All Posts Tagged With: "Idle No More"
Why mainstream students need to get out and vote
When I attended my first student union meeting at the University of Toronto last February, I knew that many students involved in campus politics are radical leftists so I was unsurprised when those present passed motions endorsing the Aboriginal movement Idle No More and to lobby the provincial government to ban unpaid internships, in which students freely choose to participate.
But when the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) published a statement endorsing Idle No More and sent a letter to the Ministry of Labour calling for a ban on unpaid placements, they claimed to represent 46,000 University of Toronto students and that is simply not true. Many students have no opinion on these issues, while many others, like me, are strongly opposed.
We have no idea how most students actually feel because only 3,161 voted in the last UTSU election, a turnout of less than seven per cent. Munib Sajjad, the president, received around 2,000 votes, which means less than five per cent of students voted for him—despite running unopposed.
Four in 10 First Nations have post-secondary qualification
Steven Swan spent nine years jumping from job to job, where “nothing was stable, nothing was secure.” Then he decided enough was enough.
Swan, a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in northeast Saskatchewan, wanted security and something to be proud of, so he decided to go to university to become a teacher, like his mom.
“She’s been teaching for 30-odd years and I just see the profession as something pretty stable, pretty noble, pretty respectable, pretty honourable,” said Swan, 34, who recently finished his bachelor of education at Regina’s First Nations University of Canada.
Swan is convinced he’s not alone: more and more members of Canada’s First Nations are opting to embrace post-secondary education as a means to improve their lives, he said.
“Not just young people that are fresh out of high school, going to school and finishing in four years, but older people going back to school because they see the importance of getting an education and they see that in order to get what they need in life…that they need to do something about it and they go to school,” he said.
The Twitter generation is engaged and deserves a say
Should 16-year-old Canadians be allowed to vote? The Parti Québécois thinks so. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, speaking in London, hinted as much following a quiet meeting in Scotland with First Minister Alex Salmond, whose governing Scottish National Party plans to lower the voting age to 16 for the country’s 2014 referendum on independence.
Members of Marois’ party have indicated their support for lowering the age to 16 in the past, and countries like Austria, Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil have made similar decisions over the years to combat flagging voter turnout. Considering young people are the biggest drag on Canada’s overall decline in turnout, it’s something we should consider nationally too.
Elections Canada reported 38.8 per cent turnout among people age 18 to 24 in the May 2011 federal election, well below the 75.1 per cent of those aged 65 to 74 who voted. Considering the under-25 set is told from the get-go that they’re apathetic, this isn’t surprising. Civics courses don’t help: I drudged through Ontario’s— a well-known online bird course at my high school.
Many sport red squares of student movement
Montreal police arrested more than 30 people, including nine minors, during a second day of protests against Quebec’s northern development plan.
Demonstrators gathered on Saturday outside a job fair at the city’s convention centre, where businesses and workers were meeting to discuss opportunities in the natural resources sector.
Police spokesman Ian Lafreniere said at least one window was smashed and a flare gun was fired inside the building.
“We tolerate protests but not criminal acts like this, so we decided to break up the protest,” Lafreniere said.
In a scene reminiscent of last spring’s student protests, lines of riot police were used to break up the crowd and protesters who were arrested were held on city buses.
What students are talking about today (January 21st)
1. Student newspapers across Canada are still focused on Idle No More, having covered Aboriginal protests from coast to coast again this past week. A teach-in at Dalhousie University in solidarity with the movement drew more than 400 people, reports The Dalhousie Gazette. Guest speakers included Tayla Paul, an Aboriginal woman who told the audience about her experience being homeless. Halifax New Democrat MP Megan Leslie was there. So were many students. Some didn’t have a choice. Professor Marguerite Holland told the Gazette attendance was mandatory for her Canadian Studies class.
2. Holland may support the movement, but a new poll by Forum Research for the National Post reports that 49 per cent of Canadians do not support Idle No More while 39 per cent do and 12 per cent are unsure. Surprisingly, 52 per cent of those with First Nations ancestry did not support the movement. The big divide is along party lines with 60 per cent of NDP voters offering support compared to only 13 per cent of Conservative voters.
What students are talking about today (January 15th)
1. An 18-year-old Capilano University student named Rosea Lake (a.k.a. Rosea Posey) has received 275,000 notes on her Tumblr site after posting her feminist artwork “Judgments.” The photo shows a woman with a skirt hiked up and a series of words written on her leg that begin at her ankle with “matronly” and end at her buttocks with “whore.” She told The Province her message is for people to stop judging women unfairly by how they dress, a.k.a.”slut shaming.”
2. U of T students are being accused of planning an orgy. “The University of Toronto Sexual Education Centre is kicking off its annual Sexual Awareness Week next Monday at Oasis Aqua Lounge, a downtown club that bills itself as a water-themed adult playground, where swingers are welcome and sex is allowed everywhere but the hot tub,” reports The Toronto Star. “We’re not funding an orgy,” external education and outreach coordinator Dylan Tower, 22, told The Star. “People are allowed to have sex [but] there is not any type of ‘You should be having sex when you’re here.” So, in other words, students can have an orgy if they want to, but it’s totally optional. The SEC is affiliated with the University of Toronto Students’ Union and is funded by undergraduate student fees. Tower told The Star the event is a safe way to introduce curious students to the sex club scene.
What students are talking about today (January 11th)
1. The Waldorf, a two-year old arts venue in Vancouver’s east end, has been sold to developers. Artists are, unsurprisingly, enraged. Grimes was among those who played the tiki-themed multi-room venue. Her Tweet on Thursday captures the reaction to the closure: “wow vancouver is so f*d if they shut down the waldorf. f*k this city. you’ve destroyed nearly every piece of culture that you had.” Rhys Edwards, wrote this in a piece for The Ubyssey’s blog: “The Waldorf is one more victim in the amorphous onslaught of gentrification in a city that simply does not prioritize cultural activities that do not promote economic development.” Without the Waldorf, she says, Vancouver will be less weird.
2. Emma Teitel says she can’t do simple math and she’s blaming the pressure to perform, which in her case took the form of the “Mad Minute,” an exercise where students race against a clock to do as much arithmetic as possible. This created a fear of math and caused her to give up. She points out that Finnish students, who don’t face much pressure from teachers, perform best in the world.
What students are talking about today (January 10th)
1. The University of Lethbridge’s Alcohol Awareness Committee has put up posters showing two girls enjoying a night out on the town beneath the headline “Who’s watching your drink?” and, in smaller print, the words “Keep it together. It can happen anywhere.” The Meliorist’s Leyland Bradley isn’t pleased, saying the poster implies woman can avoid sexual assault “if they know better.” Bradley says this is an example of “blaming the victim” and that it “perpetuate shame and self-loathing rather than working to prevent assault.” I don’t see harm in asking women to keep themselves and each other safe, but I do see how that “keep it together” line might offend.
2. The University of Albertaʼs Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, creators of NoHomophobes.com, have released a forceful new video showing how odd it is that we still use words like faggot and dyke. “We no longer tolerate racist language… but sadly we still see and hear homophobic and transphobic language in our society,” Kristopher Wells, the Instituteʼs Associate Director, told The Huffington Post, adding “While this language might not always be meant to be hurtful, we must not forget that words like “faggot” contribute greatly to continued alienation and isolation.” The video has nearly 5,000 views.
What students are talking about today (January 7th)
1. The new TV season is promising for university students, according to Alexander Quon of The Sheaf student newspaper. His list of shows to watch includes Buckwild, which he calls “essentially the country version” of Jersey Shore. “Redneck culture is blowing up right now,” he writes. It certainly is, thanks mostly to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which returned to TLC on Sunday. Returning this Saturday on HBO Canada is Lena Dunham’s smash hit Girls, a fictional-take on 20-somethings in New York centred around Hannah, an aspiring writer and generally clueless human being. Pick up this week’s issue of Maclean’s for a behind-the-scenes on set in Brooklyn. Oh, and hockey will soon be back too.
2. What a difference a weekend makes. The talk around Idle No More shifted from Friday’s big win to Monday’s big question. On Friday, Stephen Harper agreed to meet hunger striking chief Theresa Spence and other Aboriginal Canadian leaders a week later, which will mark a month after the high-profile protest began. But this morning an external audit into Attawapiskat’s finances by Deloitte surfaced and it doesn’t look good. There hasn’t been due diligence for most of the millions given to Spence’s band by the federal government. It’s a reminder of just how complicated these relationships can be. With questions over the chief’s spending on the front page again, Paul Wells points out that NDP leader Tom Mulcair neither met Spence nor called on Stephen Harper to meet her in his open letter. That’s starting to look like a smart move. Spence, meanwhile, did gain one new ally. Paul Martin, former Liberal prime minister, met her and called an inspiration to all.
What students are talking about today (January 3rd)
1. Canada Goose coats are a staple on cold Canadian campuses, but an a new campaign is trying to make them unfashionable. Furtrimisatrap.com, an activist website, says that coyotes are “stolen from their families and homes, these sensitive, intelligent animals often spend hours or even days stuck in cruel traps where common injuries include broken bones and teeth, gashed eyes and severe internal bleeding.” Kevin Spreekmeester, Vice President of Global Marketing of the Toronto-based company,* defended the product to the Winnipeg Free Press, saying Canada Goose is proud to support the people of the north “for whom [trapping] is their livelihood.” He also notes that coyotes are not endangered and that their fur protects against frostbite.
2. Green Party leader and MP Elizabeth May knows a thing or two about hunger strikes, having mounted one for 17 days in 2001 while demanding the government move families living near the Sydney tar ponds in Cape Breton. Now she tells iPolitics.ca that Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence, on Day 24 of her hunger strike, should meet with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, whom Spence has refused to see since starting her starvation diet on Victoria Island on Dec. 11. Spence has said she will not eat until Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Crown agree to a “nation-to-nation” meeting to discuss treaties. Meanwhile, a two-week old rail blockade by Aboriginal protesters in Sarnia, Ont. has ended. However, the tone of the “Idle No More” debate is getting uglier. After John Ivision at the National Post dared call Spence “hapless,” Gerald Taiaiake Alfred—a political science professor at the University of Victoria—responded by calling him a “racist p—k” and threatened to kick his “immigrant ass” back to Scotland.
An interview with Michael DeGagne
Michael DeGagne, an Aboriginal Canadian, will become president of Nipissing University in January. The school is located in North Bay, the self-proclaimed Gateway to Northern Ontario, a region of vast mineral wealth that is also home to deep Aboriginal poverty. That poverty is concentrated in places like Attawapiskat, the James Bay reservation made famous by Chief Theresa Spence, who is now on the 18th day of a hunger strike—a protest she says will end only with a visit from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
DeGagne, who once worked for the federal government and was executive director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, has been watching closely. He spoke to Maclean’s On Campus about his plans for expanding access to education and offered his thoughts on the movement that made Chief Spence front-page news.
How did your work with the Healing Foundation prepare you for Nipissing?
The healing foundation had the good fortune to have a lot of resources to provide mental health healing supports to Aboriginal communities. Programs were directed to people who had been through the Indian residential schools, so we spent a lot of time in consultations asking survivors what they wanted, did a lot of professional development, community development and human resource development, so I think a lot of that work will lend itself to my work at Nipissing.