February 2017

World Interfaith Harmony Week
World Interfaith Harmony Week is about peace between religions.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is about bringing different religions together.

Seven years ago, H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan proposed a week for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in dialogue based on common elements of their religions. The King made this proposal to the United Nations, and it only took one month to be unanimously adopted by the organization. The first week in February is now observed as World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Common Elements in Monotheistic Religions

Muslims, Jews and Christians have two commandments that are common in each religion:

  • Love of God
  • Love of the Neighbor

The idea is that these two commandments are at the heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Looking at these two philosophies, we can find solid theological ground without compromising the tenets of our own faith.

Leaders came together and published “A Common Word” (ACW) as a way to bring religions together. “ACW is a document which uses religion as the solution to the problems of inter-religious tensions. By basing itself on solid theological grounds in both religions ACW has demonstrated to Christians and Muslims that they have a certain common ground (despite irreducible theological differences) and that both religions require them to have relations based on love not on hatred.”

2017 Events Around the World

Countries around the globe plan events to bring people together to find world peace. According to worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com, in 2017, there are currently 472 events on the calendar. While Western countries plan activities smaller countries have activities listed on the calendar.

King Abdullah believed that society could use infrastructure to bring harmony and peace between individuals, thus leading to peace between countries. Although we still have a lot of work to do, it is evident that more people want to see respect and tolerance between religions, governments and communities.

2017 Theme

The theme for 2017 is “The Gift of Love”. Although he is a direct descendent of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, the King is funding the restoration of Christ’s Tomb in the Church of Holy Sepulchre. His gift is thought to be worth about $4 million dollars. King Abdullah believes in the true message of Islam, but he also promotes interfaith dialogue. He has proven his worthiness as custodian of both Muslim and Christian holy sites through his words, deeds and actions. He truly has given the world a gift of love by respecting a faith not his own.

Take Part in World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week for all the world’s religions. While religions have common ground, it’s up to us to engage in dialogue and find that common ground to bring us together.

The United Nations has many declarations for world peace, cultural diversity and tolerance. World Interfaith Harmony Week is just one more time that is dedicated to finding common ground between faiths. We may not be able to change the entire world by being friendly, but we can change our community by encouraging diversity and tolerance.

9 Movies for Black History Month
Black History Heading showing Africa and North America.

Here in North America, we dedicate the month of February to celebrating Black History.

Like the United States, Canada celebrates Black History Month during February. This month was chosen because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The roots of Black History Month began in the early 20th century, but it was in the 1970s when the observance picked up momentum. In Canada, it was in the mid-1990s when the month was officially recognized.

Black History Month has its critics. There are some who say black history is history; it shouldn’t be relegated to one month. Even so, it’s good to remember the contributions of people who often get overlooked in the history books. Not everyone can be remembered in one history text or class. In honor of Black History Month, here are some movies you should see:

Classic Movies About Black History

  1.    “Gone With the Wind” (1939)Margaret Mitchell’s epic book that was made into a movie has its critics. However, what’s interesting to note is that Hattie McDonnell, the actress who played Mammy, was the first black person to receive an Oscar. The producer had to call in a special favor to get permission for McDaniel to be allowed into the no-blacks Ambassador Hotel to accept the prize.
  2.    “Lilies of the Field” (1964)Sidney Poitier became the first black man to receive an Oscar, nearly 25 years following McDaniel’s win. This 1964 classic might seem tame compared to today’s blockbusters, but it’s a great lesson in humility and faith in accomplishing goals.
  3.    “In the Heat of the Night” (1967)Poitier was a big name in Hollywood, and in 1967, he starred as a detective from the North who had to help a racist cop in the South track down a murderer. Through the course of the film, the two men begin to develop mutual understanding. The film represents the changing social-political climate actually occurring throughout the United States.
  4.    “The Color Purple” (1985)This movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, was a highly acclaimed film of its time. It was Whoopi Goldberg’s breakout role, but more importantly, it focused on the plight of the African-American woman. See it in film, read the book or attend the theater version.

More Recent Movies About black History

  1. “Boyz N the Hood” (1991)John Singleton kicked off a decade that gave us many movies about black men just trying to survive in their own urban city under the veil of violence and discrimination. He was the first and youngest African-American to be nominated for Best Director.
  2. “Malcolm X” (1992)This film was placed on the National Film Registry because of its historic significance. Denzel Washington lost the Academy Award for Best Actor that year, but he still took many other awards for his role. The film is highly acclaimed and well received, and it’s a must-see for everyone to understand this man who changed history.
  3. “Hidden Figures” (2016)Released last year, this movie recognizes the contribution of black women to the United States’ space program. It’s based on the true story of three Virginia women who changed history by believing they could.
  4. “Ray” (2004)Ray Charles is one of the most acclaimed musicians in the world, but he came from very humble beginnings. At the age of seven, Charles went completely blind. Still, he overcame his disability and his heritage to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. This film is a story of his perseverance during a difficult time in history.

There are many other movies that give us glimpses into the history of African-Americans. Spike Lee has made many movies that did not fit on this list. Watch some of these great flicks during Black History Month.

Women to Know – Viola Desmond
Viola Desmond has done a great deal for making equality a reality rather than an idea.

Viola Desmond was one of many who have been fighting for equality of the races.

Chances are, you know that Viola Desmond is going to be the new face of the $10 bill, but you may not know who she is. She is the first Canadian-born woman who will appear on a Canadian banknote. The only other woman who does is Queen Elizabeth. Desmond is considered Canada’s Rosa Parks, but she hasn’t gotten near the recognition that Parks has received. Desmond is considered to have started the civil rights movement in Canada. Who is this woman who changed history?

Viola Desmond and Her Beginnings

Viola was born to James and Gwendolin Davis in 1914 in Halifax. She was one of fifteen children. Her parents were active in the black community and belonged to many organizations. Viola wanted to become a beautician because she noticed that professional skin and hair care products were not available for black women. She wasn’t allowed to train in her own town of Halifax. She went to Montreal, Atlantic City and New York to receive the training she needed to open her own hair salon.

Once she returned to Halifax, she did open a salon. She also set up a beauty school for black women to receive proper training. Desmond encouraged students to open their own businesses and then to hire other black women within the community. She marketed and sold her own line of beauty products for black women. It was on a business trip to sell these products when she made her stand.

Trouble in New Glasgow

Viola went to New Glasgow in November 1946 to promote her line. Her car broke down in the town. The parts would not become available until the next day. She went to the Roseland Film Theatre to pass the time. After purchasing her ticket, she took a seat on the main floor. The manager informed her that she could not sit there because she was black. She refused to sit in the balcony, which was designated exclusively for blacks. The police were called and had to forcibly remove her from the segregated theatre. She was injured in the process, kept in jail overnight and never informed that she had a right to a lawyer or bail.

There was a one-cent difference in tax between the price of the seats in the balcony and the seats on the main floor. Desmond was charged with tax evasion for not paying this difference. She was fined $20, which is about $270 in today’s costs, plus had to pay court costs of $6. She was able to pay the fine and return to her home town. Her husband suggested she let the matter go, but Desmond decided to fight the charge.

Fighting Back

The Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP) and her church helped her hire a lawyer. The first trials proved unsuccessful because she was not convicted out of racism or discrimination, but simply because she refused to pay the one-cent tax.

The case was dismissed. Justice William Lorimer Hall wrote, “One wonders if the manager of the theatre who laid the complaint was so zealous because of a bona fide belief that there had been an attempt to defraud the province of Nova Scotia of the sum of one cent, or was it a surreptitious endeavour to enforce a Jim Crow rule by misuse of a public statute.”

Desmond’s Legacy

Desmond died in 1965 due to a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. She was just 50 years old. Most people forgot about her act until Viola’s sister published “Sister to Courage” in 2010. The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Mayann Francis, granted Desmond a free pardon, the first to be granted posthumously. Desmond would be honoured on a Canadian stamp in 2012. And now, in 2018, she will be the first Canadian woman to be portrayed on a Canadian note.

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Child Brides Find Help From Hindu Priests
One of many child brides posing in a wedding dress.

Child brides face many more health issues than if they wait to get married.

Child brides may not be a huge problem in Canada, but the problem itself is huge. The International Center for Research on Women estimates that one-third of girls are married before the age of 18. The countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa and South Asia. In Niger, 75 percent of girls are married before the age of 18. The ICRW lists the top 20 countries in the world with the highest rates of child brides.

The Problems Associated With Child Brides

  • Young girls who marry before the age of 18 do not get educated as well as girls who wait to marry.
  • These young girls may not have access to healthcare and other services they require to grow and mature.
  • Girls who marry under the age of 18 are more likely to live in poverty.
  • Child brides have a higher risk of HIV and other STDs.
  • Child brides die at a higher rate from pregnancy than women who are older when they marry.
  • Younger brides are more likely to experience domestic violence than the women who marry later in life. In India, the risk of domestic violence for girls under 18 is twice that of women who wait.

Changing Child Marriage

Although many people outside of the regions associate child marriage with Islam, it’s simply a myth that only one religion is affiliated with child brides. Many religions actively participate in the tradition. It is more common in rural areas than urban, and many times girls do not have a say in the matter. One day, they’re playing with friends and helping mom cook dinner. The next day, they’re shipped off to their husband. The bride and groom may not even meet before the wedding.

In Nepal, it’s estimated that about 41 percent of girls are married before turning 18. Some activist groups place the number even higher, at 50 percent. Families even lie about a girl’s age to get around the law. Nepal has banned child marriage for 54 years. Girls are supposed to be at least 20 before getting married. However, it is difficult to enforce the law. Nepal is trying to end the practice by 2030. The country is working with the U.N. and other agencies to implement plans to stop the practice.

Fortunately, Nepali Hindi priests are beginning to advocate against child marriage. When a girl is born, she receives a special scroll that can be used to tell her fortune. Even if a family lies about her age to the priest who is marrying her, the scroll gives her real age. Priests are using their place in the community to educate families about child marriages. Although the number of people convinced to wait is small, these priests continue to work. It may take another generation to turn the tide of child brides in Nepal, but they are doing something today.

What Can You Do?

You may not have the influence to stop child marriages in places such as Nepal, Madagascar or Zambia, but you can certainly support the efforts of those who are working to change the tradition. ICRW is just one activist organization trying to change the tide. UNICEF is another excellent organization that promotes gender equality and education around the world. At Girlsnotbrides.org, you can find even more ways to act and raise your voice in the fight against child marriages.

There isn’t an easy solution to change when it’s embedded in the culture. It’s going to take everyone working together to empower girls and enact new laws designed to support the rights of all children in these countries. Girlsnotbrides.org works with more than 600 groups around the world to help change behaviors and attitudes associated with child marriage. Learn more about what you can do.

Celebrate Recovery on September 30
It feels great to celebrate recovery when you finally reach the finish line.

In order to celebrate recovery, we need to understand that it is not an easy road.

One of the most debilitating diseases in the world is addiction. It’s estimated that about 4.5 million Canadians suffer from drug addiction, and this figure doesn’t include family members affected by addiction. Fortunately, there is treatment available, but addiction is not curable. Those who have conquered their addiction are considered recovered, not cured. It’s important to realize that many people go on to live productive and healthy lives once they stop using the addictive substance. Since 2012, there’s been a push to celebrate recovery from addictions.

In the United States, September is designated Recovery Month, but here in Canada, we just have Recovery Day. Last year, about 30 cities held special events, and this year, even more will. Recovery Day began with a nine-minute video by filmmaker Greg Williams that had the goal of breaking down the stigma of addiction and focusing on solutions to addiction. The movement began in Vancouver but has trickled across the country to help others.

Myths About Addiction and Treatment

Many times, addicts are seen as bad people making bad decisions, but drug and alcohol addiction is much more complex than we realize. There’s no “one size fits all” to cure addiction. Often, addictions come hand-in-hand with other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, and all of the health problems within a person have to be dealt with to find long-term recovery. Here are a few other myths associated with treatment and addiction:

  1. Addiction is a character flaw.

Addiction is actually a brain disease.

  1. People can just stop using drugs if they want to.

Drug and alcohol addiction actually changes the brain, which leads to a compulsion to use the substance. Teens become addicted much more quickly than adults because their brains are not fully developed.

  1. You can’t force a person into treatment for it to be successful.

Many people go into treatment to keep a job or because the legal system ordered them into it.

  1. Treatment should be a one-shot deal.

Studies show that treatment reduces many of the risky behaviors associated with addiction and it reduces the substance use, but many addicts need continuous treatment to overcome drug and alcohol use. There are some who can quit cold turkey and never go back to using the substance again, but many others need a wide array of services to keep them on the road to recovery. Treatment needs to be individually tailored to address each person’s specific needs.

  1. After treatment, if a person continues to abuse drugs or alcohol, it’s a hopeless situation.

Relapse into substance abuse is not failure. Addiction is a chronic disorder that makes a person more vulnerable when dealing with work and family problems. Stress can trigger a relapse, especially in the first few months following a release from a treatment program. Don’t give up on an addict, because recovery is a long process that isn’t easy.

A Day to Celebrate Recovery Gives Hope

When people come together to share their recovery stories, it’s proof that treatment does work. Recovery is possible. The awareness Recovery Day brings challenges the societal stigma of addiction, and it builds community to give hope to others who are dealing with this difficult problem.

Recoverydaycanada.com has information about events in different cities. Vancouver is hosting a street festival. Montreal hosted an event at Girouard Park on September 17.

If you miss out on the event in your community, make plans to celebrate with your friends who are in recovery to honor their commitment to their health. Find inspiration and support in what they’re doing to maintain sobriety. Give hope to others who may have friends and family dealing with addiction. Let’s focus on solutions and finding help instead of shaming addicts.

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Raising Awareness of Elder Abuse
An elderly man who may have suffered elder abuse.

It is up to family members and relatives to report cases of elder abuse.

In 2011, CBCNews estimated that by 2031, almost one-quarter of the population in Canada would be aged 65 or older. Today, about seven percent of older adults have reported elder abuse, either emotional or financial, by their caregivers. Even worse, the rate of police-reported violence is increasing. It’s not just friends or family who take advantage of these vulnerable individuals; professional caregivers have been involved in elder abuse, too.

June 15, 2016, marked the 10th anniversary of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day was sponsored by the United Nations, World Health Organization and International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. It’s not just a problem in our country, but internationally. However, there are some things that you can do to protect your family and friends, and even yourself, from being a victim.

Abuse takes many forms. Here are some of the red flags that indicate a senior might be experiencing abuse:

  • Lack of hygiene, food, drink or clothing
  • Not having medical aids such as glasses or a walker
  • Untreated injuries
  • Inadequate facilities in the home
  • A vulnerable adult signs a new will or other legal document
  • Unexplained fractures, bruises, sores or welts
  • An unexplained sexually transmitted disease
  • Elder adult is isolated
  • Elderly adult changes behavior suddenly

Sometimes, with elderly adults, it’s difficult to know if they’re experiencing abuse or are simply experiencing more problems of aging. Abuse victims of all ages already find it hard to tell people that they are in a bad situation. This is why it’s important to go see your family members and friends who are older. Talk to them on a regular basis and listen to them.

7 Things You Can Do to Prevent Elder Abuse

  1. Know the signs of elder abuse and neglect.
  2. Visit your elderly loved ones and ask them how they are doing.
  3. Give caregivers a respite to keep them from being stressed.
  4. Contact the seniors’ helpline in your province or territory if you see an at-risk elder who needs help that is beyond your authority.
  5. Do your part to bring awareness to the problem. Write letters to the editor of your newspaper or TV station to ask for coverage.
  6. Talk to your family about elder abuse.
  7. Fund-raise for elder services in your community.

Elder abuse isn’t limited to individuals who live in a nursing home. It happens everywhere. People who live in their own home can be victims, as can those who are in the hospital or in assisted living. It’s thought that abuse of elders is more often perpetuated by the victim’s own family members. Some of the research suggests that elder abuse is not reported or not identified, which means it never comes to the attention of the authorities.

Impact of Elder Abuse

When a person is a victim of elder abuse, it often compounds health problems they may already have. Abuse also increases the decline in mental health, which is often a significant problem with older adults who are dealing with dementia. In the United States, the cost of financial abuse is estimated at more than $2.6 billion dollars each year. Physical and emotional abuse increase healthcare costs.

When a person experiences elder abuse, he or she becomes more dependent on other caregivers. This puts more stress on those caregivers, who will also experience a decline in physical and mental health as they take on the burden of caring for another person. Elder abuse doesn’t just affect one or two people in the family; it affects society. Everyone should be aware of elder abuse and protect their loved ones who are vulnerable. One of the most beneficial intervention and prevention methods against elder abuse is social support from the community. We can’t rely on the police or social services to take care of our elders.

Anglicans Provide Pastoral Guidelines for Assisted Dying
Euthanasia Palliative Hospice

Assisted dying is a huge decision that should not be taken lightly.

It doesn’t matter where you stand on assisted dying when the reality is that the government has removed restrictions against physician-assisted dying in certain cases. It may not be for you personally, but what are you going to do when a loved one decides it’s the only option? Doctors are not the only ones who will wrestle with their consciences under the changing climate surrounding assisted dying. Pastoral care during this time is essential, which is why the Anglican Church of Canada released a report urging its leaders to recognize assisted dying as a reality and to provide palliative and pastoral care for patients and families.

Understanding the Framework

The Anglican Church formed a task force to study the issue. Canon Eric Beresford chaired the committee. He says, “We’re no longer in a debate about whether or not society is going to legalise physician-assisted dying – that’s happening, that train is out of the station.” The question now is how Anglicans can address the needs of those who will avail themselves of physician-assisted dying. Anglicans, like many churches around the world, believe that life is sacred. The report itself doesn’t actually answer the question of “whether Anglicans should be for or against assisted dying.” What it does do is outline theological questions and concerns while providing resources and prayers for those who are facing the end of their lives.

Quoting from “In Sure and Certain Hope: Resources to Assist Pastoral and Theological Approaches to Physician Assisted Dying,”

“Ultimately, it is not the pastoral care givers belief, nor the traditions or dogma of any faith tradition, nor the hopes and desires of family and friends which will determine the choice of assisted-dying. The final choice remains with the parishioner, informed by their own conscientious appropriation of their faith tradition. Family and friends provide the primary community within which the conversations that shape decisions happen. The pastoral care giver’s role becomes that of spiritual guide or facilitator. It is the pastoral care-giver who reminds and draws everyone’s attention back to the reality that God is present and amongst them sustaining this difficult journey of discernment and choice within God’s embrace of love and grace.”

Support and Care for Individuals

One term that is used in the report is “covenant of presence,” which is a commitment by pastors and loved ones to be there for those who are considering assisted dying. There’s no debate that the issue of physician-assisted dying is sensitive and complex, but being present to help someone at the end of his or her life is not providing support to the actual issue. It’s about individual care. Pastors cannot simply abandon members of their congregations. Families cannot step aside when a loved one has decided to take action. Being present is a way of upholding the dignity and autonomy of a life.

According to Dying With Dignity, a national organization that is an advocate for compassionate end of life choices, about 80 percent of Canadians support the right for advance consent to assisted dying, including giving individuals with dementia options for physician-assisted dying. Dying With Dignity has a website devoted to resources and support for those who are considering physician-assisted dying. Learn your rights and get a planning kit to help you talk to your loved ones and doctor.

The debate continues as leaders in government try to provide guidance over regulations for physician-assisted dying. People who choose assisted dying under the current guidelines can’t wait for the debate to end. Providing support and care for a loved one does not mean that you agree with his or her decision. It just means that you love and care for your family member and want to be there as he or she makes difficult decisions. Everyone can learn from the Anglican approach to assisted dying.

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Are You Considering Adoption?
Adoption can completely change a child's life.

Adoption can completely change a child’s life.

The Adoption Council for Canada estimates that there are about 30,000 children in Canada’s child welfare system eligible to be adopted. Although many of these children are aged 6 or older, they still need a permanent home where they can grow and thrive in a loving environment. If you’ve been considering an addition to your family, but were afraid of adoption, learn more about it to know if it might be a good solution.

Myths Surrounding Adoptions

Many people are concerned about the costs of adoption, which is understandable. However, a public adoption costs very little, according to the ACC. A private adoption will cost more, but costs vary by organization. It’s estimated that a public adoption costs $3,000 or less. Through a licensed agency, it can run $10,000 to $20,000, and an international adoption can cost $20,000 or more.

Then, there’s always the fear that a biological parent can take back the child. Once a parent’s rights have been terminated, the parent cannot regain custody of the child. Once the adoption is finalized, adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as biological parents when it comes to the child.

Another common myth is that “I don’t qualify.” Whether it’s age, marital status, or relationship-status, there are no hard and fast rules about who qualifies to adopt. Many people over the age of 40 have been able to adopt children. Single parents can also adopt, as can same-sex couples. Actually, in Canada, each province regulates adoptions based on rules that have been set by their government.

Many people are concerned with the needs of the child who has been abandoned or abused. It’s true that children in the foster care system can have emotional, mental or even physical needs that have to be addressed. Their best chance at success is a loving, permanent family who works toward a positive future with the child.

What’s the Process Like?

Although the process may be slightly different based on where you live or the agency you’re using, there is a basic process that can help you understand what it will take to adopt a child. The first thing you need to do is contact the agency and attend their intake meeting. Here, the agency will outline their specific guidelines.

Adoption is a very intrusive process. You’re going to be given an application that is very personal. You may not have even considered some of the questions you might get asked. You can’t get upset by the process. You’re asking to be entrusted with a human soul. This is a very serious matter. The agency has to do its due diligence to know that you are capable of the job. A medical exam is required. You may also be subjected to a police check. Prepare to give references for a background check.

Each applicant will be required to have a homestudy by a licensed social worker. Some agencies offer a class to prepare you for this step. You may choose to delay the process at this point while you prepare or even withdraw. The homestudy is more than just paperwork. You and your spouse (if applicable) will be interviewed. You should expect at least one home visit. The agency worker will probably want to meet with family members to assess your readiness and ability to deal with the adopted child.

Is It Worth It?

There’s no real timeline for the process, because it depends on many different factors. Be patient, because the most important aspect is the child’s needs. Although you may be trying to find your child, the real purpose of adoption is to find a family for a child. There may be disappointments along the way, but once the process is complete it is very rewarding. Think about it. Maybe you can be the difference in the life of a child.

World Day Against Child Labour
stop child labor vector poster

Child Brides, Child Trafficking and Child Slavery are at an alarming rate.

Child brides and marriages have been in the news lately. In Canada, the age of consent is 18 or 19 in most jurisdictions, but with parental or court permission, an individual as young as 16 can get married. The situation is much similar in the U.S., although a few states do have laws to allow individuals as young as 13 to get married. In those cases, court and parental consent are required. Internationally, child brides are considered a bigger problem, largely due to the fact that these young girls have no say in their fate. Girls around the world do not have the same protections that girls in North America do. The United Nations hopes to change that.

No to Child Labour; Yes to Education

One of the most basic rights for each individual is education. It’s just as important as health, food, safety and shelter. Some countries do not educate their girls or only provide education to a certain age. The International Labour Organization estimates that about 168 million children around the world work instead of going to school or playing. About 120 million of these children are aged 5–14. Many of these children work full-time in deplorable and hazardous conditions. Some have been forced into the workforce because of human trafficking or slavery.

In 1919, the ILO was born, mostly out of the need to end child labour around the world. The ILO has actually been making progress. The goal was to end child labour by 2016, but there’s still work to be done. The ILO actually recognizes the importance of social dialogue in the fight to end child labour in production and manufacturing.

Awareness in the Present

The 2016 World Day to End Child Labour is on June 12. The focus this year is to end child labour in supply chains. A supply chain is the sequence of activities that leads to distribution or the production of goods. Stereotypically, most people think of children sewing clothes, but child labourers work in many other industries, from fishing to mining.

The ILO recommends effective governance as one of the keystones against child labour. Individually, there’s even more that can be done. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Get educated. The Institute for Humane Education is one place to get started. The ILO has a number of resources as well.
  2. Buy fair trade products. There are a number of labels, Fair Trade Certified, Goodweave and Fairtrade Mark.
  3. Talk to retailers about where they are buying their products. Ask them to make sure they are using responsible suppliers and distributors. You have the right to ask about the origin of the product you’re buying. You may need to dig deep and go to the manufacturer to get information.
  4. If you are a stakeholder in a business, make sure your organization is supporting businesses that don’t use child labour.
  5. Talk about the social injustices with others who can make a difference in their own circles.

Making a Difference

Don’t think that your small business won’t make a difference by buying responsibly. In India, the tent dealers association stopped 80 child marriages in Rajasthan, India by simply asking to see the birth certificates of the brides and grooms before renting a tent for their wedding. By coming together and making a stand, these businesses are changing their country.

Join the campaign to stop child labour. On June 12, the UN and ILO have arranged a number of activities in countries around the world. Ask your government officials to start thinking about next year and what you can do in your community to make a difference for children everywhere. The little girl next door to you may not have to worry about going to work, but in many countries, there are little girls and boys who are.

Prime Minister Trudeau Introduces Legislation Protecting Gender Diversity
The heart painted

There have been huge strides in the LGBT Community recently.

Even if you don’t follow politics in the United States, you’ve probably seen something about the transgender bathroom policy debate. In a nutshell, there are certain locations in the United States that are passing laws to limit bathroom use based on a person’s sex at birth, whether the person identifies as a different sex today. It’s turned into a national debate, with businesses, states, cities, and the federal government each weighing in. While this situation should be watched, the real news in Canada is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced a bill that extends human rights protections of gender diversity to all Canadians.

Gender identity is described as an individual’s personal experience of gender. It’s not the same thing as their sexual orientation. Essentially, it is a sense of being a man or woman, or neither, or anywhere along that spectrum. Often, when a person’s gender identity is different than their assigned sex at birth, they may be called transgender. Cisgender is the term for gender identity that conforms to the gender given at birth. Gender expression is how people present the gender in public, which might be through dress, hair style, body language or voice.

Five Key Things to Understand About the Legislation

On May 17, 2016, the Government of Canada introduced a bill that would give basic human rights to the gender-diverse community. According to the Department of Justice website, there are five things that you should understand about the new legislation.

  1. Gender diversity is an umbrella term that includes gender identity, gender expression and transgender.
  2. The “Canadian Human Rights Act” would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
  3. The Criminal Code will be amended to include hate crimes based on gender identity or expression. These types of criminal offenses could have longer sentences.
  4. According to a study from 2010, 18 percent of transgender participants had been denied employment based on their gender identity. Transgender individuals face much higher levels of discrimination than cisgender individuals.
  5. Transgender individuals face higher risks of violent crime. One study estimates that at least 20 percent of the participants had been physically or sexually assaulted. Many people do not report these crimes to the police.

Currently, the “Canadian Human Rights Act” prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Ethnic origin
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Colour
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Disability
  • Convictions when a pardon or suspension has been ordered

The proposed legislation would make it clear that transgender individuals have protection under the law.

Social Media Discussion

PM Trudeau opened the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeToBeMe. Overall, the bill has support from many different organizations and leaders, including the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board; Bill Morneau, Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and Canada’s Minister of Finance; Eric Alper, SiriusXM Host; and TELUS, a communications provider. The hashtag is also being used on Facebook with a great deal of support.

Once the legislation is passed, it will be a huge step forward for LGBT rights in Canada and in the international venue. Canada is on the forefront of human rights for all its citizens. Jody Wilson-Raybould,

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, issued this quote:

“In Canada, we celebrate inclusion and diversity. All Canadians should be safe to be themselves. The law should be clear and explicit: transgender and other gender-diverse persons have a right to live free from discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime. We are committed to making Canada stronger by ensuring Canadian laws reflect the rich diversity of our people.”

More governments need to take up the fight for inclusion and safety for all their citizens. Trudeau and the other leaders who support this legislation make us proud to live here.