decides to back out and doesn’t steal Christmas. Yet, the thieving Harper doesn’t have a problem stealing our democracy in the holiday season, and he did just that.
Though MPs were slated to return to work on the 25th of January, on December 30, 2009, for the second time in 12 months, Prime Minister Harper rang up Governor General Michaelle Jean and ordered the call to prorogue (suspend) parliament until March 3rd. This move caused the 30+ bills that were active, most of them being on the theme of crime, and committee sittings to die. Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s spokesperson, said that the suspension was sought to consult with Canadians, stakeholders and businesses as it moves into “the “next phase of its economic action plan”. Despite this, many believe that the real reasons were that this would give time for the Conservatives to appoint five new senators, and halt any criticisms from opposition parties during the Olympics. Most importantly, the suspension would kill a pesky inquiry of the issue of detained Afghans. Alarmingly, this prorogation was somewhat expected. Even within his year-end media interviews in late December 2009, Harper had proclaimed he would not rule out proroguing parliament again.
By: Chris Tam, Grade 10
A year ago, a significant ban was enacted that would trigger a chain reaction in how Canadians viewed bottled water. Toronto is the largest city in the world to implement a comprehensive ban on bottled water. After that, many more cities, communities, parks, high schools, institutions and public places have banned the plastic bottles. The consensus is encouraging. The Big Three, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pepsi have seen their sales drop significantly since then. This was all due to the fact that the public is finally waking up to a plastic awakening; sorry, crude awakening.
I wonder what percentage of the public actually have critical thinking skills. Not many know about quantum mechanics or the Theory of Relativity. How many know how plastic is made and sold? How many know that it will never leave the Earth after it is made? Roughly the amount of oil needed to create one water bottle is one third of the contents of a plastic bottle. Plus, don’t forget the oil used for shopping, extraction and disposal of the bottle. Consumers never think about the impacts of the things they buy. Things like the disposal and waste of plastic water bottles is irrelevant to the people that purchase something for almost free.
By: Emily Chan, Grade 11
To Whom It May Concern,
I’m writing this letter on behalf of environmentalists across the world. If you’re unaware, there will a world meeting taking place from December 11th – December 18th of this year. It’s taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is meant to create a replacement for the 2005 Kyoto Protocol.
This protocol was an international agreement to lower the amount of global production of greenhouse. In 2005, there were 187 states that agreed to follow a list of guidelines to reduce their carbon footprint. There were three mechanisms to the protocol.
The first was the Carbon Market. Its idea was to only allow each country to produce a certain amount of carbon. They were given “carbon credits,” which allowed each nation to produce a certain amount of greenhouse gasses. Otherwise, they would be destructing the environment because of the emissions. However, the wealthier countries were allowed to buy these carbon credits from the poorer countries, therefore enabling these richer countries to continue unreasonable carbon production.
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was the second mechanism to be deployed. It allowed countries pledged to Kyoto to implement projects to minimize the gas produced. Some alternative-energy initiatives include solar panels or energy-efficient boilers.
By: Emily Chan, Grade 11
Money, money, money – must be funny – in a rich man’s world. Although this may merely be the opening line to ABBA’s hit song’s chorus, it has a much deeper meaning than that. Have you ever stopped and just thought about money? Has it ever occurred to you how foolish it is to immerse ourselves in the world of money the way we do? Every thing that we buy, and every choice that we make, is, for the most part, centered on money. How absurd is that?
On Monday, March 19th, 2009, our Finance Minster – Jim Flaherty – issued a new budget, which, amazingly, dealt with … money! This budget had everything in it, from tax-cuts to up to $2000 rebates for buying environmentally friendly cars. Not only will the budget help children with giving the benefit of a $310 tax relief, but you’ll also be able to receive pensions and saving plans for an extra 2 years!
Unfortunately, there are two sides to every story… and in this case, the other side is not a pretty one. Although the new budget seems to be promising in terms of tax-cuts, other areas are being overlooked – the main one being the Arts. What wasn’t written on the CTV article was the 45 million dollars that was taken away from the arts and culture funding. As Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party questioned, “I think it’s a fair question to ask Mr. Harper what has he got against artists. Maybe they were mean to him in high school.” (qtd. in “Harper’s art cuts slammed in Canada” by Jessica Werb, 2008). All jokes aside, rallies have been held all over the country to protest this unreasonable cutback. Even on Facebook, people are changing their profile pictures to grey boxes to point out that the cutbacks on funding is like a cutback on creativity. As they’ve said repeatedly, “the Arts aren’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.”
Sadly, these cutbacks will not help the cause for bringing awareness to the importance of fine arts. In fact, quite the opposite will happen. Arts programs and camps will start to be cut, and there will be no escaping them.
By: Emily Chan, Grade 11
“Next stop – Richmond Brighouse.” This announcement was heard throughout the new rapid-transit system, notoriously named the ‘Canada Line.’ This line is full of promise, new beginnings, new jobs for 1, 4000 employees, and it will hopefully give a more “eco-friendly” name to Vancouver. Although this new line was created and built for the 2010 Olympic games, it will be in use far after that – 100 years, to be exact! The 19km of tracks link Vancouver to Richmond and the YVR Airport, so visitors will be able to access the city without the use of a vehicle.
In fact, I was lucky enough to ride the Canada Line just last week. As I entered the station, a smile spread across my face as I realized that this skytrain line isn’t only to get from one place to the next – it’s a place to reconnect with friends, to visit places you’ve never been before, and to realize the importance of being “eco-friendly.” The idea of community was thrust into my face in one point of my excursion. My cousin and I had our bikes, and we were trying to get to Aberdeen Station. We went across the bridge by our bikes, which was an amazing and beautiful sight. But once we got across the bridge, we were lost! There were no signs to direct us to the next station, so we were lucky that we chose to turn right. Once we got to Brighouse Station, we had to wait THIRTY minutes until a train came that we could get on – and once we got on, we were stuffed into there like a can of sardines. As we were riding, we realized that we had to get off at the next stop – and looked around in horror as we realized that not only were we going to have to push through people to get out, but also the door was on the opposite side of the train! Once our station came, we apologized profusely as we continuously injured people trying to get out. When I successfully got off, I looked back. Guess what I saw? Every single person near the door was holding the door for us to get out safely! That’s when it hit me – the importance and relevance between the Canada Line and community.