Resistance, Resilience, Remembrance: Louis Riel Day

By: Jas Sidhu

Louis Riel fought for basic human rights. He was leader not only for the Métis but for all Canadians. With a steadfast commitment to protecting minority rights and the French language, Louis Riel fought for the very values that Canadians hold dear – equality, pluralism, and social justice. His many sacrifices have secured him an enduring place in our shared history as a champion of the Métis people, a founder of Manitoba, and a key contributor to Canadian Confederation.

The ideals that Louis Riel fought for - ideals of inclusiveness and equality – are now the very same values on which we base our country’s identity”

-  Justin Trudeau

Born in St. Boniface in 1844, the French speaking Métis boy was sent to Montreal to be educated and subsequently became an apprentice to a Quebec lawyer. Shortly after, Louis left the city to return to the Red River settlement. After the Hudson’s Bay Company surrendered Rupert’s Land to the Government of Canada, the Métis were left without representation. Louis Riel stepped in and co-founded the Provisional Government of Red River, which was used as a guiding body to usher the west into the Dominion peacefully and to assure that the demands of the Métis were heard. Through his leadership, the province of Manitoba was founded. In 1884, answering a desperate call sent out from his people, Riel returned to Canada and, once again, demanded equal treatment for the Métis. His pleas were answered with a military response and the Northwest Resistance ensued. Riel surrendered on May 15, 1885 and was condemned to death and hung for High Treason by the very country he helped to build. Every year on November 16th, the anniversary of the death of their most honoured leader, Métis people from across the homeland band together to remember the man, his cause and his legacy.



Diversity, Inclusion, and Recognition in World War I

By Ananya Jaikumar, Aman Singh, Himisha Nagar, and Haokun Qin

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War, it’s important to look back on how the Canadian army has changed and embraced diversity and inclusion since then. People of colour were neglected and the military failed to recognize them for their contributions to the war, and as we all stand today, proud to be who we are, we must take into consideration what got us here.

Time and time again we have seen soldiers take a stand for what they believe in. In previous years, some of these soldiers were looked down upon, and struggled to get the recognition they deserved. During WWI, members of the black community formed the No. 2 Construction Battalion. Though they were not allowed to fight, they played a pivotal role by digging trenches and repairing roads on the battlefield. Approximately 2000 African Canadian men fought their way to get to the front lines, and about one-third of the First Nations people in Canada between the ages of 18-45 enlisted during the war. Around 225 Japanese-Canadians volunteered during this war, and 54 had died in the process. All of these soldiers wished to show their patriotism for Canada, only to be discriminated against during a time of unity.

The ranks of warfare in WWI were also full of racial and sexist discrimination, which is evident in the armies of the Allied Powers and the Central Powers. An example of discrimination comes in the form of racial discrimination against people of African descent, because they were seen as incompetent, and likely to rebel or desert, just because of their skin color. Furthermore, Asians and minority groups were often met with the same treatment. However, WWI was also a turning point in the power of visual minorities, as seen in the french battle of Ypres, where Algerians (a French colony at that time) were fighting for the Allied Powers, and won to a certain extent.

When talking about the mistreatment and lack of inclusion of coloured individuals in the army during WWI, it is very crucial to bring to light those who fought for our country and made a difference. One of these honourable persons includes Francis Pegahmagabow, the most effective sniper of WWI, and the first First Nations soldier to ever be most highly decorated for bravery in the Canadian army. Pegahmagabow played a significant role in the Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Somme, where he won a Military Medal, and the Battle of the Scarpe, where he was one of the mere 39 individuals to win a second bar in the Military Medal. Pegahmagabow was a leader, a dedicated soldier, and a discriminated First Nations man who truly made a difference.

Now, the breakdown of the Canadian army is different, and the increase in diversity, inclusion, and recognition is clearly visible. The military is trying to attract more women, visible minorities, members of the LGBTQ community and other segments of society that have been historically underrepresented, and they are doing their best to show that the Canadian Armed Forces accurately depicts the mosaic of Canada. As we celebrate Remembrance Day, remember the sacrifices of those before us to create the loving and accepting country we live in today.



Diwali: The Festival of Lights

By: Angela Mao and Renee Mahi

Diwali is one of India’s biggest and most important holidays, as well as one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism. This festival has several variations with all slightly different origins. It is most commonly associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Despite all of the different variations, all are linked to

“the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil”.

Hence, it is called the Festival of Lights.

This holiday takes place around late October to early November. People throughout India and Nepal celebrate Diwali by setting off fireworks, indulging in sweet treats, decorating homes as well as pray to the gods. During the celebrations, common decorations are small lamps filled with oil that are lit and placed along houses. The third day, which is is November 7 this year is the main event. This 5-day festival marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year.

Diwali, celebrated by millions around the world, is a wonderful time of feasts, gifts and fireworks with your family.

Personal Significance

I come home and my mom hands me a diya. I light it up with a match and put it on the edge of the windowsill. Incense sticks fill the house with a sweet, warm and fulfilling smell as me and my younger brother put diyas all around the house. When the house is lit my mom calls us down. We stand around a circle of diyas as put our hands together as my dad prays. He thanks God for all that we have been blessed with before wishing for continuous future prosperity. After the prayer we eat LOTS of sweets. In the evening, I get changed into a traditional Indian lengha and we go to my cousins house where we light fireworks - the perfect way to end the festival of light.

As an Indo-Canadian who grew up in Canada, Diwali has always been a celebration I’ve looked forward to. No matter the financial condition my family was in, we always found a way to come together and celebrate on this auspicious occasion.

Diwali, to me, is about celebrating all the good things in life, even the ones that seem insignificant.

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World Mental Health Day

By: Renee Mahi

1 in 4 people are affected by mental disorders at some point in their life yet there are still a seemingly infinite amount of misconceptions about mental health. October 10th marks World Mental Health Day, a day used to advocate mental health and battle the numerous stigmas that come with the term.

Why are the terms ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ used so commonly amongst teens? Studies show that cases of youth mental disorders are rapidly rising. UNICEF recently published an article which suggested social media may be the cause of the declining state of youth mental health.

Celebrities are using their platform to speak up about mental health and that it is okay to not be okay. Lady Gaga, Dwane Johnson, and Deepika Padukone are some of the celebrities who spoke up about their issues with depression and anxiety. This goes to show that poor mental health is not limited to a specific demographic and can happen to virtually anyone.

October 10th should not be the only day that mental health is talked about. Some of the ways that individuals can be respectful of mental health disorders are:

  • avoid using terms affiliated with mental health disorders in everyday language

  • research and understand causes and treatment of various common mental health disorders

  • understand that it is okay to not be okay



Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters

By: Vidhi Bhatt

Co-Director of External Relations 2018-2019

Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters

Phyllis Jack Webstad is a residential school survivor who went to St. Joseph Mission Residential School. One day, at the age of six years old, she wore a new outfit for which her granny managed to save up money. It was a bright orange shirt that had string laced up in the front. She was excited to wear it!

But as she entered the building, that excitement turned out to be a nightmare…

“When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared,” said Phyllis.

The residential school system that lasted more than a century is a harmful legacy that Canada holds on its shoulders,

Indigenous communities were ripped apart, families separated, with kids scarred for life. Many of them, to this day, still go to therapy and healing centers.

So when Phyllis shared her story, Canadians decided to support her.

This is where Orange Shirt Day, an annual event comes into play; it is a collective act of reconciliation, a campaign that takes place to encourage students to learn about the history of residential schools and to honour the indigenous people who carry these scars.

It is a symbolic gesture created to promote the awareness of the harm caused by residential system and to do everything in our power to ensure we move forward in a good way.  

September 30th is around the same time of the year when indigenous children were sent to residential schools, making it the perfect time to remember our past.

The event is similar to “Pink Shirt Day” held annually to promote anti-bullying. Events like these gives teachers a chance to focus on anti-racism and anti-bullying efforts as the school year just begins.

So what can you do?

  • Wear an orange shirt on September 30th

  • Share Phyllis’ story.

  • Read books by Indigenous authors about residential schools.

And remember…

Every child matters.



Welcome to BMYC's blog!

By: Laura Oris-Naidenova

Happy October! Welcome to the installation of the Brampton Multicultural Youth Council’s new blog. Here, we will be posting anecdotes and updates on the world around us, or a take on a controversial social issue. Keep in mind that opinions are only representative of the author of the post. We hope to inspire some critical thought and insight on the world around us!

Enjoy your stay!


President of BMYC 2018-2019