My favourite holiday list is my own personal checklist for charitable giving. Personally, I'd rather choose one organization that fits my values and priorities, and then confidently donate a good chunk of change over the long-term -- sort of like investing in a blue-chip stock. How to choose?
Adhering to medications has the potential to bring about very positive results in the overall population. The thinking is that if you increase the number of HIV-positive people on treatment, you lower the total amount of virus circulating in a community and, ultimately, reduce the number of new HIV infections.
For most South Africans, that long walk to freedom Mandela wrote about is on a much longer, stonier and more dangerous road than they ever expected. And it's taking far more time than their well wishers around the world ever predicted. Considering what's happening to his dream of a new, democratic and rainbow nation, maybe it's best that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has gone.
"Shocked" is a word that's thrown around a lot in reference to the story of a man urinating on the Komagata Maru memorial. The brazenness of the act in broad daylight and his proclamation to continue his actions, all point to obscene and disturbing behaviour. But many South Asians I've talked to aren't shocked at all. Sad, yes. Disappointed, absolutely. But at the heart of this is the understanding that to be "shocked" means that you're experiencing the unexpected.
The amount of money now washing around Asia and the seemingly unquenchable demand there for ivory, particularly in countries such as Vietnam and China, has caused the price charged on the black market to soar. Indeed in many places ivory is now worth more per ounce than gold.
The result has been an almost unprecedented slaughter on the savannahs. Some 100 elephants are being killed per day in Africa, and at present rates of poaching the surviving population in the wild risks being decimated within a decade. Chad had 15,000 elephants. Now it is 400.
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.
Mandela was a towering figure of our time, a key person in the struggles for human rights and social justice. The 20th century was a century that saw some of the worse violence in human history, two world wars, brutal dictatorships, colonization of developing countries by imperial powers, and threat of nuclear war.
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.