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On the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

Written By: Milan Mammen

Today marks the 101st anniversary of Remembrance Day, with everyone remembering the fallen soldiers who have served Canada in the nation’s defence. But there is more than just simply wearing a poppy on the left side over your heart.

Remembrance Day was originally called Armistice Day to memorialize the armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. From 1921 to 1930, Armistice Day was celebrated on the Monday of the week where November 11th fell. Although, this changed when Alan Neill, who was a member of Parliament for Comox-Alberni, introduced a bill to honour Armistice Day only on November 11 and for Armistice Day to instead be called Remembrance Day. Every year since then, Canadians stop and reflect in a moment of silence at 11 am for 2 minutes to pay tribute to more than 2, 300, 000 Canadians who served for Canada’s peace in the First World.  It is not only Canada who acknowledges November 11, but also other countries such as France, Belgium, Poland and the United States of America, standing united to bring to the fore of the events during the World War. 

To give prominence to Remembrance Day, Canadians, wear poppies which were a common sight on the battlefield. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battlefields and later wrote a famous poem called “In Flanders Fields” in the spring of 1915 shortly after losing his friend in the battle of Ypres, influencing the adoption of the poppy as a symbol for Remembrance Day.  Furthermore, there are war memorials across Canada that hold events to recognize this day such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, The National War Memorial in Ottawa, The Victoria Memorial in British Columbia or The Halifax Memorial. 

There are also several events in our very own community. In Brampton, street light banners are along Queen Street and Main Street to spotlight local veterans who have served or are in the force. There were poppy campaigns and a flag-raising ceremony in which all funds raised were towards Canada’s serving and retired veterans and their families. Additionally, today there are parades and services of remembrance at City Hall in downtown Brampton and at Chinguacousy Park, and a Remembrance Day Sunrise Service at the Meadowvale Cemetery, all to commemorate Canadian soldiers.    

In the end, it’s more than simply looking at the political and military events that lead up to the victory of the First World War. Instead, its to acknowledge and highlight the soldiers that went to go fight for Canadian’s freedom. “For those who leave never to return. For those who return but are never the same. We remember. '' - Unknown.

Sources 
https://bramptonist.com/remembrance-day-events-in-brampton/
https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/information-for/educators/quick-facts/remembrance-day
https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/after-the-war/remembrance/remembrance-day/
https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/remembrance/about-remembrance/the-poppy
https://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/8-things-you-can-do-for-remembrance-day


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PRIDE and Corporate Sponsorship

By: Laura Oris-Naidenova, Cole Schankula, Himisha Nagar, Arshdeep Raul, Haokun Qin

Remember PRIDE month? It was less than two weeks ago, and yet somehow, it seems as though everyone’s already forgotten about it. 

Throughout the month of June, you might notice PRIDE signs hung up in every retail store in your local mall. Corporations boast costly floats during pride parades, and the symbolic support that companies show for the LGBTQ+ community is immense. Unfortunately, the advocacy shown by major corporations only lasts for the month, and is then forgotten about for the rest of the year.

PRIDE month is an excellent way to celebrate the history and victories of the LGBTQ+ community, but we can’t forget the real reason it exists in the first place: to address the ongoing work for acceptance and equality.

Understandably, there are still a lot of people that are uneducated about the LGBTQ+ community, which could be seen by corporations as an opportunity to raise awareness. But actions speak louder than words, and publicity campaigns aren’t actually helpful when large corporations detract from their message if they don’t actually support the cause. 

As one example, ADIDAS, a multinational apparel corporation, sold a special selection of clothing called "rainbow packs" in June of 2017. However, these packs supported the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Russia, an openly very homophobic country as seen through their policies.

PRIDE is more than just a marketing scheme to be abused by large companies and other bodies for profit and exposure. It represents the celebration of the triumphs of a group of people who have been systematically oppressed around the world for generations.

This is not to say that support for corporations is unwelcome; that would be wholly counterproductive. Simply, that if they do wish to voice their support, they ought to do so in a way which is unabashed and genuine. The LGBTQ+ community doesn’t simply disappear once July 1st rolls around, and it’s high time we start acting as such.

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Asian Heritage Month

By: Ananya, Cole and Himisha

Asian Heritage Month has its roots in the United States, after one representative from New York and one from California proposed a resolution in 1977 proclaiming the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The resolution was passed and a similar one was passed through the Senate not too long after. Finally, Jimmy Carter, then president of the United States, signed a joint resolution just months later affirming the new celebration. The month of May was chosen to commemorate both the first Japanese immigrant to the US (May 7th, 1843) and the completion of the transcontinental railway, built mainly by Chinese immigrants (May 10th, 1869). Today, the celebration spans all of May and has been recognized in Canada since 2002.

The theme of Asian Heritage Month this year is “Asian Canadian Youth: Shaping Canada's Future.” It touches upon the significant contributions Asian Canadian youth have made towards the identity and heritage of the country. The festivities this month were kicked off by the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism: “This year, youth are in the spotlight. Our youth are engaged, interested; they push us to challenge conventions.” The theme this year strives to engage more youth in Canada to get involved, and organizations like the Brampton Multicultural Youth Council are also paving the way for students to speak up about issues they are passionate about. Many events have also been hosted this month including the International Film Festival of South Asia, Asian art and photo exhibitions, and many workshops, concerts, and conferences.

Diversity; representation, equity, and inclusion. Diversity is a crucial aspect of society today, everywhere! Diversity shapes us as human beings. It refers to the shared languages, beliefs, values, norms, and behaviours passed down from one generation to the next. Asian Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the contributions that Canadians of Asian origin have made, and continue to make, to prosper Canada.  This month comprises of activity that recognizes the traditions and celebrations of those with Asian Descent. Whether it be partaking in contemporary Asian-Canadian culture such as poetry and dances, or understanding the historical journeys and ongoing struggles for Asian communities in our nation, Asian Heritage Month allows members within our community to thrive in the melting pot that is our nation.






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Notable African-Canadians That Made a Difference: Lincoln Alexander

By: Himisha Nagar

The special month of February is known as the month in which Black History is remembered and recognized. We remember the notable persons who made a great difference in society, and acknowledge the individuals who may be one of the reasons why we are where we are today, the sacrifices they made, and the bravery they demonstrated.

One such personality who truly made an impactful change in Canada was Lincoln Alexander. Born Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, he is known as the man of many firsts.  Born in a time when being black was seen as a nothing short of a life set to be filled with misgivings, he broke those race barriers and brought attention to Black Canadians. Living a very simple and penurious childhood, with his father being a carpenter and mother being a maid, Alexander did not live a comfortable and wealthy life in his youthful days. In 1942, at the age of 20, he served Canada in the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) for World War II until 1945.  After this, as the first person in his family to pursue higher learning, he attended McMaster University and graduated with a BA in History and Political Economy in 1949. He went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School where he was called to the bar in 1953. In 1955, he went on to achieve another first by becoming partner at Canada’s first interracial law firm, Duncan and Alexander.

In 1965, Mr Alexander was given the honour of being appointed in Queen’s Counsel. he then became the first Black Canadian to be elected as a Member of Parliament to the Canadian House of Commons on the Progressive Conservative Party in 1968, a seat he retained for four consecutive Federal elections. This was a very big accomplishment and signified the entrance of Black Canadians in the Canadian justice system. In 1985, he was elected to serve as the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, being the first African-Canadian man to receive this prestigious honour.

Mr. Lincoln Alexander was an entity that was, and will always be, someone remembered for their courage and dedication in successfully garnering a high position in the Canadian government whilst being a visible minority. Especially at a time when minorities were not given any opportunities or recognition. Mr. Alexander is such a notable individual in Canadian history that there are several schools in the province of Ontario named after him (Lincoln M. Alexander Secondary School founded in 1968 in Mississauga, Lincoln Alexander Elementary School founded in 1990 in Hamilton, Lincoln Alexander Public School founded in 1992 in Ajax and Lincoln Alexander Public School founded in 2004 in Markham), multiple award-winning books written on him, and of course, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to his name.

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Women’s History Month (US)

By: Ananya Jaikumar

“Women’s History is Women’s Right.” – It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.” Dr. Gerda Lerner said this during President Jimmy Carter’s proclamation in 1980 of March 2-8 as National Women’s History Week in the United States. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month, encouraging citizens to focus on the achievements of women in history. As we look back on women’s history, it is important to consider major milestones. On August 18, 1920, American women were given the right to vote. 2016 was the first year a woman was nominated for presidential candidacy by a major party. The contributions of women have truly changed our world.

This year’s theme for the month is Visionary Women. Women around the world have made countless sacrifices, and continue to be inspirational leaders. There is no one way to change the world, and women have broken glass ceilings in discovery, politics, activism and human rights, education, the arts, and STEM. Visionaries are all around us, and this month, we can celebrate those from the past, within our present, and the visionaries of the future. March 8 is also International Women’s Day, where the theme is #BalanceForBetter. As women continue to better our world, we must prioritize equality and respect.

March is Women’s History Month in the United States, the UK, and Australia. Canada celebrates it in October. The significance behind this decision resides in the history behind the Person’s Case. The verdict of the Person’s Case deemed women to be defined as persons.  The decision in the Persons Case signaled a turning point in the quest for equal rights in Canada, giving women the right to be appointed to the Senate and paving the way for their increased participation in public and political life. This is celebrated yearly on October 18, and International Day of the Girl is also on October 11.

These days are not to bring down men or show that women are ‘better’. This has never been the goal of feminism or activism. The goal of feminism is to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. By celebrating women’s history, we can appreciate the contributions of those before us, and work towards ensuring the future is balanced, better, and full of visionaries.

Sources:

https://nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/womens-history-month/womens-history-month-history/

http://time.com/4238999/womens-history-month-history/

https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/02/politics/womens-history-month-politics/index.html


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American Thanksgiving

By: Renee Mahi

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated by thousands of people all across North America. It’s a time to feast on turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, apple cider and many other delicious delights while scrolling through witty #Thanksgivingclapback posts on Instagram. However, not many people know where the holiday originated from. Most of the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving food was not featured in the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims. In fact, the holiday wasn’t even called Thanksgiving!

The first Thanksgiving took place nearly 400 years ago after the first successful Pilgrim corn harvest. Pilgrims were a combination of religious separatists and individuals entranced by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in North America. The arrived at Cape Cod from Plymouth, England in the September of 1620. The following winter was harsh with many of the crew members suffering from scurvy and other contagious diseases. Only half of the original crew lived to see the next Spring.

The March after their arrival, the Pilgrims moved ashore where they were visited by an Abenaki Indian who spoke to them in English. He also introduced them to Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. Although Squanto was previously enslaved by an English sea captain, he still helped the Pilgrims survive by teaching them how to:

  • harvest corn

  • fish in rivers

  • extract maple syrup from trees

  • identify poisonous plants

Although the survival skills taught by Squanto were invaluable, his most notable contribution was arguably his role in creating an alliance between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, a local tribe. The alliance lasted more than half a century and is sadly one of the sole examples of harmony between European Colonists and Indigenous people.

The following November, after the Pilgrims’ first successful corn harvest, the Governor, William Bradford, planned a celebratory feast. He invited members of the Wampanoag tribe. It is likely that most of the food featured at the first Thanksgiving was made using Indigenous spices and cooking methods.

Thanksgiving symbolizes one of the few harmonious relationships between the European Colonists and Indigenous people. However, a lot of controversy still exists.

Many individuals believe that the portrayal of Thanksgiving in the media and education system shows the relationship between the Pilgrims and Indigenous people as deceptively positive when in reality conflict between the two groups has resulted in the deaths of millions. Since 1970, protestors have stood on Plymouth Rock to commemorate a “National Day of Mourning”.

Sources:

https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving

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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.

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Diversity, Inclusion, and Recognition in the Great War

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.

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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.


Quote from:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/lists/seasonal/pictures-diwali-celebration/

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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



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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.


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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!

Laura,

President of BMYC 2018-2019

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