Médecins Sans Frontières
"He was like, 'holy man that’s really, like, for real.'"
Every December, we look back not only to assess the past 12 months, but also to find reasons for hope heading into the new year. It's not always an easy task, especially when focusing on Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)'s work on the front lines of humanitarian crises around the globe.
Four months ago, I began teaching inmates in two of Ontario's maximum security jails. The experience has taught me a lot in a very short amount of time. I'm learning about an alternative universe that exists in parallel to mine. I'm accessing a dimension which is completely divergent from the one I was born into, and I'm still trying to digest it all.
Prince Rupert RCMP
There is no one-size-fits all system to improve health. This is true for everyone -- and especially for refugee populations living in fragile and humanitarian contexts, where the right to health is far from guaranteed. Recognizing this, e-Sahha was designed not only to improve the timeliness and outreach of health monitoring, but also to gather feedback from pregnant women and other users about the perceived and actual quality of care they received.
KeithBishop via Getty Images
“Operation - Santa’s Helpers” is a first for Prince Rupert.
I say "Bah Humbug" to The Fraser Institute for saying an average Canadian is less generous than their American neighbour. Their 2016 Generosity Index makes Canadians look bad because Canadian give much less to charity. Cash gifts are only one part of the generosity story.
Mark Blinch / Reuters
I stay on my fitness horse by reminding myself that movement is a privilege and that the future Me will ALWAYS be happier if I move. The understanding that exercise positively affects my mood has informed my entire fitness philosophy. In fact, improving my mood is typically the primary reason I train.
Jupiterimages via Getty Images
We have in our midst many newcomers who were forced to flee their homelands, but live in constant fear of being found and forced to return. Their need to escape to this county was just as great as that of the Syrians, and yet that need is often not recognized.
MariaDubova via Getty Images
There's one segment of the population that can't express themselves through a ballot, and that group is children. Yet many of the laws and policies debated by government have a direct impact on their lives. In Canada at this moment federal parliamentarians are debating parental leave benefits, marketing to children and funding for First Nations children, among many other issues. We must ensure that the people directly affected have a say in these discussions and decisions.
In the 18 years since Kilee was diagnosed, David Patchell-Evans' evolving understanding of her condition has mirrored changes in the way scientists talk about autism. From an incurable disease to a spectrum that will affect one in 68 children, we now view autism as a range of conditions that are distinct in every individual.
Feng Yu via Getty Images
You have probably bought forest products like lumber for a home reno or notepaper for school supplies and wondered how your purchase affects the forest it came from. You may feel guilty, but you shouldn't if the forest products you buy are harvested sustainably and certified to internationally recognized standards.
Ty Milford via Getty Images
How many of us have seen food banks open their doors in our home towns? The reasons may differ by region -- the decline of manufacturing in Ontario and Quebec, fisheries in Atlantic Canada, farming in the prairies, forestry in the northwest -- but the overall reality is similar across the country. The economic landscape is fundamentally changed.
I've managed to cut the costs in my bathroom by over $1000 a year (true story!). By switching out your cleaning products, personal products and cosmetics for DIY natural alternatives, you save money and expose your family to fewer chemicals. Add to that your energy-efficient and water-saving savvy and you get a greener, healthier home.
A forest is an intricately linked ecosystem and Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia's Department, goes one step further. She says forests represent an intelligence that is able to behave as though it's a single organism.
Twenty-five years since it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada has certainly made significant progress towards protecting its children's rights, providing for their needs and enabling their participation in society, but there is still a long way to go -- and we must do better.
TongRo Images Inc via Getty Images
For the last 40 years, we've been sold a lie about how to solve hunger. It's the kind of deception that sounds so right, so convincing, that we don't even ask questions. We've been told that handing out food to poor, struggling people will fill their need and end their hunger. And yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Huntstock via Getty Images
It's important that all citizens understand the role that libraries and librarians play. Their importance transcends their roles as gatekeepers to books and journals. They are genuinely both the memory vault of scholarship and learned guides that help us navigate the increasingly expansive morass of data, information, copyright, and information technology.
HASLOO via Getty Images
Even a few minutes of putting oneself in another person's shoes (or wheelchair) could make a big difference. Accessibility is a right. Just by being born we all have human rights. We don't need to do or be anything special. Equality is - or should be - ours, just because we exist.
Chris Wattie / Reuters
The story of Santa Claus, his elves and the giving of gifts has graced our lives for hundreds of years. It is more than just the story of a jolly old man on a quest to give gifts to every child in the world. It's a lesson about generosity and kindness.
Shaiith via Getty Images
In Nunavut, 60 per cent of children are living in food-insecure households while in Manitoba, 76 per cent of First Nations children on reserves live in poverty. Vulnerable populations, such as women, seniors, recent immigrants, indigenous populations and racialized individuals experience the effects of poverty disproportionately demonstrating that even within the realm of social inadequacy the playing field isn't level.
Walker and Walker via Getty Images
We will often negotiate and even fight over food, oil, land, and water, but we treat time like it will, well, last forever. But if we were to value and use time truly like a resource, meaning effectively and efficiently, we need to set priorities. Enter the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Howard Huang via Getty Images
But the biggest barrier to ending poverty is the political orthodoxy we have lived by for the past 40 or more years, grounded in austerity: That good government is small government, that social programs must shrink and that taxes are evil. It is over this period that we have seen the most dramatic rise in poverty rates and income inequality, with a concentration of wealth in the top 1 per cent. It's time for a rethink.
Activists take pride in the fact that their movements are inclusive, but it appears that unless women and girls with disabilities and deaf women and girls make our way to the table then, over and over again, our needs are forgotten. There are but a handful of women with disabilities and Deaf women in Canada who are fortunate enough to be at those tables, and I am one of them.
We are just three years away from being called to account for our progress towards the 2020 Fast-Track targets -- a critical milestone in ending the AIDS epidemic. We still have a great distance to travel before we're able to call it a success. Measures to close this gap are readily available, but what we need is an all hands-on deck approach.
“We cannot tolerate this hateful language ..."
She's the first Canadian woman on the $10 bill.
She prepared a powerful speech, but didn't get the chance to present it.
Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images
Few health workers with knowledge of sign language and a lack of written or visual information on HIV in sign language are further barriers for those with hearing impairments. Requiring a sign language interpreter also limits the level of privacy deaf people have when accessing health services. Additionally, much information can get lost in translation. Without comprehensive knowledge of HIV transmission, Lesotho's deaf population remains vulnerable to this virus.
Glow Wellness via Getty Images
Some of my most painful memories are of my friends and cousins crying as they were taken away to be married to men they didn't know, often much older. I grew up seeing young girls sheltered by my mother in our house from being forced into early marriage. Those were the fortunate few. There are many complex causes driving this violence against women and girls. But it is ultimately rooted in the reality that women and men are not treated equally.
Rene Johnston via Getty Images
Being afraid of needles is not a valid reason to avoid chipping in to save someone's life.
John Morris/Canadian Press
There's a new cadre of indigenous chefs who are part historian, part cultural ambassador. Piecing together recipes long passed down orally, Chef David Wolfman helps people find a sense of history and identity through food. For many experiencing the residual effects of residential schools, food provides a link to a culture they didn't even know they were missing.
Elimination of poverty would have some very obvious and immediate benefits, but a Universal Basic Income would also have some more subtle - and yet, in my mind, very exciting - possible benefits: a universal basic income could enable the greatest unleashing of human potential ever seen.