Through the study of epigenetics, scientists have identified a clear difference in the genetic expression of individuals who had been abused, and in doing so they are helping to illuminate the process by which childhood trauma can alter an individual's development.
If an African girl wanted FGM we would be outraged, and rightly so. Why would we cut girls to control their sexuality and satisfy men? We can all agree on this. Yet when a girl from a non-FGM practicing community wants to be cut, trimmed or tucked we're told it's her choice. Aren't both examples of cultural coercion? Are we saying one happens to adults and the other to children? To some extend, that's true. But there are nine-year old girls, accompanied by their mothers, asking for cosmetic surgery on the NHS. Girls with normal genitals. Confused? Me too.
The other night I was in Regent Park, near downtown Toronto, at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School observing a small candlelight vigil. I was also was there with my family and my incredible wife, who was born and grew up in Apartheid South Africa before moving to this beautiful country of Canada when she was 12.
As a kid, my local hockey rink was at the heart of everything I did. Seldom did a day pass that I wasn't on the ice or sitting behind the glass. The players on the senior team were celebrities and the game brought everyone together. Today, hockey arenas mean as much - if not more - to their communities.
Mandela acknowledged Canada played a more positive role than most other western countries in helping the African National Congress to topple the apartheid state. Prairie firebrand John Diefenbaker persuaded the Commonwealth to take a stand against apartheid. And all prime ministers after Dief rallied to Mandela's standard.
Today is day 11 of the 16 days of action to address gender-based violence. Every year we call for action, because explicit misogyny, insidious discrimination and gender-based violence continue to provoke fear in the lives of women in Canada and in the lives of our sisters across the globe.
I lived in poverty growing up. I dealt with social issues no child should ever have to deal with: bullying, low self-esteem and self-confidence, and their impact of my grades. My father unexpectedly passed away when I was 12 years old, and as a result, my mother worked two jobs to support my sister and me.
In seven days, Canada lost four soldiers to suicide. They died of despair. Suffering mental wounds from their service, able to foresee the end of their careers but unable to see how they could survive after, they succumbed to their injuries and took their own lives. We might give it fancy clinical names, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Operational Stress Injury, but that doesn't change the condition: broken mind.
This week, Former South African president Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. Unlike so many bloggers and journalists, I didn't have a formative experience where Mandela changed the course of my life. He was mostly a far-off figure to me at a time when I was too young to fully appreciate the strength and dignity he maintained while making previously unthinkable strides for human rights. But I do remember this: being an undergrad reading about South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and thinking, how could a man who had suffered so much injustice, and seen so much suffering, focus so squarely on forgiveness?
This day in Dublin, Mandela shakes my hand. It's a most peculiar moment. I look into his eyes, he looks into mine, and somehow I know I'm in the presence of sheer, bloody greatness. Not because of what he's done or had done to him, but simply because of who he is.
If ever proof were needed that one person can change the world, Nelson Mandela was that proof. His unwavering commitment to peace, tolerance, justice, and equality embodied those very concepts. Mandela inspired a movement, transformed a country, and reshaped our understanding of what the world could be. With the leadership of his External Affairs Minister Joe Clark and the influence of Canada's UN Ambassador Stephen Lewis, Prime Minister Mulroney diverged from his Conservative cousins in the U.K. and U.S. and stood strong against apartheid -- heeding the call of Mandela. Canada's stance in those days continues to be a source of pride for all of us.
The adolescent years are tough by any standards. The decade between 10 years and 20 brings multiple challenges -- changing bodies, complex interpersonal peer relationships, navigating increasing independence, experiencing sex and intimacy, completing school and facing the future.
No sooner had Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever recorded, swept across the Philippines than everyday acts of courage and humanity surged forth in response to its aftermath. With Typhoon Haiyan we have together risen to the occasion. But in Syria, we as an international community are failing the civilian population.
One of the best practices to transcend these barriers is peer education. The organization that I work for champions this model, equipping MSM peer educators to discretely enter the community and educate fellow MSM on HIV transmission; providing them with alternative avenues to get HIV testing, a cornerstone of effective prevention; behaviour change strategies and, lastly, condoms.
Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela is a global icon. His legendary ascension from prisoner to President is the stuff of fairytales. In this time of international mourning, our leaders should wipe their crocodile tears and reflect upon their actions, or lack thereof, in fulfilling the promise of racial equality which Nelson Mandela stood for. Mandela may no longer be with us, but his legacy, his message and his estimable struggle live on. They reside inside all of us who acknowledge that the pursuit of integration and equity belongs not in the apartheid past in a foreign land but in the bosom of our beloved nation.
Canada is blessed with some of the last vestiges of pristine nature on Earth -- unbroken forests, coastlines and prairies, thousands of rivers, streams and lakes, open skies, abundant fresh air.
We are also defined by our Constitution. Our Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us freedom of expression, equal protection from discrimination and the right to life, liberty and security of the person. But it doesn't mention the environment. How can we fully enjoy our freedoms without the right to live in a healthy environment?