By Andy Siu, Grade 10
Recently, people have been deliberately setting themselves on fire in Tibet. So far, 12 Tibetan monks and nuns have self-immolated, six of whom are believed to have died.
The first took place on February 27, 2009, but it wasn’t until more than a year later that 11 more set themselves ablaze to protest against the Chinese government’s suppression of free expression and religious belief in Tibet. The most recent one involved a 35-year-old Tibetan nun at a road junction in Sichuan. She covered herself in petrol and potentially ingested some. However, the Chinese government is doing whatever they can to prevent foreign journalists from investigating, so information is limited. (more…)
By Nina Kumar, Grade 12
(Published online only)
Homelessness is a growing issue in Vancouver and an even bigger issue across Canada. Regardless of its type – absolute, relative, or concealed – homelessness is something that all Canadians should be concerned about. Many believe that the homeless are alcoholics or drug addicts, but this is not always the case. Homelessness is tied to various social problems, such as domestic violence, shortage of affordable housing, and high unemployment rates. Also, recent studies have found that twenty to thirty-five percent of homeless people have been treated for psychiatric disorders. Moreover, statistics show that there was a fourteen-percent increase from 1986 to 1996 in the Canadian population, but even before this period came to an end, it was shown that thirty percent of the population was living in poverty. This shows how Canada has been robbed of affordable living for a long time. With about 65,000 young homeless people found across Canada, one cannot help but think, “What on earth are we doing as a nation to change this?” (more…)
By Shirley Le, Grade 12
“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” – Sheila McKechnie
The number of homeless people in Vancouver is large, and it isn’t getting any smaller. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing them on the streets that we treat homelessness as if it is a social norm. Many people are so narrow-minded and judgemental that they look down on these people without considering the cause of their misfortune. Many see this as an issue, yet not many are brave enough to stand up and do something about it.
Surprisingly, Canada is one of the few countries without a national housing strategy, not to mention that statistics on the country’s homelessness aren’t very great to look at. (more…)
By Jomar Sastrillo, Grade 12
Law 12 students at Windermere Secondary School have initiated the annual Educational Campaign on Homelessness by engaging in various projects under the direction of Law teacher Ms. Lee. In light of the Homelessness Action Week from October 10 to October 16, the campaign aimed to investigate the laws in relation to the issue and possible solutions. The class has organized a clothing drive, interviewed prominent members of the community, such as Don Davies, Tim Louis, and Libby Davies, participated in public debates, listened to talks from leaders of local campaigns, and donated to local charities. The goal of this campaign is to set an example for others to follow and to fulfill our responsibility as citizens to help our community.
By Kory Muenala, Grade 12
Did you know that there are over 1,700 people living on streets and in shelters in Vancouver? Could you have guessed that 50% of these people have lived without a home for over a year? Probably not… This is the reality Vancouver is facing today and it is one of the main concerns shared by many people in the city. Luckily, I was able to contact Katrina Hopkins, a shelter support worker. She has kindly provided us with some information about Powell Place, an emergency shelter for women. (more…)
By Winnie Liang, Grade 12
“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.“ - Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Every year, on the 11th day of the 11th month, many people worldwide make a special effort to commemorate those whose lives were cut short by war. In a little over one week, we will do so once again. Sadly, remembering the brutality of previous wars doesn’t seem to change the fact that ever more meaningless and devastating armed conflicts are taking place, right here and now.
Historically, Remembrance Day marked the end of the First World War, which was declared official at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918. Sparked by an assassination in a small corner of a long-forgotten European empire, World War I spread throughout the entire world, causing over 35 million military and civilian atrocities. However, those 35 million souls would be all that we are memorializing today if “The War to End All Wars” had not revolutionized the way wars were fought. In the years that followed, regardless of all the ‘remembrance’, the world had put together a history of appalling violence.
As human beings, our ability to learn and transform sets us apart from other animals. We all know how important it is to learn from past mistakes and not repeat them in the future, yet reality tells us otherwise. (more…)
By Angela Ho, Grade 11
Today, people around the world are becoming more aware of an increasingly controversial issue that affects all. Underneath huge reserves in various countries lies an incredibly profitable yet extremely destructive resource. The resource I am referring to is tar sands, but in particular the Athabasca tar sands located in northeastern Alberta.
In a nutshell, tar sands oil is extracted from a mixture of heavy crude bitumen, clay, sand, and water. However, it takes three barrels of fresh water in order for one barrel of crude oil to be extracted, and a massive amount of contaminated water is pumped back out to the surrounding environment daily. This is an outrageous act of crime against the residents of the Fort McMurray region. As the oil companies become filthy rich, people who live around their mines are becoming much sicker. Air, water, and land become polluted by the waste coming out from the tar sands; the entire region is virtually a toxic waste dump. Rare cancers are occurring much more frequently and people are dying, yet these companies aren’t held accountable. This is just a brief peek at how nasty the tar sands are; there are a large number of other complications around these operations, but all in all the Athabasca tar sands is one hell of a nasty place.
Recently, a huge two-week campaign against the expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline was held in front of the White House in Washington, DC. Over 1,200 people were arrested for civil disobedience while protesting against a new pipeline that will surely bring more disasters upon North America. This proposed oil pipeline will carry what is probably the dirtiest type of oil known to mankind – tar sands oil. Stretching 2,000 miles (about 3200km) from Hardisty, Alberta, the Keystone XL pipeline will enter Montana before continuing southeast towards South Dakota and Nebraska. There, the pipeline will be connected with the current Keystone pipeline in Kansas and continue down to Oklahoma, before reaching the final exiting terminals in Texas.
Such a pipeline can wreak havoc in every shape and form imaginable. Every day, one million barrels of oil will be transferred, travelling through the heartland of America to the Gulf Coast. The Ogallala Aquifer, which is the largest aquifer in North America, will be disrupted and heavily contaminated if an oil spill occurs. This aquifer supplies a massive amount of fresh water to Americans and is depended upon by agricultural industries. If the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is approved, clean water will slowly become inaccessible due to contamination and people will suffer under widespread sickness. The air will become polluted; precious rivers, agricultural lands, wildlife, and communities across the US will be endangered. The concept of a clean-energy economy will be undermined and the progress towards a sustainable society will be impeded.
In all honesty, the Keystone XL pipeline is not for the benefit of the people; it holds a bigger agenda than just “providing oil for America”. The price of the crude oil transported to the U.S. will increase and huge profits will go into the pockets of oil companies who are rich even without the money. Additionally, the oil will be processed by American refineries for export to overseas markets. In other words, much of it won’t even reach the tanks of U.S. drivers.
This is neither right nor ethical, and definitely not sustainable! Oil companies should not gain wealth at the expense of the security and health of the general public, as well as the deterioration of the environment. Incredibly, the U.S. State Department concludes that the pipeline meets environmental and safety standards. A final decision will be made in later this year, but it’s not too late to stand up because President Obama has the power to veto this project. Sign a petition online (for more information, please visit http://act.350.org/sign/tar-sands/) and pressure him to reject the pipeline for our own sake. The planet will continue to exist for years to come, but we may be the ones who will not.
By Sydney Emo, Grade 10
Alberta is home to a huge oil reserve known as the Alberta tar sands, or the Alberta oil sands. The reserve is worth billions of dollars and produces about 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, with an estimated total of 175 billion barrels of crude oil available for further extraction.
There has been a lot of controversy regarding the impact this large industry has on the environment and the people living in the area. Although it creates jobs, there are many health risks involved in working around so many toxins for days at a time. However, despite of being fully aware of the hazards, workers from local communities and other provinces have no other option but to work there due to their desperate need of income.
The oil companies are drilling everywhere they can, even on land that does not belong to them. Sadly, the local residents feel powerless as individuals to make the government and oil companies more environmentally and socially responsible.
By Tammy Lee, Grade 12
Burns Bog is a remarkable natural site located in the suburban region of Vancouver, and it is the largest raised bog on the west coast of North America. Although it may not be as acclaimed as the “gem in the city” we know as Stanley Park, Burns Bog is considered to be the “rough diamond buried under tons of garbage,” due to the endless garbage disposal at the landfills located right on the edge of the peat bog. (more…)