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Kendra grew up too fast. At 12, she'd do her homework while caring for her twin with non-verbal autism. She'd cook dinner while helping her older brother, living with a severe learning disability, make sense of his school work. At 14, her father died from cancer suddenly, and she assumed even more responsibility.
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Behind the barbed wire fence at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, 50 kilometres east of Vancouver, is a state of the art nursery. It's one of the only mother-child units in a Canadian prison system that leaves many children without mothers.
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Language trees like Algonquian, Athapaskan and Inuktitut drove their roots into this country millennia before a word of English or French was spoken here. Today, there are more than 60 distinct indigenous languages in Canada. Teaching non-indigenous Canadians would build bridges.
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Amidst the shrubbery and tool displays at this year's Canada Blooms event, a landscaped pathway will tell the story of Chanie Wenjack, the 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy who died fleeing his residential school in 1966.
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After her assault, the police officer handling Sarah's case invited her to a meeting. A CSIS agent was there. Would she be willing to go undercover, inside a hate group, using her fiancé's connections to get information? There would be no pay. No police protection. Still, Sarah volunteered.
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Ask most Canadians about black history and they'll tell you about slavery in America, victories of the Civil Rights Movement and the giants who led it. But what about Canada? Mathieu Da Costa, a renowned translator hired by Samuel de Champlain, was the first recorded black person in the country.
Family Day is thus far a holiday without a tradition. Rather than retreat into separate rooms in the February darkness or risk it becoming just another greeting card holiday, let's imbue this unclaimed occasion with a tradition of giving. Not giving gifts, but giving back as a family to our communities.
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Civics means learning about citizenship -- how our nation is governed, and our rights and duties as Canadians. It's a subject we believe is every bit as vital as math or science. Yet, across much of Canada, civics is tucked away in high school history or social studies curriculums.
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We need to hear tales that move beyond stereotypes to challenge and teach. These stories are out there - indigenous people have been telling them for generations, but too often we haven't listened.
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Years ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu counselled us not to get discouraged by disheartening news headlines. Instead, think of them as a to-do list for changing the world, he said. As we look to 2017, we're taking that advice, focusing on positive outcomes and galvanized communities instead of lamenting past events.
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Across Canada, forward-thinking universities and colleges are finding innovative ways to give back to the communities they call home. In so doing, these institutions are also improving the quality of education for their students and strengthening their own relevance in a changing world.
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Canadians send more than nine million tonnes of garbage to landfills every year -- an estimated 35 per cent of that waste is packaging from food and consumer goods. And not all packaging waste makes it to the dump. Scientists have sounded the alarm about pop can holders and grocery bags polluting our waterways and oceans
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Engaging all of your senses to commune with nature sounds a bit hokey. But it is part of a growing movement that recognizes green space is more than just lungs for the Earth. Nature is also vital to the well-being of people -- not just hippies -- and hard science shows it can help address real health concerns.
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This is our history, and it's our duty to learn from and re-tell it. Let's re-imagine these narratives to show all the diversity and creativity of Canada today. Because these stories belong to all of us, and every one of us has a part in telling them.
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Parents often fear that a gap year will set their children back, stunting their education and career opportunities. On the contrary, hitting the pause button to gain life experience before resuming studies can actually boost future prospects.
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Unlike blocked arteries or broken bones, mental illness is shrouded in stigma. People are reluctant to talk about it and, when confronted with someone in crisis, few know what to do. Still, odds are much greater that you'll encounter someone with an anxiety disorder or depression than someone with heart disease. Statistically, mental illness affects much more of the population -- one in five Canadians. You don't have to be a passive bystander, struggling for words or paralyzed by ignorance. You can become a mental health first responder.
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In 2014, alone, almost 8,000 youth ages 15 to 19 were injured on the job in Canada. Another 13 lost their lives, according to the most recent statistics from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada. Many parents don't realize their children may not legally be old enough to do some jobs.
A staggering 85 per cent of our collective apparel ends up in a landfill -- that's over 10.5 million tons of clothing, according to the popular second-hand store Value Village. In a single year, Canada produces enough textile waste -- clothing and other goods like upholstery -- to create a mountain three times the size of Toronto's Rogers Centre stadium. Reduce, reuse and recycle has become the mantra of socially conscious consumers. Now we need to extend that philosophy to our old accoutrements.
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Hitch hiking across Canada as a teen, Paul Martin took a summer job as a deckhand on a tug boat in Canada's far north, toiling elbow-to-elbow alongside Dene First Nation, Inuit and Métis crew. When the work was done, he'd talk with them late into the night. His mates were friendly and smart, but the young Martin saw a sense of hopelessness in them. Most had been crushed by years in residential schools.
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In the age of e-readers, search engines and Wikipedia, why do Canadians still cling so tenaciously to these seemingly archaic institutions? Because libraries are so much more than just repositories for books. Canada's libraries are vital community hubs with an ever-growing range of beneficial programs and services.
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Let's ditch the stereotypes and ingrained ideas of what independence and having a home mean. Prodigal youth haven't failed to launch and their parents haven't failed to parent. They're both flying in a smarter direction.
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Let kids fail young -- while they are still in their beta phase, adaptable and resilient. Let them struggle with a math problem. Let them audition for the lead role when you know they're likely to be cast as an understudy. Let them make mistakes that will build self-care and even empathy.
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Women gain purpose, independence, and the ability to manage challenges like mental illness. It's an approach we're intimately familiar with. The profits give women much-needed money, and help the organization purchase equipment for its programs so it can help more women.
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Whether it's an impoverished family a world away in rural India, or a person you see living on the streets, people in need often feel like their lack of choice means they have no say in their lives. Recognizing the importance of having options, some charitable and community groups across North America are giving the most vulnerable a say in the aid -- and little comforts -- they receive, and discovering it can have almost as much impact as the hand up itself.
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The first aboriginal graduate of the University of Alberta's theatre arts program, Lorne Cardinal has spent 25 years struggling with the lack of diversity in Canada's entertainment industry. Working as both actor and director, he has strived to show indigenous faces on Canadian stages and screens.
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The lack of diversity on our money is hardly fitting for a country that likes to think of itself as a leader on progressive issues. Even the U.S. is getting ahead. Now that this oversight is finally being rectified, our question is: why just one?
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The experts who work in the trenches with Canada's homeless tell us, routinely, vulnerable individuals complete reams of paperwork and attend meetings with as many as five different government agencies and non-profit organizations. Often, the only outcome is severe stress for already devastated families. Provinces need to work with non-profits to adopt a "one family, one file" approach -- creating a single intake form and database. When a homeless family first approaches any agency -- be it for social assistance, child welfare, or a homeless group -- a single electronic file would be started for all necessary information.
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Some 30,000 young Canadians ages 16 to 24 are homeless at any given time. If you're young and also dealing with abuse, addiction, a broken family or mental illness, finding your way is an immensely tough trek. Art is an accessible way to confront those seemingly impossible challenges.
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Across Canada hopeful high school students are already camping under their mailboxes, waiting for college and university acceptance letters. Something all these young Canadians and their parents can consider, as they make their final decisions: what opportunities does my future school offer to study abroad?
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Almost half of Canadian children in foster care are aboriginal, even though indigenous people make up less than five per cent of the population, according to the most recent statistics in the 2011 Census. What's particularly gut-wrenching is the majority of aboriginal children are placed in care, not because of parental abuse, but because their families are poor. Now it's time to invest in progressive initiatives, like the Circle of Care, that keep families together.
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Ill-conceived measures, like the no-fly list must be made smarter so they do not target the innocent. Otherwise, they have the ironic potential to actually erode our national security by alienating those they single out and stigmatize. But the way the no-fly list works, with a total lack of transparency and overwhelmingly targeting just one group -- Muslims -- feelings of alienation and powerlessness are exactly what the no-fly list is causing.
We see an opportunity for the Canadian government to bring colleges and universities together and encourage them to develop aboriginal student support programs on more campuses. Aboriginal students deserve have as many choices for welcoming institutions within a reasonable distance, with programs that interest them, as non-aboriginal students do.