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Buying your first car in Ontario: 7 things to know

Buying your first car in Ontario: 7 things to know

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on October 18, 2021
car keys

Whether you’re new to the country or you’ve been here a while, a first car purchase is a big step for anyone. Cars are expensive, need a lot of maintenance and care, and driving is a huge responsibility. Even so, people still buy cars and still drive, because it’s nice to have your own freedom! If you’ve made the decision to purchase a car, here are some things you should keep in mind.

1. Buy second-hand

This might seem obvious, but it’s very important to stress that the benefits of buying a second-hand car far outweigh the novelty of a brand new vehicle. The first consideration is cost: Second-hand cars are cheaper. This isn’t just because the car has been previously used. Brand new cars come with a long list of fees, taxes, and additional charges on top of the market price of the car itself.

According to the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), all these prices must be included in the advertised price of a new car. These prices include freight fees, safety test fees, government levies like air and tire taxes, pre-delivery inspection fees, administration fees, and OMVIC fees (if a car dealership is listed under OMVIC).

These are simply the mandatory fees that come with the list price of a new car. Additional charges can include any add-ons like security and theft prevention products, warranties, pre-filled fuel, and tire protection. On top of the already-exuberant prices of many brand new car models, these fees will make a new car purchase extremely expensive.

old car

A second-hand car might have a lot of mileage and some wear and tear, but if you search diligently, you can find a good-quality, decent vehicle that will serve its purpose and save you a lot of money. While a second-hand purchase also comes with some additional fees, it’s still much lighter on your wallet.

2. Where should you look?

There’s a long list of online portals where you can browse used cars, and the price range is very wide. Some used cars can be found for $6000 or less, while others cross $10 000 to $20 000. Prices will depend on the make and model of the car, as well as the year of its release. Generally speaking, newer releases and flashy brands will cost more. What kind of car you choose is up to you, but making functionality your top priority could save you money as well.

Some prominent places you can search are:

These three websites offer listings that come with a vehicle history report from CARFAX, which you can request to view. As we’ll discuss later, history reports are also crucial to your first car purchase. CARFAX offers reliable reports, so search in these three websites if you want that added benefit.

If you want to expand your search, other popular platforms include:

Regardless of where you buy from, you should be able to access the car’s maintenance history and records. This is done by getting a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), so always ask for the VIN before buying a car from anyone!

3. Accessing history reports using the VIN

Having a car’s VIN is one of the best ways to check that you’re making a legitimate purchase. As anyone can sell a used car, the previous owner’s testimony of the car’s quality may not always be reliable. They could be trying to get rid of the car by selling it to you, without telling you about some hidden issues it might have. This is why getting the car’s VIN is crucial.

The VIN plate (featuring the number) is usually located on the car itself: On the dashboard, the windshield on the driver’s side (inside the car), or on the driver’s door jamb, the surface which the driver’s door closes on. Older car models might have it in other places on the car as well. The VIN is also found on insurance documents, ownership documents, and service history. If you can’t locate the VIN plate, ask the car’s owner for assistance.

It’s important that you see the VIN plate for yourself. Check the actual plate number, and cross-reference with the number printed on any documents to make sure they match. This is because people can alter the VIN to hide the car’s service history, something often done when a car has been reported as stolen in the past. If the VIN doesn’t match on any of the documents or the plate, keep searching!

There are a few portals you can visit to check a VIN, some of which are: 

4. What to look for in a history report

What are some red flags in a car’s history? These reports include a car’s complete history, including previous owners, repairs, accidents, etc. Here are a few examples of things you don’t want to see in a history:

  • Vehicle title not in the seller’s name: If the car is not in the seller’s name, it means they’re not legally allowed to sell the car. Do not make this purchase.
  • Many past owners: If a car has passed through a long list of owners, it might indicate there’s something wrong with the car which isn’t being honestly disclosed.
  • Similar accidents: If there are multiple incidents of very similar accidents occurring, it might be caused by a malfunctioning component of the car. This is a potential safety hazard.
  • Odometer fraud: The odometer is a number on the car’s dashboard that shows how many total kilometers it’s traveled. Generally, if this number is too high, the car’s value goes down. Because of this, odometers are often tampered with to show lower numbers, enabling the car to be sold at a higher price than it’s actually worth. A history report will state the car’s actual odometer reading. If it doesn’t match the reading on the dashboard, it might indicate fraud.

For a full list of possible red flags in a history report, this article is comprehensive.

5. Before you buy: Pre-purchase inspection (PPI)

cars

This inspection is performed by a licensed professional, and is essential for finding any hidden problems in the car you’re thinking of buying. While it’s not uncommon for used cars to have damage in the past, the inspector can check if this damage was repaired successfully, or if it’s still a problem. Moreover, if the seller claims there was no damage, but the PPI reveals there was, you can avoid doing business with a dishonest seller. You will have to pay anywhere between $100 to $200 for an inspection, but this is money well spent! If you end up buying a faulty car without getting an inspection, it could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.

There are many places offering inspection services. Contact your local Canadian Tire or auto body shop and ask where you can get it done. You can also Google “motor vehicle inspection stations” to find what’s available near you. This form offered by the Automobile Protection Agency shows what needs to be checked in the car; if you want, you can print this out and take it to your inspector to discuss what needs to be evaluated.

6. Take it for a test drive

Test-driving a potential car is necessary to make sure you know what it feels like before you buy it. If the seller refuses to let you take it for a test drive, this might be a red flag. Test drives let you check the car’s brakes, parking, responsiveness, signals, wipers, headlights, and other internal features. You should plan a route before going on your test drive. This list offers comprehensive advice on how to plan an effective test drive.

7. Registration, bill of sale and taxes

The least exciting part of getting a new car is paperwork, but it has to be done. Additionally, this isn’t complete without taxes. In Ontario, for example, you have to pay 13 per cent retail sales tax (RST) on the price you paid for the used car—not to the seller, but to the provincial government. Keep this in mind when you’re budgeting your car search.

A bill of sale is the most important document when you’re buying (or selling) a used car. Much like a receipt, the bill of sale shows what you bought (like the year, model, and make of the car), the price you bought it at (for tax purposes), and the transfer of ownership proving it’s now your car. A bill of sale is also necessary for registering your car once you’ve bought it. For a full list of what needs to be stated on a bill of sale, follow this guide.

Finally, registering your car grants you your vehicle permit, license plate, and license plate sticker. You have to register a used car within six days of buying it. This is done at any ServiceOntario center. There are some fees involved: $32 for a permit; $59 for a license plate; for a license plate sticker, it’s $60 in northern Ontario and $120 in southern Ontario.

There’s a lot to learn about car ownership, so take your time and get all the help you can. You’ll be on the road in no time!

Understanding Ontario’s housing crisis

Understanding Ontario’s housing crisis

By Brittany Stuckless

Posted on October 18, 2021
house
Ontario is Canada’s most populated province. It has Toronto, the capital city Ottawa, and plenty of other beautiful towns and urban centres. Unfortunately, Ontario is also in the midst of a housing crisis, with a complex yet somewhat recent history. This article will help newcomers understand why there is a housing crisis in Ontario, what it means, and how to navigate the uncertainty it may bring.

What is a housing crisis?

A housing crisis is when there is a lack of affordable housing in an area. It generally affects large cities, but the impact can be noticeable in an entire province. The Advocacy Centre for Tenants of Ontario notes that the “majority of Ontario urban centres have experienced larger increases in housing costs between 2011 and 2016.”

The Canadian Real Estate Association also states that by the end of 2021, the average cost of a house in Ontario will be around $850 000. Additionally, most homes in downtown Toronto cost at least $1 million. These averages are expected to rise again by the end of 2022. The housing crisis affects most people who aren’t making a large salary. The effects can cause stress for tenants and future buyers.

Why is there a housing crisis in Ontario?

Affordable housing is becoming more difficult to find for several reasons. Here are some factors that contribute to the housing crisis in Ontario:

Low supply

The government of Ontario notes that the housing supply is not keeping up with demand in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). They also mention how rural and northern areas of the province can be affected. As more and more people from the GTA realize housing is affordable, they move to smaller areas of the province, causing those housing prices to rise as well.
houses
Low supply is a complex issue and takes a long time to solve. For instance, it takes a while to approve building permits, and it can take up to a decade to build a high-rise or a low-rise project. There are also the issues of securing enough land, high land prices, and government fees.

Population growth

The population of Ontario has been regularly increasing since 2015. There are currently around 14 million people living in Ontario. This number increases annually by approximately 140 000, according to the province of Ontario’s website.

Population growth has an impact on the housing crisis, and more people need homes every year. Currently, the supply is not keeping up with the population’s demand for homes, causing prices to rise.

Prices vs. income

The minimum wage in Ontario is too low compared to high housing prices. The minimum wage is currently $14.25 per hour. In contrast, the average cost of a home in Ontario is rapidly increasing. The Canadian Real Estate Association notes that prices are rising by as much as 30 per cent per year. To compare, the minimum wage in Ontario has only increased by around three dollars since 2017.

Short-term rentals

Companies like Airbnb let homeowners make some extra cash. The concept lets people save a lot of money and avoid hotel prices. Airbnb is a convenient service providing people with accommodations; however, it has greatly affected the housing crunch.

In many famous cities, including Toronto, wealthy buyers often buy several properties they don’t need for themselves. Afterwards, they list these properties on Airbnb as short-term rentals. This creates a shortage of homes for future buyers. It also affects the number of rental units available for tenants.

Luckily, many cities are introducing bylaws to fight the impact short-term rentals have on the housing market. In Toronto, you can no longer list a residence as an Airbnb unless it is your primary residence. Enforcing these bylaws will eventually make an impact on the housing crisis.

How does this crisis affect immigrants?

Being new to Canada, immigrants will generally notice the high housing prices in Ontario. Furthermore, newcomers in certain cities and towns will feel the effects of the housing crisis more than others. For example, the city of Brampton has a high immigrant population.

In an article featured in the Toronto Star, readers learn about what needs to happen to give immigrants in Brampton more of a sense of community, access to affordable housing, and other services. The article discusses “Smart Growth” and how intensification can help drastically. Intensification means “the process of increasing and densifying the amount of housing development per hectare.”

While it is still possible to buy a home, many new immigrants may have to start their lives in Ontario by renting. Settlement.org helps newcomers with how to find suitable rental units and steps to buying a home.

What needs to be done?

Ontario is a beautiful province that everyone deserves to enjoy. Additionally, the housing crisis shouldn’t keep newcomers from planning to spend their lives there. Before buying a home, it is possible to find a decent apartment in Ontario that fits into their budget. In the meantime, they can start saving while waiting for the housing crisis to improve.
apartments
We’ve already touched on intensification, but there is more work that needs to be done. The provincial government needs to work to improve the housing crisis. With help from the federal government, there needs to be a focus on quality, large-scale community housing and ‘cutting the red tape’ that makes it so challenging to secure permits and start construction. The Ontario government outlines a plan that focuses on achieving the following goals:

  • Providing housing for people in need
  • Helping tenants financially
  • Reducing waitlist times
  • Improving the quality of community housing (safety, amenities, etc.)

Housing resources

4 Newcomer scholars who have made significant contributions in the scientific community

4 Newcomer scholars who have made significant contributions in the scientific community

By Abisha Sooriyathas

Posted on October 18, 2021
doctor
Throughout history, there are countless examples of people being discriminated against or sidelined due to their gender or race. This fact holds true within the scientific community.

According to an article by Scientific American, racism and sexism still exist within the scientific community today. In the past, this could be seen through biologists promoting false theories on female inferiority or arguing that race was a biological category that was not only descriptive, but hierarchical. This essentially means that, at one point in history, scientists attempted to argue that Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) had an inherent, biological disadvantage to white people. In addition, the work that women and BIPOC did in order to facilitate scientific advancement was frequently stolen from them.

Although the scientific community is now stepping in the right direction, it clearly still has a long way to go. The remainder of this article strives to contribute to this step in the right direction by celebrating some of the successes and the ground-breaking research of newcomers and people of colour in recent years.

Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui

Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui is a Chinese-Canadian scientist who immigrated to Canada early in his professional career. According to an article by Hospital News, Tsui is well-known in the scientific community for his discovery of the cystic fibrosis gene in 1989.

Cystic fibrosis is a disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. It causes mucus build up in these areas, resulting in respiratory issues and difficulty digesting foods. This genetic disease currently has no cure.

Tsui’s discovery has allowed for a better understanding of the disease. It has led to advancements in how to treat and manage the disease, as well as newborn screening for early detection and carrier testing in parents. Needless to say, Tsui’s work has prolonged many lives that could have been lost to cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Naranjan Dhalla

Dr. Naranjan Dhalla was born in India and immigrated to Canada in the middle of his career. His research examines the subcellular and molecular basis of heart disease. His work has facilitated connections between heart dysfunction and diabetes, as well as a molecular explanation as to how stress can cause heart disease.
Heart
In an article published by the Experimental and Clinical Cardiology journal, Dhalla’s long career was honoured via a tribute to him on his 75th birthday. His career includes many academic accomplishments, such as his publication of over 600 research articles. Dhalla’s work is well regarded, and he has been invited to speak at over 500 conferences and academic institutions around the world. By 2006, Dhalla had trained over 145 scientists who were pursuing their own academic research across the world. Both Dhalla’s research and his ability to inspire young people should be celebrated.

Professor Lakshmi Kotra

Professor Lakshmi Kotra immigrated to Canada from India. According to the Kotra Research Group website, he is “an academic entrepreneur who focuses on drug discovery and development.” He is famous for his discovery of an antimalarial agent through his research at the University Health Network in Toronto.

Malaria is a life-threatening, infectious disease that is transmitted to humans via insect bites. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that in 2019, there were a total of 409 000 deaths due to malaria worldwide.

Luckily, malaria can be treated and cured with antimalarial agents like the one invented by Kotra. Unfortunately, many malaria-associated deaths occur in Africa, where access to these antimalarial drugs may be limited. This is an issue that the WHO has been working to remedy through global initiatives. Nonetheless, Kotra’s work has made a significant impact in reducing the number of malaria-associated deaths around the world.

Dr. Tak Wah Mak

Dr. Tak Wah Mak was born in China and immigrated to Canada later in his life. According to an article by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mak’s research has greatly increased researchers’ understanding of immunity, specifically as it relates to cancer, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS. His contributions are largely driven by his significant discovery of the structure of the human T-cell receptor, a cellular component that is involved in the body’s immune response.
Microscope
In character, Mak’s success is attributed to his ability to challenge conventional scientific thought and his determination to create fresh research paths. His work is propelled forward by his dedication to serving others. His efforts have clearly been worthwhile, as his research has provided great insight into the induction of immunity in sick or diseased people around the world.

It is safe to say that the work of these four scientists has changed the world as we know it for the better. The discoveries that they made are evidence of the incredible results that can come from hard work and dedication. They are also a testament to the amazing way that newcomers can make a difference around the entire world, no matter where they come from or where they choose to settle.

4 Ways to make friends in a new city

4 Ways to make friends in a new city

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on October 11, 2021

Living in a new place is overwhelming for many. A different culture, unknown social norms, and drastic lifestyle changes can be difficult to process for newcomers. However, it’s nothing to be afraid of. Reaching out to people around you is one of the best ways to get to know your new surroundings. Here are some ways you can make friends and build connections in your new world.

1. Volunteer

Volunteering is a big part of work and life in Canada. Canadians learn about the importance of volunteering from a young age.There are always opportunities to contribute to your community in different ways. You can volunteer at food banks, animal shelters, museums, community centres and more. Donate your time and spend it with people, and you’ll be able to make new friends among your fellow volunteers. This is a great way to meet people who have similar interests, since you’re all volunteering for the same programs.

volunteering

Go Overseas, a website that lists jobs, volunteer opportunities, and programs abroad, offers an extensive list of programs.

For more reasons to volunteer in Canada, check out The Newcomer’s article on the benefits of volunteer work.

2. Take a class

Even if you don’t want to be a full-time student, small classes are perfect places to meet new people. Find a hobby or craft you like, or perhaps a professional skill you want to work on for your résumé, and see if there are classes you can take. You’ll encounter people who have the same passions as you, and that’s always a great way to start conversations.

class

These classes can be anything from learning Excel and Powerpoint, going to driving school, or taking a woodworking class. Look for what you find interesting and see what classes are available in your city. Here are some examples of interesting classes you can take in Toronto.

3. Go on hiking tours

If you’re up for it, organized hiking trips with small groups are a great way to meet new people. Apart from exploring beautiful natural features in some of Canada’s many gorgeous hiking spots, the small group is perfect for starting conversations while you walk. These tours are structured and well-planned. You’re driven to the location by bus, and the trip usually takes up a full day. Great Canadian Trails is a great website to scope out the many places you can go to book these trips.
Hiking

4. Reach out at work

This might seem obvious, but it’s not always considered: Get to know your coworkers! Simple regular interactions at work are a great way to build the basis of new friendships. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with each other, if you’re both interested, don’t be afraid to reach out and invite your coworkers to activities outside the workplace. As pandemic restrictions ease, small gatherings at restaurants, catching a movie together, or going to a music event are great icebreakers for colleagues.
work friends

5. Join community activism

If there is a cause you care about, you may find local activist groups to participate in. While this is similar to volunteering, it does let you meet people who care about bringing social change. These topics can be strong bases to form new relationships with like-minded individuals.
protest
Amnesty International hosts activist groups all across Canada, and you’re likely to find a group in your region with whom you can get involved.

In the end, reaching out and talking to people is the best way to make a connection. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and be honest, and the right people will find you.

How to open a bank account

How to open a bank account

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on October 11, 2021
debit card
Opening a bank account is one of the first things you want to do once you arrive in Canada. This is an important step for setting up your finances in order. Banking in Canada is reliable, secure, and easy. There are many options available including banking in person, online, or with mobile apps.

Opening an account

Opening a bank account is as easy as bringing two pieces of identification (ID) to your preferred branch in person—one piece of photo ID such as your passport or driver’s license and one piece of ID with your Canadian address, such as utilities bills, a lease, or housing documents.

You don’t need to deposit any money when you open the account, and you can open an account even if you don’t have a job yet. You should contact the financial institution to find out if there are other ways to open an account. Most bank accounts come with a debit card that can be used for daily transactions and withdrawing cash from ATMs.

The biggest banks in Canada are:

There is no one “best bank”—this choice will depend on your needs and your financial situation. You can research the various banks to see the different products and services they offer.

Types of accounts

There are several different types of bank accounts that you can open. You should be aware of the fees that the bank charges for different accounts. However, most banks have special newcomer incentives and first-time customer promotions. You can visit the bank’s website to learn more about the fees and account types they offer. These are the most common types of bank accounts:

Chequing account

This is the account that will be used for most of your day-to-day banking such as making purchases, paying bills, writing cheques, using ATMs, transferring money between accounts, and payroll direct deposit from your workplace. There is typically a small monthly fee for a chequing account. For example, at RBC a standard chequing account for your daily banking with unlimited debit transactions and free Interac e-Transfers costs $11.95 per month.

Savings account

This is the account where you can accumulate interest on your savings. Typically, a minimum deposit is required when opening a savings account. Each month, any interest you earn will go directly into your savings account. The higher the interest rate, the more money you’ll earn. Unlike a chequing account, you usually don’t have to pay a monthly fee, but you will pay taxes on any interest earned in your savings account. A savings account offers quick and easy access to your money for withdrawals and transfers.
wallet with bills

Joint account

A joint deposit account has the same features and benefits as an individual chequing or savings account, such as making deposits, payments, and withdrawals. However, you’re also responsible for any transactions made by the other owner of the account. Therefore, it’s important that both co-owners agree on how to use the account. To open a joint account, contact your financial institution to learn more about its policies and how it manages joint accounts.

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

A TFSA is a type of investment savings account. It’s a great way for individuals 18-years-old or older with a social insurance number (SIN) to set aside tax-free money throughout their life. You can also earn interest on any money in the account. Any contributed amount and any income earned in the account is generally tax-free. To open a TFSA, contact your financial institution and provide them with your SIN and date of birth.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

An RRSP is similar to a TFSA in that it’s an investment savings account. You earn interest over time, and it’s tax-free. However, money in an RRSP will only remain tax-free as long as it’s in the account; you will be taxed on any money withdrawn from the account. To open an RRSP, contact your financial institution.

For an in-depth guide to TFSAs and RRSPs, check out The Newcomer’s article on investing for beginners.

Online and mobile banking

Online and mobile banking are becoming more popular options among Canadians. Most major banks and financial institutions allow you to do your banking either online or through their mobile app. This way, you can check your account balances, pay bills, transfer money to other accounts, check bank statements, and apply for loans and credit cards. You also may be able to deposit cheques through the mobile app.
bank cards
There are also a number of banks and financial institutions that operate completely online. This means that you can open an account and do the majority of your daily banking from your phone or computer.

Some of Canada’s online banks include:

  • EQ Bank
  • Tangerine
  • Simplii
  • Manulife Bank

Some of the benefits of online banks include 24/7 access, lower fees for accounts, and higher interest rates so you can earn more interest.

Because there are many options for bank accounts in Canada, it’s important to do your research and find out what type of account is best for you.

Faith in newcomer populations: How religious practices can change upon immigration

Faith in newcomer populations: How religious practices can change upon immigration

By Abisha Sooriyathas

Posted on October 11, 2021
religion
Following immigration, many newcomers may feel doubt regarding their identity. In the place that they are born and raised, it is easy to know who they are and how they fit into society. However, moving to a new country can disrupt one’s sense of identity and belonging.

This does not mean that newcomers must live in a permanent state of uncertainty; it only means that it might take a while longer for newcomers to find their footing in their new home. Luckily, there are aspects of personal identity that newcomers can carry with them from old home to new, including things like religion and faith.

The pressure to assimilate impacts faith

But how does religion and faith change with immigration? Do newcomers gravitate to religious institutions, or do they subtly reject their faith in order to fit into their new society?

An article by Public Discourse, the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute, states that the pressure to assimilate upon immigration can be disruptive to faith and religion. Assimilation requires one to revolt against who they once were in order to fit into a new social order. It can result in not only a change in what you think and how you behave, but also a change in how you think about your thoughts and your behaviour. This, of course, can have significant consequences for how one views their own faith and their religious practices.
religion
In addition, practicing religion can prove to be more difficult upon immigration due to reasons associated with accessibility. For example, newcomers might move to areas where there are fewer temples, churches, and mosques nearby than they are used to. Or they might find themselves in neighbourhoods that lack a solid religious community.

Majority versus minority religions in home and host countries

According to an article published by the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the majority/minority status of religion in home and host countries can also affect an individual’s perception of identity. The study examines both Chinese Buddhist immigrants and Chinese Christian immigrants.

In China, Buddhism is a majority religion while Christianity is a minority religion. These roles are reversed in the United States and Canada. The implications of these majority/minority statuses are seen throughout the study.

Upon immigration, Chinese Buddhist immigrants were likely to retain a secure Chinese identity, as Buddhism is deeply rooted in Chinese tradition. Chinese Buddhist temples in the United States then strive to recruit non-Chinese Americans in order to reclaim their status as the majority religion.

Meanwhile, Chinese Christians are often chastised for presenting as “non-Chinese” in China, and Chinese Christian churches in the United States have difficulty recruiting non-Chinese Americans. This is because Christianity is a majority religion in America and many Christian churches already exist to serve the needs of Americans.

This study not only shows a divide that is created between immigrants of the same host country that choose to practice different religions, but it also shows that upon immigration, a newcomer’s view on faith and religion is often altered in order to cater to the majority population of their host country.

How integration, rather than assimilation, can save faith

This is a problem because faith and religion are practices that are intended to bring people together, rather than to promote segregation and assimilation. According to an article by the Angus Reid Institute, newcomers will often seek and find help through religious communities. After the challenging transition of moving to an unknown land, faith-based communities are seen to provide comfort and support to new Canadians. Many newcomers will rely on these groups to recreate a community and network that they left behind in their home country.
church
For newcomers to receive the full benefits of faith and religious communities, it is important for them to be reminded that their faith is their own and does not have to be altered to fit a westernized mold. It is completely possible to integrate into and find acceptance in Canadian society while still holding onto beliefs that are true to oneself. Regardless of what religion newcomers choose to practice, their faith can be a doorway to connection, encouragement, empowerment, and love.

Payday loans in Canada

Payday loans in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on October 8, 2021
document

You might see them on street corners with bright, enticing signs that say, “payday loans” and “cheques cashed.” Or, you may find them online with the promises of “fast cash,” “no credit required,” and “no hidden fees.”

These are payday loan companies, which offer cash advances, installment loans, and cheque cashing. A payday loan is a short-term loan with high fees and interest rates. These loans need to be repaid when the borrower receives their next paycheck.

As newcomers to Canada, it might take some time to acquire adequate credit. If you are not initially making enough money to cover your family’s monthly expenses, then getting a payday loan might sound like a tempting option. After all, it sounds like a quick and easy solution. You go into the store or apply online and, on your next payday, you repay the amount you owe. What could possibly go wrong?

coins and documents

Plenty of things can go wrong

Payday loans typically have higher interest rates attached to them because of their unsecured nature. For the lender, there is a higher rate of risk with this type of loan. To be compensated for this risk, in comparison to secured loans (where the borrower promises assets—like a home or a car—as collateral), there is a higher borrowing fee charged in the form of interest.

Why do people get payday loans?

Payday loans are easy to access and have less requirements to obtain compared to other loans. Traditional lenders usually ask for a credit check, but payday loans only ask you to provide identification proving you are over the age of 18, have a chequing account, and a steady source of income.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, conducted a survey of payday loan users and found that only 43 per cent of respondents knew that a payday loan is more expensive than alternatives that are available. As well, over 60 per cent of people surveyed did not have access to a credit card, and the majority—88 per cent—did not have access to a line of credit.

In terms of what payday loans are used for, 45 per cent of respondents used the loans for unexpected, but necessary purchases like car repairs. And 41 per cent used the loans for expected and urgent expenses like utility bills.

Payday loans have a bad reputation

Payday loans are primarily used by people with low-to-moderate incomes, but even high income earners use payday loans excessively. When people start using payday loans, they may fall into a dangerous borrowing cycle of taking out new loans to try and pay back the initial payday loan and its high interest fees.

Complaints about payday loans

On ConsumerAffairs, one payday loan company is rated 1.3 stars out of 5, taken from the average of 71 verified reviews. While there were a few positive ratings, the majority of the ratings give only one star. If you are unsure of a payday loan company, you can check out the company’s online reviews yourself.
couple with documents

How can people break the payday cycle?

If you have significant debt, you should speak to a professional to get your debt under control. If you have only used payday loans occasionally, next time, you should try getting a loan from the bank or use overdraft protection. For the long term, you can build up an emergency fund to turn to instead of payday loans.

Teaching kids how to cook

Teaching kids how to cook

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on October 4, 2021
kids cooking

Maybe you, like many newcomer parents, want to teach your children how to cook. Whether you are interested in teaching them to cook a traditional dish that reminds them of their heritage, or you would like to teach them how to cook Canadian recipes, the sky’s the limit! So, how can you get started?

Start with food safety

The first thing to do is cover basic hygiene ground rules with your kids, including washing their hands with warm and soapy water before they get started. Also make sure to tie up their hair so that it doesn’t get in the food.

child wearing a chef hat

Let them help you clean utensils, cooking supplies, countertops, and other surface areas where you will be prepping the ingredients.

How can children of different age groups help with cooking?

18 months to 3 years old

Starting from 18 months, you can teach your kids to feel comfortable in the kitchen and with seeing and touching ingredients. Here’s what you can do:

  • Describe the different food: the shape, size, colour, smell, taste, texture, etc.
  • Have them help you open and close cabinet and fridge doors.
  • Have them help you hold items like bowls.
  • Let them assist you in washing fruits and vegetables.
  • Guide them in mixing ingredients.
  • Let them play with safe kitchen tools or buy them a toy kitchen set to play with.
  • Let them taste test your cooking.

young girl holding a baking bowl

4 to 6 years old

In addition to the activities included for children 18 months to 3 years old, once kids get to 4 years old, they can start doing more advanced kitchen activities, both on their own and with you.

  • Let them retrieve ingredients from the fridge.
  • Allow them to pour, stir, and mix ingredients.
  • Have them knead dough and go over it with a rolling pin.
  • Let them measure the ingredients.
  • Have them peel hard-boiled eggs and oranges.
  • Ask them to set the table.

While these activities are mostly prep work, you can start assisting them with simple and fun recipes like making simple sandwiches or building their own pizza. Make sure the crust is ready and the cheese is grated. Have them apply the cheese, tomato sauce, and other toppings and you can put the pizzas in the oven.

7 to 8 years old

From 7 to 8 years old, kids are ready and willing to work in teams. They can also start taking charge in the kitchen.

  • Let them read the recipe and instructions and assign tasks to other family members.
  • Guide and direct them on how to use a knife.
  • Have them crack eggs.
  • Allow them to make recipes on their own, like salads.
  • Have them peel items like potatoes, apples, etc.
  • Have them help you clean the kitchen.

9 years old up

Once your kids reach 9 years old, their attention span is longer; their coordination is also better, and they can be more independent when it comes to cooking recipes.

  • Let them use the knife on their own while you supervise.
  • Allow them to create their own menus.
  • Let them pack their own lunches.

Benefits of learning how to cook

Cooking is a valuable skill to have whether you are an adult or a child. Children who learn how to cook early on will be able to save on food expenses in the future, since they won’t have to eat out or order food often.

There are also health benefits! People who learn how to cook can have a healthier and more balanced diet overall since they will be aware of the ingredients in their meals. While cooking their own meals, they will be able to control the portions and reduce the amount of calories they consume.

If you start teaching your kids early, you’ll find how quickly they pick up on meal prepping and cooking. They will also be more inclined to eat the meals that they helped prepare (or that they completely prepared). Learning how to cook from their parents can strengthen family bonds and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Mental health issues in immigrant communities

Mental health issues in immigrant communities

By Abisha Sooriyathas

Posted on October 4, 2021
group therapy
Amongst the hustle and bustle of moving to a new country, many newcomers may not prioritize their mental health. This could also be due to the stigma surrounding mental illness within their home country or due to communication barriers in their new country. Nonetheless, mental health issues are a very real problem that many newcomers are facing today.

Proportion of immigrants experiencing emotional problems and stress

According to a 2012 study on Canadian newcomers, 29 percent of immigrants reported having emotional problems, such as persistent feelings of sadness, depression, and loneliness. Additionally,16 percent of immigrants said they experienced high levels of stress. Within this data, there are differences between demographics.

For example, refugees were much more likely to experience emotional problems and stress compared to family class immigrants. In addition, newcomers from Asia and the Pacific were more likely to experience emotional problems and day-to-day stress than their North American and Western European counterparts. This could be due to the fact that the former group may experience more of a culture shock upon immigration.

An overarching conclusion that is seen in both newcomer and non-newcomer populations is that individuals with a low-income are more likely to experience mental stress than those with a high-income.

Factors that can contribute to mental health issues

There are several factors that can contribute to these mental health issues. One study by the Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health was able to categorize these factors and explained how some of the effects of immigration lead to outcomes that have negative consequences on mental health.

In adult newcomers, immigration can disrupt a social support network which can lead to unemployment or underemployment. This financial stress can often contribute to mental health issues. In addition, adult newcomers often have firm knowledge of their status and their belonging in their home country, and immigration can result in a newly acquired uncertainty about their social status.
therapy
In children, this often manifests as stress surrounding the family’s adaptation to the new culture. Newcomer children may also experience discrimination or social exclusion amongst peers, which can lead to mental health issues.

These findings prove that although mental health issues in newcomers are often minimized or ignored, it is a topic that deserves significant attention. As this topic gains attention, newcomers should be able to receive the help that they need. Unfortunately, this is not always an easy feat.

Challenges that newcomers face when seeking mental health support

An article by the National Alliance of Mental Illness explains that many newcomers face additional challenges when seeking mental health support. For example, newcomers might face additional stigma within their immigrant communities and may experience language and communication barriers when seeking help. They may also feel a lack of belonging and struggle to find professionals who are aware of the issues that are specific to their own culture.

Luckily, as newcomers continue to settle and find success in Canada, the amount of mental health professionals of different backgrounds will increase. Steps are already being taken in the right direction. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has a webpage in which mental health information is provided in 25 different languages. This is a great starting point for learning about mental health issues and when to consider seeking help.

Continuing the conversation without shame

It is important to continue the conversation on mental health issues in newcomer populations in order to reduce the stigma surrounding this topic. The data shows that mental health issues are common to a large proportion of newcomers and even delves into the external, circumstantial factors that can contribute to these issues. As immigrants begin to realize that their mental health issues are not something to be ashamed of and begin courageously speaking of their battles with mental health, more newcomers will begin to feel comfortable reaching out for professional help.
therapy
If you are seeking professional help, the Canadian Mental Health Association has a webpage that includes contact information for mental health service groups catered to various newcomer demographics. Additional mental health support resources can be found on the Government of Canada website.

The Newcomer also has a list of mental health resources specifically for refugees and newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area

Medical resources for newcomers and refugees

Medical resources for newcomers and refugees

By Benjamin Biro

Posted on October 4, 2021
stethescope
It can be very difficult to find medical resources that suit the needs of each individual, especially when you are new to a country. Whether you are unable to get an Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) card or are in the process of getting one, there are places where you can go to get help and coverage for your medical needs.

Perhaps you have pre-existing conditions, a family that is unwell, speak English as a second language, or are looking for someone who understands your specific culture or language. There are resources available to suit your needs throughout Canada. Here are some resources to check out.

The Crossroads Clinic

Address: 76 Grenville St., 3rd floor, Toronto, ON M5S 1B2
Contact: 416-323-6031 (Press 2 for appointment)

The Crossroads Clinic is a refugee health clinic created by Women’s College Hospital that provides resources and medical care for newcomers to Canada. They can help with both physical and mental health problems and concerns. They have a great team of doctors and nurses that understand many of the specific issues that refugees face.

Across Boundaries: An Ethnoracial Mental Health Organization

Address: 51 Clarkson Avenue, Toronto, ON M6E 2T5
Contact: 416-787-3007
Email: info@acrossboundaries.ca

Across Boundaries provides mental health and addiction services for members of radicalized communities in the Greater Toronto Area. They offer case management services for youth and adults from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Across Boundaries has staff knowledgeable in Caribbean dialects, African, Central Asian, South Asian and Southeast Asian languages. They also run a Mental Health and Justice Initiative which offers community mental health support, housing services, and resources for members of the LGBTQ2+ and BIPOC community.

Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture

Address: 194 Jarvis Street, 2nd Floor, Toronto, ON M5B 2B7
Contact: 416-363-1066

Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT) provides treatment and support for Canadian refugees who are victims of torture. CCVT aims to help the recovery process from serious trauma and create a new home and a positive community for refugees. They offer programs in mental health counselling, settlement services, children and youth trauma, language and skills training, and community engagement.

Hong Fook Mental Health Association

Clinic Address: 3660 Midland Avenue, Suite 201, Scarborough, ON M1V 0B8
Contact: 416-493-4242

Hong Fook Mental Health Association is an ethno-cultural mental health organization that provides a variety of mental health services for Asian communities in the Greater Toronto Area. You do not, however, need to identify as part of an Asian community to access their services. They offer practitioners who speak Cambodian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, and English.
prescriptions

Access Alliance Multicultural Community Health Services

Address: 340 College St., Ste. 500, Toronto, ON M5T 3A9
Contact: 416-324-8677

Access Alliance Multicultural Community Health Services addresses system inequities regarding mental and physical health care. They help vulnerable demographics, such as refugees and newcomers to Canada, and help serve individuals and communities in need. They offer primary healthcare services, community programs, health programs, LGBTQ2+ programs, and settlement services.

Afghan Women’s Organization: Refugee and Immigrant Services

Address: 150 Consumers Road, #203, North York, ON M2J 1P9
Contact: 416-588-3585

This clinic offers settlement services for immigrants and refugees. They focus on those fleeing from war and persecution as well as women with families. This organization also offers a variety of programs to help the many needs of newcomers and their families.

Culture Link Settlement

Address: 2340 Dundas Street West, Suite 301, Toronto, ON M6P 4A9
Contact: 416-588-6288
Email: reception@culturelink.ca

Culture Link Settlement is a community organization that develops and offers settlement services. They provide programs for all ages and are committed to building welcoming communities, and improving the newcomer experience.

Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services

Address: Various Locations
Contact: 416-533-9471
Email: info@polycultural.org

Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services is a dynamic organization that provides services for communities in more than 40 languages. They have five locations throughout Toronto and Peel Region. They offer youth and senior services, language programs, settlement counselling, health and wellness support, family violence and addiction services, and much more.

Scadding Court Community Centre

Address: 707 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5T 2W6
Contact: 416-392-0335 (scccinfo@scaddingcourt.org)

Scadding Court Community Centre supports families, individuals, and communities by providing opportunities for education, athletics, and community participation. They focus on access equity, community, social development, food access, security, settlement services, and programs for seniors.

Toronto Chinese Community Association

Address: 302 Spadina Avenue, Unit 206, Toronto, ON M5T 2E7
Contact: 416-977-4026

Toronto Chinese Community Association (TCCSA) helps diverse communities and newcomers adapt to Canadian life by providing social services. Specifically, TCCSA offers newcomers from China settlement services, community services, education services, and language training.

South-Asian Women’s Centre

Address: 800 Lansdowne Avenue, Unit 1, Toronto, ON M6H 4K3
Contact: 416-537-2276

The South-Asian Women’s Centre is an organization run by and for South-Asian women that works to empower the community. South-Asian women of all ages and backgrounds have access to a variety of programs and services.

Working Skills Centre

Address: 55 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite #703, Toronto, ON M4P 1G8
Contact: 416-979-1700

Working Skills Centre helps newcomers, specifically immigrant women, find employment and improve their skills and employment prospects. They offer settlement services, skills training, and job placement services to empower, educate, and support newcomers.

Sound Times

Address: 280 Parliament St., Toronto, ON M5A 3A4
Contact: 416-979-1700

Sound Times is a survivor-run initiative that offers mental health and addiction services in downtown Toronto.

Muslim Welfare Centre

Addresses:
Scarborough 100 McLevin Avenue, Suites 4 & 4A, Scarborough, ON M1B 5K1
Mississauga 3490 Mavis Rd, Mississauga, ON L5C 1T8
Whitby 425 Dundas St East, Whitby, ON L1N 2J2
Contact: 416-754-8116

Muslim Welfare Centre provides a variety of services from food services to youth programs for families and communities of all cultural and religious backgrounds.

Christie Refugee Welcome Centre

Address: 43 Christie Street, Toronto, ON M6G 3B1
Contact 416-588-9277

Christie Refugee Welcome Centre provides emergency shelter and community services in Toronto, for refugees and their families from all ethnic or cultural backgrounds.

Investing for beginners: Explaining TFSAs and RRSPs

Investing for beginners: Explaining TFSAs and RRSPs

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on October 4, 2021

Investing might sound like something only the super-wealthy are able to do, but this isn’t the case. Even if you’re not a stock trader or a real estate expert, you can still save for the future. Here are two ways you can start managing your money better using low-risk, long-term investments.

1. Open a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

If you’re 18 or older and have a valid Social Insurance Number in Canada, you can open a TFSA with your bank. This account lets you put away money whenever you want, which will not be charged income tax even when you take the money out.

Make a habit of contributing a certain amount of money every time you get your paycheck. This will not only increase your savings over time, but because it’s a TFSA, the money you put away will generate interest every year.
savings
Every bank, credit union, and insurance company has a different interest rate. The highest interest rate in Canada, offered by EQ Bank, is 1.25 percent per year.

If you deposit $1000 in your TFSA at the beginning of the year, it will generate 1.25 percent of 1000 and add that amount to what you initially deposited—which, in this case, is $12.5, leaving you with $1012.5 at the end of the year.

While this may not seem like much, the idea is that you keep contributing, not just depositing money once. The more you contribute, the higher your interest return will be. You can also withdraw any amount whenever you wish without paying any taxes on it.

While you do earn interest on your deposits, the most important lesson here is learning to save money. Getting into the habit of putting away even a small amount on a regular basis will give you more financial stability in the long term.

After paying your bills, utilities, buying essentials, like groceries, gas for your car, and other supplies, consider how much money you have left and put a chunk of it away in your TFSA. You can then leave the rest for general day-to-day spending. Do this every second week or every month for a few years. Eventually, you will look back on a substantial amount of saved money that can help you in emergencies, help you avoid some debt, and give you some degree of financial freedom.
calculator and coins

2. Open a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

Like the TFSA, an RRSP is an account you can open with your bank which lets you contribute money towards your future. Any amount you put in your RRSP also generates interest the same way a TFSA does. EQ Bank currently offers the highest interest rate for an RRSP, also at 1.25 percent per year. The amount you contribute, and the interest gained over time, is also tax-free. There are some differences, however.

Unlike a TFSA, the money you put into your RRSP will only be tax-free as long as you keep it in the account. If you withdraw it from your account at any point, you’ll be charged the appropriate income tax amount. This amount can sometimes be a very large tax bill depending on how much you withdraw and where you live in Canada. This page shows a breakdown of the tax rate for different withdrawal amounts if you decide to take money out of your RRSP early.

However, there are different tax benefits to opening an RRSP. The amount you contribute is tax-deductible, which means the amount can be deducted from your taxes every year. This is an excellent way to gain some tax relief in the shorter term while you put away money for the long term!

There is, however, a limit to how much you can contribute to an RRSP. It’s set to 18 percent of your annual income, or whatever the year’s current limit is—in 2021, it’s $27 830. This means that if 18 percent of your annual income is less than $27 830, you can contribute the full 18 per cent. If your income is high enough that 18 per cent is more than $27 830, you won’t be able to use the full 18 per cent to contribute and get tax deductions.

The withdrawal age for RRSPs is 71 years. You must close your RRSP no later than December 31 of the year in which you turn 71 years old. At this point, you would withdraw the full amount of however much you contributed since you opened it. This amount is still subject to withholding tax, and the full amount is considered income. That means it’ll be subject to income tax as well.

Other ways to access your RRSP

For many people, converting an RRSP into an RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund) is a viable option when they turn 71, instead of withdrawing the full amount right away.

There are also ways to withdraw some of your RRSP before turning 71 and not be charged heavy taxes on it. These are called the Homebuyer’s Plan (HBP) and Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP). Both are tax-free, interest-free loans you can take from your total RRSP, which you will then have to pay back over 10 or 15 years.
calculator
The HBP allows you to take up to $25 000 from your RRSP, without being taxed, if you’re buying your first home and you need to put in a down payment. You’ll have to pay back the $25 000 over the next 15 years, starting in the year after you borrowed. Similarly, the LLP lets you borrow $10 000 from your RRSP to use for training and education. You’ll need to pay this amount back over 10 years, starting five years after you borrow.

As you can see, an RRSP is more complex than a TFSA and takes some time and research to learn what you can do with it. Even so, it’s important to save money for your retirement, even if it seems far away right now. Taxes can be heavy on how much you eventually take out, so the earlier you start, the more money you’ll have at the end.

More ways to save

This is not the only way you can generate income and secure your future outside your regular paycheck. There are many ways to invest, including stocks, mutual funds, Guaranteed Investment Certificates, real estate markets, and more. These range from low to high-risk, and it really depends on how much you want to invest and what your goals are. Whatever the case is, always remember to talk to a professional advisor from your bank before going into any long-term plans.

For more information on easy, low-risk options for saving your money, check out The Newcomer’s Guide to savings accounts in Canada.

The Pig That Wasn’t Pink

The Pig That Wasn’t Pink

By Abisha Sooriyathas

Posted on September 27, 2021

There once was a pig that wasn’t pink.
He lived in green grass and had blue water to drink.

He loved his home and the games that he played.
He loved even more all the trees and the shade.

Then one day this little pig had to leave.
There was a better life his parents wanted to achieve.
He walked over a hill and across a pond.
And left the home of which he’d grown fond.

The pig and his parents found a new field.
A field full of pigs that shouted and squealed!
It was muddy and brown and filled with a stink.
But what surprised the pig most was that all the pigs here were pink!

When he arrived in this field, the pigs looked at him funny.
They said, “You’re grey and you’re strange and you look more like a bunny!”

When the pig went to school, he was determined to fit in.
But he didn’t know the games, and didn’t feel like he could sit in.
He didn’t know the rules and he was too afraid to ask,
so instead, the little pig gave himself a different task.

He found his teacher, keeping his gaze low when he spoke.
“I feel homesick,” he said, his voice a small croak.
His teacher frowned and gave him a look that was bleak.
She said, “You know, it is rude to not look when you speak.”

The teacher then told him that he was excused,
and the little pig went home, very confused.
He went to his parents to tell them about his day,
and he made sure when he spoke, his gaze did not stray.

His parents saw his gaze and said, “You are being rude.”
They sent the little pig to his room in a very sad mood.

He laid in his bed, wondering what he did wrong.
No matter how hard he tried, he didn’t belong.
The rules in this field were different from the ones that he knew,
and so, he thought, and he thought about what he could do.

Then the little pig realized he could not please everyone,
and he felt some relief because he knew what had to be done.

The next day the little pig went to school, and he smiled.
He wanted to play with the others, even though they seemed a bit wild.
“Can you teach me how to play?” he nervously asked.
The other pigs said yes, and he was no longer an outcast.

He taught them his own game, and they laughed, and they played.
They even found some trees to play under and some refreshing shade.

He went to his teacher next and made sure to look at her when he spoke.
“Because the place I come from is different, I don’t know all the rules you invoke.”

His teacher said, “I’m sorry I didn’t know. I didn’t mean to be so stern.”
The little pig smiled and said, “It’s okay. Maybe we both could learn.”

He went home after to tell his parents about his day.
He smiled and he said, “I have something to say.”
When his parents were listening, the little pig spoke again.
“Because we are in a new place, I might slip up now and then.”

“You see, the rules here are different and the land we’re in has changed,
and because I look different, the other pigs think I’m strange.
I want to learn the rules here, but I still want to be myself.
Because I am a little grey pig who loves himself!”

Indigenous education: Residential schools, the colonial school system, and Indigenous contribution

Indigenous education: Residential schools, the colonial school system, and Indigenous contribution

By Brittany Stuckless

Posted on September 27, 2021
scrabble letters spelling learn

The residential school system in Canada continues to have a traumatic effect on survivors today. Furthermore, Canadian schools in the present day only provide a brief focus on the neglect and abuse that affected Indigenous youth for over a century in Canada.

This focus is not broad enough and students only see a glimpse of how devastating residential schools were. The trauma that Indigenous people still experience today should also be a focal point. Simply put, colonial school systems are not teaching nearly enough about residential schools.

Additionally, it’s important to dissect if students are learning enough about Indigenous contribution to society. Are schools offering enough information about Indigenous contributions in popular school subjects, like the arts and sciences? Let’s delve into the residential school system and the impact it has on modern-day schooling.

What were residential schools?

Residential schools were schools in Canada operated by churches. The Canadian government provided funding to open countless schools across the country. Run entirely by the church, the goal was to acculturate Indigenous communities using religion.

Residential schools aimed to strip Indigenous youth of their culture and force them to adapt to a Eurocentric, Canadian society. Generally speaking, the children who went to residential schools had an extremely harrowing experience. Their experience and stories have had a long-lasting impact on Indigenous communities and Canada as a country.

Residential schools: A brief history

Residential schools in Canada began opening in 1836 across the entire country. The last residential school closed as recently as 1996, a time when most millennials today were alive. The system was oppressive and imposed Christianity on Indigenous children. They were also forced to speak English and renounce their native heritage and culture.

Children in residential schools faced consistent abuse and harsh punishments. Facinghistory.org notes that “severe corporal punishment” was considered acceptable by British North Americans and Europeans. Essentially, Indigenous children in residential schools were not receiving an education or learning to prepare for their future. On the contrary, they faced abuse within a system that failed them entirely.
empty classroom chairs

While the schools are no longer operating today, it’s clear that the churches strive to hide the painful truth. With the recent unearthings of mass grave sites of Indigenous children on the grounds of former residential schools in Canada, the residential school system continues to harm Indigenous communities.

In June 2021, Canadians took notice after the discovery of 751 unmarked graves in a residential school in Saskatchewan. Just weeks prior, over 200 unmarked graves were discovered in British Columbia. These are grim reminders of the ripple effect that these oppressive and violent schools continue to have. There is also the probability of discovering more of these sites, further highlighting the harmful legacy of the system.

Today’s school systems

The question remains; to what extent is the residential school system retold today? Not only that, but how prevalent is denialism? According to Murray Sinclair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision, denialism is on the rise, and this has an effect on how much information students today can learn about residential schools. If teachers refuse to accept the trauma associated with residential schools, they will certainly not discuss it enough during class.

Global News notes what school grades include the history of residential schools in their curriculum. For instance, schools in Ontario learn about residential schools in Grades 7, 8 and 10. On the other hand, schools in Newfoundland and Labrador only teach residential school history in Grade 7.
classroom and students

Students should learn about residential schools throughout junior high and high school, not just once or twice. History classes, especially Canadian history classes, have a responsibility to teach as much as possible to all students. More specifically, they must teach students about Indigenous culture, language, and traditions and how residential schools worked to eliminate those values.

Indigenous contribution to the arts

There is an argument to be made that many provinces do not teach enough about Canada’s residential school history. Not only that, but school subjects such as English and science do not include enough information about Indigenous contributions.

School subjects such as language arts, English literature, and art often focus on white artists and authors with European ancestry. Throughout Canada, elementary school, junior high schools, and high schools should include more work by Indigenous communities in their curriculum planning. Here are a handful of Indigenous authors that schools can easily incorporate into the curriculum:

  • Alootook Ipellie
  • Carleigh Baker
  • Daniel Heath Justice
  • Carol Rose Daniels
  • Al Hunter
  • Chelsea Vowel
  • Thomas King

You can refer to this CBC article for a comprehensive list of Indigenous authors and their work.

Indigenous contribution to science

It’s also important to understand if Indigenous communities’ contributions to science are being taught to kids today. Similar to the arts, students are not learning enough about Indigenous representation. Science classes are still heavily focused on European discoveries and breakthroughs. When it comes to the Indigenous contribution, a lot is left to be desired.

Hopefully, schools are aware of the problem and are planning to highlight more information on Indigenous discoveries. One way to do this is to focus on the incredible findings Canadians have Indigenous communities to thank for. For example, the Government of Canada’s website provides a list of everyday essentials we owe to Indigenous innovation:

  • Goggles
  • Tea
  • Cough syrup
  • Corn
  • Wild rice
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Snowshoes
  • Canoes

Indigenous researchers also deserve more spotlight in our schools’ curriculum planning. Scientists such as Bradley Moggridge, Tara McCallister, Deborah McGregor, and Otakuye Conroy-Ben call for modern school systems to stop overlooking the crucial role of the Indigenous communities in the sciences. Their careers include environmental engineer, water scientist, and ecologist. There should be more of a focus on their critical ecological strides, and many more, in curriculum planning.

Conclusion

It’s essential to understand the detrimental effect that residential schools had on Indigenous youth. Today, school systems throughout Canada need to be held responsible for teaching youth about the negative impact this system has had on Indigenous communities in the past, as well as the present. Not only that, but school curriculums need to showcase the contributions of Indigenous people in fields like the arts and science.

6 professional development programs for newcomers in Canada

6 professional development programs for newcomers in Canada

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on September 20, 2021
Classroom
Education is one of the best ways to get started in nearly any field of work in Canada. Professional development (PD) refers to education that provides training or preparation for your career. While these do require the time and financial commitment of a college/university student, they’ll give you valuable exposure to workplace skills, networking events, and connect you to people who can help you in future. For newcomers and others, there is a vast selection of professional development programs (PDPs) and courses to choose from, regardless of age or experience.

1. McGill School of Continuing Studies

McGill University offers a range of excellent certificate PDPs to teach you valuable career skills. These programs range from business analysis, project management, digital marketing and property management, to more STEM-heavy fields like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data science and programming. You can even gain skills for the government workplace, as they offer courses on government and parliamentary management. While some of these programs need qualifications like a bachelor’s degree, others don’t ask for any requirements.
Student
Browse the McGill website to see which programs you like and what you’re eligible for.

2. University of Waterloo

UWaterloo’s PDP is an undergraduate program open to students of the university. As long as you’re enrolled in an undergrad program, you will have the chance to study their free professional development courses. Their focus in PD is to promote proper workplace behaviour, basics of career planning, technical report writing, and skills for planning and conflict management in the workplace. Students of UWaterloo are automatically signed up for a few compulsory PD courses, but there are more you can take without extra tuition costs.

3. University of Ottawa

If you’re an international student, UOttawa’s Career Development Program for International Students (CDPIS) might be a great place to start. This four-week program teaches you how to use job-seeking tools effectively, where to go for networking, how to make connections with people that will get you the best results, and how to transition to a workplace once you find a job. If you’re only interested in a single topic, you can register for each week of the program separately.
Library

4. University of British Columbia (UBC), Okanagan

The Intercultural Career Development Program at UBC Okanagan is aimed toward students who are close to finishing their degree but don’t have much experience in the Canadian workplace. It’s not strictly for international students, so any student can apply. The program consists of four extensive workshops, which teach you about workplace etiquette, social media presence, résumé and cover letter writing, job search tools, networking events, and immigrant information sessions for international students. If you want to study at UBC, this program is an excellent choice to get exposed to the Canadian job market.

5. York University – Osgoode Professional Development for Law

If you’re thinking of studying law, or you’re an accomplished lawyer who’s new to Canada, the Osgoode PDP at YorkU might be right for you. The Osgoode Professional LLM Degree, or Master of Laws degree, is flexible. It has online options and is also open to people who don’t want to commit to a full degree program. There are multiple part-time and full-time law studies specializations, each giving you the skills to work in a specific field of law.

If you’re new to Canada but have experience as a lawyer, you can still take law programs through Osgoode, part-time and full-time (some of which can set you on the road to accreditation, meaning you’ll be verified to practice law in Canada). Even if you don’t want to commit to a full degree, you can take up to 12 credits in this program under Single Course Enrolment (SEC). You would be a non-student taking legal courses, some of which are catered toward newcomers, and you can apply these credits to a future LLM degree at York if you want to pursue it.
Students

6. University of Lethbridge – CPA Bridging Program

If you want to study accountancy and join the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada) in the future, you can take the CPA Bridging Program at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. The program trains you with accounting and business courses until you’re qualified to join the CPA Professional Education Program. Once you’ve finished both programs, you will have your official CPA title. Newcomers with accounting experience in their home country may also be interested in this program.

There are programs for general workplace skills and more specific fields. Make sure to research thoroughly and choose what’s best for you.

All about Gay-Straight Alliances

All about Gay-Straight Alliances

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on September 20, 2021
Love is Love flag

What is a Gay-Straight Alliance?

Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs are student groups that unite youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, and all other non-normative gender and sexual identities, such as non-binary (LGBTQ2+). This club can also be called the Gender-Sexuality Alliance or Queer-Straight Alliance, depending on the school.

In GSAs, LGBTQ2+ and allied students build awareness and support for the LGBTQ2+ community. Allies are people who do not identify as LGBTQ2+ but demonstrate support for the queer community. Most high schools in Canada have a GSA club. They have become an important resource for LGBTQ2+ youth. Every GSA is slightly different depending on the school environment and the students’ needs, but in general, GSAs serve four main purposes:

  • Provide a social space for students to meet and connect with other queer and transgender students in their school.
  • Provide a safe space for LGBTQ2+ youth to discuss various issues they face in schools and in their communities, such as healthy relationships and discrimination from teachers or school administrators.
  • Act as a support group to provide safety and confidentiality to students who are struggling with their identities or are experiencing harassment at school because of their gender or sexual orientation.
  • Act as an activist and leadership group to improve the school environment through campaigns and events.

GSAs are meant to be welcoming and inclusive places for all students, regardless of race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Students who don’t identify as LGBTQ2+ are also welcome to join the club as an ally. GSA clubs may meet once or twice a week either at lunchtime or after school to plan events and campaigns or to simply socialize.
teens hanging out
Individual school GSA clubs are also part of the larger network of GSAs around the country. Sometimes GSAs from different schools will get together to organize or host a larger event. Students from GSAs may also be invited to other events and conferences in the area, where they can meet other students from GSAs at other schools.

What does a GSA do?

Throughout the year, GSAs often organize a variety of events and campaigns in their schools. These campaigns could include things like LGBTQ2+ awareness days, anti-slur campaigns, or teacher training. GSAs may also host events such as bake sales or other fundraisers to raise money for local LGBTQ2+ charities, Pride events in June, or school dances where everyone feels welcome.

Each GSA is different and may put on different campaigns and events. It’s all about what the students need and what they want to do. If the students want to put on events to generate awareness about LGBTQ2+ issues then they will do that. If the students simply need a safe space to relax and socialize, GSAs can be that space too.

Leadership and activism

Over time, GSAs have evolved from their traditional role as a safe space for LGBTQ2+ youth to being vehicles for social change related to racial, gender, and educational justice. GSAs empower youth to take action and use their collective power to stand up for their needs and the needs of their communities. GSAs often fight to protect students’ rights, create visibility on campus and in the local community, and shift school policies to create a safer and more inclusive environment for all students.
Woman with pride flag
While there is a teacher supervisor for most GSA clubs, students are the ones who run the meetings, decide what’s important, and plan events. Action may even extend beyond the school where students attend political rallies, community events, and participate in national days of action. Students usually participate in these events on their own time or with permission from the school and their parents. By organizing events and participating in conversations about social justice, GSAs help students develop their leadership skills and become active members of their school and the larger community.

GSAs have been shown to have positive and lasting effects for LGBTQ+ students on their physical health and wellness, mental health, and academic performance. GSAs are also instrumental in protecting students from harassment and discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation and improving school environments for everyone in the long run.

Spotlighting newcomer scholars in Canada

Spotlighting newcomer scholars in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on September 13, 2021

Dani Magsumbol

Doctoral student at York University
Dani Magsumbol

Her journey to Canada

In 2009, Magsumbol moved from the Philippines to Canada, where her mother worked as a live-in caregiver. Later, she travelled back to the Philippines to complete her final semester of nursing school. In 2010, she officially moved to Canada.

Her current research

Magsumbol’s research examines the expectations placed on those with Philippine citizenship. She studies the emotional and financial connection they maintain with the Philippines even after becoming Canadian citizens.

Her research looks at the connection between Filipino migrants and their home country. Sometimes, this connection comes out in wanting to retire in the Philippines or continuing to send remittance payments after settling in Canada. She analyzes this affection between a Filipino migrant and the Philippines as a nation, looking closely at the notion of identifying as Filipino.

“In my research, I’m trying to see what is the practical difference between holding Filipino citizenship and feeling like you are a member of the nation. I am trying to see what is the political economy of emotions. How is this feeling of belonging outside of citizenship, [and] how is that being used by the state to make sure that remittances keep flowing, because remittances are such a big part of the GDP [Gross Domestic Product]. I am trying to see what is the line between citizenship and national membership,” Magsumbol said.

Her research’s impact on Canada and the world

Magsumbol’s research on labour flow and how a government dictates “belonging” is important given that Canada and the world depend on global labour flow. She has found that when a nation’s economy depends on its labour exports or remittance payments, there is a dollar amount to a citizen’s feelings of belonging to that nation.

Dani’s Twitter account: https://twitter.com/dani_magsumbol

Professor Anna Triandafyllidou

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration (CERC)–Chaire d’Excellence en Recherche du Canada sur les Migrations et L’Intégration at Ryerson University

Editor-in-Chief at Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies
Anna Triandafyllidou

Her journey to Canada

Triandafyllidou moved to Canada from Europe in August 2019 to work as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration.

Her current research

The CERC program helps establish research programs at Canadian universities. Triandafyllidou is establishing research programs in migration and integration.

“I have always worked both on issues of migration management—what is called in Canada ‘immigration’—and on issues of migrant integration and multiculturalism and diversity, cultural or religious diversity. What I find wonderful is that, in this chair, I have the luxury of pursuing both areas.” Triandafyllidou said.

Her research’s impact on Canada and the world

Based on Triandafyllidou’s experience, she has found that the government department, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is open to engaging with researchers and listening to and reading their findings. She influences policy changes that protect migrant workers from exploitative conditions in different employment sectors. Her work also helps newcomers adjust to Canada, and figure out what is needed to prepare for emergencies that arose because of the pandemic.

Professor Anna Triandafyllidou’s website: https://www.ryerson.ca/cerc-migration/People/

Professor Marlène Koffi

Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto

Faculty affiliate at the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society
Marlène Koffi

Her journey to Canada

Koffi grew up in Côte d’Ivoire, where she did her undergraduate and master’s studies. In 2014, she moved to Canada to pursue her PhD at the Université de Montréal in Economics.

Her current research

Her research interests lie in the economics of science and the economics of innovation. These branches explore the economic value and impact of science on innovation and new technologies.

She works on topics related to innovation, with a special focus on different areas of gender, racial, and other kinds of inequality. She also applies machine learning — the use of computer systems to adapt without human instructions—to study information related to public policy. She uses these techniques and tools to read patents and extract information to shape research.

“In economics, we study the effects of using those [machine learning] tools, in terms of labour market outcomes. I use those tools to answer questions,” Koffi said.

Labour market outcomes relate to the supply of workers, the number of workers that employers need to meet population demands, and the matching of skilled workers to suitable jobs.

Her research’s impact on Canada and the world

In looking at Canadian data and patent data, Koffi’s research examines how pharmaceutical innovation in Canada has evolved over time. She then uses this information to influence public policy surrounding patented medicines.

“If there was a policy implemented in the pharmaceutical sector, we want to assess this type of policy [and see] if [the sector] is also improving [in profits and productivity] or not improving. As well, because I work on topics related to inequality, I touch [on] things related to gender inequality [and] racial inequality. Worldwide, this type of research will have [many] implications,” Koffi said.

Koffi’s inequality research will help raise awareness of gender biases within scientific and economic research, as well as highlight racial disparities in the economics profession. Her research will contribute to bridging these inequality gaps worldwide, to ensure that governments and industries can make the necessary changes to support the disadvantaged and unsupported demographics.

Professor Marlène Koffi’s website: https://sites.google.com/view/marlenekoffi/

High school in Canada

High school in Canada

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on September 13, 2021

Secondary school in Canada, also known as high school, encompasses Grades 9 to 12. Students typically graduate high school the year they turn 18, but one can complete a high school diploma at any age. Canadian high schools have a strong record of student achievement. The average high school graduation rate is 83 percent.

What to expect

Many high schools in Canada operate on a semester system. The first semester runs from September to January and the second semester is from February to June. Students will usually take four or five classes in each semester and have final exams and culminating projects at the end of the semester. Students who attend schools that don’t have a semester system will take the same classes all year long.
lockers
High school students will receive personalized timetables, and will move from classroom to classroom throughout the day—with a different teacher for each class. Teachers generally specialize in teaching one or two subjects. Students will also be assigned a personal locker where they can keep their books, jackets, gym clothes, and any other personal belongings. Classes usually start around 8:00 a.m. and finish by 3:00 p.m. but each school may vary.

Students are guaranteed a lunch break in the middle of the day, and five to ten minutes between classes. Senior students may also have a free period, which they can use to do homework or hang out with their friends in the cafeteria or library.

Curriculum

Each province has their own specific curriculum that all public and private high schools must follow. Most Canadian high schools have a credit system. This means that students have to earn a certain number of credits in order to graduate. Usually, one class is equal to one credit. Students often need to take a set number of core credits in subjects including English, math, science, and social studies. There are also a number of elective courses that students can choose to take to fill out the rest of their credit requirements. Elective courses may include subjects like film, business, computer science, and psychology, so students can choose courses that they’re interested in.

In Ontario, high school students are required to take 30 credits in order to graduate; 18 credits are compulsory core classes, and the remaining 12 credits are elective courses.

Classes in high school tend to narrow in focus, and become more challenging compared to elementary school. For example, in high school, there are separate classes for chemistry, biology, and physics, rather than just a general science class.
Classroom
Students in Grades 11 and 12 should pay special attention to the courses they take to ensure they are following requirements if they plan on attending university or college admissions. Most Canadian post-secondary schools require students to have Grade 12 English and many programs require Grade 12 math. It is a good idea to speak with a school counsellor to help with this process.

Specialized programs

Students usually attend the high school that is closest to their home, but some high schools across Canada offer specialized programs that students may be interested in. For example, schools may specialize in the performing arts or science and technology. There are also schools and programs for students with learning disabilities.

Registered schools may offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program and some schools may offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Students may also choose to attend private schools, which may be more academically challenging. Private schools and schools with specialized programs still have to follow the provincial curriculum. They may also offer different electives or require students to take additional specific courses in order to graduate and complete the program.

Extracurricular activities

Many high school students participate in extracurricular activities such as sports teams, music, or student clubs. Extracurricular clubs and activities are usually run or supervised by a staff member, and may run during lunchtime or after school. Extracurricular activities are a great way to get involved in the school community, make friends with similar interests, and help build your resume for university applications. Some provinces may also require students to complete 30 to 40 hours of volunteer work over their four years of high school in order to graduate.

Canadian high schools offer students a safe and supportive learning environment where they can earn a world-class education, and have the opportunity to explore their interests outside of the classroom at the same time

Post-secondary school in Canada

Post-secondary school in Canada

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on September 13, 2021

Post-secondary school in Canada includes universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutes (schools that offer advanced technical training for fields like engineering). Canadian schools consistently rank high in international university rankings. Students can earn a number of post-secondary qualifications at these institutions including certificates and diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, etc.
classroom
Colleges and universities across Canada offer a wide range of programs for students to choose from based on their educational and career goals. Canadian universities tend to be academic and research focused. Whereas colleges provide students with more hands-on, career-focused education and work experience. Attending university is a pathway to a master’s or PhD degree and many Canadian jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, colleges often offer direct pathways to specific jobs.

Applying to a post-secondary institution

Applying to university or college can be a daunting task for any student. The first thing students should do is determine what program they’d like to study, and then find out which schools offer that program. Students can apply for multiple programs at multiple schools, so they don’t need to make their final decision right away. Then students need to check the admissions requirements for their program of choice and make sure they complete the appropriate prerequisite courses. Students should be aware that there is an application fee for many universities and colleges.
Campus
Most colleges and universities require students to have completed Grade 12 English. If students are applying to math or science programs, they will also likely need to have Grade 12 calculus, Grade 12 physics, Grade 12 biology, and Grade 12 chemistry. Exact requirements may vary from province to province and from school to school, so students should check with their high school guidance counsellor or university program website to make sure they are meeting the requirements for the school and program they are applying to.

Once students are confident that they have met the admissions requirements, they’re ready to submit their online application. Most provinces have a centralized system that allows students to submit their applications to multiple schools with one application form. In Ontario, students use the Ontario Universities’ Applications Centre, also referred to as OUAC. In most cases, students’ high school transcripts will be sent directly from their high school to the school they are applying to. However, applying to school in another province may require additional documents. Applications are usually due in January, but it’s a good idea to start the process early.

Student life

Most Canadian universities and colleges operate on a semester system. A semester is typically between 12 and 14 weeks long, plus an exam period at the end of each semester. The first semester goes from September to December and the second semester goes from January to April. Some schools may also offer a summer semester from May to August. Students are given a personalized timetable. They may have the option to create their own schedule, or the school or department may determine their timetable.
Students on campus
Classes may start as early as 8:00 a.m. and end as late as 10:00 p.m. Students usually take four to six classes each semester. Classes may include large lectures, smaller tutorials, and labs. Typically, one class is approximately three hours per week of class time. Students can expect to do the majority of their school work outside of scheduled class hours. At most schools, students will need to take a certain number of credits in order to graduate.

The number of credits and class requirements vary from school to school and program to program. For example, students who attend the University of Toronto require 20.0 credits to graduate where most classes are equal to 0.5 credits. Meanwhile, students who attend McGill need 120 total credits where most classes are equal to 3 credits. Students will have to take specific courses to meet their program requirements, but there will also be a small number of elective courses. These are courses students can take outside of their major to fulfill the total number of credits required to graduate.

Student Services and Resources

Canadian universities offer a wide variety of resources and support services to their students. These resources range from academic support to on-campus events and activities. Here are some of the most common resources that Canadian universities offer:

  • Students’ Union: Students’ unions are the on-campus student government that protect the rights of students. They also offer programs and events and may organize student clubs and activities.
  • Libraries: Universities have extensive libraries where students can access academic resources and reading electronically or in hard copy. Most libraries have silent study spaces, group study rooms, and computers.
  • Health Services: On-campus health services are often available to students free of charge. Services may include first aid, birth control, pregnancy tests, sexually transmitted infection tests, physical exams, referrals, and mental health counselling.
  • Financial Aid Office: The financial aid office is the place to go if students have questions or concerns about tuition, their student loans, or scholarships and bursaries.
  • Sports and Recreation Facilities: Sports and recreation facilities are usually available free of charge for students. This may include gyms, pools, fitness classes, workout studios, and organized varsity and intramural sports.
  • Academic Support Services: Academic support services may include English language support, academic essay writing workshops, study skills workshops, and more.
  • Career Centre: The career centre may offer services, such as résumé and cover letter review, mock interviews, networking events, and individual career counselling.

Studying at a Canadian college or university is sure to help set students up for success no matter what their education and career goals are.

How deal with school bullying in Canada

How deal with school bullying in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on September 9, 2021
girl holding stop the bullying sign

Bullying is a problem where people hurt, intimidate, or scare others intentionally. Bullies often target those who struggle with defending themselves and are unlikely to retaliate. When people are bullied, they often feel afraid, uncomfortable, and alone. Bullying can be both physically and emotionally destructive. Some common bullying behaviours include shoving, punching, kicking, poking, pulling hair, spreading negative gossip or rumours, ignoring, saying hurtful things (even in a joking manner), and convincing others to treat someone badly.

Whether students are newcomers or not, they may struggle with or witness bullying in Canada. Statistics show that 47 percent of Canadian parents have at least one child that has been bullied, and one-third of adults in Canada were bullied as a child. So, what can be done to prevent and stop bullying in schools?

For newcomer parents

Even though you may be dealing with the challenges that come with adjusting to Canada, it’s important to pay attention to how your children are adapting to their new school. Some newcomer parents may think that changes in their children’s personalities are due to cultural adjustments, but if your children suddenly don’t want to go to school or become withdrawn, they might be experiencing bullying. While every child may need something different, here are some things you can do if you suspect your children are being bullied:

  • Let your children know that they can trust you. Ask your children if they have any concerns and, if they want, you can talk to school staff to stop any bullying behaviour.
  • Talk to your children’s teachers and school social workers about the bullying.
  • Make sure your children know how to speak up for themselves and for other students by using phrases like, “Stop it,” and “Don’t do/say things like that,” and to walk away if a bully refuses to listen. Also, teach them the importance of not being a bystander and getting help from an adult if things escalate.
  • Discipline your children when they exhibit any bullying behaviour to their siblings or pets, and let your children know that bullying is wrong and can have damaging effects on others.

For witnesses

Whether you are a bus driver, school librarian, parent, or student, you have a responsibility to call out and report bullying if you see it. In 57 percent of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when witnesses intervene or are unsupportive of the bullying behaviour. As a passive bystander, your lack of action encourages bullying. Here are some other things you can do:

  • Inform a teacher or counsellor if you notice bullying.
  • Move towards or next to the bullied person so that the bullies will stop their behaviour.
  • Speak up for the student being bullied so that the person doesn’t feel alone.
  • Help the student get away from the bullying situation.

For those who are being bullied

If you are a newcomer student who is being bullied, remember that you are not alone. There are many people who care about you and don’t want you to suffer by yourself. It’s okay to seek help from your parents, teachers, and friends. You shouldn’t have to deal with other students treating you poorly or hurting your feelings.

sad young boy

SOS Safety Magazine mentions that bullies often pick on those who are sensitive, shy or quiet, different from them, smaller than them, and someone they are jealous of. As a newcomer, bullies might view you as an easy target because you are adjusting to a new environment. No matter who you are or what you look like, no one deserves to be bullied. If you are being bullied, here are some things you can do:

  • Tell someone you trust (like a parent or teacher) that you are being bullied.
  • Stand up for yourself if you are able to or ask for help from others (let one of your teachers know about the bullying or ask friends to confront the bully with you since there is strength in numbers).
  • Stay with a supportive group of friends to avoid confrontations.
  • Remind yourself that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Bullying can be traumatic, and no student should be afraid of going to school. The stress and anxiety that comes from being bullied can also make it difficult for newcomer students to enjoy learning and it may decrease their focus. Parents, teachers, school staff, and students need to work together so that no student feels unsafe at school.

Supporting newcomer children with disabilities at school

Supporting newcomer children with disabilities at school

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on September 9, 2021
boy playing

When a newcomer family comes to Canada, they may experience culture shock, but what if—on top of trying to adjust to a new school and a new language—one of their children has a disability as well?

Obstacles for children with disabilities

There are many different types of disabilities, including physical disabilities (like blindness, brain injury, and epilepsy), developmental disabilities (like Down syndrome), and learning disabilities (like dyslexia). The biggest obstacle newcomer children with disabilities can face is a lack of recognition, from parents and teachers, that they require educational accommodations.

Many immigrant families can be confused about available accommodations for disabilities, especially disabilities that don’t present visible symptoms. A report from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) cites the lack of a clear distinction among some newcomers between being sick and having a disability. This lack of distinction and fear of medical expenses can make newcomers hesitant to seek support or treatment for their children. Newcomers shouldn’t be afraid to take their children to the doctor. The doctor can provide a diagnosis and help parents figure out how to help their children.

Fiona Pereira is a special needs assistant and an associate of Surrey Place, an organization in the Toronto region that provides specialized clinical services. Surrey Place helps children and adults living with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, and visual impairments reach their full potential.

“A lot of times people from certain countries don’t want to acknowledge—and are very ashamed of—their children being different in any way. I think there’s a huge stigma [about having disabilities] with[in] a lot of cultures,” says Pereira.

girl playing

It is crucial for parents to acknowledge their children’s disabilities and support their treatment and education.

“As soon as they are diagnosed and are taught in a way that they understand—they really excel,” says Pereira.

In Canada, there is publicly funded support for children with disabilities, like the Child Disability Benefit provided by the federal government. Public schools also provide free special education for children with disabilities.

At Surrey Place, Pereira helps parents understand the needs of their children and integrate them into their school life. Some of the programs are free and some of them have a cost.

“[At Surrey Place] they do parenting aides and then they’ll do exercises with the kids and the parents. They teach [parents] how to integrate [children with developmental disabilities] into school life or into different situations. […] Now, more and more, there are places that specialize in that.”

boys in a classroom

When a disability is discovered

Amy* was a newcomer from Hong Kong when she started kindergarten, but her disability was not discovered until she was in the second grade. Her teacher tried talking to Amy, and her lack of response was seen as a behavioural problem. The teacher eventually asked Amy’s parents to go to their family doctor and get her hearing checked.

“I was diagnosed when I was seven. I think I didn’t even get any hearing aids during that time because […] I was doing fine in school, and I didn’t want to get something that would make me different,” Amy said. “I could get by every day alright, but maybe I would be super tired from straining. So, at that time I didn’t do anything about it.”

Amy was in Grade 5 when she asked her parents if she could get hearing aids to hear her friends better during recess. During that time, she was still getting good grades, but once she got her hearing aids, she noticed an uncomfortable change in her treatment at school.

“The school kind of gave me a label and they put me in the program for kids that have hearing loss. You get a teacher that would come every two weeks. […] She would be there to make sure that everything was working and teach me self-advocacy skills. Afterwards, I would get an IEP [individual education plan],” says Amy.

Amy had to write a letter to her teachers every year to ask them to wear an FM system that shuts down the background noise, so she could hear the teacher better. Asking her teachers embarrassed her, and she felt like she had to prove that she was capable with every new teacher. She recalls a time when she was treated differently by a school board staff member.

“One time I told the school board audiologist that maybe I was interested in audiology and she was like, ‘Oh it’s a very competitive program to get into,’ like she couldn’t stand someone that was labelled as ‘less than’ to get into a program like that—but that’s just so dumb. It’s just people’s perceptions if you’re labelled a certain way.”

While Amy made many friends and progressed well in school, some of her peers expected her to do poorly because of her disability. They thought it was unfair that she received accommodations.

“When I did well in school people would be like, ‘Why do you get special accommodations? You’re not struggling at all so, why are you getting special treatment and I’m not?'”

Continuing to fight for recognition

Many children with disabilities—newcomers and Canadian-born—have felt looked down on by people at school who questioned their intelligence or capabilities. They want to be treated with dignity and respect and not have their accommodations questioned, especially if they have an invisible disability.

Now Amy works for a bank and is an ambassador of Lime Connect, a support group for young professionals who happen to have disabilities. She understands, first-hand, the importance of bringing awareness to people about the needs of persons with disabilities, and how they shouldn’t be treated as less than at school or anywhere else.

Children with disabilities face unique challenges, but in their school environment they shouldn’t have to prove themselves nor should they have to defend their accommodations. Their needs should always be recognized and considered without “other-ing” them or treating them as if they are less capable than their peers without disabilities.

Children with disabilities have a lot to offer, and their presence alone gives their families and their school community an opportunity to learn and grow. More resources for children with disabilities and their families are provided below.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Resources:

Surrey Place can be found on social media:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn
YouTube

CanChild: https://canchild.ca/

Ontario:

Québec :

Alberta:

British Columbia:

Manitoba:

Nova Scotia:

Prince Edward Island:

New Brunswick:

Saskatchewan:

Newfoundland:

Pursuing creative careers: How to achieve your dream job as a child of immigrants

Pursuing creative careers: How to achieve your dream job as a child of immigrants

By Abisha Sooriyathas

Posted on September 9, 2021

Children of immigrants often dream of becoming artists and dancers, writers and filmmakers. The world is expansive and limitless—until you grow up and buy into the false idea that your dreams are hopeless pursuits.
Child drawing
For 1.5 generation or second generation Canadians, these creative pursuits are replaced with a trifecta of careers that many of us know too well: Doctor, lawyer, engineer. Immigrant parents often tell their children their passions are unrealistic and profitless. As a result, those children grow up and find themselves burning out as they work toward jobs that they’re not even sure they want.

However, according to Indeed, creative careers can lead to happiness and success, as well as enhanced job satisfaction, better work-life balance, and greater personal reward found through work. These positive results, along with the potential to make money doing what you love, should encourage individuals to pursue their passions.

But what if my parents don’t support me?

Life is not often linear, and it can be scary embarking on a journey that your family may not completely support. For many of you, it can be hard to understand why your parents push you toward these practical, high-paying jobs.

An article by the Guardian explains that non-white immigrants often fear that their children will face discrimination in their careers. By encouraging their children to pursue “high-status” careers, immigrant parents might feel as though they are protecting their children from discrimination. Ability in science, for example, is based on test scores, while creative ability is largely based on opinion—opinions that may be influenced by racial or cultural biases. In addition, immigrant parents might place pressure on their kids in the hopes that it will allow them to achieve the prestige that often feels exclusively available to their white Canadian counterparts.

Nevertheless, being on the receiving end of this pressure is not easy. Luckily, a study by the School for International Training shows that although immigrant parents do not always understand the notion of putting passion and personal interest before financial stability, they are still able to respect their children as individuals regardless. This shows that following your heart can attract respect and recognition from your family in the long term. Let this knowledge empower you to make life and career decisions on your own behalf.

Although you may not be receiving the full extent of support that you desire from your parents, it is very possible for you to build a career that you are passionate about. Outlined below are three tips that can encourage you to move past the stigma of pursuing an unconventional or creative career.

Define your goals (and your WHY)

brainstorming
The first step is to figure out what you want to do, and more importantly, why you want to do it. In a TedTalk by Simon Sinek, he explains that the most inspiring, successful people and organizations in the world all share one thing in common—knowing their “why.” This is not as simple as, “I want this job because I want to make money doing what I love.” It is diving deep and discovering your purpose and your cause and then using this to have your work connect to others.

For example, Apple doesn’t simply tell their customers that they make nice computers. They tell their customers that they create beautifully designed, user-friendly computers. Why? Because they believe in challenging the status quo. People can connect with and respond to this message. As Sinek states in the TedTalk, people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

As with any career, challenges and roadblocks will arise as you move toward your creative career, especially given that there can be a limited amount of job opportunities depending on your chosen industry. These challenges can be discouraging and make you feel that others are right to say that your career choice is hopeless. However, holding on to your why—the reason it is so important to you to build this career—will help carry you through any hardships that you might face. It is important to remember that there is so much room for growth in creative careers, but it is impossible to reach this growth if you don’t take a chance on yourself.

Get inspired

Do your research. Find out what other first or second generation immigrants with your dream career have done to get where they are. Learn about people like Michael Ondaatje, a famous Sri Lankan Canadian author whose novel, The English Patient, was adapted into a film that won nine Academy Awards. Learn about Domee Shi, a Chinese Canadian storyboard artist and director who was the first woman ever to create a Pixar animated short titled Bao.
laptop
Listen to podcasts or interviews with your favourite creative people. Magic Lessons by author and journalist, Elizabeth Gilbert, aims to help aspiring artists overcome their fears and create more joyfully. Get empowered by the brilliance that others have to share.

While you do this, remember to hone your craft. If you want to pursue a career in which you’ll be drawing, draw. Writing? Write. Dancing? Dance. Action leads to motivation and inspiration. Clarity comes from doing, not thinking.

One of the major benefits of pursuing a creative career is that gaining experience does not have to be done in a professional environment. With the internet at your hands, practicing your craft—whether that’s fashion, filmmaking, or anything in between—can be done in your own time. Dedicating time each day to get inspired and work on your craft will allow you to develop the skills necessary to work in the field that you are passionate about.
pottery and painting

Redefine success

Many individuals feel pressure to find success—and even define success—through the amount of money that they make. This pressure can often be elevated in newcomers. Many immigrants are in pursuit of a better life than the one they left behind and hope to achieve this through the elusive “American (or Canadian) dream.”

However, you do not have to buy into the belief that success is defined by the money that you make. Redefine what success means to you. It could mean the ability to connect with people through your work, or the feeling of alignment that you experience each day as you work on your craft. Ensure that your definition of success is one that motivates you. Success does not have to mean immediately making money within the first year of your career journey. It can, instead, mean being patient with yourself as you work hard toward the career that you know you will obtain in the future.
woman with lightbulb sign
It is easy to feel discouraged when pursuing an unconventional career, but it is possible to move past these fears and doubts by taking confident steps toward your goal and knowing that your worth cannot be reduced to a dollar sign. Pursuing your creative passion can result in a career with just as much, if not more, job satisfaction as more conventional careers. It is important that all young people are encouraged to not only plan appropriately for their future careers, but to also listen to and follow their hearts.

Benefits to thrifting

Benefits to thrifting

By Stephanie Reed

Posted on September 6, 2021

On top of the cost of rent or mortgage payments, buying groceries, and transportation, there is still the task of furnishing your home, buying clothes for work or your growing children—leading your cost of living to add up quickly. Thankfully, thrift stores have grown substantially in popularity and are an alternative way to shop that not only saves you in cost, but also decreases the ecological footprint made by the fashion industry.

Environmental benefits

signs to save the Earth

Thrifting clothing, furniture, or toys reduces the amount of waste disposed into landfills, on top of reducing the energy and mechanical production required to make brand-new products. For example, we can eliminate the cotton required to make a new shirt or a pair of jeans if more people were to thrift amongst pre-existing clothing. The amount of clothing placed in landfills globally has doubled over the last 15 years. Buying a used item reduces one’s carbon, waste, and water footprint by 82 per cent.

In addition, the hassle of children constantly growing out of their clothing is a struggle for parents when trying to reduce one’s ecological footprint in the fashion industry. A global data survey in 2019 found one in two people throw away brand new clothing instead of donating it to thrift stores, charities, or passing it down to younger family members. As kids go through major growth spurts, in the long run, turning to thrifting can be more efficient financially and ecologically.

Economic benefits

man carrying furniture

Designer clothing, vintage furniture, and unique artwork can all be found in thrift stores for a fraction of the price. While making an environmentally conscious contribution by thrift shopping, your wallet will also appreciate the discounted prices.

Additionally, thrift stores are a great place to find materials for art and do-it-yourself projects without spending a fortune.

What can you find at a thrift store?

Thrift stores carry a wide variety of items including small kitchen appliances, plates, glasses, electronics, books, movies, baby products, toys, home furniture and decor, clothing, outerwear (boots, jackets, skates), purses, jewellery, and more.

How to find thrift shops?

thrift store

Searching for the nearest thrift store online is easy these days by looking for stores categorized as “thrift,” “consignment,” or “upcycling.” Additionally, THREDUP is an online thrift and consignment store where people can donate items to be recirculated in society or purchase new items for themselves. This resource works to educate, elevate, and influence consumers about the need for a more sustainable fashion industry.

If you have items to donate yourself, that are in good quality and deserve a new home, consider donating to Salvation Army as it is a non-profit organization. This means the items are sent directly to those in need around the community. Other options such as GoodWill, Value Village, or Talize will also accept donations, the difference being the items will be sold for a profit.

Elementary school in Canada

Elementary school in Canada

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on September 6, 2021
Elementary classroom

Navigating the elementary school system in Canada may seem like a confusing process, especially when you consider the differences between the provinces and territories. However, this article will provide important information you need to know that will answer questions you may have.

What is elementary school?

Elementary school in Canada, also known as primary school, typically spans from kindergarten to Grade 8. In some provinces, Grades 6 to 8 are referred to as middle school or junior high. The education system in Canada is controlled by the provinces and territories, so there are certain variations across the country.

For instance, Ontario is the only province where junior kindergarten is mandatory, and in other provinces such as Quebec, elementary school only goes up to Grade 5. This chart is a more detailed explanation of the grade structure across the different provinces and territories in Canada.

Elementary schools in Canada can be public or private. You can also choose between religious or non-religious schools. In addition, since the official languages in Canada are English and French, you can choose between English or French schooling. There are even schools with specialized programs for students with disabilities, students interested in certain fields such as arts and technology, and students who speak English as a second language.

Elementary schools in Canada are typically supervised by school boards in addition to the provincial government. There are different school boards for different regions and for religious and non-religious education. For instance, in Toronto, there is the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

How to enrol?

You can easily enrol your child in elementary school by contacting your local district school board. It’s best to enrol your child as early as possible, keeping in mind that the school year in Canada typically begins in September, so ensure to enrol your child by August. If you are hoping to have your child attend a private or religious school, call the school you are interested in for more information.

school door

Time is of the essence when it comes to enrolling, as spots can fill up quickly! You will need important identification documents such as birth certificates, passports, proof of address, proof of guardianship for the child, proof of the child’s immigration status, proof of baptism if necessary, and immunization records. The school board or school will give you a more detailed list of what you need, but it is best to prepare yourself to enrol by having these documents.

Ages

The age that a student begins elementary school varies based on the province or territory you’re in. Typically, students start school the September following their fifth birthday. This is not always the case and we suggest contacting your local school board to confirm their particular rules.

Grade structure by province

It’s hard to say when exactly elementary school ends in Canada because each province and territory has its own cut-off date. We have included this chart by ArriveIn.ca to give you a rough idea of the grade structure by province.
elementary classes across Canada

Transportation and school buses

Most schools provide students with free transportation to and from school if they live a certain distance from the school. Students are provided transportation on yellow school buses that are driven by a licensed bus driver. The driver follows a route that picks up many students to bring them to school.

These buses can sometimes carry up to 72 passengers at one time. Some schools require the parents to provide their own transportation if the child lives close to the school. Most schools determine your child’s eligibility to enrol based on how far you live from the school. This means that your child will usually not attend a school that is very far from them, as they would be redirected to a closer school. It’s worth figuring out your child’s route to and from school in advance to get them comfortable with the commute.

Expenses

There are free public schools that are available for students to attend in Canada. To attend these schools, you do not have to pay any tuition fees. The only costs typically associated with public schools are activity fees or uniform fees if the school has one. There are also private schools in Canada which require tuition payments. Private schools in Canada can vary from $4,000/year to $70,000/year depending on where your child attends. Whatever your budget is, there is a school for your child to attend in Canada.

Other expenses, in addition to tuition, that you can expect during elementary school are field trip fees, textbook fees, student agenda fees, and at some schools, there is a charge for extracurricular classes such as music.

These additional expenses are typically affordable since the whole purpose of public schools in Canada is to provide people with access to affordable education. For more information on school fees, contact your local school board or elementary school to inquire.

Subjects

Elementary schools usually cover core concepts such as math, science, English, social studies, geography, history, and sometimes even extracurriculars such as music or physical education.

The goal of elementary school is to teach children fundamental skills such as math, reading, and writing. There is a standard provincial curriculum that is followed by all schools in that territory or province. This curriculum is designed to equip students with the skills they need to excel in their academic studies.

Students are usually assigned to a “homeroom” where they are taught all these subjects by one teacher with the same class of students. In older grades, students can have a rotating timetable where they go to different teachers for different classes.

Grading system and how marks are assessed

In elementary schools, students are usually given a letter grade that reflects their performance. The grading system varies depending on the province. Typically, the letter grades include A, B, C, D, and F (E if you are in Quebec), with A being the highest and F/E being the lowest standing for “Failure” or “Échec.”

Students usually complete a wide variety of tests, assignments, and quizzes that allow the teachers to evaluate the student’s skill level and provide a grade to reflect the student’s performance. Grades are usually provided to parents in the form of “Report Cards” which are released at the end of every semester. You can speak with your child’s teacher about their grading methods and systems.

Extracurriculars

Most Canadian schools allow the students to access different extracurricular programs such as sports and clubs. Some schools will have sports teams such as soccer teams, basketball teams, hockey teams, and track & field teams, where the students can try out for a position on the team. Some schools also have different clubs and programs for children such as interest-based clubs, like reading clubs, math clubs, and even student government systems. Different schools offer different extracurriculars, and it’s best to confirm your child’s school has extracurriculars that match their interests.

Resources for newcomer students in Canada

Canada has a lot of great resources for newcomer students to help them make the most of their academic experience. Most Canadian schools offer English-as-Second Language (ESL) or French-as-Second Language programs that can help newcomer students develop their communication skills.

You can usually enrol in these programs by inquiring with your local school board or your school. The process looks different depending on where you are. For example, in Toronto, there are Newcomer Reception Centres operated by the Toronto District School Board. This is where newcomer students can go and have their reading, writing, and speaking skills assessed and matched with a program that fits their needs. All elementary schools in Toronto have ESL programs and many other school boards reflect this. Contact your school or school board today to get more information on what resources are available to you.

We hope this article was informative and helped to answer important questions that you may have about elementary school in Canada. We wish you and your child all the best of luck on this new academic journey!

Early childhood education in Canada: Preschool, daycare, and nursery school

Early childhood education in Canada: Preschool, daycare, and nursery school

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on September 6, 2021
preschool
In Canada, mandatory schooling typically starts after a child’s fifth birthday. However, there are programs and schools that children can attend before they start full-time schooling. This is referred to as early childhood education, and can usually take the form of daycares, preschools, and nursery schools. There are differences between these types of schools and programs that are important to consider when determining the best fit for your child. This article will give you a more in-depth look at how early childhood education works in Canada.

What is early childhood education?

Early childhood education in Canada varies from province to province, but it typically takes on the same structure. Early childhood education refers to the non-compulsory programs and schools that children can attend before going to elementary school. These programs are generally offered for children between the ages of 3 to 5, the exception being nursery schools, which usually go from a few months old to age 3, but this can also vary.

You can choose between preschools, daycares, and nursery schools. Preschools and nursery schools tend to be more structured like elementary schools and focus on teaching children a curriculum and skills. Daycares, however, tend to be more focused on providing the child with fun activities and supervision rather than formal teaching. Preschools and daycares can be privately or publicly operated, and some subsidies are available to help parents manage the costs.

There are also regulated and unregulated daycares, preschools, and nursery schools in Canada. If a nursery school or daycare is regulated, that means that they have registered their facility with the government, and are subject to provincial rules and supervision. If a nursery school or daycare is unregulated, that means they are not licensed or registered by the government, and therefore, are not being supervised by them. Unregulated facilities can be dangerous due to the lack of accountability and supervision by a government body. If you have issues at a facility that is regulated, it is easier to resolve them or find someone to help you; however, this is not always the case with unregulated facilities. Unregulated facilities tend to be cheaper than regulated facilities, but remember it’s always best to prioritize safe childcare. You can find more information on unregulated childcare facilities and things to be aware of by visiting Finding Quality Care.com.
daycare
It’s also worth mentioning that many preschools and daycares have a waitlist and waitlist fees. Because early childhood education is optional in Canada, you have to apply and be accepted. Waitlists for these programs can sometimes be extremely long and some places even charge you a fee to be on the waitlist. Take this into consideration when choosing your daycare/preschool, and start the process early.

Costs?

Early childhood education and early childhood care are not publicly funded in Canada. This means that caregivers have to pay out of pocket for their child to attend these programs and facilities. Canada is known for its “astronomically high child care prices,” but there are programs that can help lessen the cost, and the cost can vary depending on where you’re located. For instance, Montréal has cheaper childcare than Toronto, with a median monthly cost of $175 in Montreal and $1675 in Toronto. As the cost of early childcare in Canada can vary, it’s important to shop around and do your research before committing to a school.
kids in animal masks

Grants and subsidies

Across Canada, the government has been making an effort to make licensed childcare more accessible to everyone. As a result, the government has developed many subsidy programs that can help lessen the cost of childcare. As a part of these programs, the government pays a portion of the childcare fees. You have to apply for these subsidies to qualify, you are not automatically considered. Most of these applications base your eligibility on your most recent tax return. There are different ways to apply depending on where you are located. Typically, the municipal government has information on these programs that can be found on their website and have online application portals you can use. You can also call your city’s local citizen line by dialling 311, which is free of charge if you’re calling within local city limits. You will be connected with a government worker that can help you find out more about these programs. For example, the City of Toronto has an online application portal that caregivers can use to apply on their website, or these services can be accessed by calling 311. A quick google search can help you find out what subsidies are available to you. It is also worth asking the school if they have any information on this.

Depending on the preschool or daycare your child is attending, there might be financial aid available. Some preschools and daycares offer financial aid in the form of scholarships; when contacting schools, you should ask if they offer any type of financial aid.

Things to consider

Deciding where your child will begin their education can be an overwhelming process. To ease the stress, there are a few important things that you should take into consideration when making this decision. First, you want to consider your child’s needs and what you are hoping they get out of this process. This can help you decide between a preschool or daycare. Next, you want to consider the location and how far you’re willing to commute. You also want to consider the location because the price can change a lot depending on where you are looking. Remember that there are unregulated or regulated facilities, and a regulated facility can provide you with more safety and peace of mind. It’s also worth considering the educational approach that the facility takes. For instance, some schools are centred around play-based learning, while others are centred around arts-based learning and activities. Lastly, you want to consider the cost of the facility as this can be the ultimate deal-breaker when making your choice. Considering these factors can help you make the best choice for you and your child, making for an enjoyable experience.

We hope this article was informative and helped to answer important questions that you may have about early childhood education in Canada. We wish you and your child all the best of luck on this new academic journey!

Residence for international students in Canada: Find what’s right for you

Residence for international students in Canada: Find what’s right for you

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on September 6, 2021
Student
Coming to Canada as an international student can be as challenging as it is rewarding. With such a competitive housing market, it can be difficult to find an affordable place to stay as you complete your studies. This article will give you a sense of residence options both on campus and beyond. The content will discuss the pros and cons of each option, where you can search for housing, and what alternatives are available.

On-campus living

While on-campus residence does exist, it’s not always affordable for many new students in the country. Depending on where you study, living on campus may cost you over $14,000 per year, on top of your tuition fees (a price from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario).

Campus residence has certain benefits, like living near libraries, campus facilities, and cutting down on commute time and costs. Other perks include, quick trips to your dorm room between classes, and late-night study sessions in libraries without worrying about the last bus back home.
Students at campus common area
It’s also easier to immerse yourself in student activities outside the classroom. If you want to join clubs, student associations, volunteer, or take advantage of your professors’ office hours, living on campus makes things slightly more accessible. It’s also a great way to meet people, especially when you’re studying in a university with a large number of students, where making friends outside the classroom can be challenging. On the other hand, living on campus can put a serious dent in your budget. Education debt for international students is already higher than a domestic student’s would be, so it’s important to explore other options.
students on campus

Off-campus living

The obvious benefit to living off-campus is the potential reduction in price. Rent prices vary greatly on location and the number of rooms you plan on getting. For example, renting a single bedroom in a larger residence in downtown Toronto can cost over $1400 a month, but the same can be listed for just above $500 in Mississauga. A one-bedroom or studio apartment downtown can go for $1250, and around $1053 in other parts of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) like Mississauga or Scarborough.
roomates
To give you a scope of how prices vary, this breakdown written for University of Toronto students lists the regional differences in rent across the GTA. If you go for a two-bedroom place and find a roommate, you can share the cost of rent and amenities and greatly reduce your financial burden. While the privacy and independence of living alone can seem appealing, roommates are the best and most common way of making your life more affordable and manageable.

Assuming you’re staying in residence for at least eight months—the full fall/winter term—renting a single room outside downtown Toronto, but within the GTA, can still be cheaper than the $14,000 price of some on-campus costs. However, that isn’t the case for every college or university. It’s important to know how expensive residence is at your institution, and compare that with available single-room/studio/two+ bedroom listings in your area.

Websites for off-campus residences:

Kijiji—excellent website for seeking residence and potential roommates.

Student.com/ca—allows you to sort local postings by your preferred move-in and move-out dates, with many rent costs including all additional bills.

Rentboard.ca, Rentals.ca, Craigslist and Padmapper are also excellent sources for students. Take a look at all of these and diversify your search!

Homestays

A third alternative to living is opting for a homestay. A family offering to share their home with international students is one of the cheapest options out there, with an average price range of $400 to $800 per month. Homestays generally offer meals and a private space for you, along with the added companionship and cultural exposure from your host family.

Host families are screened and approved, and homestays are generally arranged by a professional network—ensuring that this arrangement is safe, professional, and offers good living standards for you. If you’re interested in this kind of accommodation, the Canada Homestay Network is a great place to start.

There are many options available depending on where you live and study. Search through the websites mentioned above and see what budget works best for you. Compare the costs of living off-campus to on-campus, and see which is a better investment. Take advantage of these resources, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Ultimate back-to-school shopping list for kids

Ultimate back-to-school shopping list for kids

By Brittany Stuckless

Posted on August 30, 2021

It’s that time of year again! Parents are scrambling to get their kids ready for school, and as newcomers you may feel overwhelmed trying to find the back-to-school basics that your kids will need. To save time, you can check out this detailed list of everything kids need for back to school!

back to school supplies

Backpack

A backpack is essential for kids heading back to school. Most school subjects have several textbooks and require students to allocate one notebook per class. Therefore, your child will need a place to store their books and easily carry them home. It should be big enough to store books and supplies, but not hurt your child’s back or be challenging to keep in a locker.

Pencil case

Kids need a new pencil case for heading back to school in September. It should fit a lot of pencils, maybe a couple of pens, and some other items. Your best bet is to get a pencil case that has multiple compartments. That way, your child can use it to store rulers and erasers as well.

Laptop

With the COVID-19 pandemic having a massive impact on learning, many students are now accustomed to technology—even more than they were before 2020. It’s always good to have a decent laptop in the household during the school year. To save money, you don’t have to worry about getting a computer for each of your children. A shared laptop between your kids should be enough.

Notebooks and folders

Students need notebooks and folders to help organize their schoolwork. One notebook and one folder per subject should suffice. It’s important to get notebooks that are big enough, not smaller notebooks that people may use as a journal or diary. Some notebooks have folder compartments built-in. You can also check out multi-subject notebooks for even more efficiency for your kids.
book

Pencils and sharpener

Young kids should use standard HB 2 pencils when heading back to school. You can easily find lots of these pencils in bundles, and they each have an eraser on the bottom for fixing mistakes. You’ll also need to pick up a sharpener to keep the pencils ready for handwriting practice, math, and all of your child’s favourite subjects.

Kindle

You might want to consider getting a Kindle reader for your child. Kindle readers help reduce the book load students have to carry and frees up space for other supplies. Kindles also help familiarize kids with simple technology. Buying books for a Kindle is easy; all you have to do is follow this guide from Business Insider.

More essential school supplies

school supplies

Highlighters: A pack of highlighters will help your child study for tests much more efficiently. While looking back on their notes for the year, their highlighter will help them remember critical information for tests.

Lunch bag: If you like to send your child to school with lunch instead of relying on the cafeteria, make sure you get them a suitable lunch bag to keep food from spilling in their backpacks.

Calculator: While young kids don’t require calculators, elementary school kids will likely need one. Kids in elementary school and above will require a scientific calculator for math classes.

Sneakers: Kids need sneakers for gym class and playing during recess. Many kids wear different shoes to school and change into their clean, indoor sneakers before going about their school day.

Protractor: Older kids (Grade 4 and above) will need a protractor to measure angles, along with their scientific calculator, when they start learning more advanced math.

Art supplies: For art class, you should get your kids a sketchbook, coloured led pencils, markers, crayons, scissors and glue. Art supplies may vary for different schools, and you can always check with the teacher or school to make sure you have everything.

Pens: While kids usually use pencils, there is no harm in sending them to school with some pens. Sometimes art classes can incorporate pens, and older kids entering junior high may use pens to take notes.

Rulers: Kids need a ruler for math class. You can get them different sizes, but a 12-inch ruler should be enough.

Eraser: Most pencils come with erasers, but they can be small and wear down easily. Get your kids a couple of extra erasers so they’re more prepared.

Toronto’s hidden gems: Six restaurants to explore in the city

Toronto’s hidden gems: Six restaurants to explore in the city

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on August 30, 2021

Want to step off the usual path of the same old restaurants and try something new? These hidden eateries are loved throughout Toronto, and offer a variety of experiences.

1. Bampot Bohemian House of Tea and Board Games | 201 Harbord St.

Tea

This cozy spot offers an excellent variety of black, oolong, rooibos, green and white teas, yerba mate and seasonal blends. They also serve hearty meals and snack platters from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Come here for the vibrant and welcoming décor, well-made food, and a unique tea-drinking experience. Their wide selection of party games makes this board game cafe the perfect place for group gatherings and family outings.

2. The Gem | 1159 Davenport Rd.

nachos

Known for its quirky, old-world charm and heartwarming food, The Gem is a characteristic little restaurant praised for its large portions and popular pub foods, like nachos, wings, burgers, and pulled pork sandwiches. With beer on tap, a sunny patio, and distinctly aged interior décor, the ambience is uniquely bold, but welcoming. You’ll also find a jukebox offering a nostalgic collection of vinyl records. This is an excellent spot to meet up with friends or enjoy a beer. Just keep in mind—they take cash only.

3. Country Style Hungarian Restaurant | 450 Bloor St. West

hungarian schnitzel meal

This restaurant may be small, but their food doesn’t compromise in portion sizes or flavor. Generous and hearty meals like schnitzel, goulash, paprikash, and sauteed chicken liver are among the many delicious choices found here. The interior décor is simple and humble, much like the food. Also another cash-only establishment, it’s perfect for comforting meals on cold winter days (or any day, really).

4. Loga’s Corner | 216C Close Avenue

dumplings

The Tibetan classic street food found at Loga’s Corner should be frequented by any dumpling lover. Although it’s a small and humble spot, they serve momos in sizeable portions at great prices. Both the soft and fluffy steamed momos and crispy, chewy fried ones are served with a distinctly flavorful and spicy chilli sauce. Loga’s Corner offers a strong homage to the beloved street food culture staple.

5. Rendez-Vous | 1408 Danforth Ave

Ethiopian meal

The atmosphere is dim and cramped, but this authentic Ethiopian restaurant boasts a range of distinct dishes that have consistently impressed diners. With many dishes served alongside injera, a regional Ethiopian flatbread, the menu’s extensive offerings of lamb, chicken, beef, and vegetarian meals are definitely worth a try for any hungry explorer. Their drinks menu is no less versatile, offering a range of spirits. Perhaps the more impressive experience is the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony performed at your table.

6. Okonomi House | 23 Charles St. West

Savory pancake

Some of the authentic foods this Japanese joint serves are okonomiyaki, a savory pancake stuffed with your choice of protein (including bacon, pork, beef, chicken, scallops, shrimp, or a seafood deluxe), classic Japanese burger steak, teriyaki dishes, and yakisoba. While seating options are limited for groups, single customers can sit at the bar and watch the chefs prepare these delicious pancakes, teppanyaki style. Whether you’re with friends or by yourself, this is a memorable experience—as long as you can get a seat.

LGBTQ2+ book recommendations for teens

LGBTQ2+ book recommendations for teens

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on August 16, 2021

It can be lonely to constantly read books with characters and plots you can’t relate to. The Newcomer has put together a list of some young adult books that feature LGBTQ2+ characters and themes for you to enjoy and find yourself in.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

On September 5, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio with some bad news: They’re going to die today. Rufus and Mateo are complete strangers, but they’re looking for someone to spend their last day with. They meet on an app called Last Friend and they get together to have a lifetime of fun and adventure in a single day.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon is 16 and gay. But nobody knows that. Simon begins emailing back and forth with a boy named Blue. One day, one of Simon’s emails falls into the hands of Martin, the class clown. Martin threatens to expose Simon’s sexual identity and the identity of the boy he’s been emailing if he doesn’t play wingman for Martin. Now, between being blackmailed, new tensions among his friends, and his emails with Blue becoming more flirtatious every day, Simon’s life is full of drama that he hoped to avoid. Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone and be himself without losing his friends and his chance at happiness with Blue.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle is an angry teen whose brother is in prison. Dante is an artistic, philosophical know-it-all. When the two boys meet in the summer at the local pool, they seem to have nothing in common other than the fact that they are both Mexican American. As the boys spend more time together, they discover that they’re more alike than they think, and become very good friends. Together, they uncover important truths about friendship, family, and themselves.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles is a fresh take on the Iliad by Homer. Achilles, one of Greece’s greatest heroes, and Patroclus, an awkward young prince who has been exiled, meet by chance during the Trojan War. They become close friends and Patroclus develops feelings for Achilles. When full-scale war breaks out, Achilles is enchanted by the promise of glory. Patroclus, who loves and wants to protect his friend, follows. Along the way, the fates will test them to see where their true loyalty lies.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

In the beginning, Jude and her twin brother Noah are inseparable. Jude is a daredevil who wears bright red lipstick, cliff dives, and revels in male attention. Noah on the other hand draws constantly and is quietly crushing on the boy next door. As they enter their teen years, they grow apart as they compete for their mother’s attention, and a spot at a competitive art school. The early years are told from Noah’s point of view and the later years are told from Jude’s. When something terrible happens, the twins try to find their way back to each other and remake their world.

What Ontario’s new math curriculum means for high school students

What Ontario’s new math curriculum means for high school students

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on August 16, 2021
math
On June 9, 2021, Ontario’s Education Minister, Stephen Leece, revealed new plans for the Grade 9 mathematics curriculum. The changes are set to remove the “applied” and “academic” streams of math that have been a staple of high school education in Ontario since 1999. These updates will drastically change the way math is taught in high schools, and could influence not only the academic futures of students, but the social dynamics between them in high school.

What is applied/academic streaming?

This system divides students into two separate groups of high school courses, and puts students on a certain track from Grade 9. In fact, the applied/academic divide exists in other courses as well.

The general idea is that applied courses offer the essential subject matter required for a good understanding of the subject, whereas academic courses are more challenging. Academic- stream curriculum is more relevant to current affairs, and deals with theoretical subjects along with practical applications.

The applied/academic system was put in place to give students a broad education without locking them into highly challenging courses for which they have little interest.

What is streaming?

The intention of the applied stream was to allow students to be more flexible with what they choose to study, not to segregate them in any way. However, this may not be the case in reality.

In this system, applied-stream and academic-stream students have different classes, taught by different teachers, in different classrooms. This draws a clear and divisive line between students. Because applied courses are considered “easier” than academic courses, students in the applied stream may be considered less intelligent.

This heavily influences a teenager’s social credibility among their peers. The stigma that deems applied-stream students lesser or intellectually stunted dominates high school culture where the applied/academic system still operates.

Effects on student performance

By design, applied-stream students can only apply to colleges, not universities.

While college isn’t at all a worse choice than university, the applied stream in high school may do more harm than good for the futures of students, as the following data shows. In a study by the People for Education charity organization, 28 percent of Grade 9 students in Ontario opted for applied streams. Of that number, 62 per cent of students who took applied mathematics in Grade 9 took a number of applied courses in other subjects in following years. Moreover, a Toronto District School Board study showed that only 40 per cent of applied-stream students graduated high school.
students
These numbers are concerning, and they show that the difference of streams could influence a student’s performance and opportunities, both during and following high school. The study also reveals that academic streams, even outside mathematics, provide an education which encourages greater awareness of modern social issues connected to a topic and topical political discussions, while applied streams offer the bare minimum education required for students to understand a concept in a theoretical sense. This implies that applied-stream students are somehow unqualified to participate in current issues, which—as the study proposes—deem them as lesser citizens.

Why streaming isn’t ideal

The applied stream tends to group more disadvantaged and visible minority populations. As such, many people consider the system a method of racial and economic segregation in education.

According to the study by People for Education, Black and low-income students were shown to be more likely to be transferred to applied streams. They were also less likely to graduate into university programs. This suggests severe systematic discrimination in what was proposed as a simple way to make school easier for students. This shows how necessary drastic change is when it comes to secondary education. When you look at statistics, the notion that the applied/academic streaming system is purely merit-based is no longer credible.

The applied/academic streaming proposal might have had decent intentions—to provide students with a more flexible education. The unforeseen consequences; however, are sustained social stigma, and fewer Black and low-income students attending university or graduating high school.

The new proposal

The new system for math is designed to avoid the negative aspects of applied/academic streaming.

The new curriculum plans to remove the applied/academic streams entirely, only for mathematics. Instead, a singular stream will be offered to all students, which will focus heavily on “relevant learning.” This means encouraging real-world applications of math skills along with social awareness about the cultural relevance of math and related subjects, such as science, technology, and engineering.

Coding and programming, financial education, and practical applications of math in daily life and future careers will be the focus in this new curriculum. This may deviate from the more abstract and theoretical concepts taught in the soon-to-be defunct academic mathematics stream.

What this means for education

The implications for this change are vast. The stigma between applied/academic streams could be diminished. Especially because this change affects math. Student culture often judges a student’s intelligence by their grades in math and science. A low grade in academic-stream math may be associated with low intelligence. This stigma can be even worse for a low grade in applied-stream math.
math
Removing streaming in math could mean students are less likely to discriminate against each other based on intelligence.

The issue of high numbers of marginalized groups in applied streams could also see some improvement. Graduation rates among low-income and Black students may increase. The number of students from marginalized groups who attend university may also increase.

Overall, it’s important to consider the cultural impact of educational systems. With this new system, the future may look a bit brighter for academic culture and equal opportunity.

5 Things to do in the Territories

5 Things to do in the Territories

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on August 16, 2021

The territories are the northernmost part of Canada. Approximately 125,000 people live in the territories. It’s cold and remote and sometimes the sun never sets. But the territories are home to beautiful landscapes, rich history and culture.

See the Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Northern Canada is one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. In the territories, the Northern Lights can be seen almost year-round, but it’s much easier to see them in the winter. The Northwest Territories (NWT) are one of the best places in Canada to witness this magnificent site.

From Yellowknife, you can take a scenic bush flight to the Blachford Lake Lodge & Wilderness Resort. You can also head to the Aurora Village, a teepee village just outside of Yellowknife, that’s specifically for watching the Aurora Borealis. Seeing the Northern Lights is an experience you don’t want to miss out on!

Visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife is operated by the Northwest Territories government. It’s known for being a territorial museum, but it’s also home to the NWT archives and a collection of northern artifacts and collections. It’s a great place to go to learn more about the history of Canada’s northern communities.

Dogsledding in Yukon

dog sledding
Dogsledding may not be the most traditional transportation method, but it’s a fun one. In the Yukon, you can head out on a dogsledding adventure with a pack of husky sled dogs—going through snowy trails and frozen rivers. These adventures can be as tame or as wild as you want, whether you just want to ride along or actually try doing it yourself. Tours can be anywhere from half a day to multiple days. It’s an adventure that’s very unique to northern Canada.

Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories

Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake is the second largest lake in the territory, the deepest lake in North America, and the 10th largest lake in the world. You can go fishing and eat delicious seafood, go sailing or paddling, go birdwatching, and witness picturesque views.

The lake is also home to five different, unique communities—the capital city, Yellowknife, the commercial fishing and transport centre, Hay River; the historic Métis town of Fort Resolution, traditional Łutsel K’e on the scenic East Arm, and Behchokǫ̀ on the North Arm. It’s an area rich with history and culture, from the Métis and Indigenous people to the Yellowknife gold rush in the 1930s.

Floe Edge Tour in Nunavut

In the spring, the floe edge—where the open sea meets the frozen sea—of coastal ice becomes one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. In Nunavut, from April to July, arctic wildlife including walruses, seals, beluga whales, and polar bears gather along the floe edge. It’s a great celebration for the Inuit people. You can take a tour of the area from a local, knowledgeable guide who will take you on an arctic adventure. The experience is a spectacle of wildlife, mountain scenery, drifting icebergs, and bird cliffs. It’s a unique Nunavut experience.

6 Things to do in Quebec

6 Things to do in Quebec

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on August 3, 2021

Quebec is Canada’s second largest province by area. Quebec’s official language is French, but English speakers can easily navigate the city. There’s lots to see and do in Quebec from old cities to the natural beauty of national parks.

Old Montréal

There’s lots to do in Montréal’s oldest historic neighbourhood, Old Montréal. It’s an area known for its culture and history. You can go for a walk down the cobblestone streets, take pictures of the beautiful architecture, visit Place d’Armes, and stop by the Notre Dame Basilica. The area is filled with numerous restaurants of different cuisines and lots of shopping options. You can also visit the Old Port of Montreal, which stretches over two kilometres along the Saint Lawrence River and was historically a trading post. Now, it’s a great place to go for riverside walks and bike rides, as well as visit the Montréal Science Centre located in the heart of Old Port.

Parc Mont-Royal

Parc Mont-Royal or Mount Royal is a small mountain just west of downtown Montréal. Some people say that the name of the city of Montréal was taken from Mount Royal. It’s a great place for some light hiking trails with picturesque views of the city. In the park, there is also a small artificial lake called Beaver Lake, public art sculptures, and a lookout point over the city. In the winter, there’s a snow tube and toboggan slope, and cross-country ski trails. In the summer, you can find Tam-Tams, where Montréalers and visitors play drums on the east side of the mountain on Sunday afternoons.
Mount Royal

Old Quebec (Quebec City)

Old Quebec is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and is considered the birthplace of French North America. In Old Quebec, you can get a feel for European culture without actually going to Europe. This area is best explored by foot, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Here you can see the Quebec Parliament Hill and the Plains of Abraham, go inside the walls of Quebec City, shop on the pedestrian street Petit-Champlain, and visit antique stores and art galleries in the Old Port of Quebec City. Old Quebec is charming, romantic, and perfect for photos.

Old Quebec

Jacques-Cartier National Park

Jacques-Cartier National Park or Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier is in a beautiful glacial valley just 30 minutes outside of Quebec City. There are many natural sites to be explored in the park. You can canoe, kayak, or paddleboard on the calm waters of the Jacques-Cartier River, go on a mini rapid rafting adventure, or explore over 100 kilometres of hiking trails. If you visit in the winter, you can also go snowshoeing, tobogganing, or skating.

Mont Tremblant

Mont Tremblant is a holiday destination and ski resort in the Laurentian Mountains. Here, you can experience the beauty of nature in all four seasons. In the winter, Mont Tremblant is a prime destination for skiing and snowboarding. There are 102 trails in total with varying levels of difficulty from beginner to advanced. If you’ve never skied or snowboarded before, you can take lessons. There’s also a pedestrian village with lodging and amenities, restaurants, and boutiques. In the summer, Mont Tremblant is a great place for hiking, biking, and enjoying the beach on Lac Tremblant.
Mont Tremblant

Montmorency Falls

Just 15 minutes from Old Quebec City, Montmorency Falls is a natural historic site. An 83-metre waterfall dominates the landscape. If you like a bit of an adventure, you can explore the falls on a zipline or cliffside climbing circuit. You can also walk the panoramic circuit and stop at various lookout points along the way to observe the falls and learn more about the history and geology of the region. You can also have a meal at the Manoir Restaurant.

Tips to embracing different cultures in Canada

Tips to embracing different cultures in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on August 3, 2021
group of people

Canada is a country that values multiculturalism: the view that different cultures, ethnicities, and races can coexist and mingle with equal rights and opportunities.

When you come to Canada, your first instinct might be to find people who share your cultural background. You might seek individuals who speak your language and know your customs. It is easier to communicate with people who understand your culture and beliefs. People from different cultures may dress a certain way, speak with a different accent, or enjoy customs and activities that you don’t understand. This can make it difficult to connect and relate to one another.

It is good to interact with people who share your values. However, you might find yourself in a cultural bubble missing out on new opportunities.

Whether you go to work, attend school, or shop at a grocery store, you will encounter people from a different culture than you, especially if you live in a large city. If you’re looking to branch out from your cultural bubble, here are three tips to getting started.

1. Be curious

When you interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, you should treat them with kindness and dignity. Make the effort to speak to them, even if you don’t speak the language fluently. Try to get to know the people you interact with and ask them basic questions, like their name and their background.
friends

Maybe you’ve seen videos or television that feature people of a certain race or ethnicity. Maybe you have a few friends from different cultural backgrounds, but not every person from a specific culture or race is the same. If you have any questions about other people’s languages or traditions, ask! Being curious and asking questions can be the first step in broadening your social circle.

2. Try to learn from them

Since the people you meet may speak another language, you can ask them if they could teach you how to say different sentences in their language. If they know how to weave or play a traditional instrument, see if they can teach you those skills when they have the time.

It’s fun to learn new skills from other people! Whether you pick up the skill quickly or it takes some time for you to learn, you will be able to develop confidence in learning something new. Someone from a different culture might be able to teach you something that can become your new hobby.

3. Be open to new cuisine

Many people take pride in their cooking or the dishes that represent their heritage. If you have never tried another culture’s cooking, give it a try! If someone from another ethnic background offers to cook you something or wants to share a snack, say yes. You never know if you are going to like it if you don’t taste it. Just be sure to let the person know if you have any allergies. As well, share your cultural food with the people you meet and offer to cook for them.

different cuisines

Food brings family members and friends together, but we all have food preferences and aversions. If you really don’t want to try the food, you can say that you’re full or at least try a bite and say thank you.

We hope these tips will help you get to know other people and their cultures better!

How to balance school, work, and extracurriculars

How to balance school, work, and extracurriculars

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on August 3, 2021

Many students in college or university focus heavily on their studies and miss out on other opportunities to learn, grow, and meet new people. While it’s important to prioritize school work, these students might miss out on many positive aspects of student life. It is rewarding to participate in extracurricular activities and to work while in school. Those activities and actions can make a student’s post-secondary school experience more fulfilling and enjoyable.
friends
As a student, you might be wondering how you can find the activities that you are interested in. You might also want to know how you can find the time to participate in extracurriculars and work, while maintaining good grades.

Finding clubs and teams

During orientation week, universities and colleges often host an activities fair where you can sign up for clubs, sororities or fraternities, and teams. You can also look up clubs and teams on your campus’ student life website. There are volunteer organizations you can join and clubs that focus on games, tournaments, and social causes. If you are interested in playing sports, you can also join intramural sports teams.

7 tips for managing your schedule

Adding work and extracurriculars to your schedule can enrich your student experience! Below are some tips on how to get started.

1. Create a course load that is easy to manage

Don’t try to cram too many courses in a single semester! Select a full course load that is not too heavy. Take a few compulsory classes and a few electives to help balance out your workload. If possible, you can also leave some courses to complete during the summer.
student on laptop

2. Start with two to three extracurricular activities

It is important to pick activities that you enjoy. If your favourite sport is volleyball, check the schedule of your school’s volleyball team. If you want to deliver food to the homeless, look for what time the club you want to join does deliveries. Try to make the extracurricular activities fit into your school and work schedule. For example, if your last class on Thursdays ends at 6:00 pm, sign up for volleyball at 6:30 pm. Since you are still on campus, you’ll be able to participate.

3. Seek support for your courses

Don’t neglect your studies! If you find that you are struggling with course content, talk to your teaching assistant or professor about your concerns and work with a tutor. If your extracurriculars are impacting your grades, it might not be the right activity for you. You can also talk to an executive member of the club or team about reducing your hours with the organization.

4. Keep your agenda handy

Use the agenda that your school offers or purchase a planner for yourself, so that you know what activities you have for the day. Keep track of the times and locations of your activities and try not to doublebook or overbook yourself.

5. Let go of the activities that cause you stress

If you need to drop a course, activity, or job that is causing you a great deal of anxiety or stress, drop it. It is important to prioritize your mental health. You are not a failure if you have to give up on an activity you enjoy because you are too busy with school and work. You can always join again when your workload is lighter.
Stressed student

6. Consider attending drop-in fitness classes or visiting the gym

Many colleges and universities offer free drop-in fitness and gym memberships. If you don’t want to commit to a sports team or would prefer exercising at your own pace, you can visit your school’s gym or take a fitness class in-between your regular classes.
guy with gym bag

7. Try virtual or at-home activities

If your school does not have opportunities to join activities in person due to COVID-19, there are still online clubs you can join and activities you can do from home, like attending virtual fitness workshops.

Campus tours: pointing you in the right direction

Campus tours: pointing you in the right direction

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on August 3, 2021
Student

You have applied to or have been accepted into several colleges or universities, but you aren’t sure which school to choose. All of the programs seem similar to each other, but you don’t know what campus life will be like. If you would like the opportunity to compare campuses, you can book campus tours.

What are campus tours?

Campus tours are designed to help prospective students get acquainted with specific areas of a campus. Campus tour guides are generally current students who show prospective students areas where they will eat (dining halls), study (library), and rest (dorms and lounges). During the tour, guides point out buildings and areas, share brief stories of their campus experience, and answer questions about campus life. Parents of prospective students are allowed to join the tour with their children.

Don’t book a campus tour expecting to get freebies or information about your specific program. Campus and college tours are mainly for prospective students to see some amenities and decide if they would like to live on campus.

I know that I’m not going to live on campus. Can I still book a campus tour?

Yes, even if you choose to live off-campus or to commute, you can still book a campus tour. If it is a school you would like to attend, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with its study and dining areas.

Student

How many tours should I go on?

While it may be tempting for you to visit as many campuses as possible, it might not be the best use of your time. Tours can be long and tiring since you will be walking around a lot. It is best to visit the two schools you are most serious about. However, if you’re unsure if you would like to apply or attend a certain school, and have the means to visit, then there is no downside to taking a tour. If you are already familiar with a school or city, visit a school you are unfamiliar with.

Should I book a tour if I am leaning towards one school?

Some students already have their heart set on one school and when they do a tour at another school, they discover they like the other one more! Even if you are certain you would like to attend one school, you can benefit from doing a tour at another to see what you might be missing.

Classroom

I have already registered at a school. Should I book a campus tour there?

Once you’ve registered at a school, you don’t need to book a campus tour, but you can if you’d like for your parents to join you. Your school will most likely have a frosh week, which is an orientation before the start of the academic year where first-year students can build strong bonds with their classmates by participating in fun activities. Frosh week may include a campus tour.

If you are a commuter student, many colleges and universities offer the option to room with someone in residence during that week so that you can still participate.

I don’t feel comfortable attending a campus tour in person. Can I attend a virtual tour?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in-person campus tours have been put on hold. To support social distancing measures, many campuses do offer virtual, VR, and online guided tours. You can check out the websites of the campuses you’re interested in to access or enquire about their virtual tours.

A new student’s guide to public transit in the Greater Toronto Area 

A new student’s guide to public transit in the Greater Toronto Area

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on August 3, 2021
using transit
As a new resident of Canada’s most densely populated region, going from point A to point B may not appear simple at first. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA)—including the city of Toronto, and the regions of Durham, York, Peel and Halton—includes over 7,000 square kilometers and a total of 24 cities from Burlington to Brock and everything in-between. These areas are connected through public transit. International students new to the region may find it challenging to efficiently navigate the city’s transit systems.

You may live quite a distance from your classes or your workplace, meaning you’ll have to make travel arrangements. Luckily, there are multiple public transit networks in Canada, all of which are reliable, punctual and designed to suit whatever commuting needs you may have. Commuting is cheap, easy and a great way to explore your city!

The guidelines below should help you become more familiar with what options are available, and what type of public transit to use. They’re also catered generally for the GTA. For a detailed introduction of transit networks all across Canada, read The Newcomer’s Public Transportation in Canada.

Planning your transit budget

Your first priority should be to invest in a transit pass for your local transit service. This can vary depending on what city you live in.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the most popular and extensive transit system in Canada. If you’re living in the GTA—especially in Toronto—the TTC’s bus and subway services will be extremely useful. As a student, you are afforded discounts on fares as well.
transit station
A PRESTO card is one transit pass option, and one of the best when it comes to using public transit. It’s a simple card you can load money on, and use on a large number of transit networks in the GTA and beyond. For more information, check out The Newcomer’s guide to PRESTO cards.

You also save money while using a PRESTO pass. The regular TTC fare per trip is $3.25. This includes free transfers for a continuous journey in one direction. With a PRESTO card, a trip on a bus or subway costs $3.20. This includes a two-hour transfer period to tap onto as many buses, subways, or streetcars as you need to get to your destination.

It may depend on how often you use public transit while you study, but constantly buying tickets or even topping up a reloadable PRESTO card may be more expensive than simply getting a monthly transit pass. A monthly transit pass gives you unlimited use of public transit for a flat monthly rate. For example, the TTC’s monthly pass for students costs $128.15. Spread across an eight-month fall/winter term, the total for that comes to $1025.20.

This is expensive, but depending on how often and how far you travel every day, it could actually be cheaper than paying each time you use public transit. If you don’t travel frequently, simply buying individual tickets or tokens with cash could be cheaper than buying a pass.

Setting up and using transit passes

While you can use a PRESTO card on multiple transit routes across the GTA, you can also get specific transit passes for local city networks.
public transit
Toronto: You can use the TTC bus and subway system with a PRESTO card. Alternatively, you can set up a TTC monthly student pass at the Bathurst Station Photo ID Office. Here, they’ll ask for proof that you’re a student—so, bring your student ID card. Aside from the monthly fee of $128.15, you’ll also need $5.25 for the TTC Post-Secondary photo ID. This is the physical card you show to access public transit.

You can read more about the TTC photo ID here.

Mississauga: The MiWay bus transit is also accessible with PRESTO. If you study at the University of Toronto Mississauga, you will be eligible for a U-Pass, which lets you ride MiWay for free during your study term. You don’t have to tap your PRESTO card on MiWay buses if you have a U-Pass; just show the driver your pass and enjoy your ride.

Brampton, Durham, Hamilton, Oakville, York: While there are no student passes for using these transit networks, you can buy monthly passes for any of these regions on your PRESTO account. While prices vary depending on the region, it’s usually within the $110-$128/month range. Paying for individual rides also works in these regions.

Inter-transit transfers: With a PRESTO card, you can also transfer between transit systems! For example, if you live in Oakville but study in Toronto, you can transfer from Oakville’s local transit to a GO train that will take you to Toronto for only an extra $0.80, (if it’s within the two-hour transfer window) rather than paying the full price of a GO transit ride. In many cases, you can transfer between networks for free.

Bear in mind that this doesn’t apply to all networks. Most local transit networks don’t allow a free or discounted transfer to GO, but they do allow free transfers with each other! For a full breakdown of which networks allow free or discounted transfers between them, look at each region separately here.

How to use the GO network: Unlike other transit systems, the GO network (a network of buses and trains spanning multiple regions, from Niagara to Toronto to Peterborough and many others) uses a “tap on, tap off” method to charge your card. This is applicable on both GO trains and buses. When you use the GO train, tap your PRESTO card on any available terminal at the train station. Make sure you don’t forget to do this before getting on the train, or you could get fined by inspectors onboard. Then, when you get off at your destination, tap your card again on any given terminal at the station.

Similarly, on a GO bus, tap your card once when you board and once again when you exit the bus. This tells the card exactly how much distance you’ve travelled using GO, and how much to charge your card for the trip. If you don’t tap off at your destination, you could get charged a lot more than you should be, because your card will assume you travelled the entire length of the route! Always remember to tap off when you’re using GO transit.

GO default trips: If you only use GO to travel to the same destination from the same starting point every time, you have the option of setting up a default trip. This means you don’t have to tap off at your destination, as long as it’s the same place set as your default. For example, if you always take a GO train from Mississauga to Toronto, and set those as your start and end stations. You will only be charged for a trip to Toronto even if you don’t tap off. This video has a tutorial on how to set up default trips using the PRESTO phone app, but you can also do this in person at any customer service desk at a GO station.

There’s a lot you can do with a few simple first steps. Public transit is one of the best and most reliable ways to get to classes, familiarize yourself with your city (and other cities) and explore your local region. For new students in Canada, it’s a cheap and simple way to cover long distances and make the most out of your experience living in a new country.

4 Things to remember about off-campus housing 

4 Things to remember about off-campus housing

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on August 3, 2021

Living off-campus is a challenging and rewarding experience for any student in Canada. For many, it’s their first time being independent and responsible for themselves. Here are four things to keep in mind about living off-campus.

Food costs

While you would have your meals prepared by your institution’s cafeterias if you bought a meal plan (which is often mandatory if you choose campus housing), living by yourself or with roommates means you have to buy your groceries, and prepare your own food. This may either be cheaper or more expensive than a campus meal plan, as there is a wide range of grocery options in Canadian cities  with varied price ranges.

carrying groceries

It’s up to you if you want to make the commitment to do grocery shopping,  budget your money for food,  cook and prep meals, or spend money on takeout or restaurant food—which is what many students end up doing for the sake of saving time.

Deposits and added bills

Some places may ask you to put down a deposit, which is usually your first and/or last month’s rent  at the beginning of your stay. While this doesn’t increase the grand total cost for your stay, it may be difficult to put down what is essentially double the monthly rent upon moving in. That is a potential challenge you might face, along with being responsible for your hydro, water, heating, gas, and wi-fi bills. However, as mentioned before, it’s possible to find listings where these bills are included in the rent price—so you don’t have to pay them separately.

Commuting to campus

Trying to find housing within your budget is always a challenge, especially because of how many students are searching for housing along with you. You may find something you can afford which puts you a good distance away from campus. This means you’ll have to commute using public transit. In general, residences tend to be more expensive if they’re closer to your campus, so a relatively cheap accommodation may mean you’ll have to travel a bit to get to your classes.
working on a computer
If this is the case (and the distance isn’t walkable), you must consider the costs of taking the bus or subway every day, and work that into your monthly budget.  In these cases, it’s a good idea to buy a monthly pass for your local transit network (so you don’t have to keep refilling your cards or buying tickets), which often come with student discounts.  To learn more about public transit, you can read The Newcomer’s guide to transportation for students.

Roommates

While it may be appealing to have total privacy in your residence, there are great benefits to living with one or more roommates. Splitting the rent with your roommate(s) can greatly reduce your financial burden, and even allow you to live in more expensive areas closer to your campus. Sharing grocery costs and meal preparation with your roommate(s) can make things much easier on your food planning. This ensures that you don’t have to rely on cheap, unhealthy junk food to get by, which can negatively impact your health.  Roommates  can  also help you pay for utilities, wi-fi, and any other household amenities you decide to buy and use together.

Making friends in your new city is the best and fastest way to quickly learn how to navigate your new life, and roommates can be an excellent source of guidance and companionship. If you happen to get a roommate who is a domestic student, it can be a great way to learn about the social culture in Canada.
friends
Roomies.ca  is a great website to search for hosts looking for an additional  roommate. You can also advertise your residence so that potential roommates can contact you.  Facebook housing groups for students exist for nearly every institution. Kijiji.ca is also a great website to both advertise your own residence asking for roommates, or browse other peoples’ posts and look for a place to stay.

5 Things to do in the Prairies

5 Things to do in the Prairies

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on August 3, 2021

Go to a sports game in Winnipeg

No matter what season it is, Winnipeg locals love attending sports. In the summer, fans gather in Shaw Park and cheer for the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team. In the fall, people enjoy the Canadian Football League (CFL) season—especially Winnipeg’s very own Blue Bombers. Winter is when hockey season is in full swing, and the province’s National Hockey League (NHL) team, the Winnipeg Jets, take over the Canada Life Centre arena. Sports events in Winnipeg are generally family friendly fun, with food, music, and of course cheering for your favourite teams.
Hockey

Visit Riding Mountain National Park

Riding Mountain National Park is located in Treaty 2 Territory atop the Manitoba escarpment. Indigenous Peoples have long lived in the Riding Mountain region and the Ojibway people still live in the area today. The forests and grasslands are home to a wide diversity of living creatures, including elk, wolves, black bears, moose, and hundreds of species of birds. In the park you can go camping, hiking, boating, and paddling.

Visit Assiniboine Park

Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg is a great place to spend an afternoon in the winter or the summer. The park features a zoo, theatre, English gardens, walking paths, and a miniature train. In the winter, you can go skating at the Riley Family Duck Pond, go cross-country skiing on the groomed trails, or go tobogganing. There are outdoor activities for the whole family.

Explore Big Muddy Valley

Big Muddy Valley is part of Saskatchewan’s badlands near Coronach at the southern border. You can explore the beautiful, vast landscape that is rich with history. Big Muddy Valley extends from southern Saskatchewan to northeast Montana. In the past, the area provided a hideout for legendary outlaws including Sam Kelly, Dutch Henry, and the Sundance Kid. You can book guided tours of the Valley through the town of Coronach. On the tour, you can see sites such as Castle Butte, Big Beaver Nature Centre, Aust’s General Store and Paisley Brook School. You can also see the Ceremonial Circle, effigies, and tipi rings that are sacred to the Indigenous people who lived there.

Visit a museum in Regina

Regina is the capital city of Saskatchewan and is home to many museums. If you like art and history, check out the Royal Saskatchewan Museum or the MacKenzie Art Gallery. If you like science, visit the interactive Saskatchewan Science Centre where there are over 100 exhibits to explore. You can also visit the RCMP Heritage Centre where you can learn about the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. You may even see some new cadets training here. These museums are fun and informative and you’re sure to learn something new about Canada and Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan flag

6 Films on Canadian culture

6 Films on Canadian culture

By Stephanie Reed

Posted on July 26, 2021

Documentaries and films are a great way to learn about history, different perspectives, national issues and triumphs, and more. Canada’s film industry and production continues to grow and explore new stories, as well as stories of the past. While Canada is sometimes only used as a filming location or background setting in movies, there are admirable pieces of work that are produced surrounding Canadian history and stories of reconciliation. The following is a list of four films and two documentaries that explore stories of Canadian culture, history, and connection.

FICTION

Indian Horse (2019)

ice hockey

This film is based on an award-winning novel written by an Ojibway—Indigenous, Algonquin speaking tribe—writer, Richard Wagamese. The film is set in Ontario, Canada during the 1950’s, an era plagued by the oppressive removal of Indigenous children from their homes and relocation to residential schools.

Saul Indian Horse is an eight-year-old boy from an Ojibway family and a survivor of a residential school, who finds a passion in the sport of hockey. What starts off as a self-taught pastime leads Saul to a major opportunity within the sport and a chance for a better life. His heritage, traumatic past, and possibility of a bright future are all connected within Saul’s journey.

Available to watch for free on CBC Gem. Watch the trailer here.

One Week (2008)

motorcycle

One Week tells a fictional story of a man with a life-threatening health diagnosis, who decides to take a trip across Canada on his motorcycle. Along his journey, viewers are shown the beautiful landscape of the country, starting in Toronto, Ontario all the way to Tofino, British Columbia. As Ben travels across the country to process his recent diagnosis, his gratitude and appreciation for the country grows fonder with each new scenic destination.

Available to watch for free on Tubi. Watch the trailer here.

BASED ON TRUE STORIES

The Terry Fox Story (1983)

prosthetic leg

The “Marathon of Hope,” a famous run across Canada by cancer research activist, Terry Fox, was documented and became a nationally recognized story. Fox’s diagnosis of bone cancer ignited his journey across the country in hope of raising money for cancer research. Against the wishes of his family, who were concerned for his health, Terry’s courage and determination to raise awareness and support for other cancer survivors and amputees touched the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast. This film is inspired by Terry’s journey with some fictional aspects included.

Available to watch on Crave with a subscription. Watch the trailer here.

Anne of Green Gables (1985)

woman in a field

This award-winning film is widely recognized for the beautiful landscape of Prince Edward Island—Canada’s smallest province, located on the east coast. The film tells a fictional story of a red-haired orphan who gets into trouble with her adventurous imagination. It was adapted from novels written in 1908 by L.M. Montgomery, who based the stories on her childhood in Prince Edward Island where she was raised by her grandparents.

Available to watch exclusively on GazeboTV. Watch the trailer here.

DOCUMENTARIES

Birth of a Family (2016)

This emotional documentary by Tasha Hubbard follows four Indigenous siblings who were separated as children during the “Sixties Scoop” (the mass-removal of Indigenous children from their families into the welfare system that took place in the 1960’s). As they meet one another for the first time since they were infants, they share their experiences and traumas while in foster care and after being adopted.

Available to watch for free on the National Film Board of Canada’s website. Watch the trailer here.

Borealis (2020)

grizzly bear

This documentary explores the role that human occupancy and invasion has on Canadian wildlife, and the requirements for our ecosystem to flourish. Across Canada, the animals, plants, bodies of water, etc. are only able to maintain and produce their natural wonders so long as human life respects the limitations, boundaries and need for protection of the natural environment.

Available to watch (free) on the National Film Board of Canada’s website. Watch the trailer here.

Common nutritional deficiencies amongst Canadians

Common nutritional deficiencies amongst Canadians

By Abisha Sooriyathas

Posted on July 26, 2021

As newcomers arrive in Canada, they might find themselves drawn to new foods and different flavours that are unique to the Canadian diet. According to the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA), it is common for newcomers to experience dietary acculturation—the process of adapting to the diet of their new country.

As such, it is important that newcomers are made aware of nutritional deficiencies that are prevalent within the Canadian population. A study by the University of Saskatchewan showed that both newcomer and Canadian-born children have nutritional deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium. However, newcomer children have additional deficiencies in folate and zinc as well.

It is possible that these additional deficiencies are due to food insecurity. The AMSSA states that recent immigrants are much more likely to experience food insecurity than Canadian-born individuals. This leads to an increased risk of poor health and chronic disease.

To combat this issue, there needs to be an increase in the accessibility of healthy food options, as well as an increase in education on both healthy eating and nutritional deficiencies. Below you will find a list of nutrients that are often deficient in newcomers, alongside information on the function of each nutrient and ways to obtain them through one’s diet.

Calcium

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), calcium is an important mineral that is needed to maintain strong bones. In addition, muscles need calcium to move and neurons use calcium to carry messages between the brain and the body.

There are many food sources that are rich in calcium. Primarily, it can be found in milk, yogurt, and cheese. Animal sources of calcium include soft-boned fish such as sardines and salmon. Vegetable sources of calcium include kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage.

Milk

Vitamin D

The NIH also states that the body requires vitamin D to help absorb calcium. Because vitamin D and calcium work together, vitamin D also functions to help build strong bones. In addition to vitamin D’s role in assisting calcium, it assists the immune system in fighting off bacteria and viruses.

Vitamin D is an interesting nutrient because your body can make it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. Canadian winters consist of very low sunlight, and this may be why many Canadians are deficient in vitamin D. It is important to be aware of this deficiency and obtain vitamin D through a balanced diet, especially when spending very little time in sunlight.

Many foods, such as breakfast cereals and milk, are fortified with vitamin D. However, Vitamin D can be found naturally in fatty fish like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils. It is also found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. A vegan source of vitamin D is mushrooms.

Salmon

Folate

According to an article published by Harvard’s School of Public Health, folate (vitamin B9) is a nutrient that helps the body create DNA and other genetic material. It also plays a role in the production of red blood cells, making it critical during periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy.

Some food sources of folate include dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and more. Folate can also be found in beans, nuts, fresh fruits, and fruit juices.

Brussels sprouts and broccoli

Zinc

Another article from Harvard’s School of Public Health states that the body only needs zinc in small quantities. Despite the small zinc requirement, this mineral plays a large role in crucial bodily functions. Zinc is needed for the formation of DNA and the activation of the immune response. Like folate, zinc is especially required during periods of rapid growth.

Some key food sources containing zinc are shellfish, such as oysters, crab, and lobster. Additional animal sources include beef, poultry, and pork. For vegetarian food options containing zinc, individuals can eat legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

oysters

It is important that individuals are aware of common nutritional deficiencies so that they are able to include these nutrients in their diet in order to prevent any health-related issues. For newcomers, nutritional deficiencies can arise due to dietary acculturation or due to the fact that they may have unique food habits and/or restrictions. Luckily, there are many ways to overcome insufficient nutrient intakes. This can be done through seeking out plant-based or animal food sources that are rich in certain nutrients, or through supplementation via nutrient capsules that can be found at your local grocery store.

Exploring Atlantic Canada

Exploring Atlantic Canada

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on July 26, 2021

Atlantic Canada is made up of Canada’s maritime provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island (PEI). These provinces are the easternmost point of Canada and are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. From great seafood and boat tours to beautiful hikes, there’s lots to see and do in Atlantic Canada.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island is a great place for outdoor activities; rich with Canadian history, culture, and heritage. You can sail or kayak along the inland sea, go hiking and biking along one of the many trails, and go camping in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. If you want to take a road trip, take the Cabot Trail, a 300-kilometre loop around most of the Island, which is among one of the most scenic drives in Canada. There are also lots of heritage sites and museums to see along the way.

Cape Breton is also home to five Indigenous communities: We’koqma’q, Wagmatcook, Membertou, Eskasoni, and Chapel Island First Nations; where you can learn about the history and traditions of the Indigenous communities in Canada.

Red Sand Beaches of Prince Edward Island

Most people expect sand to be golden brown. However, in the Red Sands Shore region of PEI, the sand on the beaches is copper red—especially at Thunder Cove Beach. Take in the picturesque views and click some photos, take a walk, check out the sandstone cliffs and caves, go swimming, or just relax on the beach. You can also take a road trip along some of PEI’s Scenic Heritage Roads.

Visit the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is one of the Seven Wonders of North America. Here, you can see the highest tides in the world. One of the best ways to get the full tidal experience is to visit during high tide, then come back again about six hours later during low tide, when you can walk on the ocean floor. Over time, the tides have also exposed fossils and seaside cliffs that you can explore as well. If you come to the Bay of Fundy between May and October, you might even be able to spot a whale or go on a whale watching tour.

Get “Screeched In” in Newfoundland

This activity is only for those 19-years-old or older. Newfoundland Screech is a rum sold in Newfoundland and Labrador with 40 percent alcohol by volume. Screech has become a colloquial term to describe any high alcohol spirit. The Screech-In ceremony is fun and non-obligatory for any non-Newfoundlanders (also known as “mainlanders” or “come from aways”). It is often done in local pubs and involves a short call-and-answer recitation, a shot of Screech, and kissing a cod fish. Trapper John’s and Christian’s Bar are two pubs on George Street in St. John’s that are known for their screech-in traditions.

Being screeched-in was traditionally done to welcome newcomers to the island and give them the experience of being a Newfoundlander. Those who have been screeched-in can call themselves honorary Newfoundlanders.

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is one of Canada’s most well-known and most photographed lighthouses. Peggy’s Cove is an active fishing community just an hour from Halifax. It is a great place for a day trip to explore the seaside town. You can walk or bike along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and, of course, take lots of pictures along the way. Then you can stop in a local café or restaurant for some of Nova Scotia’s freshest seafood. Lobster is a specialty here.

Anne of Green Gables tour in Prince Edward Island

Anne of Green Gables Museum
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is one of Canada’s most beloved books. It is set in the fictional town of Avonlea, which is based on the real-life town, Cavendish, PEI. If you’re a fan of the book, there are Anne of Green Gables attractions all over PEI. One of the most popular ones is Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish, where you can see the place that inspired the book’s setting. You can also visit the Anne of Green Gables Museum or take a carriage ride around the Silver Bush property. Finally, you can take in a performance of Anne & Gilbert – The Musical, one of Canada’s longest continually running musicals.

From newcomer student to CEO: An interview with Peter Han

From newcomer student to CEO: An interview with Peter Han

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on July 26, 2021
Peter Han

Peter Han was an ‘A’ student when he was in China, but when he immigrated to Canada, he faced an unexpected barrier to success. While he was confident in high school math and science, English was another story.

“English was quite challenging for me because I didn’t really like it that much. It was a second language for me. So, I took ESL [English as a Second Language],” Han told The Newcomer.

For university admittance, Han had to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). He spent time doing research and asking his counsellor questions. In addition to studying for the TOEFL, he worked on improving his grades to raise his grade point average (GPA).

Han was accepted into the University of Toronto as an engineering student. In his program, he encountered a new set of problems. The schedule was extremely hectic for him, with the lessons going at a rapid pace, and he had to take required courses that were unfamiliar to him. It made Han re-evaluate his decision to stay on the engineering path. During his second year of university, he changed his major to Applied Statistics.

“[In engineering,] there was a lot of material science [and] computer science, which I really didn’t enjoy much. I was not good at it. It made me think that I really shouldn’t do engineering. […] If I stayed in engineering, I figured it would become more stressful and challenging for me because we had to meet requirements, take all of the courses, and get good grades. And it would be more challenging in year two, three, and four. I felt like this was not the life I wanted.”

Han entered a data competition where he led a team to represent the University of Toronto. His team had to use data to create a business model. At the competition, Han encountered many intelligent young adults who inspired him to start a tutoring business for university students.

After Han graduated from the University of Toronto, he started his tutoring company, Bluekey Education, which was challenging in the beginning. He had to work from a small office and meet the needs of a growing number of students. He also had to figure out how to copy his company’s tutoring model across universities, to ensure that the content was always the same. Now, his business has expanded to reach thousands of college and university students in Canada, both in person and virtually.

Looking back on his undergraduate experience, Han believes that his time management skills and willingness to take risks played a larger role in his success than the specific courses he studied, or even the degree he earned. The degree that he ended up pursuing was one that he was actually interested in. Students should be open to changing their majors if they feel more passionately about other subjects and courses.

“It doesn’t really matter what you graduate with. It’s about how you manage your time, whether you have more experience with creating resumes and whether you have other achievements.”

Han has some advice for newcomer students who are entrepreneurial-minded and would like to start a business in Canada:

“Most start-ups will die within the first year or second year. When you try a start-up, you have to be persistent and have confidence in yourself, in your mindset, and in your team. You’re going to have a lot of challenges because nobody is perfect. I think that students should try while they’re young, because they have the chance to lose. When you’re young, you can always start anew.”

If students are unsure about starting their own business—if they have the support and means to start one—they should take a chance because whether they succeed or not, they will at least be able to learn from the experience. Starting a business can be a rewarding experience, even if it comes with challenges. Han suggests working for a corporation first.

“The ideal stage to do a start-up is when you work in a corporation for maybe a few years, learn the basic rules and structures of business, and then maybe you do a start-up. It will give you a lot of experience which [will prevent you from being] stuck on those barriers.”

You can find out more about Peter Han and his tutoring company, Bluekey Education, at https://bluekeyedu.com/.

The benefits of taking a gap year

The benefits of taking a gap year

By Abisha Sooriyathas

Posted on July 26, 2021
Student
If you’re nearing the end of high school and are unsure of what career path you want to pursue, you are not alone. Many students finish high school feeling stressed and confused as they begin navigating the rest of their lives. If you feel you’re not ready to jump into university and need a break between high school and post-secondary, there is a simple solution to reduce some of this stress: A gap year.

What is a gap year?

According to Algonquin College, a gap year is time taken off between high school and a full-time university or college program. Gap years can also be taken between university and graduate school. The purpose of a gap year is to give students a break from education and time to understand themselves and their goals.
motivational scrabble quote
Despite this positive definition, many students are hesitant to take a gap year. They may worry about lagging behind friends or fear that they might waste a year that could have been spent progressing towards their future. This article will explain the benefits of taking a gap year and how it can sometimes better prepare you for post-secondary schooling and life in general.

Taking time to figure yourself out

In a society that often values and even encourages productivity and busyness, it is not often that individuals take time to reflect. Although frequently overlooked, personal reflection and self-regulation make up a large component of success.

A study included in the Advances in Medical Education and Practice journal showed that students who took a gap year before entering medical school developed greater levels of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage oneself, as well as the ability to understand and manage relationships with others. This includes the development of skills such as decision-making, self-confidence, empathy, and communication. These are essential skills that are needed for most, if not all, careers. Therefore, a gap year can be beneficial for long-term career success.
graduate

Saving money

The expenses associated with post-secondary education can be overwhelming, especially for individuals who have pre-existing financial responsibilities. Taking a gap year can allow individuals to find work and begin saving money for the future. This can lessen the financial burden that might come with post-secondary education and prepare students to begin their studies without additional stress.

Gaining new experiences

Taking a year off allows you to gain experiences and expand your worldview. This can be done through work or volunteer opportunities, which are available both locally and abroad. Volunteer work is a fantastic way to meet new people, learn new skills, and become a more well-rounded individual. There are plenty of travel websites, like Workaway, that allow individuals to find volunteer opportunities in different countries for reasonable prices. These firsthand experiences foster a greater understanding of the world that we live in and help individuals learn more about backgrounds and lifestyles that are different from their own.

Avoiding burn out and redefining your relationship with education

Many students do not have a choice in whether they enter high school. For the first 18 years of their lives, decisions are made for them about how they spend their time and what they must do. Over time, this can lead to a feeling of exhaustion, lack of control, and resentment when thinking about school.

By reclaiming some of the choices they have in their education through taking a gap year, students are given time to reframe their perspective and relationship to education. Instead of school being something they feel obligated to do, it can instead be viewed as something they feel grateful for having the opportunity to do. In this time off, individuals are able to live their life free of an identity that is attached to their education or career. Instead of defining themselves as a “student,” they are able to discover who they are as a person. This allows them to have a relationship to education that feels less overwhelming and stressful.

Time to develop healthy habits

Going to college or university can at times feel like a culture shock. Between the new environment and the heavy course load, students often neglect healthy habits such as eating well and exercising. By taking a year off, individuals are able to prioritize the betterment of themselves and develop healthy habits that can hopefully carry them throughout university. Studies have shown that healthy lifestyle behaviours result in enhanced academic achievement. This, once again, supports the fact that a gap year, when used properly, is able to provide immense benefits to all individuals.
study books
Although taking a gap year can be a worrying process for some students, there are many benefits that can arise from the time off from school. It is important to remember that not all students are the same, and each one will move at a different pace. Pursuing post-secondary schooling and finding a career is not a race, and there is no need to rush the process. It can often be beneficial to take time to pause, reflect, and accept what life brings you along the way.

Everything you need to know about PRESTO cards

Everything you need to know about PRESTO cards

By Aneesh Chatterjee

Posted on July 26, 2021
Presto card
While having your own car can be expensive, public transit is very cheap, reliable and extensive, letting you travel great distances at a fraction of the cost. A PRESTO card is the easiest way to use public transit in the Toronto area, spanning buses, underground subways and train networks. Set up your own PRESTO card, and you’ll have easy access to many different transit networks.

Setting up a PRESTO account

PRESTO has an online portal where you can set up an account and pay for public transit fares online (or in person). Once you follow the prompts, complete your profile, and link your bank account, you can order a card for $6. You’ll be sent a PRESTO card in the mail after signing up, which can work on many different transit systems all over the GTA. You can start your PRESTO account setup here.

You can also buy PRESTO cards and load money on your card at customer service outlets throughout the GTA. The primary place to buy PRESTO cards is Shoppers Drug Mart, a chain store found across Canada. Here, you can easily buy a PRESTO card or load money without having to use the online portal. These are all the Shoppers Drug Mart locations in every transit region where you can purchase and load your card.
transit
You can also buy and load cards at fare vending machines and self-serve reload machines. PRESTO card fares are a bit cheaper, and more convenient than paying for rides with cash. For example, a single fare for a Toronto bus or subway will cost you $3.25 in cash, and $3.20 with a PRESTO card.

A PRESTO card will work in the following cities and regions:

  • Brampton
  • Burlington
  • Durham Region Transit (DRT)
  • GO transit
  • Hamilton Street Railway (HSR)
  • Miway transit
  • Oakville
  • Ottawa-Carlton transit (OC Transpo)
  • Toronto Transit Commission (or the TTC, including a bus and subway system across Toronto)
  • UP Express (a railway connecting Union Station in Toronto to Pearson Airport directly)
  • York Region Transit (YRT)

bus/train station

The benefits of a PRESTO card

With your card, you can load money on it from your online account directly. You can either load it manually–let’s say, $30 every week–or you can set up auto renew, which will automatically take out an amount of your choice and put it into your card whenever your card’s balance gets too low.

You also can decide how low that is, so you can make sure your card never gets so low that you can’t pay for a ride. For example, let’s say you set up auto renew to put $30 in your account every time it gets too low. If the minimum fare for a subway ride is $4, you can set your auto renew minimum at $5, so when the balance reaches $5, it will automatically add $30 to your card. If you’re not comfortable with automatic payments, you can choose to manually fill money in your card whenever you want.

Having a PRESTO card in hand gives you access to vast public transit networks, and makes your commute much easier. The initial setup process takes a little time, but it’s an investment to save you the hassle of carrying cash to pay for rides, or carrying bus tickets or transfers.
transit passenger

Transfers

It’s important to understand how transfers work. When you tap your PRESTO card onto a terminal in a bus, subway or train, you are paying for two hours of service. This means that, if you get off that particular vehicle and board another public transit vehicle within two hours of your first tap, you won’t be charged again. This two-hour window is called a transfer. Keeping this in mind can greatly benefit how you plan to use transit networks. Remember that even if you’re riding within your two-hour window, you still have to tap your PRESTO card when you board a new transit vehicle. You will only be charged for a single ride within every two-hour window.

Tapping on GO networks

If you use your PRESTO card on the GO transit (which includes green and white GO buses and trains) you’ll need to know about tapping on and off. When you board a GO transit vehicle, tap your card once; this tells the machine you’re getting on, and begins charging your card. When you arrive at your destination, you must tap again. This is tapping off; it tells the machine you’re done using the transit vehicle, and you’re getting off. Now, your card will be charged the cost of traveling whatever distance you did, because it knows where you got on, and where you got off.

If you don’t tap off, the machine will assume you traveled the entire length of the transit route, which can become very expensive. Always remember to tap off when you’re done traveling on GO transit.

Setting up an easy way to access public transit, without having to worry about buying tickets and holding on to transfer slips, is one of the best decisions you can make. With PRESTO, Ontario’s extensive group of public transit networks are at your fingertips.

Artistry and insight: A profile of Toronto-based filmmaker Ndenzi Bideri

Artistry and insight: A profile of Toronto-based filmmaker Ndenzi Bideri

By Benjamin Biro

Posted on July 26, 2021

Bideri is the youngest of four siblings, her mother a nurse and father a newspaper editor, both from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Bideri grew up in Hamilton, Ontario and lived in Rwanda for five years during her childhood. Her journey in filmmaking and storytelling was born out of a love for photography and a difficult battle with cancer during her youth, which left her in treatment and recovery for two years.

“I was diagnosed with Leukemia and from there I had a lot of time off and I got to learn about myself,” Bideri told The Newcomer in an interview. “I don’t think we get to do that a lot of the time. You get a different perspective about life. In our westernized society we’re so in this mindset of having to chase the bag [make lots of money] or having to get into this next thing and we don’t appreciate life, and I think it takes away from the present moment that a lot of us are missing.”

“We need to remember sometimes it’s OK to settle down, to actually appreciate where we are right now,” the filmmaker said. “When I was sick, I got to learn that, and as I move on in life I try to be as present as possible.”

Her story as a filmmaker comes out of a deep physical struggle and need to create, but her work is defined by a love for human connection. Bideri has a genuine curiosity about the nature of human beings and how we relate to one another—whether it is filming R&B artists in Europe or discussing mental health within Black communities in North America. Bideri is a creator who inspires perseverance, strength, and style, pushing the boundaries of how we tell stories and share ideas.

“It has to do with the way you communicate with people and just try to navigate through that, and that comes from just having conversations with different people. I think you broaden your horizons when you talk to people or when you actually see your city. Just look around and try to understand how the city is shaped or how communities move and thrive.”

Bideri is a graduate of Humber College where she began making short films and fell naturally into the director’s chair. Her creative spark and hunger to ask difficult questions has put her on the path to becoming an incredibly powerful artist who is working to tell important stories through her films.

The filmmaker believes in the fluidity of life and art, and hopes to make various projects in the coming years from documentaries to fiction shorts and feature films. A prominent theme in her work is breaking through the labels projected onto us by others and society.

“I don’t like when people put others in a position they don’t need to be, or say how they’re supposed to act. I don’t like to stay in one certain box, I like to get my ideas from different things […] I think we are all able to grasp ideas and inspiration everywhere we look.”

Bideri spent the past winter making her documentary, We Wear the Mask, where she focuses on the chronic mental health struggles of Black Canadians. The film explores the stigma that these issues bring within the community, and the issues of intergenerational trauma, systemic racism, and oppression. The documentary speaks to the experiences of many newcomers who face these challenges every single day.

“I wanted the documentary to be a space for the Black community to talk about an issue that has definitely hindered us and been difficult for us. When you hear these voices, you’re going to hear a lot of their experience[s] when it comes to mental health, whether it be through racism, trauma, or prejudice. You’re going to be hearing a lot of experiences that hit different marks, because when you talk about mental health within the Black community it’s more than one thing.”

Through a tough production and the pandemic, Bideri has stayed focused on her film and is set to finish the documentary this summer.

Bideri pushes for what we can be rather than what we have been, focusing on potential rather than negativity. She turns her lens towards the important conversations and advocates for a beautiful community, a creative community, and a community of people who engage with the world.
Ndenzi Karara Bideri
“When you’re on the right track, you get to see what you need to see in a sense, and you need to be present. I think that is the beauty in life. It’s for us to be OK with where we are and know we are going to make it, and allow us to appreciate what was meant to be appreciated. There’s so much beauty out here and I think we’re always grasping for the next thing, and I’m OK with being where I am and I know that I’ll find my journey.”

Kind, considerate, looking for answers, open to new perspectives, Bideri is an inspiration. She has overcome many things in her life and, like all great creatives, she transcends these barriers and arrives at our doorstep a true artist of tomorrow. She is proving to be a force of creativity and vision for years to come.

She is sharp, she is strong, and she is here to stay.

Top 10 tips for a successful job interview

Top 10 tips for a successful job interview

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on July 26, 2021

Interview handshake
A job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience no matter how many times you have done one in the past. One way you can beat the pre-interview nerves is by being prepared. This article will touch on 10 different tips and skills that you can use to prepare yourself for virtual or in-person interviews.

1. Do your research!

It’s important to research the values, mission, and operations of the companies you interview for. You can usually find this information on the “About Us” section on the company website. This can help you provide more specific answers during your interview, which shows the interviewer that you came prepared. This makes a great impression.

It can also help to read different reviews about the company from customers and former employees on sites such as Glassdoor, Google, and Indeed. This can give you a better idea of the workplace culture and of how your experience could go. You can also use this information to determine if this company would be a good fit for you, and if you’ll be a good match for them.

2. Review your resume and have relatable examples prepared

Look over your résumé and brainstorm a list of experiences that relate to the requirements and duties listed in the job posting. For example, think of experiences that show your communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. If you have done your research, you can take it a step further and relate your résumé and prior work experiences to the company’s mission, values, and operations.

3. Dress to impress!

An interview is a special event that you want to dress up for. You are not expected to wear extremely formal attire, such as a tuxedo or ball gown. However, make sure that you wear a professional business formal outfit.

For men, this includes dress pants, a dress shirt, and even a tie and blazer if you can. Men are also expected to wear dress shoes or loafers. For women, interview attire can include dress pants or knee-length skirts, dress shirts, dresses, blazers, and blouses and heels or dress shoes. Ensure your clothing is good quality and free from stains or wrinkles.

Indeed, a job search engine, has a detailed guide on how to dress for a job interview that can give you a better idea of how to dress. Ultimately, you want to leave a good impression with your employers, and your attire is a big part of this.

You can get affordable business formal attire from places like Walmart, Value Village, H&M and Zara.

4. Don’t just focus on verbal communication, focus on non-verbal too

Ensure that you are using professional language during your interview. Examples of professional language are not using slang and swear words and using “Mr” and “Ms” when addressing people. You should also try to use a confident and friendly tone.

Be sure to focus on your non-verbal communication as well. You can do this by maintaining confident body language and eye contact throughout your interview. Examples of confident body language include sitting up straight, not fidgeting with your hands or other items, and keeping your chin up.
Interview body language
Indeed has more suggestions on important body language tips that you can use in your next job interview.

5. Plan an early arrival or ensure you have all the necessary software

If your interview is in person, plan your transportation route and prepare to arrive at least 10 minutes early. You want to use every opportunity to impress your employer, and arriving early can be a way to do this before the interview even starts.

If your interview is online, ensure you have downloaded all the necessary software that is required, such as Zoom or other platforms. Also make sure that you have a working link that directs you to the interview before it starts. That way you can reach out to the employer if it doesn’t work. You can also prepare for a video interview by ensuring you have a clean and presentable background.

6. Prepare answers to common interview questions

A lot of interviewers ask similar questions. This means you can prepare for them ahead of time. Common interview questions include:

  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Why are you interested in working for our company?
  • Why are you the best fit for the position?
  • Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.

Glassdoor, an online career resource for employers and employees, has a list of 50 commonly-asked questions that you can prepare answers to.

7. Think before you speak

Think about what the interviewer asked you for a few seconds before responding. This is a small technique that can make a big difference during the interview. When people are nervous they tend to ramble, and you can avoid this by taking a moment to consider how to respond. Embrace the silence and use it as time to think of the best answer.

8. Use the STAR method

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This technique works well with behavior-related questions. If an employer asks you a question about what you would do in a certain situation, refer to a situation you’ve experienced that relates to the question, the task you had to complete, the action you took, and the result. This is a great way to give a detailed and organized answer without rambling.
Interview
Indeed has a great article that goes into more depth about how you can use the STAR method that includes real-life examples.

9. Practice!

Practicing your answers out loud can help you get rid of nerves and prepare for commonly-asked questions. You should allocate at least 20 minutes to practice before your interview. Even if you’re not asked the exact question you practised, this can still help you prepare. You can take one part of your answer and apply it to another context.

10. Prepare your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a short, 30-second to one-minute description of yourself, your strengths, your interests, and what you can offer. A lot of interviewers ask you to tell them about yourself or why they should hire you, and this is when you give your elevator pitch.

Your elevator pitch can also be used in situations outside of the interview, such as networking events and when meeting new people.

Hopefully, you feel more prepared to have a successful interview. Remember that research and practice will always be the best way to prepare for a job interview. Happy job hunting!

Keeping productive during the pandemic

Keeping productive during the pandemic

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on July 26, 2021
Woman on a couch with a day planner

Whether you are a permanent resident or a new immigrant to Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt taken a toll on your well-being. Thousands of people, throughout Canada and the world, have been directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, many people in the country have lost their jobs, closed their businesses, and struggled with maintaining their relationships. It’s easy to get discouraged by COVID-19 news and by the many uncertainties surrounding this time. It may seem like aspects of your life have come to a standstill. If you had plans, goals, and dreams during this time, you might have had to put them on the backburner.

Although the world is reopening, it may take some time for your life to return normal—whatever that looks like for you. You may still be experiencing hardships, but you can regain your motivation and pursue new endeavours and goals during this time of uncertainty. If you feel like you are in a rut and would like to feel more productive, below are five tips on how to get started.

1. Make a list of tasks, plans, and goals

Your list doesn’t have to be extensive. It can include learning a new recipe, cleaning your bathroom every week, reading a new book every month, going for a walk every day, composing song lyrics, learning how to play an instrument, learning a new language through free apps or videos, or starting a garden. Be creative! If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sketch, paint, dance, take wildlife photos, or harvest your own vegetables, now could be the best time to invest in those hobbies.
making goals

2. Prepare essential materials

You need to know what materials you need to reach your goals. You can’t garden without the necessary tools, seeds, and soil. Similarly, you can’t paint without paint brushes or sketch without a pencil and paper. Some tasks, like going for a run every day might not require you to buy anything, especially if you already have running shoes and athletic clothing. Other goals, like trying nature photography, would require you to make larger purchases. You can start off small by taking photos with your phone or a disposable camera, and invest in a DSLR camera later on if you enjoy the hobby.

3. Keep track of your schedule

Write down your daily and weekly tasks in an agenda or notebook, and keep track of what you complete and don’t complete. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment even when you’ve done only a few things on the list, like clean your room or water your plants. If you didn’t manage to complete a single task for one day, take some time to reflect on why that was the case. Did you overbook yourself on that day? Were you not feeling well? Or, did you spend most of your time on activities that distracted you from your goals, like watching entertaining videos or playing video games? Be honest with yourself about what you want to accomplish and the sacrifices you are willing to make, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you forget to work on tasks for a few days or decide to let go of certain goals, that’s okay. When you want to start again, you can always set new goals and try to follow through on them.
day planning

4. Seek an accountability partner

A lot of people can benefit from a person holding them accountable for their goals. If you have trouble completing tasks and working on goals, you can enlist the help of someone who willingly supports you and your endeavours. You should feel comfortable sharing your plans and goals with your accountability partner. They should be someone who can encourage you, but also call you out when you make excuses for not completing tasks. The person doesn’t have to live with you. You can reach out to your accountability partner via phone, video chat, or in person to share your victories and setbacks.
two women talking

5. Rejoice in small achievements

If one of your goals was to wake up at 6:00 AM every day, celebrate when you manage to consistently wake up at that time after a week or a month. For example, treat yourself to your favourite snack or buy yourself a small gift. Seemingly small goals can make a big difference in your life if you stick to them. They can even become healthy or productive habits. Goal setting should be an enjoyable process for you once you get used to it, and you will feel good about reaching milestones.
woman holding a smiley balloon

Top 3 tips for dealing with homesickness in Canada

Top 3 tips for dealing with homesickness in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on July 26, 2021
Homesick

Perhaps you have recently arrived in Canada or maybe you have lived in Canada for several years. Either way, right now, maybe Canada does not feel like home. Winters can be too cold, people speak a different language than you, and work can be tiring and tedious. You long for your home country, the food you are used to eating, and the people that make you feel loved, safe, and protected. A part of you feels like throwing in the towel and booking a one-way plane ticket back to the country where you were born. If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing homesickness.

What is homesickness?

Those feelings of longing and loneliness, whether they have lasted for weeks, months, or years, can indicate homesickness. According to counsellor and psychotherapist Adele Wilde, the feelings most associated with homesickness are grief, nostalgia, anxiety, depression, withdrawal and sadness. So why do we get homesick, and what can we do about it in Canada?

A clinical report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics states that “homesickness occurs to some degree in nearly everyone leaving familiar surroundings and entering a new environment.” It is common for people new to Canada to feel homesick since they are entering a new environment, and are not adjusted to the climate, people, and place. If you are feeling homesick, there are three actions you can take to help you overcome that feeling and better adjust to life in Canada.

1. Make new friends and build community.

When you have a strong support group of friends, it can help you enjoy where you are and appreciate the people you are with. Your friends can listen to you, encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone, and help you learn English. Canada is a diverse nation with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

You can befriend people of different ethnicities who were born in Canada and people who immigrated to Canada like you did. You will be able to gain new perspectives from all of the people that you meet. You can meet people and make friends at your school, workplace, place of worship, local community centre, or neighbourhood. Wherever you go, you can make friends by greeting people, introducing yourself, and starting a conversation.
Group of friends

2. Explore your city.

When you are feeling homesick, you might take comfort in reminiscing about the positive aspects of your country of origin. The problem with reminiscing is you might stop appreciating where you are and the wonderful things you are surrounded by. No matter which city you live in, all of the provinces and territories in Canada have interesting landmarks, malls, restaurants, and other places you can explore.

If you live in a bustling city like Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, or Montréal, there are many interesting parks and places to visit by foot or public transportation. If you live in a city like Edmonton or Corner Brook, you can rent a car or carpool with someone to explore the fascinating landmarks. If you live in a rural area, you can explore a hiking trail or go fishing. Every community in Canada is worth exploring.
Horse and carriage

3. Celebrate your heritage.

Just because you can’t access all of the things from your native country does not mean that you can’t indulge in certain traditions and practices from your culture. Wear traditional clothing and outfits that remind you of home.

Go to restaurants that serve familiar food that you are craving or buy the ingredients at an ethnic grocery store and make the dishes yourself. Watch television shows, movies, and listen to music in your native language. Spend time with people who share your cultural background. Attend festivals and events that celebrate your culture, and if you can’t find any, create your own at home with your friends.

Canada has a lot to offer and you should give it a chance to surprise you and win you over. If you are able to find community, explore your city, and maintain some of your cultural practices, it might be easier for you to overcome homesickness.
Celebrate Culture

6 Things to do on the West Coast of Canada

6 Things to do on the West Coast of Canada

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on July 26, 2021

The west coast of Canada is known for the Rocky Mountains, its stunning nature, and outdoor lifestyle. Whether you like skiing, hiking, or big city adventures, there’s lots to do in Alberta and British Columbia.

The Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, festival, and exhibition held every July in Calgary, Alberta. The 10-day event features rodeos, a parade, midway carnival games, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon races, and First Nations exhibitions. The whole city participates and this event is a big part of Calgary’s identity. Event attendees often show up wearing western wear such as cowboy hats and boots, and there are dozens of pancake breakfasts and barbeques that take place over the course of the Stampede. It’s fun for the whole family.
Calgary Stampede

Banff National Park

In Banff National Park you can find turquoise glacier lakes, mountain peaks, lots of wildlife (you might even see an elk or a grizzly bear), scenic drives, and a picturesque mountain town. The park is approximately two hours west of Calgary, and is a great place to visit in all seasons. You can go hiking, skiing, camping, biking, or just enjoy nature. Banff is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Park UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over 1600 kilometres of maintained trails for you to enjoy. Sunshine Village Ski Resort in Banff is known for having three mountains, and Canada’s best snow in the winter. In the town of Banff, there are many boutique shops and restaurants and chateau-style hotels. If you love the outdoors, you will love Banff.
Banff

Surfing in Tofino

With 35 kilometres of beaches and exposed coastline in Tofino, British Columbia, surfers of all skill levels can surf all year round. If you’re new to surfing, that’s no problem, you can take lessons with an instructor or maybe try paddleboarding for something a little more relaxed. The water is cold so you’ll definitely want a wetsuit. If surfing’s not your thing, there are other things to do in Tofino such as canoeing or kayaking, hiking and biking trails, or just hanging out on the beach.

Visit Whistler

Whistler, British Columbia is a mountain resort town about an hour-and-a-half north of Vancouver. Whistler is one of the top destinations for alpine skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and mountain biking, golf, and hiking in the summer. Over two million people come to Whistler every winter, but there’s lots to do year-round. In the 2010 Winter Olympics, many of the events—including skiing, bobsled, skeleton, and luge—were held in Whistler.

Stanley Park

Located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Stanley Park is the city’s oldest, largest, and most popular urban park. The Park is 400-hectares of natural west coast rainforest and has beautiful scenic views of the mountains, the ocean, and trees. You can bike or walk around the 10-kilometre seawall, visit the First Nations totem poles, or relax on the beach. You can also take a guided tour on a trolley, bus, or horse-drawn carriage to learn more about the park’s history.
Stanley Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver, British Columbia. It draws over 1.2 million visitors every year. The simple suspension bridge is 140-metres long and crosses 70-metres above the Capilano River. In addition to walking across the bridge, there are other activities you can do in the park, such as Treetops Adventure or a Cliffwalk high above the forest floor. You can also go on other walks and tours to learn more about the history and nature of the forest.

7 Things to do in Ontario 

7 Things to do in Ontario

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on July 26, 2021

Ontario is Canada’s most populated province and is home to Ottawa, the nation’s capital city. Ontario is also home to Toronto—the country’s most populous city. From cultural sites to natural wonders, Ontario has much to explore.

Niagara Falls

Travel to  Niagara Falls  in southwestern Ontario and see the natural beauty of the Horseshoe Falls. Horseshoe Falls is  the most powerful waterfall in North America. You can also see the smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls that are just across the border in the United States. You can view the falls from above, or you can take a ride on the  Maid of the Mist  boat cruise, going into the rapids and behind the falls. There are also many other things to do in the city of Niagara Falls such as visiting the casinos, ziplining, guided tours of the region, and the Niagara  SkyWheel.
Niagara Falls

Wasaga Beach

When it gets hot in the summer, what better place to visit than the beach?  Wasaga Beach  is a 14-kilometre freshwater beach on the south end of Georgian Bay, about two hours north of Toronto. It’s a great place for swimming and  other fun beach activities, such as building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, and water sports. You can also explore the town of Wasaga Beach where there are many local shops and restaurants. Additionally, you can find activities, like hiking, cycling, and golfing. Wasaga Beach is a perfect day trip, or you can extend your trip for a mini vacation.

CN Tower

The  CN Tower, located in Toronto, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Canada. It  is a 554-metre-tall communications tower, and was the world’s tallest freestanding structure until 2007. You can take an elevator to the top and get a bird’s eye view of the city of Toronto. You can also take part in an  EdgeWalk  and walk around the main pod of the tower. You can even eat at the 360 Restaurant, which rotates to give you a view of the whole city. The tower is also usually lit at night with different  colours  for special occasions,  such as red and white on Canada Day.
CN Tower

The  nation’s  capital

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada  and  has lots to see and do. Visit the Rideau Canal National Historic Site that connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River in Kingston. In the summer, the Canal can be used for boating, and in the winter, you can go ice skating on an eight-kilometre  stretch of the Canal that runs through central Ottawa.

While you’re in Ottawa, you can also take a guided tour of the Parliament buildings and Parliament Hill, which are Canada’s federal government buildings, where you can learn more about Canadian history and politics. If you’re an art or history lover, there are several museums to check out, including the Canadian War Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Canada Space and Aviation Museum.
Parliament Buildings

Toronto International Film Festival

The  Toronto International Film Festival, better known as TIFF, is one of the largest film festivals in the world. The festival runs for 10 days every September and attracts nearly 500, 000 people to the city. Hundreds of films, including Hollywood blockbusters, independent films, short films, and international films, are screened every year. Successful films at TIFF have  also been successful  during awards seasons. Many films that have premiered at TIFF have gone on to win Academy Awards such as  La La Land  (2016),  Jojo Rabbit  (2019),  The King’s Speech  (2010), and  12 Years a Slave  (2012). If you’re a movie lover, make sure to check out TIFF.

Live  theatre

Toronto is known for its thriving live theatre scene. Mirvish Productions  is the largest commercial theatre producer in Canada. Each year, Mirvish puts on seven or eight large-scale plays and musicals. There is often at least one Broadway National Tour on the schedule. Past Mirvish productions have included:  Wicked, The Lion King, Come  From  Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Miss Saigon, and many more.

There are also several smaller theatre companies around Toronto, including Soulpepper, Tarragon Theatre,  The Musical Stage Company,  Canadian Stage, and others. These theatres put on a wide variety of new and classic shows every year including, improv, dance, Shakespeare, one-act plays, and puppet shows.

There’s also the  Toronto Fringe Festival  that happens every summer for approximately 10  days. This event is one of the largest theatre festivals in Canada and showcases over 150 productions at performing arts venues across the city. Tickets are affordable at under $15 per show. The festival includes lots of other events and activities, such as late-night parties and shows just for kids.

Canada’s Wonderland

Canada’s Wonderland  is Canada’s biggest theme park. It’s in Vaughan, Ontario, approximately 25  kilometres  from downtown Toronto, and is open daily from May to Labour Day in September. There are also other holiday events that are held later in the year, such as the Halloween Haunt. Canada’s Wonderland is home to 17 roller coasters, a splash park, Medieval Faire, International Festival, and kids rides and games. It’s fun for the whole family.

Volunteering: the many amazing benefits and how you can get involved

Volunteering: the many amazing benefits and how you can get involved

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on July 26, 2021

Volunteers
Volunteering can come in many different shapes and forms, but it is essentially the act of giving up your time and labor for free, and for the betterment of your community. There are many different things you can do to volunteer your time, so look for opportunities that align with your interests. This makes for an enjoyable and enriching experience.

You can volunteer from home, at school, at work, in your community, and numerous other places. Volunteering can be something you do alone, with friends, or with family. It can be something you do once a year, or something you do every weekend. Volunteering is not only beneficial for your community, but it is beneficial for you too. This article will touch on the benefits of volunteering and how you can get started.

Why should I volunteer?

There are many benefits to volunteering that can positively impact lots of people. The effects of volunteering are not just felt by one person, but also by you and those around you. Here are some benefits of volunteering for you to consider.

1. Volunteering can be your way of contributing to positive change in the world

By volunteering, you’re helping someone or something that is in need. You can volunteer your time to help in a wide variety of fields, as there are many ways that you can help. The little change you make by volunteering your time can be a part of a bigger, global change that takes place. For example, if you are passionate about animals, you can volunteer your time at an animal shelter or animal rescue program. Volunteering your time with these animals could have a larger positive impact on those around you, making the world a better place.

2. Volunteering can help you improve your job prospects

Volunteering can allow you to gain better job opportunities and prospects. You can volunteer with organizations or companies that you hope to work with one day. You can also volunteer in positions related to your professional interests. Volunteering in these positions can allow you to gain valuable connections, further your knowledge and experience, and build up your résumé.
Volunteers

3. Volunteering can help you gain industry-related skills

If you’re looking to develop employable skills for all kinds of jobs, volunteering can help you do this. You can volunteer in fields that can help you gain the skills you are looking for. For example, if you volunteer with a not-for-profit organization, you could possibly be working to collect donations from numerous donors and people in public places such as malls, event centres and busy intersections in the city. Through this volunteer work, you develop your communication, English, and public speaking skills. This is just one example of the valuable transferable skills that you can develop while volunteering.

4. Volunteering can be good for your physical and mental health

Volunteering is said to have many physical and mental health benefits. Depending on the type of work you are doing, volunteering can help you be more active, which comes with increased physical health benefits. Studies have also shown that volunteering can lead to better mental health as well. An article published by Harvard Health Publishing, discusses how volunteering can lead to lower levels of blood pressure, better mental health, and reduced levels of stress. Moving to Canada can be a stressful experience and volunteering can be a healthy way for you to cope with the changes.

5. Volunteering can allow you to build your sense of community and network

Volunteering will allow you to meet many new people from many different walks of life. It can also introduce you to people with similar interests as you, which can help you feel a sense of community and belonging. Moving to Canada can be an isolating experience and volunteering can help with this.
Volunteers

Things to consider

Before volunteering, some considerations should be made to ensure you make the best decision for yourself:

Decide how much time you have to offer. Whether it is a few hours or a week, or weekends, or a few times a month. Regardless, you should start by determining the amount of time you can dedicate.

Consider your skillset and what services you can offer to organizations.

Figure out what your interests are and what type of volunteer opportunities align with them.

By considering these important aspects, you find the volunteer position that allows you to give back in the best way that you can.

What kind of volunteer are you?

If you’re unsure about what type of volunteer work would be interesting to you, there are quizzes you can take that can help give you a better idea. Reward Volunteers, a website that offers you rewards in exchange for the amount of time you’ve spent volunteering, offers a free short quiz that can help you figure out what direction to go towards when trying to start volunteering. The results from this quiz can help you refine your volunteer search and find an opportunity that you will enjoy.

How can I find somewhere to volunteer?

The best way to find a volunteer opportunity is by using the internet. By using Google or one of the search engines listed below, you can find an opportunity that aligns with your interests and the amount of time you have available. Don’t be afraid to reach out by email or phone to organizations or companies that you’re interested in volunteering with. You can also ask your local community centers and community organizations for opportunities. If you are a student, you can also find volunteer opportunities by contacting your school board or guidance counsellor.

Resources

Hopefully, after reading this article, you’re feeling inspired and motivated to start volunteering and making a positive change in your community. Here are some resources that can help you get started:

1) Charity Village is a career and volunteer resource that has many different volunteer and job opportunities. Charity Village offers an efficient search engine that can help you find different paid and non-paid opportunities across Canada. Their search engine allows you to filter your results with many different categories such as field type, organization focus, career level, duration, and target group.

2) Indeed is a popular international job search engine, but what many people do not know is that you can find volunteer opportunities as well. Next time you visit the website, be sure to type “volunteer” in the search bar with your location to find different opportunities available to you.

3) Goodwork is a job and volunteer search engine that you can use to find environmental-related opportunities. Goodwork’s focus is environmental change and working towards a greener and more sustainable world. If this aligns with your passion, this would be a great place to look for potential opportunities.

4) Volunteer Canada is a charity that is dedicated to promoting volunteerism across Canada. They offer resources and opportunities available in numerous provinces that can help you get started in making positive changes in your community today. If you’re not exactly sure what type of volunteer work interests you, Volunteer Canada is a great place to start, because they offer more general opportunities.

Yukon

Yukon

By Dana Hall

Posted on June 21, 2021

Yukon

Official Languages: English, French, and Inuktitut
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

If you live in Yukon for more than six months of the year, you can get health coverage. You will need to live in Yukon for three months before you are eligible. It is recommended that you have private health insurance during this time.

  • If you are a student, you are not eligible for health coverage.
  • If you are on a work permit and your permit is at least 12 months, you are eligible for coverage.

To apply, you will need to submit proof of your right to live in Canada (like your Permanent Residency Card) and one other piece of identification. You will also need to submit proof of address. Here is a list of acceptable documents.

If you live in Whitehorse, you can bring your documents to the Government of Yukon located at 204 Lambert Street on the fourth floor. You will be able to fill out an application at the office. If you are not in Whitehorse, you can visit your community’s nearest territorial agent to fill out the application and submit your documents.

Driving information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in Yukon is 15. To apply for a licence, you will need to take a knowledge test for $20 at a Motor Vehicles Office. You might need to book in advance depending on where you live, so it is best to call and check. You should study the Yukon driver’s handbook before taking the test. You can take a practice test here.

You will need to bring valid forms of identification that prove your right to live in Canada and show your name, birthdate, photo, and signature. You will also need to bring two proofs of address. Here is a list of acceptable identification and proof of address documents. If you are under 18, you will also need consent from a parent or guardian. If you pass the knowledge test, you will be given a learner’s permit. This will allow you to drive with someone who has had a licence for at least two years.

You will have your learner’s permit for a minimum of six months. You must have at least 50 hours of driving experience in order to book a road test, which costs $20. The minimum age to take a road test is 16. If you pass your road test, you will be given a Novice Stage Licence, which you will have for a minimum of 18 months. You cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. without someone who has had a licence for two years, and you must maintain a zero-alcohol level when driving. After 18 months, you can apply for a full licence. Your nearest Motor Vehicle Office will have information on their specific application procedure.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a foreign licence, you will need to transfer it within 120 days of moving to the territory. If your licence is from the Isle of Man, Germany, or the United States, it will be recognized by Yukon. You will need to visit a Motor Vehicles Office. Bring your licence, one document proving your identity, and two documents proving your address in Yukon. Here is a list of acceptable identification and proof of address documents. If you have had your licence for less than two years, you will enter the Graduated Driver’s Licensing program (see the above section on how to get a licence).

If you do not have a licence from one of the countries listed above, you will need to enter the Graduated Driver’s Licensing program. See the above section on how to get a licence for more information.

Yukon public school information

Children can start Pre-Kindergarten at age four or Kindergarten at age five, but they are not required to attend school until age six. The elementary and high school grade division varies from school to school. In some areas, schools teach Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. In other areas, students may need to attend one school to complete Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 7 and then go to a different school to complete Grades 8–12. You will need to check with the schools in your area to see how they divide the grades.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year usually starts at the end of August and goes until the end of June. There is a break at the end of December that lasts for three weeks. This is called winter break. There is another, week-long break in March called spring break.

If you would like to homeschool your child, you can visit this website for more information on how to register.

Celebrating holidays in Canada

Celebrating holidays in Canada

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on June 21, 2021
fireworks
Canadians celebrate many holidays throughout the year. Some holidays are designated as statutory “stat” holidays (also called public holidays) by the Canadian government. This means that it’s basically a paid day off for most Canadians. If you do have to work on a stat holiday like Remembrance Day or Boxing Day, you are entitled to bonus holiday pay, which is usually 1.5 times your regular pay rate. Stat holidays also vary slightly by province. Canadians take advantage of these holidays to relax, recharge, and spend time with their friends and families.

New Year’s Day—Jan. 1 (stat holiday)

New Year’s Day is celebrated on Jan. 1, the first day of the Georgian Calendar. It’s a day off for the public. Schools, stores, and most businesses are closed. Many people ring in the new year with a party that begins on Dec. 31 and continues into the early hours of the morning. People go to parties at clubs or bars, or they host their own party with friends and family at home.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is a vibrant and festive celebration for many Asian communities in Canada. It’s a time where Asian-Canadians spend time with their friends and families. Festivities include events like parades, traditional dancing and costumes, fireworks, food, and arts and crafts. The largest celebrations take place in Chinatown districts in various cities across Canada.

Good Friday (stat holiday)

Good Friday is a Christian holiday that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. It’s a public holiday, and schools and most businesses close for the day. It’s a day of mourning and prayer among the Christian community, and many attend a church service. For those who don’t celebrate, it’s a nice break during spring and a relaxing long weekend.

Easter Sunday

Easter is a holiday that many Christians observe. It’s a religious holiday that celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection after his death. Businesses may be open or closed. Those who observe the religious aspects of the holiday celebrate it by attending a church service and eating a big meal with their families. People also participate in Easter egg hunts, egg decorating, and Easter-themed baked goods, chocolate, and candy.
Easter eggs

Victoria Day—the Monday before May 25 (stat holiday)

Victoria Day is named after Queen Victoria, whose birthday was on May 24, 1819. This holiday marks the unofficial start of summer for most people. It’s a day off for the general public, so schools and most businesses are closed. The weather is typically warmer during this long weekend, so Canadians may go to their summer cottages or celebrate with fireworks. This is also the weekend when many outdoor theme parks open for the summer.

Canada Day—July 1 (stat holiday)

Canada Day celebrates Canada’s confederation, which took place on July 1, 1867. Canadians typically gather with family and friends for an afternoon of barbeques, pool parties, and campfires. Many cities also host outdoor festivities such as community barbeques, parades, and carnival games. The day usually ends with fireworks.

Civic Holiday—first Monday in August (stat holiday)

Civic Holiday is a long weekend in early August. Different provinces have different names for this weekend, but it’s still the first weekend in August.

  • British Columbia Day (British Columbia)
  • Civic Holiday (Ontario)
  • Heritage Day (Alberta)
  • Natal Day (Nova Scotia)
  • New Brunswick Day (New Brunswick)
  • Saskatchewan Day (Saskatchewan)
  • Terry Fox Day (Manitoba)

People use this time off to relax and enjoy the summer weather. This is also a popular week for people to go on vacation. Some communities may organize events such as carnivals or outdoor activities.

Labour Day—first Monday in September (stat holiday)

Labour Day was originally a day to celebrate workers, but now it typically marks the end of summer. Kids return to school the next day, and parents get back to their work routines. It’s a day off for the general public, and most businesses are closed. Some Canadians like to take the long weekend to go up to their cottages, and students like to throw end-of-summer parties with their friends.

Thanksgiving—second Monday in October (stat holiday)

Thanksgiving is celebrated at the beginning of October as a way to remember all that we have to be grateful for. In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated at the end of November. Indigenous peoples hold festivals and ceremonies to celebrate the bounty and the end of the harvest. One of the earliest Thanksgiving celebrations dates back to 1578 when the explorer Robert Frobisher held a ceremony after he and his crew safely arrived in Newfoundland.
Thanksgiving dinner
Schools, post offices, and most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving. Most people gather with their family for a large meal consisting of turkey, potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, corn, green beans, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie or something similar. People may also take advantage of this long weekend to go up to their cottage or summer home one last time before the winter or take a short autumn holiday.

Remembrance Day—Nov. 11 (stat holiday)

Remembrance Day is observed in commemoration of the end of World War I, which ended on Nov. 11, 1918. In some jurisdictions, schools and businesses are closed, and in others, it’s a regular workday. On this day, Canadians take the time to remember soldiers who died in the line of duty and to thank the troops who continue to serve our country today.

Christmas Day—Dec. 25 (stat holiday)

Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a day off for most Canadians, and schools and businesses are closed. Traditions vary from family to family, but many Canadians spend the day with their families and partake in activities like exchanging gifts, having a festive meal, or attending a special church service.

Boxing Day—Dec. 26 (stat holiday)

Most people have Boxing Day off, so they use it to relax and recover from their Christmas Day festivities. People may also like to go shopping, as most stores have their annual Boxing Day sales, which are typically some of the best sales of the year. Boxing Day usually also marks the beginning of the World Junior hockey tournament, which many Canadians enjoy watching from their homes.

Rebel with a cause: Getting involved in advocacy groups

Rebel with a cause: Getting involved in advocacy groups

By Amy Fournier

Posted on June 21, 2021
resistance
The goal of activism is to advocate for, or support, a political or social cause. According to New Youth, an online community for refugee and immigrant youths in Ontario, advocacy groups create change using various methods to influence a government or society to act. Some methods include:

  • public education: teaching or providing information to the community on different matters
  • lobbying: attempting to influence decisions made by the government or other individuals
  • media activity: using media and communication tools for social or political movements
  • coalition building: forming a group of community members to pursue a common goal
  • “grassroots” activities: organizing activities to encourage action for and by community members

In a study, which measured activism and its role in psychological well-being, activism was shown to promote self-esteem, self-actualization (to fulfill one’s potential), vitality, life-satisfaction, and other aspects of psychological health. Understanding and educating yourself on social issues that matter to you can also assist in identity formation and help you develop a sense of purpose. Activism allows you to connect with other like-minded people that share similar passions. As a newcomer to Canada, you may be interested in joining an advocacy group, but may not know where to start.

Here are some local resources to help you get involved in different advocacy groups:

Refugee and Immigrant Protection

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a national non-profit organization that is committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in Canada and around the world. Barriers to family reunification, immigration detention, and people without status are a few of the concerns that the CCR focuses on, among many others. You can participate in in-depth virtual meetings and discussions about specific topics regarding the rights of refugees.

Racial Justice

Colour of Poverty — Colour of Change is a network that addresses ongoing ethnic and racial inequality. They provide many fact sheets, tools, and resources for anti-racism practices and education in Canada.

Black Youth Helpline focuses on understanding and then addressing the challenges that are faced by black youth. Volunteers are warmly welcomed, and they rely on a diverse team of parents, professionals, youths, and other community members to come up with solutions.

Black Lives Matter Canada is committed to fighting for justice and liberation for black communities as well as Indigenous communities.

LGBTQ2+ Rights

Pride Toronto is a not-for-profit that celebrates and supports the LGBTQ2+ communities. They host many events that you can participate in, which are listed on their online calendar. Traditionally, the Toronto Pride Parade is an annual event that takes place at the corner of Church and Bloor Street. This huge event gathers around two million people!
Pride parade
Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is a community development program that works to support the health and well-being of queer and trans youth who are under the age of 29. Over 50 per cent of the young people they work with are newcomers.

Gender Equality

Canadian Women’s Foundation understands the barriers that women and girls face and believe that advocating for gender equality improves economic and social conditions for everyone. They offer many resources and ways to get involved on their website. They also have a podcast called “Alright, Now What?” that is about the journey towards gender justice.

Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) is a successful organization whose main focus is on law reform, legal action, and public education in order to advance gender equality. Preventing violence against women and gender-diverse people, eliminating workplace discrimination, and promoting reproductive freedom are just a few of the victories that LEAF has conquered since 1985, when they were founded. They have a variety of resources in their online library as well as summaries of their cases and links to law reform submissions (documents written by community members about their views and opinions on certain laws and their suggestions for improvement).

Climate Change

Fridays For Future Toronto is part of a global movement that was initiated by Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist from Sweden. This organization is concerned with the sustainability of our planet and is focused on creating a healthier environment for the younger generations. They’ve organized many school strikes, rallies, and marches.

Climate Justice Toronto is a youth-led collective that fights climate change through various petitions, educational resources, and events.

Finally, Youth Action Network is a charity that offers a safe and inclusive space for youth to have a voice and create meaningful changes in their community. There are many social causes that require attention, and new ideas and proposals for change are welcomed by Youth Action Network.
fighting for sustainability
Connecting with local advocacy groups virtually can be a good start to participating in transformational social change while staying at home. Sharing petitions and educating others through social media platforms about causes that you are passionate about may also influence others to take action.

There are many opportunities to get involved in activism in Canada. Being involved in advocacy groups can be a rewarding and beneficial experience and is a powerful way of using your voice for greater good.

The many faces on Canadian money 

The many faces on Canadian money

By Emma Siegel

Posted on June 21, 2021
five Canadian bills
Canadian money is easy to spot. The vivid colours of bright blue, deep purple, rich green, flaming red, and sunset gold create a burst of liveliness to the plastic bills. And on each bill is an important figure in Canadian history. If you’ve ever wondered whose face you’re looking at as you hand $20 to a cashier, look no further because this article will take you through a brief history lesson on cash in Canada.

$5 bill

Canadian five dollar bill
Born on Nov. 20, 1841 in Canada East (now called Quebec), Sir Wilfrid Laurier saw many career changes in his life. He was a lawyer, a journalist, and later, the seventh prime minister of Canada. From 1896 to 1911, Laurier governed during a time of major change as the age of industrialization transformed society. He also served the longest uninterrupted term of any prime minister in Canadian history. For 15 years as prime minister, he promoted national unity and worked on resolving problems between French and English Canada. Laurier’s encouragement for immigration to Western Canada also led to the creation of the provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan as population sizes in the west grew.

But a new face will soon appear on the $5 bill. As of Feb. 24, 2021, here is the shortlist of contenders:

Pitseolak Ashoona: A self-taught artist whose work is not only internationally known but also offers a glimpse into what life was like for an Inuit person living in the early 1900s.

Robertine Barry (‘Françoise’): She was the first female French-Canadian journalist and wrote under the name ‘Francoise’ for anonymity. She was an advocate for women’s rights and equality and was a founding member of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.

Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow): A First World War veteran and the most highly decorated Indigenous soldier in Canadian history who also advocated for Indigenous peoples’ rights in Canada.

Won Alexander Cumyow: As the first known Chinese-Canadian born in Canada, he dedicated his life to bridging the gap between Vancouver’s English-speaking and Chinese communities and advocating for the rights of Chinese people in Canada.

Terry Fox: A national icon who lost part of his right leg to cancer and attempted to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg to raise awareness for cancer. He was able to raise $24.7 million and run halfway across the country before the cancer reached his lungs and he passed away.

Lotta Hitschmanova: A Czech-born refugee who came to Canada and founded the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, an organization dedicated to helping people around the world.

Isapo-muxika (Crowfoot): Leader of the Blackfoot Confederacy who advocated for peace between Indigenous nations and settlers to Canada.

Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft): A Mohawk chief, World War I veteran, and founder of the first, national Indigenous organization in Canada — the League of Indians in Canada.

$10 bill

Canadian ten dollar bill

Viola Desmond was born in Nova Scotia on July 6, 1914. She built her career as a beautician and businesswoman through her school, the Desmond School of Beauty Culture. Desmond was a mentor to young Black women who were training at the school, and many of her graduates would go on to own venues where Desmond’s beauty products were sold. While Desmond’s accomplishments and commitment to supporting the growth of employment for young Black women were remarkable, they are not why the Bank of Canada chose her to appear on the $10 bill. On Nov. 8, 1946, Desmond went to see a movie at the Roseland Theatre in Glasgow, Nova Scotia. The teller at the theatre refused to sell her floor seats, insisting that it was a “whites only” section and she would need to sit up at the balcony. She sat in a floor seat anyway and was soon dragged out of the theatre by police. The legal fight that followed helped to end segregation in Nova Scotia and in 2010, she was given an apology and pardon, 45 years after she died.

$20 bill

Canadian twenty dollar bill

The British monarch has a long history in Canada and used to be on all of the Canadian currency, beginning in 1858. Today, the Queen of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, has her portrait on all of the Canadian coins as well as the $20 bill. The Queen is Canada’s head of state, though her power is largely symbolic today and she does not have an active role in Canadian politics. Because of this, the Queen’s portrait on the $20 — and coins — is largely upheld because of tradition.

$50 bill

Canadian fifty dollar bill

Twenty-two years is a long time for someone to be prime minister of Canada. Add in that it was during the age of industrialization, the Great Depression, and World War II, it’s no surprise that William Lyon Mackenzie King is the face of the $50 bill. He governed over Canada from 1921 to 1930, and then came back into power from 1935 to 1948. It was under King’s government in 1947 that Canada achieved another milestone in becoming independent from Britain with the Canadian Citizenship Act. This Act deemed citizens of Canada “Canadians,” whereas before they were considered British subjects. While it’s important to remember King’s accomplishments, it’s just as important to acknowledge his controversies. He kept very detailed diaries and made it clear in his writing that he was racist against people of colour and Jewish immigrants. King is undoubtedly a controversial figure, but his prominence in Canadian history is still recognized today.

$100 bill

Canadian one hundred bill
From 1911 to 1920, Sir Robert Borden led Canada through one of the most difficult periods in history. World War I began in 1914 and at that time, Canada was a self-governing dominion of the British Empire. When Britain declared war, so did Canada. Canadians played an important role in the war, and Borden used Canada’s significance to advocate for greater freedom within the British Empire. While Borden helped create Canada as an independent nation, many of his policies divided Canada and nearly destroyed national unity. He created conscription (forced service in the military) in 1917, which many Canadians strongly disagreed with. He was also unpopular among French Canadians, who felt unrepresented in government and through Borden’s policies.

Online shopping: 10 tips and tricks to make your experience better

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on June 21, 20201
online purchase
Online shopping has become something normal for all of us throughout the years, especially during the pandemic, when many stores were closed. It’s reported that over 28.1 million Canadians (66 per cent of the population) made online purchases in 2019. Although shopping online seems simple enough, there are still some basic things that a buyer should know when making online purchases. This article will provide you with some tips and tricks that will help your online shopping experience run smoother.

Online shopping is when you buy goods and services from merchants through the internet. Instead of going into the store, shoppers can go online from the comfort of their homes and look for the items they hope to purchase. A major advantage of online shopping is convenience. You no longer have to wait in lines, search all over the store for your item, or shop in crowded malls. Online shopping removes all of those things from the process and allows you to shop easier. However, it still comes with some risks. For instance, you don’t get to see and hold the item before purchasing it. Sometimes people find that the item they receive is not what they thought they were buying. Fortunately, there are ways to get your money back in these instances. Also, some buyers sometimes have their payment information stolen and misused after purchasing something online. This does not happen to everyone, and if it does, banks can usually help you resolve these issues.

Online shopping is quickly taking over the commerce industry. As a result, you can get almost anything online, such as clothes, groceries, alcohol, furniture, electronics, books, financial products, and many other products. If you can think of it, it is likely you’ll find it online for sale. You can get new and used items online and even vintage items. If you’re buying used products, do your best to get real and recent pictures and information about the item you plan to purchase.

Here are our top 10 tips to help your online shopping experience run smoother.

1. Make sure your information is secured

When online shopping, it’s important to make sure that the connection, browser, and website you are using are secured. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your information stolen and misused. Make sure that your connection is secure by checking to see if there is a lock sign beside your wifi sign. You can also do this by ensuring that the website begins with https:// and not just http://. The difference between the two is the “s” at the end of “http,” and this confirms that the website is secured. Lastly, if you are about to pay and have reached the payment page, make sure that there is a lock sign beside the website address. This shows that the payment page of the website is secured, and your information is safe. If the retailer’s website does not have these things, find another website to purchase from, so you don’t risk having your information stolen.

2. Look for discounts

One of the best parts about buying online is that there is nearly always a way you can get your item at a discounted price. You can search for discount codes for a variety of sellers through sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCanada and apps like Honey. If you’re grocery shopping, you can use apps like Flipp to find deals. It’s worth doing some research before completing your purchase because you can save money. A lot of online stores also offer you a discount code when you sign up for the email list. By doing this, you can save 10-20 per cent off your purchase.
browsing on cellphone

3. Shop around

There are so many sites that you can choose from when shopping. For this reason, it’s smart to take a look at the different prices and deals that different online retailers are offering. For example, you may often find that one company might be having an online sale while their competitor might not. Don’t miss out on savings because you didn’t shop around before purchasing!

4. Make sure the site is reputable

Shopping with reputable sites when making an online purchase is your best option. Avoid sites that don’t seem reputable. You can determine this by seeing if the site has customer service information and information about returns. You can also take a look at how retailer websites are designed. Don’t make any purchases on websites that are poorly designed and/or riddled with pop-up ads. Do a quick Google search of the company name to see customer reviews and read up on other people’s experiences. Also, make sure that the website is encrypted and using a https:// domain. All of these things can help you figure out whether or not a website is reputable and help you determine if it can be trusted with your money and information.

5. Pay with PayPal or with a credit card

When buying online, you usually have the option to pay with a credit card or Visa debit card. It’s best to use your credit card or PayPal when online shopping. You can register your debit card and credit card with PayPal and make online payments that way. Alternatively, you can use your Visa debit card or credit card directly. It’s best to use these payment methods because PayPal and credit card companies have simple procedures in place to help you get your money back if the item you receive is not what you expected.

6. Look for customer service information, return policy, and shipping information

Before you even think about purchasing from a website, make sure you find and read the company’s return policy, customer service contact information, and shipping policy. If a website does not have this information, you do not want to be shopping there. If they do have it, make sure that you are OK with their terms and agreements. Some companies have items available for preorder; some companies have a restocking fee, and some companies charge you custom and duty fees. Try to figure out exactly what you’re paying for before making a purchase by reading up on their store policies, terms, and agreements. For more on returns and refunds, see this article.

7. Don’t click on untrusted pop-up ads

When you’re shopping on a website, try not to click on any of their pop-up ads. These ads can have viruses, spyware, and other harmful things that could damage your computer. By clicking these ads, you expose yourself to potential risks. Ignore them and close them when you see them. Sometimes, these ads may use fake alerts, mimicking notifications from your computer. Be aware of this, and don’t fall for those schemes.
shopping on mobile

8. Double-check your banking statements

If you’ve ever made online purchases, you should frequently check your bank statements. Regardless of the payment method you use, Visa debit or credit, take a careful look at your statements. You want to make sure that you are not being double charged for anything and that you don’t have any suspicious and unauthorized charges. Sometimes, websites can be breached, and their information stolen. As a result, some customers may have their banking information stolen and used for fraudulent transactions. By being up to date with your banking information, you can spot anything amiss quickly before the issue gets worse.

9. Don’t overshare information

When online shopping, don’t share more information than is necessary. Typically, retailers only need your payment method information, your name, and a shipping and billing address. Sellers do not need to know your bank account details, social insurance number, or other personal information.

10. Beware of deals that seem too good to be true

If you’re browsing for items online and see something offered at a suspiciously low price, it’s likely a scam trying to lure unsuspecting customers. Low prices are used to draw people in, but usually, these prices are very low for a reason. Don’t be the one to find out why the price is so low, and instead, avoid deals like these altogether.

Now that you know what online shopping is and have reviewed some important tips, you are ready to shop safely online. Keep these tips in mind and protect yourself and your information at all times, so you don’t run into issues when buying online. Happy shopping! You can check out a list of great online retailers below. The Newcomer provides tips here for how to save money when shopping as well as a basic guide to grocery shopping.

Good websites for online shopping:

Nunavut

Nunavut

By Dana Hall

Posted on June 21, 2021

Nunavut

Official Languages: English and French
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

Applying for health coverage in Nunavut is straight forward. You will need to fill out the application form and submit your immigration documents. You will also need to submit two documents that prove your identity and a proof of address in Nunavut. Photocopies of your documents are OK as long as they are good quality.

  • If you are a student, you can apply for health coverage if you will be in Nunavut for more than 12 months.
  • If you have a work permit, you can apply for health coverage if you will be in Nunavut for more than 12 months.

You can mail your application to the address at the bottom of the application form.

Driving information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in Nunavut is 16. You will need to take a knowledge test at a DMV location in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay, or Gjoa Haven. If you live far away from these locations, you can apply at a Government Liaison Officer (GLO) location. You should study the Nunavut driver’s manual to prepare. You can take a practice test here.

You will need to fill out the application form and bring two pieces of government-issued identification with you to your appointment. One of these pieces of identification should have your birthdate. You may also be required to show proof of address.

You need to have your permit for a minimum of four weeks before you can take a road test. When you feel confident, you can take a road test by booking a test at the DMV in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay, or Gjoa Haven or by contacting your GLO. If you pass the driving test, you will be granted a full Class 5 licence.

Here is a list of fees involved with getting a licence.

How to transfer a licence: You will need to contact your nearest DMV or Government Liaison Officer for information on what documents to bring to exchange your licence.

Nunavut public school information

Children can start Kindergarten when they are five, but school is not mandatory until age six.

Schools in Nunavut are usually divided into two: elementary school and high school. Elementary school will usually go until Grade 5 or 6. Contact the school in your district for specific information on how to register.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for about 3 weeks. School starts again in January. There is another break in April for two weeks.

For information on homeschooling your child, please click here.

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories

By Dana Hall

Posted on June 21, 2021

Northwest Territories

Official Language: English, French, Chipewyan, Cree, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey, Tłıchǫ Yatıì
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

You can apply for health care coverage if you are allowed to live in Canada and are in the Northwest Territories for 153 days of the year. You will also need to submit proof that you have an address in the Northwest Territories.

  • If you are a student, you can apply for health coverage if your visa is longer than 12 months.
  • If you have a work permit, you can apply for health coverage if your permit is longer than 12 months.

To apply, you will need to fill out the application form and submit proof of your right to live in Canada, proof of your identity, and proof of your address. A list of acceptable documents is available on the application form.

You can mail or email your information to the addresses on page three of the application form.

Driving information

How to get a licence: The legal age to start driving in the Northwest Territories is 15. The first thing you need to do is get your learner’s permit by passing a knowledge test at a DMV location. You can study for the test using the Northwest Territories driver’s handbook. You can take practice tests here. The handbook is in PDF format and page six gives a good overview of the process on how to get a licence.

You will need to bring a valid proof of address and two forms of valid identification with you to take your test. One of these identifications will need to have a photo. You will also need to provide proof of your right to live in Canada. Some DMV locations have walk-in services for knowledge testing, but others require you to book an appointment. Check your nearest DMV location to find out what options are available.

Your learner’s permit is also called a Class 7 licence. It will allow you to drive with someone who has had their full licence for at least 24 months. You can apply for a road test after one year of driving with a learner’s permit. If you pass the road test, you can receive a probationary licence, also known as a Class 5P. You must be at least 16 years old to obtain this licence.

Your probationary licence is like your full licence but with a few additional restrictions. Your blood alcohol level must be zero when driving. You will lose your licence if you receive over six demerit points.

After a year, you will be given your full licence, which is called a Class 5. To upgrade to a Class 5, you will need to go to your local DMV to exchange your licence for a $31 fee. You must be at least 17 years old to hold a Class 5.

Here is a list of fees associated with getting your licence.

How to transfer a licence: If you already have a licence, you will need to exchange it for a Northwest Territories licence within 30 days of moving to the territory. If you have an international licence, you can wait up to 12 months to exchange it.

You will need to take a knowledge test and a road test before you can transfer your licence. If you pass both of these tests, you will be granted a full licence.

If you are from the United States or Germany, you will be able to exchange your licence without taking a knowledge or road test.

Northwest Territories public school information

Children can start public school when they are four, but it is not mandatory until they are six. The school grade division will vary from school to school. In some areas, schools teach Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12. In other areas, students may need to attend one school to complete Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 and then attend a separate school to complete Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. Some areas will have formal elementary, middle, and high schools. You will need to check with the schools in your area to learn how they divide the grades.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another, week-long break in March called march break.

If you would like to homeschool your child, you can visit this website for more information on how to register.

Canadian music rocks

Canadian music rocks

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on June 21, 2021
singer
Did you know that Canada has the sixth-largest music industry in the world? Many internationally known artists are Canadian. First Nations Peoples, the French, British, Irish, and other nationalities have all contributed to the Canadian music scene. Canada is best known for folk, rock, and jazz-inspired music, but Canadian artists perform music of all genres. Canadian music is also influenced by American music and pop culture because of the proximity between the two countries.

In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates the music industry. According to the CRTC, 35 per cent of popular music played on English and French-language radio stations each week is Canadian content. CBC/Radio Canada has to play at least 50 per cent Canadian content each week. This is a way of promoting Canadian artists within Canada.

Notable artists

Canada is home to many internationally known artists and lesser-known artists. These artists and bands have made great contributions to the Canadian music scene.

  • Drake – a rapper and singer from Toronto, Drake proudly calls Toronto home and has popularized the “Toronto sound.”
    Bryan Adams – a rock singer and guitarist from Kingston, Ont., Bryan Adams has had several No. 1 hits in Canada and other countries. He also wrote the music and lyrics for Pretty Woman: The Musical.
  • Great Big Sea – a Canadian folk-rock band from Newfoundland. They are best known for their rock interpretations of traditional Newfoundland songs and sea shanties.
  • Neil Young – a singer-songwriter and musician from Toronto, Neil Young has extensive discography that goes back to 1968. He has won several Juno and Grammy Awards and has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He frequently mixes folk, rock, country, and other music styles together.
  • Celine Dion – Celine Dion is a singer from Charlemagne, Que. She is the best-selling Canadian recording artist of all time and is known for her technically powerful voice. She has recorded albums in both English and French. She is known for singing “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic.
  • Joni Mitchell – Joni Mitchell is a singer-songwriter from Fort Macleod, Alta. She is widely regarded as being one of the best songwriters of all time. Her music is inspired by folk, pop, rock, classical, and jazz. She has won nine Grammys and has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Justin Bieber – Justin Bieber is a singer, songwriter, and pop star from London, Ont. He released his debut album when he was 16 which featured the hit song “Baby.”
  • Shawn Mendes – from Pickering, Ont., Shawn Mendes is a pop singer-songwriter who was discovered by posting covers of songs on Vine. He released his first self-titled EP (extended play or mini-album) in 2014 and his first full length album, Handwritten, in 2015.
  • Rush – Rush is a highly influential rock band that was formed in Toronto in 1968. They are best known for their blues-rock and progressive-rock style. British hard rock bands like Led Zepplin, The Who, and Black Sabbath had a big influence on their style.
  • Blue Rodeo – Blue Rodeo is a country-rock band from Toronto. Over the years, they have recorded 15 studio albums, four live recordings, a greatest hits album, and engaged in other solo albums, side projects, and collaborations.

concert

Music festivals

During the summer months, Canadians enjoy attending music festivals across the country. There are music festivals for all kinds of genres of music in almost every province:

  • Montreal International Jazz Festival – a 10-day celebration of jazz music and other styles of music. It is the biggest jazz festival in the world.
  • Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts – an indie music that takes place over a weekend in Montreal. There are six stages and dozens of new and established artists that perform at the festival. Previous headliners have included Florence + the Machine, Childish Gambino, Lorde, Lana del Rey, and The Weeknd.
  • North by Northeast – sometimes known as NXNE, North by Northeast is an annual music and gaming festival held in Toronto every June. It celebrates community and new music with panels, showcases, parties, and more.
  • Ottawa Bluesfest – an outdoor music festival that takes place every July in downtown Ottawa. It historically focused on blues-inspired music but has included artists from other genres such as hip hop, R&B, reggae, and rock in recent years.
  • Boots and Hearts Music Festival – a weekend-long country music and camping festival that takes place in Oro-Medonte, Ont.
  • Cavendish Beach Music Festival – Cavendish Beach Music Festival is Atlantic Canada’s largest outdoor music festival, and it takes place in Cavendish, P.E.I. Artists from a wide variety of genres perform there.
  • Winnipeg Folk Festival – this festival features a variety of local, national, and international artists. It’s more than just folk music. There’s also indie, rock, country, electronic, and Americana music that is performed. There’s something for everyone.
  • Ever After – a bass and electronic music fantasy festival that takes place over a weekend in June in Kitchener, Ont.
  • Celtic Colours – this is an international music festival that celebrates Celtic music. It’s held every October on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. There’s also lots of dancing and bagpipes.

traditional music

The Juno Awards

The Juno Awards are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards or the Brit Awards. Junos are given to Canadian artists and bands in recognition of their artistic and technical achievements in music. Awards are given out for many categories such as Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and specific genre Album of the year. Categories are judged by members of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science. As part of the awards ceremony, new members are inducted to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. This ceremony is televised and features live performances from artists. It’s a fun night to celebrate Canadian music.

Canada has a really great music scene, and there’s something for everyone, no matter what type of music you like.

Elder care homes in Canada

Elder care homes in Canada

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on June 21, 2021
elder woman
Getting older isn’t always easy. Fortunately, there are institutions and homes across Canada that can help make your life easier as you age. It should be noted that different provinces may offer slightly different services, so you should check on your provincial government’s health website for more specific details.

Long-term care homes

Long-term care (LTC) homes are places where adults can live and receive help with most daily activities and have 24-hour access to nursing and personal care. Some LTC homes are for profit and others are not-for-profit. In order to qualify to live in a long-term care home, you must be 18 years old or older, have a valid health card, and have health needs such as a need for 24-hour nursing, assistance with daily activities, or supervision to ensure your safety and well-being. All personal and nursing care is funded by the government, but you will need to pay for charges such as room and board. LTC facilities are typically furnished and include amenities such as living space, 24-hour personal care, meals, housekeeping and laundry, personal hygiene supplies, and more. To arrange for long-term care, call your Local Health Integration Network (LNHI) at 310-2222 or enter your postal code on http://healthcareathome.ca/.

Retirement homes

Retirement homes are different than LTC homes. Retirement homes are privately-owned and don’t offer 24-hour nursing care. They rent private accommodation to seniors who can live with little or no help. It is similar to renting an apartment. To live in a retirement home, you have to be able to pay for your own care and living expenses. It can cost between $1,500 and $6,000 per month for a private room. The home may assess your needs to ensure it can provide you with the right level of support. Common services and facilities at retirement homes include your own room, wheelchair accessibility, housekeeping, meals, laundry, social and recreational programs, and shared dining room and common spaces, but these may vary from home to home. To find a retirement home in your area contact your Local Health Integration Network, search licensed homes by name, city, or postal code through the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority website http://www.rhra.ca/, or call 1-855-ASK-RHRA (1-855-275-7472), and then send an application directly to the retirement home.

Assisted living

Assisted living communities provide support for those who may need some assistance with daily tasks but don’t require the 24-hour care of a long-term care home. This is for individuals who need help with things like bathing, mobility, or taking daily medication. There is usually a nurse or other health-care professionals available on an as-needed basis. Assisted living communities may be in an apartment building or complex, and residents usually live in a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or bachelor suite. Amenities are similar to that of long-term care homes and retirement homes.
elder people

Palliative care

Palliative care is for patients and their families facing a serious, life-limiting illness. It aims to relieve suffering and improve the patient’s and family’s quality of life at all stages of the illness. This type of care focuses on treating the impact that the illness has on the patient, and it is often provided along with the medical treatment of the illness itself. Physicians and nurses assess and manage the progression of the illness. Palliative care seeks to improve comfort and quality of life through pain and symptom management. Services may include: personal support services, psychological, spiritual, and bereavement support, and other services such as physiotherapy, caregiver support, and pharmacy. You can access palliative care through your primary health care provider (for example, your family doctor can provide you with a referral) or by contacting your Local Health Integration Network, your local hospital, or a long-term care home. This type of care is delivered in all-care settings including individual homes, hospices, hospitals, and long-term care homes. There is no cost for receiving medically necessary care in your home, at a hospice, or at a hospital.

In-home care

Seniors can often stay in their homes and get the support they need even if they have complex medical conditions. There are a variety of types of in-home care such as:

  • Homemaking: Homemaking services can help maintain a safe and comfortable home and offer services such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, caring for children, and banking.
  • Personal care: Personal care health-care professionals can assist with daily care activities such as bathing, hair care, dressing and undressing, eating, mobility, and taking you to appointments.
  • Family-managed home care: This program is available to those with the following needs: children with complex medical conditions, adults with a brain injury, homeschooled children with qualifying health needs, or other extraordinary circumstances.
  • End-of-life care at home: There are many options available if you or a loved one require end-of-life care at home. Services that are available include: nursing and personal care, medical supplies, hospital and sickroom equipment, pain management, home hospice services, tests, and transportation to other health services.

To arrange home care, call your Local Health Integration Network (LHNI) at 310-2222 or visit their website and enter your postal code. You will then be introduced to a case manager or care coordinator, who will determine if you qualify for government-funded care. If you don’t qualify, you may be eligible for services provided by community agencies, which may require a co-payment. You can also arrange for home care through a private company, and your LHIN can help with that too. Your case manager will tell you which services they can provide based on your needs, and they’ll also arrange a home visit. After that, your LHNI will coordinate your application.

Community support services

Many communities have support services specifically for seniors and those who need support to live independently at home. Programs include:

  • Adult day programs for socializing, fitness, and other activities
  • Transportation services for those who can’t drive or use public transit
  • Community hospice services such as counselling, support groups, yoga, art classes, and grief support
  • Residential hospice services, which provide end-of-life care and palliative care in a comfortable, home-like environment, for those who can’t stay in their own homes anymore
  • Exercise and falls prevention classes to help seniors stay active and healthy

When considering elder care in Canada, the most important thing is to do what’s best for you and your family based on your needs. If you’re unsure about which option is right for you, talk to your health-care professional.

Breaking down Canadian Language Benchmarks 1-4

Breaking down Canadian Language Benchmarks 1-4

By Michelle Boon

Posted on June 21, 2021
dictionary

What are Canadian Language Benchmarks?

Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) are an essential part of learning English as a second language (ESL). These benchmarks set the ESL standards in Canada. There are 12 benchmarks, and they describe your language skills including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. You may have a different benchmark level for each skill. These benchmarks are divided into three categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

All government-funded ESL programs and curriculum are based on CLB. They are essential for language assessors to place newcomers in the right ESL classes and for teachers to make lesson plans. Employers also use CLB during the hiring process.

For newcomers, it’s useful to become familiar with CLB. If you haven’t started taking any ESL classes yet, CLB can help you gage your language ability before you get a formal language assessment. (See this article for more information on English language proficiency tests.) The benchmarks are also useful for helping you set language goals and determine how many classes you need to take. For more information on ESL programs, check this article by The Newcomer.

You do not necessarily need to reach CLB 12, the highest level, to be a successful newcomer. For example, newcomers can apply for citizenship when their English speaking and listening skills reach CLB 4.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of CLB in the beginner tier.

Beginner (CLB 1-4)

At this stage, you can understand simple language. You recognize words from everyday life. You can read short phrases with pictures. You can tell someone your name. You can ask for help at a store.

CLB 4 is a great level to reach. You develop basic language skills to navigate daily life and connect with others. Getting to this level can also help you get a job. Mastering beginner CLB can help you identify and compare important information. This is a great skill to have when looking for jobs and in the workplace.

CLB 1

Listening: At this benchmark, you can understand a few words and simple phrases. You understand best when you can see the other person and when they speak slowly. Pictures and gestures help your understanding. You recognize words and phrases about things you know about or need. Here are some phrases you can understand:

  • “Hello, my name is Brenda.”
  • “Can I see your health card?”
  • “What time is it?”

Speaking: You can say a few words and simple phrases. You know numbers, names, times, dates, and the alphabet. You can communicate when you can see the other person. Pictures and gestures help your understanding. You know simple greetings. You can also make simple requests. You can make conversation by asking simple questions. Here are some phrases you are able to say:

  • “Nice to meet you.”
  • “I’m from the Philippines.”
  • “Please, come in!”
  • “It is 9:30.”

Reading: You can read the alphabet, numbers, and common words. You understand best when the topic is familiar. Pictures help your understanding. You use a dictionary in your first language for words you don’t know. Here are some things you can read:

  • A birthday invitation
  • An advertisement for a sale
  • A street sign

Writing: You can write the alphabet, numbers, and common words. You can write on familiar topics with someone’s help. Here are some things you can write:

  • An invitation to a party
  • You name, address, and phone number

letters

CLB 2

Listening: You can understand short, simple sentences. You listen best when you can see the other person. It helps when they speak slowly. Pictures and gestures also help your understanding. You understand best when the topic is familiar or related to what you need. You can understand greetings, small talk, requests, dates, and times. Here are some phrases you can understand:

  • “Can I get you something to drink?”
  • “Your dentist appointment is June 12 at 1 o’ clock.”
  • “Can you please pass me that book.”

Speaking: You use a greater variety of simple words and phrases. You communicate best when you can see the other person. Pictures and gestures help you understand. Sometimes you need assistance to find the correct phrase. You can greet others and introduce yourself, make requests, give simple instructions, and describe familiar things in simple terms. Here are some sentences you can say:

  • “Hi, my name is Sam. What is your name?”
  • “That coffee is hot. Be careful.”
  • “Please sign this form at the bottom.”
  • “My favourite thing about Canada is the food.”

Reading: You can read short, simple sentences. You recognize common words and phrases. Pictures are helpful to your understanding, and you use a dictionary to understand difficult words. You can read short personal messages, labels, maps, and instructions. Here are some things you can read:

  • A thank you note
  • A caption describing a photo in a newspaper
  • A four-step instruction on how to wash your hands

Writing: You can write short, simple sentences. You use common everyday words. You write confidently when the topic is familiar and with help from another person. You can write social messages, fill out paperwork, copy lists, and write a few sentences about yourself. Here are some things you can write:

  • A holiday card
  • Paperwork at the doctor’s office
  • A copy of your work schedule

CLB 3

Listening: At this benchmark, you can understand most simple sentences. You still understand best when you can see the other person, but they don’t need to speak as slowly. Pictures and gestures help your understanding. Familiar topics are easiest to understand. You can comprehend various social interactions from beginning to end. You can also understand requests, instructions with up to four steps, and a short description. Here are some phrases you can understand:

  • “Hi, Barry. This is Stan. He’s the new sales manager, and I wanted to introduce you two.”
  • “Can I borrow this book?”
  • “The bathroom is straight down the hall and to the right.”
  • “I went to a birthday party yesterday. The house was decorated with blue balloons and green streamers. The cake was chocolate. It was delicious.”

Speaking: You can speak in short, simple sentences. You can speak most confidently about common topics and about your own experiences. At this level, you begin to use basic grammar and connect ideas. It still helps when you can see the other person, but you don’t necessarily need gestures or pictures to get your point across. You can make an appointment, make a request, offer help, give warnings, give directions, and describe your feelings and experiences. Here are some phrases you can say:

  • “I’d like to make an appointment for next week, but I am busy on Monday and Tuesday.”
  • “Would you like my help with that?”
  • “The roads are icy. Be careful on the drive home.”
  • “Hi, Dr. Chang. I came in because my neck is sore, and I have pain in my left shoulder.”

Reading: You can read most short sentences. You can also understand simple paragraphs. Familiar topics are easiest to comprehend. Pictures, charts, and diagrams help your understanding. You only need to use a dictionary in your first language sometimes. You can read simple messages, find key information in a chart or flyer, understand instructions with up to five steps, and identify the main idea of a short story. Here are some things you are able to read:

  • A note from your teacher about your progress in the class
  • A bus schedule
  • Instructions on how to take care of your friend’s pet

Writing: You are confident writing short sentences and start to write short paragraphs. You have a greater understanding of how to use simple grammar, for example, where to put commas. It is easiest to write about familiar topics. You can write more detailed social messages, write a formal request, copy simple paragraphs, and write descriptions of your surroundings and own experiences. Here are some things you can write:

  • A note to a family member reminding them to take out the trash
  • A copy of a short recipe
  • An emergency contact form
  • An email to a friend about what you did on the weekend

language game

CLB 4

Listening: At this benchmark, you can understand both formal and informal communication. You understand the difference between a conversation with your friend versus one with your boss at work. You can comprehend conversations about familiar topics easily. It is still easiest to understand when you can see the person speaking, and they speak at a moderate speed. You can understand small talk, identify advertisements and persuasive communication, follow instructions with up to five steps, and understand short stories and descriptions. Here are some things you are able to understand:

  • “I’m going to hang out with my brother this weekend; how about you?”
  • “This blender is the best in the industry! It’s easy to use and easy to clean, and for you it’s 20 per cent off!”
  • “Make sure to take this medication twice a day for two weeks. Take it with food, or you might experience stomach pains.”
  • “The weather today will be 23 °C and sunny with light rain in the afternoon.”

Speaking: You can speak about everyday activities, experiences, needs, and wants. You can also use basic grammar and connect your ideas. You can have conversations in person and short conversations on the phone. You occasionally need help from another person to find the right words. Sometimes you need pictures and gestures to convey your points. You can easily make casual conversation, make a request, give someone else directions with up to five steps, describe your feelings, and describe an experience using five to seven sentences. Here are some things you can say:

  • “I’ve never been to this store before. Can you help me find the women’s clothing section?”
  • “We’ve been getting a lot of snow lately, and I don’t like it.”
  • “Today, work was really great. All of the customers were friendly, and my coworkers brought their dog.”
  • “I’m having a difficult time adjusting to Canadian life. I miss my friends and family from home, and it’s frustrating that they can’t come to visit.”

Reading: You can read short, simple paragraphs on familiar topics. Sometimes you need pictures, graphs, and diagrams to help you understand. You only need to use a dictionary for words on occasion. You can read all kinds of simple social messages with ease. You can find information on tables and schedules, follow instructions with up to six steps, and identify and compare key information across two to three paragraphs. Here are some things you can understand:

  • The Newcomer! This publication is written at CLB 4
  • An email from a friend explaining why they weren’t in class
  • A directory of phone numbers
  • The differences between two apartment listings

Writing: At this benchmark, you can write simple sentences and short paragraphs. You use simple punctuation and grammar throughout your writing. You write most confidently when the topic is familiar. You can write social messages that are up to a paragraph long, complete long applications and forms, and descriptive paragraphs. Here are some things you can write:

  • An email to a family member describing your life in Canada
  • A message to your manager asking for a day off and explaining why you need it
  • A definition from a dictionary

When you reach CLB 4, or are at CLB 4 already, you have the communication tools to get through day-to-day life. You can make appointments, go shopping, introduce yourself to new people, and ask for help when you need it.

You may want to pursue a higher benchmark level for your future goals. Intermediate and Advanced CLB levels may be a requirement for certain jobs as well as for post-secondary programs.

To learn more about CLB, Canadian Language Benchmarks have compiled a summary of each level in their Can Do Statements package.

Postpartum depression reveals dark side of parenthood for immigrant mothers

Postpartum depression reveals dark side of parenthood for immigrant mothers

By Russul Sahib

Posted on June 21, 2021

Trigger Warning: This article contains information about mental illness and depression.
mother and baby
Many women are told that giving birth is supposed to be one of the happiest moments in their life. The transition into parenthood is undoubtedly difficult, yet women are often told that raising a baby should only evoke positive feelings. As much as parents may want to bond with their new baby and transition smoothly into parenthood, this is not always possible. Many mothers experience postpartum blues or even postpartum mood disorders after giving birth and may not be aware of how to get help.

Postpartum blues refers to when women feel sad, exhausted, and overwhelmed as they transition into their new roles as mothers. This is very common among new mothers, with four out of five women experiencing these symptoms. It may take a couple of days or up to a few weeks for these symptoms to disappear.

On the other hand, a postpartum mood disorder, such as postpartum depression, is a serious mental illness suffered by some women during their child’s first year of life. Other types of postpartum mood disorders include postpartum bipolar disorder, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, or postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Postpartum mood disorders can also occur in new fathers. Research shows that approximately 10 per cent of fathers experience depression within their child’s first year of life. Additionally, 25 to 50 per cent of fathers whose partners experience postpartum depression will also deal with this mental illness. Symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder can often overlap with those of postpartum blues, except that these feelings are more intense and do not go away on their own. Women experiencing this mental illness may not feel connected to their new baby and have a difficult time strengthening that bond.

Resources that provide reassurance and normalize the occurrence of postpartum mood disorders in women are helpful for those experiencing symptoms. Health Nexus provides information as well as a few links which offer support and information about postpartum mood disorders. Settlement.org also provides information in different languages about the differences between postpartum blues and postpartum mood disorders. Postpartum Support International provides a directory of mental health professionals as well as support groups in different languages for those wanting to speak to someone about their experiences.

Cindy-Lee Dennis is a professor and researcher at the University of Toronto, whose work focuses on improving the health of both parents and babies throughout and after pregnancy. Her work has largely focused on examining the health of immigrant women throughout their pregnancy and postpartum period. In 2015, Dennis and other researchers published a study which suggested that about 20 per cent of newcomer women experience some type of depressive symptoms within their child’s first year of life. Additionally, they are twice as likely to experience postpartum depression compared to non-immigrant women.

Health Nexus is one of the organizations in Toronto hoping to provide better support for immigrant women dealing with postpartum depression. The organization provides information and resources regarding different health topics for vulnerable populations that may not have access to them. Hiltrud Dawson, the team lead at Health Nexus, said that there are many reasons for why women may experience postpartum depression, ranging from the hormonal changes in the postpartum period to the challenges of adjusting to their new role. This, combined with lack of sleep and exhaustion may negatively impact the well-being of new mothers.

For newcomer women, social isolation may also play a role in the development of postpartum depression. Recent immigrants are often unaware of or lack existing social supports, such as parenting support groups or a network of parents whom they can speak to. Typically, having these social supports can help ease the transition into parenthood for many parents.

“They may not have the circle of friends or support that women in Canada have built up,” Dawson said.

Decreasing the stigma around women who experience postpartum depression would also largely help new mothers transition better into their new roles. For newcomer women, it is important to bring this awareness into the community, so that support networks are aware of what they may be going through, Dawson said.

“The father, the relatives, any community leaders should know about it, so that they don’t respond in the typical way that would perpetuate the stigma,” Dawson said.

Aside from stigma, there are still some misconceptions about postpartum depression which continue to negatively impact those experiencing this mental health issue.

“There is still this idea that people can just snap out of it because they’ve got a lovely baby, and they should just be happy,” Dawson said.

Instead, women and those around them should acknowledge that there can be difficult sides to motherhood and find healthy ways to cope with and support this life-changing transition.

Environmental programs help newcomers overcome barriers to eco-friendly lifestyle

Environmental programs help newcomers overcome barriers to eco-friendly lifestyle

By Russul Sahib

Posted on June 21, 2021
harvesting
The world’s current climate crisis is one of the most talked about issues in the present day. As the consequences of climate change become more apparent and widely discussed, many organizations and environmental activists have taken it upon themselves to advocate for better care towards the environment. Many organizations and campaigns have focused on tackling bigger issues, such as keeping large bodies of water unpolluted or banning single-use plastics. Other individuals have instead decided to focus on lowering their individual impact on the environment by limiting driving and travelling, buying second-hand items to avoid waste, or even planting more trees in their communities.

For many people, taking these steps means finding information, tools, and resources that will help them transition into living an eco-friendly life. Yet, access to resources and information that educate and support people to make these positive changes to their life are not readily available for certain populations. One of these groups is recent immigrants.

There are many misconceptions about newcomers not being interested in or caring about environmental initiatives. However, a study conducted by Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services in 2018 showed that newcomers living in low-income areas in Toronto actually had strong knowledge and interest in environmental issues. 87 per cent of the survey’s respondents stated they were aware of the current issues affecting the environment. Despite the participants’ interest in environmental initiatives, costs, lack of green space, and language barriers all affected their ability to make more eco-friendly choices. For example, one surveyed participant stated that they were more likely to purchase plastic containers, as they were more durable and cheaper than glass. For newcomers with little extra money to spend, the high costs of eco-friendly products create huge barriers for an eco-friendly lifestyle. Lack of green space also prevented surveyed respondents living in rented houses or apartments from being able to grow their own food.

Yaneth Londono is the executive director at an organization called Links for Greener Learning (LGL), which helps newcomers in the Niagara region tackle these barriers to green living. The organization offers a variety of programs and workshops that help newcomers with different levels of environmental awareness, make positive changes to their lifestyle.

“We teach them about waste management, recycling, composting, water conservation, and energy conservation,” Londono said. “We do gardening workshops, and we also do cooking classes.”
planting trees
Londono said that many of the newcomers attending these programs and workshops are very interested in gardening and cooking. This is why the organization’s Growing Diversity Garden has played an essential role in offering newcomers a cheaper alternative to purchasing food from the grocery store. The community garden has grown to feed over 200 families and includes a variety of different produce used in cuisine from around the world.

“They have an opportunity to plant their own things [produce] because all of them have different backgrounds,” Londono said. “Whatever they like more, or they use more, that’s what they plant in the garden.”

Newcomers are also taught how to make good use of the produce they grow for the long winter months through food preservation workshops.

Aside from growing food, newcomers are also given opportunities to put their artistic skills to use by creating new fashion and jewellery pieces with used fabrics and materials. The project, which is called Eco-Chic, began as a way to allow skilled newcomer women to put their artistic talents to good use while also preventing more waste from clothes that are thrown away. The fabrics and jewellery pieces used are new but damaged and allow for these women to re-purpose and re-design them into brand new items for sale.

“They [newcomer women] used to be designers in their country, or they know how to sew or how to make jewellery. Basically, everything that is discarded from the stores gets donated to us, and we make new items with that,” Londono said.
young woman
Most importantly, the initiative provides these women with extra money to support themselves or their families.

“The people who participate in the project, they get paid for the items they make,” Londono said. “While they are learning the language, they can have an extra income to support their family.”

Seeing the motivation and commitment of newcomers in a variety of different programs and workshops, Londono said that oftentimes newcomers just need to learn more about the state of the environment and how they can help.

“In Canada, [environmental awareness is] more important than in other countries,” she said. “For example, here you have to recycle because if you don’t recycle properly, you are going to pay for that. When people start learning about these things, they start caring about the environment.”

Once newcomers become more familiar with what can be done to help the environment, Londono said many are eager to continue the work they have learnt.

“When they learn, they come to us and they want to learn more,” Londono said.

Interacting with law enforcement in Canada

Interacting with law enforcement in Canada

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on June 21, 2021

Most people encounter police or law enforcement officers at some point in their lives. It is important to know what your rights are and how to interact with police so that you can protect yourself and others.

According to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, police officers can stop you in three circumstances:

  • If they suspect you committed a crime
  • If they see you committing a crime
  • If you are driving

The police are allowed to stop and ask you questions. Most of the time, you don’t have to answer their questions, but it is often best to answer them politely and to the best of your abilities. In some cases, you do need to provide a statement to the police if required by law. Law enforcement officers may also ask for identification, your name, and your address, which you usually don’t have to provide.

If the police don’t arrest you and don’t have grounds to detain you, they have to let you go. If they detain you, they must inform you of your right to speak to a lawyer and give you a chance to do so. Since anything you say to law enforcement officers could be used as evidence, it is sometimes best not to answer any questions until you have spoken with a lawyer.
police

Racial profiling in Canada

Unfortunately, in Canada, people of colour are more likely to get stopped and questioned by police. This is called racial profiling. The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines racial profile as any action taken for reasons of safety, security, or public protection that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, gender, etc., rather than on reasonable suspicion. It’s against the law for someone to use racial profiling, even those in positions of authority. Psychologists have found that racial profiling leads to feelings of fear, stress, mistrust, and trauma for those directly and indirectly affected by it. Racial profiling, though illegal, still happens in many institutions in Canada including education, housing, employment, and within law enforcement—specifically with regards to policing, arrests, and court sentencing.

At the airport

Canadian borders are policed by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). They are the agents that will screen you and your bags when you go through airport security. When going through the various checkpoints at the airport, make sure you have your boarding pass, passport, and any other visa or immigration documents handy. When you arrive in Canada make sure that you declare anything that you are bringing with you. The Canadian government also has a list of restricted and prohibited items. If an officer finds you with a prohibited good, they are permitted to seize the good, and it will not be returned to you. You may also face fines. It should also be noted that while cannabis is legal in Canada, you cannot carry it across the border whether you’re coming or going.

At the airport, you are required to put your carry-on bags through an x-ray screening machine and walk through a metal detector. If the metal detector or x-ray screening machine triggers an alarm when you or your bags are being screened, or if you are randomly selected for further inspection, you may have to undergo additional screening. Additional screening may include a pat-down, a search of your carry-on bag and/or electronic devices (make sure your electronic devices can be removed from their case and charged and turned on), a full-body scan in an x-ray machine, or swabbing for explosive trace detection.

Security agents are trained to use common sense and courtesy when screening individuals carrying or wearing clothing of religious or cultural significance. However, if you wear your head covering through the metal detector, and it sets off the alarm, you will require additional screening. You may be asked to remove your head covering, and this can be done in a private room at your request. If there is no alarm, an officer may ask you to pat down your own head covering and show your hands for explosive trace detection.

The CBSA may detain you at the airport and take you to a detention facility if they consider it necessary to complete an examination, weren’t satisfied with your identity, or have reason to believe you’re inadmissible to Canada. If you are detained at a port of entry, you have the right to:

  • Be told why you’re being detained
  • Contact your embassy
  • Be represented by counsel or receive legal aid at your expense
  • Be provided with an interpreter if you don’t speak the language

You will need to give all your personal belongings to the officer. During your time there: you will be fed; you will have visiting hours; you can make local phone calls; and in some places, you can send and receive written mail.

If you’re inadmissible to Canada, you won’t be allowed to enter the country. You may be found inadmissible for reasons such as: security reasons, human or international rights violations, criminal history, medical reasons, financial reasons, misrepresentation, or having an inadmissible family member. If you are found inadmissible but have a justified reason to travel to Canada, you may be issued a temporary resident permit. You may receive a temporary resident permit if your application for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) was refused, or you may need to apply for a visitor visa. It’s important to note that a temporary resident permit is usually issued only for the length of your visit, and you must leave Canada by the expiration date or get a new one. You must pay a $200 fee for a temporary resident permit.

If you are found inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality inside or outside of the country (e.g., drinking and driving is considered a serious criminal offence), you may face the following consequences:

  • Permanent residents may lose their status and have to leave the country
  • Temporary residents may not be able to enter or stay in Canada
  • Refugee claimants may not be eligible for a refugee hearing

police man

If you are stopped while driving

The police can stop you at any time while driving to check if you have consumed drugs or alcohol, your vehicle is in proper working order, and/or you have a valid license and insurance. If law enforcement officers ask to see your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance, you must provide these documents. It’s best to keep these documents in the glove compartment. If the police suspect that you have been drinking, they may ask you to pass a sobriety test or take a breathalyzer test. You don’t have the right to speak to a lawyer before doing a roadside test, but you do if you have to take the test at a police station.

Police may also pull you over if they suspect you are driving high. Cannabis is legal in Canada, but driving while being high is illegal. Cannabis can remain in your system for up to six hours or more and may impair your driving. There is a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who:

  • Is 21 or under
  • Has a G1, G2, M1, or M2 license
  • Drives a vehicle that requires an A-F class driver’s license or Commercial Vehicle
  • Operator’s Registration
  • Drives a road-building machine

Law enforcement officers are equipped with roadside drug screening equipment and sobriety tests. If your ability to drive has been impaired as a result of drug or alcohol use and the police find about it, you will face serious penalties including: immediate license suspension, fines, possible vehicle impoundment, possible criminal record, and possible jail time. It is illegal to transport cannabis in a motor vehicle if it’s open and not in its original packaging, and if it is not packed in baggage and available to anyone in the car.

The police don’t have the right to search your car unless they believe you have drugs, alcohol, or evidence relating to a crime. They also have to believe that this evidence would otherwise be destroyed if they obtained a search warrant.

If you plan on being out in an environment where you’re going to consume drugs or alcohol, plan a safe way home that doesn’t require you to drive. Have a designated driver; use public transit; call a friend or family member for a ride; or call a taxi or rideshare.

When you can be searched

Generally speaking, you can only be searched if you have been placed under arrest or have consented to the search.

If you are arrested or detained

If you are arrested or detained, the police have to tell you why. Don’t resist being arrested, or you may be charged with “obstructing the police” or “assault with intent to resist.” Law enforcement officers may briefly detain you if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you are involved in a crime. You also have the right to remain silent, and you don’t have to answer any questions from the police. You have the right to speak to a lawyer, and they must tell you this as soon as possible. Police also have to inform you of your right to legal aid and free legal services. They must also allow you to make more than one phone call if necessary to contact your lawyer. Once you get a hold of your lawyer, you may speak to them in private. You won’t be required to answer any questions from the police even after you’ve spoken with your lawyer.
police car

If the police come to your home

The police can enter your home under certain circumstances:

  • They have a warrant to enter your home to arrest someone.
  • They have a search warrant.
  • They have permission from you or someone else in authority in your home.
  • There are urgent circumstances, such as a 911 call, to help victims of domestic assault collect their belongings, or if the police believe someone in the home needs emergency services.
  • They suspect a crime has been committed against you, not by you, in relation to your property.

A search warrant allows the police to search your home and take certain items. They have to identify themselves and ask permission to come in. Law enforcement officers also have to show you a copy of the warrant. If you refuse to let them enter your home, you may be charged with “obstructing the police.” The police can take items you’re not legally allowed to have, such as illegal drugs or items that may be evidence in an investigation. If they take things that legally belong to you, they have to return them to you within three months.

When dealing with law enforcement officers, it’s important that you know your rights so that you don’t end up in trouble. To learn more about your legal rights in Canada, check this article by The Newcomer.

Get familiar with public school

Get familiar with public school

By Dana Hall

Posted on June 21, 2021

Most children in Canada attend public school. Private schools, faith-based schools, and homeschooling options are available as well. (To learn more about Catholic education in Canada, see this article.) Public school is free, and Canada is considered to have one of the strongest public education systems in the world. Children learn basic school subjects and are also taught physical education.

The public school system is intended for children and teenagers, but adults can also take high school courses. Classes for adults are separate from the younger students and usually happen at night. They are meant to help adults achieve qualifications like a high school diploma. They can also be used to help develop certain skills. These courses are often free or have a small cost. You can learn more about adult learning here.

Types of school

Preschool: Preschool usually starts at age three, but some preschools will allow younger children to attend too. This is not part of the public school system, so you will need to pay for this level of schooling. Preschool is more like daycare and is not focused on education. Some parents like to send their kids to preschool so that they can go back to work or so their kids can start socializing with other children.

Kindergarten: The purpose of kindergarten is to transition kids into formal learning. It is different from preschool because the activities are designed to teach kids basic skills. Children do not receive grades in kindergarten. Kindergarten usually starts when a child turns five.

Some provinces split kindergarten into two years and starts when a child is four. The first year is called junior kindergarten. The provinces that offer junior kindergarten are the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. Junior kindergarten is not mandatory but kindergarten is, in some provinces. Please refer to your province guide for more information. Note that in Nova Scotia, kindergarten is also called “Grade Primary.”

Elementary School: This can also be called primary school or grade school. It starts when a child is six and is the beginning of formal learning. Depending on the province you live in, elementary school will continue until the child is between 10 and 13 years old. Students are taught about a range of subjects and have one teacher and one classroom. It is mandatory for children to attend elementary school. If you do not want your children to attend, you can also homeschool them.

classroom

Middle School: This is also called junior high. It begins between the ages of 10 and 13 and ends between the ages of 14 and 16 depending on the province you live in. In middle school, student learning is divided into “periods.” They have their own class schedule, and each subject is taught by a different teacher in a different classroom. Quebec does not have middle school.

High School: Like middle school, high school classes are also divided into periods. Students are required to take certain classes, but they can also choose “electives.” These are classes students will take to learn more about particular interests and explore future career options.

High school classes are divided into two levels, the “academic level” and the “applied level.” Academic classes will qualify students to apply for university while applied classes will prepare students for college and trade school. To learn about how the post-secondary system works in Canada, check out this article by The Newcomer.

Language of instruction

School in Canada is taught in English or French.

If you live in an English-speaking part of the country, you will be able to choose if you want your child to learn in English or French as a primary language.

Most schools in English-speaking parts of the country will teach children in English. Most cities will also have a French school as well. This is intended for children who have a good understanding of French or who speak it as their first language.

There is also the option of French immersion, which is meant for children who do not yet speak the language. Schools offering “French Immersion” teach children French by using it as the primary language of instruction. This program starts when the child is five or six. If the child is older than six and does not speak French, French immersion is not recommended.

If you send your child to French immersion, the language spoken outside of class will still be English. Children are encouraged to speak French even at recess, but most choose to speak English with their friends. It is important that your child knows English, even if they are attending a French school. Otherwise, they will not be able to communicate with their peers.

If your child does not speak English already, it is recommended that they take English lessons before they go to school.

If you live in Quebec, you will be expected to send your child to French school. The main language spoken at the schools is French. If your child cannot speak French, it is a good idea to give them French lessons before they attend.

There are English schools in the province, but children can only attend in certain circumstances. If you are in Quebec temporarily, an exception will also be made for your child to attend English school.

The school calendar

School starts between the end of August and early September. Most provinces start school the day after Labour Day. The school year ends at the end of June. Refer to your province guide in the Settlement section for specific information about your province.

Back to school culture

It is common for kids to get “back to school” supplies and clothing before the start of a new school year. There is no obligation to take part in “back to school” activities, but many stores will have sales on supplies and clothing at the end of August. It can be a good time to buy these items for your children.

Public schools in Canada do not have school uniforms. Kids can usually wear what they want, but there will usually be a dress code to prevent “inappropriate” clothing from being worn. If you have a teenager who is shopping on their own, they should make sure their clothing follows the school’s dress code.

kid with backpack

Physical education and wellbeing

Physical health and mental wellbeing are a big part of the public school system. Children are taught about exercise and nutrition from a young age. They will be exposed to a variety of sports in gym class and learn how to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Sex education is also taught in public school. The goal of this type of education is to make sure people living in Canada learn about healthy relationships, birth control, consent, sexuality, and gender. Sexual health education in Canada can be more intensive than what is taught in some countries, so it is a good idea to get familiar with your province’s curriculum. This way, you’ll know what your child will learn about in each grade.

Young people will learn about anatomy, safe sex, and birth control to help prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. In some provinces, students will also be taught about different kinds of sexualities, relationships, and genders. Youths will also learn about healthy relationships and consent.

If you are uncomfortable with your child learning about sexual health, you can remove them from certain parts of the curriculum. It is recommended that parents look at the long-term benefits of sexual health education before making this decision.

Moccasin-making preserves years of Indigenous artistry

Moccasin-making preserves years of Indigenous artistry

By Russul Sahib
Photos Credit: Mohawk Mocs

Posted on June 21, 2021

moccasins

For Melanie Squire, moccasin-making represents more than simply making shoes. To her, it represents learning her mother’s artistic gifts and making sure they are preserved. It represents honouring a part of her identity and ancestry. Most importantly, it’s about ensuring that Indigenous ways of life do not die.

Moccasins are traditional, hand-made shoes usually crafted from a variety of animal furs or leathers and embellished with delicate beadwork. For Squire, it all started when she began a Facebook page in 2010 to showcase her mother’s moccasins. She called the business “Mohawk Mocs” and has watched it take off ever since. Today, Mohawk Mocs has served about 2000 clients, all from the business’ social media pages.

In 2013, after watching her mother make several pairs for family and friends, Squire decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and began learning how to make moccasins. Despite receiving help and mentorship from her mother, who had been making moccasins for decades, Squire said in an email response that the art of making moccasins takes a very long time to learn.

“It probably took me about a year of practice before I was able to make pairs 100 per cent on my own,” she said.

moccasins

Even though the art is difficult to learn, moccasin-making is an important skill to preserve for many Indigenous groups in North America. Indigenous Nations have different moccasin styles and beadwork which date back centuries ago. Moccasins also make good use of leftover animal furs from hunting, which are used for warmth and insulation. This ensures that all parts of an animal are respected and not simply thrown away.

“Moccasins have always been made using animal hides such as deer, moose, and buffalo. We also use furs such as rabbit, beaver, and blue fox. I have always been taught that it’s important to use all parts of the animal that was hunted to provide food. No part of the animal should be wasted,” Squire said.

There are distinct moccasin styles for different occasions and life stages, such as for newly-weds and for burial. There are even specific moccasins for babies.

“I have been taught that when making moccasins for a newborn, it’s important to punch a hole in the middle of the soles. This is because babies are still very connected to the Sky World, and it’s a way to ground them here on Earth,” Squire said.

Even with each pair of moccasins offering a distinct degree of beauty and uniqueness, Squire said that the process of making one pair can take a very long time. While making one pair of adult moccasins with no beadwork takes about one day, the incorporation of beadwork can add days or even weeks to the process.

moccasins

“Beading moccasins is very intricate work and takes quite a long time to complete, depending on the design. I mainly do the traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) raised beaded technique, so it’s taken a bit of time and practice,” Squire said.

She explained that she has seen a resurgence in Indigenous art forms compared to when she was a child. However, Indigenous communities have not been the only groups trying to get involved in these artistic practices. Many big-brand fashion companies have begun to make their own moccasins and have made money from exploiting traditional Indigenous practices.

“I think it’s unfortunate that non-Indigenous companies appropriate and benefit from our art. It’s important that people source authentic Indigenous-made pieces and not those manufactured in factories,” Squire said.

Regardless of the problems caused by mainstream fashion brands appropriating Indigenous culture, Squire said moccasins still hold an important role in maintaining and connecting Indigenous peoples to old, traditional Indigenous ways.

“Moccasins still play a very big role in Haudenosaunee society, and I’m happy to continue creating them. I believe it connects us to our rich past,” she said.

Where to vacation in Canada

Where to vacation in Canada

By Michelle Boon

Posted on June 21, 2021

Quarantined in our homes, the weekly trip to the grocery can feel like a luxury getaway.

While travel is currently restricted due to COVID-19, planning an actual vacation might give you something to look forward to. As regulations ease up, consider staying close to home and exploring Canada.

Canada is one of the largest countries in the world but has a relatively small population. The result is a great depth of culture and food densely packed into cities and wide expanses of natural landscapes in between.

This article will give you an overview of must-see destinations across the country and close to home. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or looking for leisure, Canada is the place for you.

Ontario

You don’t have to go far to have a great vacation. Ontario has a wide range of experiences to offer, from bustling cities to tranquil forest retreats. Here are some ideas for a local getaway.

The City Stay

Cities have endless activities to do, and you can usually get around on foot or use public transit if you do not have a car.

Ontario has many options for exploring a new city or even your own. Toronto is the largest city, and it offers attractions like the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, and Casa Loma. There are usually festivals and events throughout the year as well. In spring and summer, you can enjoy a bike ride along the Waterfront Trail, a picnic in Trinity Bellwoods Park, or a ferry ride to the Toronto Islands. Toronto is also beloved for its variety of food. As a home to many newcomers and different cultures, you can find delicious cuisines at any price range.

Toronto

For a different pace, consider visiting Ottawa or Kingston. As our nation’s capital, Ottawa is a great place to learn about Canada. Visit one of its many museums, including the Canadian Museum of History, or take a tour of Parliament. Shop at Byward Market and skate along the Rideau Canal in the winter for the full Ottawa experience.

Before Ottawa was Canada’s capital, there was Kingston. A smaller, historic city with a lot of charm. A tour of the Penitentiary Museum and a boat cruise around the Thousand Islands are some of the most popular tourist attractions. The limestone buildings in the downtown area and throughout Queen’s University campus make for a unique change of scenery. For a more relaxed city experience, consider Kingston.

Niagara Falls

One of the most iconic destinations in Ontario, Niagara Falls welcomes about 14 million visitors per year. You can view the falls for free from the observation deck, but if you want to get a closer look of the falls, you can book a boat cruise that takes you near the base of the waterfall. You can also try the Journey Behind the Falls experience, which is exactly what it sounds like. Other attractions include a dinosaur-themed mini golf course, a butterfly conservatory, and Clifton Hill. Clifton Hill features haunted houses, a wax museum, an arcade, and a fudge shop. Between Clifton Hill and the nearby Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls is a playground for both children and adults.

Niagara Falls

While you’re in the area, consider visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake. This small town situated on the shore of Lake Ontario is a peaceful destination, and it is famous for its wineries.

Cottage Country

It is common for Canadians to relax next to a lake at a cottage. Some people own cottages in rural areas of Ontario and spend most of their summers there. It is a great option for those who want to take a break from a busy lifestyle and slow down. Cottage life usually consists of swimming, kayaking, campfires, barbeques, and reading by the water. For a leisurely vacation, a cottage stay is an essential Canadian experience. You can rent a summer home with family and friends through rental companies, like Cottages-Canada. There are many regions in “cottage country” to choose from. Try searching for cottages in Muskoka, Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Georgian Bay, Tobermory or Ottawa Valley.

Venturing out of province

There’s a lot to discover in Canada. Some people do a cross-country road trip to experience everything. If you’re looking for just one province to visit, here is an overview of exciting places you might like to stay at.

British Columbia

Known for its lush forests, beautiful seaside, and mountains, British Columbia has some of the most beautiful natural sites in Canada. Here you can hike through ancient forests, surf the coast, bike along the Seawall, ski the mountains in Whistler, and explore the cities of Vancouver and Victoria. Take the opportunity to see local wildlife in their natural habitat. You can spot orcas on a whale watching excursion, snorkel with seals, or take a tour of the forest to see bears fishing for salmon. If you are travelling from Ontario, you can fly to one of the five major airports in B.C., take a VIA Rail train, or drive along the Trans-Canada Highway. To see the sights, renting or bringing your car is the most convenient option, but you can also book a bus tour.
Mountains and glacier water

Alberta

Lakes, mountains, cowboys, and dinosaurs. Is there anything else you really need to know? Alberta is famous for its national parks, Banff and Jasper. The turquoise waters of Lake Louise encircled by mountains is one of the most iconic views in the country. This picturesque province is a beautiful place to hike, kayak, and enjoy the outdoors. If you visit in the summer, you can time your trip to catch the Calgary Stampede—an annual rodeo and festival held every year in July. For a unique experience, visit the world capital for dinosaurs, Drumheller and the Canadian Badlands. Just 90 minutes outside of Calgary, the landscape of the Badlands is similar to the Grand Canyon. In fact, Horseshow Canyon is basically the Canadian equivalent. It is also where many dinosaur fossils were discovered. To see them on display, you can visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Much like British Columbia, Alberta has a lot of ground to cover. Driving is the best way to get around, but bus tours are also available.

Quebec

Our French neighbour to the east, Quebec almost feels like a trip to Europe. Québec City and Montréal are the most frequented destinations, and both have historic areas. The cobblestone streets and historic buildings create a European atmosphere exclusive to this province. In Montréal, you can climb Mont Royal, visit the botanical garden, and explore the science museum, the Montréal Biodôme. Québec City comes alive in the winter with the annual Winter Carnival. While visiting, feast on iconic French-Canadian foods. Quebec is the birthplace of poutine, tourtière, and butter tarts. Additionally, Montréal is famous for its fresh bagels. Other than driving and flying, Montréal and Québec City are accessible by VIA Rail train and bus from Toronto.

The Maritimes

The maritime provinces, consisting of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador are known for their quaint small towns and friendly people. Each province has something special to offer: the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia, and the Anne of Green Gables house in P.E.I. In Newfoundland, tourists get “screeched in” to become honorary Newfies. This tradition involves kissing a codfish and taking a shot of Newfoundland rum, and it exemplifies the uniqueness and welcoming atmosphere of the East Coast. With beautiful beaches, fresh caught seafood, and colourful townhouses lining the harbours, any or all of the maritime provinces make an amazing vacation. If you visit Nova Scotia, consider stopping by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. It’s a great way to learn about the newcomers that entered Canada before you.

East coast lighthouse

Where to stay

Expedia, Trivago, and Kayak are great websites to find hotels, flights, and car rentals all in one place. Airbnb is also a great website for renting apartments, private rooms, and entire houses for your vacation. This is the perfect place to find both central locations and unique stays in quieter neighborhoods. You can also book experiences and excursions through Airbnb. Search by location and date to find walking tours, cooking classes, photo shoots, and more.

This is just a taste of what you can look forward to when it is safe to travel. In the meantime, you can take a look at what these places are like on video. Check out Must Do Canada on YouTube for travel videos from all across the country. For activities to include in your future travel itinerary, you can read this article about arts, culture, and events.

Getting social after school

Getting social after school

By Dana Hall

Posted on June 21, 2021

Children moving to Canada will grow up with more than one culture. Some of them might be old enough to have memories and friends from their home country. Some of them will come when they are very young and grow up in Canadian culture.

It is important to give your child opportunities to be social. It will help them make friends and adapt to their new home. It is socially acceptable for any child to do children’s activities in Canada. It is OK for girls to be interested in “boy” activities. Boys can be interested in “girl” activities too. For example, most girls like to play sports in Canada. Many sports even have all-female teams and leagues. If boys are interested in things like figure skating or dancing, this is also OK.

Here are a few popular activities in Canadian culture:

Swimming

Swimming is a very popular summer activity. It is common for children to invite their friends to go swimming at a public pool or beach. Some families have pools in their backyards and will have social gatherings called “pool parties” where people hang out and go swimming. Teaching your child to swim will help them feel comfortable partaking in these kinds of activities when they are invited.

Swimming lessons are available at public swimming pools. The national swim program has 10 levels and is run by the Canadian Red Cross. It will teach your child how to swim and how to do first aid. You can learn more about the swim program here.

Knowing how to swim is also important for safety. Canada has many lakes, rivers, and beaches. It is a good idea to know how to swim in case there is an accident and someone ends up in the water.

Skating

Skating is a popular winter activity in Canada. In the winter, cities have outdoor ice rinks where children like to skate. In small towns, people make their own ice rinks for people to use. Skating on frozen lakes and rivers is also normal in Canada. In Ottawa, the Rideau Canal turns into the biggest ice rink in the world. Some people even use it to skate to work!

Teaching your child to skate will help them take part in certain social activities. Kids will sometimes invite friends to play ice hockey or to go skating on a rink near their house. In addition to other activities, like sledding and snowball fights, skating can be a fun way for kids to socialize outside in the winter.

Canskate is a nation-wide program that teaches children how to skate.

Sports

There are many opportunities for children to play sports in Canada. Most sports will have a league for your child’s age group. Ice hockey and soccer are two of the most popular sports that children like to play.

Sports are a great way for your child to join a team and meet other kids. Individual sports like gymnastics are taught in groups, so there is still a lot of interaction.

kids sitting in a field

Most sports leagues offer competitive and non-competitive options. Usually, kids start in non-competitive leagues, which are called “house leagues” or “recreational leagues.” In a non-competitive league, you will just need to sign your child up and pay a fee for the sport’s season. The fee will depend on the sport you choose. Signing a child up for summer soccer, which is three months, will cost about $160 to $250 depending on the age of the child. If this is too expensive, many leagues have programs where parents can apply to let kids join for free. This is to make soccer accessible for as many kids as possible.

If your child would like to join a competitive league, they will need to pass a try-out and be asked to join. There will also be a fee. Children on a competitive team need to attend practice more often. You will also need to travel to other cities for games sometimes.

Sports like gymnastics will be more expensive and will usually cost $250 to $350 for three months.

Theatre

Theatre is a good way for children to meet friends and be part of a team. Most cities will have a “children’s theatre” where kids can act in plays with their peers. Children who are not ready to perform right away might like to take acting classes.

Performing is a good way for children to become confident.

Summer Camp

Summer camps are a great way to meet friends and develop skills. There are two different types of summer camps.

Day camp: These camps are open during the day, and children return home at night. Day camps usually focus on one hobby, like soccer or art. They are good for kids who are interested in learning about one thing.

Overnight camp: These are camps where children stay overnight. Overnight camps are seen as more of an “adventure.” Kids will play sports, do crafts, and learn life skills. They are good for kids who want to be social and try new things.

A lot of universities offer day camps for kids to learn about things like science and technology. Children will be able to use some of the university facilities, which is a great way for them to learn. Check with your nearest university for summer camp opportunities.

Girl Guides and Boy Scouts

This is a popular youth program for girls and boys. It is divided by gender, but girls are allowed to join Boy Scouts if they want to. Guides focuses on skills like knitting and crafts. Scouts focuses on building things and teaches outdoor skills.

Guide to savings accounts in Canada

Guide to savings accounts in Canada

By Michelle Boon

Posted on June 21, 2021
coins
Being a newcomer in Canada comes with a lot of upfront expenses. As you settle into your new surroundings and gain a more flexible budget, you can start saving for the future.

There are many different kinds of accounts available to help you save money. Here is a basic overview of common savings accounts in Canada.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

This account is most popular for parents looking to set aside money for post-secondary education for their children. These funds apply to university, college, trade school, and apprenticeships.  Despite having “savings” in the title, the RESP is not necessarily a savings account. It is an investment account. In a regular savings account, you can set aside money, usually with a low tax rate and high interest rate. An investment account allows you to buy assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate, to create income.

You do not necessarily need to make investments with an RESP. You can treat this account like a regular savings account and exclusively make monthly contributions. Through an RESP, you can also gain money through government grants.

The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) will match your contributions by 20 per cent, with a maximum of $500 per year, per child. The maximum amount of CESG funds you can receive is $7200 per child. There is no yearly maximum for contributions; however, there is a lifetime limit of $50 000 per child across all RESP accounts if you have more than one. Low-income families are also eligible for the Canada Learning Bond, which is a government grant of up to $2000.

This is a tax-sheltered account, which means that you do not have to pay taxes if you profit from your investments. Keep in mind, money made through an RESP is not entirely tax free. Once your child accesses and uses these funds for tuition, housing, books, or living expenses, they are responsible for the taxes. As students, their taxes will likely be low. Some students don’t end up paying taxes on their RESP money at all.

If you child decides not to pursue post-secondary education, you have a few options:

  • RESP accounts can remain open for 36 years. You can leave it open the entire time in case your child changes their mind and does pursue further education.
  • If you have more than one child, you can move this money into their sibling’s RESP.
  • Reclaim the money and return all government grants. In this event, any gains from investments become taxable income.

You can open an RESP through your bank, credit union, a mutual fund company, or investment dealer. You can start an RESP for free; all that is required is a Social Insurance Number for you and your child, as well as identification, like a birth certificate.

Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA)

A TFSA is the most common account for people over the age of 18 for saving money. Like RESP accounts, a TFSA is not just a savings account, but an investment account. You can invest money in stocks or mutual funds to gain income. You can also keep things simple and treat your TFSA like a regular savings account. Multiple TFSAs can be open at once and used for investment or strictly for savings.

There is a limit to how much you can deposit into your TFSA, which is called contribution room. This varies depending on the year. For example, in 2015 people could contribute up to $10 000, whereas in 2020 TFSA holders had $6000 of contribution room.

TFSA contribution room also includes any unused TFSA contribution room from previous years as well as any withdrawals made in the previous year. If you only contributed $3000 in a year with a limit of $5000, you have an extra $2000 in contribution room the following year. Additionally, if you made a withdrawal of $1000 last year, this year you can recontribute that amount on top of the yearly limit.

To open a TFSA account, contact your bank, credit union, or insurance company. Usually, a Social Insurance Number and your date of birth are the only requirements.
money

Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP)

An RRSP is a great option for newcomers looking forward to retirement. This plan is a way to set money aside or to use as an investment account.

One of the major benefits of an RRSP, is that contributions are tax deductible. Whatever money you put into your RRSP is subtracted from your income, therefore reducing your taxes for that year. You can use this to your advantage if you earn a lot of money one year, and your taxes increase. It might be a good idea to contribute that excess money into an RRSP.

Your yearly contribution limit is 18 per cent of your income from the previous year. If your net income of last year was $50 000, you can contribute up to $9000 to your RRSP this year.

You are not avoiding taxes all together with an RRSP, but you do defer tax payments until you withdraw the funds at retirement age. You can access your RRSP funds at any time, but you must start withdrawing money by age 71.

You can start an RRSP through your bank, credit union, or an insurance company like Desjardins or Sunlife.

Whether it’s saving up for a rainy day or saving for your future, there are many accounts available to help you reach your financial goals.

More information about RESPs, RRSPs, or TFSAs is available at Canada.ca.

‘Remember where you came from’: Elisabeth Lengema finds balance while flourishing in Canada

‘Remember where you came from’: Elisabeth Lengema finds balance while flourishing in Canada

By Emma Siegel

Posted on May 24, 2021

From fleeing her home to creating a career in Canada, how Lengema did it all

When Elisabeth Lengema was a teenager, she and her family fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo due to political unrest in the country. Soon after they left, the borders closed, and citizens were unable to leave.

She went to America first and then moved to Canada in her early 20s where she went to school and began to build up her own business, Lillon Boutique. Lengema’s side career may have officially started in 2018, but she always had a skill for selling her products.

Elisabeth Legema
Elisabeth Lengema, Owner of Lilon Boutique
Photo Courtesy: Elisabeth Lengema

“In high school, I used to make my own necklaces, and I used to sell them to my classmates,” she says.

She started by making jewellery for friends and family, and this soon exploded into something much bigger. From 2013 to 2015, she travelled a lot throughout Africa and went to countries like Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, and Rwanda. She began connecting with creators all over Africa and gathering their contact information for when she could have a way to sell their products. “Then years later, I said, ‘Hey I’m ready to do my store so let me see if I can reach them again,’” she recalls. This is how she gathered artisans, who now have their merchandise on her site.

But the people she met were more than just vendors for Lengema to sell their products. One creator from the Ivory Coast, Thiame, named his first daughter Elisabeth in honour of Lengema, as she had helped him pay for their C-section surgery bill.

“We are one big family,” Lengema says. “I like that I am sharing my success with them.”

For years, Lengema was nervous that she didn’t have enough inventory to be a vendor at a show or event. But eventually, she finally gave herself the push she needed to move forward with her business.

“If you fail, at least you can say, ‘Hey, I went there, I tried,’” she says.

Lengema’s business didn’t fail. Instead, it took off. She went from booking a stall for one weekend at events like Afrofest, a Toronto festival that celebrates African music, to booking six or seven weekends in a row.

“I enjoy sharing my culture with people when they come to my stall,” she says. “I have items from 14 different countries. My goal is to have all of Africa on my table.”

Lengema’s plans to travel to meet more creators and book more festivals to sell the merchandise were derailed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She had to move her business online and ship products to customers.

With the switch to online selling, she has been able to widen her audience. Consumers from distant parts of Canada as well as the U.S. have been buying her products as well as the products from the creators she has connected with.

But COVID-19 has not been the only obstacle in Lengema’s way. After leaving her home country as a teenager and coming to North America, she struggled with her identity.

“I would meet Congolese people, and they would not believe that I was Congolese. They’d be like, ‘Are you sure? No, I don’t think so,’” she says. “So, I would say, ‘What am I? If my people don’t think I am their people, and then here [in Canada] I’m a foreigner too, who am I?’ I felt a bit lost.”

She believes that the best way to overcome this feeling of being lost between two places is to find a balance. “As a new immigrant, you try sometimes to blend in so much that you lose who you were as a person,” Lengema says. “It’s always good to embrace where you are, but at the same time remember where you came from.”

Something she cherishes about being in Canada, and what she believes Canadians take for granted, is the right to vote. Lengema spoke about growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and how she learned from a very early age to be careful of what she says to others, because you never knew who might overhear.

“You have to vote because people in some other places get shot at; they are unable to vote. So my country, even now they had elections two or three years back. People went out to vote, but there was intimidation, and even the results were contested,” she says. “Whereas here, people can vote whenever they want to vote. They won’t be threatened.”

For newcomers coming to Canada, Lengema has two pieces of advice. The first is to help others who are in the position you were in at the beginning.

“Whoever helped you, do the same for the next person,” she says.

The second piece of advice is to lower your expectations and be ready to start over. You may find yourself doing jobs and other tasks that you never had to do in your home country.

“You’ll have hard times, maybe a couple of years, but after you’ll get better,” Lengema says. “You might have to go back to school here; you may have to take jobs you won’t like at first, but if you have an end goal, you will get there.”

You can find out more about Elisabeth Lengema and Lillon Boutique at https://lillonboutique.com/.

A guide to cellphone plans in Canada

A guide to cellphone plans in Canada

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on May 24, 2021

One of the most important parts of settling in Canada is getting a cellphone. Your cellphone will be used as your main point of contact between you and the world. It plays a huge part in our day-to-day activities and can make your life much easier. Whether you’re connecting with friends and family back home, finding a job, or getting settled in your new home, a mobile phone will come in handy. Cellphone plans in Canada differ a bit from other countries. This article will provide you with information about the types of plans offered in Canada and how you can go about getting one.

What are the major phone companies?

There are major national Canadian phone companies that are used by customers all across Canada. These companies are Bell, Rogers, Telus, Koodo, Virgin, Fido, Freedom Mobile, Public Mobile, and Chatr. The majority of these companies are owned by Rogers, Telus, and Bell. Many different provincial/territorial service providers are used by customers within a certain province. Some of these providers are SaskTel Mobility, Fizz Mobile, K-Net Mobile, Eastlink Wireless, TNW Wireless, and Sogotel. Depending on the city you’re in, a cellphone plan with a regional carrier may be cheaper than one with a national carrier.

‘Bring your own phone’ plans vs. contract-based plans

In Canada, you can select between two different types of cellphone plans: ‘Bring your own phone’ or contract-based plans, where you lease the phone from the service provider.

Contract-based plans provide you with the opportunity to purchase a phone from the service provider and pay it off over 24 months. You’ll have to undergo a credit check and sign a contract with the service provider, agreeing to monthly payments for 2 years. However, if you want to leave the phone company before the contract expires, you’ll be expected to pay off the remaining balance for the phone. These plans tend to be a bit more expensive than ‘bring your own phone’ plans because they include the monthly cost of the phone. Although they may be more expensive overall, sometimes it’s cheaper to pay the monthly cost for the phone than the full cost of the phone up front. Do your research before opting for the contract-based alternative and see what options best fit your needs.

On the other hand, ‘bring your own phone’ plans are designed for customers who already have their own mobile devices. With this option, you’ll only have to pay for the monthly cost of their services. These plans are typically cheaper than contract-based plans because the cost of the phone is not included in your monthly payment. They are also easier to access because you don’t usually need to undergo a credit check.

Prepaid vs. postpaid plans

In Canada, all retailers offer postpaid, prepaid services, or both.

With prepaid services, you pay for the phone plan before you use the services. You can find prepaid phone plans for prices as low as $25/month with companies such as Lucky Mobile, Public Mobile, and Chatr. Once you use all the services that you have paid for, you’ll have to purchase more to continue using your phone. You do not have to sign a contract or undergo a credit check to access these plans. You can also find vouchers to pay for these prepaid services in many different stores, such as gas stations, convenience stores, dollar stores, and other bigger department stores. Prepaid services are easier and cheaper to access, but sometimes they do not offer all the services that a postpaid plan may offer.

Postpaid cellphone plans have services that you are required to pay for at the end of the monthly period on a specified date. To access these plans, you’ll most likely have to undergo a credit check and will also have to sign a contract promising that you will pay the balance each month. If you exceed the services covered by your plan, you’ll most likely be charged for the excess, which they call “overage.” The price for overage fees can be very expensive. Some providers charge as much as $10 per 100 MB, which can add up quickly. These plans offer services that may not be offered by prepaid plans, such as higher data usage limits, better coverage, and family packages.

Determining which option is best for you will depend on what you are looking for in a cellphone plan and what you can afford to pay. It’s important to note that prepaid plans are a good option for newcomers because they don’t require credit checks.

Types of cellphone plans

There are many types of cellphone plans in Canada. Some have unlimited data, calling, and texting options, while others charge you per minute of a call.

The most popular phone options these days are smartphones. To use a smartphone, you typically have to have a plan that includes data. The type of phone you have will also play a role in deciding which phone plan to go with.

Companies like Chatr and Public Mobile offer affordable basic talk and text packages with minimal amounts of data.

  • You can get unlimited Canada-wide talk plans with unlimited international texting for just $25/month with Chatr.
  • Public Mobile offers this same type of plan for $25 except it also includes 1GB of data. You can even find unlimited provincial-wide calling and texting options for as low as $15 at Public Mobile.

girl and grandma on cellphone
If you’re looking for a phone plan that allows you to talk, text, and use data, some great options are Chatr, Koodo, and Freedom Mobile.

  • Chatr has unlimited international texting, unlimited Canada-wide calling, and 4.5 GB of data for just $40/month.
  • Koodo offers unlimited international texting, unlimited Canada-wide calling, and 10 GB of data for $50/month.
  • Freedom Mobile offers unlimited international texting, unlimited Canada-wide calling, and 15 GB of data for just $60/month.

These carriers are great when looking for affordable options; they also offer prepaid services.

There are also plans that are advertised as providing “unlimited data.” It’s important to note that the data is not actually unlimited. What actually happens is the service providers usually offer a set amount of data at a certain streaming speed. Once you surpass that amount, your streaming speed is lowered. This unlimited data option is good for Canadian cellphone users because, unlike traditional plans, users are not charged high fees for data excess. By having this “unlimited data” option, users are no longer incurring crazy overage fees. Freedom Mobile is known across Canada for offering affordable “unlimited data” plans, whereas other carriers still charge you overage fees. You can access unlimited international texting, unlimited Canada-wide calling, and “unlimited” 25 GB data for $80/month at Freedom Mobile.

Typically, all Canadian cellphone plans include features like voicemail, caller ID, and call waiting.

The price of plans varies from region to region. Some areas have cheaper services than others. Due to the variation across the country, the prices in this article may not be accurate for the area you live in. Contact your regional retailer for accurate rates.

What do I need to get a cellphone plan? How much will it cost?

To sign up for a postpaid contract-based phone plan, you will need two pieces of ID. One must have a photo. You can use your passport, Canadian driver’s licence, proof of permanent residency, SIN Number, study permit, and/or visa. You will also need a credit card that matches the name on your identification.

If you are not buying a phone with your plan, you will need to bring your own phone. Make sure that your phone is unlocked, so it can work with Canadian carriers. You can typically get your phone unlocked for free or for a small fee through the carrier that sold you the phone or the carrier you are about to sign up with. You can purchase basic mobile devices in Canada for a starting price of $200. If you are purchasing a used phone, ensure that the phone’s features are working properly before buying it.

You will also need a SIM card to use on your phone in order to access your plan. Sim card prices vary depending on the service provider, but on average, they cost $10-15. Some service providers will even give you your SIM card for free when you sign up. Since there are a number of factors to consider, it’s best to shop around and do your research when thinking of buying a cellphone.

When signing up with some service providers, you can also expect to be charged an activation fee, a payment you have to make to get your account set up. This fee is usually about $30 but can be as high as $50. Some companies like Chatr do not charge activation fees.

If you are purchasing a prepaid plan, you will be expected to pay for the cost of the plan, activation fee, and SIM card at the time you sign up. If you’re going for a postpaid plan, you will be charged for all of these things at the end of your billing cycle.

There is no set cost in terms of how much you will spend when getting your first plan because the cost varies from company to company. It’s safe to say that you can expect to spend at least $40 upon signing up (assuming you already have a phone) if you are going with the most basic plan from a less expensive company.

Questions to ask when getting a phone

When getting a phone, you should find the answers to the following questions to help you identify the option that best suits your needs. You should find out:

  • Where am I able to call as part of my phone plan? Am I allowed to text and call internationally? If not, what are the fees?
  • Will my phone work in another city or country? What are the fees for this?
  • How much will I have to pay if I exceed my phone plan limits?
  • How much will I have to pay if I decide to leave my cellphone plan contract?
  • Will I have Caller ID and voicemail?
  • What are the roaming fees?
  • What options do I have if I damage my phone?


Whatever your budget is, you are sure to find something within it, as there are a lot of options when it comes to selecting a cellphone plan in Canada. Don’t forget to take advantage of the different promotions that many service providers offer year-round when searching for your perfect phone plan. For example, signing up around August during the back-to-school season can save you some money on your cellphone plan. When getting a mobile phone, make sure to do research and shop around to find a plan that best fits your needs and budget.

Manitoba

Manitoba

By Dana Hall and Kathleen Charlebois

Posted on May 24, 2021

Manitoba

Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 18
Legal Drinking Age: 18

Getting a Health Card

Most new residents to Manitoba can receive health coverage. Coverage depends on the type of permit you have. If you can apply for health coverage, you will need to prove that you’ll live in the province for at least six months of the year.

  • If you are a permanent resident, you can get coverage on the day you arrive in Manitoba. You will need to provide your Permanent Resident Status as proof.
  • If you have a work permit that is for more than 12 months, you are eligible for health coverage. Otherwise, you cannot apply for it unless your permit is extended to 12 months. You will qualify for health coverage on the date of your extension.
  • If you are in Manitoba on a student visa, you cannot apply for health coverage. It is recommended that you purchase private health insurance during your time studying in Manitoba.

To apply, you will need to fill out the application form, provide proof of your right to live in Canada, and provide your proof of address in Manitoba. During COVID-19, you will need to apply by phone or email. To access the form, list of acceptable documents, and contact information, click here and go to “I’m new to Canada. How do I apply for coverage?”

Driving information

How to get a licence: You must be at least 16 years old in order to get a driver’s licence or 15 and a half if you are also registered in the Driver Z high school driver program. There are three stages you must go through to get your full licence.

First, you need to pass a knowledge test, pass a vision test, and meet the medical standards. You can download or buy a driver’s handbook to help study. You can take the practice test here. You must have parental or guardian consent if you are under 18 years of age.

Once you pass the knowledge test, you will receive an L learner licence (also referred to as a Class 5 learner licence.) You must drive with another passenger who has had a full Class 5 licence for at least three years.

You must hold the L licence for a minimum of nine months before taking the intermediate Class 5 road test. If you pass the test successfully, you will receive the intermediate (I) stage licence, which you must hold for a minimum of 15 months. The restrictions for an intermediate licence can be found here.

Once you complete the intermediate stage, you will be a fully licensed driver. During the first three years of holding a full licence, you must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving a motor vehicle.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a licence from another country you will need to exchange it for a Manitoba licence. You should do this within 90 days of living in Manitoba.

In order to exchange your licence for a Manitoba licence, you must hand in your valid licence at an Autopac agent or an MPI Service Centre. A temporary Manitoba licence that is valid for up to 45 days will be issued to you while you wait for your photo driver’s licence.

If you have driving and claims experience, you can also bring it with you to the service centre to see if you qualify for any discounts on your driver’s licence or insurance.

If you’re exchanging a valid driver’s licence from a country with an exchange agreement, you can get a Manitoba licence without having to take a knowledge or road test if you have at least 15 months of driving experience.

The following countries have exchange agreements with Manitoba:

  • Australia (Class 5 and 6): Applicants must pass a vision test and provide a driver licence report dated within 90 days.
  • Austria (Class 5)
  • Canadian Forces Europe (Class 5 and 6): Proof of having held a valid Canadian licence within the previous four years is required.
  • Germany (Class 5)
  • Isle of Man (Class 5 and 6)
  • Republic of Ireland (Class 5 and 6)
  • South Korea (Class 5): Must provide the Certificate of Driver’s Licence issued by National Police Agency in South Korea.
  • Switzerland (Class 5 and 6)
  • Taiwan (Class 5): Must provide a translation of the Taiwanese licence prepared by Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Toronto as well as a Verification Certificate of Driver’s Licence (VCDL), Republic of China
  • United Kingdom (Class 5 and 6)
  • United States and territories (Class 5 and 6, Class 1-4 Commercial Driver’s Licence): Includes American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

If your country isn’t on the exchange agreement list, you’ll need to pass a knowledge test and a road test. You’ll need to visit an Autopac agent or an MPI Service Centre and hand in your current valid driver’s licence. The proper class and stage of your out-of-country licence will be confirmed to see if you are exempt from taking the GDL program.

Once you’ve taken the knowledge and vision tests at an MPI Service Centre, you can take the Class 5 road test. If you successfully complete the test, a temporary Manitoba licence will be issued to you for up to 45 days while you wait for your photo licence in the mail.

For more detailed information on the application process and to see a list of documents you will need to bring to your appointment, click here.

Manitoba public school information

School in Manitoba begins at age five, but it is not mandatory until age seven. These are the different levels of education in Manitoba:

  • Kindergarten: Age 5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–4): Ages 6–9
  • Middle high school (Grades 5–8): Ages 10–13
  • High school (Grades 9–12): Ages 14–17

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December which lasts for 2 weeks. School starts again in January. There is a one week break in March called spring vacation.

Click here for information on how to register your child for school in Manitoba.

Click here for information on homeschooling your child.

British Columbia

British Columbia

By Dana Hall and Kathleen Charlebois

Posted onMay 24, 2021

Province of British Columbia

Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

Health coverage in British Columbia is called the Medical Services Plan (MSP). Sometimes MSP does not start until you have lived in the province for three months. You should get private health insurance to cover this initial three-month period. Even though you might not get MSP right away, you should still apply as soon as you get there so that there is no wait time once you become eligible.

To apply, you must have your main home in British Columbia. You also need to be in British Columbia for at least six months of the year.

  • If you are a student, you can apply for MSP as long as you are in the province for at least six months.
  • If you are on a work permit, you can apply for MSP if you are going to be in province for at least six months.
  • People on the Working Holiday Program can also apply for MSP. You will need to submit your employment contract or a letter from your employer with your application. To qualify, you must:
    • Have a visa that is valid for at least six months
    • Live in British Columbia for six months in a row
    • Work at least 18 hours a week
    • Confirm your departure date from British Columbia

To apply, you will need to fill out the application form and provide a document to prove your right to live in Canada. The list of acceptable documents is on the form. You will also need to visit an Insurance Corporation of BC office to have your photo taken. You can find your closest office here.

You can apply for MSP online or by mail. Click here for information on how to do this.

Driving information

How to get a licence: You must be at least 16 years of age to legally drive in British Columbia. There are three stages to earn your licence. First, you need to pass a multiple-choice knowledge test by answering at least 40 out of 50 questions correctly and pass a vision test. You can download or buy a driver’s handbook to help study. You can take the practice test here. If you’re under the age of 19, you’ll need parental or guardian consent to take the test.

Once you pass the knowledge and vision test, you will receive a learner’s licence (also known as an L licence). You’ll need at least one year’s worth of driving practice with a qualified supervisor before you can take your first Class 7 road test.

You can take an ICBC-approved driver training course during the L stage, which must be completed within a year.

Once you pass the Class 7 road test, you’ll receive your novice licence (or N licence). If you are a safe driver with no driving violations, prohibitions, or at-fault crashes within the first 18 months of having an N licence, you can receive six months off, which means that you can take your Class 5 licence test after 18 months instead of two years. The restrictions for an N licence can be found here.

To receive a full licence (also known as a Class 5 licence) you must take an advance road test after you’ve been a novice driver for at least 24 months, or 18 months if you’ve taken the education course mentioned above.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a licence from another country, you will need to transfer it to a BC licence. You should do this within 90 days of living in British Columbia.

In order to exchange your licence for a BC licence, you must hand in your valid licence to an ICBC driver licensing office. You must also provide proof that you have two or more years of driving experience.

If you’re exchanging a valid driver’s licence from a country with an exchange agreement, you can get a full BC licence if you can prove that you have the required amount of driving experience.

The following countries have exchange agreements with British Columbia:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea (not motorcycles)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan: If you are coming from Taiwan, you’ll be able to exchange your licence for a passenger vehicle licence only.
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

If your country isn’t on the exchange agreement list, you’ll need to pass a knowledge test as well as a Class 5 road test. You’ll need to book an appointment to take the test at an ICBC driver licensing office. The test has 50 multiple choice questions, and you must answer at least 40 correctly in order to pass.

If you don’t have or aren’t able to prove that you have at least two years’ driving experience on a full-privilege, non-learner licence, you can still get a Class 7 or Class 8 licence and go through the graduated licensing process.

For more detailed information on the application process and to see a list of documents you will need to bring to your appointment, click here.

British Columbia public school information

Mandatory education in British Columbia starts at age five. These are the different levels of education in the province:

  • Kindergarten: Age 5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–7): Ages 6–12
  • High school (Grades 8–12): Ages 13–17

In populated areas, students will usually attend middle school from Grades 6–8.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another break in March called march break. This is one week long.

Click here if you would like information on how to register your child to be homeschooled.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan

By Dana Hall and Kathleen Charlebois

Posted on May 24, 2021

Province of Saskatchewan

Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 18
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

You will be eligible for health coverage at the beginning of your third full month in Saskatchewan. This means that if you move to Saskatchewan on July 14, your coverage will start on Oct. 1. It is recommended that you purchase a private health insurance during this time. You can apply online or by mail. If you would like to apply by mail, please print and complete this form and send it to the address at the bottom of the last page.

You will need to bring proofs of your legal right to live in Canada, your identity, and your address in Saskatchewan. A list of acceptable documents is available here.

  • If you are a student, you might be eligible for health coverage if you are studying full-time. You will need to submit a confirmation of enrollment letter from the Registrar of your institution which contains your full name and date of birth and confirms your full-time studies.
  • If you have a work permit, you are eligible for health coverage. In some cases, you might need to provide confirmation of employment from your company, but it is usually not necessary.

Driving information

How to get a licence: You must be at least 16 years old to legally drive in Saskatchewan There are four stages to earn your licence.

You need to pass a knowledge test, a sign test, and a vision test at a SGI Driver Exam Office. Walk-in tests are available at the offices in Regina and Saskatoon. You will need to book a test ahead of time if you live elsewhere. You can download the driver’s handbook to help study. You can take the practice test here. You must have parental or guardian consent if you are under 18 years of age.

If you are at least 15 years old, you have the option to enroll for free in the High School Driver Education Program. If you are enrolled in this program, you will need to take all three of the required tests after 10 hours of in-class training.

Once you pass all three tests, you will receive a Class 7 Learner’s licence. You must drive with another passenger who has had a valid Class 5 licence for at least 12 months in the last three years.

You will then have to complete the required driver education.

  • If you are studying on your own, you will need to find an SGI driver educator in order to complete your Class 5 driver training. You will need to spend at least six hours studying in class and six hours practicing in a car with your educator.
  • If you are enrolled in the High School Driver Education Program, you will have to complete five hours of in-car practice as well as 30 hours of class time by the end of the program.

The next step is to get your Class 5 Novice 1 driver’s licence. You must be at least 16 years old and have held a learner’s licence for at least seven months as well as have successfully completed the mandatory driver education. You must also pass a Class 5 road test.

Once you’ve passed the road test, you can practice driving as a “Novice 1” driver for at least six months, while keeping track of your in-car hours in a practice log.

Once you’ve driven for six months as a Novice 1 driver, the Novice 2 driver’s licence will be mailed to you. You will be able to practice driving for 12 months. During this time, you must not cause any collisions, get your licence suspended, or receive any traffic convictions.

After 12 months with no incidents, the experienced Class 5 driver’s licence will be mailed to you.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a licence from another country, you will need to transfer it to a Saskatchewan licence. You should do this within 90 days of living in the province.

In order to exchange your licence for a Saskatchewan licence, you must hand in your valid licence, if it is equivalent to or higher than a Saskatchewan licence, at any motor licence issuer. You must also provide proof that you have two or more years of driving experience. You also need to provide proof of residency in Saskatchewan.

If you’re exchanging a valid driver’s licence from a country with an exchange agreement, you can get a Saskatchewan licence without having to take a knowledge or road test if you have two or more years of driving experience.

The following countries have exchange agreements with Saskatchewan:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

If your country isn’t on the exchange agreement list, you will be classified as a new driver, and you will have to complete the province’s GDL program. The province may waive the required learning program and mandatory education if you can show that you have driven for more than two years.

For more detailed information on the application process and to see a list of documents you will need to bring to your appointment, click here.

Saskatchewan public school information

Public school starts at age five, but it is not mandatory until age seven. These are the different levels of education in Saskatchewan:

  • Kindergarten: Age 5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–6): Ages 6–11
  • Junior high school (Grades 7–9): Ages 12–14
  • High school (Grades 10–12): Ages 15–17

Your child’s grade is determined based on whether they were born before or after Jan. 31. This means that a child can start Kindergarten in September 2021 if they turn five before Jan. 31, 2022. If they turn five after Jan. 31, they will need to wait until September 2022 to start Kindergarten.

The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a two-week break at the end of December. There is also a week break in February and a week break in April.

Here is some more information for newcomers to help get you familiar with the Saskatchewan public school system.

For information on registering your child as homeschooled, click here.

Alberta

Alberta

By Dana Hall and Kathleen Charlebois

Posted on May 24, 2021

Province of Alberta

Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 18
Legal Drinking Age: 18

Getting a Health Card

To receive health coverage in Alberta, you must plan to live there for at least 12 months. You will also need to stay in Alberta for at least six of these 12 months. You should apply for health coverage as soon as you get to Alberta. If you wait longer than three months to apply, you might not get health coverage right away.

  • If you are a student with a visa that is for more than 12 months, you can apply for health coverage. If your student visa is for less than 12 months, you can get healthcare if you can confirm that you will live in Alberta after your visa ends. To do this, you’ll need to write a letter and include it in your health coverage application.
  • If you have a work permit, you must intend on staying in Alberta for at least 12 months. You’ll need to be working for at least six of the 12 months.

To apply, you will need to fill out a form and provide proof of your address in Alberta, proof of your identity, and proof of your right to live in Canada. You can apply in person or by mail.

Click here to apply and see the list of acceptable supporting documents. You will also find information on office locations and an address if you would like to send your documents.

Driving information

How to get a driver’s licence: You must be at least 14 years of age to legally drive in Alberta. There are three stages to earn your licence. First, you need to pass a knowledge test and pass a vision test at a DMV registry agent. You can buy a driver’s handbook to help study. You can take the practice test here. You must have parental or guardian consent if you are under 18 years of age.

Once you pass the knowledge test, you will receive a learner’s driver’s licence (also known as a Class 7 licence.) You must drive with another passenger who has a full Class 5 licence.

To get a probationary driver’s licence (also known as a Class 5-Graduated Driver’s Licence), you must be at least 16 years of age, and you must also have had a Class 7 learner’s licence for at least a year. You also need to pass a basic road test.

It is recommended that you take a driver’s education course before getting a full Class 5 licence, although it is not mandatory.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a licence from another country, you will need to transfer it to an Alberta licence. You should do this within 90 days of living in the province.

In order to exchange your licence for an Alberta licence, you must hand in your valid licence, if it is equivalent to or higher than an Alberta Class 5 or 6 licence, to a DMV registry agent. You must also provide proof that you have two or more years of driving experience. You also need to provide proof of residency in Alberta and Canada.

If you’re exchanging a valid driver’s licence from a country with an exchange agreement, you can get an Alberta licence without having to take a knowledge or road test if you have two or more years of driving experience.

The following countries have exchange agreements with Alberta:

  • Australia (Class 5 and 6)
  • Austria (Class 5)
  • Belgium (Class 5)
  • France (Class 5)
  • Germany (Class 5)
  • Isle of Man (Class 5 and 6)
  • Japan (Class 5)
  • Netherlands (Class 5)
  • Republic of Ireland (Class 5 and 6)
  • Republic of Korea (Class 5)
  • Switzerland (Class 5 and 6)
  • Taiwan (Class 5)
  • United Kingdom (Northern Ireland – Class 5 and 6)
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, and Wales – Class 5)
  • United States (Class 5, 6, and 7)

If your country isn’t on the exchange agreement list, you’ll need to pass a knowledge test and a road test. You’ll need to visit a DMV and hand in your current driver’s licence, which must be equivalent to or higher than an Alberta Class 5 licence.

You may also be able to apply for a GDL exemption program, which will allow you to take a road test without having to hold the Class 7 licence for one year or the Class 5-GDL licence for two years.

Once you have taken a knowledge test, your licence, GDL exemption application, and support documents will be sent to the provincial government for review.

There are two ways to get a full Class 5 licence if you are in this situation:

  • If you can prove that you have more than two years of driving experience, you’ll need to pass an advanced road test.
  • If you can’t prove that you have more than two years of driving experience, you’ll need to pass a basic driving test to get a Class 5 GDL licence. Once you have more than two years of driving experience, you can then take the advanced driving test.

For more detailed information on the application process and to see a list of documents you will need to bring to your appointment, click here.

Alberta public school information

The mandatory age to start school in Alberta is 6. These are the different levels of education in the province:

  • Kindergarten: Age 5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–6): Ages 6–11
  • Junior high school (Grades 7–9): Ages 12–14
  • High school (Grades 10–12): Ages 15–17

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another break for one week in late March or early April.

For information on homeschooling, please visit this website.

Tenant Rights in Canada

Tenant Rights in Canada

By Kathleen Charlebois

Posted on May 24, 2021
unpacking
Looking for a home to rent in a new place can be extremely overwhelming. You need to decide a budget, read through page after page of rental listings, and hope that your new home will be relatively close to amenities like grocery stores, and that’s all before you move in. As a tenant, you have guaranteed rights that protect you. Knowing these rights can help empower you when you’re dealing with your new landlord.

Tenant rights

In Ontario, tenant rights are outlined in the Human Rights Code and the Residential Tenancies Act.

Your landlord cannot discriminate against you based on protected grounds such as age, race, ethnic origin, citizenship status, or religion. A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you a home because you are a newcomer to Canada or because you have children, for example.

These rights protect you when you apply to rent and also when you move into the home. Your home must be safe to live in and in good repair. Even if you are aware that some items need repairs before you rent the home, your landlord has the responsibility of addressing those issues before you move in.

You must also have access to basic utilities like heat, hot and cold water, electricity, and fuel. Even if you haven’t paid your rent, your landlord cannot shut off these services. They can only do so for a short time if they need to make certain repairs. The cost of these utilities may be included in your rent; your landlord may cover some or all of them, or you may have to pay for them yourself. This information should be made clear to you before you agree to rent the home, and it should be outlined in your tenancy agreement.

Your landlord can only enter your home once you’ve moved in for specific reasons, such as doing necessary repairs, to show the home to potential tenants, or there is an emergency. Typically, a landlord will communicate with you ahead of time to let you know if they need to enter your home.

Your landlord is also only allowed to raise your rent once in a one-year period within legal limits. Because of COVID-19, the Ontario government passed legislation to freeze the rent at 2020 levels, which means that your rent will not increase in 2021. This rent freeze will end on Dec. 31, 2021, and landlords must give you at least 90 days’ notice before increasing your rent in 2022.

You have a right to have your children live in the home with you, and you and your family have the right to make a reasonable amount of noise. Your landlord cannot prohibit you from keeping pets in your home.

You also have a right to a hard copy of your tenancy agreement, your landlord’s address and contact information, and your rent receipts. In Ontario, landlords are required to use a standard lease template written in a clear language. It includes important information such as the rent amount and the day of the month when it’s due.

Your landlord can demand a rent deposit for the last month of your rent either on or before you enter into a tenancy agreement. The deposit must be used to pay for your last month of rent; it is illegal for your landlord to use it for anything else, such as to pay for repairs.

You are not legally required to have tenant’s insurance, but it provides good protection in case of an accident, even if it’s one you didn’t cause. Having this kind of insurance can cover any expenses from damages.

As a tenant, you have the responsibility to pay your rent on time, keep your home neat and tidy, repair any damage, keep things reasonably quiet, and honour your lease or tenancy agreement.
for rent sign

Evictions

Your landlord can only evict you for certain reasons. These reasons include: frequently missing rent payments or not paying rent at all, doing something illegal in your home (whether it’s you or your guests), intentionally causing excessive damage to the property, disturbing other residents in the building if there are any, having too many people living in your home, or lying about your income when you agreed to rent.

If your landlord wants to evict you, you have the right to a hearing with the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), which helps to settle most disputes between tenants and landlords. At this hearing, you will get a chance to explain why you should not be evicted. Your landlord must also give you written notice of their intent to evict you with an LTB eviction order, which must include the reason for eviction.

Your landlord may also have to evict you if they want to use the unit you are living in for themselves or their own family, or if they want to sell the property and the new purchaser wants to live in the unit. In these cases, your landlord must either compensate you with one month’s worth of your rent or offer you another unit to live in. Your landlord must also give you compensation if they have to evict you from your home for repairs, demolition, or renovations.

In the case of eviction due to repairs or renovations, your landlord must first give you the option to move back to the unit before they can offer it to anyone else. This is also known as the “right of first refusal.” For this to happen, you must tell your landlord in writing before you move out that you want them to offer you the repaired or renovated unit. If your landlord does not provide you with the right of first refusal even after you request it, you can file a claim for compensation with the LTB up to two years later.

Landlords must also act in an honest way when they evict you for reasons that are beyond your control. They must use the unit for the purpose stated on the eviction notice and for no other reason. Landlords must also let the LTB know about other no-fault tenant evictions. This is so the LTB can determine if their eviction application was made with good intentions.

If the LTB finds that your landlord has been dishonest about their reasons for evicting you, the board may order them to:

  • Pay you the difference between the rent last paid for your former unit and the rent charged for your new unit
  • Pay you the equivalent of your last rent’s payment for your former unit for up to 12 months
  • Pay a reasonable amount of money to cover moving, storage, and other out-of-pocket costs

This applies to all bad faith evictions.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government is trying to encourage landlords to negotiate repayment agreements with tenants who are not able to pay rent in order to avoid evictions as much as possible. If your landlord applies for an eviction order due to non-payment of rent, the LTB must take into consideration whether you and your landlord attempted to work a plan out to repay your rent.
moving in day

Legal assistance

If you have to appear in front of the LTB, you may consider getting legal help. If you are considered low-income, you can contact a community legal clinic in your area. The Ontario Bar Association, under the direction of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, is now offering up to 30 minutes of free legal advice for tenants facing evictions. By going to the portal and registering, you will be matched with a volunteer lawyer who will discuss your situation and your legal options. See this article on low-cost legal services for more information on how to seek legal assistance.

Tenants’ associations

Another right you have as a tenant is the right to join a tenants’ association in your building or community. Through this type of association, you can work together with other tenants to demand better living conditions and protest issues like unreasonable rent increases. Organizations like ACTO and ACORN Canada offer many resources on how to organize a tenants’ association if you don’t have one already.

Resources

Keeping your children’s language alive while they learn English

Keeping your children’s language alive while they learn English

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on May 24, 2021
parent talking to child
When newcomer parents arrive in Canada, they may wonder how they can share their culture and traditions with their children and at the same time support their English language learning. Many newcomers worry that their kids will lose their ability to speak in their mother tongue (a process called language attrition) after a while in Canada.

On the other hand, some immigrant parents think that in order for their children to learn English fluently, they have to stop talking to them in their native tongue altogether. They think that it would be confusing for their kids to learn two languages at the same time. Parents may believe that speaking to them primarily in English will prevent them from experiencing language confusion or from developing an accent.

Should I speak in my mother tongue to my children?

The good news is that speaking to your kids in your mother tongue will not hinder their English language learning. Even if they have a language impairment or language delay, research shows that children with language difficulties who are exposed to more than one language “do not have any extra delay or difficulties than monolingual children with similar language difficulties.”

In fact, keeping their mother tongue alive at home can improve your children’s English literacy, self-esteem, and cultural identity. It will be easier for them to learn English when they have a solid understanding of their first language. Additionally, people who speak more than one language have better listening, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. So, continue to speak to your kids in your mother tongue, and don’t be afraid to introduce them to new words because that will help them expand their vocabulary.
parent reading to child

Other ways to encourage first language proficiency

Apart from speaking to your children in their native language, you can also watch YouTube videos and movies in their first language with them or read them storybooks written in their native language. Registering them for weekend or after-school classes to learn and practice their mother tongue even more would also be beneficial. Lastly, you can introduce them to other people (babysitters, relatives, and friends’ children) who can confidently communicate with them in the same language. Your kids will gain many benefits from being bilingual!

What if I want to support my children’s English learning?

Whether or not you are fluent in English, there are many ways you can support your children’s English language skills while still teaching them your mother tongue, including:

  • Enrolling them in an ESL or literacy program at a library or community centre
  • Buying them books in English or going with them to the library to pick out books to borrow
  • Purchasing notebooks, paper, and writing utensils for your children to express themselves in whichever language they choose to use
  • Registering your kids for classes like skating, swimming, martial arts, or piano where they will learn new skills and interact in English with new people. Read this article to learn more about after school programs for kids.

Keep in mind that your children will be exposed to English through their teachers, peers, and the media. Your first language will become the minority language the moment your kids come to Canada. So, unless they are living in a community where English is not dominantly spoken (e.g., a French-speaking community), English will eventually become their default language, so you don’t need to worry about holding your children back by speaking to them in their mother tongue.

If you do end up in a French-speaking community and want your kids to learn English, you can hire a private English tutor for them.

What if my children stop speaking to me in their first language?

There are many cases where children feel conflicted about their cultural identity (they feel like they are in between cultures) and decide to respond to their parents only in English. They may do it as a form of rebellion or simply because they find it easier to speak in English. If they have only learned basic words and phrases at home, they may lack the vocabulary to express themselves fully in their first language. Additionally, they may not see a need to respond in their mother tongue if they know you can understand English.

First, do not panic. It is common for kids to test their boundaries and reject aspects of their ethnic identity to try to fit-in with their peers. Even if they don’t yet understand the benefits of maintaining their fluency, you can help them deepen their appreciation and respect for their first language and culture.

Second, don’t take it personally when your children are unwilling to speak to you in their mother tongue. As mentioned, it may not be a cultural issue but a weak vocabulary in their first language. If this is the case, try to have a conversation with your kids about your desire for them to talk to you in your first language. Let them know that you will help them and gently correct them if they encounter any vocabulary or grammatical issues.
volunteer speaking with woman
Here are some other things you can do:

  • Have your kids visit your friends and relatives who speak the minority language and don’t speak English fluently.
  • Enrol them in an immersive language camp or program.
  • Answer only when they speak to you in the minority language.
  • Take your kids to festivals and events that celebrate their ethnicity.
  • Travel with your children to the country (or countries) where your mother tongue is widely spoken.

Career and job resources for youth in Canada

Career and job resources for youth in Canada

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on May 24, 2021
young men
In Canada, the government invests a lot of money toward career planning services for youth. As a result, there are many programs and resources that young people in Canada can access if they are looking for help when finding a job and planning their career. This article will share some of these resources and programs with you.

If you’re a high school or post-secondary student, your school has designated services intended to help you with your job search and career plan. If you’re in high school, you can access these services by setting up an appointment with your guidance counselor. If you’re in post-secondary, you can access these services by reaching out to the career centre on campus or to your program director. If you’re not in school or would like to access services offered outside of the school, there are many more options available to you.

The Canadian government has many career planning and job-hunting resources on their job bank website. On this website, you can find a labor market information database where you can research different occupations, wages, and educational needs for different professions. You can also find career tests and skills checklists that you can use to help you find jobs that are related to your interests and skills. Information such as educational needs for certain professions can also be found on the same website under the career planning section.

The Canadian government job bank website also has resources dedicated to helping you find employment. Information about different training programs designed to help you develop essential skills, such as literacy skills and computer skills, as well as other employment training is also offered on this site. The website provides tips on how to design a resume that’ll impress employers too. The Newcomer also has an article on how to write resumes and cover letters.

In addition to providing resources and services, this federal database also has a job bank where thousands of employers post their job advertisements in search of employees. This database is updated daily and has different filters and features that you can use to refine your search. Additionally, the Canadian government has the Canada Summer Jobs program which creates summer job opportunities for youth in a wide variety of different sectors. You can find these employment opportunities in their job bank section.
young woman
The Canadian government also offers many jobs and internship programs for young people who are interested in working with the Canadian government. It has programs such as the Federal Student Work Experience Program, Research Affiliate Program, Post-Secondary/Co-op Program, and more. If you’re interested in working with the Canadian government, it is well worth your while to visit their website to see what current opportunities are available. Links to these web pages will be included at the end of this article.

Most provincial and territorial governments also offer employment resources for youth as well. For example, the Ontario government offers a huge list of youth career resources on their website, including specific programs that cater to those in the province. These programs include paid training, internships, and job placement opportunities. You can find links to these provincial and territorial websites at the end of this article.

Another great resource on career planning and job-hunting available for young people in Canada is the Youth Employment Services Program (YES).This is a government-funded program that offers many different types of services from employment counseling to training to placement programs. There are even programs such as YES BizStart that help youth start their own businesses. YES also offers mentorship programs for young people who are trying to learn specific skills or information about a certain occupation. You can also find many different online resources that will help with your job search, such as question and answer sections, online training programs, and job-hunting guides. If you’re a young person looking for employment opportunities or you are just starting your career, YES is a perfect place to begin your journey.

There are also many job bank databases that have special listings for students, youth, and entry-level applicants. You can use these databases to find employment opportunities that are specifically tailored to young people. Some of these databases include Workopolis, Talent Egg, Charity Village, Indeed, and Canada Youth Works.These are great resources to use in addition to the Canadian government’s job bank.

Finding employment or trying to plan your career can be difficult especially as a young person. It may be hard to figure out where to start. Fortunately, the Canadian government has many resources available to young people to help them with job searching and career planning. You can try using one of these resources alone or use them in combination with each other (see the list of links below). Now that you have the information you need to begin, get out there and chase your dreams! We wish you all the best in your job search.
youth

Resources

Job Databases

Job Programs:

How a group of artists helped shape Canada’s identity

How a group of artists helped shape Canada’s identity

By Emma Siegel

Just over 100 years ago the Group of Seven had their first art exhibit in downtown Toronto where their work was met with a mixture of criticism and approval. Now, a century later, their artwork is still an important part of Canadian history and culture.

“You see echoes of the Group of Seven everywhere,” said Ian Dejardin, executive director of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, in a virtual talk on May 7, 2020.

But who were the Group of Seven? They were a group of artists who came together to create a new, distinctly Canadian art style where none existed before. “They were trying to find new ways of painting to be able to create the type of art which would be seen as the first Canadian art movement in the country,” said Béatrice Djahanbin, an education officer at the National Gallery of Canada.

The founding members were J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frank Johnston, Frederick Varley, Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, and A.Y. Jackson. A friend to the group, Tom Thomson, would’ve also become a founding member if he hadn’t died in 1917—three years before the group officially formed.

At the time that the Group of Seven came together in 1920, many established Canadian artists were painting landscapes in European styles. This meant that the landscapes looked organized and “tamed” by the people living on the land. The seven artists decided that they wanted to break away from this calm, romantic style and show Canada in a different light.

“The Group of Seven decided, ‘This doesn’t make sense; we’re a new nation, and we need something that will really represent the Canadians and the national soul,’” said Djahanbin. With this idea in mind, they painted portraits of Canada that made sense to them: wild, untamed nature with bold and bright colours.

The artists would go camping, canoeing, and take trains out into the wilderness all over Canada to paint landscapes. “Wilderness became this iconic symbol of the Canadian landscape,” Djahanbin explained. This showed Canada in a way that hadn’t been seen before, and the unique art style created by the Group of Seven shaped Canada’s first national art movement. This helped to establish the country’s identity, as it finally had something that was deeply and completely Canadian.

Tom Thomson’s painting, The Jack Pine, 1916-1917

Tom Thomson
The Jack Pine, 1916-1917
oil on canvas, 127.9 x 139.8 cm
Purchased 1918
Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Tom Thomson
Le pin, 1916-1917
huile sur toile, 127.9 x 139.8 cm
Acheté en 1918
Gracieuseté du Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa

Today, their paintings are a reminder that it’s important to take care of our environment. “With everything that’s happening with climate change, we see things in their paintings that may start to disappear slowly,” said Djahanbin. “They made us aware that Canada is beautiful and diverse in the landscapes; how can we continue to ensure this legacy?”

While the Group of Seven are a significant part of Canadian history, it is important to remember that the seven men didn’t speak for all Canadians. “They have in some circles become less fashionable and in part because of discussions around their visioning of Canada as a wilderness that was empty, and of course it was not,” said Sarah Milroy, chief curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, in a virtual talk in December 2020.

Djahanbin also added that there was a lack of diversity within the group. There were no women involved, and the seven were all white men. This again shows that while their paintings helped Canada form a national identity, there were a lot of voices missing from the process. Still, their role in shaping Canada’s identity hasn’t been forgotten.

“They’re being viewed slightly differently,” said Djahanbin. “But they still have a great impact in the sense that they were artists who, in a way, were encouraging future generations of artists to take risks, to do something differently, not to rely on what’s come before them, to create something new.”

J.E.H. MacDonald’s painting, The Tangled Garden, 1916

J.E.H. MacDonald
The Tangled Garden, 1916
oil on beaverboard, 121.4 x 152.4 cm
Gift of W.M. Southam, F.N. Southam, and H.S. Southam, 1937, in memory of their brother Richard Southam.
Photo by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

J.E.H. MacDonald
Le jardin sauvage , 1916
huile sur le panneau de fibres, 121.4 x 152.4 cm
Don de W.M. Southam, F.N. Southam et H.S. Southam, 1937, à la mémoire de leur frère Richard Southam
Gracieuseté du Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa

16 books to get to know Canadian literature

16 books to get to know Canadian literature

By Dara Poizner

Posted on May 24, 2021

book shelf

There is no one way to define “Canadian literature”: Canadian books are as diverse as Canada’s population and landscape. Reading is a great way to learn about the many aspects of Canadian life, culture, and history.

This is a sample of 16 important books—children’s literature, novels, and non-fiction—by Canadian authors. They reflect different communities, regions, social issues, and time periods, and some of the stories also take place partly outside of Canada. These books and their authors have won several awards, and many of them are best-sellers. The list includes books for kids, teens, and adults. If you are new to the world of Canadian literature, consider this an introduction!

Children’s books

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908)

Written by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874—1942), Anne of Green Gables is considered a classic book for older children and loved by readers of all ages. It is the first in a series of novels about the title character, set in Montgomery’s home province of Prince Edward Island. Anne Shirley is an imaginative 11-year-old orphan who is accidentally adopted by a pair of middle-aged siblings who had wanted to adopt a boy to work on their farm at Green Gables. The novel is about Anne’s life in the fictional town of Avonlea, P.E.I. The story is so strongly tied to P.E.I that the tourism industry even calls the province the “Home of Anne of Green Gables,” and Anne is an icon of Canadian culture.

Anne of Green Gables has been translated into at least 36 languages and is one of the best-selling books in the world. There have been many adaptations to film, theatre, television, and radio. The most well-known is the 1985 made-for-TV movie, aired by CBC as a two-part series. Recently, the TV show “Anne with an E” (a CBC-Netflix co-production) released three seasons from 2017—2019. It received positive reviews from critics and audiences and won many Canadian Screen Awards.

Robert Munsch, Love You Forever (1986)

Robert Munsch (b. 1945) is an iconic storyteller and author of children’s books. Love You Forever is his most popular book and a worldwide bestseller. It is about the love a mother has for her son and explores the ways in which that love is returned and continues through generations. The illustrations are by Sheila McGraw.

Munsch is originally from the United States but moved to Ontario to teach at a nursery school. There, he discovered his talent for telling stories to children and decided to turn his stories into books. The Paper Bag Princess (1980) is another beloved book of his that challenges gender stereotypes and is considered a feminist children’s classic. Munsch became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1999.

Chris Hadfield, The Darkest Dark (2016)

The Darkest Dark is a picture book for young readers by retired astronaut Chris Hadfield (b. 1959) based on his own childhood. It tells the story of how a boy named Chris, who loves space but is afraid of the dark, learns to be brave. It is illustrated by brothers Eric and Terry Fan. An animated video with music and narration by Hadfield was released to accompany the book. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Hadfield made another video—Chris Reads his Children’s Book ‘The Darkest Dark’—for his own YouTube channel.

Hadfield is from Ontario and was the first Canadian to walk in space. He was a Colonel in the Canadian Air Force before becoming an astronaut and has served as a commander of the International Space Station. He retired from the Canadian Space Agency in 2013 and has pursued other careers since then, including writing and teaching.

Coming-of-age novels

Mordecai Richler, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959)

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a satirical novel by Mordecai Richler (1931—2001), one of the writers who defined early Canadian literature. Duddy Kravitz is a young man from a poor Jewish immigrant family in Montreal who is obsessed with “becoming somebody.” The book is a comedic exploration of love, money, and power.

Richler’s work often focuses on the old Jewish neighbourhood in Montreal, the community in which he grew up. In addition to writing novels, he was an essayist, journalist, and screenwriter. Inspired by the fantasy stories he told his youngest son Jacob, Richler also wrote the Jacob Two-Two children’s book series, starting with Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang (1975). “Jacob Two-Two,” a popular animated kid’s show based on the books, was released from 2003—2006. Richler became a member of the Order of Canada in 1999.

Miriam Toews, A Complicated Kindness (2004)

A Complicated Kindness is a coming-of-age novel by Miriam Toews (b. 1964). 16-year-old Nomi Nickel lives with her father in a small town in Manitoba whose population is Mennonite. Nomi is curious about the wider world, and the novel is about her conflicts with her strict community.

Toews was born to a Mennonite family in Steinbach, Man. She writes about Mennonite communities, often discussing women’s and girls’ lives and mental illness.

Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster (2017)

Son of a Trickster is a novel by Eden Robinson (b. 1968). Jared is an Indigenous teenager in northern British Columbia dealing with a complicated family situation and social pressures. Despite his own challenges, including problems with drugs and alcohol, Jared tries to protect his loved ones—all while discovering parts of his identity and his relationship to the Trickster Wee’git.

Robinson is a Haisla/Heiltsuk First Nations writer whose work focuses on the lives of Indigenous people in B.C. Son of a Trickster is the first novel in her Trickster trilogy: the second (Trickster Drift) was released in 2018, and the third (Return of the Trickster) is coming out later in 2021. “Trickster,” a CBC television series based on the books, began in 2020.

Short stories

Alice Munro, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968)

Alice Munro (b. 1931) is considered the “master” of modern short stories, and Dance of the Happy Shades was her first published collection of 15 stories. Like most of Munro’s work throughout her career, these stories take place in rural southwestern Ontario, where she is from. She uses the seemingly simple setting of a small Canadian town to show her characters’ complex lives and emotions.

In 2013, Munro became the first Canadian to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. She is credited with transforming the short story genre. Her stories often explore personal relationships, women’s and girls’ experiences, moral problems, and the tension between memory and reality.

Speculative fiction

reading a book

Robertson Davies, Fifth Business (1970)

Robertson Davies (1913—1995) is considered one of Canada’s most influential writers, and Fifth Business is his most famous novel. It is narrated by a history teacher named Dunstable Ramsay. As he describes the strange effects he has had on the people around him throughout his life, the book explores how myth and spirituality are just another part of reality. Fifth Business is the first book in The Deptford Trilogy, a series of related novels that take place in the fictional town of Deptford, Ont. (based on Davies’ hometown, Thamesville).

Davies was also the founding master of Massey College at the University of Toronto. He won many literary awards throughout his career and was named a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) is an Ottawa-born author most famous for her fiction. The Handmaid’s Tale is about a near-future dystopian society called Gilead. In this military dictatorship, human rights have been taken away, women and their bodies are politically controlled, and people are divided into a strict class system under the constant threat of extreme violence. The book is narrated by a woman known as Offred, one of the “handmaids” who are forced to bear children for men in the ruling class. She describes her experiences in Gilead and her memories from before, as she tries to survive and resist. A sequel, The Testaments, was published in 2019.

Much of Atwood’s writing addresses gender roles and women’s experiences, religion, and the environment. The Handmaid’s Tale has been adapted into stage performances and a movie (1990). Atwood is a consulting producer for the Emmy-winning TV drama series of the same name, which began in 2017 and updates the story for the present day. The first season is based on the events of the novel and the following seasons continue the story.

Historical fiction

Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion (1987)

In the Skin of a Lion is a novel by Michael Ondaatje (b. 1943), one of Canada’s most prominent living writers. Including elements of both romance and mystery, it tells a story of the lives of immigrant workers in Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s, who helped build the city but were not officially recognized for their contributions.

Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka and lived in England before moving to Canada when he was 18. He attended universities in Quebec and Ontario and began his writing career as a poet. Ondaatje is an Officer of the Order of Canada. His 1992 novel The English Patient (a partial sequel to In the Skin of a Lion) was also adapted into an extremely successful film in 1996.

Wayne Johnston, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (1998)

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is a novel by Wayne Johnston (b. 1958). The book is a fictional version of the story of Joey Smallwood, the real-life politician who brought the Dominion of Newfoundland into the Canadian Confederation in 1949 and was the province’s first premier.

Johnston was born and raised in Newfoundland. His work often focuses on historical life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes (2007)

The Book of Negroes is a historical epic by author Lawrence Hill (b. 1957). It tells of the slave trade and the lives of Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia through the story of Aminata Diallo, who recounts the events of her life. At age 11, Aminata is kidnapped from her village in West Africa to be enslaved in America. She describes her fight to survive in a violent world and her journey towards freedom. The novel is named after a 1783 document from the American Revolutionary War, kept by the British military to record the names of 3000 Black Loyalists who had served the British and were allowed to leave Manhattan to resettle in Canada.

Hill lives in Ontario and writes both fiction and non-fiction. The son of a Black father and white mother who were both activists, his work often explores the relationship between race and identity. The Book of Negroes was adapted into a six-part miniseries by the CBC in 2015 and won several Canadian Screen Awards.

Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing (2016)

Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a historical fiction novel by Madeleine Thien (b. 1974). It begins in Vancouver in 1990, where ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite Ai-ming, a young woman who fled China after the Tiananmen massacre, to stay in their home. Marie and Ai-Ming’s connected family histories are revealed as they become friends. The story follows two generations of families in China through major periods in history: Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-20th century, and the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square.

Thien was born the year her parents, who are Chinese and Malaysian, immigrated to Vancouver. She now lives in Montreal. She is also a short story writer.

Non-fiction

Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian (2012)

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King (b. 1943) examines aspects of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in North America. It describes some major historical events and the ways that popular culture has influenced how people view Native life and identity. It is also a personal account from King about his own identity and his experiences with activism. The book discusses a very complex topic in a clear and often funny way.

King is of Cherokee and Greek descent and lives in Ontario. As well as his non-fiction, he is also a best-selling fiction writer.

Tanya Talaga, Seven Fallen Feathers (2017)

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga tells the stories of the lives and deaths of seven First Nations youth in the northern city of Thunder Bay, Ont. between the years 2000 and 2011: Jethro Anderson, Jordan Wabasse, Kyle Morrisseau, Curran Strang, Robyn Harper, Paul Panacheese, and Reggie Bushie. The book explores the circumstances surrounding their deaths and the issue of systemic violence against Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Talaga is an Ojibwe author, investigative journalist, and speaker based in Toronto. She reports on Indigenous issues in Canada and promotes Indigenous inclusion through her work.

Desmond Cole, The Skin We’re In (2020)

The Skin We’re In is a non-fiction book by journalist Desmond Cole (b. 1982). Cole’s article “The Skin I’m In” was published as the May 2015 cover story of Toronto Life magazine. In his article, he describes how he was frequently carded (stopped and asked to provide personal information) and interrogated, exposing the racist practices of the Toronto police force. The Skin I’m In follows up on similar issues: It is a month-by-month recap of events in 2017 describing the presence of racism in Canadian society and the fight for justice.

Cole is a journalist, activist, and radio host in Toronto. Since his well-received 2015 article, Cole has continued to draw attention to the racism and systemic inequality faced by Black Canadians.

Canada Reads

Many lovers of great Canadian literature enjoy Canada Reads, an annual “battle of the books” that airs on CBC Radio. In a series of debates, five notable Canadians each defend a Canadian book, and the winner is named as the book that “all of Canada should read.”

Several of the books listed in this article are past Canada Reads winners or contenders, and some of the authors have been nominated for their other books as well.

  • Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion won the first edition of Canada Reads in 2002.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale was a contender in 2002.
  • The Colony of Unrequited Dreams was a contender in 2003.
  • A Complicated Kindness was the winner in 2006.
  • The Book of Negroes was the winner in 2009.
  • The Inconvenient Indian was a contender in 2015.
  • Son of a Trickster was a contender in 2020.

Canadian literature is always evolving to reflect changing cultural and social issues and include new voices. The result is a rich world of books with something for everyone to enjoy.

** Note about this article: Lawrence Hill was a professor of the author from September—December 2017 at the University of Guelph.

Child care options in Ontario

Child care options in Ontario

By Amy Fournier

Posted on May 24, 2021

girl with toy camera

Finding child care can be a difficult task for parents in Ontario, let alone newcomers. There is a high demand for child care, specifically for kids between the ages of zero and six. As a result, many daycares and after-school programs have waiting lists. Finding the right care can be stressful if you do not plan carefully or weigh your options well before you require the service.

The first thing to note is that there are two types of child care options: regulated and unregulated.

Regulated child care means that the service being offered is recognized by the Ministry of Education and must follow the Ministry guidelines. Regulated child care services are located in public spaces specifically designed to provide that service, such as schools or community centres.

Unregulated child care refers to the caregiving arrangements that are conducted privately without government supervision. Parents, typically, hire someone to take care of their children independently or through a private company. Oftentimes, if regulated programs are full, parents will seek caregivers or nannies on websites such as care.com, nannyservices.ca, Facebook, or word of mouth.
chalk
When choosing whether to use regulated programs or to hire an employee, you may want to consider the hours that you’ll need caregiving services for, where you are located, and your financial situation.

Fees vary depending on whether you need full or part-time care, the age of your child, and the number of children you have. In most cases, providing regulated or unregulated child care is a parent’s financial responsibility. Typically, it is more affordable to hire a caregiver than to enroll your child in daycare or after school programs. (To learn more about after school programs, check this article.) However, regulated child care services require employees to have specific postsecondary education and qualifications, whereas unregulated child care services do not.

Whereas most private care is paid hourly, a lot of regulated programs require registration, which means that parents are paying for days that they may not need care for or for statutory holidays such as Family day and Thanksgiving. “Once your child is enrolled in a program, you have to be prepared to pay for days that your child is not in care in order to keep the spot,” explains Michela Mucciaccio, a Child and Youth Worker for the Simcoe County District School Board. “Another thing to consider, specific to Canada, is snow days. If the buses are cancelled, but schools are still open, the service is still expected to run, and therefore parents will still have to pay,” she says.

Regulated child care programs also have rigid times of operation and many facilities will charge extra if parents are late, past the program’s operating hours, to pick up their child.

There are also many non-profit programs that offer subsidized or free child care to those in need. The Nook Children’s Program an organization located in Toronto that provides support and services for vulnerable children and youth who come from low-income households, single parent families, newcomers, those challenged by mental or physical health issues, or people facing other barriers that prevent them from engaging fully in the community.
sand box and toy truck
Ontario 211 is a community and social services help line that can assist families who are in desperate need of child care. Simply enter “child care” into the search bar as well as your location, and the website will gather all the child care centres that are around your area.

Every family has different needs, and there are many child care options in Ontario to choose from. With careful planning and budgeting, you can decide which option is best for you.

Tips for keeping your children safe in Canada

Tips for keeping your children safe in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on May 24, 2021

girl playing with bubbles

When it comes to your children, you always want to protect them and make them feel safe. This is particularly true when you’re living in a new country like Canada, where you are unfamiliar with the customs and don’t know many people. What are some precautions that your kids can take? How can they keep themselves safe?

1. Memorize parents’ full names, phone numbers, email addresses, and home address

It is important for children to know their parents’ basic contact information in case of an emergency—for example, if a child gets lost or injured. It’s recommended that they memorize the phone number of an emergency contact, like that of an aunt or uncle. If your kids are under six years old, have them try to remember at least one phone number.

2. Do not open the door for strangers

If children are left home alone, they should avoid opening the door for strangers. You can instruct them on how to keep the doors locked. Three provinces (New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Ontario) have legal age limits for leaving children home alone. In New Brunswick and Manitoba, a parent cannot leave a child under 12 years old unattended without making arrangements for appropriate supervision. In Ontario, only those 16 years old or older can be left home alone.
girl in doorway

3. Do not accept food from—or go anywhere with—a stranger

Your children should know that strangers who approach them when they are unsupervised may not have the best intentions. While it’s OK if a stranger talks to your kids, if he offers them food (when a parent is not around), they should politely turn down the offer. If the stranger asks them to go somewhere with him (his car, his house, the parking lot etc.), they should refuse. If the stranger becomes aggressive, your children should yell and run away.

comic strip

If your kids don’t have a phone and get lost while in a store, they can ask the store clerk to call you and wait for you to pick them up. If they are in an open area (park, festival, etc.), they can ask a woman with children to call you.

4. No one is allowed to touch you without your consent

Even at a young age, kids should be allowed to say “no” to someone (relative, family member, stranger, or friend) who wants to hug or kiss them or shake their hand. If they don’t want to be touched, they should not be forced to show affection. On that same note, as a parent, you should let your children know the names of their body parts. If there is an inappropriate or unwanted touch, they shouldn’t be afraid to tell the offender “stop it” and “don’t do that.” Also, you should let your kids know that they can tell you if a person touches them inappropriately or makes them feel uncomfortable.

In the same way, your children should learn that they shouldn’t touch people without their consent or pets without the consent from their owners. They also should not approach or touch wild animals or unfamiliar plants.

5. Do not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable

Often children experience peer pressure and bullying. Classmates might ask your kids to hand over their money or food, and they might feel forced to do those things. Their peers may even ask them to participate in dangerous dares and activities (like drug use and harming other people or animals). Your children may even meet strangers on social media who seem like ordinary kids but are actually grown adults. Those strangers may ask for personal information or inappropriate photos.

In all of these scenarios, you have to teach your children how to say “no.” If any person on social media says or does anything inappropriate to them, they should be immediately blocked. If the peer pressure or bullying at school is overwhelming, be prepared to move your kids to a different school. Children should always feel safe when they are online or at school.

Eating your way through Canada

Eating your way through Canada

By Emma Siegel

Posted on May 24, 2021

There’s no shortage of new and interesting foods to try in Canada. Province to province and coast to coast, you’re bound to eat something you’ve never even heard of before. But with so many foods to try, where do you start? And what in the world are “jiggs dinner,” “poutine,” and “hodge podge?” This guide will take you on a food tour around Canada and show you what to look out for in each province and territory.

Ontario

If you’re craving something sweet, Ontario has some great options for you. Beaver tails are very popular, especially in the eastern parts of the province. And don’t worry, no actual beavers were harmed in the making of this delicious dessert. It’s a flat, deep-fried dough pastry that’s typically covered in cinnamon and sugar, but you can have beaver tails with all sorts of different toppings as well. Another fan favourite is butter tarts. A pastry filled with buttery, sugary goodness, and sometimes raisins or nuts. What’s not to like?

butter tarts

Quebec

Poutine (pronounced POOH-TEEN or POOH-TIN) is a Canadian classic and is said to have been invented in Quebec. The dish is made with fries, hot gravy, and cheese curds— though there are many variations and toppings that you can add on. And if you’re still hungry after a container of poutine, maple taffy is a go-to dessert. Typically served in the winter during festivals and events, maple syrup is poured onto a bed of snow and rolled up onto a stick. It’s sweet, it’s sticky, and it’s delicious.

poutine

Alberta

Alberta’s beef is world-renowned and considered some of the best. This prairie province is perfect for raising cattle with its rolling fields and huge grasslands. If you want to try something a little more adventurous, Alberta is also known for its bison. The largest mammal in North America is a big part of Alberta’s cuisine and comes in many different forms, such as burgers, steaks, and sausages. Looking for a vegetarian option? Green onion cakes are the unofficial dish of Edmonton. Brought to the province’s capital by Chinese immigrant Siu To, the crumbly pancake packed with green onions is wildly popular.

Saskatchewan

Guess which was named first: the capital city, Saskatoon, or the saskatoon berry. If you guessed the berries, you’d be right. These sweet, juicy berries were named by the Cree Nation, and the name was later used for the capital of Saskatchewan. You can eat these berries in a range of ways, from picking and eating them straight from the bush to baking them in pies.

saskatoon berries

Manitoba

When a Winnipeg restaurant owner accidentally mixed honey, mayonnaise, and dried dill together, he probably didn’t realize he had just created a Manitoban speciality. But that’s exactly what he did. Honey dill sauce is unique to Manitoba, and a must-try if you’re in the province. If you’re looking for something with a milder taste, bannock is right for you. A traditional food in many Indigenous cultures, bannock is a heavy, dense bread that is typically made out of wheat flour.

P.E.I.

As a coastal province surrounded by the ocean, it’ll come as no surprise that Prince Edward Island, better known as P.E.I., is known for its seafood. Malpeque oysters have been a source of pride for the islanders since 1900, when these oysters were named best in show at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Over 100 years later, they are still one of P.E.I.’s best and most popular foods. You’ll also be able to find fresh lobster and mussels on almost all menus in P.E.I., where you know the seafood is as fresh as it gets.

oysters

New Brunswick

Ployes is a popular dish in the northern region of this province. It’s basically a pancake that only uses the ingredients you’re most likely to have on hand in your pantry, such as flour and baking powder. Didn’t think it could get any easier? This breakfast classic doesn’t even need to be flipped in a pan like a regular pancake, making it a quick and simple meal. Ployes can be served sweet or savoury, but traditionally it’s eaten with sticky sweet maple syrup.

Nova Scotia

You can’t go to Canada’s ocean playground and not try some more seafood. Like P.E.I., Nova Scotia is known for its lobster, and is a must-try in this province. Getting tired of all this seafood talk? This province is also the creator of hodge podge, a dish that celebrates the vegetable harvest in the fall. It’s a stew that’s typically made with beans, carrots, potatoes, and any other vegetables you have on hand. It’s topped with cream and butter, making it a rich, perfect comfort dish on a crisp fall day. And of course, Nova Scotia has the best wild blueberries of any province in Canada, so make sure you snack on those during harvest season in the late summer to early fall.
seafood

Newfoundland and Labrador

Jiggs dinner is said to be named from the main character of a comic strip called Bringing up father, which follows an Irish immigrant called Jiggs living in America. It’s typically served as a Sunday dinner special and made up of many different foods including corned beef, vegetables, potatoes, and split peas. You certainly won’t be hungry after eating this meal. And if you’re going to Newfoundland and Labrador, touton is also a must-try. It’s a doughy, fried bread that’s sort of like a pancake or doughnut. It can be served with butter, maple syrup or, weirdly enough, baked beans.

British Columbia

Have you ever heard of Nanaimo bars? Invented in 1986 by the mayor of Nanaimo, B.C., the chocolatey, custard-filled squares are a sugary dessert you won’t want to miss out on. Looking for something more savoury? The west coast is also known for its seafood, and there’s plenty of options. From wild pacific salmon to Dungeness crab, there’s a little something for everyone.

Yukon

About 80 percent of Yukon is wilderness, making it home to all kinds of animals. This has made hunting and fishing very common in the territory, and you won’t have to look far to try game meat like moose or fresh fish like Alaskan salmon. Yukon is also known for its sourdough bread and is so popular that there is a festival in its honour, called The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous.
salmon

Northwest Territories

Arctic char can be found off the coast of the Northwest Territories, where it lives in freezing ocean temperatures. If you’re getting tired of hearing about fish, this territory is also known for birch syrup. Birch syrup is like maple syrup, and can be used on pancakes, waffles, or in desserts. But the difference is that birch syrup is bolder, stronger, and less sweet, making it great for cooking.

Nunavut

Caribou is “country food,” which means it’s food from the land, and is very common in Nunavut cooking. Caribou stew is a speciality in this territory where the game meat is mixed with potatoes and vegetables to make the ultimate comfort food during the cold winters.

Breaking the silence: Normalizing therapy for recent immigrants

Breaking the silence: Normalizing therapy for recent immigrants

By Russul Sahib

Posted on May 24, 2021

therapy

For many people, seeking out therapy is one of the most essential steps in improving one’s mental health. However, many recent immigrants may not be aware of the tools, resources, and support available for their mental health. Additionally, for some newcomers, therapy is often not even seen as an option.

For several Canadians, therapy is an incredibly expensive resource that many are not able to afford. In 2015, an article published in The Globe and Mail stated that although prices vary across the country, therapy with a private psychologist can cost over $200 per session. This, coupled with language barriers and finding culturally sensitive professionals, may make therapy seem uninviting for many recent immigrants. Most importantly, seeking therapy is often stigmatized and viewed with shame or disapproval. This is not strictly a newcomer perspective. Time and time again, pursuing therapy is viewed as a last resort for individuals who cannot “control” their mental illness.

In reality, therapy can be a great tool for anyone looking to speak to somebody about their mental health, regardless of the severity of the issues they are dealing with. Yet, some newcomers may come from cultures where mental health is not openly discussed with others. For recent immigrants who are interested in seeking therapy but may feel stigmatized, it is important to open up the conversation to normalize therapy. The Newcomer has an article about taking care of your mental health for further reading on ths subject.

therapy

Gouri Mukerjea is a mental health counsellor with the newcomer health team at Sherbourne Health. The clinic offers a variety of different counselling options for newcomers including group therapy sessions, walk-in sessions, and on-call services. Mukerjea said in an email response that newcomers often face many barriers when it comes to accessing mental health therapy, from finding the appropriate therapist to long waiting times.

“Barriers at the system-level include shortage of culturally [sensitive] and language-specific therapists, lack of insurance coverage, difficulty in accessing family physicians who identify and recommend clients for therapy, shortage of linguistically accessible services and long waitlists for free services,” Mukerjea said.

Dyshni Sritharan, another mental health counsellor who works with Mukerjea, stressed the importance of culturally sensitive therapists in understanding and sympathizing with newcomers.

“Culturally sensitive therapists are important, as they are interested to know the culture of the client and how it shapes their beliefs and perceptions,” Sritharan said. “A newcomer can benefit from a culturally sensitive therapist by feeling heard, validated, and not having to ‘over-explain’ cultural nuances.”

Newcomers are more likely to open up to their therapist if they feel they are not being judged or facing assumptions about the mental health issues they are dealing with.

therapy

Many newcomers may also feel hesitant about seeking therapy because they are in “survival mode” upon arriving in a new country, Mukerjea explained. Oftentimes, recent immigrants are focused on ensuring their basic needs are met, which means that their mental health may not be a priority. Additionally, Mukerjea said some newcomers may also be unable to take time off work to seek this type of help.

However, Mukerjea explained that newcomers should pay attention to their mental health, as they are an at-risk population for dealing with mental health issues.

“They develop issues such as anxiety and depression related to the stresses, uncertainty, and harsh resettlement experiences that can occur within a brief period,” she said. “Refugees who have had severe exposure to violence often have higher rates of trauma-related disorders.”

Even though some newcomers have to deal with these mental health issues, stigma continues to play a huge role in preventing many from seeking help. Though mental health stigma is seen in every culture, countries with more limited mental health information and access are slower at removing associations of shame from, or destigmatizing, mental health support.

“The change is slower in cultures that have had no formal, or perhaps very limited, mental health services in their home countries. For example, in some countries where refugees come from, there can be just one psychiatrist for a population of 500,000,” Mukerjea said. “For newcomers to have moved from such cultures, it can be quite overwhelming.”

therapy

Due to this stigma, newcomer health organizations that offer culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services play a very important role in helping to break down these common misconceptions about mental health support.

“We believe that open and honest education within various communities, especially newcomers, is needed in order to challenge cultural bias about mental illness,” Sritharan said. “By connecting with clients through psychoeducational workshops and counselling, we’re able to work on destigmatizing mental health and increase visibility of mental health.”

Similar to Sherbourne Health Clinic, other organizations in the Greater Toronto Area, such as Carizon Family and Community Services or Aurora Family Therapy Centre are also attempting to fill the cultural and linguistic gap for newcomers seeking mental health counselling.

Newcomers can also turn to information provided by The Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) which has created a list of mental health services for newcomers to access, according to their specific needs.

Beginner’s guide to taking care of plants

Beginner’s guide to taking care of plants

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on May 24, 2021

plants

If you’re looking to pick up a fun and fruitful hobby, growing and taking care of a plant or two might be a great option for you. Gardening betters your mood and increases your self-esteem. For young adults, taking care of plants can reduce stress. When interviewed, gardeners who emigrated said that bringing things from their native country to their gardens allowed them to feel more “at home” in their new country. So, gardening is a great hobby to consider!

Picking your plants

Whether you aspire to create a greenhouse or tend to some plants indoors, the first thing you need to do is choose which fruits, vegetables, or plants you want to try to grow. In the summertime, you can easily harvest zucchini, tomatoes, or peppers outdoors in Canada. If you don’t have a backyard, you can still grow vegetables and herbs indoors like green onions, lettuce, and mint.

For outdoor flower gardens, you can plant annual flowers, which are flowers that bloom throughout the summer but don’t come back after the winter like petunias, begonias, marigolds. Alternatively, you can grow pansies or perennial flowers, which are flowers that bloom for a shorter period of time but come back each year, such as:

  • coneflowers (native to Saskatchewan)
  • hairy-beard tongues (native to Quebec)
  • prairie crocuses (the official flower of Manitoba)
  • Canada lilies (native to eastern provinces, extending all the way from Ontario to Nova Scotia)

If you want to take care of decorative plants, peace lilies, orchids, money trees, snake plants, and succulents are attractive indoor and low-maintenance options. If you have young kids or pets in your home, you must also ensure that the plants that you select aren’t sharp or toxic in case they touch or try to eat them.

Buying the materials

Once you have thoroughly researched and decided which plants you would like to grow, you can start buying the necessary seeds, pots, and soil. Make sure you purchase the proper soil for your plants. There are many different types of potting soils and mixtures. You can find specific mixtures for succulents (like cactus soil), flowers (like orchid mix), and seed starters. You can also buy fertilizers for your plants, vegetables, and flowers.

gardening tool

If you are able to examine the plants before purchasing them, choose those with healthy-looking leaves. Some retailers glue stones to the top of plants to make them look more appealing. Avoid buying these because glued stones can limit plant growth and weaken their ability to reach water. Try to buy plants without any extra decorations (glued parts, painted leaves, etc.), since those decorations can hinder their ability to thrive.

Growing plants outdoors

Since Canada has four seasons, if you would like to do outdoor gardening, you can start in the late spring for vegetable seeds and perennials. Annuals can be planted after the last frost date (a frost date is when temperatures fall to 0 °C or lower). Some species can be grown indoors during the winter time and moved outdoors during the summer like asparagus and parsley.

Make sure you select a flat area in your yard for your garden because it’s harder to work with a sloping garden. Put the garden in a sunny spot that is noticeable for you (e.g., just outside your kitchen window, where you’ll see it, near your mailbox, etc.).

rosebush

Once you have chosen your area, remove the sod (the surface of the ground with grass growing on it) and—to keep weeds and grass from growing—cover the area with cardboard or newspaper sheets. Spread compost on the sheets and wait. You are starting a lengthy process known as “sheet mulching” or “layering.” It will take approximately four months for the compost and newspaper to decompose. Sheet mulching attracts earthworms (beneficial creatures for plant growth) and helps the soil hold onto water and nutrients.

When the compost and newspaper have decomposed, you can start planting seeds and transplants. Seedlings should be watered daily, and transplants can be watered every other day, but as roots become established, you won’t need to water it as often (e.g., once a week depending on the soil, rainfall, and humidity). Regularly inspect your garden for any insect pests or other issues.

Growing plants indoors

For indoor gardening and plant care, you have to consider the lighting in your home. All plants need light, although some, like succulents, prefer more light than others. Plants usually like to be located nearby south- or east-facing windows. You can invest in LED lights if you don’t have bright windows.

amaryllis flowers by window

When it comes to watering, give your plants a good soak (make sure water comes out through the pot drainage holes), and empty out any extra water gathered in your plant saucers. Don’t water it again until the soil is dry to the touch.

Regularly inspect your plants. If any of the leaves become dusty, you can clean them with a damp cloth, toothbrush, or paintbrush. You can remove any dead or dried-up leaves. Now, whenever you examine your plants, check to see if they are growing properly and if they need any special care or attention.

Organize your meals for a healthier life

Organize your meals for a healthier life

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on May 24, 2021

Meal prep

Since coming to Canada, you may believe that convenience is a luxury. Between adjusting to your new job and taking your kids to school, the last thing you want to do is waste time. You may notice that in the midst of all the rushing some things may be pushed aside—like preparing nutritious and healthy meals for yourself and your loved ones. Fast food, which is quicker and seems cheaper, becomes a go-to-meal.

If you’re ready to take control of your diet for better health and nutrition, you can start with meal preparation (meal prep). Meal prep or meal planning is a convenient and cost-effective way of preparing and packaging your meals ahead of time in order to control your portions and maintain a healthy diet. To learn more tips on how to make healthy food choices, check out this article by The Newcomer.

Types of meal prep

  • Prep raw ingredients — Prepare all of your ingredients for multiple meals and store the ingredients in your fridge or freezer and take them out when you need to cook. For example, you can peel and chop carrots and potatoes and place them in jars or bowls with water for later use.
  • Bulk meals — Cook multiple meals (like stew, pasta, and mashed potatoes) at once; place them in large containers and store them in the fridge or freezer. You can easily use the same ingredients, like cabbage or blocks of cheese, to prepare various dishes.
  • Individual meals — Prepare a variety of food (like salad, corn, and cooked chicken); portion them in single-serving containers and then store them in the fridge. This type of meal prep is good for school and work lunches. For example, if you have a busy week ahead, you can cook a meal for each weekday at once, and then eat your meals over the week to save time.
  • Make a meal ahead of time — Cook a meal (for the family or just for yourself) and store it in the fridge or freezer to eat later in the day. For example, you can prepare dinner earlier in the day, so that it is ready when you come back from your commitments.

How to prep

  • Purchase food storage containers or Tupperware.
  • Research healthy and delicious recipes of meals you would like to make and eat.
  • Plan days and times during the week to prep your meals.
  • Buy the ingredients that you need.
  • Start meal prepping!

Benefits of meal prepping

1. Save time

Instead of worrying about what food to cook or purchase for the day, you’ll already have your meals planned for day, the next few days, or the week (depending on what you prep for). You will also have less dishes to wash since you already cleaned all of your kitchenware ahead of time.

kids prepared lunch box

2. Save money

Contrary to the idea that healthy eating is unaffordable, preparing your meals saves you a lot of money because you can purchase ingredients in bulk and refrigerate or freeze extra food for later. Also, you spend less money buying fast food and takeout.

3. Manage your hunger

Meal prepping helps you manage your hunger because you can eat food before or as soon as you get hungry. Managing your hunger means that you won’t eat too much or overindulge when you eat a meal because you are not starving.

4. Control your portions

When you prepare your meals, you know exactly what you are feeding your body, and you can control the amount. With meal prepping, you can control how many calories you add to your diet for weight management.

meal prep

5. Stress relief

If buying groceries and cooking food has been a source of stress for you, meal planning can make things easier since you’ll now have a list to stick to for your groceries and a food plan for the week. The Newcomer has an article on how to manage stress that could help you address this and other sources of stress.

6. You become a better cook

Meal preparation can expose you to a variety of new recipes that suit your tastes. You can look up recipes that are vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian (if you prefer to eat fish as your meat source). If you or family members have any allergies, you can prepare meals that omit ingredients that trigger allergic reactions. You can also watch YouTube videos of meal prep tutorials. As you grow in your understanding of meal prepping, your cooking will get better.

cooking as a family

7. Encouraging and inspiring others

When your colleagues, relatives, and kids see how you prepare delicious and nutritious food, they may be inspired to join you or follow in your footsteps. You may be able to get your spouse or kids to help you during meal preparation time and turn it into a learning and bonding experience.

Gender-based violence resource list

Gender-based violence resource list

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on May 24, 2021

Trigger Warning: This article contains information about abuse, violence, and death.

STOP GBV written on a hand

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence refers to harmful acts directed at someone because of their gender or sex. Everyone has the right to live free from violence. Sadly, many people are targeted and harmed because of their gender. This is not acceptable and is considered to be a human rights violation.

Gender-based violence is a serious problem all over the world. It can take many forms: physical, psychological, economic, and sexual. Examples of gender-based violence include: discrimination, neglect, harassment, child marriage, genital mutilation, domestic violence, and early or forced pregnancy.

In Canada, groups that are more at risk of experiencing gender-based violence include women and girls, Indigenous people, LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people, those living in northern, rural, and remote communities, people with disabilities, newcomers, children, and seniors. The impacts of gender-based violence extend far beyond those who face the harm because the family members, friends, and communities of the person harmed are impacted, too.

Why is it important to know about?

Newcomers are at a higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence due to isolation, racism, language and cultural barriers, economic dependence, and a lack of knowledge about community resources. Awareness of this issue and the resources available could make the difference between life and death for someone you know. So as a newcomer, it’s important to be aware of the different resources for gender-based violence survivors that are around you. If you know of any helpful resources, you could pass this information on to someone in need or use it for yourself. The more you know, the better equipped you are to help yourself and others.

Resources:

Here is a list of resources like websites, crisis lines, and organizations that will help you or someone you know address gender-based violence issues. These resources can’t replace the police, so if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911 as soon as possible.

HERE TO HELP

Ending Violence Across Canada’s Resource List:

This organization has put together a Canada wide resource list with different hotlines, victim services, shelters, centers, and more resources. This list is great because it provides resources for many different forms of violence.
Link: https://endingviolencecanada.org/getting-help-2/

Canadian Government Gender-Based Knowledge Centre:

This knowledge hub created by the Government of Canada has many learning materials for those looking to learn more about gender-based violence. You will also find a Canada-wide resources list with information that can get you help if you’re facing gender-based violence. If English is not your first language, this hub can also help you find services in a language that you’re more comfortable with.
Link: https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/violence/knowledge-connaissance/index-en.html

Am I being abused?

This is a checklist by the United States Office on Women’s Health that provides readers with a guide and criteria they can use to help determine whether or not they are being abused.
Link: https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/signs-abuse
clenched fist

Warning signs that a child is experiencing gender-based violence:

This list includes warning signs that you can look for in children to help determine if they are facing some form of gender-based violence.
Link: http://guides.womenwin.org/gbv/readiness-and-response/recognising-gbv

Warning signs that someone is being abused:

The Canadian government has published a list of warning signs that can help you determine if someone is being abused. This includes information on domestic, child, sexual, and elder abuse.
Link: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/topics/how-recognize-abuse.html

Crisis lines by province/territory for those impacted by gender-based violence:

The Canadian government provides a list of different crisis lines that you can access in each province and territory. A crisis line is a phone number that people can call to get immediate moral support from trained volunteers. If you need someone to talk to about a situation, you can call a crisis line for help. It does not replace 911, so make sure to call 911 if you are ever experiencing an emergency.
Link: https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/violence/knowledge-connaissance/info-en.html

Resources and centres by province/territory for those impacted by gender-based violence:

To learn more about the different resources and centers that you can access in each province and territory, you can check this list, which has been published by the Canadian government.
Link: https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/violence/knowledge-connaissance/canada-en.html

How can I help a newcomer woman who is experiencing violence at home?

This article provides information on how to help newcomer women who are experiencing violence at home.
Link: https://www.immigrantandrefugeenff.ca/want-to-help/how/friend-family-member-neighbour

The City of Toronto’s domestic/intimate violence resource list:

This resource list includes Ontario-wide and Toronto-based resources. You can find the contact information for different crisis lines, shelters, legal services, and housing services.
Link: https://www.casw-acts.ca/en/resources/domestic-violence-resources

Assaulted Women’s Helpline:

This is an Ontario-based helpline for women experiencing any form of abuse. You can visit their website or give them a call for free at 1-866-863-0511 or TTY 1-866-863-7868.
Link: https://www.awhl.org

COVID-19 friendly resources for gender-based violence:

The Centre of Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University in Ontario has put together an extensive resource list with different Canadian and Ontario-based resources for people experiencing or wanting to know more about gender-based violence. This resource list provides information on a wide variety of topics and populations such as men, boys, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Link: http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/Resources%20on%20Gender-Based%20Violence%20and%20the%20COVID-19%20Pandemic.html

Shelter Safe’s Canada-wide resource list

Shelter Safe provides the public with a list of different shelters in all the provinces and territories across Canada.
Link: https://sheltersafe.ca

LGBT youthline:

This helpline provides a toll-free number you can call if you’re an LGBTQ youth who needs help of any kind at 647-694-4275. You can also find a long list of Canada-wide resources for LGBTQ people, from self-care materials to information for newcomer youth who are LGBTQ+.
Link: https://www.youthline.ca/get-support/links-resources/

Steps to Justice resource list:

This website provides information for those looking for legal help and resources. It has dedicated sections to those dealing with domestic violence issues or child abuse situations.
Link: https://stepstojustice.ca/legal-topic/abuse-and-family-violence/domestic-violence

Resources for women, LBGTQ, and non-binary survivors of violence:

The Battered Women’s Support Services provides a crisis line that you can call if you’re in need as well as other resources such as self-care and mental health materials for survivors of violence. This Support Centre has many different culturally relevant resources and programs, such as programming for Indigenous, Latin American, and Black women. This is a Canada wide program with physical locations in British Columbia.
Link: https://www.bwss.org/support/

Resource list for women in Canada:

If you’re a woman looking for help, the Canadian Women’s Foundation has put together a COVID-19 friendly list with resources and support you can access. This list includes information for all the territories and provinces as well as information on shelters, legal services, and resource centers.
Link: https://canadianwomen.org/support-services/

References:

The Canadian Government’s Gender-based Strategy:
https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/violence/strategy-strategie/index-en.html

About Gender-based Violence:
https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/violence/knowledge-connaissance/about-apropos-en.html#what

Types of Gender-based Violence:
https://www.coe.int/en/web/gender-matters/types-of-gender-based-violence

It’s Time to Acknowledge by the Canadian Government:
https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/violence/knowledge-connaissance/fs-fi-2-en.html

All you need to know as a refugee or refugee claimant in Canada 

All you need to know as a refugee or refugee claimant in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on May 24, 2021

Group of women

As reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2019, Canada was ranked No. 1 (out of 26 countries) in refugee resettlement. Refugees tend to thrive in Canada, with 51 percent of working refugees employed in high-skilled jobs and 95 percent of refugees feeling a strong sense of belonging to Canada.

In order to become a refugee to Canada, individuals have to be identified and sponsored (if they are outside of Canada) or make a refugee claim (if they are inside Canada). Once in Canada, refugees have access to various programs and resources to assist them in their adjustment and success.

The Canadian refugee system

Canada has two main refugee protection programs: the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program and the In-Canada Asylum Program.

  • The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program is for individuals who need protection from outside of Canada. The UNHCR and private sponsors determine who the refugees for resettlement are. An individual cannot directly apply to Canada for resettlement.
  • The In-Canada Asylum offers refugee protection to individuals in Canada who fear persecution (convention refugees) or are in danger of torture or harsh punishment in their countries of origin (persons in need of protection).

Making a refugee claim

email refugee claim

If you are inside Canada, you can make a refugee claim by writing an email to IRCC.RefugeeClaim-Demandedasile.IRCC@cic.gc.ca or by applying for refugee status at any port of entry when you arrive in Canada (land border, seaport, or airport).

If you make your claim by email, your subject line should say: “Request to make a Refugee Claim in Canada: (unique client identifier or passport number).” The body of your email should only include your name, email address, and your unique client identifier (UCI), which can be found on your visa or permit or your passport number. You’ll get an email asking you to sign up for an account. After that, you can complete the application package.

If you apply at a port of entry, you will receive the application package there. Once you finish your refugee hearing, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) approves or rejects your refugee claim. If your claim is accepted, you’ll receive the “Protected Person” status, which allows you to reside in Canada and apply to become a permanent resident.​

What if my application is rejected?

If your refugee claim is rejected, you have several options to stay in Canada. You can:

All options are subject to eligibility.

Refugee programs and resources

There are many programs and resources available for refugees in Canada related to employment, training, mentorship, settlement, counselling, and youth development.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021

Province of New Brunswick

Official Languages: English and French
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

You will be eligible for health coverage on the day you move to New Brunswick. In order to do this, you will need to prove that your address is in New Brunswick.

  • If you are a student, you can apply for health coverage if you study full time and your program is at least one year long. You will need to submit a proof of enrollment with your health care application. Your proof of enrollment should be a letter written by the Registrar of your university and include your full name, date of birth, and confirmation that you are studying full-time.
  • If you have a work permit, you can apply for health coverage, but it is not guaranteed. These applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, so you will need to go to your nearest Service New Brunswick location to disclose the length of your permit and the nature of your work.

To apply, you will need to fill out the application form and submit documents that prove your right to live in Canada, your address in New Brunswick, and your identity. You will also need to show the entry stamp on your passport. Here is a list of acceptable documents.

You can apply by mail. The address is at the beginning of the application form. You can also apply in person at a Service New Brunswick location.

Driving information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in New Brunswick is 16. You will need to take a knowledge test in order to get your learner’s permit. Tests are available at Service New Brunswick locations. You do not need to book an appointment. You will need to bring one piece of identification and 2 documents to prove your residency in New Brunswick. Your proof of residency can contain the name of your guardian if you are under 16.

It is recommended that you study the New Brunswick driver’s handbook in order to prepare. You can take a practice test here. Your learner’s permit is called your Class 7i licence. This will allow you to drive with someone who has their full licence. You will also need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

The next step is to book a road test. You will need to have your learner’s licence for a year in order to take the test. If you have a driver’s education course, you will only need to wait eight months. When you pass your road test, you will receive your Class 7ii licence. This will allow you to drive alone or with up to three passengers in the car. You must maintain a zero blood alcohol level when driving and cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

You need to have your Class 7ii licence for a least one year. After a year, you will qualify for a full licence, which is called a Class 5 licence. You do not need to take a test, but it is your responsibility to apply to transfer your licence to a Class 5.

Transferring a driver’s licence: You will have to exchange your foreign licence for a New Brunswick licence within six months of arriving in the province. To exchange your licence, you will need to visit a Service New Brunswick location and take a knowledge test and road test. You will need to bring your driver’s licence, an official translation of the licence if it is not in English or French, proof of identity, and two proofs of address.

If you are from one of the following countries, you will be able to exchange your licence at a Service New Brunswick location.

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • South Korea*
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan**
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

*People from South Korea will need to contact their consulate and have them prepare a package which includes:

  • A cover page
  • An English translation of the licence
  • A copy of the original licence
  • A certified section with the signature of the Consul and the Seal

Bring this package, your original licence, proof of identity, and two proofs of address with you to your appointment.

**People from Taiwan will need to provide the following, along with their original licence, proof of identity, and two proofs of address:

  • An English translation of their licence authenticated by the Taipei Economic and Culture Office in Toronto
  • An original Verification Certificate of Driver’s Licence (VCDL) issued by a Taiwan Vehicle Office that is less than three months old

New Brunswick public school information

New Brunswick is officially bilingual. You will be able to send your child to either a French or an English school. If your child speaks English but you would like them to learn in French, you should register them for a French Immersion program offered by English schools. French immersion is a part of the English school system, and it is intended for children who do not speak French already.

In New Brunswick, it is mandatory for children to start school at age five. Both the English and French school systems follow a Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K–12) program. Some schools only teach K–5 while others teach K–8. Middle school goes from Grade 6 to Grade 8, and high school goes from Grade 9 to Grade 12.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year the are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will be turning six in 2021. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another break in March called march break. This is one week long.

You may need to register your child as an international student when you go to enroll them at a public school. To do this, you will need to find the French or English school board in your area and visit their website. There will be a section for international students which has information on ESL and FSL learning. It will also give you information on the documents you’ll need to register your child as well as any applicable fees.

You can visit this website for information on homeschooling.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021
Newfoundland and Labrador
Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

Anyone living in Newfoundland for 12 months or more can apply for health care. If you have permanent residency, this is the only document you will need. You might be asked to give proof of identity or address after you have applied.

  • If you are a student, you might be able to apply for health coverage. Your program needs to be at least 12 months long and you need to be a full-time student. Your university needs to provide you with a letter that confirms this. It will also need to confirm that you are studying at a campus in Newfoundland or Labrador.
  • If you have a work permit that is longer than 12 months, you can apply for health coverage. You will need a letter from your employer written before you come to Canada. It must confirm the following:
    • Your job position
    • That the business is in Newfoundland and Labrador
    • That your job is valid for at least 12 months—If you are a part of the Provincial Nominee Program or the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, your position will only need to be for six months.

You can apply by mail or in person at your local Medical Care Plan office. During COVID-19, you will need to mail in your form to one of the following offices:

  • 45 Major’s Path, St. John’s
  • 22 High Street, Grand Falls-Windsor

Driving Information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in Newfoundland and Labrador is 16. The first thing you need to do is take a knowledge test. You can study the province’s Driver’s Handbook and take practice tests here. If you have your Newfoundland and Labrador health card, you can register to take the test online.

If you do not have a health card yet, you can book an appointment at a Motor Registration Division location. You will need to bring proofs of age, identity, and address as well as proof of your right to live in Canada. A list of acceptable documents is available here. People under the age of 19 will need a parent or guardian’s signature.

When you pass the knowledge test, you will receive your Class 5 Level 1 licence. The licence costs $60. This will allow you to drive with someone who has their full licence. You will also need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

You need to have your Level 1 licence for at least a year. After a year, you can take a road test to get your Class 5 Level 2 licence. If you have a driver’s education course, then you can take this test after only eight months. The cost of the road test is $78, and the cost of the Class 5 Level 2 licence is $125. With this licence, you must maintain a zero blood alcohol level when driving, and you cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

Your Level 2 licence is valid for five years, but you can upgrade to a full licence after just one year. Your full licence will cost $125. You do not need to take another road test to upgrade to your full licence.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a foreign licence, you will need to exchange it for a Newfoundland and Labrador licence. You should do this in your first 90 days of living in the province.

You will need to provide an official translation of your licence if it is not in English or French. You will also need to have two proofs of your right to live in Canada and a valid proof of address. You can view a list of appropriate identification here and examples of proof of address here. When you have these documents ready, you can book an appointment at a Motor Registration Division location to take a vision test and a knowledge test. If you pass the knowledge test, you can book a road test.

If you pass your road test, you will be placed in the Graduated Driver’s Licence Program at the appropriate level for your experience. To learn about this program, please refer to the above section of how to get a licence.

If your country has an exchange agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador, you will only need to visit a Motor Registration Division to take an eye test and exchange your licence. The following countries have exchange agreements:

  • Austria
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Isle of Man
  • Ireland
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Newfoundland and Labrador public school information:

Most children begin school at age five, but school is not mandatory until age six. The different levels of education in Newfoundland and Labrador will vary depending on the school. Most elementary schools offer Grades 1 to 6; most middle schools offer Grades 7 to 9, and most high schools offer Grades 10 to 12. Please check with the school in your area to find out which grades are offered.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another break in April that lasts one week.

If you would like to homeschool your child, you can visit this website for more information.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021
Province of Prince Edward Island
Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 18

Getting a Health Card

You are eligible for health coverage on the day you arrive in P.E.I. To register, you must be able to prove that you’ll live in P.E.I. for over six months of the year.

  • If you are a student, you can get health coverage if your study permit allows you to work off campus and if you are a full-time student. You will need to submit a letter of enrollment written by the Registrar’s Office. It must contain your full name, date of birth, and confirmation that you are a full-time student. Your health card will need to be renewed each year to ensure you still meet the criteria.
  • If you have a work permit, you can get health coverage as long as your permit is for more than six months. Depending on your application, you may be asked to provide confirmation of employment.

You can apply online or in person at PEI Medicare in Montague, Health PEI in Charlottetown, or an Access PEI centre. You will need to fill out this form and bring proofs of your right to live in P.E.I. and your address. If you apply online, you will need to upload copies of these documents to go with the online form.

Driving information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in P.E.I. is 16. To get your learner’s permit, you will need to book a knowledge test at an Access PEI centre. You will need to study the PEI Driver’s Handbook to prepare for it. You can take a practice test here.

You will need to bring proof of your right to live in P.E.I. and two proofs of address with you to the appointment. Examples of proof of address are bills or bank statements, government correspondence, rental or mortgage agreements, or a letter from your employer.

If you are under 16, you will also need to sign the consent form at the end of this document. A list of valid documents can be found here. If you pass your knowledge test, you will be granted your Instruction Driver’s Permit. This will allow you to drive with someone who has their full licence. You will be given a yellow “L” sticker to put on your window, so that other drivers know that you are learning how to drive. You will need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

You need to have your Instruction Driver’s Permit for at least a year before you can take a road test. If you take a driver’s education program, then you can take the test after just nine months. If you do not take driver’s education, you will need to take a Novice Driver Course offered by Access PEI before you book your road test.

If you pass your road test, you will be granted a Class 5 Stage 2 licence. You will be given a yellow “G” sign which you must have on your dashboard when driving. To see the restrictions associated with Stage 2, please refer to the PEI Graduated Driver Licencing program. If you are caught breaking restrictions, you will receive a 30-day suspension. If you are caught a second time, the suspension will be for 90 days. Your licence will be at Stage 2 for one full year. After a year, it will automatically upgrade to a Stage 3 licence. If you are under 18, your licence will not be upgraded until your 18th birthday.

Your licence will be at Stage 3 for a year-long probationary period. You must maintain a zero blood alcohol level when driving, and you cannot use a cellphone while driving. If you receive a fine for either of these things, you will receive a 30-day suspension. If you are caught a second time, the suspension will be for 90 days. After a year, your licence will automatically become a full Class 5 licence.

You can view licence fees here.

How to transfer a driver’s licence: You can use a foreign driver’s licence for up to four months in P.E.I. After this, you will need to exchange it for a P.E.I. licence.

You will need to pass a vision test, knowledge test, and road test. You will need to bring your original photo driver’s licence, immigration documents indicating your right to live in Canada, and two proofs of address. If your licence or documents are not in French or English, you will also need to provide certified translations.

You can take the vision and knowledge tests by booking an appointment at an Access PEI location. You must complete the Novice Driver Course for Newcomers program before you book your road test.

If your country has an exchange agreement with P.E.I., you will not need to take a knowledge test or a road test. Countries with an exchange agreement are:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • France
  • Germany
  • The Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Prince Edward Island public school information

You will be able to send your child to either French or English school. The English school board is called the Public Schools Branch, and the French school board is called La Commission scolaire de langue français. If your child speaks English but you would like them to learn in French, you should register them for a French Immersion program offered by an English school. French immersion is a part of the English school system, and it is for children who do not speak French.

School in P.E.I. is mandatory from the age of five, which means that children must attend Kindergarten. These are the different levels of education in P.E.I:

  • Kindergarten: Age 5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–6): Ages 6–11
  • Junior high school (Grades 7–9): Ages 12–14
  • High school (Grades 10-12): Ages 15–17

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021.

The PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada is a good resource for information on how to register your child for school and what language courses are available in your area.

Information on homeschooling is available here.

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part two

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part two

By Dara Poizner

Posted on April 19, 2021
childbirth
Click here to read part one of this article, which discusses healthcare services and prenatal health.

Childbirth

Many expectant parents come up with a birth plan before the child is due to be born. A birth plan is shared with your healthcare providers and describes your preferences for childbirth, including how the newborn will be cared for immediately after. Although not everything can be planned, making decisions in advance can relieve some of the anxiety surrounding a time that many people are nervous about.

In your birth plan, you can write about things like:

  • How you want to manage pain during labour and delivery
  • Who you want to be present during the birth
  • Your thoughts about medical intervention
  • Procedures you would like for the newborn baby

There are also a few options for where to give birth: in a hospital, at home, or in a birthing centre. The option that is best for you will depend on your medical needs and personal preferences, including which type of care provider will be delivering the baby (for example, doctors do not attend home births).

After the baby is born, you will need to register the birth in the province or territory they were born in to get a birth certificate.

Health after pregnancy and childbirth

For both the newborn child and the person who has given birth, there are specific health considerations you should discuss with your care provider. Important aspects of a child’s health include:

  • Infant nutrition. Many people breastfeed their babies, but there are other options if you cannot or do not want to do so.
  • Infant sleep. Newborns sleep most of the time, but for short periods. A baby’s sleep schedule will change with age.
  • Vaccination. Making sure your child is immunized according to schedule is the best way to protect them from several serious illnesses. See “A Parent’s Guide to Vaccination” from the Government of Canada website to learn more.

As a new parent, it is important to look after your own health as well as that of the child’s. Postpartum is the period after giving birth where the body adjusts to not being pregnant and recovers from pregnancy and childbirth. A healthcare provider can give you specific advice for how to care for your body during recovery, including letting you know when it is okay to get back to regular activities like exercise. According to HealthLinkBC, your body will likely feel sore for several days and very tired for several weeks after giving birth. Ways to care for yourself during this time include:

  • Trying to sleep when the baby does
  • Drinking extra fluids if you are breastfeeding
  • Getting support from people who can do chores or bring food for you
  • Getting out of the house for short periods of time

While having a baby can be an exciting and wonderful time, it is also normal to experience difficult emotions. After giving birth, many people deal with postpartum anxiety or depression.

For people who have been affected by pregnancy loss or infant death, there are supports available. This article from HuffPost Canada contains links to resources and provincial organizations that support people through the loss of a pregnancy or infant.

Parental leave

Working people who are pregnant, have just given birth, or are new parents may want to take time off from their jobs. This gives parents time to prepare for or recover from childbirth and spend time with the newborn.

In Canada, people with insurable employment can apply for maternity and parental benefits through the Employment Insurance (EI) program, which gives temporary financial help to unemployed workers.

  • Maternity benefits are available to someone who is pregnant or has recently given birth.
  • Parental benefits are available to parents of newborn or newly adopted children.
  • The person who has given birth may be eligible for both maternity and parental benefits.

Maternity benefits are available for a maximum of 15 weeks: they can start as early as 12 weeks before the birth is expected and end as late as 17 weeks after the actual birth.

There are two types of parental benefits to choose from: standard or extended. There are some differences depending on your circumstances, but generally:

  • With standard benefits, you can receive 55% of your average weekly earnings for up to 35 weeks.
  • With extended benefits, you can receive 33% of your average weekly earnings for up to 61 weeks.

In the past, childcare was considered as mainly a woman’s role, and only new mothers were expected to take time off work. Now, it is common for new fathers to take time off work as well. See this article from Dad Central to learn about the benefits of taking a paternity leave and how to plan for it.
newborn

Resources for newcomers

Best Start—a resource centre for pregnancy, new parenthood, and early childhood—has lots of general information for newcomers. There are resources available in multiple languages about many subjects including breastfeeding, drugs and alcohol, and child development.

The Interim Federal Health Program can provide temporary healthcare coverage for refugees.

The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program funds community programs across the country to help vulnerable people with their pregnancies. The online directory provides a list of available programs, including some specifically for immigrants and newcomers.

A few regional and local resources

In Alberta:

  • Diversity Liaisons Program from Birth & Babies is an online resource by Alberta Health Services. The program provides community outreach and education to newcomers, including multilingual and plain English language resources.

In British Columbia:

In Toronto:

  • Healthy Babies Healthy Children is a program for new parents in Toronto facing challenges, including newcomers Canada.
  • Welcome to Parenting is an online educational program that teaches new parents about important topics and helps them connect with other new parents in Toronto.

There are also benefit programs for low-income households to offset the increased cost of food during pregnancy and/or infancy, including:

Note that this is not an exhaustive list of available resources and programs in Canada.

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part one

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part one

By Dara Poizner

Posted on April 19, 2021
pregnant woman
Pregnancy and parenthood can be life-changing for anyone, but there are special considerations for newcomers.If you are new to Canada, you may find that the care and general practices surrounding pregnancy and childbirth are different from your country of origin.

This two-part article provides:

  • Information about healthcare and other services
  • An overview of some health factors relating to pregnancy, childbirth, and the time after
  • Information about taking parental leave from work
  • Links to resources for newcomers

Note that in Canada, you can legally and safely end a pregnancy if you do not want to carry to term. Abortion is publicly funded as a medical procedure under the Canada Health Act; however, access to abortion services may depend on certain factors, including where you live.

Healthcare services

Access to prenatal (during pregnancy/before birth) and postnatal (after birth) medical care is important for the health of the parent and the baby. Make an appointment with a healthcare provider if you plan to get pregnant or as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

Canada hasa a universal healthcare system with public provincial/territorial insurance plans available for citizens and permanent residents. See this article for general information about Canada’s healthcare system and this article to learn about applying for a health card in Canada.

Types of care providers

There are three main types of care providers for pregnancy and birth: doctors, obstetricians, and midwives. They often work together to care for patients. Depending on your preferences and health needs, you may work with one or more healthcare professionals. This Choosing a Care Provider Directory can help you locate care providers in your province or territory.

Most family doctors are skilled in dealing with reproductive and prenatal health, labour and birth, and postpartum and newborn care. If you have a regular doctor, they can provide primary care during planning and pregnancy and ongoing care for you and the child after the birth. Nurse practitioners sometimes provide prenatal care along with doctors.

Obstetricians (OBs) are medical doctors who specialize in pregnancy and birth. They are trained to manage more complicated or higher-risk pregnancies. They can also perform cesarean sections and emergency surgeries. As with other medical specialists, you need to be referred to an OB by a family doctor. If you do not have a family doctor and would like a referral to an OB, you can visit a doctor at a walk-in clinic.

Registered midwives are health professionals who provide primary care before, during, and after birth. They work with low-risk pregnancies and can perform physical exams, order medical tests, and support normal vaginal births. Regulated midwifery care is part of the healthcare system in most provinces and territories. You can contact a midwife without a referral.

With any type of care provider, you should feel like your needs are being met and that you are able to ask questions.Culturally appropriate care is important in a multicultural society like Canada. Many people seek out professionals who are sensitive to their cultural needs or can communicate with them in their native language if they do not speak English.

Community health centres

If you do not already have a family doctor or government health insurance, there are options including:

  • Purchasing a private insurance plan which can cover parts of the cost of medical services
  • Visiting a public health unit for support if there is one that serves your area
  • Visiting a community health centre

Community health centres (CHCs) are not-for-profit organizations that take a team approach to patient care and provide multiple services based on patient needs. Staff may include doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, dietitians, specialists, and other health professionals. Generally, CHCs help people who do not have a family doctor or health insurance, newcomers to Canada, and those who face other barriers (e.g., language, culture, poverty, mental health issues). Many CHCs offer prenatal and parenting healthcare and education.

Community health centres are known by different names across Canada, but each province and territory should have some community health services available. Note: this is not meant to be a complete list of available community health services.

medical team

Other supports

Pregnancy and parenthood are often challenging times. As a pregnant individual or new parent, it is extremely helpful to have a support system in place. Building a support network may be more difficult for those who are new to a country and do not know a lot of people.

This guide for pregnant newcomers from the YMCA suggests finding resources in your community like prenatal exercise classes, new parent education programs, or cultural centres. There are many possible benefits such as learning important skills, maintaining your wellbeing, and meeting people in the area who may share some of your experiences. Some services are available for free or low-cost.

Prenatal health

There are many elements to prenatal health. If you are pregnant, see your healthcare provider(s) regularly to ensure you get the necessary medical care and specific guidance for taking care of yourself and the baby.

Testing

As part of your pregnancy, you will get routine tests, including (but not limited to):

Several factors will determine which tests are recommended for you and which you choose to get. Many people choose to do genetic testing and screening to check for certain conditions. Certain factors can increase the risk of a child being born with a genetic health condition. While the results are not always conclusive, genetic testing can help with planning.

In addition to medical care, having a healthy pregnancy requires you to monitor your lifestyle and general health more carefully. The Sensible Guide to Health Pregnancy from the Government of Canada outlines many lifestyle aspects of pregnancy, summarized below.

Nutrition

Getting all the necessary nutrients before conception and during pregnancy is important for the health of the developing baby and the parent. This involves eating a variety of foods including fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy or dairy alternatives, and meat or other proteins. At certain points in your pregnancy, you will also need extra calories to support the baby’s growth. During pregnancy you must avoid eating foods that may be contaminated by bacteria, such undercooked fish and meat.

For details, see Canada’s Food Guide’s recommendations for healthy eating when pregnant and breastfeeding.

Folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is necessary for the normal development of a baby’s spine, brain, and skull. Folic acid (called folate when it occurs naturally in foods) reduces the risk of neural tube defects, which occur when the neural tube does not close properly during the early weeks of pregnancy and can lead to stillbirth or disability.

If you plan to get pregnant, you should be taking supplements and including enough folate in your diet beforehand. Talk to your healthcare provider for specific instructions.

Physical activity

Being active is recommended as part of a healthy pregnancy. In addition to the usual benefits of exercise, like improving mood and increasing strength, it can also help with things like appropriate weight gain during pregnancy and speeding up recovery after childbirth.

If you were regularly active before becoming pregnant, continue to exercise and make changes as needed. If you were not, start with low impact activities like walking and slowly increase your activity levels. Do not push yourself too hard.
pregnancy and exercise

Oral health

Oral health can be affected by pregnancy, so it is important to make sure you are caring for your teeth, gums, and mouth. Hormonal changes may increase your risk of developing gum disease, which can negatively affect both you and the baby. Stomach acid left on the teeth can cause decay, so make sure you rinse your mouth right away if you vomit (as many people do from morning sickness). A dental professional can help you maintain good oral health.

Risks of alcohol and tobacco use

It is unsafe to drink any type or amount of alcohol at any point during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause the baby to develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a range of disabilities that can affect people who were exposed to alcohol in the womb. Talk to your healthcare provider and seek community support if you need help to stop drinking.

Exposure to tobacco smoke, whether direct or second-hand, can be very dangerous for the baby. It can lead to many complications before and after birth, such as:

  • Preventing the baby from getting enough oxygen and nutrients
  • Exposing the baby to thousands of chemicals, some of which are associated with cancer
  • Increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
  • Increasing the risk of the child developing other health problems that may affect them later in life

The Government of Canada has compiled resources for quitting smoking, organized by province and territory. There are online, telephone, and community resources available.

Mental and emotional health

As always, it is important to look after your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. Pregnancy can bring new challenges, as many people experience periods of depression, anxiety, or mood swings caused by hormonal changes. If you have concerns about your mental health, discuss them with your care provider.

Everyday things you can do to tend to your mental and emotional health include:

  • Eating well
  • Getting enough rest and physical activity
  • Avoiding stressful situations whenever possible
  • Sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust

Click here to read part two of this article, which covers childbirth, health after pregnancy and birth, and parental leave, and includes links to resources for newcomers.

Shopping 101: Refunds and returns

Shopping 101: Refunds and returns

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on April 19, 2021
buying with credit
Have you ever been shopping and ended up being unhappy with your purchase? If you have, you’re not alone. Many people often find that they are not satisfied with their purchased products for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, in Canada, most stores offer free returns and refunds. Return and refund policies vary from store to store and among products. This article will break down what you need to know about them to make your shopping experiences better.

What is a refund?

A refund is when a customer returns their item for their money back. This is a solution offered to customers when they’re unhappy with their purchase. Typically, when you return a product, the amount you spent on it will be paid back to you through the method of payment that you originally used. Not every seller offers refunds, and not every item qualifies for a refund. Before you make a purchase, it is wise to double-check if the store you’re shopping at and the product you’re buying is eligible for refunds.

Most stores only accept refunds for a limited time, which means you only have a certain amount of time to turn it back in before your item is ineligible for a refund. Typically, this is seven to 30 days. Due to COVID-19, many retailers have extended this time frame to encourage online shopping. It’s best to double-check with the retailer you’re interested in to see what their time frame is.

The general rule is that if you’re bringing an item back to the store, it must be unused or unworn. Typically, you’re not able to return food unless it is non-perishable. This does not apply to products that are defective, or there something is wrong with them.

Types of returns in Canada:

  • Product return with receipt: This is the most common form of returns offered in Canada. Most sellers offer a full refund with a receipt and the item in its original condition.
  • Returns with no receipt: Some stores accept returns without requiring that you show your receipt. However, this is rare.
  • No returns allowed: This means that whatever you purchase from the seller cannot be returned under any circumstances. There are no returns, exchanges, or refunds allowed.

Additional conditions for returning items:

  • Exchanges only: Some stores don’t accept returns for any of their items, but they will allow the buyer to exchange their product for something else of equal value.
  • Specific product refund policies with receipt: Some sellers offer returns but only if you meet certain criteria. Double-check the product and store policy before buying and returning it.
  • Zero returns or exchanges on certain products: Some stores don’t accept returns on certain items. For example, some shops don’t accept returns or exchanges for personal items like undergarments or underwear.

buying flowers

Additional conditions for returning items:

  • Product return time frame: This policy allows buyers to get a full refund if they bring the item back to the store within a set amount of time. This can range from a week to 30 days, and it varies depending on the store and item bought.
  • Restocking fees: Some sellers allow you to return your product but will charge a restocking fee. A typical restocking fee is 15 per cent of the purchase.

How can I do this?

When shopping, ALWAYS keep your receipt. This will be what allows you to make a return and get your money back. Most stores will not accept your item back without a receipt as proof of purchase. You can keep all your receipts in a folder or even take a picture of them to store on your phone. Whatever you do, make sure you always have a receipt readily available.

If you’re making a return in person, you should take your item in its original condition with your receipt to the store. You can go to the customer service section and ask a customer service representative how to go about returning your product. If you used debit or credit to pay, make sure you have the original card, as some retailers will ask for it to process your refund.

If you’re returning an item to an online store, visit their website to get familiar with their return policy. Most websites have a designated section with this information. If you can’t find it, you can also contact a customer service representative through email. Send them an email with your order number and name along with information about what you wish to return. This will usually start the return process.

What do I need to know?

Not every seller offers refunds or exchanges.

Stores might change their refund and return policies; it’s smart to get a copy of their policy at the time of purchase in writing. You can usually find these policies on the backs of receipts or their website.

You should also know that sellers are not legally obligated to offer you a return or refund. That’s why you should try to take all the precautions you can when buying an item. This includes getting a copy of your receipt and asking the right questions.

Some stores charge restocking fees for certain items. Although you’re returning the product to get your money back, you may be expected to pay a fee for this transaction. Sometimes, this fee is more than the item itself. Check with the retailer to see if they charge restocking fees.

Questions you should ask before buying:

  • Do you offer full or partial refunds, exchanges, or store credit?
  • What do I need to bring as proof of purchase? (For example, the receipt, sales tags, original packaging)
  • Are there any extra fees to return an item? (For example, restocking fees)
  • Are there rules about returning seasonal products after a certain period?
  • Can I return personal items, such as jewelry or lingerie?
  • Can I return a product I opened or used?

Source: Ontario Government
checking an item

What are my rights when it comes to this?

Your guaranteed rights for returns and refunds are limited to very specific situations. Legally, sellers are not obligated to offer you a return; however, you still have some consumer rights when it comes to returns. For instance, you have the right to ask for a refund if the business misrepresents its product, or there is a defect with the product.

Where can I go to find out more or if I have a complaint?

You can file a consumer complaint with the provincial and federal governments. You can visit the Canadian government’s website for more information on how you can file a consumer complaint. You can also reach out to the corporate division of the store you were shopping at and write an email to someone in a position of power explaining your poor experience. Sometimes, when none of those options work, people use social media to express their complaints and find success through this medium. Whatever method you use to advocate for yourself, stay persistent and stand up for what you believe in.

Example of a refund policy:

Here is excerpt of Walmart’s Return Policy. You can visit their site to find out more. As you can see, their return policy has special requirements for different types of items. This is an example of why it’s so important to check the policies in place for the product you’re buying at the store you’re shopping at because it might not be the same all the time:

Our return policy is the same for both online and in-store purchases with just a few minor differences:

  • Online purchases: the return time frame begins on the date of your order’s arrival
  • In-store purchases: the return time frame begins on the purchase date. Make sure to bring along your proof of purchase.

Almost anything you buy from Walmart can be returned within 90 days with the exception of a few items below.

Exceptions:
There are a few exceptions you should know about, which are listed below:

Within 14 days
Computers, Tablets, Laptops, Monitors, Printers, Camcorders, Digital Cameras, GPS Units, Wearable tech, Video game consoles & handhelds, Video games, Computer Games, Wireless Prepaid Phones

Within 15 days
Contract post-paid phones. Subject to applicable legislation. Conditions may vary by carrier. See plan terms and conditions.

Coming to Canada as an international student

Coming to Canada as an international student

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on April 19, 2021
international students

Choosing your school

There are different types of post-secondary institutions in Canada. The type of school you attend may depend on your learning and career goals. Different institutions award different degrees and qualifications.

  • Universities: Universities are research-focused and academically rigorous. Canadian university programs range from arts and humanities to professional programs, such as law and medicine. They grant a full range of degrees including bachelor’s (three to four years), master’s (one to two years), and doctorate (PhD) degrees (four to five years), and these degrees are often internationally recognized. Professional programs such as dentistry, teaching, law, and medicine are also offered at university. Some world-renowned schools in Canada include the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia.
  • Colleges: Colleges typically focus on providing an applied, technical education to prepare students for a specific career path, such as graphic design, hospitality management, early childhood education, and police foundations. They also offer other apprenticeship programs and trades training. College is also less expensive than university. Their programs are usually 1-2 years long, and they award diplomas or certificates.
  • Co-op or internship programs: Co-op or internship programs can be found at universities and colleges. These programs have a work component built into their curriculum; this means that you’ll have the opportunity to both work and study. Oftentimes you will have to alternate between class terms and co-op terms depending on your program. This gives you a chance to gain Canadian work experience and build your resume and skills. Co-op programs are often paid, whereas internships are usually not paid; nevertheless, in both cases, you’ll receive course credit.

Getting your study permit

Your study permit will allow you to study at a Designated Learning Institution in Canada. It’s important to note that your study permit is not a visa in that it doesn’t let you enter Canada. Depending on your country of origin, you may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If your study permit is approved, you will automatically receive one.

Before you apply for a study permit, you must have the following documents:

  • Proof of acceptance to a Designated Learning Institution: Include the original or electronic copy of your letter of acceptance from your school in your application. If it is a conditional acceptance, this usually means that you need to enroll in prerequisite courses, such as an ESL course, before beginning your program. In this case, a study permit may only be issued for the duration of the prerequisite course plus one year. Once you are accepted into your main program of study, you have to re-apply to extend your stay in Canada as a student.
  • Proof of identity: You must submit a valid passport or travel document for yourself and any other family members who are coming with you. Student visa applicants also need to include two recent passport-size photos with their name and date of birth written on the back of the photos.
  • Proof of financial support: You also have to prove that you can support yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada. You need to have a minimum of $10 000 excluding tuition costs or $833 per month in addition to tuition costs. You can prove you have the funds needed by showing:
    • Proof of a Canadian bank account in your name
    • A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution
    • Proof of student loan from a bank
    • Bank statements from the last four months
    • A bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars
    • Proof that you have paid tuition and housing expenses
    • Proof that your funding will be paid within Canada (for example, a scholarship)

international student reading
If your study permit is approved, you will receive your study permit at the port of entry when you arrive in Canada, or it will be mailed to you if you are already in Canada. If you applied from outside of Canada and you are approved, you will receive the Port of Entry Letter of Introduction (POE), which says that you are permitted to study in Canada. Show this letter to the officers at the port of entry, and they will issue you your study permit. Depending on your country of origin, you will also need to have your eTA or visitor visa to enter Canada. If your study permit is rejected, you will receive a letter explaining why.

Arriving in Canada

Now that you’ve been approved to study in Canada, it’s time to book your flights! Here are some things that might make your arrival in Canada easier.

  • Arriving at the airport: Make sure you have your passport, letter of acceptance, letter of introduction, eTA, any other visa/work permit documents, address of accommodations, and the approximate CAD value of items you brought with you
  • Money and Banking: You can use cash for almost any transaction, though debit and credit cards are more popular. When opening a bank account all you need is two pieces of ID—one with your Canadian address and one photo ID. Canada’s five biggest banks are Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (RBC), and Toronto-Dominion Canada Trust (TD). Most banks offer lower or no-fee student chequing accounts.
  • Cellphones: You can purchase a cellphone plan online, over the phone, or in person at a local store. You can bring your own device and get a new Canadian SIM card or buy a new phone from a service provider. You will need to bring a piece of government-issued photo ID and proof of address when getting your phone. To learn more about cellphone plans, check this article by The Newcomer
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN): You need a SIN to work in Canada while you study. Getting a SIN is easy. All you need to do is take your study permit and photo ID to the nearest Service Canada office. Some airports including the Toronto Pearson International and Vancouver International airports have Service Canada offices in them, so you can apply for a SIN as soon as you arrive.
  • Health Insurance: Not all provinces offer health coverage to international students, but most schools offer health insurance plans for international students. Check with your school to find out what’s covered by your plan. You can also purchase a health insurance plan from a private company, such as Sun Life, Manulife, and Green Shield Canada.
  • Transportation: It’s important to consider how you will get to and from school and around your city. It is common for students to use public transit. Most cities operate their own public transit system, and there are some transit networks connecting certain cities. Schools usually offer discounted transit passes for students; this is usually included in your school fees. If you do choose to drive, you’ll need to check the driving regulations and licenses at your province, as these are managed provincially. International students can drive in Canada with a valid license. Generally, you can get a Canadian license for a short period of time if you have a valid license from your home country. There are also taxis and ridesharing services that operate in Canada which can help you get around. See this article to learn more about public transportation.
  • Accommodation: It’s best to have your accommodations arranged before you arrive. Most schools have on-campus residences for students, which is a popular choice for first year undergraduate students. You can apply for residence with your school application. Off-campus housing is most popular for those in second year and above. This typically involves renting an apartment or room in a house that isn’t associated with the school. This is generally more expensive but has more room.

Now that you’re in Canada and getting more comfortable with your city and your surroundings, you are ready to start your studies!
international student traveling

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021

Nova Scotia

Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

Health coverage in Nova Scotia is offered through the Medical Services Insurance (MSI). To register, you must have an address in Nova Scotia. You must also live in Nova Scotia for at least six months of the year.

  • If you have Permanent Residency, you can apply for health coverage the day you arrive.
  • If you are a student, you will not be able to get MSI until you have lived in Nova Scotia for 12 months. If your visa is longer than 12 months, you can apply at the start of the 13th month.
  • If you have a work permit that is at least 12 months long, you can apply for MSI the day you arrive in Nova Scotia. You cannot be absent from Nova Scotia for more than 31 days unless it is for work.

To apply for MSI, you will need to call MSI Registration. If you are in Nova Scotia, call 1-800-563-8880. If you are not in Nova Scotia, call 1-902-496-7008. You will need to have your immigration documents ready when you call.

Driving Information

How to get a licence The legal age to drive in Nova Scotia is 16. The first thing you need to do is to take a knowledge test. You can study for this test using Nova Scotia’s driver’s handbook. You do not need an appointment to book the test, but it is best to call a Registry of Motor Vehicles office near you in order to find out the times at which the tests are given.

You will need to fill out an application form and bring the necessary identification. You can get an application form at any Registry of Motor Vehicles location. After passing your knowledge test, you’ll earn a learner’s licence. This allows you to drive with someone who has a full licence. You will also need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

The next step is to take a road test. You will need to have your learner’s licence for at least a year in order to take the test. If you have already taken a driver’s education course, you will only need to wait nine months. When you pass your road test, you will become a “Newly Licenced Driver.” This is a specific type of licence that you need to keep for a minimum of two years. People in Nova Scotia often call this a “Cinderella Licence” because it does not allow you to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. To graduate from this licence, you will need to take a six-hour defensive driving course or complete a recognized driver’s training course. If you have already done this for your learner’s licence, you will not need to do it again.

After two years, you can take a second road test. You will need to bring confirmation that you have completed a driver’s course with you. If you pass, you will receive a “Restricted Individual” licence. This means you’ll receive a full licence on the condition that you have a zero-alcohol level whenever you are driving. You cannot teach someone with a learner’s permit how to drive if you are in the Restricted Individual stage of your licence.

After having this licence for two years, these restrictions will go away, and you will be considered a fully qualified driver. You are not required to do anything to lift the restriction. It will simply end once you have had this licence for two years.

Pricing to obtain your licence can be found here.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a licence from another country, you will need to transfer it to a Nova Scotia licence. You should do this in your first 90 days of living in Nova Scotia.

If your country has an exchange agreement with Nova Scotia, you will only need to visit an Access Nova Scotia centre to take an eye test and exchange your license. The following countries have exchange agreements with Nova Scotia:

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Isle of Man
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

If your country is not on this list, you will need to pass a knowledge test and a road test before exchanging your licence. You can do this whenever you feel ready.

Nova Scotia Public School Information

Children in Nova Scotia can start school as early as age four, but it is not mandatory until age five. These are the different levels of education in Nova Scotia:

  • Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten: Ages 4–5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–6): Ages 6–11
  • Junior high school (Grades 7–9): Ages 12–14
  • High school (Grades 10–12): Ages 15–17

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will be turning six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another week-long break in March called march break.

If you would like to homeschool your child, you can visit this website for more information on how to register.

Supporting your child’s early reading habits and fluency

Supporting your child’s early reading habits and fluency

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on April 19, 2021

reading

As their first teachers, parents can help nurture their children’s literacy skills (like their awareness of the sound of language and their vocabulary) from a young age. When kids have an early start in developing literacy skills, they will be able to succeed in school, make good decisions, solve problems, and socialize with others. Through doing activities with your children—like reading, singing, playing, and speaking—you can support and encourage their love of reading and fluency in communicating.

Reading

From the time your children are born, you can start reading aloud to them. Reading to them deepens the bond that you have with them and helps promote healthy brain development. When you read to them, pause and point out the different letters, words, and pictures in the book. Research shows that “reading to children from age four-to-five every day has a significant positive effect on their reading and cognitive skills.” You can also visit your local library to borrow books or register your kids for free reading programs. As they get older, you can support them in borrowing or purchasing picture books, comics, graphic novels, magazines, and audiobooks.
reading

Singing

Another way to support the development of your children’s language and literacy skills is by singing to and along with your child. Singing to your babies decreases the risk of language problems later on in life and introduces them to new words. Even if you don’t sing well, your babies will be pleased with your singing. Rhymes in songs help kids understand patterns in language. Songs strengthen memory skills and help connect children to their cultural identity. A folk song or lullaby can introduce your family to your traditions and heritage. Familiar songs can also bring a sense of comfort and safety to your child.

Playing

Playing makes learning fun for kids. When your kids are young, you can provide them with toys like alphabet blocks and puppets to encourage their literacy. You can also use puppets and stuffed animals to create characters and stories that they can interact with. You can also play rhyming and rhythm games with your children, such as tongue twisters and naming a word that rhymes with an object that you see. You can play these games when you take a walk, when you’re on the train, or when you’re at the mall. As your kids get older, you can introduce them to word games that promote literacy like Scrabble and Bananagrams.

family

Speaking

Last but not least, talk to your children. Share appropriate thoughts and feelings with them. For example, tell them when you feel happy, excited, or hopeful. Point out items in the house and tell them about the things that you are going to do. For example, when you are about to eat, point to and name the utensils and dishes that you’ll use to eat. Ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. Ask their opinion on different events, items, information, and experiences. Get your kids to put themselves in other people’s shoes by asking them about other people’s thoughts and feelings. For example, when your husband is cooking, ask your children what they think he’s thinking about. Encourage your child to make predictions on various matters. For example, if you are playing a game, ask them to predict who will win the game, and if you are telling them a story, ask them to tell you what they think will happen next in the story.

Supporting bilingual and multilingual children

If you want your children to be bilingual or multilingual, your spouse could speak in one language while you speak in another whenever you are trying any of the above-mentioned activities with your kids. You can also introduce them to books and TV shows in the target language. You can ask their babysitters or nannies to speak to them primarily in the target language too. Another way you can promote a second language is by enrolling them in language classes. Finally, you can take your children to places where the second language is spoken (like restaurants, places of worship, and cultural centres) for further practice. The Newcomer also has an article on how to help kids maintain their language while learning English.
mother and child

Susmita Dutta: Creating impact and changing lives

Susmita Dutta: Creating impact and changing lives

By Michelle Boon

Posted on April 19, 2021

Susmita Dutta has an intimidating LinkedIn profile. She is an author, project manager, instructor, and founding partner and CEO of her own company, Global Book Publishing.

Dutta’s warmth and joy for connecting with other people is, however, soon revealed when you talk to her. It is no surprise that she has found success as a newcomer in Canada.

Susmita Duta
Susmita Dutta, Owner of Global Book Publishing
Photo courtesy: Susmita Dutta

First moving from India to the United States, Dutta eventually settled in Canada in April 2019. So far, it seems like a perfect match.

“I love Canada. The people here are so nice,” she said in an interview with The Newcomer. “They’re very much like me.”

When asked if she had a least favourite thing about Canada, she didn’t have a single answer. Instead, she reiterated her most favourite things: the people, the diversity, and the humility of the culture.

Canada was also a perfect match for her business. After a few years of developing Global Book Publishing in the U.S., Dutta kept running into restrictions.

“When you own your own company, you don’t think linear. You have to think in a diverse way,” she said. “You have to try ten different things.” The U.S. market turned out to be too restrictive for Dutta to develop her business through trial and error.

“I had more freedom here [in Canada] based on my status of immigration than in the U.S.,” she said.

Global Book Publishing has skyrocketed since launching in 2014. Taking an educational approach, Dutta’s programs train authors on how to write, edit, and market their work. During her career, she has overseen the publication of hundreds of books. Through Global Book Publishing, Dutta hopes to hit 1000 published books by next year.
girl choosing a book
But success did not happen overnight for this newcomer. Ten years ago, Dutta herself could not have imagined owning a thriving company in a foreign country. For the CEO, her greatest challenge was her own mentality. She said, “The basic problem that I face was my own mindset, and the mindset of being comfortable. If you get comfortable, you will not grow.”

So, on Sept. 8, 2014, she quit her full-time job.

Dutta recalled thinking on Sept. 9, “What did I do? Why did I do that?” She immediately regretted quitting a secure job that she enjoyed but remained firm in her decision.

The business owner had a successful career working in project management at other publishing companies but felt too comfortable. She realized that she would never commit to her business until she had no other choice.

Dutta credits this leap of faith to her early success. “You have to get into the water to start swimming,” she said. Without a steady paycheck, it was like her head was submerged in water, and her survival instincts kicked in. This sink or swim mentality was the push she needed to fully invest in her company.

With years of experience in publishing and project management, Dutta had a strong foundation to build her business. But it was more than her foundation of skills that made her success possible.

Her mindset was her greatest impediment, and her support network helped her overcome it. Dutta expressed gratitude for her parents who “never imposed their society rules on [her].” They never told her to marry early, and they supported all of her decisions, even if they seemed unrealistic.

She also thanks her husband for his unwavering support. He was the one praising her skills and giving her the confidence to strike out on her own. Her husband was also the person who encouraged Dutta to move to Canada for her business in the first place.

Lastly, Dutta mentioned that her mentor, Armand Morin, and her entrepreneur support group helped her navigate Canadian work culture. Being surrounded by other business-minded people taught her that: “You have to tell the world who you are; otherwise, people aren’t going to know,” she said. This is in stark contrast to the culture Dutta grew up with in India, where self-promotion was discouraged.

Through her skill, courage, and the support of her personal network, Dutta has become a successful newcomer. But how does she define success?

“Creating impact and changing lives has been my biggest success,” Dutta said. Dutta’s goal is to help writers achieve their goals of becoming published authors, but also to build fulfilling careers.

Through Global Book Publishing’s programs, many of Dutta’s clients have used their books as tools to build careers as consultants and life coaches.
reading together
As a result of her personal approach, the CEO often wakes up to messages from her clients thanking her for newfound confidence, a new lease on life, or the skills to start businesses of their own. “That is the biggest success for me. I cannot measure it on any scale,” she said.

For Dutta, people are her priority. Canada was both the right market for an immigrant business owner to thrive, and the right place for her to make the most impact on people.

Other than continuing to publish quality books, the business owner hopes to make a social impact on women. With the exception of one staff member, all of her employees are women. This is part of her goal to empower women authors. To foster a company that is for women, by women. Her goal is to impact at least 10 000 women by November 2021 by empowering authors whose books will in turn empower readers.

Dutta’s business is thriving with its home base in Canada, and it’s truly living up to its global name with authors based in Canada, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. The business owner has plans to expand her global reach. She intends to open branches of her company in the United Kingdom, and, in a full-circle moment, her home country, India.

When she’s not supporting other authors, Dutta is an online instructor training entrepreneurs, small business owners, and leaders. She is also an author herself with books on leadership, emotional intelligence, and oil-free cooking. She recently wrote a children’s book on the power of unity, released on March 28, 2021.

Every newcomer’s path to success will be different. But Dutta, as a successful newcomer, says to concentrate on giving your absolute best, and success will automatically follow.

“It’s OK if you are finding the challenges today. Time flies. Keep doing what you are doing; keep your dreams in mind; keep moving forward.”

To read more about Susmita Dutta or Global Book Publishing, visit her website:
https://globalbookpublishing.com

Choosing a pet in Canada

Choosing a pet in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on April 19, 2021

guinea pig

Whether you wish to be a first-time pet owner, or you’ve taken care of animals for many years, keeping a pet in Canada is a responsibility that you need to prepare for. There are numerous benefits to doing so. Apart from providing companionship, animals lower your stress levels (see this article for more tips on how to manage stress), provide you with a sense of purpose, push you to exercise (check this article for strategies on how to maintain physical fitness), add structure to your day, and boost your self-esteem. If you are looking to own a pet, which one would be the best one for you? And if you already own one and want to bring it to Canada, what do you need to do?

Before you get a pet

Keeping a pet is a commitment that takes time and money, so you have to be honest with yourself about whether you’re ready and willing to make that commitment. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do I have a stable home situation?
  • Can I afford to take care of a pet for the duration of its life?
  • Do I have the time to feed and care for it?
  • Do I have enough space to keep it?
  • Do I know someone who could take care of my pet when I go on vacation?
  • Am I ready to change my lifestyle for my new companion?

Selecting a pet

If you decide you would like to keep a pet and know that you can handle the responsibilities that come with it, you can start searching for your new companion! Consider adopting instead of purchasing pets from pet stores. Adopted animals are less expensive than those sold by breeders and pet stores, and you can choose a young pet or an adult. Thousands of animals in Canada are available for adoption at shelters and rescue centres. You can also adopt a pet from other owners who can no longer keep their pet.

Fish

If you are seeking low-maintenance pets that don’t require a lot of time and commitment, fish are a great option. Types of freshwater fish you can get are neon tetras, goldfish, algae eaters, and guppies. Aside from being adorable and affordable, fish are quiet, don’t take up much space, and are easy to take care of. A new five-gallon aquarium can cost anywhere between $40 – $80. If you have children, you can teach them how to feed the fish and maintain the fish tank.

Rodents

Other pets to consider are rodents like guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, and degus. While they do require more hands-on care than fish, they can be a more attractive option because you can hold them, carry them, and play with them. While these animals require some exercise, and time outside of their cages, you don’t need to go for a walk around the block with them. You have to make sure to clean their cages daily, and keep in mind that they can be sociable creatures. Rodents like degus and guinea pigs should not be alone. They should, at the very least, be kept in pairs of the same species and gender.

hamster

Dogs

If you would like a pet to go jogging and hiking with, adopting a dog might be your first choice. There are many different breeds of dogs including Golden Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, German Shepherds, Shar-Peis, Great Danes, and Chihuahuas. Dogs are loyal and loving companions. You can take your dog to the park and teach him or her new tricks. They do require training and exercise, and may require medical care, so you should be willing to walk your dog and cover any additional costs.

To learn more about how to train your dog, check out these dog training tips by Homeoanimal.

walking a dog

Cats

Cats are sweet, affectionate, and playful pets that you can snuggle up with at the end of a long day. There are many breeds of cats including Siamese cats, Ragdolls, and Persian cats. Cats are independent creatures, and they can get rid of pests. You can keep them primarily indoors as long as you play with them and create an environment where they can stay active.

housecat

There are many other pets available, like birds and reptiles, but the options above are easier to find, adopt, and take care of.

Bringing your pet to Canada

If you already have a pet in another country and want to bring it to Canada, you should take a look at the Canadian government’s import requirements. You might need to get an import permit for your pet. Your pet might also be subject to quarantine requirements. Keep in mind that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requires documents for all animals entering Canada and can refuse entry to Canada to any animal.

Workplace Etiquette in Canada

Workplace Etiquette in Canada

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on April 19, 2021

workplace

Many people overlook the importance of relationships and impressions at work. It’s important to build and maintain good relationships and a good reputation in the workplace because this can help you get ahead in your career or profession; for example, this may lead to promotions and new job opportunities. This article looks at what acceptable behavior in the workplace looks like and provides tips that you can use to build and maintain good relationships and a good reputation at work.

In the Workplace:

Be polite and kind and greet everyone the first time you see them

It’s important to be polite to everyone you come across at your workplace, as this can help you make good first impressions. First impressions can impact the way people treat you at work, so you want to always ensure that you make a good one. Try to greet everyone the first time you see them that day. After you greet them once, you do not have to greet them again, but it’s good to offer a small smile or nod when you see them. People tend to call their coworkers by their first names. If you’re speaking to two people who don’t know each other, make sure to introduce them to each other, as it can be seen as rude if you don’t. When doing so, use their full name as well as their title, if possible. For example, you can refer to someone as Mr. or Mrs/Ms. [first name] [last name]. Mrs and Ms. are used to refer to women and have different meanings. Mrs. is used to refer to women who are married while Ms. is used to refer to women who are single. If you’re unsure of someone’s marital status, you can use Ms. to be on the safe side.

Personal space

When at work, give people their personal space when talking to them. The general rule of thumb is to stand at least an arm’s length away from the person you’re speaking to. You also want to ensure that you respect people’s areas in the workplace, such as desks, cubicles, and offices. This means not touching the items in their personal work areas without their permission.

Mind your surroundings and office space

You are also expected to be mindful of your surroundings and the workspace. This means that you keep noise to a minimum to respect the space of others. Keep your phones on vibrate or silent mode, and use headphones as needed. If you have to have a personal phone conversation, take a step out of the office space. Try not to make any noise, as this can be distracting to people who are working. Being mindful of your space also means keeping your workspace, whether that be an office, desk, or cubicle, clean and organized.

Kitchen/Restrooms

At many workplaces, kitchens and restrooms are available for the staff to use. These are shared spaces, so you must tidy up after yourself and keep these areas clean. If you’re using the kitchen, wash any dishes you use and discard any trash that you may have. If you spill something, clean up after yourself. Don’t assume that someone will clean it up for you. This rule also applies to washrooms. You want to make sure that you’re cleaning up after yourself when you use the washroom. This includes ensuring that you have flushed the toilet and disposed of any trash and checking to see that you are not leaving the toilet seat dirty or up. Leave these shared spaces how they were when you entered them, clean and tidy.

Be mindful of time!

Time is important in Canada, especially in the workplace. Being late is considered to be disrespectful, especially if it’s over 10 minutes. Try to be five-to-ten minutes early if you can.

Be mindful of your company’s hierarchy.

In Canada, most workplaces have a top-down hierarchy. This means that the supervisors, managers, and bosses give instructions that are expected to be followed by the employees who are below them on the work hierarchy. For example, if you’re just starting a new job, it’s expected that you follow the instructions given to you by all your superiors, like your manager and supervisor. Ignoring this hierarchy can create a bad reputation and could even get you fired.

Be able to accept criticism; don’t take it personal!

A part of doing your job well is being able to accept criticism. You should be open to criticism and suggestions about ways you can improve your work. If someone gives you a piece of constructive criticism or a suggestion for improvement, don’t get upset and don’t take it personally.

Engage in small talk with your co-workers, but don’t be intrusive or gossip

Small talk is a large part of the workplace culture and an important part of building relationships at work. Engaging in small talk with your coworkers is seen as normal. The Newcomer has an article dedicated to small talk that you can read to better understand what it is. When engaging in small talk with your colleagues, don’t be intrusive by asking about details of their personal life or other sensitive topics. You should not participate in gossip about other people in your organization, as this can come back to haunt you and could create a negative impression of you.
coworkers

Dress code

While at work, keep it professional and adhere to the dress code whether it be uniform or business-formal. Whatever you wear, ensure that your clothing looks clean and polished to make a good impression. Try not to wear dirty, stained, or revealing clothes to your job, as this can hurt your professional image.

Smells

Strong smells are not viewed favorably in the workspace. Many employers have a no-scent policy, as many people suffer from allergic reactions when exposed to strong smells. In general, it’s best to try and keep your smells to a minimum. For example, heating a tuna sandwich in the office microwave can leave a strong smell that can bother your coworkers. Wearing deodorant, avoiding strong perfumes or colognes, and using unscented products while at work, shows that you are sensitive to this matter.

Dealing with bosses and coworkers

In the workplace, you’re expected to treat your bosses more formally than your coworkers. It’s important to be mindful of this when speaking to your boss and colleagues. For example, if you need to speak to another employee, it’s normal to stop by their office. On the other hand, if you need to speak to your boss, you usually need to send them an email to ask for a suitable time to meet them. If you are in a managerial position, you’ll need to be formal with your employees and other colleagues due to your higher position. You set the example, so many people will expect professionalism and formality.

Doors

A good workplace etiquette tip that is often forgotten is to open the door or hold it open for others coming through. If you see someone coming towards the door around the same time as you, hold the door open for them and let them pass. Letting the door close in the face of a person who is going through the door at the same time as you can be seen as rude, and it leaves a bad impression.

Missing meetings and being absent

If you have to miss a meeting, don’t expect the organizer of the event to know this. Send a quick email or text message as soon as you know and let them know that you won’t be able to attend the event. Make sure you apologize for your absence when you send this message.

work team meeting

Social media and work

Social media should be kept separate from your professional life. Be careful with what you post on social media, as many people have gotten in trouble at work for what they have posted on their accounts. When posting online, pretend that everyone you work with could see what you are posting. This can help prevent you from posting something that could get you in trouble with your employers.

Email:

Email is an important form of communication in the workplace. This small section will cover some important information about how to write a professional email and include an example for you to view. Keep these tips in mind the next time you write a professional email!

Email address

If you’re using an email for professional and work-related purposes, make sure that your email is professional. A professional email address usually contains your name and numbers. An example of a non-professional email address could be something like basketballfan44@gmail.com or chocolatelover_@hotmail.com.

Start and end with a greeting

When writing a professional email, start and end it off with a greeting. Don’t just jump straight to the message or end your email without a greeting. This is an important factor in making your email seem more professional.

  • Greetings to use at the start include dear [name of person], good morning, hi there, greetings, and hello.
  • Farewell greetings to use at the end include best, take care, thanks, and regards.

Be formal in your message

When writing a professional email, don’t use slang or abbreviations, as this can negatively affect the tone of your email. Another way to make sure your email is formal is to have an email signature that includes your name, job title, phone number, and email address. This signature goes at the end of your email and is a way of ending your email.

Keep the email as concise as possible

Try to not make the email longer than it has to be. Include all the key details in the email and save other non-relevant details for in-person conversations or follow-up emails.

Font—don’t use a colorful or decorative font

When sending professional emails, don’t use colorful or decorative fonts. It’s best to use standard fonts and size, such as size 11 or 12 Arial, Tahoma, or Calibri.

Don’t use emoticons or emojis

If you’re sending a professional email, don’t use emojis or emoticons, as this makes it too informal. Using emoticons or emojis in your email can give your professional email the wrong tone.

Edit before sending

Before you send off your email, do a quick spell check to fix any spelling errors that you might have missed. Spelling or grammar errors in emails are easily preventable mistakes.

Example of a professional email:

Situation: John is an employee at a company reaching out to another coworker to set up an appointment for a phone meeting.

Good afternoon Ms. Smith,

My name is John Doe from the Customer Service Department at XYZ Company.

I am writing this email to you today to see if you would be interested in setting up a time for us to chat in more detail about the project we spoke about last week. I would like to set up a phone interview, so we could discuss the project and your expectations in more detail.

If you’re interested, please let me know what time would work best for you.

Thanks,

John Doe
Manager of Customer Service
647-777-7676
johndoe123@gmail.com

Strategies for socializing as an adult newcomer to Canada

Strategies for socializing as an adult newcomer to Canada

By Amy Fournier

Posted on April 19, 2021

Making friends as an adult can be quite challenging. As a newcomer, it can be even more difficult to find friends with whom to spend time without having prior connections. School is a great place to meet people, but don’t be discouraged if you are no longer a student and are having trouble building relationships. There are still plenty of ways to meet new people and find where you belong. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind if you are looking to develop long-lasting friendships in Canada.

There’s an app for that

A lot of Canadians use apps such as Tinder, Hinge, or Bumble when looking for people to date. The Newcomer has an article on online dating that provides a list of apps you can use to connect with other singles. However, there are also tons of free apps available to help you find new friends as well. Like some dating apps, Bumble BFF allows you to swipe through profiles of people in the area and match with the ones that are interesting. Many people on the app specify what they are looking for on their profile—whether that is a fitness friend, someone to grab coffee with, or a person to go see concerts with. If you match with someone on the app, start a conversation and see where it takes you. You have the option to be picky with who you decide to meet, so feel free to browse your options!

Seek out clubs

There are so many different clubs that exist and cater to all interests. A great way to explore the range of clubs in your area is through joining a platform such as Meetup. This website has different categories such as Photography, Book Clubs, Sci-fi and Games, Pets, Fashion and Beauty, Health and Wellness, among many others. Whether you are interested in rock climbing, playing Dungeons & Dragons, or reading manga, there are sure to be other people who share that hobby. Events are posted under each group, and you can indicate if you plan to attend. You can also join community centre events, library book clubs, and local community organizations to meet people in your area with similar interests.
friends

Take an improv class

Improv (short for improvisation) is a type of performance that requires no pre-planned action, unlike regular performed theatre. Joining an improv workshop requires that you work closely with others. It can boost your self-confidence, help you develop public speaking skills, and better your interactions and relationships with others, according to The Second City, a comedy club located in Toronto. Even if you aren’t the most outgoing person, you may enjoy working with others in a non-professional atmosphere.

Volunteer

Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to the community and meet other charitable people. There are many non-profit organizations that are always looking for a helping hand. Volunteer Toronto has plenty of open positions around the Greater Toronto Area.

Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone

It can be really easy to stick with communities that you know once you arrive in Canada. However, this country is filled with diversity, and there is so much to learn by celebrating different cultures and ethnicities. Francisco Campos, a software engineer at CIBC, stressed the importance of expanding your social circle as an adult newcomer from Mexico to Canada.

“When I got here, my family had friends of friends who were also Mexican,” he said. “A lot of Mexican immigrants tend to establish relationships among them mostly because of the language and culture. Some immigrants avoid contact with external cultures or even the government due to their status or limited linguistic skills.” Getting out of your comfort zone and associating with different people gives you the chance to practice your social skills.

friends

There are many resources available in Canada that make it possible to connect with a variety of people. It may take some time, but cultivating a network of friends as a newcomer is achievable with a bit of patience and persistence.