We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them right

What can be said of those who deny the past and ignore the inherent human rights of their neighbours?

We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them rightIt’s a normal human reaction not only to acknowledge when we’ve done something wrong but to seek to make reparations and heal the relationship with the person we’ve harmed. This is also true on a societal level. As I complete teaching my unit on the residential school system in Canada, I ask students to reflect…

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand it

Governments will only do the right thing if we, as Canadians, demand it

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand itI try to be optimistic and embrace the truth that “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.” When I examine how the Canadian government treats Indigenous children, however, it’s hard not to be cynical. I began teaching my Social Justice 12 unit on residential schools by watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology…

Systemic racism is embedded in our economy

We pass laws for unjust taxes, reward unscrupulous businesses and hold money back from our children

Systemic racism is embedded in our economyIn a 2016 interview, CBC journalist Peter Mansbridge confronted children’s advocate Dr. Cindy Blackstock with this statement regarding public funding for Indigenous programs: “Billions of dollars have been spent in trying to come to grips with the situation that so many Indigenous Canadians face. And of those billions, it’s on the record that some of…

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliation

We must educate the many Canadians who don’t know what happened to our Indigenous neighbours

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliationI’ve been teaching high school students about Canada’s residential schools for a number of years. Indigenous content has recently been given a more prominent place in the British Columbia curriculum, and this has had an impact. Students now come to my class with some understanding of this tragic chapter in our history, and we’re able…

Roots of happiness are found in service to others

Positive, hard workers are in high demand. And it’s easier to be dedicated to a meaningful cause

Roots of happiness are found in service to othersBengali poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore made a profound statement about finding your purpose in life: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” This seems contradictory to much of what we hear about finding happiness. The consumption-driven media continually…

The Toronto Blue Jays truly are Canada’s team

Just like Canada, baseball has a way of bringing diverse groups together

The Toronto Blue Jays truly are Canada’s teamThe Toronto Blue Jays are often referred to as Canada’s team because they’re the only Major League Baseball organization in the country. This season they’re playing the most exciting baseball we’ve seen in years, and even though their ranks don’t include many Canadian players, they certainly look a lot like Canada. There are as many…

Yes, we’re free – free to make decisions for the good of all society

It’s terrifying to see the chaos that has ensued due to social influencers spreading misinformation

Yes, we’re free – free to make decisions for the good of all societyThere has been a great deal of controversy in recent weeks in fortunate countries where citizens have access to COVID-19 vaccines. Many feel it’s a violation of their freedom if they’re required to be immunized. Such thinking contradicts an important life principle made clear by Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. He said, “Freedom is…

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?

The parties' records over the last 13 years are revealing

What can we expect from our leaders on Indigenous issues?If Canadians are as concerned as they claim about the increasing number of unmarked graves found near former residential schools, the 2021 federal election will be pivotal. Each of the major political parties displays a clear track record exposing their views on Indigenous issues, domestically and abroad. The residential school apology on June 11, 2008,…

Why I can’t get enough of Ted Lasso

A silly, unrealistic comedy about real life

Why I can’t get enough of Ted LassoI’m not a big fan of fiction in any format. I prefer that writers clearly elaborate their theories or explain what’s actually happening in the world. I’ve also never been particularly influenced by the latest draw in popular culture. Given my disposition, I was surprised to find myself binge watching the hit comedy Ted Lasso…

Have faith in our children to create a better world

Giving our children the tools to move the world forward is the most valuable investment we can make

Have faith in our children to create a better worldAmerican musician and songwriter Louis Armstrong wrote, “I hear babies cry. I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” As an educator, parent and adult functioning in our society, I can think of no higher ideal than this. It’s an empowering, humbling…

Why respectful debate makes society better

Many of us have become very defensive about expressing our views

Why respectful debate makes society betterA 2018 episode of Channel 4 News from the United Kingdom has become rather infamous. Canadian psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson is interviewed by Cathy Newman about his book 12 Rules of Life, feminism and gender identity. Peterson has become very popular among those on the extreme right of the political spectrum. He has also…

Teaching nothing less than an authentic quest for truth

If I’m not willing to risk being questioned and to even risk being wrong, then I have no business calling myself a teacher

Teaching nothing less than an authentic quest for truthI’ve always believed I shouldn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. This generally works very well. If employees see the boss picking up garbage, for example, they’re more likely to do it themselves. This principle also applies to teaching. I can’t ask my students to treat each other with respect if I’m…

More than ever, we need to embrace diversity

There’s no superior culture in the world

More than ever, we need to embrace diversityWe live in a very diverse world. Not only is each individual unique but, as people from different parts of the world have come into contact, it has become clear that each culture has different priorities. Do we have anything in common? I was very fortunate to have been brought up in a multicultural and…

Why the Calls to Action should be Canada’s guidebook

Canada is facing a pivotal moment. We can choose to keep the truth buried or we can choose to heal

Why the Calls to Action should be Canada’s guidebookCanada Day 2021 was like none other in our history. The unmarked gravesites of children who died at residential schools seemed to be on everyone’s mind. Efforts to “kill the Indian in the child” in residential schools did tremendous damage to our country. Today, Indigenous people are disproportionately represented in our prison system, their high…

It’s too easy to blame Christianity for residential school deaths

Just like any human institution, religions are in a constant state of evolution. Just like any human, religious leaders make mistakes

It’s too easy to blame Christianity for residential school deathsArticle 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship…

Longshore workers stand firm for justice

A profound bond is growing between Palestinians and colonialized and oppressed peoples around the world

Longshore workers stand firm for justiceAn incredible act of courage and international solidarity took place recently at the Port of Prince Rupert. Ninety-four members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) refused to unload a ship of the Israeli corporation ZIM. This same ship was prevented from unloading in Oakland, Calif., as part of the Block the Boat movement.…

There are only two “races” of people: the decent and the indecent

Good people and bad people can be found in every group

There are only two “races” of people: the decent and the indecentWe’re all influenced by the environment we grow up in and our life experiences. We thus adopt paradigms in our effort to make sense of the world around us. Sometimes these perspectives serve us well but other times our core beliefs prevent us from seeing the truth. Yet there’s perhaps nothing more life-giving than experiencing…

What the Germans can teach us about reconciliation

They’re not guilty of the crimes of their ancestors but they are responsible for building a more peaceful and tolerant country

What the Germans can teach us about reconciliationWhen Germany talked about reuniting as one country after the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989, many world leaders were quite concerned, especially British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterrand. But Germany wasn’t the same country it was in the first half of the 20th century, and today it isn’t…

Diseases don’t care about our nationality or wealth

If we continue to value Canadian lives more than we value Congolese or Yemini lives, we put our well-being at risk

Diseases don’t care about our nationality or wealthIt’s certainly a relief to see COVID-19 restrictions eased and life returning to normal as more and more Canadians get vaccinated. The vaccines we have won’t provide 100 per cent immunity but should be sufficient to prevent further outbreaks. We’re told that soon travel restrictions and social distancing will be a thing of the past.…

We must discover the truth, no matter how horrible

We must find out the truth about residential schools if we are to heal from the wounds caused by our cruelty

We must discover the truth, no matter how horribleThe recent discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School is tragic but not at all surprising. In 1907, federal medical inspector Dr. Peter Bryce provided a report to the Department of Indian Affairs regarding the horrendous health conditions at residential schools across Canada. Those conditions resulted in up to…

We can buy weapons or educate children all over the world

The choice should seem obvious, yet around the globe governments still spend astonishing amounts of our money building military might

We can buy weapons or educate children all over the worldWhen discussing global issues, there’s a proverbial, weaponized elephant in the room. The topic is central to human suffering yet we seem unwilling to discuss it: the military-industrial complex. There’s a myth that there are good guys and bad guys and if we blow up the bad guys, the world will be safer. But the…

Are perspectives shifting on the Israel/Palestine conflict?

Regardless of how we’re told to hate, we will find a way to peace

Are perspectives shifting on the Israel/Palestine conflict?George Floyd has changed the world. His tragic death created a bond of international solidarity that no force can stop, no matter how they try. As a person of Middle Eastern descent living in the diaspora, I’ve always taken an interest in the situation in Israel/Palestine. Palestinians I met would tell me they were from…

Expose tainted heroes by finding new ones to honour

Roberto Alomar was a great baseball player but there’s more to being a human than athleticism. The real hero is the woman who reported him

Expose tainted heroes by finding new ones to honourPublic opinion is fickle. We love to sing the praises of individuals and put them on pedestals, but we’re just as apt to demonize these same people in the court of public opinion. Is this type of thinking getting us anywhere? Aren’t we all simply humans with the capacity to do good or bad things?…

Quebec, France poised to reject diversity, pluralism

Freedom of religious expression is a human right

Quebec, France poised to reject diversity, pluralismAccording to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practise, worship…

Canada’s human rights record marred by hypocrisy

We continue to sell military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which is responsible for much of the suffering in Yemen

Canada’s human rights record marred by hypocrisyDuring the Cold War, we were told that our allies did nothing wrong and our enemies did nothing right. In the late 1970s, the Cambodian genocide was very well reported in the Western media. That was a good thing because Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were horrendous war criminals. Yet, at almost the exact…

Democracy may not always be the best form of government

We’ve been taught in the West that democracy is the ideal form of government. But is it?

Democracy may not always be the best form of governmentLooking at the world through the lens of the media, it’s difficult to gain a clear perspective on what type of government works and what doesn’t, who’s a good leader and who’s bad, and where people are happy and where they’re not. We’ve been taught in the West that democracy is the ideal form of…

Covid-19 an educational catastrophe for disadvantaged kids

200,000 young people have lost complete touch with their schools

Covid-19 an educational catastrophe for disadvantaged kidsThere are fewer students at my school this year. There are also fewer disciplinary issues, but it has become even more difficult to establish and maintain contact with our at-risk students and their families. I didn’t realize until recently, however, that this is a global issue. There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted…

Time to make Britain answer for its colonial wrongdoings

Time to make Britain answer for its colonial wrongdoingsI’ve been teaching about Canada’s 2008 apology for residential schools for some time. In discussing the topic, I point out that this isn’t only a Canadian issue. Australia has apologized to its Indigenous peoples, and New Zealand continues to make progress in its reconciliation process. Quite often, I hear these questions from my students: “What…

We minimize, revise and ignore history at our own peril

Confronting the horrors of our past and trying to make things right isn’t an easy task but a peace comes from doing the right thing

We minimize, revise and ignore history at our own perilIt seems that everywhere we turn we find a new scandal, some memory from the past that haunts us. Though virtually every state and institution has something to hide, there’s something liberating in speaking the truth. While his tenure hasn’t been without controversy, many around the world have been relieved to see the openness and…

Is being the better person enough to combat racism?

Basketball player Jeremy Lin believes you can be the bigger person and still tell someone that their words and actions are unacceptable

Is being the better person enough to combat racism?Jeremy Lin is probably best known to basketball fans for “Linsanity,” the amazing streak of clutch and dramatic moments he had with the New York Knicks in 2012. Many Canadians know Lin for the spark he brought to the court when the Toronto Raptors won the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship in 2019. Lin recently…
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