We are presented opportunities everyday to make a difference in the lives of those around us, near or far, through our actions, time, or money. Whether we embrace that opportunity is up to us and, evidently, even the smallest of gestures or actions can veritably snowball into lasting results.
It's not an uncommon image in urban India: a toddler -- dusty, tear-stained face, wearing ragged clothing, sitting alone at a construction site.
On World Refugee Day 2015 (June 20), events around the world recognize the more than 50 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. It is a day to reflect on the strength and resilience of the millions who have fled their countries and we acknowledge the efforts of individuals and groups who are devoted to supporting refugee populations.
I recently travelled more than 6,500 kilometres to see our tax dollars at work. What I saw were lives being saved for less than the cost of a cup of takeout coffee. All Canadians should be proud.
Ultimately, Canadians really haven't been giving much thought to the importance of charity transparency. There is a commonly-held belief that all Canadian charities are poor and desperately need money. In fact, some of them are surprising wealthy.
The Conservative government's recent decision to use Canadian development dollars to subsidise the activities of the extractive sector is troubling. Under the direction of its new Minister Julian Fantino, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is, shockingly, changing its focus from poverty reduction to promoting Canadian extractive industries abroad. During a recent speech before the Economic Club of Canada, Minister Fantino said that from now on, CIDA will be "in the business of building Canada's markets for the future" and "creating an environment where the (extractive) industry on its own can achieve success." This is not the business of CIDA.
World AIDS awareness month, celebrated in December, provides us with a chance to focus on big goals -- Zero New Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths. Achievement of these goals is within reach, but will require big actions.
This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Ghana as youth ambassador with Plan Canada. We know that young educated girls are vital for the growth of a community, but seeing it firsthand is a whole other kind of understanding. Ghana is no longer that faraway place that you might hear about on TV. It's a country full of youth just life us who can transform their community if they have the right tools to do so.
While it recently played host to the Oslo Freedom Forum, Norway's capital is gripped by the Anders Breivik trial. What happens at the Breivik trial has a bearing on the libertarian and humanitarian values that underly the Forum -- one that is neither left wing nor right win, and has highlighted oppression and dissident courage in places as various as China, Singapore, Turkish Kurdistan, India and Sudan.
Environmental NGOs in Ontario are hoping to make a promised new provincial law to protect the Great Lakes as strong as possible. The Great Lakes Protection Act, promised in the Premier's 2011 Throne Speech, is a big deal. And why not? The drinking water of 37 million people depends on healthy Great Lakes.