Ana Sofia de la Parra • Sept 22, 2023
Solidarity groups and individuals alike gathered before Parliament to make their voices heard on Monday. Many wore red dresses or bore face paint in the shape of a red handprint over the mouth.
This was the International Day of Action on Sept. 18, urging governments to search the landfills to return Indigenous women’s remains home.
The protestors spoke passionately about the missing and murdered women, and their communities’ wish to have their needs heard.
The Manitoba government has stood firm on its decision not to fund a search for these women’s remains within the Prairie Green landfill. They say the case against the man accused of killing the women could be affected and they cannot ensure the safety of the workers.
“My mother lies on a landfill as the city continues to dump trash in surrounding areas,” said Cambria Harris, the daughter of Morgan Harris.
She calls out that Indigenous girls are “not being valued by the government.” Harris notes that in the past ten months after being informed that her Mother was slain by a murderer, she has been let down by the same government that will boast their respect for these communities in about a week.
Sept. 30 is the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, commemorating the survivors and children who never returned home from residential schools. However, some protestors wondered how the day be called ‘Reconciliation’ when Indigenous communities are still hurting and the government fails them time and time again, seemingly indifferent to their voices and pleas.
Some said the day should be called ‘Truth and Recognition’ to finally acknowledge the crimes and suffering inflicted on these communities and families.
History has seen a kind of ignorant bliss in which the nation’s decision-makers live, praising reconciliation and the all-inclusive, first-world country that is so-called Canada.
In this protest, the speakers covered the safety, representation, and freedom of their communities. They asked: “How can Canada be a first-world country when so many people live in third-world country conditions?” They urge us to stand against the impractical way of ruling that has made racism and deep-rooted hate win against numerous women today, yesterday, and if we don’t take a stand, tomorrow as well.
Listen to this segment as featured on CHUO’s The Mosaic:
Groups call on government to search landfill for remains of murdered Indigenous women
Ana Sofia de la Parra
Arya Gunde•Sept 14, 2023
Last week, OC Transpo’s Tap And Ride initiative went live for all buses and LRT stations.
Tap And Ride allows riders to pay by tapping credit cards or electronic wallets when boarding transit. The initiative is part of a greater effort by OC Transpo to boost ridership back to pre-pandemic levels.
At the same time, OC Transpo has a projected $40.8 million deficit and an unfinished LRT project under tremendous scrutiny. To recuperate costs, OC Transpo plans to raise fares and cut services. “It’s the most mismanaged project I’ve seen,” says a passenger at the O-Train’s uOttawa station.
The lack of reliability has forced people to find other means of transportation around the city. As a result, OC Transpo ridership is still 30 per cent less than pre-COVID levels. Kari Elliot, Co-founder of Ottawa Transit Riders says transit advocates have had to purchase cars due to OC Tranpo’s inconsistency.
This issue faces further controversy as cities in Ontario are not allowed to run deficits.
During COVID, Ottawa had help from higher levels of government to fund OC Transpo’s operational costs. The assumption this aid would continue created a $39 million hole in OC Transpo’s budget.
The company now has to strategize frugally since neither the Ontario nor the Federal government has agreed to keep paying for the additional expenses.
On this, Elliot says, “We have a new rookie mayor who told people he was going to hold the line regarding tax increases…he seemed to imply that he was expecting some money to come from upper levels of government, and that didn’t happen.”
“We’ve dug ourselves into this hole,” says Barrhaven East Coun. Wilson Lo, a member of the transit commission.
He says he’s hopeful for the future, citing OC Transpo’s plans to create new bus routes more in accordance with the city’s new subsections and people’s travel patterns.
When asked about the LRT, he is confident that the relationship between the builder, Rideau Transit Group, and OC Transpo is rejuvenating under the new mayoral administration.
Both parties settled opposing lawsuits earlier this year. However, the details of the settlement are being kept confidential.
“I don’t think [The Public Private Partnership Model] is a bad model, where I think we need to improve upon the process, is the relationship aspect as well as the contract itself,” Lo adds.
The LRT’s Trillium Line is set to open in October. Many Ottawans remain pessimistic about the date since the delay in the line’s opening has passed over a year. The Eastern and Western extensions to the Confederation Line are still two-to-three years out.
The future of reliable public transport in Ottawa hangs in limbo between OC Transpo’s efforts to increase ridership while also cutting costs. For the many who rely on public transport to get to work, school, and other essential places, OC Transpo has more than dropped the ball. OC Transpo’s new initiatives attempt to gain riders’ trust back, but the road (or rail) ahead is a long one.
Listen to this story as featured on The Mosaic:
New OC Transpo initiatives aim to combat deficit and low ridership
Arya Gunde • Aug 8, 2023
The deep sea has become the new frontier for humanity’s progression. As the world becomes more technology-dependent, the metals used to make electronics increase in demand.
Polymetallic nodules containing nickel, copper, and cobalt are found in large deposits on the ocean floor. Mining companies have recently shown an interest in extracting the nodules as an alternative to land mining and its consequences.
The nodules rest loosely on the ocean floor, making them easy to extract. The mining process involves sending a rover down to scoop the nodules up with a method similar to potato farming.
Climate activists raise the point that humanity knows very little about what effects deep-sea ecosystems have on Earth’s climate. Mining there will introduce noise, light, and dust to an environment typically void of any of them. Many organisms rely on specific deep sea conditions to survive, and mining is sure to disturb their habitat.
Governments, through the International Seabed Authority, are still drafting regulations to carry the practice out at scale. So far, all deep-sea mining has been unregulated. Canada recently revealed its stance on the issue by calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining until it has proper regulation, vindicating global activist efforts. A moratorium is a temporary suspension of activity until its issues are resolved. So far, twenty-one countries have agreed to a pause or ban on the practice.
Deep-sea mining is a truly international issue. For humanity, it’s a chance for genuine cooperation. Right now, the same people who run the environmentally devastating mines on land are looking at the ocean floor as yet another money grab. We’ve already seen the political instability this mentality has led to in places like Venezuela and The DRC for example. The last thing we need is for wars to be fought over who controls the ocean floor and for politicians to tell us how Aquaman has weapons of mass destruction that he plans on using to destroy the West.
Since the resources in the nodules are essential to the global supply chain, we should urge governments to distribute them equitably, benefiting humanity as a whole. While setting this up would require more time, it will give us a chance to develop a method of extracting the nodules that is harmonious with the Earth.
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Canada among Nations Calling for pause on Deep-Sea Mining
Iman Ben Errabeh • Aug 2, 2023
Award-winning author Conyer Clayton is renowned for their surrealist tone and cutting-edge poetry. This month, they hosted a workshop at the Atelier for poetry writing, focusing on navigating disability and mental illness within creative writing as a tool to explore one’s identity and to empower the self.
One week afterward on Jul. 27, the workshop participants had the opportunity to showcase their writing and read their poems at the Atelier, a non-profit organization located at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.
Participants read to a live audience on a beautiful evening of social justice talk and disability empowerment.
Disability justice was the main theme of the event. As such, it stressed the importance of accessibility in both space and understanding. The event itself had an ASL interpreter translating the introduction and presentation of the showcase on-screen and masks were mandatory.
Overall, the atmosphere was informal and familiar. An intimate number of people sat in a semicircle arrangement of chairs and a few sat on brown leather and retro-looking couches on the sides. The air was filled with the kind of energy that feels like the same as a friend’s living room and beautiful tangible vulnerability came with ease.
After a short presentation of the event, the showcase began. A total of six performances occurred, and six original poems were read out loud to a focused and attentive audience. The participant would get to the front of the audience and read their poem onto the microphone, with the text projected right behind them, and then the presenter would engage with the author and the audience to analyze the poem and see what transpired from it. The evening was saturated with discussion and engaging comments flying back and forth from chair to microphone and microphone to chair.
Disability is a broad term and because of that, the poems were nothing but a marvel of a sequence of surprises and affirmations of this concept. Poems touched on schizophrenia and the struggle and frustrations that come from having to perform normativity and mask one’s struggles. There were poems on psychiatry, critiquing the sterile systemic approaches of the medical field. Other poems had anti-capitalist undertones and the tension of having to cope with a system that is set up against disability empowerment. Some poems used clever and witty semantic word plays and minimalist surrealist imagery evoking animals as a way to metaphorize experiences with disability. As you can see, the audience could easily learn one thing about disability: it is not static.
Conyer Clayton gave the participants the tools to express their feelings and thoughts on disability, this is not only an extremely cathartic process and experience, but an empowering one.
In fact, poetry can be a political tool that creates a sense of community amongst marginalized groups in a way that surpasses policy. Poetry can be an advocacy tool that underlines and shines light on the dark side of having a disability in a capitalist society that disregards and neglects these experiences. We often hear about policies as paper-written ways to promote disability awareness but it is important to think outside the box and see the value of poetry in a political context, as it can empower both the self and entire communities.
Poetry over Policy: a Political Tool for Disability Advocacy and Awareness
Iman Ben Errabeh