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CAM TAIT’S SPIN NO 4: Obama, Trudeau, Gord Whitehead

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CAM TAIT IS A NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST WITH 40 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. HE LIVES WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AND DOESN’T SPEAK CLEARLY. CAM HAS MANY STORIES. HE HAS WRITES THEM AND HIS FRIENDS READ THEM ON … CAM’S CREW.

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Volunteers help offset food insecurity being experienced by Edmontonians

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September 30, 2020

A new study confirms more families are experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19. The disturbing trend was offset by volunteers, who mobilized to fill the gap to help families during the health crisis.

Edmonton-AB- ​A new survey reveals a concerning trend of more Edmontonians facing food security issues because of the pandemic. Volunteers can’t keep up and a city strategy is desperately needed.

Over the past two months, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights (JHC) in partnership with the Canadian Volunteers United in Action (CANAVUA) administered an online survey. Volunteers helped connect with the hard to reach population with street interviews. The survey of 127 people revealed a quarter of respondents were unable to access sufficient food for their families and more than half did not seek help with social advocacy agencies. Nearly forty percent of families also found it difficult to find culturally appropriate food.

Renee Vaugeois, Executive Director, of the John Humphrey Centre, added “The YEG Community Response to COVID19 Facebook group grew exponentially overnight, with more than 20,000 members and has served over 30,000 in the community in 6 months. Volunteers filled the need and continue to help the marginalized access much needed support. While this effort continues to fulfill basic needs it’s only a band-aid. It’s critical to develop a city-wide intentional strategy, which should include the voices of those facing food insecurity.”

The study also found barriers to food access were reported in West, Central, and North Edmonton. Many respondents reported loss of employment, reduction in support income, and rising grocery prices as reasons contributing to going witho​ut.

The findings were presented to the food distribution table, a city-led initiative including agencies dedicated to helping with food security. The Centre will conduct more research next quarter to monitor the situation and continue to inform food security efforts in the City.

Read more on Todayville.

 

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Orange Shirt Day – Acknowledging the Lasting Legacy of the Canadian Residential School System

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The year 2020 marks the 24th anniversary of the final closure of the last operating Canadian residential school, located in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, in the year 1996. 

Originally established in the late 1800’s, more than 130 residential schools operated across Canada for over 120 years. During this time, more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly removed from their homes and placed into the schools (1). 

Jointly operated by the Government of Canada and religious organizations across the nation, the residential school system was a violent and corrupt approach towards the total assimilation of Indigenous children and the ultimate erasure of Indigenous culture. The methods used by the schools to pursue this goal, as officially documented by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CTRC), were abhorrent acts of violence and humiliation against children that would raise a legacy of trauma and pain spanning generations. 

The exact number of children who died during their time at the residential schools remains unclear, but is estimated to be greater than 6000 (2). The CRTC documents that many students succumbed to disease and malnourishment exacerbated by abysmal living conditions, while others died as a result of abuse and experimentation. Records show many children perished in fires when a number of schools burned down over the years, and others died by suicide, or while trying to escape (3).  

“Children were abused, physically and sexually, and they died in numbers that would not have been tolerated in any school system in the country, or in the world.” Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (4)

Since the final closure of the residential schools in 1996, steps towards national reconciliation – such as the launch of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008 – have been based in the acknowledgement and commemoration of the painful legacy of the schools across Canada. The documentation, preservation and dissemination of the residential school experience as told by the survivors is essential to understanding and accepting the implications of this dark and extensive period in Canadian history. 

Among many ongoing discussions and dedications to the survivors and victims of the Canadian residential Schools, Orange Shirt Day is an annual recognition of the ongoing pursuit of reconciliation and affirmation in Canada. 

Orange Shirt Day was born in Williams Lake, BC in May 2013 as a legacy of the St. Joseph Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion. The project was founded by former student Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins in an effort to bring together those whose lives had been negatively impacted by the schools. Specifically, “Events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honor the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation” (5).

Orange Shirt Day was founded as a result of the St. Joseph project, when former student and spokesperson for the Reunion group, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, shared the experience of her first day at the residential school, “when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl” (6).  

September 30th was chosen as the annual Orange Shirt Day to coincide with the returning school year, and to commemorate the time of year in which children were originally taken from their homes to attend the residential schools. 

On September 30, 2019, The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted a ceremony in honor of Orange Shirt Day at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. A list commemorating the names of 2,800 Indigenous children who died while attending the residential schools was presented on a 50-metre-long-ceremonial cloth. This ceremony represented an important first step, according to the NCTR, however, there is still a long way to go towards the proper recognition and memorialization of all who were lost to the schools. 

Since 2013, Orange Shirt Day has continued to foster ongoing investigation and dialogue surrounding the history and lasting legacy of the residential school system within the Canadian historical landscape. It is a public call to listen, share, and remember those who suffered and now carry the lasting wounds of the government mandated Canadian residential school system, as well as those who never returned home at all. 

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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